Edward Zajac and Richard Callahan. Not familiar with them? Well, they were only one of the hottest design duos around during the 1970s and early 80s. Truth be told, I had never heard of them until last year when a reader mentioned that I might find their work to be of interest. And how right he was!
Zajac and Callahan each had strong design experience before they joined forces in 1966 with Zajac having worked for McMillen and the great Billy Baldwin and Callahan having been employed by Jansen and Valerian Rybar. When they came together, the pair began to create interiors that were a bold breath of fresh air. Zajac & Callahan took traditional furnishings and combined them in exuberant and exhilarating way. One hallmark of the Zajac & Callahan look was pattern upon pattern upon pattern- not an easy look to pull off. But the key was that they took some unifying factor- color or scale, for example- and used that as a guide. And somehow, it seemed to work. Certainly it was a maximalist look and one that was apropos for that era in time, but I'll venture to say that their interiors don't really look terribly dated.
The interior featured here was a Paris apartment designed by Z&C circa 1971. The yellow entryway could have been designed in 2009! The dining room is totally fabulous with the decadent use of canvas fabric on the walls, although if I were living in this interior today I would remove that tablecloth. The bedroom? Okay, so I might have to tone it down a bit, but you've got to admit that it's a look.
In the new release New York Interior Design, 1935-1985, there is a chapter on the two, and in it Zajac admits that he was a bit dismayed that they became pigeonholed by clients who only wanted this audacious look, and he laments the fact that they never really got to do modernist interiors. I'm sorry too because it would have been interesting to have seen modernism in the hands of Zajac and Callahan. Still, I think it's worthwhile for us to revisit their work.
The lacquered yellow rotunda entryway with smashing blue ceiling.
The fabric shrouded dining room, again with a bright blue ceiling. The rope chairs are a Zajac & Callahan design.
A zany bedroom dominated by the classic Tree of Life print.
The husband's study is a blend of shell prints, plaids, geometric prints, and upholstered walls.
Image at top: The living room with its Chinese wallpaper and Indian rug. And lots of prints!
(All images from House & Garden, Nov. 1971)