Happy Friday, fabulistas. Just in time for Housing Work’s Design on a Dime benefit next week, I sat down with the uber-talented Yetta Banks to discuss trends, design inspiration and life in its general fabulousness. Even though I couldn’t get Yetta to reveal her design theme for this year’s Viacom vignette (I can’t wait to see it!!), she shared a beautiful sneak peek that gets us excited to see the finished project on April 25th. To shop Yetta’s and my vignettes on April 25th, get your tickets today. You don’t want to miss Design on a Dime, because nothing feels better than splurging for a good cause!
Robin Baron: Welcome, Yetta. Tell us a bit about what you do.
Yetta Banks: I am celebrating 14 years at Viacom in the Planning & Design Department as Vice President of Design & Construction. I am an architect and interior designer. I work with my end users to turn their ideas into reality. Whether new construction, renovation or expansion, I lead all planning, design, furniture and construction projects across all Viacom properties. This responsibility includes strategic planning and developing the creative experience for all Viacom brands. If you have ever walked the corridors and office spaces supporting our major television networks, like MTV, BET, Nickelodeon, VH1, Comedy Central, TV Land or Spike TV, you have experienced my vision.
RB: What impact has working in the design and entertainment industry made on you?
YB: Every day is an adventure…preparation is key for this journey. One of the earliest lessons I learned was how the industry constantly changes. After 14 years in the entertainment industry, I find that I stay inspired because no two days are ever the same. Fortunately for me, I experience the creative buzz of the Viacom Community firsthand. It forces me to raise my game, be relevant and current, be first but responsible, stay young but understand our history, and think outside the box because no two brands or cultures are the same. For example, Nickelodeon’s space aesthetic is youthful and colorful, while MTV is cool, sleek, fresh and still a bit more rock ‘n’ roll. BET is more sophisticated but fun, and TV Land is classic retro and has an overall great design aesthetic. I consider myself lucky that I don’t always have to travel far for design inspiration!
RB: You are co-chair AND featured designer for Housing Works’ Design on a Dime fundraiser. Can you give us a sneak peek at what your theme is going to be?
YB: First let me begin by saying, I am thrilled to serve as Co-Chair for this amazing fundraiser along with Genevieve Gorder, Lara Spencer, Evette Rios and Sabrina Soto. If I gave you a clue, you would need to promise not to share. It’s a secret that I hold near and dear to my heart. The room gives a glimpse into a special event that is happening in my life.
RB: Who are your Top 3 favorite designers?
YB: In my 16 year old head, I am a famous fashion designer, stylist, product designer, magazine collector, boutique hotel owner and philanthropist turned successful design executive that just happens to work for one of the most creative companies in the world. I am always looking at my fashion and music as a source of inspiration, so it’s not unusual that some of my favorite designers are from the fashion world. I am in love with Jenna Lyons, who allows the everyday woman to be fabulous and making it affordable at the same time. Tom Ford, I started my love affair with him when he was at Gucci. Can you believe what he did for this brand? My other favorite is my friend and architect, Tom Krizmanic. He is a Principal at Studios Architecture in the NYC office, he is genius. To encompass my overall design aesthetics, I would say my bff is Elle Décor Magazine.
RB: What’s a favorite trend you’re noticing in home décor lately?
YB: I am crushing on the introduction of brass and gold right now. I am excited about the emphasis on art and that it feels so much more approachable. I am also following Black & White graphic patterns.
RB: If you could trade closets with anyone in the world, who would it be?
YB: Please let me dream. June Ambrose, because she is fab and has access to everything fab. Solange Knowles, because she has this twisted fearless sense of style and I love it. Rihanna, because she is just plain hot and her body is amazing in everything. Not to mention Kelly Rowland, circa 2010 and beyond, flawless. I love Carolina Herrera, so classic and elegant, reminds me a lot of my mom’s style. For vintage, definitely Ms. Diana Ross’s closet back in the day. Oh and last but not least, Iris Apfel… genius.
RB: What’s the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
YB: Haha…I can’t say it out loud but it involved a beautiful white marble top Saarinen table and black painted walls.
RB: If you could hop on a plane and go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go?
YB: Paris is my first love, but I have so much more to explore in Africa. I fell in love with my friend’s grandmother when I was there. She passed away shortly afterwards. Most people fall in love with a place, but I fell in love with her spirit and felt so connected… It’s still calling me back. I need so much more time there.
RB: Last but not least, what does fabulous mean to you.
YB: Confidence, walking into a room and owning it.