Decorating legend Mario Buatta, affectionately known in the design industry as the "Prince of Chintz" for his love of floral fabric and English country style, died yesterday evening.
He embraced his nickname and never wavered from his dedication to color. "I always liked being called that," he told me in a March 2011 Siweb interview. "If you don't like chintz, don't come to me."
Over the course of his impressive career, which began in the 1950s, the New York-based interior designer worked with a slew of celebrities, including Mariah Carey and Barbara Walters, who appreciated his signature maximalist approach to decorating. His work was influenced by legendary designers like Sister Parish.
“I loved working with Mario on designing my NYC apartment," Carey told Siweb when we reached out to her today. "He was a wonderful collaborator with an eye for beauty, and he truly helped make my vision for a home complete.”
"Color is a mood setter," Buatta told me. "It can make you feel great. But people have a fear of color. They're afraid of what their friends will say or not say."
In 2013, Rizzoli published his monograph, , which documented the designer's career. The book, co-authored by design historian Emily Evans Eerdmans, offers insights into Buatta's start working for department store B. Altman & Co in the 1950s. It also highlights unpublished photographs from his archive and explores some of the decorating rules that served as the foundation for his career over the years. "He was a genius," Eerdmans told us today. "He brought beauty and prettiness to the world, and gorgeous color."
Buatta, who grew up on Staten Island, loved rooms that felt lived-in and decorated over time. "You can't treat decorating as fashion; it's not like a dress you can push to the back of the closet," he said. "A room is an investment in money and time. No room is a still life. It should look like it happened over years."