Published: October 23, 2018
NEW YORK CITY — Mario Buatta, interior designer and patron of the decorative arts, passed away October 15 in a Manhattan hospital. He was 82.
The “Prince of Chintz,” as he was affectionately known, rose to prominence for his 1988 commission with interior designer Mark Hampton on Blair House in Washington, DC. More commonly known as the President’s guest house, it serves as a residence for foreign dignitaries on official White House visits.
Buatta worked for designer Elisabeth Draper and, later, Keith Irvine, before starting his own firm in 1963. He fashioned his interiors in an English country style: floral fabrics and antiques that included furniture, lighting and ceramics. He treasured traits of homeliness that included comfort and tradition, which often gave his interiors an overflowing sense of history. His client list included celebrities like Mariah Carey, Billy Joel, Barbara Walters and many others.
Buatta authored just one book over his career, a written retrospective on his work. Rizzoli published Mario Buatta: Fifty Years of American Interior Decoration in 2013. With its release, Buatta told The New York Times, “It’s my one and lonely, the child I will never have. And it’s given me a hernia.”
He was one of the first interior designers to create branded lines of furniture, lamps, carpets and potpourri, a now ubiquitous trend.
The antiques and arts community became well-acquainted with Buatta through business and his prominent role as the chairman of the Winter Antiques Show from 1977–91. In a 2004 piece, The New York Times wrote, “Mr Buatta, who always had an eye for the theatrical, turned the opening night party into the social event of the winter calendar… On Mr Buatta’s watch, many dealers he considered second-rate were not invited back, and others were added.”
Buatta was born on New York’s Staten Island on October 20, 1935 to Olive and Felix Buatta. He is survived by his brother, Joseph.
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