The summer of 1973 was English, that is to say that there were very few warm days. However, it was notable because I met Richard Holley, an American designer living in London, whose primary work at that time was in creating the deisgns for special events. Richard's style was deliberate, demonstrative and declarative. If you have never heard anyone say opulence pronouncing every letter, then you haven't met Richard. My brother and I ended up being the manufacturers for many of the items used in Richard's events, most of them parties for the then newish firm, Party Planners. The best thing for my brother and I was that Richard convinced Zandra Rhodes to allow us to use her new house for a workshop, albeit for a short time as both my brother and I were still attending classes. In any case, we helped Richard with a great number of parties in all sorts of venues such as the Hyde Park Hotel (now the Mandarin Oriental), the Dorchester, Asprey's, the Grand Hotel in Brighton, the Orangery in Holland Park, the Father Thames river cruiser and a great many more. One of the most celebrated party was Mick Jagger's thirtieth held at David Mlinaric's house in Chelsea. David, a superb interior designer, came into my shop about fifteen years ago and I related the fact that I had been part of the crew setting up that party. He didn't attend that party as he had just flown in from South Africa, but he told me that the art professor that lived above him had so liked what the garden in the back looked like that he made a painting of it. Apparently, Mr. Jagger liked the painting and wanted to buy it, but the professor also liked it and wouldn't sell it. Alas, you can't always get what you want.
What did this have to do with antiques? In a way, it had very little to do with antiques and yet in another way, it had quite a bit to do with my education. Richard's taste for opulence was based on an essential understanding of the classical and baroque repertoires. It was our job, with his assistance, to translate many of his ideas into a scale that worked visually. My brother, David, was a natural at this and I learned through trial and error. After a while, it becomes second nature, so much so that you want to break the bounds of convention and try to expand the scale to see if you can get away with non-conventional scaling. If you apply this thinking to the interior of cathedrals, you will understand just how dramatic the elongation of objects can be. Obviously, the height of a cathedral almost demands such elongation, but take the object out of it and it changes dramatically. I think about this whenever I see a Frank Lloyd Wright room--so cozy and snug on the one hand, but because the ceiling is usually so low, the objects, when outside a Wright room, look stunted. No, the time we spent with Richard (now an exlclusve and somewhat reclusive designer living in Houston) was extremely informative.