Thursday, August 07, 2014
Zajac and Callahan: The Later Years
If you have followed my blog for the last few years, you know that I have frequently featured the work of designers Edward Zajac and the late Richard Callahan. Zajac and Callahan, as the design duo was better known, became design-world darlings in the late 1960s, when their work appeared almost constantly on the covers of American shelter magazines. What made their work so popular at that time was the designers' enthusiasm for zesty color and bold patterns. In fact, it was not uncommon to see five or six different patterns used within one Zajac and Callahan-decorated room. But rather than mixing color and pattern in random fashion, Zajac and Callahan concocted their pattern-laden decor with planning and forethought, something which resulted in rooms that were cohesive in spite of their variety and robustness.
Throughout their careers, Zajac and Callahan remained committed to marrying disparate patterns in their work. In the Long Island home of Callahan's sister and brother-in-law (seen here and originally published in House & Garden, January 1999), the designers took an exuberant and playful approach to the home's decor, which H&G described as "American rococo." Here, the Zajac and Callahan medley included Chinoiserie-motif wallpaper (a custom print designed by Zajac,) floral chintz, geometric-print ceiling paper, damasks, and even foliage wallpaper. And tucked amongst this pattern-on-pattern was a collection of antique furniture in an array of styles, something which elevated this decorative play of prints to a level of maturity that was appropriate to its surroundings.
More than anything else, though, I think this home- and really all of the other Zajac and Callahan projects that I have shown on my blog- was evidence of the design duo's love of decorating. Only enthusiastic decorators like Zajac and Callahan could have concocted such an enchanting blend of fabrics, color, prints, and furniture under one roof.
Image at top: The house's entrance hall. The unique window valances were designed by Edward Zajac.
All photos from House & Garden, January 1999, Melanie Acevedo photographer.