The Creator of Ambience

This morning, the postman woke me with a delightful surprise: House & Garden's 1987 Best In DecorationAnd 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.


impyroghea said...

Hi, I've been reading your blog for a little while now and thought I'd comment. I've never given much thought to interior design or the space I live in before, but the gorgeous rooms and furniture you show are all amazing and inspiring -- I'd gladly live in the magazine pages in this post, for instance. Wonderful blog! I'm looking forward to future posts.

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

Isn't it great to discover these treasures- This is one I actually purchased in 1987! There is also a Mongiardino book you must try to track down if you don't have it already.Incredible pictures of his work and more wonderful text-GT


Impyroghea- Thank you for your comment! I'm glad you're enjoying the blog and I hope to hear from you again. Feedback makes writing this so much more worthwhile! It's true about certain interiors- some of them are so inspiring I find myself wishing I could be sucked right into them. Mongiardino's is definitely one of those spaces.

Little Augury- Thank you! I am most certainly, definitely, absolutely going to try to locate that book. I've been reading up on Mongiardino more and more, his work and philosophy have completely captivated me.

home before dark said...

Looks like a screen from a wonderful play. I could play there all day. Love the depth and breadth, the personal touch on every piece. Sighs heard from Kansas... By the way, so glad more commenters have come your way. I'd hate for you to get disappointed and give up your blog.

John said...

hi L,
Renzo's rooms are spot on delicious to die for. They will never date because they speak with a visual poetry that satisfies both body and spirit. He is in a special realm. This is the genuine iteration of magical realism.
I followed a Christies sale earlier today. Lots of fabulicious frippery from an upper east side townhouse. Renzo would have bought the lot. {It does take a little money after all.}
Here is a paradox and a conundrum. Oscar Wilde said it and I stole and it is the truth that,"the real mystery of the world is the visible, not the invisible." Renzos' inimitable way with space,color,form.,texture, and light speak to the truth of that pronunciamento. Nothing less will do.
Your money was well spent. Thanks a bunch.

Anonymous said...

Ola, what's up amigos? :)
Hope to receive some help from you if I will have some quesitons.
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Anonymous said...


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Adam said...

I know that you made this post a long time ago and have since probably gotten a hold of "Roomscapes," the book by Mongiardino. But, in case you haven't, I just put a bunch of luscious scans from it on my "blog." Enjoy!


btw. this blog and your work are so, so, so, wonderful. I DIE

Adam said...

and....House & Garden's 1987 Best In Decoration is now, in the year 2011, $0.01. I just ordered my copy and am looking forward to it- Thanks for the recommendation!

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