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Arianna Huffington Binge-Watches TV on the Treadmill

  • April 30, 2021

You’ve been renovating Guild Hall in East Hampton. How will you ease it into the 21st century?

I want to distill it, to bring it back to what it was when Aymar Embury designed it in the 1930s, without spoiling its intimate scale. I don’t want to do anything that will make it look more important.

So, a discreet face lift?

People will walk in and feel like it’s been transformed without knowing quite how. It’s about making it feel opened up. When I first visited, I thought, “How do they even get the paintings in and out?”

You have returned to your office. What is that like?

We’ve been back, 10 or 12 of us out of 45, since August. We’ve had socially distanced happy hours, giving out individual bags of potato chips. We gave a recital with Ashley Park, a violinist, with a limit of 10 people. It was the first time in 12 months she’d been handed a check.

Has your team been more tied to the virtual world?

We were ahead with digital visualization, building rooms in virtual space. A client could put a headset on and look around a room. The challenge is that once you design that room, you have to fill it. We started a model of a virtual library. The sad thing was that all the shelves were empty. It costs $127 to buy one virtual book.

New York streets are teeming. Does that agree with you?

The outdoor dining is fantastic. There is a kind of theatrical aspect, especially at the fancier restaurants. Recently at La Goulue I saw a man walking by with a cute dog on a leash. He did three passes in front of the restaurant. It was obvious he was trying to meet women. Ordinarily he would have gone to the bar, but now that’s not possible. One must improvise.

Interviews have been edited.

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