Stanley Abercrombie -- Interior Design, 3/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
Famous Interiors: The Originals
by Cornelia van Gelder
Arnhem, Netherlands: Terra Lannoo, Publishers, distributed by Antique, Collectors' Club, $65
160 pages, 167 illustrations (152 color)
When interiors are designed by their occupants, the results can be deliciously idiosyncratic—and a collection of them irresistible. This book begins with the New York apartment of Interior Design Hall of Fame member Jamie Drake. Revealing Drake's famed sense of color, the project combines areas of lilac, slate, and golden yellow; furnishings, accessories, and art are equally eclectic, including a pair of armchairs by Jean-Michel Frank, a Greek-inspired stool by T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, and a large self-portrait by Chuck Close. Uptown from Drake, furniture designer Vladimir Kagan and his wife, needlework expert Erica Wilson, live with not only their own designs but also an abundance of collections: model trains, porcelain teacups, Haitian paintings, African and Asian masks, Mexican carved reptiles. It goes on and on, with a surprise in every corner and on every surface. "I know, I know," Kagan is quoted as saying. "In my work I advocate the notion of less is more. But here at home, it is always more is more."
Other "originals" are nonprofessionals when it comes to interiors. Rosita and Ottavio Missoni apply their fashion sense to their live-work space in Milan. And Dennis Hopper (Easy Rider and Blue Velvet) lives in a fortresslike Los Angeles complex, part of it designed by Frank O. Gehry & Associates. The largely open interior contains furniture by Alvar Aalto, Isamu Noguchi, Harry Bertoia, and Charles and Ray Eames, a collection of Venetian glass, and art by Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Julian Schnabel as well as the actor himself.
Not your typical selection.
by John Saladino
London: Frances Lincoln, $95
260 pages, 250 illustrations (234 color), DVD
This big, square, beautiful book is about a single house. But what a house! In 1985, Interior Design Hall of Fame member John Saladino came across the ruins of a 1920's Italianate stone villa overlooking the Pacific in Santa Barbara, California. "I had an extraordinary, visceral response," he writes of seeing the site for the first time. "The architecture was so like my own that I might have designed it myself. . . . It stayed in my mind over the years and when I finally bought it in 2001, I felt immediately that it had been destined to be mine."
Divided into four sections, Architecture, Interiors, Landscape, and Entertaining—this last part including dinner menus and recipes—the book is beautifully illustrated. "Before" images and construction photos give some idea of the four years of reconstruction and design work, perhaps the source of the house's punning name, Villa di Lemma. Interior views and vignettes show Saladino at his celebrated best, creating old-world character and patina but able to snap a room into the present with deft touches. Note his own 1970 table lamp, with its clear glass cylindrical base, juxtaposed with an Italian Renaissance chest in the bedroom.
An enclosed DVD, narrated by Saladino himself, adds a tour of the house and its grounds. Is anything missing from this justifiably elaborate presentation? Just one thing. Although site plans, drawings of interior details, and delightful freehand sketches are all provided, there is no floor plan. Other than that, here is an extraordinary subject, handsomely recorded.
What They're Reading. . .
Room for Improvement
by Stacey Ballis
New York: Berkley Books, $13
Let's face it. Whether it comes in the form of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series or Lauren Weisberger's The Devil Wears Prada, sometimes the only thing that satisfies the need to read is a good, lighthearted piece of chick lit. Imagine, then, the delight of Penelope Irwin, whose firm does mostly residential work, in discovering that one well-known author in the genre had chosen as a heroine a high-end interior designer who must negotiate the idiosyncrasies of appearing on a network reality show about DIY renovation. "It was this fluffy little book that suddenly had me thinking about how jobs will change profoundly in light of current economic realities," Irwin begins. "The character initially has no constraints on her projects, and suddenly she's faced with a multitude." Citing the old saw about quality, price, and speed—pick any two but not all three—Irwin pledges never to sacrifice quality. It looks like tough times are going to require clients to be flexible with deadlines. --Deborah Wilk