« Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations

Nate Berkus: Design for Your Spirit

2017-09-25 | 🔗

How does your home make you feel? Does it lift you up or soothe your soul? Our surroundings greet us each morning and welcome us home each night. Award-winning interior designer Nate Berkus reveals how design can bring beauty, meaning and memories to our lives–and sometimes represent our very soul. Nate says, “When our homes really do reflect who we are and who we aspire to be, that’s when we have a space that everyone is drawn to.”

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I'm over Winfrey welcome to supersede conversations the podcast. I believe that one of the most valuable gives you can give yourself is time taking time to be more fully present your journey to become more inspired and connected to the deeper the round us start right now it was, is date. Burgers was born to do what he loves from the time we can remember he watched and studied his mom Nancy Golden and interior designer raised in Minneapolis by his mother in step. Father, nature, love for decorate in design continued to grow as he grew up. I twenty four he opened his own design firm in Chicago quickly, building a name for himself into. As in two Nate made his first appearance on the Oprah show, redesigning a teeny, tiny one room apartment I'll, never forget it. He was an inch
than favorite transforming homes and lives for the next eight years into that, and for our viewers got to know name on a more personal level and noble he could have anticipated what happened he was vacationing in Sri Lanka, with his partner, Fernando Bingo Chair, when the devastating indian Ocean, soon Ami hit name in Fernando were swept away in a torrent of debris. He felt water when a man Some way separated them from one another, Fernando disappeared name, never saw him again. Call it a life. Changing defining moment doesn't come close to describing the impact this experience had on night. He said they changed everything. His entire peace, active on life on love and design, with help Nate per SE beard and returned to the work? He loves, in two thousand and he got what he called the opportunity of a lifetime, the networking it was launched in ran for two seasons since then,
debut to successful home collection for target and, most recently he wrote it second book beautifully title. The thing Does matter I read this book because when the book first came out, I read it because it's you, added, because it was, you are tweeting that I'm good at it and pay for my son. You did, but I did not know you don't know about. I bought twelve copies of twelve copies given to my friend may I say I think it's the best thing you ve done. Thank you. It really is it's a beautiful book and I tell everybody that it's about the things the things we can hold in our hands, but it's about. What's really underneath the things, I think what you say actually on the opening page of this book? The truth is that things matter they have to their what we live with intent.
Each and every day, and they represent what we ve seen, who we ve loved and where we hope to go next, they remind us of the good times and the rough patches and everything in between that made us who we are true yeah. It's true. There was really the point of the book for me It was you know, a lot of people have asked me over the years. This is design a spiritual endeavour and I have always believed that it was I've, never really had the language to describe why I felt that way. Until I sat down to do this book, you know ways to because when we were here with rain Wilson. Rain Wilson said something to me several years ago. That there is really no difference between art in prayer and of that argument is that as an air and when you are creating design, it really is an offering it's a gift in order to do it. Well, you have to be in alignment with that, which is the creator. That's a really interesting story. Isn't it
never thought about that before I love to make you think of something and thought of this. Now I thought about it, but this is what I loved getting through the rough patches and everything in between that made us who we are. We do so much shocking on here about being who you are we are, and years ago, on the upper show. There was a guy named James Hillman, who wrote a book called the souls code, and in that he talked about the acorn within the oak that lives in all of us that inside theirs is were born with it and, however, that nurtured it gets brought in to fruition to become the oak. That is your life, and all of us have those moments, and I know so many people are in the process of trying to discover it. For me, it was standing in front of the Buffalo Methodist Church.
