Monday, May 3, 2010


This week I want to deal with what I see as timeless interiors, and if this involves some of the forgotten decorators from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, then all the better. The interior shown below is by one such - Ruben de Saavedra - from the 1980s.

Whilst selecting these photos it occcurred to me that one of the many changes over the last 3o years – besides the fade to a neutral palette – is that, generally speaking, when color is used today it is much cooler in tone than that of the 1970s and the 1980s. Reds, oranges, yellows and greens, the potency of which seems to blare off the page, were commonplace. Not for those decorators the smirk of disengaged white or beige - they had fun with color.

Ruben de Saavedra's interior has endured with little to date it: the Edward Fields rug, perhaps, the wallcovering in the bedroom and the large lights in the lowish ceiling are of their time. It could be argued that lighting as a profession really began in the 1960s and 1970s, both decades when drama – thus dramatic lighting – prevailed in interior design. Uplights and downlights were pretty familiar by the 1980s and track spotlighting was ubiquitous especially in homes where there was significant furniture or important art - investment as aesthetic - significant and important being routine, if lax, hyperbole used by magazine editors and art advisors of the period.

So what is it that stops an interior from being passé? It cannot be an intrinsic quality but rather a matter of perception, of training and of preference. It may be the answer lies in the roots of the word classic for Mr de Saavedra's design is a classic, if not downright classy. With that word classy you're getting to the root of the matter in one of two senses: the first, meaning adhering to established standards and principles and the other belonging to the highest rank or class.

A further question: how does one tell now which rooms will stand the test of time - and there's enough puffery in books and magazines suggesting it is possible - or does true classic design only reveal itself with the passage of time?

As with many an inanimate object the magazine, Architectural Digest, has winked temporarily out of existence. When it returns I shall post correct attributions for photographer, writer, issue and date.

1 comment:

  1. I find it hard to ignore the low ceiling spot lighting, the rug, bedcover, wallpaper and the high lacquer sheen of the paint enough to move on to timelessness. I think you are saying the same thing somehow, yet you manage to perceive something else. Can it be explained ? This seems like a hotel suite to me - of a cold, if classy kind.