Thursday, May 24, 2012

Front to back: Kelly Wearstler and Elsie de Wolfe

I first came across Kelly Wearstler in the June 2001 issue of House Beautiful—a feature on a little 1936 Spanish-style bungalow in Los Angeles that she used as her design office. Looking at those rooms filled with such color and pattern I knew I was seeing something totally different, and something that would change the course of contemporary design. Did she ever! I still have the issue, and most of her books, but one of the most treasured is the big slip-cased Domicilium Decoratus published by Regan Books in 2006. Wearstler designed the book with Mark Edward Harris, Steve Crist, Christopher Smith, and Marie Astrid Gonzalez. Its malachite endpapers signal the luxury that's to come. Plus, it's a nice nod to Elsie de Wolfe and Tony Duquette, whose work has influenced Wearstler's.

Books, books, books. A lady after my own heart. Seeing her holding Elsie de Wolfe, A Decorative Life (Clarkson Potter, 1992) inspired me to lift it off my own shelf and take a peek at its endpapers. And, of course, it does not disappoint. Book designer Dania Martinez Davey used two of Elsie's designs: one of roses, one of ferns. As authors Nina Campbell and Caroline Seebohm wrote, "Chintz was the medium that heralded Elsie's message of a new kind of American interior decoration. Always her mainstay, she used it in every permutation—flowered, striped, and in prints from chinoiserie to toile de Jouy."

Vittoria from Lorenzo Rubelli

Fern from Lee Jofa

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