Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Amaze Me!

In Regency Redux: High Style Interiors: Napoleonic, Classical Moderne, and Hollywood Regency, author Emily Eerdmans mentions an anecdote in which couturier to the stars Adrian commissioned Tony Duquette to design his Beverly Hills dress salon. And the directive that Adrian gave Duquette was really quite simple- "Amaze me". How fabulous is that? I'm sure that for many of you designers, these two little words uttered by a client might be like manna from heaven. It's a directive that gives the designer license to pull out all of the stops and unleash the full force of one's creativity. But I suppose it's also a command that is fraught with uncertainty and that just might provoke stage freight.

I've been thinking about this story for a few weeks now because I would love to tell certain people "Amaze me"- my shoe salesperson at Neiman Marcus, my general contractor, and my hair stylist, for example (and all three are pretty fantastic so I feel confident that they could do so.) But in terms of design, sometimes you see an interior and you can just tell that the designer felt compelled to give the client something ultra special and well, amazing. I wonder if this might have been the case in the following interiors (and a garden too).

The Paris apartment of Charles de Beistegui, c. 1933. Designed by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret, the apartment featured this stunning cement staircase painted blue and white. Note too the crystal rail.

The entrance hall at Sa Torre Cega, Cala Ratjada, Mallorca, Spain. Carlos Ortiz-Cabrera of Maison Jansen was responsible for the Pop Art looking, trompe l'oeil painted floor in the foyer.

The Madrid bathroom of the Duchess of Alba, designed by Armand Rateau, c. 1925. The bath was carved from a single piece of white marble, and the walls were covered in gold lacquer with pastoral type scenes.

Landscape design can be used to amaze too, as seen here in the park of Mimi Pecci-Blunt's Paris home, c. 1926.

Images at top: The ultra chic, ultra glam studio of Adrian, designed by Tony Duquette


  1. The quote of the day - great suggestion! 'Amaze me!'

  2. Anna Laetitia "Mimi" Pecci-Blunt was such a fabulous character and cofounded the influential Rome art gallery La Corneta. Her American husband (né Cecil Blumenthal) changed his surname to Blunt to lessen its Jewish origins then married Mimi, a niece-godchild of a Pope Leo XIII. Alas, the love his life was Cecil Everly, a young English ex-footman, so henceforth Mimi was always known by wags as the Queen of the Two Cecils. Read all about it here:

  3. What a great post! I wish people still had the work ethic to AMAZE their clients these days! That dress salon...SIGH... I would love to shop there, I see Haute Couture, champagne ...... And that painting on the foyer floor! WOW!

    Love your blog!

  4. AMAZING PHOTOS! I'm AMAZED all right!

  5. The Duchess's bath is amazing, indeed. I'm often amazed if people hang up their coats - seems I need to raise the bar. Can't wait for my copy of that book to arrive!

  6. Do you know who designed the garden in the last image?

  7. Beautiful photos, gorgeous blog and one fabulous saying! I think I will be using that often in the future!

  8. I love it when Tim Gunn says "That's a lot of look". I generally view that as his more refined way of saying "tacky", but I would say that these pics are also a lot of look... but in a good way.

  9. I just got my copy of Regency Redux, and have been cozy on the chaise reading every word. It has actually taken me away from blogging! So darn if Emily hasn't amazed me!

  10. I am a frequent lurker, seldom commenter...but I just wanted to let you know that I really, really love your blog.

  11. yes, yes, amazing! guess i need to get hot and get that book!

  12. Anonymous7:17 PM

    That bath is spectacular!
    I am still stuck back at the thought of telling a contractor "Amaze Me!"
    since I am usually telling them "REDO that! or You said you'd be here YESTERDAY!"

  13. If anyone could amaze - it would have been Tony Duquette. He had imagination extraordinaire!

  14. Being amazed is such a concept which has been lost now and replaced by comfort, light...
    Regarding Charles de Bestegui's Paris flat, he actually thoought it was too cold for his extravagant taste and he made it redesign by Emilio Terry.

  15. wow!
    i am amazed. and it is hard to amaze me.
    The interior design is Stunning!
    How incredible are these black and whites! I love the one with the staircase. It is simply incredible!

    I love posts like this with amazing pictures that represent uniqueness and creativity in interior design. Well or any design.

    Design and art are beautiful things which should be enjoyed by all.

    Thanks for posting!