During my first Easter peace and for you I saw the moment when was it not? Let me tell you only a moment was tell me when I found my core know your acorn wise thirteen, when you emits would totally and when I got my own, and you got your own- that it really was. So I was a kid that cared so much about the things around me cared so much about the way things looked but, more importantly, the way things felt that I was tortured by sharing a bedroom with my younger brother my own space and my mother knew that. I don't think she knew that I would end up working in design. I don't think she knew that I would end up being on your show. I don't think that anyone predicts or tries to our dreams for that, but what she'd
to our dreams for that. But what she did know was that her son was the kind of person that had to control the way a space felt in the way of space looked and that I would get great pleasure out of not just the privacy that wasn't the point. It was the selection. It was the process, it was watching a space that was wrong. Concrete walls and a basement be transformed into a space where I could live out. My daily life as when you are connected to those kinds of things. When you are those kinds of things, meaning your inner world, the space around Do you really matter really not because the space around you reflects your inner space and I think it's universe, I think, no matter archer what we have and we don't have everybody wants to live better. I think it's, I think it cross culturally. I've seen it myself with my own eyes and I've been impacted by it and you ve told the story.
On the show many years of being an Africa. Remember the woman who attacked up the little piece of farmers. Thinking about that, the second you said that story stayed with me forever: he's Emmett, Shack and she's tucked up a little piece of fibre You asked her why you and you said, because pretty because it's pretty and recently last year at this time I was in Haiti which on pen and I sat with a father and his two daughters- it lost their mother and basically there the still living in the tent, the daughter had made a little dollhouse and really makes me emotional to think about it, and then the little dollhouse she'd also found a little piece of fabric to put over the windows you're living in a tent. You don't have a doll. You have a cardboard box darker and your decorating redecorating. Why? Because things matter beauty matters really does really matters so
You moved into the basement, which was really kind of not one step above drywall right, but I watch the process and I was the kid that ran home from school to see if the sinking been installed or if the tile head had gone in or if the you know cabinets were coming into my aunt Rachel when you're sink tops arrived. I mean the joy most, but you know you take that as a thirteen year old boy who grew up around design, I spent the weekends going to free market in yard sales and state cells, and things like that with my mom. And how I am the person that I am today. I can trace directly back to those feelings because it's the same rush Roger that is going on within the yes. This is a thing that touch me so much in this book that actually, you know caused me to well up you right when I was Freshmen college. I came out to my family and friends. My stepfather was actually the one who first brought the topic up with me.
Darted the summer it turned out, he had found a lead. From a guy was dating at the time, but he didn't mention what he'd red until late August is driving me to the airport for the flight back Chicago, he told me you knew I was gay, but he was not going to tell my mother that was up to me. Can you tell the rest of that story? So I don't read it and started yes beautiful thing. This is a good man, my stepfather Doktor Marshall Golden he wanted me to know he understood instinctively that I would be afraid that no one would love me if I came out and that I would be cast out by my family. So though he had discovered that I was gay and the beginning of the summer. He waited three months to tell me that he had made the discovery, and the reason is that he wanted to show me
tell me that his behaviour to me haven't changed? He said I wanted you to know that when you did something that annoyed me this summer, I yelled at you know when you did something great this summer. I praised you, but I knew this whole time. So there's your proof. I don't feel any differently about you now then I did before I before. I found this out I think that just such a powerful lesson for anybody who is in a situation where you suspect your child is gay or you or child, has told you they're, gay or whenever in terms of handling it that is taking the spiritual philosophy and putting it into there practice. It really is. I had this still my self, because first he was telling me that he knew so
it was there was a lot of noise and a conversation for me, because there is a lot of you know. You know. No, you know you know what you're thinking you read my letter, you read the letter yeah. That was all happening, but then I, when I was able to get still and really hear what he was saying. I believed him because he showed me, and that was really turning point to say I knew, but you see I have entreated you any difference. Aqua, yes, did you think Maybe knew no, I didn't my mother, knew I was very lucky to have a family that was supportive of May. My mother said to me: I love you, but I need time to deal with this process this, which is the most I can ask for for any other young person coming out. So so there's something very important that you that you said that I think you know over the years I've understood particular you know on the Oprah show for you, as we used to do coming out day cuz, it was a national coming out day. You say when you tell your beloved that
