Collected Interiors: Rooms That Tell A Story

© Collected Interiors by Philip Mitchell with Judith Nasatir, Rizzoli New York, 2021. Photography©Annie Schlechter

It’s not everyday that decorating doyenne Bunny Williams writes the forward to another designer’s monograph, but such is the case with Philip Mitchell’s new book, Collected Interiors: Rooms That Tell a Story, just released by Rizzoli New York. And having perused its pages, I can certainly understand why.

Photography©Annie Schlechter

Williams writes, “Designer will study this book, but those who love to collect will also be inspired, with Philip’s guidance, to imagine new ways of combining their objects, hanging their art, and making their homes more comfortable and inviting places to live.”

I believe she is right. Mitchell’s book, his first, is effortlessly chic. And it’s a font of ingenious decorating ideas.

Photography©Annie Schlechter

“The homes in these pages show where curiosity and a passion for beautiful things have led my clients and me and, to some degree, where we are focused next.”

Philip Mitchell
Photography©Annie Schlechter

Mitchell aptly refers to his style of decorating as ‘modern maximalism’, in which he successfully celebrates his client’s collected objects, mixing them with his imaginative choices for new furnishings, finishes, materials, colors, and silhouettes.

These are rooms populated by a wide range of stylistic pieces–from Deco chairs to contemporary light fixtures to mid-century standards–resulting in spaces that are at once welcoming, authentic, and fully resolved.

Photography©Annie Schlechter
Photography©Annie Schlechter

Here’s the thing: I am rarely at a loss for words. But having carefully studied the pages of Collected Interiors, I would just conclude by saying this is my favorite design book of 2021–and an excellent gift idea for the design aficionado on your holiday guest list.


Collected Interiors: Rooms That Tell a Story

By Philip Mitchell

Rizzoli New York, October 2021

Life In A French Country House: Entertaining For All Seasons

© Life in a French Country Houseby Cordelia de Castellane, Rizzoli New York, 2021.
Photography© Matthieu Salvaing

As we cautiously turn the corner on the pandemic, people across the globe are traveling again. But if you’re sticking close to home, at least for the time being, there’s plenty of wanderlusting to be had in the pages of LIFE IN A FRENCH COUNTRY HOUSE: ENTERTAINING FOR ALL SEASONS, by Cordelia de Castellane, published by Rizzoli New York.

“This is the landscape looking out from the house. I like the idea of being high up. I can stay here for hours, simply thinking and staring at the horizon. It is also a quintessential spot for admiring the sunset and having a drink at the end of the day.” Photo credit © Matthieu Salvaing
“I set my tables outside at the first sign of spring, at the last minute, with garden flowers. They set the tone and I match the rest to them.”
Photo credit © Oleg Covian

As France’s most prominent host and the artistic director of Dior Home and Baby Dior, de Castellane is a notable ambassador of the Gallic lifestyle. In fact I’m told she is to French entertaining what Inès de la Fressange is to French style (quite a distinction!) and there’s plenty of evidence to support that conjecture in the pages of this lush new book.

The four seasons serve as the framework for the volume, with captivating inspiration for living and entertaining in effortless French style throughout the calendar year.

“This winter table in the boudoir is another expression of my love for setting plates against dark-colored tablecloths.” Photo credit © Matthieu Salvaing
“Under the magnolia, the blue table with the blue Toile de Jouy tableware and sunflowers from
the vegetable garden evoke the colors of the Majorelle garden, making it a delightful place to
have lunch.” Photo credit © Matthieu Salvaing

In sections devoted to flower arranging, table settings, interior design, menus and beyond, the book invites the reader into the author’s effortless lifestyle in the French countryside, with archival photography illuminating the history de Castellane’s home and its generations of familial inhabitants.

“The house was built in three parts between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. On the left is a little guest house. In this part of the garden, I went for a very French, quite classical look, whereas the garden in the back is very English, more Bohemian.”
Photo credit © Matthieu Salvaing
Photo credit © Matthieu Salvaing

The end of 2021 is upon us. With bucolic garden, romantic tablescapes, time-honored recipes, and blossoming wallpapers galore, I can’t think of a better gift for the Francophile on your holiday shopping list.



By Cordelia de Castellane 

Rizzoli New York, 2021

From Palm Beach to Shangri La: The Architecture of Marion Sims Wyeth

© From Palm Beach to Shangri La by Jane S. Day in association with the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, Rizzoli New York, 2021

Within the pages of Jane S. Day’s stunning new book FROM PALM BEACH TO SHANGRI LA, produced in association with the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, you’ll find an in-depth expose of the legendary 20th century architect Marion Sims Wyeth’s most notable structures, including Marjorie Merriweather Post’s former home Mar-a-Lago, and Doris Duke’s Shangri La.

