In Full Bloom

17-Mario-Buatta-interior.w700.h467.2x.jpgAs a garden is at its peak, in its season of glory, when the sun burns at its brightest and the moon shines most brilliantly….. When the crickets sing their songs so audibly with the chorus of many…. When the animals roam without a care in the world….. When the days are long and the nights are balmy….. This, this is when the Midsummer has arrived in all its reigning splendor.

Mario Buatta, as a man recently retired unto the eternal passage after life on this earth has extinguished, has left in his wake a remarkable legacy. “The Prince of Chintz,” as he was aptly named, tempted clients with his playful and whimsical, yet entirely classical amalgamations of birds, florals, chinoiserie, colors, bows, ruffles, tassels galore…. Maximalism at its height. An excess so grand that it made almost no sense… and yet it made perfect sense. His rooms were never static. They were made to be lived in. Design was never at the expense of comfort or appropriate proportion. A chair was not placed for looks, or simply to be sculptural or interesting, entirely.  To be, it had to function in conjunction with other working units, a lamp for instance. It was also designed for human company (which he loved). To be able to gather harmoniously. With ease.

Buatta was a showman, a tad exhibitionistic (or maybe more so) who also fancied an ingenious prank. He may have engaged you in dinner conversation while a giant toy cockroach may be approaching your plate which was wielded in secret by the man himself or alternately whip out a toupee which he would place on his head mid-conversation and purposely allow to slide about at random.

But the work was always taken seriously. A singular room may have taken years to show completion. He was thorough and worked for the outcome, the art, more so, some may say than any monetary gain. He rarely had any staff, if any at all.

Mario Buatta was a longtime purveyor of the English Countryside Manor approach to decorating although of the manor he was not born. And yet he adopted it with such enthusiasm for nearly sixty years that it was not immediately clear that this was the case. A natural showman, entertainer… This speaks volumes in his legacy. Well, the volumes in his legacy speak for themselves.

Aaah, summer – that long anticipated stretch of lazy, lingering days, free of responsibility and rife with possibility. It’s a time to hunt for insects, master handstands, practice swimming strokes, conquer trees, explore nooks and crannies, and make new friends.”

-Darell Hammond




0208-AD-BUAT-01A.jpgAttribution to Architectural Digest, The Cut, Baltimore Sun