Monday, January 14, 2013
A Tribute to Richard Nelson
A few weeks ago, I learned of the recent death of designer Richard Nelson. Based in Newport, Rhode Island, Richard was a man of great style and immense charm. Having started his career with Sister Parish (even assisting her during the Kennedy White House redecoration,) Richard eventually moved to Newport where he set up his interior design business and became a much sought-after designer. He also became a fixture on the social scene there, making many friends who remained close to him until the very end.
Although I never met Richard in person (and that is something which I greatly regret,) we had an email friendship over the past few years, touching base from time to time and discussing design. And the fact that we had two mutual acquaintances, both of whom had attended Attingham with Richard, made the friendship that much more personal.
I wrote about Richard a few years ago when I covered a late 1960s Christmas party that Richard had hosted, one which was featured in an issue of House & Garden. (You can see a few photos from that article, including one of Richard, above.) The details of the party impressed me as few people host such elaborate parties anymore. In fact, when speaking with Richard in anticipation of that post, he mentioned that while he lived in New York as a young man, he hosted guests at his home four to five nights a week! I can only imagine that this exuberant style of entertaining held him in good stead upon his move to Newport.
Over the years, Richard's work was featured in numerous publications including Architectural Digest. In 1998, the Colonial-era Newport house in which he lived with his partner was featured in British House & Garden. I am showing that article's photos below as I think Richard's house is a testament to the warmth and personality that traditional interiors do have when decorated well. I admire that Richard stayed true to the house's period and architectural style rather than attempt to turn it into something that it wasn't.
I know that a number of Richard's friends read my blog, and to them, I extend my deepest sympathy. Richard was a decorator of the old-school and a bon vivant to boot, and they just don't make them like Richard anymore.
Nelson house photos from British House & Garden, January 1998, Keith Scott Morton photographer.