Mario Buatta on Color

“Every color is potentially beautiful, provided one uses it in a fitting context and harmonious combination. The colors of the houses and apartments I’ve lived in and designed comprise an adventure into the myriad moods a full, bold spectrum has to offer. Color should be an expression of happiness.

While growing up, the only color I vividly remember was white—tinted with a dab of color—in every room of my parents’ house. The living room had a hint of pink; the dining room a tinge of tan, and on and on. My bedroom had a hint of blue and a Mondrian inspired rug in browns, tan, and cream that was there until my sixteenth birthday, when I was allowed to decorate the room to my liking. Rebellious as I had become at that point, I envisioned the interior of a barn, with dark brown walls, a cream ceiling, and the interior of my closet cherry red. The painter looked at my mother and said, “It will look like the inside of a barn.”

She agreed with him but let me do it anyway.

Grounding my bedroom with wall-to wall carpeting in hunter green and typical maple-wood furniture, I went on to furnish it with early American antiques, lighting, and objects. By the start of my twenties, I had filled my parents’ attic and basement with more of my finds. Eventually, I would get a grown-up apartment in New York City and experiment with many color and pattern combinations.

Looking back, my parents’ Art Deco style was not my taste. Their living room, tinted pink, had a chartreuse silk mohair velvet– covered chesterfield sofa with tan silk bullion fringe and two dark brown satin-covered square pillows in each corner. Tan and brown upholstered chairs sat on a rust-colored plush velvet carpet. The curtains, in a gold-and-brown Deco leaf weave, hung from steel poles with mirrored finials.

At age ten, I remember being wowed by the combination of blue, white, and yellow in my Aunt Lily’s kitchen. I asked my mother why we didn’t have those colors in our house, and she whispered, “Too Irish.”

Well, Irish or not, I’ve had that combination in my last two apartments.

The real turning point in my life happened when I was a student in Paris with the Parsons School of Design under the tutelage of Professor Stanley Barrows. During our earlier visits to the Postimpressionist painting galleries at the Musee d’Art Moderne in 1961, he exclaimed that if we didn’t understand the use of color as Henri Matisse, Pierre Bonnard, and Edouard Vuillard did, we would never make good decorators. I am grateful that I took the advice of Professor Barrows that day; it changed my outlook on using color in my career. I never forgot that lesson, and in later decades ColorField painters like Mark Rothko, Kenneth Noland, and so many others have carried the torch of using color in new and exciting ways.

My first apartment was an L-shaped sitting room–bedroom. I painted it all eggplant, right down to the crown moldings. The fabric at the windows was an English floral chintz I used in four later apartments against walls in banana yellow, silver tea paper, pistachio green, and pale blue. As it was windowless, I painted the kitchen off-white with a pale blue ceiling to bring in the sky, and the bathroom dark blue with a blue-and-white shower curtain featuring a zebra print and citron Turkish towels. The effect was a happy mix of nature’s colors.

In interior decoration, colors set the mood of a house and therefore require deep thought. I always advise clients to think of setting the entry in a color from nature, for example, pale blue for sky, pale green for a park vista, tans for the beach, or yellow for sunshine. Bringing the outdoors in can be a great success in city environs, whereas in the country, neutrals like grays or tans give relief to the bright mix of color in your garden.

Using these prescriptions, you then start moving from room to room applying different colors—none to be repeated!—making sure that they correspond to the way each room in the house or apartment is used. For example, paint a library or den a dark color such as brown, red, or hunter green to create a cozy setting. The same applies to a family room or upstairs sitting room. Make sure that colors proceed from nature’s neutrals to mood-changing tones that suit the various spaces.

There isn’t a shade or color I’ve ever seen that I haven’t liked. Sometimes I think I was born under a rainbow, but with no illusions of finding the proverbial pot of gold. Then again, the inspired and thoughtful interior designer, one who is willing to immerse him- or herself in the miraculous world of color, may find gold in a pot of paint.”

.

Rest in peace Mario. Your generosity toward me will never be forgotten

Architectural Digest: Autobiography of a Magazine, 1920-2010 by Paige Rense

It’s impossible to have a conversation about interior design in the 20th and early 21st centuries without acknowledging Paige Rense and her contribution in elevating the decorative arts during her legendary 35 year tenure as editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest.

Paige Rense

Now a new book by Rense, ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST: AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A MAGAZINE, 1920-2010, chronicles the magazine’s humble beginnings as a regional Los Angeles based publication through the end of Rense’s tenure as the internationally respected authority on all things design.

The book is full of candid recollections, commentary, archival covers, and interior shots of the magazine, and also features the work of the world’s top architects and interior designers such as Mario Buatta, Philip Johnson, Tony Duquette, and Sally Sirkin Lewis, as well as the homes of celebrities like Truman Capote, Sonny & Cher, Elton John, Diane Keaton and Ralph Lauren.

