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The World of Madeleine Castaing Hardcover – October 26, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"The book is a masterpiece." --David Netto

"There was a rich vein of interior decorators in Paris in its mid-century decorative heyday, many of whom feature in this entrancing book.  It elegantly delivers its title..." --Nicky Haslam, House & Garden UK

"EVERY NOW AND THEN in the continuing blizzard of books on design and decor somebody truly first rank gets left out. There is no good reason for this but it does make it very exciting when the book finally comes along that does justice to the omission. The long awaited World of Madeleine Castaing about the French interior designer who died in 1992 at age 98 is such a book It manages to be both love letter and catalogue raisonne devoted to this most charismatic and mysterious of great lady decorators." ~Wall Street Journal

"The World of Madeleine Castaing reflects the French designer's mantra, 'Be audacious, but with taste.' Her fabric patterns, many still in production, and her neoclassical-inspired interiors for Jean Cocteau, Francine Wesweiller, and others are the stuff of legend." ~Elle Decor

"Thanks to author Emily Evans Eerdmans, we now have The World of Madeleine Castaing, a wonderfully comprehensive work that tells Castaing's fascinating life story and provides many examples of her stylish and original take on turn-of-the-century decorating... The World of Madeleine Castaing establishes the decorator in the context of her peers and highlights her influences, predominately the English Regency and Napoleon III styles, which she makes fashionable again." ~New York Observer

About the Author

Emily Evans Eerdmans is a design and decorative arts historian.  She received her master's degree in fine and decorative arts from Sotheby's Institute of Art in London, and is an instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.  Her previous books include Classic English Design and Antiques and Regency Redux.

Jacques Grange
is a world-famous interior decorator who worked with Madeleine Castaing in his early career.

 Frédéric Castaing
is Madeleine's grandson and is an historical autographs dealer in Paris.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Rizzoli; 1st edition (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847832813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847832811
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 1.3 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #784,077 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Emily Evans Eerdmans is a design historian and an instructor at the New York School of Interior Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. She received her master's degree in fine and decorative arts from Sotheby's Institute of Art in London.

She lives in Brooklyn Heights with her husband Andrew and three cats, Augustus, Stubby and Fred Astaire.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
What a beautiful book.

No. That's too little praise. What a work of art. What an inspiration.

Look at the American decorating books of the last decade, and what you mostly see is how important it was for the clients --- and their compliant decorators --- to spend tons of money. And they didn't spend it just on the walls and rugs and art and furniture. They went right on to the little things, the chotchkes. Every possible surface has stuff on it; these rooms are busy. Your eye darts around, looking for an idea that centers the space, but there is none. Indeed, none was intended --- the overarching concept here was, apparently, to overwhelm the visitor.

Now let us open "The World of Madeleine Castaing" and consider any of the 275 color and black-and-white illustrations. They're not all the work of Madame Castaing, but the rooms designed by others have her sensibility: simplicity, boldness, originality. The color combinations are like nothing you've ever seen. Often the rooms are almost empty. Instead of a framed painting, you might find that Jean Cocteau has drawn on a wall.

Why isn't Madeleine Castaing a household name?

Because she's impossible to describe in a sound bite.

She was French --- born near Chartres in 1894, dead at age 98 in 1992 --- but you can't really say she was a French decorator. "I can take inspiration from a scene in Chekhov as from a dress by Goya," she said, and she wasn't kidding. In one of her rooms, you could be in Russia, in another room London. Most of the time, the mood she created was timeless, poetic, a fantasy. As she said, "There is always beauty in mystery."

She was, as you might guess, quite a character.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
It's about time someone published a book in English about the incomparable Madeleine Castaing. I remember reading years ago about an eccentric French decorator who was in her 90s and presided over her Paris shop wearing full makeup and a wig with a flesh-colored chin strap. Going on this information alone, before I had ever laid eyes on any of her rooms, I adored her. Later on, of course, I learned the originality that had first endeared her to me was realized fully in the decoration of the rooms at Maison de Leves and her other residences. The book, while informative and certainly a worthy addition to any collection of interior design volumes, is not particularly well-designed. The script font used to highlight certain passages is dated, large and distracting. Some of the photos are grainy and soft, particularly irksome since I have seen many of these same images reproduced clearly and in sharp focus in other publications ("Paris Interiors" for example). I suppose this is permissible, given Madame Castaing's penchant for displaying her interiors through a gauzy haze of filtered light and dust, but the contrast between the soft- and sharp-focus images is a bit jarring. Still, if you love the lady, you must have the book.

Addition on 1/31/11: I would like to add that, several months after the release of this book and after several readings, I find it to be one of the most fascinating books on interior design that I have ever read. The author's insight and knowledge of Madame Castaing is total and profound. The book has literally opened my eyes and changed my focus on the interior design of my home; once a strict devotee of Art Nouveau, I am now seeking out examples of English Regency and Napoleon III. I happily canceled the scheduled painting of my flat and now make sure all the Coolie lampshades are prominently askew before turning off the lights each evening.
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Format: Hardcover
The photographs are stunning, and I can understand why so many of the rooms are by people who either bought things from the boutique or listened to advice from Madame Castaing. Interior design in our century is transitory by its very nature. Fine designers rarely leave their own rooms alone, much less those of their clients. Honestly, I am not surprised at the paucity of interiors actually by Madeleine Castaing.

I did read the book in one evening, and I wondered if its editor actually read it herself. To say that the text is fulsome and overly familiar is a vast understatement. It reminds me of the society columns in Southern newspapers of my youth. It's as if the writer and the person she refers to as "Madeleine" and the empress she knows as "Josephine" are all very best friends. It's one gush after another. Many of the sentences have a subject, an unnessary adverb, the verb itself, followed by a lengthy ramble. However, I actually would buy it for the illustrations alone. Because I am an embittered old man, I know I will enjoy reading the text again, next time with a red pencil or three.
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Format: Hardcover
Just what this sort of book should be, enchanting. Can a book be all things to all people? I think not. If you are looking for a dry detached text-stodginess- do not enter the World of Madeleine Castaing. This book is for the scholar or student yes, perhaps- but Madeleine herself would have abhorred such a reading. It is after all- Madeleine's World. Here you will find magic-Madeleine seems to be walking just ahead of you in that red hooded cape on the grounds of Leves-her treasured home, where everything seemed possible. The author has invited us into that World and at times I feel as if she has spent hours interviewing her subject- hearing a story perhaps for a second or third time with a different embellishment or two.The book captures the magical rooms and life this woman managed to create while swimming against the tide of design and art in her era. This was a women who was inspired by Proust's work and nothing would do until she imbued her rooms and shop with the sense that time was suspended in the World of Castaing. The layers of design research with Castaing as the Maestro and her followers, Emilio Terry, Cocteau- whether designer or artist- entered that World willingly-soliciting the aid of the Muse herself or interpreting her work. In today's world of "a design book a year" from countless designers plying their trade,I found this book to be a welcome treasure. Both the author and the subject are fully confident in her abilities, coupled with inordinant charm & gratfully in no way prosaic.For all that enter the world of Madeleine Castaing-prepare to spent hours with a most bewitching woman-& book, revealing just enough for us to know this enchantress. Must we know all the minutiae of a magician's tricks to know it is magic? The World she created for herself -others desired and mimicked by the dozens- however none succeeded like the original-for it lacked one thing- the presence of the magician, and like magic this book will enchant and delight.
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