Friday, October 7, 2011

Currently Reading

I’m currently reading The Finest Rooms in America: Fifty Influential Interiors from the Eighteenth Century to the Present by Thomas Jayne.

Thomas Jayne, the scholar and interior designer (not Thomas Jane, the actor), started his career in academia.  He studied and researched architecture, art history and material culture at the University of Oregon, Winterthur Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, J. Paul Getty Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum and Christie’s auction house before branching into decorating.

Thomas opened his design firm in 1990.  All the designers at Thomas Jayne Studio, and even the office staff, have strong backgrounds in art history and the study of decorative arts.  They are the go-to people for traditional, historically-based, but very livable residential interiors, such as this New Orleans bedroom.

The Finest Rooms in America is a beautifully photographed list of historically important rooms... all from private residences... that have influenced professional decorators and homeowners alike.  And the book really showcases how diverse American design can be.  Thomas writes "There is no singular decorative tradition in America.  Still it may be said that some particularly American aspects of design are invention, personal expression, and an unabashed mixture of foreign decorative influences."
Casa Amesti by Frances Elkins
Consider these three dining rooms that bridge centuries:
At Mount Vernon in Virginia,

At Beauport in Massachusetts,

And at Oceanfront House in Florida.

They are creations of their time but still vividly exquisite and fresh today.  They are collections of different European, Asian and American styles yet still provide us a sense of the owners' individual passions, interests and desires.

The Finest Rooms in America is both a quick read and a great reference book.  In addition to his business website, Thomas Jayne writes an incredibly informative blog called Decoration - Ancient & Modern.

And there’s also a fun website for the book where you can submit your own Finest Rooms!

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