who are gay or that whatever situation is going on, that you need to give them the space to accept that information wrote end to grieve, who they thought you were or to grieve. Their vision of what they expect. They wanted for your last costs, because your mother then has to grieve. I gotta have grandchildren absolutely Albans deal with whatever you need to deal with child. I believe, should respect that you give them the space two more to grieve the life they thought you were going at a dream that I had for absolutely let given the time to let go of that dream, but make it safe for them in the process and coming out for me. Was you know what happens when you're a kid no, that your day yeah, you develop a skill set. That makes you dishonest you. If you
think about when you know that you're trying to hide yeah yeah, you have to lie. You feel that you have to lie so that you're not cast out so that your parents don't cast you out and that the things that you learn to do socially with friends on the school bus in class in school, at recess, with your family, how you have to pay ten that you, like a girl or that you're dating someone. I was eight years old, nine years old, when I became conscious of the fact that I was gay and I had to develop a whole skill set around. Hiding that and it's taken me most all of my adult life, to rid myself of those, Like? I'm good at it, really yeah absolute that so interesting? I never. I never thought of it that way before. What what's also fascinating is that your mother accepted it your step. Father said you see, I'm not treating you any different, your father from what I've read had the hardest time you did. Yes, he Like my mom, didn't,
have any gay people around him. He really didn't understand the lifestyle, and the most important thing that happened between my father and I, when I came out, was that he for years chose to believe it was by that I mean making yes, and I read you at one point I don't understand, are you're doing this exactly. Why why? Why would you choose the z with any woman? You can have such an amazing life and I remember, after several years of not being close to him always being connected for HOLLAND, Isn't things like that, but never really having a conversation with him after I came out, he was injured cargo. Visiting me and um. I took him to the airport. This is a great spiritual moment either because it was an enormous more. I thought that this was a. This was one of those moments that had you not had the courage to speak up and say this in so many people, they don't say and they spend the rest of their lives being upset with the other person. But I thought what you said in the way you said: go ahead: yeah so
we had a virus delay, we went across the street to the hotel bar and we sat down and each ordered a drink and asked him how he was, and he said he fine, and then he asked me how I was because he and my stepmother were worried that they would get a call some day that I had done something to myself and I, had started my design firm. I was living with my boyfriend in Chicago out. Will you I was twenty four ok and I thought what does he mean and when it occurred to me that he thought that he would get a phone call that I killed myself. It's a very empty lonely life here. How can we possibly attain any happiness? I a moment where I I thought to myself: either I'm in a stand up walk away from home. This man knows me: or a minute dive in and really make my case over him to know me forever. This was
export. This was a moment. Don't you know, did you know that it was a big? I felt it. I felt it. I felt it. I felt everything that I had ever been through in my life kind of rushed to me in that moment. To give me the voice that I needed to say to him dad. Do you trust me? Do you respect me, I'm your oldest son. Do you respect me and business You see the decisions that I've made. Do you see how I was listening at the dinner table growing up. Do you see I have chosen to have.
Of your qualities and discarded other ones. Do you respect me, and he said yes and I said, do you think I'm smart and he said yes and I said dad, why would I choose to make my life more difficult? Why would anyone choose to make their life more difficult? The truth of the matter is, is that being gay is the way that I was born? I believe this to the core of my being. I would never choose something to make my life complex. I said dad we're, never gonna have a relationship, a real relationship, unless you believe me- and I know that you believe me and act accordingly. My said dad: do you think I would choose to have this hair? Do you think that I would choose to be five? Nine? I would have been six one like it's the exact same thing as my being
and then he said he never thought of it. That way you do, which is actually my favorite moment when you think of something in a way, while you're a big aha moment, he had a new suit me you're the importance your placing on this issue is here and the important I place on this issue is here. I do love you due respect. You do admire you if you say that you were born this way. And you didn't make a choice, then we're good, and that is the difference between moving forward in a relationship with Europe There are real relationship. There was a moment yeah. That was really the moment, because then I knew that if I had his base level of respect that I can move forward yeah, you know what I've got. That story, when I read it the first time and even now, a bigger aha for me is that the thing If you're not willing to stand up for who you are and have people respect you for who you are then all the other things that support
