Mid-century interior design guru Barbara D'Arcy is still surprising us

Even if you haven't heard of Barbara D'Arcy before, you're probably familiar with her work. In her unique position as Executive Merchandising Designer at Bloomingdale's from the 1950s-70s, D'Arcy's creativity transformed their Manhattan flagship store into the mecca of interior design. Through her unequivocal ability to turn the surprising into the accessible, she introduced countless interior trends and furniture designers to the American public - including the then-unknown architectural icon, Frank Gehry.

 

All photos scanned from: Bloomingdale's Book of Home Decorating, 1973.

We scoured through vintage book stores to get our hands on the bible of interior design books: Barbara D'Arcy's Bloomingdale's Book of Home Decorating. Since her styling advice rings true just as strongly today as the day it was published, we'll share some of her best - and most cutting-edge - home styling ideas. In her own words: "I like lavender and orange. Together."

 

Unexpected upholstering - The Pierre Carin Room.

"Certainly this is not a room for everyone, but if you want to indulge your fantasies and can live in this sort of environment, this is one way to do it." - Barbara D'Arcy

A living room complete with walls upholstered in felt, a ceiling-to-floor stainless steel pole that holds up a desk, and a plexiglass globe to hold a television is certainly a fantasy of ours. 

  

Matchinging materials - The Monochrome Room.

"I think this room shows quite graphically that there is a place for everything in decoration. There's a place for traditional and there's a place for brand new." - Barbara D'Arcy

For a modern take on this monochrome masterpiece : combine your stainless steel kitchenware with TORTUGA's Stainless Steel Pyramid Bracket to let your kitchen shine. 

 

Take a chance on unknown designers - Saturday Generation room featuring Frank Gehry.

"Would you believe cardboard! To me, this is the most fantastic development in furniture today." - Barbara D'Arcy

We don't know what's more stunning about this room - the fact that everything, walls, floor, beds, table, chairs, is made of corrugated cardboard? Or the fact that Barbara D'Arcy helped put Frank Gehry on the map by featuring his early experiment of the Wiggle Chair?? Today, Gehry is known for designing some of the world's most spectacular architectural wonders, and we may have Barbara D'Arcy to thank for taking a design risk on the then-unknown designer.

 

Match your art and reality - The Still Life Room.

"I am very fond of the way the textures, shapes, and colors in this grouping enhance each other" - Barbara D'Arcy

While the still-life painting is sure to complement any room, it can be a bit conventional. If you're looking to add a wow factor, repeating the still life's subjects in the reality of your room gives a simple, yet unexpected trompe l'oeil effect.