"In miniature, anyone can live in a room designed by an expensive and exclusive New York decorator."
Do you know what I would like to see more of? Miniature rooms. How charming to see elegant rooms shrunk down to Lilliputian size. I marvel at the details of these self-contained little worlds- the tiny furniture and artwork, the miniature rugs, the thimble sized light fixtures. It is probably not feasible for a designer to create these models as selling tools for clients. But for a really good client, wouldn't it be fun to have a miniature replica made of said client's favorite room...perhaps as a thank you gift?
Some of the most amazing miniature rooms I've seen were those designed by McMillen Inc. back in 1932. Because the Depression was underway, Eleanor McMillen Brown wanted to avoid having to lay off any of her well-trained staff. So, her brilliant employee Grace Fakes came up with a fantastic idea- why not make miniature rooms and display them in a traveling exhibition? It would certainly keep the employees occupied for a while.
Done on a scale of one and a half inches to one foot, these rooms are incredible. When you see photos of them, you almost think that you're looking at a life-size room. Everything was made with correct proportions and unbelievable details. There was a mini painting by Van Day Truex and small busts by Wheeler Williams. Small fireplaces, petite Aubusson rugs, and little bouillotte lamps rounded out these rooms. They must have been something to see in person!
Jump ahead to 1978 and miniature rooms were on the mind of legendary window dresser Gene Moore. Moore asked various decorators to design scaled down rooms (a scale of one inch to one foot) for display in Tiffany's windows. Parish-Hadley and Mario Buatta both participated, and again, I wish I had been able to see them for myself. For many passersby, I'm sure it was the first time they had seen a Parish-Hadley or Buatta room up close. And truly, are these rooms any less charming than the real deal?
(Images at top: A small scale room designed by Parish-Hadley for Tiffany & Co.)
McMillen's Miniature Rooms:
An authentic replica of Mrs. Marshall Field's living room
A blue and white bedroom. Notice the tiny magazines and flowers on the tables.
A penthouse sunroom with mural by Barry Faulkner. The plants are real.
The Tiffany Rooms:
Even someone with a large personality like Mario Buatta can do miniature rooms!
Room designed by Kevin McNamara
Room by Angelo Donghia
(McMillen rooms from Sixty Years of Interior Design: The World of McMillen. Tiffany & Co. rooms and quotation from Windows at Tiffany's: The Art of Gene Moore)