Thursday, June 16, 2011
The renowned interior designer, Keith Irvine who introduced volatility and wit in country-house English style and had the admiration from Rex and Lady Harrison, Jacqueline Onassis and Pat and William F. Buckley Jr., passed away at the age of 82 on May 31 in Carmel, N.Y. As confirmed by Chippy, wife of Keith the reason of death was the cardiac arrest.
Mr. Irvine learned the skill of interior designing from John Fowler of Colefax & Fowler, the company responsible for the popularity of English country-house style post World War II.
In 1957, Irvine moved to United States and opened up his own interior designing company popular for making the conventional English style easy in amalgamation with French. Spontaneity and assortment were two unique qualities reflected in his work and a mix of furniture style and rich fabrics was used to create the ambience of warmth. Chintz, becoming the signature fabric in 1980s of Manhattan elite is also attributable to him.
In 1980, Architectural Digest described the farmhouse restored by Mr. Irvine in Patterson, N.Y. that “Similar to the work of Fowler, in Irvine’s work also is it always easy to discuss the ingredients forming the dish than the dish itself. Unbeatable French and English furniture along with excellently preserved and oiled leathered books, chintzes decorated with flowers, needlework carpets, and portraits of animals, quilts, sprinkle of tartan and touch of Gothic”.
Born on 14 October, 1928 in Aberdeen, Scotland, Keith Briscoe Irvine’s father was a history fan and insurance executive by profession. His father used to visit Scottish castles and houses, including Cawdor, the place which he mentioned to live in under his wish list.
Keith Irvine: A Life in Decoration, written by Irvine with his wife in 2005 captures Irvine stating” I know precisely the place where every piece of furniture will fit, in my dreams”.
Mr. Irvine attended the boarding school situated in Ascot, when his family resided in Richmond. His roommate was Stephen Long, the antiques items dealer of future, and they together painted the walls with murals of medieval theme.
Post Seaforth Highlanders, Mr. Irvine studied painting aimlessly in Kingston Art School and entered in interior decorating school of Royal College of Art which he never found interesting. As per him” I was at the bottom rank of the class, disliked it every second of time and fought with the modernists.”
He met Juliet Grime, the student of Fashion in College who became his wife after 13 years. He is survived by his wife, his two daughters and one granddaughter.
Elite personalities were the part of list of clients of Mr. Irvine including the Kennedy family, Jerome Robbins, Cary Grant, Felicia and Leonard Bernstein, Jean and Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, Diana Ross and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.