Chintz Rules!

Lighting the way to the future?

Like those of us weaned on The Jetsons and subjected to the landscapes featured in Flash Gordon and Metropolis, renowned interior designer Mario Buatta finds the end of the millennium to be a bit of a disappointment.

"I thought we were going to be living in geodesic domes by now, but we're living in tighter spaces," he says. "I think that was a pipedream."

Actually, Buatta, who's based in New York City, prefers designs of the 18th and 19th centuries. As he's done with celebrity clients, he suggests that anyone designing a living space simply takes what he or she likes from the past, updates it for contemporary living, then takes it into the next millennium. He'll explain this approach in detail during the "Design 2000 Exhibit -- Blueprint For the Future" July17 at the Design Center of the Americas, a gallery of interior-design showrooms in DaniaBeach.

Buatta knows his stuff. He's designed home interiors for the late Malcolm Forbes, Barbara Walters, and Billy Joel, among other celebrities. His signature "Undecorated Look" combines vivid wall paint with contemporary furniture and refurbished antiques. He's also known as the "Prince of Chintz" for using embroidered cloth to cover furniture while blending it seamlessly with other textures and patterns. His design concepts may sound a bit busy and pretentious, but "I do it in a way that is for how we live today," Buatta explains. "The rooms look modern, and you can live modern inthem."

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As an example he mentions the work he does with antiques. "I've taken small wine tables or tables made just for a tea kettle, enlarged them, and turned them into a side table for a sofa," he explains. "I update them in a more contemporary way. People don't want a lot of little things around. We wouldn't have a use for a teastand."

Aside from Buatta's presentation, opening day of the design exhibition will feature lectures by top local designers, a display of futuristic interior-design models and drawings by college students, and manufacturers' displays showcasing the latest design trends in furniture, flooring, kitchens, bathrooms, and home offices.

Whatever the next "look" in interior design is supposed to be, Buatta warns folks not to fall prey to fads. "Buy what you really like and stick with it," he advises. "[Interior design is] an extension of you and your personality. It's setting the stage on which we act out our lives." -- JohnFerri

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