Celebrity Names Blog

9 by Design Names: Bathtubs and Chandeliers

9 by Design Names: Bathtubs and Chandeliers

Cortney and Robert Novogratz love to mix high and low, vintage and modern in their designs, and that eclecticism extends to their baby names. Their first child is named Wolfgang. Their fifth child is named Five.

The stars of Bravo's 9 by Design gained attention (and a reality show) by moving into Manhattan fixer-uppers, transforming them into edgy design spaces, and throwing fabulous parties. Impressed partygoers clamor to become clients, and the houses sell themselves. Their designs inspire raves, and their lifestyle inspires "envy and loathing." Their baby names, on the other hand, inspire a few cheers and an awful lot of jeers. They are certainly, as a Name Candy reader pointed out, a startling collection. Here are the names, complete with explanations from Robert Novogratz's blog:

Wolfgang -- for Mozart ("Nogrovatz is Austrian, as is Mozart")

Bellamy & Tallulah -- the eldest daughter gets a "French name, meaning beautiful friend," while her twin sister gets a "very southern name" evoking Tallulah Bankhead, in homage to Cortney's upbringing in Georgia

Breaker -- named for Australian folk hero Harry "Breaker" Morant, subject of a play and a movie. His nickname "breaker" came from his horsemanship. Enthuses Bob, "He was a scholar, a poet, an opera singer, a soldier, and the best horseman in all of Austrailia (he broke wild horses)." Funny that he doesn't mention Morant's execution for war crimes after murdering the soldiers who had murdered his good friend.

Five & Holleder "Holly" -- Five "was obviously our fifth child..."  while twin brother Holly was "named after Don Holleder, an All American quarterback at West Point. He was killed in Vietnam in a very heroic act of saving his own men. He was loved by my Pops and all that new [sic] him. His guys nicknamed him Holly, and we did as well."

Major -- Cortney explains, "We named [him] Major Robert Novogratz, after Robert's dad, who was a major in the Army."

Here's how the parents explain their design aesthetic: "We like to mix high and low, old and new, white walls and colors that pop. We mix objects that don't necessarily go together, like a chandelier and a bathtub. We like to take risks," says Bob. Cortney says, "We weren't good students, so it was easy for us to break the rules." Do you think their baby names fit this aesthetic?

We do. Wolfgang evokes the refined arts of classical music and fine cuisine, although the name was given some rocker cred when Eddie Van Halen and Valerie Bertinelli chose it for their son. Five, on the other hand, evokes Seinfeld's George Costanza, who famously declared Seven to be the perfect baby name. (Erykah Badu famously took the dare.)  These two names alone bring together high art and pop culture, and also "repurpose" words for new uses.

We like the girl's names. Tallulah is a proven celebrity favorite (and namesake Bankhead is a rule breaking figure all on her own). Bellamy seems destined to rise, a name that has never appeared on the charts, yet offers a fresh alternative to the Bellas.

We also give props to the Novogratzes for finding boys names that evoke daredevil, frontier times without resorting to the readymade set of "cowboy names" like Wyatt, Cash and Zane. Football, wild horses and war -- the manliest of pastimes. (Side note: the original Breaker, Austrialian Harry Morant, was pals with another Australian folk figure, Banjo Paterson, namesake of Rachel Griffith's young Banjo).

Can you guess which is the only Novogratz name to have appeared on the U.S. baby name charts? Major. The name was #278 in the 1880s, when charts were first kept, and only exited the charts in the 1960s. (Hollie was also a popular name for boys in the early 20th century.) Major also offers an interesting way to solve the "namesake" dilemma -- named for his grandfather (and father) Robert, he nonetheless has an interesting name all his own.

What do you think of the 9 by Design names? Are the Novogratzes trailblazers, or should these name rules never have been broken?



Please do not add links to your comments. Thank you.

May 3, 2010 1:21 PM
By Hillary (not verified)

I actually like their name choices, even though I'm not sure there's one among them I would use personally. I think they are artistic people and made artistic choices in naming their children. But I'd be happy to bear any of those names...I think in general I'd be happy wearing names more daring than those I'm willing to give my own kids. I don't think they are making a choice that their children will regret later.

May 4, 2010 1:23 AM
By Kelly.au (not verified)

I like this interesting mix of names. I probably wouldn't be brave enough to choose any of them though!

PS. Please note the correct spelling of "Australian" :-)

May 4, 2010 4:41 PM
By Zoerhenne (not verified)

I guess these names work for them but they are so NOT names in my book. Well maybe Bellamy or Tallulah but definitely not Five!

May 4, 2010 9:06 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think they are all interesting names ... I just hope the kids don't get teased at school (especially Five!)

May 4, 2010 9:06 PM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I think they are all interesting names ... I just hope the kids don't get teased at school (especially Five!)

May 5, 2010 10:23 AM
By Katsy (not verified)

I saw this show a couple of weeks ago and had to rewind it to be sure I heard the names correctly, they are all so off the wall. Kudos to them for choosing unique names that all have meaning, not just random names. However, none of them are my style.

May 30, 2010 10:10 AM
By Steph (not verified)

The name Major just makes me thnk of Major Major Major from Catch-22.
Also, is Five a boy or a girl? This is the only name I can't get behind. While it seems like they put a lot of thought into these creative names for the rest of the kids, I can't help but think Five might feel a little left out. That they just went, well whatever, he's the fifth one. That's easy enough isn't it?

January 29, 2011 7:51 AM
By Anonymous (not verified)

I believe that the names suit the kids perfectly. They are an eccentric bunch. Anyone else notice that they are an extremely good looking family too?

January 29, 2011 11:41 PM
By mariadeacero (not verified)

I'm so sick of Tallulah.

January 31, 2011 9:11 PM
By Alli (not verified)

Steph - Catch-22 was the first thing I thought of when I read Major too!

I think the only really horrible one is Five.

February 1, 2011 8:25 PM
By Essy (not verified)

LOL @ Steph - totally what I though too =) nice!

I like Wolfgang and Bellamy except Bellamy kind of looks like Bell-Amy but the explanation denotes how it is supposed to be pronounced without that i don't know if I would pronounce it like belle-ami but I really like it and it'd look weird spelled a different way too.

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