Lesser known but equally noteworthy residences such as Hogarcito and La Claridad, among others, are also chronicled in this first-ever retrospective volume of Wyeth’s exceptional work.

The pool at Hogarcito © Brantley Photography

Refined proportions, a sense of grandeur, and unapologetic excess combine to define Wyeth’s métier. His tropical architectural vernacular produced, “a kind of home design that takes the standard fixtures of paradise—palm trees, ebullient fountains, glistening pools and gardens, views of the sea—and mixes them with a dash of the exotic—a Moorish-style balcony or doorway, Venetian archways, fanciful courtyards in the Spanish style, and spiraling staircases in stone and iron.”

The dining room of the Spanish Courtyard House © Brantley Photography
The loggia of the Spanish Courtyard House © Brantley Photography
Southwood’s Eastern facade, the home of Dr. and Mrs. John A. Vietor © Brantley Photography
The central courtyard at Bienestar designed in 1924 for Frederick S. Wheeler © Brantley Photography

With copies of original plans and elevations throughout, as well as early black-and-white photography, Day’s book enlightens the reader about Wyeth’s seminal structures with historical provenance and contemporary photography. It is that rare tome that’s both scholarly and visually captivating; it will serve to inspire architects and interior designers working in tropical locals–and beyond–for generations to come.


From Palm Beach to Shangri La: The Architecture of Marion Sims Wyeth

By Jane S. Day in association with the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach

Rizzoli New York, 2021

Interior Affairs: Sofía Aspe and The Art Of Design

© Interior Affairs edited by Sofía Aspe, Rizzoli New York, 2021

In the introduction to her new book Interior Affairs, the uber-talented Mexican born interior designer Sofía Aspe writes;

“Interior design is a profession that strides between architecture and decoration. Rebellious by nature, it does not conform to the spatial limits that bound the architectural layout or to the established arrangement of furniture. Interior design tears down walls, invents furniture, and uncovers angles and materials with one sole purpose: to strike a balance among functionality, pleasure, and aesthetics.”

Interior of CASA CLUB EL CARMEN, Atlixco, Puebla, Mexico, with artworks by Beatriz Posada: Raìces 2, Raìces 3
© Photo credit Alfonso de Béjar

One would be hard pressed to come up with a better description of the interior design discipline. And Aspe’s views offer a window into the philosophy behind the two dozen projects chronicled in the book, which focuses on spaces that make her client’s lives richer and more pleasurable.

Interior of CASA AUSTIN, Austin, Texas, USA with artwork by Gabriel de la Mora:44.400, III, 2018, 1,776 used sides of 888 matchboxes from 44,400 burnt matches on cardboard, © Courtesy Gabriel de la Mora and Proyectos Monclova Private Collection Photo credit ©José Margaleff
Interior of CASA AUSTIN, Austin, Texas, USA with artwork by Jose Davila: Untitled (Woman), 2019, archival pigment print,© Jose Davila, by SIAE 2021 Photo credit ©José Margaleff
Interior of CASA LA SIRENA, Chicxulub, Yucatan, Mexico, with artworks by Jorge Méndez Blake: Lenguaje Desmantelado I, 2017, acrylic on linen, 260 x 200 cm © Courtesy the artist
Photo credit ©Alfonso de Béjar

Decidedly contemporary rooms, chock-full of notable works of art, brim with Latin American references: rich color palettes, natural materials, and demonstrative silhouettes. The compendium of spaces, from projects in Mexico City, Merida, Miami, Austin, Madrid, and Vail, showcases meticulously crafted interiors by Aspe and her all-woman studio.

Interior of CAMPOS ELÍSEOS , Mexico City, Mexico with artworks by Adán Paredes: Rapsoda I, ceramic © Courtesy the artist Photo credit ©Alfonso de Béjar
Interior of CHAMBERÍ, Madrid, Spain with artwork by Aldo Chaparro: Brass &Automotive Paint, brass and paint, © Courtesy the artist Photo credit ©Jamie Navarro

A must-have for any informed interior design library, Interior Affairs transports you into Aspe’s world of inspired interiors, where this humble observer would certainly welcome taking up residence.


© Interior Affairs edited by Sofía Aspe, Rizzoli New York, 2021

Wanderlusting, with Juan Montoya & Celerie Kemble

Close friends intended to celebrate their shared June birthdays in Tel Aviv. Another couple planned their destination wedding last fall in Lisbon; their fingers are crossed for the rescheduled date this fall. And I had hoped to take my mother to Paris. Then COVID happened and plans were scuttled. Maybe you had a trip planned too?

