Oliver Messel: In the Theatre of Design

Overview

A vibrant study of one of the iconic figures of twentieth-century design, whose Romantic, whimsical, and wholly original style influenced a generation of architects and decorators. Oliver Messel was one of England’s foremost interior designers of the twentieth century, whose work also spanned the worlds of the stage design, film, and architecture. Born into a creative family of wealthy bankers, his career began in 1925 designing for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. He eventually became an internationally ...
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Overview

A vibrant study of one of the iconic figures of twentieth-century design, whose Romantic, whimsical, and wholly original style influenced a generation of architects and decorators. Oliver Messel was one of England’s foremost interior designers of the twentieth century, whose work also spanned the worlds of the stage design, film, and architecture. Born into a creative family of wealthy bankers, his career began in 1925 designing for Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. He eventually became an internationally celebrated designer, branching out into drama, film, opera, interior design, textiles, and architecture. Romanticism and eccentricity were hallmarks of Messel’s style. His sets were famed for their exquisite delicacy, impossible detail, subtlety of color, and inventive use of materials. From the 1930s to the postwar period, Messel explored the fields of interior design and architecture, eventually designing numerous houses built on the islands of Mustique and Barbados for the jet set of the 1960s and ‘70s, among them Antony Armstrong-Jones (Earl of Snowdon) and Princess Margaret. Oliver Messel is filled with previously unpublished images that chronicle a unique, eccentric, and, until now, largely overlooked oeuvre that reached across several mediums and continues to influence insiders from the worlds of interior design, architecture, and fashion.

Edited by Thomas Messel with an introduction by Lord Snowdon, an epilogue by Anthony Powell and texts by Stephen Calloway, Keith Lodwick, Jeremy Musson, and Sarah Woodcock

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
English furniture designer Messel lovingly narrates the story of his uncle's amazing life and multifaceted career in interior design, theatrical set and costume design, painting, and architecture. Oversized with numerous photographs, both black-and-white and color, the book is a pleasure to thumb through for Messel fans and newcomers alike. An "impossible act to follow," Messel's most lasting contributions include numerous houses in Barbados and the sets and costumes of many films, from 1934's Don Juan to Suddenly, Last Summer in 1959. The author describes his uncle's creative passion and energy for collecting, illustrating these traits throughout the book with images of Messel's work, including his paintings, photos and sketches of sets and costumes, and interior and exterior redesigns. Additional resources include tributes by friends, colleagues, and modern designers; filmography; an illustrated timeline; and detailed endnotes. Interior and theatrical designers and fans will find inspiration in Messel's extreme attention to detail in all of his endeavors.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From the Publisher
"Oliver Messel: In the Theatre of Design by Thomas Messel shows the work of one of England’s foremost interior designers whose work spanned the worlds of theater, film, interior design, and architecture. Romanticism and eccentricity were hallmarks of Messel’s style, and his sets were famed for their exquisite delicacy, impossible detail, subtlety of color, and inventive use of materials. The book is filled with previously unpublished images that chronicle a unique, and, until now, largely overlooked oeuvre that reached across all mediums and continues to influence the worlds of interior design, architecture, and fashion." ~Editors at Large
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847833962
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Publication date: 10/11/2011
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,378,074
  • Product dimensions: 10.64 (w) x 12.58 (h) x 1.23 (d)

Meet the Author

Thomas Messel, the nephew of Oliver Messel, is a furniture designer and is responsible for the refurbishment of two of Oliver Messel's design projects: Dorchester Hotel, Flaxley Abbey. Antony Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon, is a photographer and filmmaker. Anthony Powell is a costume designer for stage and screen.
Stephen Calloway is the author of Obsessions: Collectors and Their Passions and The Elements of Style: A Practical Encyclopedia of Interior Architectural Details from 1485 to the Present. Sarah Woodcock is a curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum's Theatre Museum. Jeremy Musson is an architectural historian, writer, and broadcaster.
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