21.11.11

ELSIE GOES REGENCY

From Elsie deWolfe, who gave us such deathless design advice as "I believe in plenty of optimism and white paint", came this design for a house in the 'Modern Regency' style in 1926.  It was published in Arts & Decoration, and appears to have been a promotional gimmick, much like the "House of Tomorrow" or "Idea House" spreads that one reads in today's magazines, with lots of cross-promotional ads. Whatever the intent, it presages the style so beloved of Hollywood moguls for the next 2 decades.

One suspects that the future Lady Mendl did not actually do the architectural design, nor the professional looking sketches--or maybe she did, for the plan is very eccentric. 

Beyond that, I know nothing more about it.  You heard it here.







15 comments:

ArchitectDesign™ said...

that is pretty D*mn awesome. Surprised how amateurish the exterior elevation drawing is though.

The Devoted Classicist said...

I admire the concept more than the execution. I could not live with the street elevation, though I admire the thought behind what was trying to be achieved. The floor plan is not particularly conducive to furniture placement, either. The wall-hugging dining table and bed is surprising. Perhaps a sectional sofa was planned for the living room because of the off-center fireplace. I am an Elsie de Wolfe fan and enjoyed seeing it.

TDC said...

It appears that the bolection molding around the firebox is Stuben glass. I am not sure if that was a de Wolfe tradmark, but it was later a favorite of Sister Parish (who specified it for a sailing yacht in the mid-1980s).

Toby Worthington said...

Interesting to see that the term Regency was as loosely
applied in the year 1926 as it is today among those who wouldn't know the difference between Regency
and a house by Adam.
Far as I can tell from glancing at the exterior, Elsie's
design reeks of the International Style. More Bauhaus
than Regency house.

The Down East Dilettante said...

AD...agree

TDC...don't you suspect that the assignment was to create something for 'ordinary' living--I notice there are only two maid's rooms.

TDC redux...Those glass moldings are just about the height of glamor for the era, don't you think?

TW...yup, though as to the exterior, I do discern the hints of Regency---the parapet, the massing, the bow---a 'moderne' overlay---sort of like fusion cuisine. And no, I don't for a second suggest that this is the Regency of John Nash. Uh uh.

Rose C'est La Vie said...

i think it could be said that this house appeals to my inner Hollywood starlet.

Lynne Rutter said...

i am dying for thos dining chairs. what do they call that shape chair? like a cushy klismos?

Mark D. Ruffner said...

I've been staring at the fireplace, and while the glass and mirror arrangement is glamorous, I'm not seeing room for a flue!

The Down East Dilettante said...

Rose, everyone should have a little inner starlet---life would be ever so much more fun.

Lynne, they are great, aren't they?

Mark, don't be practical, just believe!

Simply Grand said...
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Simply Grand said...
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Simply Grand said...

OK, wait a minute. There seems to be an anomaly in the Time-Space Continuum.

This may or may not be a genuine Elsie de Wolfe design--my guess is that it isn't, and that it's rather the kind of PR-driven thing that led to Rockwell Kent's magnificently indignant refusul to attach his name to a fawning architectural review that some hack had ghost-written to go out under Kent's signature--but either way, there's no way in hell this is a 1926 design. More like a decade later.

Is there an actual 1926 date on any of the pages, or is perhaps this a once-loose pamphlet that was--mistakenly--later bound into a library volume from an earlier year? Or are these maybe orphaned pages sliced from their original context that have, in the meantime, acquired a penciled-in date from someone who's lost track of their correct date? Either way, something's off. Way off.

Scott Waterman said...

Yeah , I've never completely understood the acceptance of Regency as a variant of some other style all together. Hollywood? I guess it just sounds good "regency" and in this case it is lower case and coupled with "modern" So whether it's Elsie or not she's not really going Regency she's going modern regency.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Simply Grand---good catch, and I am guilty of bad journalism and worse typing and proofreading---actually, no proofreading in this case, or I would have noticed the date typo---1936 was the date that I remembered, but (and I often hit the wrong keys on that pesky upper row of numerals) 1926 is what I typed. But in any case, I should have checked my files, because in fact the publication date was May 1937, not 36. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.

As for the how much Lady Mendl really had to do with the design, my text does make clear that I agree with you that it's PR stuff--

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to email the New York Times with a correction about today's article about Ronald Lauder---the cycle of life continues.

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