Wednesday - 22 October 2014

More than shabby chic

02 February 2004Written by ATG Reporter

The Well-worn Interior by Robin Forster and Tim Whittaker, published by Thames & Hudson. ISBN 050051139X. £24.95hb

“Goes beyond shabby chic for a new generation of style-savvy home owners” states the pixillated blurb to this book, and with the sales of interior style design books now booming we are apparently now all worshippers at the high altar of style.
Aiming for something slightly more elegant than mere shabbiness with its hints of mouldering decrepitude, this book’s authors have splendidly settled for the charms of the “faded and gently ravaged interior”. Quoting from the book’s jacket blurb this book is “an intimate presentation of residences around the world that have aged gracefully to become completely original spaces.

The chapters include living, cooking and eating, sleeping, bathing – water ceremonies – and outdoor rooms plus entertaining – “the social mise en scène. There is one glorious shot of a salon in a house in Charleston, South Carolina which somehow looks like a long abandoned film-set room in Tara, the mansion in Gone With the Wind. Amidst the peeling wallpaper and chunks of plaster there hangs a huge gilded mirror which shows off to perfection a completely wrecked banquette sofa, while a London bathroom has “chipped and scratched dark wood panelling and wall frames embossed with sarcophagi signifying death and the world beyond”.

Tim Whittaker runs the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust in London and Robin Forster’s photographs have been exhibited at the V&A.

Some useful information on details and techniques and a good list of suppliers the better to acquire the “gently ravaged look”.

The look of the ruin is popular; an antiques shop in my local town is doing nicely selling furniture which the owner lovingly ravages himself.

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