“Love comes in at the eye,” wrote Yeats.
On December 12th, I had the great pleasure of spending an evening with interior designer Stephen Bastone, his gray Russian Chihuahua, Silvio, and designer Kyle Marshall.
Our setting was Stephen’s apartment in the exalted, remote East Fifties of Manhattan, a place where the rich don’t buy: they have. Stephen, himself rich in prodigiously detailed, dedicated knowledge of the decorative arts, has: an apartment intensely lived rather than decorated, filled with the incomparable 19th century furniture, finishes, and art he abides with, not deciduously, but for life, in every sense.
Stephen’s exquisite taste hasn’t made him etiolated, easily ruffled, or removed. Bronx-born, his accent extant, he is a hardy succulent amidst orchids, enthusiastic, generous, ever ardent for experience in all its grandeur and grime. Stephen’s life blends A Rebours, the fin de siecle novel of des Esseintes, hermit aesthete, with Satyricon, the Classical tale of Encolpius, luscious, learned vagabond.
There was a heated discussion between Stephen and myself about Marlboro Reds and the more esoteric Marlboro brand I smoke and advocate, Blend 27. Blend 27 comes encased in an elegant copper pack, and unlike Marlboro Lights, does not produce a pull redolent of bus exhaust. It is a touch milder than Reds, yet richer, resonant, smooth, as Stephen remarked with pleased surprise.
We talked of our lives and our work, which, for the three of us, are one and the same. Writing and design are vocations that suction ideas from living. Whether we live large, or live hard, we strive always to create, to foment beauty in the particular forms to which we are called: material or literary, at desk or drafting table, or, for that matter, auction house.
The things we see and hear--rich and strange--course, first, through our minds and hands, then, into our books and rooms.