Eva Chen and Tom Bannister Almost Cried While Assembling This Nursery Item
The couple joins us on “Design Time.”
Published Aug 18, 2022 6:00 AM
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Eva Chen and Tom Bannister knew early in their relationship they’d always have a bit of rebellion in them. “One of the things that drew us to each other is we’re both really curious. We like to try new things, travel, and see the world through fresh eyes,” Chen tells Domino deputy editor Julie Vadnal in the first episode of season 1.5 of Design Time: The Rebellious Ones (out now on Spotify and Apple Podcasts). “We both knew we didn’t want to follow a conventional path. It was a strong commonality we had,” adds Bannister.
Three kids and many years later, that rebellious spark remains, and so far, they’ve been pretty successful. Chen—formerly editor in chief of Lucky magazine—is now head of fashion partnerships at Instagram and a New York Times best-selling children’s book author, while Bannister recently pivoted from a decades-long career in advertising to becoming a full-time granola connoisseur, launching his brand, Tom’s Perfect 10, to an impressive 17,000-person wait list in 2020.
In the episode, the dynamic duo dishes on their most recent creative endeavors, including their upstate cottage renovation, newfound love of gardening, and, of course, all things granola. They also indulged in a quick round of Never Have I Ever. Here’s a sneak peek:
Never have I ever…cried while building IKEA furniture.
Chen: Not IKEA furniture, but I think we’ve come close to crying when putting together a bassinet. We were watching Squid Game at the same time, and it literally felt like a Squid Game challenge. You literally had to stand up, go outside, and stare at the stars for a bit, because it felt like you were about to have a nervous breakdown.
Bannister: Yeah, not IKEA furniture, but certainly assembling baby stuff. Certain things do make you want to tear your hair out a little bit.
Never have I ever…arranged my books by color.
Chen: I have done it. I like it. I think it’s happy. Here’s my philosophy on rainbow decor: If it makes you happy, it’s fine. The kids like it. Our bookshelves in the living room downstairs are not rainbow now, but they have been rainbow at one point and it’s pretty. I don’t mind it.
Bannister: I haven’t organized any books ever by color. But I did spend half a day once in New York—we have this big bookshelf that goes across the whole living room—and compartment by compartment, I organized it. It’s not organized by color, but when people come and stay, I can find the exact book I’m looking for and give it to them.
Never have I ever…looked up a friend’s home price on Zillow.
Bannister: I’ve definitely done that.
Chen: I have done that when going to homes where it’s just mind-bogglingly, ridiculously over the top. But those are often not on Zillow, because they’re private sales. They’re not even listed on the market. We’ve tried, and then you realize, oh, this is so fancy that it doesn’t exist. This house basically doesn’t exist.
Never have I ever…fought with a significant other over a decor item.
Bannister: I’m pretty hands off when it comes to decor. I generally defer to Eva. My ideal space is very minimal. In one of the Bond movies recently, there was an image of [James Bond’s] apartment, and it was literally just an empty apartment, a leather sofa, and a glass of whiskey. And that is my ideal apartment. Eva’s a little bit more on the eclecticism side, and I’m a bit more on the minimalism side.
Chen: All Tom wants decor-wise is a big brown Chesterfield-style leather chair.
Bannister: And a glass of whiskey.
Chen: We’ve never had a space where he can have a man cave, as they call it, but that’s all he wants.
Bannister: I really love this space. I think Eva has done an amazing job. You feel very relaxed and inspired when you’re here. It’s a creative space designed to put you in a flow state, and it really does. When you get up, you just kind of drift downstairs. You feel ethereal. It’s an amazing space, and I could never have done it.
Never have I ever…lit a dessert-scented candle.
Chen: Never. I don’t like candles. That’s scandalous, right? I like smelling candles. Sometimes I will literally get a candle and put it in a cabinet so that when I open the cabinet it smells good. But I don’t light them for multiple reasons—young kids plus candles equals a cautionary tale. And I really like faint smells.
If I were to light a scented candle, it probably would be herby. Lemon thyme smells so good. Tomato candles smell amazing. I still don’t know that I would burn one. I would rather just go outside and rub my face and hands all over the plants.