Rooms is without a doubt the most eccentric decor book I’ve ever come across. I found it Saturday at Toronto’s BMV and after a quick flip through its pages, I simply could not leave the store without it. Originally published by Rizzoli in 2006 and reprinted in 2009, the book features the photographs of Derry Moore, aka the 12th Earl of Drogheda. Being a member of the English aristocracy gave Moore access to some extraordinary homes and palaces not only in the UK and Ireland, but also in India, France, Spain and the USA. Pictured above is Lady Diana Cooper in her London drawing room.
Most of the interiors are lavish, highly-personal, old-money endeavors, many preserved for decades and in one or two cases, centuries. Rooms features the work of a few famous decorators like Elsie de Wolfe, Nancy Lancaster and Madeleine Castaing, above, but in my opinion, the best images in the book are portraits of the people who inhabited the spaces, like dancer Rudolf Nureyev, below, who was apparently hooked on Ikat long before the rest of us.
The cast of characters gets progressively stranger and more fascinating . . .
That’s Milanese decorator Renzo Mongiardino, above, in the crypt-like Roman bath he installed in a century-old home in Turin. Mongiardino, who decorated sets for Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli, died just weeks after sitting for this portrait in 1998.
Nearly as beguiling is the photo below of Austrian visionary painter Ernst Fuchs who put his fantastical stamp on a villa outside Vienna built by famed 19th century architect Otto Wagner. The neo-Tuscan mansion has since been transformed into the Ernst Fuchs Museum.
And that’s just some of the people in the book; the rooms in Rooms are every bit as weird and wonderful, from taxidermy-stuffed hunting lodges and Hyderabad palaces to crazy-quilt sitting rooms like the one below belonging to gardener extraodinaire Lulu de Waldner in Provence. There’s very little in Rooms that would qualify as modern, aside from Fuchs’s place and editor Joseph Holtzman’s Manhattan apartment.
One of my favorite spaces in the book is the dining room, below, in Segovia, Spain. I expect those low-backed chairs are as uncomfortable as hell but they look fantastic and what’s not to love about the trompe l’oeil ceiling and wall treatment? The overall effect is both light and grand, much like the tone of Derry Moore and writer Carl Skoggard’s Rooms.
All photographs © Derry Moore courtesy of Rizzoli International Publications