Feeling Bookish: Mario Buatta...

If anyone in the world of interior design has a sense of humor, it's Mario Buatta. From his practical jokes to his witty writing in the first ever book about him, this is a globally recognized icon wearing a mischievous smile on his face as he looks out at the world. And why shouldn't he? The undisputed Prince of Chintz has half a century of significant client work under his belt.  And if he's willing to have a lighthearted love affair with the business of style, shouldn't we all? 

In Mario Buatta: Fifty Years of Interior Decoration, the legend opens for you his extensive project portfolio and his thoughts on the design scene. From the moment you read the introduction you can tell this is no ordinary fellow. Like so many of us infused with a love of design, he's been moving furniture around since childhood. He acknowledges that the only item in his home that gave him trouble as a style-centric child was the grand piano. Too heavy to move, apparently! And the comical stories snowball from there.

Mario reveals a history of being given full permission to redecorate his room at 16, tell us about his first acquisition of an antique (a lap desk which he made payments on), offers much insight about his family tree and the heavy influence this cast of characters made upon him and even moreso about his warm personality. It is immediately and instantly understandable why he is a star: he is smart, funny and informed. he simply doesn't take himself too seriously. 

After devouring his book, his designer tips, his insights and his project notes I've come to understand the level of Mario's genius. Not just at his craft (which is, of course, the substance of the book), but in seeing barriers and breaking through them. It's clear with one glance at his work that he's rarely met a pattern he didn't love. But Mario does better than that... he makes US love the pattern too. All of them. The the chintz, the leopard, the stripe, the embroidery. All together. He somehow makes it sing and makes it wildly appealing and oddly calming.  

The "English Country House" look may have made him famous, but his work for singer Mariah Carey made him infamous. Bloggers far and wide will recognize the closet! To me, the opulence of this design for her Manhattan triplex is just stunning. It offers his "no limits" sensibility with Mariah's sexiness. It is his use of texture, rather than pattern, that makes this particular project so gorgeous. There's a real restraint on the color & pattern that I don't see in any other Buatta project Apparently, he showed Mariah floral print after floral print to no avail. Mariah is all about apricot satins, champagne silks and soft, touchable textures. After ogling the pages that showcased this project I can assure you, the result of those "limitations" is nothing short of spectacular. 

I sum the book up this way: By the opening paragraph you're in love with Mario. By the end of the closing chapter you are proposing and ready to invite him to Thanksgiving dinner. Forever. He's funny, talented and could easily entertain a room for hours with what I'm sure are the best stories you've ever heard. But on top of that he reveals to you a geniunely warm soul, sharing his passion for living & life itself through his designs. And in this massive book you too get to enjoy a bit of the brilliance of Buatta. 

Available at Amazon

{image credits: NYTimes & ArchDigest}