All text, concepts and images ©2009 - 2021 Debra Healy
unless otherwise stated.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


 Image  detail from Oliver Messel:In the Theater of Design
edited by Thomas Messel, Rizzoli

 Designed for Lord Faringdon's private theater at Buscot Park, Oxfordshire, England.

Masquerade with my favorite mask maker.

 Oliver Messel the designer at work.

Masks designed by Oliver Messel for Lady Mendl (Elsie De Wolfe) and her two attendants,
for the Flora and Fauna Ball given by Etienne de Beaumont.
From Bals, Assouline

 Bedroom scene from Helen
Charles Cochran's Play La Belle Helen. Oliver Messel's  elegant and original set designs
are to this day widely copied.
For Halloween we are going to watch Suddenly Last Summer to see  
the film art direction of Oliver Messel at its best.

Another favorite film  (unrelated to Oliver Messel) is currently being celebrated in a fabulous exhibition in Paris.
Happy Halloween.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Happy 50 th Anniversary Clarence House

I adore this book.   I found it very moving and  honest, a story with pictures, and oh what pictures.  It is informative and focused on the history of Clarence House and  Kazumi's journey of discovery and development.  How he has transformed his artistic revelations and reactions into pure inspiration. His  innate talent shines through as an integral part of the story.  I enjoy the process of how he learned the  necessary  technical  elements of his craft. This adds depth and authority.  I found it very personal.  It has a fearless alchemy that is transformative.  Kazumi's voice shines throughout.    It is a compelling story that holds together with an evocative narrative.

Kazumi is a dazzling artist and an expert, he conveys an energy and creative spark to his readers which will encourage them to look at his fabrics with authority. Even established designers will be transformed and find fresh inspiration in these pages.  The text  embodies a smiling  challenge;  he is  encouraging and requiring designers to be bold, modern and creative by collaborating with him in turn. This is marvelous.

The language is  delightful a "blowsy peony"  Chinoiserie described as Creating a  "lively chaos then taming it",  this is great fun.

the book is beautifully designed with simple design solutions like the typography, using Serif-bold titles,  and sans-serif for the text. It is elegant, and easy to read. The text pages are very effective with lots of breathing space, they are a perfect counter point to the opulent textures and patterns of the luscious photographs and fabrics. It is a book to own and treasure.


 "When Robin Roberts introduced 'Clarence House' to the design world in 1961, it was like setting off fireworks at a gala carnival.Under his masterful direction the lights never dimmed-- and the design world has benefited by the magic and the beauty that he offered--offered with great personal style, superb knowledge taste, and gentlemanly charm." ALBERT HADLEY

A large part of that brightness has been the remarkable work of Kazumi Yoshida.  Since the early 1980's Kazumi has been the driving design force behind Clarence House's phenomenal success and definitive style.

I never cease to be amazed by and delighted by his work.  As an artist, Kazumi's creativity is drawn from  everything in world around him; he can be inspired by anything from fine and decorative arts, to fashion, theater, literature, and film . What Kazumi thinks about  is always  worth paying attention to.  He sees things with a degree of awareness that is remarkable. He is well versed in design history, He has had years of experience  working with archives and  important historic documents, interpreting them with his distinctive style.

It is always a pleasure to see Kazumi's amazing paintings turned into fabric ,rugs, tapestries and other surface design projects.

To my mind were 3 designers in the Twentieth century who have had this light lyrical touch, Raoul Duffy, Christain Berard, and Kazumi Yoshida. I hope to read that Kazumi has been nominated for a National Design Award soon. His professional career In America has had a wide ranging impact on the world of design.
Kazumi. He is a  multi-national global twenty-first century man. He is now the artistic director and still the creative force behind Clarence House. In this capacity he has an unerring sense of what is right for today.  He oversees more than 300 new fabric, wallpaper and passementerie product introductions annually.

Along with The late founder of Clarence House, Robin Roberts, Kazumi  forged a new  standard for the American home furnishing industry.  Robin often said  Kazumi  has "the greatest artistic hand I have ever seen.''  They worked with the finest traditional  European crafts men translating these designs into sumptuous fabrics.

I remember one luncheon at Robin’s estate, Twin Ponds in Bedford, NY we dined with his friend the premier silk screen fabric printer in France ( think, Hermes scarves), he complained jovially about their perfectionism.  Telling me that one of Kazumi’s designs required more than 80 screens per meter to Print! Robin Just said, "but of course," with a knowing look, "if that’s what it takes to achieve perfection."

Kazumi said in Interior Design magazine 3/1/2007

"Robin created this brand with over-the-top damasks, lampas, silk velvets, and luscious trims—his skill at editing grand archival designs was tremendous. I liked working with those as well, but the pendulum needed to swing back,"

Yoshida explains. "I started mixing mid-century whimsy with the energy and force you see in contemporary art."

Armand Albert Rateau Chair from the collection of  the late Robin Roberts.
Patinated Bronze Circa 1920
designed for Florence Blumenthal
Clarence House fabric inspired by the Rateau

Kazumi is first and foremost one of the most brilliant colorists of our age, Trained as a painter he has a highly refined sense of color, one that is so subtle, sophisticated, and  nuanced.

To see his work is like walking in an uncharted exotic forest and being totally surprised by yet  undiscovered flora and fauna. He has created such startling and unexpected color combinations, with his bold distinctive brush strokes.

When designing textiles Kazumi still works with the traditional materials of pencils, paper, paints, and brushes.  How do you turn these humble materials into something extraordinary?  With what Cecil Beaton described as “ flickers of genius” he said this in reference to Christian Berard, I think the same applies to Kazumi.  He has that all important ability to "know" absolutely when a piece is just right,  when to stop.  Like the Zen masters of brush painting from his home country of Japan.

Kazumi's woven fabrics are sumptuously textured--veritable tone studies in soft patterns, with these he is the master of subtlety,
and Charm.

He has worked with Etro, Ratti, Este Lauder, and most recently
Kazumi designed a series of the large luscious beach towels and home furnishings for  Hermes.

Kazumi's living room From Elle Decor Feb/March 2011

As an artist Kazumi’s work is constantly evolving. Working in multimedia, Kazumi , has been known for his artistic versatility. His new works are three dimensional. They are a fusion of sculpture and painting.
 Pure Magic!

One of a kind.