Arriving next month from Rizzoli, The World of Muriel Brandolini is a feast of highly original design, illustrating a singular and eclectic sensibility. A former stylist, Muriel unintentionally ignited her interior design career in 1993, when she and her young family moved into a rental apartment on New York’s Upper East Side that had faux-marble walls. Barred from repainting, Muriel, who is tone-deaf to the words “no” and “never,” snapped up heaps of scrap fabric in luscious colors and enlisted textile genie Cameron Prather, who has done the upholstery and curtains for all her projects ever since, to make wall hangings in giant patchwork swathes. The result was a magnificent backdrop for candlelit entertaining. You could say a star was born with that apartment, as so many of her friends wanted her to do their places with the same swashbuckling panache.
Although born in Montpellier, France, Muriel, whose mother is French-Venezuelan and father was Vietnamese, grew up in Vietnam during the height of the war. She writes in her book, “Shelling and soldiers were part of daily life. I like to think that I still bear the positivity and strength of everyday people who have faced true horror.” In 1972, at age 12, she moved with her mother, by then a widow, and three older sisters to Martinique. Three years later her life changed dramatically when, after a difficult spell in school, she was sent to live with relatives in Paris. At just 15, she discovered her entrepreneurial spirit, buying clothes wholesale and taking them back to Martinique to sell. In Paris she also caught what she calls “an infectious wildness” when she met the windsurfing adventurer Arnaud de Rosnay, who inspired her to move to New York City in her twenties. She worked in fashion, first as a stylist, then as an editor for Franca Sozzani at Italian Vogue. But since that revelatory moment in 1993, she’s been focusing on interiors, designing Manhattan town houses and loft spaces, Hamptons retreats, a home in the Cotswolds. She is currently finishing a country house for her family, a modernist departure from her previous work, as well as launching a limited-edition home collection for Barneys New York (see “Muriel Brandolini at Barneys”). Mixing seemingly disparate periods and cultures and high and low design, Muriel decorates the way she lives.
Adapted from The World of Muriel Brandolini (Rizzoli); for more information on Brandolini’s work, go to murielbrandolini.com.
Muriel Brandolini at Barneys
Starting September 3, Barneys New York’s Madison Avenue store will host a pop-up shop featuring Brandolini’s exclusive new line of home goods, plus some of her favorite pieces from Parisian contemporary furniture showroom Galerie Kreo. barneys.com.
Woman Tree Pillow: Brandolini’s satin cushions are hand-stitched by an embroiderer in Vietnam. $1,195.
Dalle Vase: From Galerie Kreo, a glass-and-flagstone vase by French designer Pierre Charpin. $4,000.
Mechanic Chair: Brandolini’s hand-beaded linen deck chair. $4,995.
Slice Canape: Pierre Charpin’s playful foam chaise comes in a range of colorful wools. $14,550.
Muriel Brandolini at Auction
On October 21, Phillips de Pury & Company’s New York flagship will hold a sale of contemporary furniture from Brandolini’s personal collection, including pieces by Ron Arad and Martin Szekely. phillipsdepury.com.