One decorator with whom I have been obsessed as of late is Robert Locher. Excuse me, make that Robert E. Locher. Why he's not more well-known is beyond me. Perhaps it's because he retired in the 1940s and died in the 1950s. Or, maybe he just wasn't as prolific as some of his design contemporaries. Whatever the reason, it's high time more people become familiar with the man.
From what I've been able to determine, Locher's heyday was the 1920s. Pick up a copy of House Beautiful or House & Garden from that era and there's a good chance you'll see his work. He was an interior decorator (clients included Gertrude Whitney) and a set and costume designer for Broadway productions. He designed sterling flatware for Lunt, illustrated book jackets and magazines (including House & Garden where he was an associate editor), and taught at Parsons. Oh, and his long-time partner was noted artist Charles Demuth. Quite a biography.
One of my favorite Locher projects is his Staten Island home, decorated in the 1920s. It seems to me that the theater influenced his home's look. Yes, it's reminiscent of a stage set, but that's actually why I like it. It's dramatic, not for the faint of heart, and embraces the modernist spirit (albeit one mixed with pastiche) that so captured the imaginations of American and European designers. Actually, it's this early fervor for modernism that captivates me today. Can you imagine how exciting it must have been to be part of the dawn of modern design?
Anyway, enough about why I like it. Take a look for yourself.
Locher's audacious dining room in which the walls were painted to resemble curtains and columns. The faux draperies were rust pink, gold, and chartreuse green, while the woodwork (I believe that was real) was caramel pink and glazed eggplant.
The same dining room dressed for dinner.
This room, set with a breakfast table, had shades painted to look like Venetian blinds. I love that painted ceiling with stars and clouds. The cornice was mirrored, its reflection adding to the drama of the ceiling.
An illustration by Locher of one of his projects. The walls were fluted plaster painted flat white. The floor was beige, henna, and white terrazzo, and the window and door trim was metal.
Glass and metal rod pedestals, mirrored glass vases holding metal grass, and a gold and black mirror complete this vignette by Locher.
Locher's "Modern Classic" flatware for Lunt
(Images of Locher's Staten Island home from House & Garden, 1928; Vignette from House and Garden's Book of Color Schemes)