Thirdly, matter me nothing. That is the thing that really matters, because no one else is going to do it. For you, fresh out of college date. Workers got his first big break work for Leslie Hineman, the influential owner ever Chicago based auction house. She saw something special in him a spark. Even though you says he was the world's worst personal assistant Leslie. Leave innate was a significant milestone and the young designers career, strong women have always been behind me in some way. I can trace it back from my grandmother to my mother, my french teacher in high school Cheryl, storm Yup Leslie to you obviously, but there's always I will not have. Role has always been that role for me, like like angels, guiding me into you know one of the things that struck me. You talked about and we all have teachers that really mattered in our lives and influence does. For me, everybody knows, as MRS Bank and an for you
that moment. When you walk into class in your french teacher, there was something about her shawl storm, just slow, indifferent to me, MRS Storm was like always trying with something a scarf sort of floating on her shoulder, had an angle and she really cared so much about us she said to me: I don't want you to just speak for me. I don't want your personality to come through. Another language, while when you Personality comes through. That's how you know the facts in each year. That is outweighed the teacher to great yes, who say that she you a letter that one of the great treasures of your life- I was one of the most singular written. Absolutely you know that words are my treasure, were I treasure I love words and it's the best gift anybody can give me. Is there a well written thoughtful note? So what did she say in that letter to you? She just wrote to me that she had always send some
special in May and that she always felt that I would go on to do great things, whatever those things might have been and that we all define greatness in different ways, but for her she knew but I would have a life that was filled with joy, because I was kind and that that makes me well I'll say? Yes, because I think that You know why you're willing up, because kindness matters to you yeah, that's why not as a huge damage amounts, one of the things that you say that struck me. You talked about seeing life in all of its various, textures in layers and light, and you said that you experienced that when you in Paris and the truth of the matter is I experience it in California a lot. But what I'm learning
do is to experience it in the everyday when I'm learning to do it, no matter where I am road driving down Michigan Avenue. Sure if I'm coming down went off to be able to see the textures in, errors in a way that I can appreciate. New duty. Is that what you're always doing as a designer? I think so I let things and may I learn moments find me that objects find me. I let you d find me in any of its forms, and that could be walking along a flea market and finding something on a table that everyone else's overlooked. But for me, there's beauty inherent in the actual object. Why is it what's also amazing that comes out, of this book is when you were in your twenties, you're dating somebody who could design their own life, and you were at the auction house. Were your life only started the
Friday weakens can only five or six Pm Friday, six p m and you're dating somebody who was who is working there company who had the freedom to leave on a Thursday night and take a drive to Michigan or do whatever they wanted to do, and that felt like it needed to be something that I had as well that freedom to actually create and design my own world and my own time line with something I knew. That was the single thing that propelled me to start my design for just a thought that you can stop and start to create for yourself what it is you want. Absolutely that's it that's a big leap, it was powerful and it was. It was scary to start my own company at twenty three years old. I had also know myself I guess as well as I thought I could at that stage, my life, because what do you know it? Twenty three? No nothing! You know, and you know who out of nothing, but you know it's it's it's! It's funny for me, because forty one years old and everyone else seems to think my life has been so
I will read it and I look back on it and it didn't move that fast. You know, I feel, like I've always been the type of person that likes to have space around the decisions that I make and that's what my talk showed in work for me, I didn't have an idea of I felt to rush. Can we talk about this? yeah. Ok, maybe, as we debate about it, I listen. I have adored you from the first time you are on the show and we all felt that you know you had it. And I thought I remember I remember having a conversation with you. When you were leaning towards having your own show. Did I not have you in my oftentimes lay down waiting here what you said: ok, idle remember exactly what I said, but what I was feeling was that you wanted to do this thing. I was trying to discourage you from going into five days.
