July 17, 2022First, a qualification: Global doesn’t always imply rooms filled with African masks, Aboriginal art, Indonesian batiks and other such items. Although global rooms do often feature artifacts from the indigenous cultures of many locales, the word here applies equally to interiors with objects pulled together from Europe and the United States and spanning periods from classical antiquity to the modern era.
It’s more about the mix — a delight in cultural grazing that finds the beauty in both the polished and the ancient, the highly ornamental and the down-to-earth organic. It is wide-ranging, open and curious.
Glamorous interiors, on the other hand, emphasize exquisite finishes and materials. They more consistently follow a thread of European refinement and rely on the reflectivity of glossy surfaces like lacquer and polished marble, the transparency of crystal and Lucite, the luster of gold and silver.
These rooms tend to sparkle and shine, and they feel precious in the best sense of the term. (Although a global interior may by all means include jeweled and lustrous objects, those pieces tend to be accents in a larger, more democratic blend of furnishings.)
We think they’re both gorgeous. And they often take cues from each other, as evidenced by some of these intriguing pairings.
There are those who perceive global decor as somehow less sophisticated than Eurocentric style. Tom Stringer’s design for this Ft. Lauderdale entry hall proves them dead wrong.
“The environmental conditions in Morocco are similar to those in South Florida,” says the peripatetic designer, who travels internationally several months each year, both with and without clients. So, it was fitting that he would design latticed mashrabiya-style panels that repeat throughout the house on walls and windows.
A circa 1880 Chinese elmwood medicine chest from antiques dealer the Golden Triangle nods to another destination, as do the animal-tooth necklace and purse from Myanmar’s Inle Lake region and the shell amulet, necklace and purse from Papua New Guinea. The steel Holly Hunt table has an Asian feel, and the black trim on the stair adds what Stringer calls “a tansu moment,” referring to the famed stepped Japanese chests.
“For entries I always think of black piano lacquer,” says David Kleinberg. “I love the sheen.”
Kleinberg combined two units in a Park Avenue prewar apartment building, creating a 75-foot-long enfilade of rooms centered on a rotunda. This and the two rectangular spaces it connects compose the luxurious entry.
The rotunda boasts doors framed in said lacquer and inset with mirrors and polished-nickel mullions. They were inspired by versions that were used in both Georgian and mid-century French architecture. A Venetian rippled-glass chandelier from the 1930s hangs over a honed French limestone floor ringed with a classical design of Belgian Black marble.
Entering the rotunda through the front door affords a view of one of the anterooms — outfitted in the same materials — that culminates in an Art Deco Sèvres-porcelain vase. “The intent was to make a dressed-up New York urban arrival,” Kleinberg says.
Within the walls of the interiors they design, Toulouse, France–based Daniel Suduca and Thierry Mérillou explore the world like adventurers during the Age of Discovery. “We think a house is, first, a mix,” says Mérillou. “A mix of a place, an owner and us as the architects or decorators. We have to bring a variety of furniture and art because it’s the mirror of a life, of knowledge, of encounters.”
Ergo the salmagundi in this Toulouse home: late-17th-century Portuguese gilded chairs upholstered in a Tony Duquette fabric, a large paper collage by Danish artist Maibritt Ulvedal Bjelke, bronzes by Louis Cane and Joseph Monin, a Mark Rothko work on one of a pair of André Dubreuil demilune tables (which are adorned with French 16th-century stone vessels).
“If the furniture, objects and art are good quality and strong enough,” Mérillou explains, “the eye can bounce from one object to another without being shocked.”
“This pied-à-terre is a chapel formerly owned by Eric Clapton,” Austin-based Lucinda Loya says, referring to her Manhattan residence near Gramercy Park.
“I took a couture approach to the design,” she says. Case in point: pairing a Marcel Wanders sofa and armchairs with two hooded porter’s chairs in the open-plan living area. There are prints by Ruben Toledo in the space, but these are dwarfed by enormous chromogenic prints of Andy Warhol and Brigitte Bardot by Alex Guofeng Cao. John Dickinson–inspired tables add a note of organic chic. The black, yellow and white palette gets a bit of glisten from metallic gold touches, and two enormous mirrors reflect all that glamour back into the room.
“We don’t live in an isolated way these days,” says Vicente Wolf. “Influences come from all directions. My clients are modern people. They don’t want to live in a thematic environment.”
One could hardly call this Sag Harbor condo, in a former watch factory, thematic. In the dining room, one of Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui’s recycled-metal pieces dominates. Modern Saarinen Tulip chairs, an Ethiopian armchair and a Platner chair surround a custom table topped with a pair of Meiji-period Japanese candlesticks in bronze and lacquered wood, an Indonesian bone-inlay tray and a carved marble bowl from India. And it all works together. “I want a room to be a sentence, not individual words,” says Wolf.
There’s nothing like the Midas touch to impart a sense of glamour to a space. Golden accents are everywhere in this dining room of an 1868 Boston bowfront townhouse by Evolve Residential: in the chinoiserie pattern of the wallpaper, in the brutalist torch-cut brass chandelier by mid-century designer Tom Greene, on the gilded frames of dining chairs, glistening behind the silvery honeycomb pattern of the curtains — even in the gold veining of the marble top on the Saarinen table.
