SYRIE MAUGHAM MAKES A COMEBACK

by Marisa Marcantonio


A new book on the legendary American designer Syrie Maugham was recently written by the prolific Pauline C. Metcalf for Acanthus Press, and I heard her speak on the topic at this year's Winter Antique Show.

Photo courtesy of Acanthus Press
The room that started it all: the glamorous San Francisco bedroom of Celia Tobin Clark. Designed by the go to designer of the day in 1929, this room set tongues wagging. Maugham became known as the "White Queen", for the all white palette she used in her London apartment that helped her earn the moniker. She continued the use of varying shades of cream in her work for Mrs. Clark, shown here, through the use of a Marion Dorn cut pile rug, and upholstery and trim in shades of oyster, pearl and parchment. On the walls, she placed a scrolled, stenciled pattern on a Swedish linen. The green pattern worked with the all white interiors in a space that has became known as an American masterpiece. The room is frequently referenced as such, and is groundbreaking in its use of a singular color, varying textures and simplicity of the pieces used.

James Shearron, a partner in the architecture firm Bories and Shearron, recreated the room for a House and Garden (rip) story in 2001, when he was the special projects editor. The space was recreated down to every last detail. I helped him produce the story and assisted him on the set, where everything was built from scratch. A custom rug was created by Doris Leslie Blau, furniture made to scale with mole fringe in the seams, a custom four poster bed, Minic Table, Sentimento accessories and hand printed Studio Printworks wallpaper all made room come alive. The article we did was the first time the room had been re-created in color. Those were the days when building a set like this was de rigeur.

The paper is now a mainstay in the Studio Printworks collection. The paper was recolored for Liz O'Brien's divine booth at the Winter Antique Show, with the pattern in silver. I always look forward to seeing her booth, since she creates a space you just want to move into. A Scalloped-Back Settee from Maison Jansen covered in a grey fabric is an anchor for the booth and a show stopper.

Syrie, wittily remastered, holds a card with the Studio Printworks wallpaper details.

Liz's large booth was filled with museum quality pieces like a Syrie Maugham Petite Side Table, John Vesey's Folding X-bench, and assorted Grosfield House and Maison Jansen pieces.

Lamps with palm fronds made of metal light up a chest of drawers.

The lamps lights made the silver accents of the wallpaper glow.