We right, but I also knew that you were in that space in that moment, where you really wanted it in you, you know felt that you should, and I felt that we had been behind. You all this time and royal. Let's, let's see what happens, I'm ambitious! yes and I felt that that was an opportunity of a lifetime,
Yeah and everyone around me told me. It was an opportunity of a lifetime and the truth is it was it was. It was an enormous opportunity of a lifetime, but it almost impossible thing to do in the way you wanted to do its job every day. Absolutely, and you know that the truth was for me is that I am a person that likes to have space around the decisions that I make yet even for the make overs. When I was doing the make overs on on the upper Winfrey show they were spaced out about every six weeks of parts or if something didn't come in right. I had the time to make that change. With the show. Every day I lost sight of what was important and what mattered to me, because I just was on that schedule. Every single day, so the show for me was just. It was not the right format for me. It wasn't. The right did you feel overwhelmed. I felt overwhelmed. I felt exhausted. I gained twenty lbs I was I was, I felt unhealthy. I felt I felt like there was no way. I
do a good job, and then I realized that very quickly that I should have done a show that was one day a week then I shouted what I always It would have been amazing for me to do that, and maybe I will, but that for me was like that I thought I got I'm not, Yes! Yes, so you realize that window. How I real is actually a well probably too perfectly on I, oh so you that that second, How I really is what actually well, I probably to be perfectly then I oh, I realise that the second week we were in development of the shop and so basically retires those unrecognizable to myself, and I think that came through on camera began. Everyone is very smart and when they see But in doing something that they're not really meant to be doing or trying to sort of fake it until you make it that that that who wants to watch that, I don't even want to absolutely absolutely you know if you, if you cannot
of all what I've learned- and you know this too- and for everybody whose watching us around the world. If you can not be offended, if you cannot be true to yourself, if I cannot make their decision based, on what feels right to me right now, I'm operating on what everybody else's saying. I dont know how to in that year. At a function I mean, conversely, I met wonderful people. Some of my producers will be friends of mine for light. It's like summer. Camp is or is not about letting people not at all, and I am grateful that I went through because I know it's not what I want, and so what did it teach you? It taught me that, That I really do need to stop and take the time before I make a major decision like that, and then I have to really decide for myself. Why? I'm doing something part of an eagle absently ego money, your horse. All of that was ruled and yeah, but everything ends
reason- and I really also felt that I surprising to me to get deep for a moment- was that a lot happened when that show ended. My relationship of three years ended personally my I needed to get back in shape. I needed a kind of control of myself again in many different ways and I went into therapy for the first time since the sooner me, and it was interesting to my friends, my close friend said to me you're so breezy about the show and and the stuff in the news and use your fine and you you knew, I wasn't right, you're ready to move on and you you know, you know care that you don't know. What moving on means, you're just ready to be done and why you're so bright see about it, and I was I was really I was. I was concerned from my staff. I was concerned for some of my friends that worked on the show for me. I thought I'm gonna be fine. I felt that I would be fine was their party that was relieved enormously relieved and I went into therapy and I started to work
a lot of issues that I have never really addressed before my childhood. Why make certain decisions why it was important for me to be on tv? Why wanted this? badly and where I was now, what significant about to me is that your story, my story, everybody story of their life has to be a part of. Ultimate design I mean all of that is what's coming forth in all of the things that you surround yourself. That is why, when I walk into an interior that somebody's hired a decorator or they ve broad, they ve they ve done based on what they saw on tv yeah or in a magazine or whatever. It is doesn't matter really to me ever how much money someone spent, but when I walk into his face and it doesn't reflect the people that live there, it's not a good job and I've always thought a home has to reflect the people that live there, tell the stories of who they are
And it's not instant, it should be assembled and layered overtime hours. That is so true. That's what I'm now doing exactly what rose tireless and when she came into my house, this house's beautiful nice art really nice, but didn't have anything to do with you. It's true yeah, my life, going at. I don't know how many miles per hour drive. I've shows a week roar twenty five years I wasn't really living in any spaces you weren't living anywhere. I wasn't that is the truth It makes me want to cry right now you really weren't, we haven't lived anywhere for the past twenty five years. I haven't lived, I look at my apartment in Chicago now and that was asleep space, I think that's why, when you were in in mosquito yeah, you spent so much time outside. Has that's why the two
