Throwback Thursday: Kevin McNamara

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Posted June 5, 2014. Filed in American Chic, Classic Chic, Kevin McNamara

Kevin McNamara-Brown Living Room-The New York Times Book of Interior Design and Decoration-Norman McGrath

Today’s post is the first in what may become a serialized feature: Throwback Thursday. The concept has gained universal popularity, from Facebook to Pinterest, so I thought “Why not create a special feature for my Thursday posts?” Having themed posts also helps me stay on focus, truth be told!

The late Kevin McNamara is the feature of today’s inaugural Throwback Thursday post. The living room pictured was McNamara’s own, conceived sometime in the early-to-mid-70’s, and signified a new direction in American interior design and decoration, a style of decorating that would come to be known as the new American chic, or classic chic. McNamara removed the more traditional and elaborate decorative elements and replaced them with simpler, more understated ones – cotton curtain and upholstery fabrics, tortoiseshell bamboo blinds, and sisal area rugs. The neutral palette underscores the use of natural materials, set against a sophisticated and dramatic envelope of glossy tortoiseshell vinyl wall-covering. The art of the mix is conveyed through McNamara’s deft juxtaposition of modern art, blue-and-white export porcelain, red-lacquered accent tables, Louis XV fauteuils and a Louis XV desk, and contemporary furnishings. This room also signifies a move away from large pattern toward the use of small, sophisticated prints. There is much about this room that still holds up today – a look and style carried forth by Albert Hadley, Mark Hampton, David Kleinberg and further by Jeffrey Bilhuber and Daniel Romualdez and Miles Redd, to name but a few.

Kevin McNamara-Brown Living Room-The NY Times Book of Interior Design and Decoration-Norman McGrath

From The New York Times Book of Interior Design and Decoration, copyright 1976 by Norma Skurka. Photography by Norman McGrath.