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, Billy Joel, and Hilary Geary Ross, 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. The box was filled with shards of glass.

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. Recently he agreed to sit for 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:


Ella said...

Thanks for an interesting post. I'm always impressed of people like Mario Buatta who have that humor and glow and are able to do what they want for so long time.

P.Gaye Tapp at Little Augury said...

Can not say how delightful it was to hear this interview. relaxed, elegant, stylish- all describe the post and video. Mario Buatta's blue Kips Bay room with the BF fabric is one that inspired me when I saw it. He is a traditionalist in the best of all terms-even with the purchase orders! I love that. the details count. Certainly a well deserved honor for him.

Renée Finberg said...

you mentioned sitting on 'a perch'

that is some lovely perch/view.
when i was a baby designer....
he was my G-d.