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HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS?: Elle Decor’s inaugural Women in Design event was supposed to be a celebration of design visionaries, but it was hard to keep the grim economic outlook out of the panel discussion.

“We’re sort of at the threshold where we ask ourselves, ‘Are we going to give up our wine rooms?’ Maybe,” said architect Annabelle Selldorf, who also talked about how greater wealth had led to more accumulation of objects in the home. And Elle Decor editor in chief Margaret Russell admitted the economic crisis had her taking a second look at some of the more extravagant items featured in her magazine — including a $23,000 Goyard picnic trunk in the June issue. Some of the recent conspicuous consumption “just seems vulgar, and vulgar is not a word I would want associated with our magazine,” she said. The designers agreed their clients were asking for more timeless styles and avoiding what they considered trendy.

The panel also included Cynthia Rowley and decorators Bunny Williams and Celerie Kemble. “Somebody warned me that this was going to be like ‘The View,’ and it is,” said Russell.

Asked about the pending redecoration of the White House for its new occupants, Williams confessed she was more interested in the question of the Obamas’ pets: “I have sent some notes about a dog. And I’m going to send a dog bed when they get it.”

— Irin Carmon
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