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Lithuaniaa[euro][TM]s Guru of home interior design.

Eugenijus Skerstonas, 52, graduated as a specialist of economic cybernetics, which was the name for management in the Soviet era. After the re-establishment of Lithuanian independence, he worked as an adviser on the issues of banking and bookkeeping in the government of PM Kazimira Prunskiene. Later, Skerstonas was top manager in then state-owned (later privatized and bankrupt) Lithuanian Airlines. Later, he participated in Lithuania's LNK TV lifestyle programs on the current life of the French nobility and its manors in France. Skerstonas was especially fascinated with the hunting traditions of the French nobility. Now he works as a translator and writes books on home interior design. His first book, Domicilium Elegans ("Elegant Household"), received good media coverage in Lithuania last year. His new book is called Private Vilnius: Interiors. Skerstonas, speaking on Lithuanian public TV on the eve of 2012, stated that the progress with reconstructing the Palace of Lithuanian Grand Dukes was Lithuania's main event for him in 2011.

Why do you think it is necessary to reconstruct the Palace of Lithuanian Grand Dukes in Vilnius?

On the TV program "In the middle of Europe," I spoke about the Palace of Lithuanian Grand Dukes. I said that it is necessary to finish the work which was started. Such a big investment should not be leveled to the ground if the walls already stand. Those who are not happy with the reconstruction - with the very idea as well as its implementation - probably have their reasons for it and they sincerely believe in these reasons. I have no right to take the position of some omniscient judge. Maybe it was possible just to leave the excavated and preserved foundation of this building, but the wall of bricks and stones, although they are authentic, would unlikely become an impetus for national pride. It is the reconstruction - I would not call it rebuilding - which confirms that Vilnius, the former capital of the Lithuanian Grand Duchy, was an important political, economic and cultural center of Eastern and Central Europe. The Lithuanian Grand Duchy was the basis for our national identity.

Why do you love France? How did you learn the French language? I don't know if it could be described as love, but my emotions towards that country have been exceptional since my teenage years. One of the reasons for this is quite strange: when I first heard the song Mon Dieu, by Edith Piaf, I was astonished by the voice of that singer. Later this astonishment turned into an unquenchable desire to find out more about her personality and her country, as well as to understand the meaning of the words. By the way, Piaf never visited the Soviet Union, where she was especially adored: her vinyl records were released; the radio did broadcast her songs and crowds of people attended movies in which she had roles, as well as documentary movies about her. Then we lived in a hermetically closed country where the ambition to become a cosmonaut was realistic, while travel to Paris was a crazy delirium. Do you realize how everything in life can turn round! I even had a big pleasure to talk to Alain Carrier, her good friend, who made posters for her concerts. I even had the courage to sing a capella French in her song La vie en rose for him and I got from him some records with his autograph. That was the beginning of my love for France. Until now, the Eiffel Tower is the most beautiful building in the world and the region of Perigord, with its countless feudal castles, is paradise on earth for me. I learned French when I was already at quite a mature age, working since 1994 in Lithuanian Airlines. Then I got the opportunity to visit Paris and other French cities and to meet very interesting people, who have made a big influence on my mindset. I did read in French with enthusiasm a lot and I'm especially happy that I mastered my pronunciation, which is difficult for foreigners.

What inspired you to write the book Domicilium Elegans? Tell us about your new book. I hear that you visited plenty of private homes in Vilnius to write it.

My old passion for classical principles of design in home interiors, and my love of France, inspired me to write the first book. It is my lifetime hobby. We pay a lot of attention to our clothing, cars, yards, but it is at home where we spend most of the time. Now I finished the second book, which I would rather call an album, with history-related comments on private residences in Vilnius. There are some 80 photos of contemporary flats, as well as many archive photos and drawings there.

What did your work look like in the government of PM Kazimira Prunskiene (in office from March 11, 1990 to Jan. 10, 1991)? Did you like the job?

In 1990, my university thesis was "The organizing of bookkeeping in France." I studied economic cybernetics, which could be called studies of management now. So, at the dawn of Lithuanian independence, I was invited to head a group of translators in the government's International Relations Department and soon I became an adviser to the PM on the issues of banks and bookkeeping. Then it was a time of birth of commercial banks and my modest professional knowledge, and my English language, were a good pretext to take that position, though, thanks to fate, not for a long time. It is strange to recall now and to realize that I worked in the first government of post-independence Lithuania, because I was never interested in politics or an official career. I'm not interested in that now either. I value individual initiative and freedom of activity most of all. Now I meet with foreign ambassadors as a personality and author. I hate everything that is related to official protocol, though I value politeness and modesty.

Tell us how you implanted teeth into the mouths of stewardesses of Lithuanian Airlines?

From where do you know this!? Already almost 20 years has passed since then. I did this, indeed, in some sense.

When I came to work at Lithuanian Airlines, which does not exist anymore, to my great regret, Stasys Dailydka, the director general of the company, told me, besides other things, to take care of the young company's image. Then, most of the personnel, pilots and stewardesses were inherited from the Soviet times due to their professional experience. Even earlier, I was always shocked with the appearance of the stewardesses of Aeroflot, whose main accent was the almost theatrical make-up and red-colored towers made of their hair: they were reaching the ceiling of the plane - these towers of hair got electrified due to such contact. Their figures showed 'a lot of good body [the Lithuanian-language expression meaning "overweight"].' Their wide smiles showed teeth of gold. Shouldn't I repair their teeth? I could not reconcile myself with this, because I heard sarcastic comments from foreign passengers, especially young guys. When I started work on the tooth changes, I received many angry comments. However, I soon started to receive thanks: I will never forget how one of stewardesses told me that, after my advice, she refused to get gold teeth, changed her hairstyle and found a boyfriend. I know that they married and they have three children.

Interview by Rokas M. Tracevskis
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Title Annotation:Opinion
Author:Tracevskis, Rokas M.
Publication:The Baltic Times (Riga, Latvia)
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:4EXLT
Date:Jan 25, 2012
Words:1233
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