Monday, October 19, 2015
As many of you know, I covet my decades-old design magazines for their articles about now-obscure designers. (That's not to say that I don't enjoy finding articles about Draper, de Wolfe, and others of their ilk, but because their work has been so thoroughly covered in myriad books and articles, there just doesn't seem to be much of their work left to discover.) One of those now-obscure designers whose work always thrills me is James Amster, a particular favorite of mine. During the early and mid-twentieth-century, Amster was a well-known, Manhattan-based decorator who also managed both the decorating department and a home decorations shop at Bergdorf Goodman. But what Amster might be better remembered for today is his development of Amster Yard, a cluster of buildings turned bijou community of shops, offices, and apartments, which was located in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Manhattan. I'll write more about Amster Yard in the near future.
In the meantime, I want to show you this November 1958 House & Garden article about James Amster's dining room, located at his home in, yes, Amster Yard. According to the article, Amster was an enthusiastic host, one who preferred small seated dinners or buffet suppers. And as the photos prove, Amster was also a highly-organized host, one who stored crystal and liquor in a bookcase, flatware and serving pieces in a sideboard, china in a closet, and linen in a side table. Talk about a place for everything and everything in its place!
Because the photos appeared in the November issue, the dining room was also set for a festive buffet dinner, which included Galantine of Duck, Paté Maison, Hot German Potato Salad, and Brioches. You might be interested to know that these dishes were served from brass serving pieces designed by Tommi Parzinger. (You can see the buffet table in the top photo.) Dessert, namely, a Chocolate Roll, was to be served from the sideboard, placed alongside dessert plates and coffee cups and saucers.
To be perfectly honest, Amster's dining room is not my favorite example of his work. Other rooms in his apartment, chiefly his living room, are more representative of his impeccable style. But what his elegant dining room does represent is the kind of mature, sophisticated taste that, although once prevalent, has now been mostly lost to time.