Rubén de Saavedra, a Spanish interior designer, hit his mark in the 1970’s, often gracing the pages of Architectural Digest. With bravado he transformed traditional rooms into theatrical stages for modern living – a look that today brings to mind the work of Kelly Wearstler and Jean-Louis Deniot. Merging contemporary and classic design with shots of color he was successful at creating the right balance. His rooms are bold and confident, as the strong architectural features and bold color combinations attest. Patrician French antiques mix with contemporary pieces, Asian lacquer furniture, and sleek reflective surfaces – a bit of Parish-Hadley here, a dose of David Hicks there, and a pinch of Op-Pop glam for good measure.
For a client in Manhattan, an opera singer, de Saavedra transformed a traditional apartment on the West Side into an evocation of aural fluidity. The boxed beam ceiling was his solution for unsightly structural beams, painting the insets saffron, which set the scheme for the rest of the room. To counter the warmth factor of the varying shades of saffron and curry he laid lacquered vinyl (a material we wouldn’t consider today) in a cool gray onto the walls and beams. What I have admired in his work was his skill at creating dynamic furniture layouts and a sensitivity to scale and proportion. The Etruscan-red lacquered music room is particularly fetching and feels timeless, with shelving created to house the owner’s collection of records. The facing black leather club chair is probably the only piece I would switch out. The dining room, by contrast, is traditional and formal, and more evocative of a European country estate with its sober tawny color palette, gilded wood Régence chandelier and Italian Renaissance mirror. While the living room certainly feels of its time in terms of its interior architecture, the music and dining rooms prove that good design is lasting.
From the May/June issue of Architectural Digest. Photography by Champion Pictures.