Sunday, June 12, 2011

Keith Irvine, Interior Designer, Dies at 82

His was a style that had been created in the years after the Second World War by the Englishman John Fowler (of Colefax & Fowler), for whom Irvine had worked in the 1950s. When Irvine and his business partner, Thomas Fleming, offered a similar look from their headquarters in New York, they attracted a glittering array of clients, among them Jacqueline Onassis, Edward Kennedy, Diana Ross, Cary Grant and Leonard Bernstein. 

Irvine’s signature was a played-down elegance intended to denote Old Money. Sumptuous chintzes jostled with medleys of antiques, books (“one can never have too many”), busts, Staffordshire pottery, paisley throws, embroidered cushions and faded rugs — he was particularly keen on rugs that “look as though they might be in their last week”. A Louis XVI fauteuil might share a room with a cheap, peeling wicker chair and a flea-market lamp. 

The aim was to achieve a note of eccentricity, even wit. “I like an edge of grandeur,” Irvine said, “but I like it knocked down a bit.” He and Fleming acknowledged that not all of their American clients found it easy to understand this approach, but Irvine insisted: “It’s that look that, no matter how much you’ve spent, if it looks like you’ve spent nothing, then you’ve won game, set, match.” The Telegraph

A Scots-man, a kilt, those glasses and a wife named Chippy. And he clusters groups of teeny-tiny pictures on huge walls. I wasn't familiar with his work, but his air of charm leads me to take a look at his career.

Even though his traditional style isn't exactly my deal-y-o, I see elements in his spaces that could be easily carried over into a more modern room.


1 comment:

  1. his style is one that is much harder to achieve than it looks. while not exactly modern..i can see all of todays designers drawing major influence from this guy.


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