Edward Ira Schachner, Architect, on design legend, Renzo Mongiardino
RENZO MONGIARDINO, ORIGINALLY RENOWNED FOR HIS CONTRIBUTIOSN TO THEATRICAL DESIGN FOR STAGE AND SCREEN, CREATED DAZZLING SPECIAL EFFECTS IN HIS RESIDENTIAL DESIGN PROJECTS. BUILT ON BOTH A FOUNDATION OF SCHOLARSHIP AND A PASSION FOR EXPERIMENTATION WITH MATERIALS AND INNOVATIVE TECHNIQUES, MONGIARDINO BROUGHT HIS THEATRICAL SENSIBILITY AND KNOWLEDGE INTO THE REFINED AND UNIQUE HOMES THAT HE CREATED FOR RESIDENTIAL CLIENTS.
“FLOORS WERE PAVED IN MARBLE THAT WAS NOT MARBLE; WALLS WERE PANELED WITH NEOCLASSICAL BOISERIES…OF PAINT AND SHADOWS, SOFAS AND CHAIRS UPHOLSTERED IN SKILLFULLY AGED VELVETS.”
“ILLUSION COMES INTO BEING AS PART OF THE PLEASURE”, MONGIARDINO WROTE IN ROOMSCAPES, HIS TREATISE ON DESIGN. THE SAME PAINTERS, CRAFTSMEN AND GILDERS WHO PRODUCED HIS STAGE SETS (ZEFFIRELLI’S ROMEO AND JULIET, LILLIAN CAVANI’S BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL, AND PETER HALL’S TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA, TO CITE A VERY FEW), WORKED ON MONGIARDINO’S REMARKABLE INTERIORS FOR INTERNATIONAL CLIENTS THAT INCLUDED TWO PROMINENT NEW YORK RESIDENTS AT 820 FIFTH AVENUE, WILLIAM S. PALEY AND STAVROS NIARCHOS.
IN THE TRADITION OF THE STUDIO OF THE LEGENDARY RENZO MONGIARDINO FOR WHOM HE WORKED, IRA SCHACHNER, FOUNDER AND PRINCIPAL OF EDWARD IRA SCHACHNER, ARCHITECT, NEW YORK, COLLABORATES WITH A TEAM OF EXPERTS, STRUCTURAL AND MECHANICAL ENGINEERS, LIGHTING SPECIALISTS AND ARTISANS TO CREATE LUXURIOUS, HISTORICALLY GROUNDED, RESIDENCES THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. WHETHER IN TEL AVIV, NEW YORK OR PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND, EACH RESIDENCE REFLECTS BOTH THE SENSIBILITY OF ITS OWNER AND LOCATION AND IRA’S WELL-GROUNDED EXPERIENCE IN ALL ASPECTS OF RESIDENTIAL DESIGN.
IRA, THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED CONTRIBUTION TO THE LRFA BLOG. HOW DID YOU COME TO MEET RENZO MONGIARDINO AND WORK WITH HIM? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE HIS AESTHETIC AND THE TYPES OF PROJECTS ON WHICH YOU WERE INVOLVED?
I literally fell into the opportunity of working with this amazing genius. It changed my life and my whole oeuvre. He was strongly influenced by the renaissance where all the arts became interdependent and his work became just a continuation of tradition of the art of craft in fabric design, painting and interior design. The two projects that I worked with him on were for Stavros Niarchos and Baron Thyssen Bournemisza for their apartments in New York. Both had and were famous for their extensive art collections.
Mongiardino would have all the paintings that were to be hung in the apartments copied at full scale and used to select the palette for the interior design. Silk velvet was custom dyed and then acid-etched by hand using copper stencils for sofa upholstery. Walls were faux painted with elaborate patterns to offset the paintings and even Persian carpets were painted on the floors. Of course the rooms were filled with museum quality furniture as well, so the effect was breathtaking. I had never experienced an interior like this and it profoundly affected my aesthetic sense and certainly my sensitivity to detail.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MEMORABLE OBJECTS AND PAINTINGS THAT WERE HIGHLIGHTS IN SOME OF THE COLLECTIONS OF THE MONGIARDINO CLIENT ROSTER?
I remember Marie Antoinette’s inlaid sewing table in the Niarchos salon at 820 Fifth. A matched pair of gigantic inlaid ebony and tortoise fifteenth century Italian cabinets in a 50 foot Gallery that featured a large Titian Annunciation as one came in off the elevator. The Living room was hung with 17 works of art ranging from Monets, Renoirs and several Modiglianis. The Bournemisza apartment became the much more dramatic setting for his Old Master paintings. I recall a small Library with a della Francesca portrait that rested against a panel of aubergine acid etched velvet. It was truly exquisite.
ART COLLECTIONS OF DISTINCTION, WHETHER FOCUSED ON OLD MASTER DRAWINGS, MINIMALIST PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURE OR MULTIMEDIA INSTALLATIONS BY CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS, INSPIRE GREAT RESIDENTIAL DESIGN. WHEN COLLECTORS ACQUIRE WORKS OF ART OF QUALITY OF ANY TIME PERIOD OR MEDIUM, A POWERFUL DIALOGUE IS SET IN PLACE BETWEEN THE COLLECTOR, THE DESIGNER AND THE MASTERWORKS THEMSELVES.
IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG WITH RESIDENTIAL DESIGNER, IRA SCHACHNER, WE WILL CONTINUE TO EXPLORE THE BEAUTIFUL RESIDENCES AND THEIR OUTSTANDING COLLECTIONS OF ART THAT INSPIRE HIS WORK. PLEASE JOIN US!