Here Are the Greatest Rooms of the Century, According to Phaidon
View Photos

Here Are the Greatest Rooms of the Century, According to Phaidon

Add to
Like
Share
By Kate Reggev
From the home of Charles and Ray Eames to Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, these interiors span dozens of countries and a broad range of show-stopping styles.

Interiors: The Greatest Rooms of the Century is a 400-page compendium of the most spectacular spaces of the 20th century, organized not by date of completion or location, but in alphabetical order, giving the volume an encyclopedic authority—and the reader a sense of freedom and discovery. Each room is represented by a single photo "worth a thousand words" (in the words of interior design and fashion editor William Norwich in his introduction) and a short text describing the work and the designer. 

Interiors: The Greatest Rooms of the Century from Phaidon is available as a single book in four luxurious, velvet versions in of-the-moment colors: Midnight Blue, Merlot Red, Platinum Gray, and Saffron Yellow.

Get the Dwell Newsletter

Get carefully curated content filled with inspiring homes from around the world, innovative new products, and the best in modern design.

See a sample

The content is broad in scope and endlessly inspiring: residential interior spaces are presented from six continental regions and over 25 countries, with work not only from decorators, architects, and designers, but also spaces conceived of by fashion designers, artists, film stars, style icons, and other towering figures in residential design. 

Norwich’s introduction touches on the evolution of interior design in the United States: the influence of early designers such as Elsie de Wolfe and writers and tastemakers like Edith Wharton; the importance of photography, in particular for midcentury modern design; and the growth of shelter magazines. 

A spread in the book shows a New York City penthouse designed by Rafael de Cardenas and completed in 2013 alongside a bedroom in the Cote d'Azur vacation home of fashion designer Pierre Cardin. The two-story apartment in New York by de Cardenas combines restraint and minimalism to allow specific elements stand out, like a mesmerizing hand-painted ceiling and carefully selected furniture. The Pierre Cardin bedroom, on the other hand, was designed between 1975 and 1989 by avant-garde Hungarian architect Antti Lovag and embodies the architect's retro-futuristic designs with the circular bed, swooping apertures into the room, and bold and playful colors.

But what exactly is great design, and what makes the spaces presented "the greatest"? This is considered in three other essays in the book by Graeme Brooker, head of the School of Fashion and Interiors at Middlesex University; David Netto, interior designer and writer; and Carolina Irving, an interiors editor. From discussions of Sir John Soane’s London home of the late 18th century to the influence of Wes Anderson films, the rowdy trends of the 1980s to the question of good taste, these essays give depth and food for thought as one thumbs through the ensuing pages. 

What follows in the book are a mixture of color and black-and-white photography of everything from the modernist, stark geometry of a dining room from the 1940s by Parisian designer Jacques Adnet to the lavish, Rococo flourishes of a 1980s salon in Venice by Tony Duquette and Hutton Wilkinson. We’ve pulled out some of our favorite spreads below.

Close to any modernist's heart is the home of Charles and Ray Eames, titans of midcentury design. Their home in California is iconic for its steel-framed windows, birch-paneled interiors, double-height ceiling, and array of their own pieces of furniture amidst a range of books, artwork, and artifacts from across the world. On the opposite page is a living room by Joe D'Urso for fashion designer Calvin Klein. Designed in 1975 in New York City, the space is remarkable for its functional, simple style that embodied Klein's fashion sense, filled with neutral shades, exposed ductwork, and a minimalist aesthetic.

The 1930s meets the 2010s in this spread of the book, which features the unusual living room of publishing tycoon Moses Annenberg and designed by Thomas Molesworth in 1932 opposite the library in a home in Los Angeles designed by The Archers. The Molesworth living room was typical of the woodworker and furniture maker's designs, which prominently featured rustic finishes that indulged his client's fantasies of the Wild West. The room contrasts sharply with the updated midcentury modern room by the Archers, which is accessed via a canary yellow spiral staircase visible in the background of the image. The original home was from the 1940s, and the Archers took cues from the aluminum windows and boxy proportions in the development of their scheme that included high-gloss, boldly-colored items to create a homey, eclectic interior.

The bold, vibrant colors of Frida Kahlo's La Casa Azul in the outskirts of Mexico City are unmistakable. The home, which was a sanctuary not only for Kahlo but also for the intellectuals and artists that she hosted (including Leon Trotsky and his wife, Natalia Sedova, among others), and holds a collection of Mexican folk art that is displayed throughout. The spread is shared with a remarkable home renovation completed in 1998 in New Jersey by architect Adam Kalkin. The aim of the design was to enclose an existing 1880s clapboard house within a larger industrial shed, creating the extra space needed by the homeowners with an unusual approach to an extension.

The influence of Japanese designer Shiro Kuramata's time with the 1980s Memphis group is evident in the design of this living room in Tokyo in 1983, with the bold colors of the terrazzo aggregate appearing to float in its otherwise white substrate. Although the room was designed more than 35 years ago, it still feels simple, modern, and appropriate for today. On the opposite page is the bathroom of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld in Rome, Italy. The interiors of Lagerfeld's homes were typically done by himself, sometimes with help from interior designer friends; this bathroom in particular featured an intriguing mix of objects including a wooden spiral stair and ubiquitous porcelain sink.

European homes are prominently featured in the book, including a living room in Paris by Dimore Studio and the drawing room of Christian Dior in Montauroux, France. The apartment designed by Dimore Studio was completed in 2015 and features a balance between contemporary pieces mixed with older items: a plush rust-colored sofa picks up the curves of an undulating stair railing, and a circular coffee table by Gio Ponti is topped with Japanese ceramics. The Dior drawing room, on the other hand, is a lesson in traditional French elegance. Completed in the 1950s after Dior's death in 1957, the goal was to have a sophisticated home that was, in his words, " simple, ancient and dignified."

Sitting on opposite pages from each other are a studio in England by Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell from 1916 and the living room in the home of architect Michael Graves in Princeton, New Jersey, and completed in 1996. The work of famed architect Michael Graves is recognized for its postmodernist designs involving geometric forms and saturated colors; his own living room was used as a laboratory for experimentation with domestic space and was regularly adapted and renovated. The home of artists Duncan Grant and David Garnett was a site of unconventional living in the early 20th century, and the studio in the home demonstrated the casual, liberated aesthetic and approach to the artists' work and their living space.

The timeless interior spaces of Jacques Grange are highlighted in his own living room in Provence, France, where the vacation home was completed in the 1980s. The interiors are simultaneously effortless yet curated, ageless and yet modern, with natural tones like creams, golds, and ochers covering the walls, floors, and furniture. The home of Cary Grant and Randolph Scott, on the other hand, was completed in the 1930s and had an exterior that presented like a miniature chateau in Normandy. Its interiors, however, were executed in an "Old Hollywood" style, with traditional Colonial Revival furniture in a typical restrained, Depression-era American details.

Interiors: The Greatest Rooms of the Century, Saffron Yellow
More of 400 of the world's best living spaces created by over 300 of the most influential people in interior design in one luxurious book  Oversized and available in four collectable velvet covers to decorate any space in style, Interiors: The Greatest Rooms of the Century is the ultimate...