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Mix Match | Apartment


Mix Match in luxury apartment interiors is represented by carefully-selected examples of fine and decorative arts and traditional artifacts and antiques, as well as decorative motifs, wall treatments, and display. The collections in apartments are often highly personalized.


The mixing and matching of cultural artifacts is as old as the arrival in 1542 of the Portuguese in Japan; one of the earliest introductions of western culture to eastern ones. There are too many of these examples to capture them all, but by the middle of the 19th century, European, American and Asian countries came together to participate in various world exhibitions. For example, in 1862 Japan took part in the London Exhibition, and Asian cultures became more popular to the Western public.1 Japanism, the late-19th century western vogue for all things Japanese, developed primarily from French Japonisme, This aesthetic trend was closely related to the general heightening of European and American interests in decorative design during the second half of the 19th century, stemming from the Aesthetic Movement.2 A general awareness of Japanese art was fairly widespread among upper-middle-class Americans at the close of the 19th century.3

Mix Match is a form of eclecticism—the borrowing of a variety of styles from different sources and combining them. Eclecticism in architecture, interior design and the fine and decorative arts describe the combination of elements from different historical styles in a single work. Eclecticism is distant from the actual forms of the artifacts to which it is applied, and its meaning is thus rather indistinct.4 Eclecticism never amounted to a movement or constituted a specific style.

Mix Match for luxury apartments (published in trade sources) emerges in the 1950s. By then western and eastern design had exerted their respective influences in architecture through such projects as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel in Tokyo and the Hollyhock House in Los Angeles. There is some evidence that in the 1950 decade, a growing number of eastern and western home owners and apartment dwellers were exhibiting another culture’s artifacts in their residences. By the 1960s European styles fully embraced Mix Match as urbane. The London drawing room of John French illustrates the use of Japanese paintings, vases and a screen. The large painting illustrates a Chinese woman sitting on a Regency sofa. In Twentieth-Century Decoration author Stephen Calloway referred to this arrangement as the “spare or cool arrangement of rather heterogeneous objects.”5

In luxury apartments in the 1980s, Mix Match extended its boundaries to spatial elements such as furnishings, wall treatments and finishes. For a redesigned New York apartment, Billy W. Francis created a polyglot style of mixed period and provenance. There are 18th century Japanese screens, a Regency bench, a contemporary sofa set on an angle, and a bronze sculpture by Michel Steiner. Japanese shoji window screens are managed electronically.6 The apartment also adopts the Japanese practice of borrowing a commanding view, in this case of New York City. Modern, antique and cultural elements make this living room a good example of Mix Match.

In the 1990s and in luxury apartments Mix Match extended beyond the mixing together of two cultures to a variety of cultures, styles and periods. The Mix Match practice also expanded from a single room to the entire apartment. The living room of an apartment in Monte Carlo is comprised of wooden wall panels, suggesting Japanese screens; Chinese carpet designs painted on the parquetry floors; a Chinese cloisonne copper piece; an oval English mahogany table; and an Orientalist English painting. Every room is differently themed and, in each room, the theme is expressed by different references. The dining room is a European interpretation of Eastern elements. In the blue entrance hall, called Retour de Turquie, the wooden paneled walls are painted to resemble ceramic tiles with Iznik designs; the bronze floor lamp is Neo-Greek; the chandelier is late French Imperial; and Turkey is evoked in the entrance door with an Ottoman motif. The designer, Roberto Peregalli, states “It’s not France, not Italy. It would be absurd to impose a specific style on a provincial farm, an English country residence.” The residents traveled widely and collected pieces throughout the world, and the space is a story of their experiences.7

The practice of mixing and matching Asian and European Modern furnishings continues into the early part of the 21st century. In the Paris apartment of Jean-Michel Beurdeley, designer Edouard Salas arranged an 8th century Siamese Buddha next to a 20th century Barcelona chair by Mies van der Rohe. Symbolic objects, such as Asian statuary or Buddha figures possess dramatic display value. They are evocative, because of their associations. Americans have adopted various Asian objects and aesthetics to provide an atmosphere of calm and tranquility.8

Increasing globalization and the growth of multicultural societies create an inevitable blurring, merging, and hybridization of stylistic and cultural influences. It is ironic that stylistic choice increases while, at the same time, many of the elements of the indigenous and ethnic diversity lose their origins.9 Mix Match is the interior design practice that responds to this cultural phenomenon.

