That Old Black Magic

I know that there are people who count Halloween as their favorite holiday. I hope this doesn’t come between us, but I don’t like Halloween. Never have. I don’t like to be scared. And, surprisingly, for a drama-queen like myself, I don’t like costumes, especially masks.

But, as you know, I love black.

Architectural Digest, October1979, featured designer Eric Bernard’s apartment in Manhattan.

The grid of slate squares was rubbed with shoe polish (!), a striking backdrop for the Scalamandre leather-clad sofas.

“The lacquered storage cylinder” (upper left) “conceals a bar and sound system.” The tea service is Josef Hoffmann.

“An opulent study on canvas, by Albert Moore, counterpoints the bedroom’s sleek platformed simplicity.” This image was also the issue’s cover. Saying this room is simple is a bit like me trying to sell Mr. Blandings on how low-maintenance I am. I can make the case, but complexity abounds.

My other little vintage Halloween treat is a 1984 creation from Bob Patino and Vicente Wolf. Appearing in the March issue of House and Garden, the clients report that they wanted the apartment mostly for entertaining in the evening. The wall, above, is black glass.

In the slate-tiled dining room (no mention of shoe polish here) the walls are upholstered in gray flannel. The chairs are Mies’s “Brno” chairs, circa 1930.

This is the wife’s sitting area. Her chic cashmere throw has jazzy red leather piping to highlight the original aniline red of the Eames chair. Notice how the television is placed in the built-in so it’s flush with the wall.

These rooms are dark, but not dreary; sleek, but not scary. No tricks, just treats.

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15 thoughts on “That Old Black Magic

  1. I do like black in a home. I think that black walls in a dining room or powder room can be quite chic. Although that said, too much black does make me a little depressed 😉

  2. anon – Isn’t it nice to be able to say it outloud? I hid it (a bit) for years. Only those closest to me knew – now I’m out. Although I love a mini Snickers with the best of them.

  3. Great compilation–I especially liked the Scalamandre leather-clad sofas and black glass wall–how stylish!

  4. Mrs B.,
    Oooo, I second that… thing about Oct 31 is that the next day it’s November.

    Sumpthin about hiding behind masks, lawns/gardens made into graveyards, bony skulls……

    Not to mention pumpkins on porches left too long until they mold and cave in and are left sitting for weeks…….and weeks…..and……then it snows and they’re still there…….sad and icky.

    Now, on to something infinitely and hands down fabulous: THANKSGIVING! Cheers! Alison

  5. Dear Mrs. Blanding,
    I am both stunned and thrilled to see your images of Eric Bernard’s apartment! You see, I first met Eric and his partner, Dennis Sangster (I actually knew Dennis better) in 1985 and visited the apartment many times, until their unfortunate deaths, which were around 1989-1990. Eric owned a brownstone on East 94th street between Lex. & Third- a few doors down from Helen Frankenthaler. His office was on the ground floor and the rest was divided into various apartments. The one that you’ve featured was Eric’s own-taking up the floor above Parlor level- and consisting of a living room, a tiny galley kitchen, an entrance-dining area, bedroom and bathroom; with fireplaces in both the living room and bedroom.
    Aparently, when it was published, news stand sales fell and A.D. received several letters linking the apartment ti devil worship- if you can imagine?!
    In person, it was a wonderful, comfortable, sexy apartment. Clearly, it looked best at night, with both fireplaces lit, candles and flowers everywhere and the art carefully highlighted with spot lighting. The walls were matte lacquer and, consequently, had a depth of finish and lusterous quality that photos don’t reveal. The flowers were usually much more signifigant than what is shown in the photo, especially the large arangements in the window well urns, which were mirrored. (in the photo, those are non existent)
    When they invited people for dinner, it was never at the table. It was usually a buffet and we would take our plates into the living room and sit on the very comfortable sofas, which were built in. They used white chargers, instead of standard dinner sized plates, (they felt that the larger surface was easier to manage) with beautiful linens and deco silver.
    Looking at it now- it’s amazing that he was so far ahead of his time!
    Thank you for a walk down memory lane, Mrs. Balndings!

    PS- I completely agree with you- Haloween is a bore!

  6. Anon – you are an amazing resource and I am always glad when you drop by. The apartment sounds like a jewel – as do it’s owners. I love the idea of the buffet plates if you are eating on your lap – the perfect solution. It must have been a treat to be there. I’ve just inherited boxes and boxes of vintage design magazines – maybe something else will spark a memory. Thanks, again, for your first hand account.

  7. WOW! Thanks for the memories, Eric Bernard was my brother-in-law. He was a man ahead of his time. His designs were always exquisite without sacrificing comfort. Eric was a gentleman who loved his family and he is still sadly missed

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