Monday, January 06, 2014
Discovering Michael Inchbald
I hate to admit this, but until I received the January issue of World of Interiors a few weeks ago, I was not familiar with the late British architect, Michael Inchbald. Better late than never, I suppose, because now I'm completely enchanted by his house in Chelsea.
As the World of Interiors article noted, Inchbald concocted a home that was akin to a stage set. The porch, with its mirrored walls, dramatic-looking obelisk pilasters, and coffered ceiling, looked as though Cedric Gibbons had a hand in its decoration. Many of the house's snappy floors appear to be made of marble, although in reality, they were cut linoleum. And then there were those burgundy velvet portieres and pelmets (Peter York, the article's author, refers to them as palanquins) which hung in the entrance hall, allowing one to make quite an entrance, I'm sure, as he proceeded into rooms beyond. Although once I might have considered living in a stage set to be a horror, I don't anymore. Well, as long as it looks like Michael Inchbald's house.
One thing that really struck me about the article was the author's statement that, "Inchbald's Chelsea drawing room has been rediscovered and rephotographed every decade since it was conceived in the late 1950s." It seems that with the exception of the drawing room's walls (once covered in scarlet velvet and now upholstered in a neutral Ultrasuede,) much of the home's interiors have remained more or less the same. I went through my old British design books, but unfortunately, I never did find any old photos of the drawing room. However, I did find an early 1960s-era photo (alas, in black and white) of Inchbald's upstairs hall, which appeared much as it did upon Inchbald's death. You can see that the fabric walls and portieres are the same as are the candle sconces. And if you look into the sitting room beyond, you can see that the room is arranged just as it was when World of Interiors shot it last year. I think the lesson learned here is that if you get it right the first time, then leave it alone and enjoy it.
If you want to learn more about Inchbald, you might want to visit the Christie's website. The contents of Inchbald's house will be auctioned off on January 22 in London.
The Wedgwood Blue Sitting Room
The Upstairs Hall as it appeared most recently...
...and the way it was back in 1962. You can see the Sitting Room beyond.
All photos, with the exception of the last one, and quotation from World of Interiors, January 2013; Peter York author, Andreas von Einsiedel photographer.