Friday, March 4, 2011
A Video Chat with Mario Buatta
On Wednesday night the New York School of Interior Design will be toasting my friend decorator Mario Buatta at a gala dinner and honoring him by renaming the school's library and student work space the Mario Buatta Materials Atelier. Mario, you know, is the great decorator who famously Americanized the English country house style and became known as the Prince of Chintz. He has created aeries for a slew of high profile clients including Barbara Walters, Mariah Carey and Billy Joel, and, along with Mark Hampton, redecorated the 119-room Blair House, the official White House Guest House in Washington, D.C.
Mario loves color, comfort, flowers, and light. His decorated rooms have a glow – nothing seems to stick out, and everything works together. He achieves this by adding and subtracting hues, fabrics, textures, furniture and accessories – combining and removing, until the whole has a painterly effect, like an Impressionist painting.
Living room from a past Kips Bay Showhouse.
Combine his creative talent with a wicked sense of humor and you have a New York original. Readers already know about his cockroach gag. Years ago he arrived at a party in our apartment and casually handed me a carefully wrapped gift box which slipped out of my fingers and fell to the floor with the crash of its smashed contents. My heart stopped. "It was a family heirloom!" cried Mario, before he smiled.
It wasn't an heirloom, it was a trick.
A bedroom from a past Kips Bay Showhouse.
Mario recently celebrated his 75th birthday, and still works tirelessly creating his signature beauty, these days aided by a cane after a summer of medical challenges. A loyal, generous and kind friend, he recently agreed to a video blog interview.
We met not in his apartment but in a sprawling "pied-à-terre" which he decorated for a client in the Sherry-Netherland. The apartment, which has been published in Architectural Digest and stretches along both Fifth Avenue and 58th Street, gleamed with Mario's signature blend of elegance and ease.
Mario made some business calls before our appointment.
For the interview, we would sit in the corner couch. Yes, sweeties, out the windows Bergdorf Goodman is on the left and the Plaza Hotel is on the right. Quite a spot.
The view down Fifth Avenue.
We sat down in this luxuriously comfortable perch
and had a chat.
Click to watch: