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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A little break to Patmos

An Island Sanctuary: A House in Greece
by John Stefanidis

I have been reading a lot about the writer Bruce Chatwin recently. One of his many obsessions was the idea of the nomad. He imposed a nomadic life on himself, unable to stay in one place for very long. He was always in search of the perfect place to write. But he would stay a month and get bored. He found one such place in Greece with a friend from his time as art expert/wunderkind at Sotheby’s, Teddy Millington-Drake, and Millington-Drake’s partner, the interior designer John Stefanidis.

Teddy Millington-Drake's former studio is now a guest bedroom

The garden

Their home was on the island of Patmos in Greece. In 1964, they bought a run-down house below the monastery of St. John in a village called Chora for the sum of one thousand pounds. Now it would probably cost that much to order a new slipcover for one of the chairs.

Dining room

Last year Rizzoli released Stefanidis’s book about the house entitled An Island Sanctuary: A House in Greece. Most of the time, I give these books a pass, as they are an excuse to promote an interior designer’s oeuvre and are not much more than a hardbound shelter magazine printed on thicker paper. But in this volume, the images by Fritz von der Schulenburg and the text by Stefanidis and coauthor Susanna Moore tell a richer story of a region from the terraces, rooms, and gardens of one home. Perhaps interior design reaches its apogee when it feels like there was just a light touch. Like the Bay Area architect William Wurster wanting his houses to feel like a very talented carpenter built them. So it is with Stefanidis’s house; it feels like an erudite collector stored a mix of indigenous materials carefully in a rambling white cave. It’s worth a break.

The view from the upper terrace toward St Johns monastery
as painted by Teddy Millington-Drake

Shawls to keep warm

All photos courtesy Rizzoli. 

2 comments:

Joseph said...

Kenny:
I've also been a big fan of Chatwin's and torture my students with his description of the native Australians and their oral "maps" of their world—the songlines.
But this house on Patmos is a compelling argument for making a loving commitment to a single place.
It still feels like winter today here in PDX, so images of the Cyclades are a welcome distraction...
Joseph

Maya said...

Gorgeous. I love Grecian style.