Modern Interiors Done Right

Modern and contemporary design is all too often defined by the predictable palette of gray and white tones, leaving rooms with a feeling of visual monotony. While there are many rooms that have been designed beautifully with a minimal palette, I think all too often this choice becomes a default rather than a consideration, leaving a space void of personality and intimacy.

No matter the design style, I've always believed a room has to be a sanctuary for its inhabitants, a warm and relaxing place to retreat and share in the company of others. Design at its best has the ability to bring us closer to feelings of warmth and vitality, aspects that define a home.  Over the years, I've collected images that are modern, colorful, and exquisitely personal. They tell the story of their inhabitants, who draw from a wide and worldly view of artistic disciples such as architecture, interior design, art, and industrial design. Above all, the interiors reveal a curiosity to learn and play with their spaces, becoming more like lived-in laboratories than perfectly staged sets. 

Carlo Mollino, the Italian architect, designer, and photographer moved fluidly through all aspects of design and art. His innate talent and sophisticated character brought a distinct personal touch to all his work. He followed no trend, choosing to work only with the materials that emotionally moved him and were connected to his personal aesthetics and beliefs.  

His ideas were defined by an eclectic style that merged his innovate designs with traditional and historical references. His house, Casa Mollino, designed between 1960-1968 is his most intimate and I believe, best represents his influential and eccentric style.  He rejected the cold and minimalist approach to modernism, opting for the emotional and symbolic. 

Below is a selection of the rooms at Casa Mollino in Turin. Photos courtesy of Museo Casa Mollino.

The 16th century palazzo of Osanna Visconti di Modrone and Giangaleazzo Visconti in central Milan is an extraordinary example of a modern, cutting edge style that is warm and full of life. She is a designer of beautiful jewelry and furniture, he a contemporary art gallery owner. Every detail is treated with their thoughtful and sharp eye for form and color, informed by their mutual respect for history and the contemporary. Their diverse art collection ranges from video art to tapestry.  Photos by Fabrizio Cicconi, The Telegraph, November 2015.


Welcome to the fanastical, imaginative world of Vincent Darre. His energetic, Dada inspired aesthetic and personality is magnetic. He refers to his Paris apartment as a laboratory of design ideas, seeing himself more as a stage director than a decorator. His shop in Paris Maison Darre is a magical world full of his own furniture and accessories and his fabric designs for Pierre Frey are wholly unique and playful. You can also get the full tour of his whimsical world by viewing this video tour. Photos by Francois Halard for TMagazine.

Silvia Reinhold's playful and modern apartment in Paris has a light and minimal touch that is anything but cold. The chevron laid wooden floors are dotted with layered geometric rugs, and the cognac and burgundy upholstery give the room a rich warmth.  Photography by Helenio Barbetta in Living Magazine February 2014.

The acclaimed French decorator Jacques Grange has a wonderful ability to mix the historical with the cutting edge with colorful, edgy, fantastical elements. Designing for clients such as the Princess of Monaco, Francis Ford Coppola, and Pierre Berge, he creates a sophisticated luxury from a multicultural perspective that feels utterly contemporary. 

Below, Terry and Jean De Gunzburg's London home was gut renovated and decorated by Grange, transforming many small rooms into larger spaces to accommodate their extensive and ambitious art collection. Photographed by Henry Bourne, AD May 2011. 

A curvaceous, tufted custom sofa is upholstered in silk velvet. The sculpture is Anthony Gormley and the painting, Francis Bacon. The petite, gilt faux bamboo Napoleon III armchairs are from the estate of Madeleine Castaing. 

Jacques Grange's classical 18th Century Paris apartment below, is enlivened with fresh energy by his masterful, eclectic mix of furniture, lighting, art, and decorative objects from classical 18th Century to art deco and contemporary. A Damien Hirst spin painting takes center stage. Photos by Guy Hervais, From Jacques Grange Interiors, By Pierre Passebon. 

With a subtle, sculptural play of form, Grange combines a spiral light fixture by Ron Arad, while 18th Century classical busts flank the Hiroshi Sugimoto photograph hanging over the Donald Judd sculpture.

Frédéric Malle is by far my favorite perfumer, having created an entirely new concept with Editions de Parfum, in which he invited the best noses to create scents under their name. They often mix perfumes from conceptual inspirations from every sensory aspect of life, including the colors of abstract paintings. 

His unique approach to sensorial infusion invigorated his approach to decorating the 5th Avenue home he shares with his wife Marie, who grew up amongst the magnificent rooms of the Château de Groussay. “I mix furniture like I mix ingredients for perfumes,” says Frédéric. “Decorating is the same: a matter of balance. Objects have different weights, visual or actual. Some are stronger than others in color or shape.” Photography Thomas Loof, AD April 2011. 

In their living room below, an eclectic array of mostly modern furniture cohabitates with art that spans a 500 year history. A 18th-century desk, Madeleine Castaing designed rug, Arne Jacobsen Egg chair, Jean Dubuffet painting, African Dogon mask, and Venetian Renaissance painting, come alive together. 

 Three years later, the current transformation of the room as featured in TMagazine. 

The maid's quarters have been re-imagined into a pop art inspired breakfast room with glossy primary green floors and lithographs by Robert Longo and Roy Lichtenstein. 


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