Not quite what I set out to write after a fortnight's blogging silence, that first paragraph, but I must say recently I have found it increasingly difficult to stay on track. I've been occupied with things other than interior design - newly married friends gave a dinner party, the Celt's family from France, Scotland and New York were in town - averting my gaze, as it were, from the fact that that I find little of interest in modern decorating.
"He who dies with the most toys wins" - a phrase current in the 1980s and one not easily forgotten if, like me, you are a lover of simple, uncluttered interiors - though my use of the word "simple" is perhaps a little disingenuous for it is not simplicity per se, but a distaste for the self-consciously artless, the ironically unpolished, the carpingly self-effacing or the profligately vacuous.
I realize there are limits to looking back to 1980s and 1990s interior decorators - those men, generally speaking, whom I call the Lost Generation - and a time must come when that particular seam is mined out and a new direction must be found. That said, yesterday I found another Arthur E Smith interior (his own, a carriage-house and second home, in Charleston, SC) in a batch of old magazine clippings - an article saved because of the house and its interiors, not because of the decorator, for those days, I think, I had little idea of Smith's role in my recurring theme of connections within connections.
I wish sometimes it were not possible to think in terms of class and I'm very aware that we Americans find it a difficult subject to discuss - almost as difficult as the existence of bidets - but this interior of Arthur E Smith's is entirely driven by class, and one based on education of both the mind and the eye.
It could be argued that there's a correlation between the number of mass-produced and faddish accessories, the owner's aspirations and the suspension of disbelief with regard to marketing. Fads make fools of us: witness the dominance of the so-called Belgian style - the greyest of styles deriving from the antique shops of Axel Vervoordt and other Brabantse antiquairs and decorators and now devolved via trend-driven decorating magazines to mall and catalogue. The style could be Belgian, French Provincial, Gustavian, English country house - the name doesn't matter. What matters is that we keep on buying the furniture store vignette (remember that annoying tune "buy the room, get the ....") much as we might buy an outfit put together by a clothing store clerk. That's what matters.
Photographs by Peter Vitale to accompany text written by him for, I think, Architectural Digest. I clipped and did not note magazine, issue or date. If anyone can tell me so I can correct this, I would be grateful. Also, if anyone can identify the print on Smith's wicker chairs I would very much appreciate it. I know it was from Brunschwig et Fils.