Behind the Blue Door

By: John Demsey
Written by Alina Cho
Photography by Douglas Friedman
240 pages
3 gatefolds and die-cut slipcase
10 x 
13 in. 
 (254 x 
330 mm.), 
More than 300 
color illustrations
ISBN: 978-0-86565-434-1
US $65 / 
CAN $82 / 
GBP £50
PUBLISHED: Oct, 2023

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The decor of entrepreneur John Demsey’s six-story townhouse on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, an explosion of color, pattern, and art

The muted, understated exterior of the townhouse on a tree-lined New York City street belies the sumptuous feast for the eyes that hits you upon opening its blue front door. Every room of its five main floors has its own saturated color scheme, David Hicks–inspired geometrically patterned rug, vibrant fabrics, new and vintage furniture, art and photographs covering walls, and sculptures and decorative objects topping tables and filling shelves. For the owner, John Demsey, the starting point was a pair of multicolored Louboutin boots, which inspired the palette of the living room rug. Working with interior designer and friend Bibi Monnahan, he carefully chose and positioned each piece of furniture, work of art, and decorative object, and mounted his enormous photography collection. The result is a tour de force of maximalist design, now captured for all to see in Douglas Friedman’s luminous photographs and with journalist Alina Cho as our eyewitness guide.

John Demsey is a transformational business builder, prestige beauty pioneer and philanthropist who has led multiple luxury brands to unparalleled global success. Over his 30-year career at Estée Lauder Companies, he was instrumental in growing the company into a multi-billion-dollar beauty icon across established and emerging markets. A career-long innovator and creative mentor, Demsey is known for forging some of the most successful artist and designer collaborations in the industry and supporting several philanthropic organizations helping animals, addressing food access challenges, promoting performing arts and fundraising for HIV and AIDS research, treatment and prevention.

Alina Cho is an Emmy Award–winning contributor to CBS Sunday Morning, producer of the Netflix documentary on Martha Stewart, and host of The Atelier with Alina Cho, an interview series with fashion designers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. For nearly a decade, Cho was a national correspondent for CNN. She lives in New York.

Douglas Friedman is a renowned fashion, portrait, and interiors photographer whose work has appeared in Architectural Digest, ELLE Decor, Veranda, Vogue, T Magazine, Vanity Fair, and countless other publications in the United States and abroad. He has had several exhibitions of his fine art photography. He lives in Marfa, Texas.

During John Demsey’s three decades at the helm of Estée Lauder, his business know-how came second only to his unique radar for rising stars. He had an eye for allure, recruiting everyone from Lady Gaga to Nicki Minaj for MAC campaigns in the early 2010s. After leaving the company last year, Demsey switched gears, turning toward decorating his six-story town house, on the Upper East Side, which is the subject of a new coffee-table book. In a testament to his “maximalist mantra,” every square inch of the home brims in color, pattern, and texture. Photographer Douglas Friedman captures the art and accessories that distinguish each room, and journalist Alina Cho delves into Demsey’s creative process.

Paulina Prosnitz, Airmail – Best Read of the Week

…an aesthetic that celebrates not just the hunt for the right object but also its display, in conversation with more and more equally unique items. This is not about money; it is not solely about taste. It is about the eye of a beholder.

John Demsey’s New York City townhouse home in all its more is more glory has been captured in…Behind The Blue Door: A Maximalist Mantra with photographs by Douglas Friedman and text by Alina Cho.


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