Monday, March 29, 2010

Luminous

On Friday of last week I posted photos of an apartment designed by the architectural firm of Shelton, Mindel & Associates of which, in a comment, the Down East Dilettante said

They are good. Do you remember Lee's own Greenwich Village apartment, with arch window step down living room? It was his break-out work--published everywhere from HG to WOI, and used for a gazillion print ads. It was terrific and new at the time.

I certainly did remember those windows and the step-down living room for I had only found them again the previous week and put them aside for a later post - today's post, in the event, and a continuation of an occasional look at the array of 1980s interior design, beyond that of the lost generation.



What I also remember is the impact the photos of Mr Mindel's apartment had on me over twenty years ago. We were living at the time in Amsterdam and I was never able – however much I spoke the language, made friends, enjoyed the culture, the history, and the beauty of that country, low-lying under epic skies – to shake off the feeling of being marooned beyond the edge of the English-speaking world. I sit now at my table looking at similar skies, similar except that I'm at above the level of the treetops rather than meters below sea level, a storm is rolling in, I cannot see that arc of heaven from horizon to horizon, or witness a sky stripped to metallic blue by winds from Siberia so chill that the canals froze and people, gliding on skates, for a time inhabited a Brueghel world.

Odd though it might seem, I imbued these photos with such personal symbolism, for they represented for me the world from which I felt isolated.

Beyond that, I was absolutely charmed by this apartment: the simplicity of the architecture, the gridded paneling, comfortable upholstery, light floors, the Thomas Hope chair and other classical furniture... the luminosity and clarity of it all. Now I see that Mr Mindel's apartment encapsulated what I have come to realize is a definite preference of mine - a clear mixing of classicism and modernism. This interior had none of the etiolation of Post Modernism and neither did it subscribe to the values of that most unhappy of unmarried couples, Lancaster and Fowler. Here was none of that English, dust-laden, tea-stained, dog-haired, precedent-ridden, aristocratic pursuit of chintz, mahogany and Chickendale so popular with many decorators of the time. Here was vitality, intelligence, youth and freshness.


Photos by Dan Cornish from The World of Interiors, July/August 1987.


11 comments:

  1. Yes, it is a great bachelor pad! But the apartments in this University Place building that do not have the three arched windows in the Living Room have a colossal window with a French door to a balcony. I would prefer that unit. And we could be neighbors!

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  2. I vividly remember the first time I saw these photographs. I was stunned by the beauty of this apartment. I clipped it and pasted it in a scrap book, where it joined the pages I saved from a NY Times magazine story on his house on Long Island. I only recently came across those clippings again after many years when I opened up my scrapbooks for the first time in over a decade. Speaking of jaw dropping apartments, did you see Bruce Budd's in WOI this month? Perfection, and in my view through the same lense as Lee Mindel's apartment of so many years ago. Incidentally, while LM's current abode is strictly modernist, it is beautiful indeed. Not Reggie's cup of tea, perhaps, but certainly worth reckoning with.

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  3. Now I see that Mr Mindel's apartment encapsulated what I have come to realize is a definite preference of mine - a clear mixing of classicism and modernism.

    ...and mine too. Brilliantly written paragraph encapsulating this sentence! His work is indeed wonderfully fresh, and it hasn't dated at all.

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  4. Not sure what's more breathtaking, the words or the pictures. The words, I think now. The pictures dance in accord. Glorious, all of it.

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  5. It takes a bit of genius to capture light like that and make it a feature of the interior.

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  6. Though I do find this interior beautiful- Lee Mindel, as Reggie Darling notes-has moved on to strict modernism-and I do not personally care for that at all. I do think though that as long as an interior is an honest reflection of what the owner wants, wants to be- or rarely-embodies, I for one can find some redemption in it. From here-I would leap to Bill Blass' NY apartment, preferred. pgt

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  7. Mr Darling, thank you. Yes, I saw and must say, loved, the photos of Bruce Budd's apartment in WoI. Terrific place! Apropos Mr Mendel, there is a house/apartment designed by him in recent Archtictural Digest that is disappointing, especially the furniture choices. However, someone else could be blown away, as it were.

    Columnist, thank you for your kind comment.As I say, this is my preference, but I'm of that promiscuous generation that would entertain something entirely different for the sake of amusement and diversion.

    Ms Thorne, thank you also for your kind comment.

    Janet, the right photographer can make all the difference and they are pretty rare I sometimes feel.

    Little Augury, what surprises me the most about the lastest Shelton, Mindel & Associates' work is the use of lightweight, spikily leggy furniture from the fifties and sixties. I realize that can be a client choice and not the architect's, and that furniture is certainly being sought after for aesthetic and investment reasons, but I see a separation between the architecture and the furnishings it contains. Now, that is my opinion and there are many who would disagree and rightly so.

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  8. I was thrilled to come across your post. 22 years ago I bought a book w/the first image on the cover but had never seen other photos from the apartment. I've posted about it on my blog - thank you for "filling in the blanks" after all these years.

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  9. My Notting Hill, I've just caught up with your comment so my apologies for answering earlier. I had that Conran book and let it go years ago. I'm glad I was able to provide you with more photos - it is a beautiful apartment still after all these years.

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