his mattered so much everyone I favour the basis under the trade will get it because it wasn't design some one asked God design that yeah, so I mean real. I just had an hour ha, that's really yeah yeah sure when our homes really do reflect, who we are and who we aspire to be. That's when you have a space that everyone is drawn to and which interesting about that is that the best design projects that have ever been shown or seen or photograph- are always the ones where the people broke the rules. They were asking you what anyone else have this insult row this had another big aha, but you know what I realize do we spend a lot A time on the show this is my favorite show superstar Sunday on the whole network, because it's about getting people to think about the things that really matter and this book is about the inner
the outer expression and how their connected and have been able to connect them. So how do we? How do you then defined people's love of material possessions? So we're taught that you're not supposed to care about things you're, not supposed to admit it, because we're supposed to care about people in whispers first- and I believe in that- but I think we have to care about things because they do represent us and they do hold memories. So what people need to do is stop and take a beat before they acquire, and this will actually solve a lot of issues that people have, I think, stop taken being to be before you acquire before you buy that so far or that table or that lamp or that mere were or failure bookshelves of books. You ve not read whenever it is before you do it. You need to stop and ask yourself the question. Is this really serving me in my home? Is this telling the story of who I am? Does this represent? What matters to me and if it does it, you can like something just getting pretty yet
ever if it's, because you saw it on the cover of a magazine sought on a tv make over shown. Somebody told you this is the newest hottest yeah. Then the answer is no, and you need to take the space you need to recruit to make authentic decisions. Are you allow into your home in two thousand for network has lost his partner, Fernand Opengl chair doing the Indian Ocean soon Army in Sri Lanka, after needs exhaustive and unsuccessful search for Fernando he returned home and was comforted my family and friends and one of greatest gifts to pieces of Rte, given name just before their trip. Talking about other things that matter you had asked Fernando for pictures that he had done and he was offended that you asked
yeah. I can tell you that this series of ten photographs that we're woven by hand he woven by hand there were there five feet by six feet tall and their hand woven cut into millimeter wide strips that he had wove with a tweezer. And he asked me what I wanted for Christmas that year and I said what I want is if one of your woman photographs they were being represented at a gallery in New York and he went and said he was he started yelling at me and how could I ask for that? And they were selling for so much money and he would never have sold them if you didn't need to and he wishes he would never have to sell anybody's, not rich, and I had a lot of nerve and I'm a terrible person imagine going on and on and on. What do you want for? Chris was well I'd like a couple of those voters, and how are you where you asked me about so I said you know I've been. I want nothing if you want to ask me I'll tell the truth and that's the truth. What do you think I want a sweater? I don't want a sweater. I want that if you have all these ten thousand reasons, why should have that?
keep them and that's fine, sell them, do whatever you need to do and I'll be just fine. Ok, so we were leaving for that trip. The trip you never came home from and I walked into the apartment and he had had delivered both not just one of the woven trees but too, and he had hung them in the true way of my apartment and taken down the paintings that were there and put them where he wanted to go, and I, of course, to think about that after the sooner me. But when I came home yes, it was the first thing that I noticed and it represented Nothing really represented everything it represented one as well. To that. That would do it that he would do it in that way that he couldn't be coerced into doing it, but in it
already wanted to do it anyway. That's really who he was so there, the most meaningful things to me that I have they are. They represent his soul. They represent his heart. They represent his his essence as a person and and the fact that he he wanted me to have them, not one which I had asked for, but both. Was just a level of generosity that I dont think comes on around a lot, and so every time you see that you are reminded all of that conscious and subconscious Gee goes into every time. You look at one of those absolutely any touched. He sees a stage one and I walked past it and, of course it sometimes subconscious. Sometimes it's very conscious, but I think to myself. I was love that way
let us create I'm over Winfrey and you ve been listening to supersede conversations the pod cast. You can follow superficial on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook if you haven't yet go to apple podcast, unsubscribe rate and review of this plant gas join me next week for another supersede conversation. Thank you for listening. From the women who brought you sugar em, you would being visionary filmmaker gouvernail in executive producer, Oprah winfried comes then you anthology drama series yours today, exploring destroying relationship of one young couple story: Social, Lock, Olano, Miller, Michael and a legendary Sicily, Thyssen, every second, every minute. Every hour cherish the day. Don't mister tombe they promote February eleven and twelve on the upper Winfrey network.
Transcript generated on 2020-02-05.