The noise of a batten beating in the weft yarn on a shuttle loom is extremely loud, but it was a comforting sound to me.” Thus begins this exquisite book, Scalamandré: Luxurious Home Interiors, by Brian D. Coleman. It isn’t Coleman speaking this line, however, but grande Scalamandré dame Adrianna Scalamandré Bitter, chairman of the board, who was tapped to write the foreword. Every line of her writing bursts with respect and love for her family. “Our company was not part of our life, it was our life. Our employees were an extended family, and the documents and designs were my toys.”
It’s a lovely start, and it is not overshadowed by the preface,
written by Robert Bitter, her son and current co-president of Scalamandré,
but somehow bolstered. His words, which follow his mother’s,
burst with warmth and contentment in a life well lived. Together,
they make an awesome pair, making me feel as if . . . actually,
wish, that they were my personal friends.
The tone of this lovely book changes as soon as the author takes
over: His chapter, “The Scalamandré Story,” as
well as subsequent copy, takes an informative tone, but certainly
not anything to be besmirched. It’s just that the personal
warmth of actually living within the beauty that is Scalamandré
is suddenly absent. However, he imparts quaint anecdotes, such as
how founder Franco Scalamandré (Adrianna’s father) left
seven yards of custom brocatelle for William Randolph Hearst on
the roof of his building to dry. A freak snowstorm covered the fabric,
but instead of ruining the brocatelle, it aged it perfectly so as
to match with the original he was copying.
Other interesting text tells us of the Jacquard machine and how
it operates, equating it with the workings of a player piano.
SOMETHING TO ENJOY
Historical photography fills the beginning of the book, and it seems
to serve as the appetizer that leaves us hungry for the spoils.
And this book delivers. As most of us know, Scalamandré is
one of the world’s finest resources for historical fabrics,
having manufactured historically accurate textiles for restorations
including the White House and the home of England’s William
Set into sections featuring a variety of top interior designers,
the rest of this sumptuous book dazzles the reader with some of
the most well-appointed interiors in America. Witness the golden
tones of Meredith Moriarty’s Georgian Classic, in which sunny
“Jour de Juin” silk is complemented with the colorful
“Candy” stripe, or the sophisticated casualness of JZ
Knight’s rural Washington state’s French Country interior,
replete with a hand-printed rose-and-cream check on silk. I could
go on, of course.
Every page is a new discovery, something to enjoy not only as a
thing of beauty, but also as a wonderful adventure into color, texture
Finally, the book ends with “The Details,” a stunning
look at beautiful passementerie and fabric pattern details. I reached
the end of the book and immediately wanted to begin again.
“The sound of the old shuttle will always be in the background
for me,” reminisces Ms. Bitter, “. . . not a loud banging,
but the music of the continuation of a beautiful silk textile being
woven and available to many generations to come.” We can only
hope it is so.
Kathleen Stoehr is president of Chemistry Creative, based in Minneapolis,
MN. She is a former editor-in-chief of Window Fashions magazine
and is the author of the recently published Dream Floors, Hundreds
of Ideas for Every Type of Floor, available from Randall International.
Stoehr can be contacted for comments, queries and trend information
Kathleen Stoehr is president of Chemistry Creative, based in
Minneapolis, MN. She is a former editor-in-chief of Window Fashions
magazine and is the author of the recently published Dream Floors,
Hundreds of Ideas for Every Type of Floor, available from Randall
International. Stoehr can be contacted for comments, queries and
trend information at email@example.com.