This morning, the postman woke me with a delightful surprise: House & Garden's 1987 Best In Decoration. And when they say "best," they're not kidding. It covers everyone from Bennison and Baldwin to Mongiardino and Molyneux, residences designed for the Rothschilds, to residences lived in by the designers themselves. It baffles my mind as to how there are forty three used copies floating about Amazon for around $2.00. TWO DOLLARS! It also begs the question why you don't see so many fantastically layered interiors like these anymore. Who made the decision to forgo fantasy and mood in favor of the clean and pristine? I'd like to have a word with them. Bring them to me, please.
Truly one of the best of the best, Renzo Mongiardino's (1916-1998) apartment is inspirational in every sense of the word. Just as inspirational was his approach to design: "I'm not a decorator, I'm a creator of ambiance, a scene designer, an architect, but not a decorator." Mongiardino used deceit in all forms—faux wood bookcases assembled by his assistants and painted to look old, leather chairs distressed after the fact, and busts that are far from antique— all for an aesthetic effect. Antiques and "authenticity" be damned!
From the House and Garden article:
His theatrical sense enables Mongiardino to evoke a wealth of atmosphere. Just as a stage designer immerses himself in the atmosphere of a play, Mongiardino immerses himself not just in the architectural nature of the house or apartment he has been commissioned to embelish but in the personality of the clients and the atmosphere they generate around them.
Scans from House & Garden's Best in Decoration, 1987.