Contemporary apartments are usually less affected by natural environments and regional surroundings in cosmopolitan cities; therefore, apartment interiors easily embrace the practice of Mix Match. Trade magazines illustrate a rich mix of sources, from all around the globe, from past and present, and from diverse indigenous cultures.10

end notes

  1. 1) Kevin Nute, Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan: The Role of Traditional Japanese Art and Architecture in the Work of Frank Lloyd Wright (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1993), 5.
  2. 2) Nute, Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan, 10.
  3. 3) John Pile, A History of Interior Design (Hoboken, N.J.: J. Wiley & Sons, 2005), 373.
  4. 4) Walter C. Kidney, “Preface,” The Architecture of Choice: Eclecticism in America, 1880-1910 (New York: G. Braziller, 1974), vii-viii.
  5. 5) Stephen Calloway, Twentieth-Century Decoration (New York: Rizzoli, 1988), 336.
  6. 6) Monica Geran, “Contemporary Goes Global”, Interior Design (July 1989): 166-167.
  7. 7) W. Weaver, “Monte Carlo Reverie: Exotic Rooms for an Italian Television Star,” Architectural Digest, 55 no. 7 (July 1998): 156-61.
  8. 8) Michael Freeman, Sian Evans and Mimi Lipton, In the Oriental Style: A Sourcebook of Decoration and Design (London: Thames and Hudson, 1990), 205.
  9. 9) Martin Waller and Dominic Bradbury, Fusion interiors (New York: Watson-Guptill Publications, 2000), 212-245.
  10. 10) Evidence for the archetypical use and the chronological sequence of Mix Match in luxury apartments was developed from the following sources: 1960 Drawing Room of John French, [1960] London, in Stephen Calloway, Twentieth-Century Decoration (New York: Rizzoli, 1988), 336; PhotoCrd: Vere French / 1970 Living Room, Private Apartment [1974] Robert Dowining; Atlanta in "At Home in Colony Sqaure," Interior Design 45, no. 1 (Jan, 1974): 112; PhotoCrd: Alexandre Georges / 1980 Living Room, United Nations Plaza Apartment [1989] Billy W. Francis; New York City in Monica Geran, "Contemporary Goes Global," Interior Design 60, no.9 (July 1989): 166-67; PhotoCrd: Peter Viltale; Living Room, Private Apartment [1990] Edouard Salas, Paris, France in Michael Freeman, Sian Evans and Mimi Lipton, In the Oriental Style: A Sourcebook of Decoration and Design (London: Thames and Hudson, 1990), 205; PhotoCrd: Pasca Hinouis / 1990 Elyse Lacher [1991] Elyse Lacher, Cy Mann Designs; New York City in "Background for Living," Interior Design 62, no. 7 (May 1991): 185; PhotoCrd: Mark Ross; Monte Carlo Apartment [1998] Roberto Peregalli, Italia in W. Weaver, "Monte Carlo Reverie: Exotic Rooms for an Italian Television Star", Architectural Digest 55, no. 7 (July 1998): 156-61; PhotoCrd: Massimo Listri / 2000 Alexandra Champalimaud and Bruce Schnitzer Apartment (Loft) [2000] Alexandra Champalimaud in Interior Design 71, no. 11 (Sep. 2000): 285; PhotoCrd: Mark Ross; Living Room, Private Apartment [2003] Marguerite Rodgers, Philadelphia, PA in Amy Philips, "Center City Fantasy," Interior Design 74, no.6 (May 2003): 80; PhotoCrd: Matt Wargo.

bibliographic citations

1) The Interior Archetypes Research and Teaching Project, Cornell University, (accessed month & date, year).

2) Kim, Najung.“Theory Studies: Archetypical Practices of Contemporary Luxury Apartment Design.” M.A. Thesis, Cornell University, 2009, 44-52.