Sunday, August 15

Profile: Madeline Stuart

I began corresponding with the extraordinarily talented and sophisticated Madeline Stuart in the fall of 2009. It wasn’t until April of this year, however, that we finally met in person when I had the privilege of spending a few days with her in the magical city of Venice. Armed with a quick smile and infectious charm, it is difficult not to like Madeline right away. In addition to exuding great charisma, she is also smart and wonderfully opinionated. Not opinionated in a way that is off putting, but rather in a manner that is refreshing and comes from a wealth of knowledge and a passion for her craft.

Once you know Madeline and view her work, it is obvious that she values the fundamental marriage of integrity and beauty above all else. What I like most about her work is that it rarely reflects the latest trends, offering her clients truly timeless design.

Over the past 15 years, Madeline’s work has been featured in numerous publications, including Elle Décor, House & Garden, House Beautiful, Town & Country, AD, Western Interiors and Veranda. In June of 2010, Elle Décor’s A-List included Madeline as one of the top 25 designers in the country.

A Fun Fact About Madeline
Always a lover of books and literature, it comes as no surprise that we have Madeline to thank for the classic 1971 version of the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie, starring Gene Wilder. According to her father, director Mel Stuart, his 10-year-old daughter inspired him to pursue a Willy Wonka movie based on Roald Dahl's classic book. “I would have never read Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but Madeline liked it and asked me to make it into a picture,” he recalls. “Otherwise it would have never been made.”

How would you describe your personal style?
While I wouldn’t describe myself as a chameleon, my style is constantly evolving. I don’t necessarily mean changing—the emphasis would be on striving towards an expanded vision. Without question I feel my work becomes better, more refined and more confident as I gain knowledge and experience.

Fundamentally I would describe my personal—as well as my design—style as more tailored, less contrived. My work tends to be understated and timeless as opposed to hip and trendy. Good furniture, good lighting, good clothes—all are expensive and should be treated as an investment rather than something that can be abandoned after a single season. And I have a reverence and appreciation of the past which is evident even in my contemporary work.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
What a difficult question!!! It would be a real toss up between chocolate, music and having a dog. (Don’t tell my husband I said that!)

Who are your style icons?
Yves St. Laurent, Frances Elkins, Jacques Grange, Betty Catroux, Millicent Rogers.

What is your most prized possession?
Aside from the obvious answer, my beloved Beatrice (my Jack Russell terrier)?
It would probably be my childhood copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I so loved this book as a little girl that I asked my father if he would make a movie out of it. And he did. (The original Willy Wonka and Chocolate Factory with Gene Wilder.) It’s signed by the author, who wrote “To Madeline, who started the whole thing. With love, Roald Dahl’. Almost everyone I’ve ever met has seen the film and it’s a legacy I’m very proud of.

What inspires your creativity and designs?
I’m inspired by everything. Nature, architecture, art, history. A typeface. A colour. And my books. Inspiration can be found anywhere...everywhere.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
No longer living? Armand Albert Rateau or David Adler. Living? Jacques Grange

What is your idea of earthly happiness
Being at home with my husband and Beatrice.

What books are currently on your bedside table?
Ian McEwan, Jeffrey Steingarten, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Harold McGee.

What is your favorite luxury in life
Good food and wine.

Profile by Ronda Carman


Unknown said...

Her designs are amazing but I love what I just learned from this interview: that she is responsible for one of the most classic childrens movies of all times. How could one not be proud!

Amanda Jaron said...

As always, Ronda your profiles never disappoint! Totally inspired today! Gene Wilder singing "Pure Imagination" is my totally favorite! Reminds me of my late father and my childhood! It is truly my favorite movie of all time! Every time I hear it that song, it brings me right back to the times I watched it as a little girl with my dad! Today, I so enjoy watching it with my twins! As a designer, I live by that song! My "Pure Imagination" is what gets me out of bed every morning and makes me who I am as a designer, mother and wife!
Ronda, thank you for continuing to bring in site and inspiration daily! I MUST connect with Madeline! xxx

Laura Trevey said...

Wonderful interview ~~ and i agree with the good food and wine!!

xo Laura

shiree segerstrom said...

Great post. I am always impressed with Madelaine's style. To me, she is a true designer...not replicating what happens to be trendy right now, integrating antiques into her schemes, and making the most appropriate architectural changes where needed. Thanks for the inspiration you've given me today to be a better designer.

D. Bryant Archie said...

Thank you for sharing more about the amazingly talented and gracious Madeline..

mary said...

She is indeed immensely talented and rooted in the classics; and always a pleasure to have as a client. Thanks for the great interview. Mary

Lila said...

What a great interview. She has an awesome style and definitely a clever wit! I love how she puts her dog as something she can't live without and as her prized possession. She's awesome!
Lila Ferraro

Peggy and Fritz said...

I loved reading your post on Madeline Stuart. A number of years ago, I almost rented an apartment that she use to live in. It was the top floor of a beautiful spanish house in LA. She had redone most of it and I fell in love with it. I wanted to move in the next day. The problem was I was traveling and needed to be closer to the airport. She has a timeless design style and I love seeing what she does. Thanks for giving us a glimpse of her personal side. Ann