But luxury problems aside, like many I’ve made the best of not being able to travel by immersing myself in books: fiction, non-fiction, and all-manner of books about design. And on the subject of design, there are two just-released standouts perfect for lock-down wanderlusting: Juan Montoya’s Designing Paradise, and Celerie Kemble’s Island Whimsey, both from Rizzoli New York.


In Designing Paradise, we’re transported to Montoya-designed residences that occupy ravishing sites in Punta Mita in Mexico, Casa de Campo in the Dominican Republic, Miami Beach, Fisher Island, and other idyllic oceanfront locales. As much as these homes are escapist fantasias, they are also inextricably rooted to their geographic locations and their regional cultures.

Open-air pavilions with endless views of sea and sand; sweeping terraces with glimmering pools and dramatic sunsets; sumptuous interiors with blue-and-white tiles, intricate beadwork, global textiles, and thatched roofs: these are just some of the details revealed in this envy-inducing volume.


Island Whimsy chronicles how, in the summer of 2004, Celerie Kemble came upon on a wild swath of jungle in the Dominican Republic next to minty-blue water and an endless stretch of golden sand — and fell madly in love. Over the ensuing years she designed a home away from home there, an island retreat—a clubhouse and a grouping of family homes and guesthouses—suffused with light and air, full of indoor and outdoor rooms for relaxation. The book recounts Kemble’s deeply personal and creative journey designing Playa Grande and bringing this labor of love to life.

On the subject of travel, Mark Twain famously remarked, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

And while travel may be curtailed as we ride out the pandemic, Montoya and Kemble, with their beautiful new tomes, offer the next best thing.

The Best Design Books of 2020

With a pandemic that’s forced us to more-or-less sequester at home for several months, you don’t need me to tell you it’s been a tumultuous year.

Under the circumstances, it’s no surprise that people have turned to their homes and gardens as sanctuaries in a storm – the psychic antidotes for the challenges of living through 2020. And this year’s finest design books – examining interiors, entertaining, and gardens – provide compelling inspiration as we turn the focus to our own corners of the world. Here are some of my favorites, in alphabetical order by author.

Continue reading “The Best Design Books of 2020”

On Style: An Introduction

When talking about design, some critics say, “We have seen everything before. There’s really nothing new being created.” On a granular level, I’m inclined to agree.  

But interior design has always been defined by its moment in time, generational movements that are, in turn, shaped by culture, economics, and fashion. For example, in the 1970s industrial minimalism was au courant. In the early 1980s, many decorators were putting their own spin on British or French design. Concurrently, other designers created rooms that celebrated juxtaposition: Lucite with floral chintz; streamlined Parsons tables with eighteenth-century Irish chairs. This set the stage for the eclecticism of the high-flying 1990s.  

The rise of the Internet at the turn of the twenty-first century provided a proliferation of visual information to drive the eclectic movement still further. Glorious Moroccan color palettes, sleek mid-century Italian silhouettes, and the patina associated with Japanese wabi-sabi are just a few of the ideas designers freely incorporated into their work. With so many concepts in the mix, interior design increasingly became reflective of a global view.  

That brings me to this book.  

In choosing fifty designers who represent the next generation of interior design, I began by doing research. Who has great style? Who has something visually interesting to say? Who is moving the discipline forward?  

As I sifted through the finalists, I found that there was no one style of design that captured today’s moment. Instead, in what feels like a natural progression from eclecticism, there is a proliferation of aesthetic diversity. Words like contemporary or classic feel too limiting. We need a broader vocabulary to describe design today. Among the designers featured in this book, there are the New Traditionalists, who pay homage to classic design while responding to societal changes; the Modern Minimalists, who seek to create sanctuary to balance frenetic lives; the Saturated Colorists that conjure new palettes; the Casual Bohemians, who mix humble furnishings in exciting ways; and devotees of masculine restraint and urban chic.  

Now, make no mistake: interior design’s function will always be to provide a personal backdrop for the business of living, and Louis Sullivan’s famous “form follows function” edict remains prescient. But there’s a new freedom in interior design. We may have seen it all before, but the variety of aesthetic lenses through which designers see interiors is expanding exponentially and in tandem with the technological advances of the twenty-first century.  

As you read the profiles of the fifty designers included in this book, with their thoughts on their influences and inspiration, color and key elements, it’s my sincere hope that their answers, in concert with stylish images of their work, will inspire and delight you. Because in the end, isn’t that what great design is all about? 

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

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