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A Private World

Building the Ultimate Den
Erica Jordan
From the Print Edition:
Danny DeVito, Winter 96

(continued from page 2)

"In this room there is a piano, a pool table, a big fireplace, a big stone coffee table where the clients' children play games," says Hagan. "I've been there for parties and it's great for entertaining. It's multi-, multifunctional."

Born in Colombia, Juan Montoya founded his design firm in 1978. A master of drama and sensuality, Montoya loves big, bold color and texture. His work is modern, yet classic, with a fondness for the eccentric. Heavyweight clients include Barneys New York, artist Fernando Botero and movie producer Mario Kassar.

For Rena Rowan and Sidney Kimmel of Jones Apparel Group Inc., a leader in better women's sportswear, Montoya focused the den of their Palm Beach, Florida, residence around a busy entertaining lifestyle, in which cocktails and contracts mingle like vodka and vermouth.

"This is the room where my client greets his clients," Montoya says. "The bar is used as an area for business. It is a room that has the television, a room that is not intimidating, a room that is easy to feel good in. I chose cherry wood as the main element in the room for the honey color. I used a few dramatic objects such as the sculpture, the Biedermeier furniture and the black mohair wool fabric to create something that is very light in a sense but is also very masculine. The feeling is very unisex."

Overlapping functions are not only organic in design, they are de rigueur. Parallel to fax machines in the bedroom or computers in the kitchen, the lines are getting blurred. "Nowadays people work with computers and the den doubles as an office, doubles as a screening room, doubles as a conversation room," Montoya says. "It is a place where you congregate. A place where you interview.

"When I choose an object, it is a part of a symphony. It can be a vase, a piece of furniture, anything that will create surprise.... I want things that will make someone smile," he says lightheartedly.

When you enter a room designed by Clodagh, your senses quicken. Maybe it has something to do with Tao and yin and yang, for she uses a consultant versed in feng shui (the Chinese art of placement) on every project. Or perhaps it is a reaction to environmentally sound elements. In any event, Clodagh's installations have a tendency to comfort the spirit. She is a pioneer in the use of textured natural materials, and many of her recent projects have been published in leading publications, including Architectural Digest, Vogue, HG and Progressive Architecture.

In describing the foundation of a den, Clodagh does not hesitate: "It's about comfort, sensuality, a feeling of protection. Because it's like an animal's den--humans are very animalistic in their instincts and it is a place that you want to feel safe. You want to feel seclusion. You want it to be acoustically kind of quiet, not brisk.

"It's a place where you can be alone without feeling lonely. A place where your personal spirits reside. The stone you picked up off the beach in Corsica in 1956, the poetry that you like to refer to," she says with a smile.

Designed for the Kips Bay Decorator Show House in 1992, Clodagh's den communicates the possibilities of a fantasy retreat through misty drapes. "The story was almost about love in the afternoon--where somebody might wait for somebody," she muses. "There is a daybed, a reading chair and an ottoman, so maybe two people could be there eventually. I used copper fresco on the walls to make it really rich and warm. The floor was done in demolition brick in order to bring the outside in, then I placed an extremely valuable antique rug on it. It's not exactly like a cave, but there is something very reassuring about the way the curves flowin the room."


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