The Crystal Room at the Greenbrier Hotel, designed by Dorothy Draper
Interior design doyenne Dorothy Draper was legendary for originating the concept of signature style with her jaunty 20th-century iteration of Baroque. It became so iconic that today, her kicky, gilt-encrusted chests and curvy tufted chairs are poster children for the Hollywood Regency aesthetic she dreamed up, and they pull in a pretty penny at auction.
Design and Illustration from On Decorating by Mark Hampton
A host of other designers are equally revered for the signature styles they originated or championed. Mark Hampton lionized relaxed traditionalism (with its upper-crust accoutrements such as 19th-century English antiques and flowery prints) for the likes of Brook Astor, Estee Lauder and the Bush family; while Mario Buatta, still kicking, is lovingly called “The Prince of Chintz” for his devotion to swathing rooms in the vibrant fabric.
Designer Mario Buatta's fondness for vibrant fabrics earned him the nickname "The Prince of Chintz"
While all have made tremendous contributions to interior design, I have the most admiration for Billy Baldwin. He could have easily capitalized on his own vision with a signature style, but did not. Instead, he put his clients’ personal style first, an approach that makes him an insightful and discerning role model.
In Baldwin's New York Times obituary, fashion icon Diana Vreeland hailed him for his sense of grouping and order, aversion to clutter and knack for doing a lot with a little. The obituary writer concluded that he was exceptional for his “devotion to high style mixed with comfort.”
This balanced, nuanced approach is very much alive at JLI, where our entire team is devoted to “high style” infused with comfort—with our clients’ personal vision always in mind. We think of high style the same way Baldwin did—elements chosen to make spaces incredibly eye-catching but also cohesive and comfortable. And comfort, the very foundation of functionality, is key in everything we do.
Signature styles, from Hollywood Regency to Shabby Chic, have taught us that home décor trends come and go. But the basic principles of Baldwin’s design strategy, and ours, are fundamentals we cherish above those wildly popular and seductive flourishes, like statement-making pieces of furniture and adventurous color palettes.
A few essentials to keep in mind:
Library, Lake Shore Drive Penthouse
Style and comfort always outweigh trends. A traditional interior may seem like a far cry from one that’s eclectic or mid-century modern, but done right, all have the same mix of IQ and EQ—meaning a balance of smartly chosen, functional furnishings that also are aesthetically and emotionally compelling.
Entrance, Dream Home 2014: Study
Order is essential, especially for clients who prefer a ‘more is more’ aesthetic. Otherwise, artfully crafted tableaux look like rubbish heaps, and it can be impossible to find what you need when you want it.
Library, Vintage Lake Shore Drive Residence
Library, Astor Residence
Use what you have. When Baldwin applied his measured approach, he started with a client’s own treasured pieces, as we did for the client whose home is shown above, and supplemented. Building upon cherished pieces that have significance and history in a client’s life is essential to transforming any a ‘house’ of any iteration into a fabulous home.
26 Feb 2015