Each chapter, written in the first person, is followed by illustrated anecdotes from Rense’s memories of past issues. As the editor who gave readers a glimpse into the most enviable homes around the world, Rense is uniquely qualified to tell the story of Architectural Digest.

In short: this book is a must for every well informed interior design library.

.

ARCHITECTURAL DIGEST: Autobiography of a Magazine: 1920 – 2010 By Paige Rense  Foreword by Mario Buatta

Rizzoli New York / October 2018

www.rizzoliusa.com

Preorder via Amazon.com

Kips Bay Decorator Show House 2018

Dan Fink Studio Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse 2018
Dan Fink Studio, photo credit Nickolas Sargent

A pair of double-faced silk portieres fabricated by the ladies at RoseHyll Studio separate Michael Herold’s patrician entry from Dan Fink’s deco-inflected ground floor landing at this year’s Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse. And yet the spaces flow together to set the tone for another banner year at this time-honored charity event on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

Continue reading “Kips Bay Decorator Show House 2018”

Books: Ray Booth’s Evocative Interiors

Ray Booth Evocative Interiors Rizzoli

Interior designer Ray Booth’s work conjures comparisons: He understands the importance of silhouette like John Saladino; the precise tailoring of his rooms call to mind a Jill Sander collection; and his color sensibility inhabits the same etherial realm as a Turner seascape hanging at the Tate.

Quite the combination.

These ideas and more are evident in Ray’s masterful new book Evocative Interiors, released last month by Rizzoli New York.

Ray Booth Evocative Interiors Rizzoli

With a forward by Bobby McAlpine – whose firm Ray Booth is a partner in – Evocative Interiors features images from projects Booth has completely over the course of nearly two decades.

Ray Booth Evocative Interiors Rizzoli

.

“Our everyday surroundings are a mark we make to claim our place on earth.  The daily experiences they evoke through the combination of color, material, furnishings, and context profoundly affect our physical and emotional well-being.” – Ray Booth

.

Ray Booth Evocative Interiors Rizzoli

Booth creates rooms meant for living – opulent and photogenic to be sure — but with a soul that portends an invitation to sit, relax, converse, and enjoy. These are rooms best categorized as supremely modern; they address our movement toward cleaner eclecticism and restorative spaces.

Evocative Interiors Ray Booth Rizzoli Books

Ray Booth Evocative Interiors Rizzoli

When I put this book down after a careful appraisal, I remembered the outspoken Polly Mellen in that scene from Unzipped where she’s in the back seat of a limousine with Isaac Mizrahi, describing his work as sublime but not fussy; in a wide-eyed moment she exclaims “Fussy — Finished!”

Sublime but not fussy aptly describes Ray Booth’s work as well.

By Ray Booth
Rizzoli New York  2018

Books: Charlotte Moss Entertains

Charlotte Moss Entertains from Rizzoli My office is on the same block as the Rizzoli Bookstore in New York, so when I wandered in Tuesday morning, I was the first person to buy a copy of Charlotte Moss Entertains, the 10th book by the celebrated decorator and trendsetter, on the day of its release (they were just arranging the first copies on the shelves.) And after spending an hour at my favorite coffee haunt across the street leafing through its pages, I can attest that this book lives up to the title: It Entertains.

Charlotte Moss Entertains Rizzoli

In her introduction, Moss lays out a concise (and accessible) list of suggestions for her readers, on all things pertaining to entertaining. Sending invites, the importance of flowers, creating table scapes, candles, dressing for dinner, and recording your parties are all covered.

Charlotte Moss EntertainsWhat follows is a rich visual chronicle of some of Charlotte’s favored events, including a dinner party in Charleston, a gala for The New York City Ballet, a book party for Patricia Gaye Tapp, and her annual ‘Caftan Caucus’ – a weekend party shared with women friends at her East Hampton home.

Charlotte Moss Entertains Rizzoli

But for me what’s most notable in Charlotte Moss Entertains – in addition to Moss’s writings – are the 200 photographs of everything including linens, china, table settings, gardens, rooms, and flowers (glorious flowers!) arranged for the guests to arrive; the images will inspire both the host and hostess for decades to come.

Charlotte Moss Entertains Rizzoli

One final thought: I’m not sure when the idea of referring to pictures as porn, as in food-porn or tabletop-porn or flower-porn entered the popular vernacular, but those are 3 concise phrases to describe this book. And if Charlotte were to blush at those references, I would beg her indulgence, because Charlotte Moss Entertains is one of the sexiest entertaining books you’ll ever own. .

By Charlotte Moss
Rizzoli New York  2018