The Evolution of a Designer : Muriel Brandolini

Many years ago (1997)
photos of a NY townhouse of designer Muriel Brandolini

Dazzled me in a career-changing way, a way that led me to design.

I spent more time reading and re-reading this article,
and studying the pictures than I care to admit!!
She remains, to this day, one of my top three designers.

I've never been able to locate digital pictures of that first home,
but sourcing images for this post, finally found them - joy!

I explicitly remember that she had this ship chandelier commissioned,
and I'm quite sure it was the first of the crystal ship chandeliers.
She explained that her walls were so exquisitely beautiful
 because they were painted by hand, with a brush.
When asked if magazines influenced her work, she replied that she never looked at them,
because she wanted to remain original, and not be influenced by what others were doing.

There was such an air of artistry about her, I was entranced.

In an era of shabby chic and and terrible faux finishing 
the use of silks, antique trims, and gold metals was so unexpected.

Who has a raspberry lacquered fretwork daybed in their dining room?
Against lavender magenta upholstered walls, no less?

I loved her courage.

I was watching for her now, 
and the next projects she completed were stunning.

I was going to incorperate them all into this post, but it was becoming a monster!!
Will post them all in a couple of days -
which means the grey post will be slightly delayed, but I know you understand :)

Let's stick with the design she created for herself, and move on to 2006.

I've never stopped thinking about that first apartment,
and Muriel had re-done it -
I was so curious, what would she have changed?

Well, the color palette, for one thing.

Bring on the sun!

Art from her previous living room gets placed in the hall.

This is my least favourite incarnation of her living room,
simply because I'm not a huge fan of cool yellows,
and the symmetry seems contrived, for her.
I do love the tufted velvet pieces, 
and the huge impact that flaming chesterfield has here.

The study was a masterpiece.
I do so love dark, inky walls,
especially when so perfectly balanced against that saffron carpet.
The arrangement is similar - 
the brown tufted loveseats that flanked the fireplace 
are replaced by a pair of chi-chi pair settees adorned in jewel toned silks.
Gallery wall, anyone?

The dining room was toned down immensely.
It becomes a place to linger.
Walls were re-upholstered in ecru silk, hand embroidered in Vietnam. 
I desperately want that leopard bench!
It's interesting that her dining chairs remained the same, and worked with both rooms.

Another daybed tucked in the corner, this one sans canopy and French.
The mandarin and magenta carpet is a surprise, 
but it must have bridged the gap between saturated madness and neutral for her.
The Fortuny sconces remained in place.

The master bedroom - grasscloth walls ground an ornate Portuguese bed,
it's a restful haven where of soft texture.

The guest suite and it's patchwork medley of grasscloth on the walls...
interesting, but look at the second picture to see the star of the room - 
the ceiling!

Incredible, right? 
I find the painted millwork of all her rooms so inspiring - 
no cloud white here :)

The next thing we got a glimpse of was her Hamptons home,
where wild color frolicked freely....

but the details are more spare, aren't they?
Some of her usual layers seem to have vanished from this design.
It seems that she is playing with color, allowing it to make it's own statement.
That settee seems awfully similar to the pair that had resided in her navy study...
moved here, perhaps?

As Ms. Brandolini's style evolved, her townhome again changed, of course.

In it's latest incarnation, we see much more subdued color,
but the rich detail and texture leave nothing to be desired.

This is by far my favourite version.
It's more refined, less raw, 
and the subtlety allows you to take in the whole space at once, 
without the senses being overwhelmed.

The George Condor painting is back over the sofa...
the coffee table, sofa table and pair of ornate armchairs remain from the previous design,
but a modernist light fixture (Gerrit Reitveld), 
and mid-century sofa and armchairs inject some clean lines into the space. 

The chandelier was moved into the study, where midnight walls became grasscloth.
A drastically different floorplan, one that centers around the window, 
rather than the fireplace, is introduced.

Which do you like better?

This dining room has got me spinning!
The walls are again upholstered, but this time in a white corduroy,
BEADED in Vietnam with her favourite Ernest Hemingway quote.
(we'll see this beading appear again later in the week)

As I am searching for something to place on my own single dining room wall,
I am beyond inspired by this.

The tones of the letters here, all soft and slightly translucent,
and the photos atop...
it's perfect.

And the chairs still remain.
These may be the most versatile dining chairs ever!

Muriel Brandolini is celebrating her twenty years in design with the release of a book on Oct 11.
(pre-order from Amazon and save, I just did!)

It details her design paths, gives insight into what inspires her
(like the beaded bag from Vietanam she found in 1995, that led to her signature embroidered-panel rooms)
and celebrates her former country, Vietnam.

Quite a journey...

I think this quote says it all, don't you?

source 1 2 3 4

Stop by in a couple of days if you'd like to see the extraordinary spaces
 that Ms Brandolini created for other people... x

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Unknown said...

Thanks so much for this post. Really interesting and inspiring. I can sometimes get into such a rut of being very ordered and minimalist, and this really inspires me to think a bit differently. And wow, that ceiling in the guest room?! Amazing.

Kerry said...

Wow, that was fabulous. I really love the guest bedroom. I could stay in that room for quite a while! And a few of the others as well :)

Wendi @ Classic Chic Home said...

What a lovely tribute to a designer who unknowingly influenced your career choices so many years ago.
Wonderful and inspiring post, Anne-Marie!
~ Wendi ~

kathi said...

I've always loved her rooms.......she is truly unique and has brave style.

diane said...

Thanks so much for introducing us to Muriel. I have seen those photos over the years but never really took the time to further check out the designer. And I have loved that chandelier for a long time as well.

I must say I prefer her current designs to previous designs and I prefer the window focal point vs. the fireplace. There the furniture looked to "spin art" for me i.e furniture up against the wall.

Her eye for color, pattern and texture is really unmatched.

Carissa @ the Fabulous Design File said...

Wow! What a post! There is so much to take in, I think I'll have to read it a few times! That dining room is stunning. The words combined with the photos are just gorgeous.

Ann said...

Her rooms are extraordinarily beautiful...

love the ship chandeliers and her walls are exquisite ♥

Tobe | BIA said...

completely smitten.

My Interior Life said...

I've seen her work before but never knew much about her or her background. She really does have quite a flair, and I love the way her design has evolved organically. She obviously does what she loves and doesn't follow trends. Looking forward to seeing more and to getting her book!

Jessica Rowe {The Aestate} said...

So glad to have discovered your blog and consequently, Muriel Brandolini! I can't believe I've never seen these amazing rooms before. She shows me how much I still have to grow as a designer, those rooms could have only come from a lifetime of passion and study. These images are getting stored in my inspiration library for sure!

Tokyo Jinja said...

I am so glad you were able to source so much of your post from mine - "I've Been Missing Muriel Brandolini". She is truly one of a kind! Nothing is as fascinating as watching one space mature with a particular designer.

Anne-Marie @ 10 Rooms said...

@ Tokyo Jinja Hello! Yes, thank you so much for the digital pics of Ms. Brandolini's first home. Those were the ones I could never find! I've filed those away in the inspiration files :) Don't know if you noticed, but I linked to your post a the intro to mine, and again in sources- always give kudos to a fellow blogger.

Sarah said...

She is amazing! Completely fearless. I love the way you put this post together.

lululoves said...

I really loved her study when it was navy blue, but her living room looks perfect in it's latest version.


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