Renzo Mongiardino’s Interiors

W’s arts and culture director explains why this book is a must-read for August.


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