Inventing The California Look
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The influential rooms of Elkins, Taylor, Dickinson, and other great talents—as photographed by Fred Lyon—represent the innovation and splendor of postwar Northern California interiors, which continue to inspire the work of designers today.
From the 1940s to the 1980s, some of the best residences in Northern California were decorated by a coterie of designers whose names were once recognized only by the cognoscenti of interior design. From Frances Elkins and Tony Hail, with their aristocratic aesthetics, to Michael Taylor and John Dickinson, with their bold fantasies, these designers created revolutionary settings that were idiomatic of their time and place—fresh, luxurious spaces complementing the various terrains and lifestyles of the northern part of the state.
Fred Lyon (b. 1924) is perhaps the only photographer who knew and documented the work of this talented group. Akin to what Julius Shulman was doing in Southern California, Lyon worked closely with the designers and magazine editors to help shape the look for posterity. In the years following the work of these giants, most of the spaces they created are gone or vastly changed, replaced by different tastes and new styles. Now re-appreciated for their artistry, we can relive this exciting era through Lyon’s superb photography.