Monday, May 6, 2013

Gold Smith



I was curious when I heard about Michael Smith's new book, Building Beauty: The Alchemy of Design.  Close on the heels of Kitchens and Baths and focused on the renovation of just one house, I wondered if it would seem rushed.  Worse, that it would be filler.


As it turns out, it is pure gold.  I read the book cover-to-cover in one sitting and it is the most remarkable tale of the most remarkable project.


A talented designer, trusting and generous clients, a team of exacting craftsmen and a beautiful Malibu setting combine to deliver something incredibly special.


Christine Pittel tells the tale in an intimate and conversational tone; I felt as if I were looking out over that bluff, tip-toeing behind Smith in Will Fisher's antique shop and overseeing the placement of the pietra serena stone alongside Jim Sangster.


I can with much certainty predict that I will never be involved in a project of any kind that will be executed with the same level of care and precision.  Rather than instilling envy, the story of this process filled me with awe.  Without pretense, it is a story of passion and commitment to that unnamable thing that goes "click" when something is right.

You can find Building Beauty: The Alchemy of Design here.

All images courtesy of Rizzoli; photography from top, Fernando & Gerardo Montiel Klint, Francois Halard, Klints, Halard.

6 comments:

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Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, although the house may be beautiful, it is missing something. It is not a "home". I believe the owners already have it on the market and are auctioning off all the contents. So what was te purpose of it all???

Mrs. Blandings said...

I'm not sure "already" is entirely accurate. I don't have any personal information on the project, but Mitch Owens notes here:

http://www.architecturaldigest.com/blogs/daily/2013/04/michael-s-smith-christies-auction-malibu-palladian-villa

that the house was outfitted a decade ago. The publication of the book seems to coincide with the auction, but not necessarily the completion of the house.

And, I understand your sentiment, but longevity doesn't seem to be the only measure I'd take into account. Doing anything with this sort of commitment seems worth it to me, regardless the amount of time the homeowners spent there. If they lived there ten years, twenty, thirty, does it lend the work itself more value? I don't think so.

penelopebianchi said...

Thank you, Mrs Blandings.
You are completely correct.
These clients of the "adorable" Mr. Smith (sorry, I know him; and I will take such liberties......he is adorable!!)
did this house years ago. It is, in fact, sold.

I think it was quite a surprise that the auction was taking place concurrent with the book's publication!

You are so correct!
PURE GOLD!!

I wanted to shut the closet and read the whole thing in one sitting.

I finshed chapter 1. The rest will be tomorrow!

Your review was beautifully written; and "spot-on!"!!

What a rare and beautiful thing!

I loved his description of his clients.......

"they gave me the biggest box of crayons and the biggest canvas"!!

What a lovely thing!

We knew them when they built a magnificent house here i Montecito......with Michael Smith......

Beauty and taste.....all around! Bravo! Let's celebrate it!

BRAVO!!
ps the auction had nothing whatsoever to do with the publication of this book. Nothing. I loved your honest and true answer to that comment.,....

anyone who thinks differently does not know these people..I do! Their joy and enthusiasm is palpable.....and they are really people who enjoy the process,

Trust me, the sale of the furnishings is not a cause they needed.

What a small-minded comment that was.

Boo his!!!. to the naysayers! they are always there!
Oh please take your negative thoughts and go away!

there are still very wealthy people who want to create beauty and value with taste.

Thank God!

this is an example!
why on earth the people who purchased this house didn't buy everything in it is as puzzling to me as when the people who bought the magnificent Villa Fiorentina in Cap-Ferrat!

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Iris Quinn@PhD in Education said...

This is really sweet and lip-smacking to be exact! I would agree, Michael Smith is one of the best among best designers. Just looking at his designs makes me enthusiastic and inspired to apply it to our newly painted home. Truly an amazing and artistic designer he truly is! So damn beautiful!