An interior designed by Renzo Mongiardino
An interior designed by Renzo Mongiardino

Renzo Mongiardino studied with Gio Ponti and made sets for the director Franco Zeffirelli in his native Italy before launching a design firm, the clientele of which read like a who’s who of the European jetset: Agnelli, Onassis, Radziwill, Thyssen-Bornemisza, and Rothschild. But whatever the mise-en-scène, a room by Mongiardino exuded his love of history, romance, and neoclassicism, its sumptuous effects conjured by his sleights of hand. Sometimes literally so: Cornices and capitals were made of molded plastic; wall panels and marquetry were created from paint; velvet upholsteries were deliberately aged. Out this month, Mongiardino: Renaissance Master of Style (Assouline) plays on our voyeuristic fantasies, giving us a peek into those operatic interiors.

Photo: Massimo Listri