What To Read: Tyler Watamanuk is sitting pretty

This week, we interviewed Tyler Watamanuk, a style writer and producer who writes Sitting Pretty, a publication about interiors and design.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

What’s your Substack about in one sentence?

Sitting Pretty is about interiors, design, and other things – which means it can be about Frank Ocean's $150,000 sofa, a quiet Richard Neutra-designed house on a Los Angeles hillside, or deciding between buying an authentic Cesca chair or the cheaper replica.

Your background is primarily in writing about fashion. What inspired you to focus your Substack on furniture instead?

I mostly view fashion and style through the lens of design. I began to look at furniture and interiors through that lens, too, after I watched the film Beginners by Mike Mills. Something about the distinctive and sweet-natured attention to visual detail really resonated with me. The two homes in the film feel like a pitch-perfect extension of the two characters. I started to view tables, chairs, and decor as not purely functional, but something that could be more personal and stylistic. Starting this Substack was a way to focus on that interest.

How has the pandemic and the rise of remote work influenced interior design trends?

Working from home has definitely made a lot of folks think more deeply about their spaces. It could be as simple as someone being tired of looking at an empty corner, so they buy a tiny table and some tchotchkes to go with it, or it could be a deeper reimagination of one's space.

I've always viewed my home as a sanctuary from the outside world, and similar thinking has grown over the past year.

You write that people are getting bored of minimalism. Why do you think this is happening?

The concept of minimalism overpromised and then wholly underdelivered to an entire generation. The faux-philosophical bent never materialized, and without any tangible reward in sight, people ended up bored stiff.

As minimalism became mass-produced, mass-marketed, and oversaturated, designers have recognized a gap in the market and plugged it with whatever their hearts desired. Which, in this case, is squiggly furniture and wonky home goods. We’ve seen this backslide towards a more left-of-center style before in everything from graphic design to fashion.

How do you approach designing your own spaces at home?

I'm constantly walking the line between too little and too much. I'm a fan of pared-back interiors and negative space, but I also like too-bold colors and funky objects. The space between minimalism and maximalism is a really fun bullseye to try and hit, though. Usually, I start with the focal point of a room and then build outwards.

What's your dream chair to own?

This black walnut chair made by Green River Project, which is somehow both forward-looking and earthy at once. The design holds its own against any of the classics. 

Who’s another Substack writer you’d recommend?

I love reading Dirt, which is helmed by Kyle Chayka and Daisy Alioto. I'm not even sure I could think of a neat way to describe Dirt other than the two are razor-sharp writers who spend a lot of time thinking about aesthetics and culture, and luckily for us, writing about it, too.

Subscribe to Tyler’s newsletter, Sitting Pretty. You can also check out his website or find him on Twitter.