The current return to maximalism can, in all likelihood, be traced to a single source – Renzo Mongiardino. Even those who didn’t know or couldn’t pronounce his name, have been unwittingly influenced by his lush and layered interiors. Redolent of eras long gone and faraway places, Mongiardino magically melded his many influences into elegant, moody and timeless spaces. And who better to present a new book on the master architect and interior designer than Martina Mondadori Sartogo and her compatriots at Cabana, a magazine so clearly influenced by his vision.
Having grown up in a Mongiardino designed home, below, Martina is intimately familiar with the man and his work.
This is not, however, as she explains in her introduction, the ultimate anthology of Mongiardino’s work, but rather a specific point of view.
Like Cabana, which often focuses on details and ambiance, this volume is a personal tribute to his style. A master of illusion who employed the best of artisans, Mongiardino made it hard to discern what was “real” and what was created for the desired effect.
It is this ineffable ambiance that made Mongiardino so appealing to a sophisticated group who understood the depth of his talent. From Marella Agnelli and Franco Zeffirelli to Aristotle Onassis and Guy de Rothschild, his clients represented the creme de la creme of design cognoscenti.
And sprinkled throughout the book are conversations with several clients and friends who also knew him well such as Lee Radziwill, Umberto Pasti, Elsa Peretti, Francesca Simone as well as a letter to him from Jackie Kennedy Onassis (written on the mega yacht Christina stationery) detailing design ideas and questions for a project on the Greek island of Skorpios.
Whether a grand residence or a cozy room, his artistic legacy lives on in these homes, newly photographed by Guido Taroni for the book and beautifully printed in Italy. It is a testament to Mongiardino’s great talent that they still exist, showing how his theatrical penchant for trompe l’oeil, exquisite craftsmanship and a high low mix of textures and patterns endures and set the stage for so much of what was to come.