Jaime, Meet Dorothy
The divine Draper herself might have graced Madrid's Terraza del Casino restaurant by Hayonstudio
Craig Kellogg -- Interior Design, 1/1/2008 12:00:00 AM
It's still her world. The rest of us just live in it.
Describe something as "very Dorothy Draper," and everyone knows just what you mean. The Draper name is becoming an adjective in the manner of eBay's essential "Eames-era." And conveniently so, because the 21st century is suddenly awash in a sort of 1940's redux.
Draper herself never worked in Spain, but her spirit seems to inhabit La Terraza del Casino, a restaurant that occupies the top floor at Casino de Madrid, a palatial private club in the city center. The kitchen there had come under the supervision of the Michelin-rated three-star super-chef Ferrán Adriá—hence a dish billed as Iced White Chocolate With Mango and Black Olives and another as Razor Clam With Lemon, Juniper, and Coconut Foam—and it was Adriá who suggested his friend Jaime Hayon as the right man to relieve the dining room of its tired amber tones and heavily draped curtains, replacing them with something fresh and mod.
A wunderkind industrial designer, Hayon is known primarily in the U.S. for rebranding Lladró. In his year as art director there, he helped the Spanish porcelain manufacturer find a hipper audience for its old-fashioned figurines by picking them out in shiny platinum and other unusual glazes. He has also masterminded several temporary environments. A Bisazza installation during last year's Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan included, alongside a 24-foot-tall tiled Pinocchio figure, a chandelier design that also found its way into La Terraza, his first restaurant interior.
Touring the century-old Casino de Madrid, he was particularly impressed by the elevators' imposing benches, with their turned oak legs and dark red velvet tufted upholstery. "It looks like you're in the Franco era," he says. "Members play pool wearing leather gloves, and there's someone holding their drink while they're playing."
Once the firm of Francisco Fernández Longoria had gutted the club restaurant, Hayonstudio got to work redecorating the 2,150-square-foot space. Its original front doors—arched, oversize, and neo-Palladian—are now framed in panes of yellow glass for a one-way mirror effect. In place of what Hayon calls the undistinguished concrete "Roman columns" in the main dining room, he substituted "Jaime columns," a rather machine-age architectural order molded from gypsum-board and painted pearl gray.
Harking back to the Bisazza installation, the chandeliers with myriad paper shades are larger, custom versions of Hayon's Josephine Queen design for Metalarte. Upholstery of gray woven wool felt unifies mismatched Louis XVI–style chairs. "It's radical how I'm using classicism," he argues, noting the "much more comfortable" tufting among several advantages.
To produce a focal point for a sidewall in the main dining room, his girlfriend, photographer Nienke Klunder, applied paint impressionistically to pieces of fruit and shot them as a large-format still life. Another wall, sheathed in diamonds of beveled mirror, reflects black and white glass-composite floor tiles set in a checkerboard pattern, à la Draper. And the pale blue-gray paint that Hayon chose for the remaining walls looks coincidentally similar to the color Draper used in 1944 for the Palácio Quitandinha, a hotel in the Brazilian resort city of Petrópolis. Setting the private dining room apart, Hayon's Regency-inspired 13-foot-tall double doors have knobs of luxurious Carrara marble, a grace note that clinches what people in Petrópolis refer to as Draper's "Hollywood-iano."
Long before her exuberant stage-set interiors were officially back in vogue, Donald Albrecht was attracted to them. "She became the figurehead for neo-baroque in America," says Albrecht, the Museum of the City of New York's adjunct curator of architecture and design. (While Tony Duquette was responsible for Vincente Minnelli films with a similar look, Albercht argues, Draper's commercial work was probably more widely seen and thus more influential—to say nothing of her frequent decorating advice columns.)
A year and a half after Albrecht's exhibition "The High Style of Dorothy Draper," he detects what can be described as Draperisms—some clearly intentional, some perhaps not—in interiors by Kelly Wearstler and Miles Redd. In addition, the Pointed Leaf Press has published three Draper titles, including a reissue of her 1939 handbook, Decorating Is Fun!
Even as a trained architect steeped in the principals of California modernism, I'm finding myself in the mood to Draperize. I asked an upholsterer to whip up some theatrically giant throw pillows in a folkloric red floral woven with an epic 6-foot repeat. Though not exactly glazed chintz, they couldn't look fresher on my parents' electric-blue sofa in Sacramento. It's official: Decorating is fun.