”Martin: Nothing matches.
Frasier: Well, it’s a style of decorating – it’s called eclectic. The theory behind it is, if you have really fine pieces of furniture, it doesn’t matter if they match – they will go together.
Martin: It’s your money”.
Whilst ambling round the back of the Waterstones on Piccadilly recently, (like the bookish loner I am) I came across ‘American Modern’ a particularly smart coffee-table tome from American interior designer; Thomas O’ Brien. O’ Brien; who I was previously unaware of has made a career of translating regular notions of modernism into a generous array of styles that the lay person can attain easily within their own homes. He interprets a range of styles from casual to formal, primarily using recycled, salvaged pieces and vintage urban materials.
Much like Roman & Williams (who we previously featured here) O Brien’s style is defined by the link between traditional and modern. It is O’Briens belief that people are frequently afraid to experiment between styes, but they are consistently attracted to something other than what they currently live in. The traditionalist being drawn to modern things and the modernist craves a few antique touches. The breakthrough being that once attempted it is obvious that these elements can coexist and actually look better together.
The book itself is broken down into chapters concerning separate visual styles (‘Traditional modern’,’Formal Modern’, ‘Vintage Modern’ etc) each subtly different but distinct enough for you to locate yourself within numerous pages of excellent photography (my own favourite is the ‘American Modern’ chapter). Each chapter describes a project which exemplifies this visual style, projects carried out by Aero; O’ Brien’s own design film.
There’s a practical charm to O’Briens work, it doesn’t require a large manor house, extensive budget or design know-how to achieve (which suits me).
Simple, generally inexpensive ideas such as framing posters & photo’s, re-upholstering used chairs and recycling old fittings are all staple practices of his work.
I leave you with some of the fine photography from ‘American Modern‘: