Book excerpt: “Home: A Celebration” by Charlotte Moss
Inside Mario Buatta’s townhouse (see below for the same view after his death and the house has been emptied of its belongings).
Photo: Scott Frances / OTTO, Courtesy of Rizzoli Books
Designer and author Charlotte Moss is all in action, all the time, even in the worst of times. So it’s no surprise that, as we all lay numb in our apartments during the pandemic, Moss was preparing a book, Welcome: a celebration, to help raise funds for No Kid Hungry, an organization that worked to feed children during this long crisis. She was inspired by The Homeless Book, which Edith Wharton set up in 1916 to help raise funds for war refugees. Among its contributors were Sarah Bernhardt, WB Yeats, George Santayana, Thomas Hardy, Henry James and Joseph Conrad. Moss contributors are also a cross section of professionals: Darren Walker, Duro Olowu, Andrew Solomon, Isaac Mizrahi, Joan Juliet Buck, Enuma Okoro, Gloria Steinem, Tiana Webb Evans and many more (including me). In his introduction, Moss writes: “Every contributor to this volume – artist, poet, photographer, historian, novelist, actor and activist – has shared with us an interpretation of the house, its meaning and its importance in an individual life. Each shared with us a personal account that circulated from head and heart through a pen, brush, laptop, or camera lens.
Here is an overview of some of the contributions:
Photo: Emily Evans Eerdman, Courtesy of Rizzoli Books
Eerdmans, design historian, gallery owner and author, was the close friend and executor of the late designer Mario Buatta, who died aged 82 in 2018. Eerdmans had the bittersweet task of dismantling his townhouse after his death . His absence haunts the photos, a house without the person who lived in it.
The photograph at the top of this article shows Buatta’s living room, filled with his paintings of dogs, during his lifetime. It was taken by Scott Frances. The emptied room, above, was documented by Eerdmans after Buatta’s death. She writes in the book: “Mario’s living room, decorated in 1976, was one of the most influential rooms of the late 20th century, and many people have said it should be donated entirely to the Smithsonian. Mario liked to say that a house is an album of his life, and it has been a million times for him.
Photo: Delia Kenza, courtesy of Rizzoli Books
Kenza, an interior designer, selected this photo of a beach in Jamaica, at the start of confinement. “All I could think of was not being able to travel, and then I remembered the power of memories. So, in fact, I took “COVID cations” daily, as my friend called them, going back in time to my photo gallery. I realized that I have many homes because home is where I feel happy, safe, and loved.
Photo: Paul Costello, courtesy of Rizzoli Books
The late journalist and author Reed was editor-in-chief at Vogue and contributor to News week and New York Times. While the book was being edited, she was very ill, but wrote about her beloved home on the Mississippi Delta. “He was born on legal ground at the Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham around martinis with the talented architect James Carter… I needed a room, a house, albeit small, of mine.” She built the house on a small piece of land where she writes that “there was no connection for gas, water or electricity; the resale value will be laughable; you don’t really want to do that, you just think you do. As a child, I was often told that I was tough-headed. Maybe, but even then I knew my own mind. In this case, my mind and my heart told me it was exactly-finally-fair. “
Photo: Simon Watson, courtesy of Rizzoli Books
Watson, interior photographer and native of Dublin, wrote that ‘like an electron I’m almost always in a state of constant motion, and so probably half of my life has been spent in places that are not my home. . In fact, I am often thousands of miles away. I love to travel: it trained and educated me – I still get dizzy when I pack my suitcase. But oddly, when I’m away, I think about my house and my life there; I miss it and can’t wait to come back.
Photo: Tim Street-Porter, courtesy of Rizzoli Books
Bullard, an interior designer, has a home in Palm Springs that exudes all the glamor of movie star life. But her wheat terrier, Daisy, makes her home a home. “The boundless, boundless joy that emanates from our pets is the ultimate tonic; no matter how difficult the day, this welcome home is the most invigorating and delicious moment.
Okoro, writer, lecturer and cultural curator, remembers being in third grade in Nigeria. “I started a curious hobby of spending afternoons designing my own future home in my head. With my stomach on my bedroom floor, legs raised and swaying behind me, lounging like a lady in a pretty little dress, I put my hands in my chin and imagined the house I would live in when I was. big. … “I’m going to have a gigantic house and I’m going to decorate every room to make it look like a different country,” I said, beaming with pride at my 8-year plans. … This is how, from an early age, I imagined my own future life, eager for a special intimacy with the world. … I carry several houses within me.
Photo: courtesy of the publisher