Friday, March 26, 2010

Please don't touch the walls

One very interesting aspect of 1980s interior design and architecture too, if truth be told, is its variety. It would be easy to leave that decade with the idea that the two main streams of decoration were Traditional and Contemporary and, as with all simplistic analyses of times past, that idea is not too far off the mark, but some elucidation is necessary, but probably not today. The variety of work done in the 1980s is something I will return to later on.

Today I want show you some photos, not this time of work by someone long dead, by someone very much alive and working today. I first saw this Manhattan apartment in 1988, eight years before I came to live in the United States. I found the photos again yesterday whilst looking for something else and the power of this beautifully cerebral design by Shelton, Mindel and Associates is not diminished after all these years.

These spaces have a well-tailored simplicity that is visible still in the latter work by this company, and also a complexity that transcends the self-conscious braggadoccio of Postmodernism during the 1980s. Well, maybe. Internal walls stop short of external walls apparently to maximize the sense of the outside. That niggle apart, the combination of minimalist spaciousness, the de rigueur Biedermeier furniture ... whatever, I find these rooms still so alluring.

Photos by Dan Cornish from The World of Interiors, May 1988. The quotation in italics is from the text by Beaureguard Houston-Montgomery and Ronnie Cook.


  1. It would be difficult not to love these rooms. They are so wonderfully grand, just by the heights of the ceilings and the stark modernity and simplicity of the symmetry.

  2. 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.

  3. My authorization word for the previous comment about Lee Mindel's apt. was 'nocosy'. I really am beginning to think there's a gremlin with a sense of humor lurking in the blogger comment basement.

  4. I love the discreet grandeur of this apartment, the vistas that open up within the whole space and that excitingly intimate rotunda - or is it an ellipse?

  5. Rose, it's a rotunda - an axonometric drawing (if I remember rightly and without going to look) was published with the photos.

    Dilattante - I only looked at those photos on Friday last week and have put them aside for a later post. I remember when first I saw those photos and you're right, they were wonderful, light-filled, classical, contemporary rooms.

    Apparently the authorization words are totally random but it would not surprise me if there were a literary imp toying with us!

    Columnist - I lwould love to have seen them in the flesh, as it were. The emphasis is on the architecture, of course, and maybe that is why there is so little of the living room shown.