Name a form of silverwareserving spoons, say. Margo Grant Walsh can show how designers have been interpreting it for the past century: by fluting or banding the handle or encrusting it with flora, or by scalloping or piercing or smoothing the bowl.
Walsh, the vice-chairman of a 2,000-person firm called Gensler that designs corporate interiors, is a born collector. "I love seeing the different solutions to similar design problems," Walsh says. "And I love researching manufacturers, techniques and traditions in different countries and erasit's my one form of relaxation."
For the past 30 years, her main fixation has been silver. It all began when a client for a Goldman Sachs design project asked her to create a display case for a 17th-century silver pitcher. She realized she didn't know much about silver and plunged into a research project from which she has yet to emerge. Drawers in her Manhattan apartment are now stuffed with nearly 1,000 pieces of paper-wrapped silver, mostly flatware. Dozens of her larger treasurescandelabras, pitcherssit on bookshelves.