Yet “none of the gold in the room is bright,” points out firm coprincipal Thomas Henry Egan. “It has a reflective quality but is subdued. The dark background colors make it even more rich and atmospheric, which was necessary. Every piece had to have maximum impact, or it would pale against the grand Victorian architecture.”
“There’s a lot of Japanese influence in San Francisco by virtue of the close connection it has with Japan,” says Sean Leffers. The house he used to own there, in fact, was designed by the son of a former Japanese prime minister.
Not surprisingly, when Leffers appointed his office-study, he included Nipponese items, such as a 19th-century stone garden lantern and a three-footed stand.
Other nods are less literal. “We source a lot of objects that have ethnographic identity,” he says. “But the overall design also feels Japanese to me.” He includes the custom desk’s clean lines in this, as well as the outdoor screen on the window. But the room travels elsewhere, too, with a Zapotec figure on the stand, an Italian mid-century lamp, a Pierre Jeanneret desk chair and a brutalist wall sculpture.
“This room is the essence of the client, who is very chic and glamorous,” says Ernest de la Torre, describing the office he created in a Bel Air house designed by architect Paul R. Williams. “The red lacquer walls are like a taffeta ball gown she might wear. The window treatments, made by a French artist who folds linen like origami, are like a purse or a shawl. And the Jorge Pardo heart pendant lamp is like jewelry.”
The red is also a reference to the client’s Malaysian heritage and penchant for Asian decor, as is the Franco Albini for Bonacina rattan chair, albeit obliquely. “I tried to bring in Asian elements but examples that were more modern,” says de la Torre. Finally, the Maurice Calka Boomerang desk is a further allusion to her sense of style; it was a familiar prop in fashion ads of the 1970s.
“I love to travel so much that I create environments that make me feel like I’m on vacation, to remind me of places that made me happy and that were visually interesting,” says designer Sara Bengur. The bedroom in her own New York apartment is this sort of memory space, showcasing a pierced brass light and a small bedside rug from Morocco, a custom bedspread crafted from a textile found at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar and a throw made in Italy.
The gallery wall includes many gifts from friends: an Indian plaster wall ornament in a hand-painted frame, an Indian mandala, a small work on paper by Alexander Gorlizki depicting an egg. “I resonate with Mediterranean cultures,” Bengur explains, “with the layering, the way everything isn’t perfect — and the color, of course!”
When creating a glamorous interior, says David Mann, of New York firm MR Architecture + Decor, “silk velvet is a favorite of ours, as well as using metallics.” Both converge gloriously in the silver velvet Bergamo fabric of the custom headboard and the bronzy sheen of the Romo coverlet in this bedroom of a 1920s Emery Roth–designed Park Avenue apartment.
Against the bedroom’s matte black walls, they have a luminous presence. The whole composition, says Mann, “is a balance between flat and matte, and sleek and shiny.”
The theme continues in bronzed-steel bedside tables with custom-relief drawer fronts made of a glossy blanc-de-chine-like ceramic by Peter Lane (they support vintage lamps from Kerson Gallery). At the foot of the bed stands a bench with legs designed by Marc Bankowsky, available through Maison Gerard.
When David Scott designed this bath in his Hamptons home, he complemented its clean lines and muted gray-and-teal color scheme with a 19th-century Chinese bench from Mecox Gardens, a 20th-century Egyptian Thebes stool found at a flea market, a zebra hide and a vintage mid-century Scandinavian teak wastebasket.
“I have always favored an eclectic approach to design and love layering,” says Scott. “The pattern of the zebra rug, asymmetrically placed, enlivens the space and lends an exotic feeling.” These elements also bring organic textures to a bath that might have otherwise been straightforward.
“I think doing a hand-painted Gracie wallcovering in a wet space on one of their antiqued gold papers is glamorous,” designer Eddie Lee says of this sumptuous bath in a Central Park–facing pied-à-terre. “It’s something you’d expect to see in a dining room or entryway. But here, there’s something unexpected and decadent about it.”
Combine it with a smoked-Murano-glass chandelier, a Calacatta marble dado and floors, a robin’s-egg-blue lacquer ceiling and vanities retrofitted from Louis XVI–style RH Treillage dressers, and you get a regal setting for pampering and primping that would be worthy of Marie-Antoinette.
No one would claim that the Maryland neighborhood of Chevy Chase — with its Colonial Revival, Craftsman and Tudor homes — is particularly exotic. Which is why this patio feels so unexpected, and enchanting.
“I was very comfortable using such exotic pieces, since the client is an avid traveler and appreciates an international aesthetic,” says designer Mona Hajj. The blend here includes a hand-carved 19th-century bench and chairs she purchased in India, French marble-topped wrought-iron tables, 19th-century Turkish vessels and a large Asian metal planter under the table. It’s a great space for reading your copy of the Mahabharata.
“Glamour is an attitude,” says Brigitta Spinocchia Freund. “It is all about attention to detail, from the planning for how a client will live in a space through to the design details and the materiality that grounds the project.”
This deck belonging to a home in the Balearic Islands is nothing if not detailed. For one thing, Spinocchia Freund mixed bespoke outdoor seating with pieces by Fendi Casa under Tuuci umbrellas. Pops of yellow — Bishop stools by India Madhavi and some chair assemblages from artist Karen Ryan’s “Custom Made” series — impart both color and an elegant sense of curation. A Flos Superarchimoon lamp illuminates the sectional sofas.