Men living alone -- and looking it
"As a bachelor you can and should live stylishly." Theser brave words come from Prince Egon von Furstenberg, who has now backed them up with a book imperially titled "The Power Look at Home: Democrating for Men."
We can hear you snickering that the "Power Look at Home" sounds like Woody Allen making virile faces at himself in his shaving mirror. But we'll bet you weren't brought up in an 18th century palazzo outside Venice, with 24 bedrooms and eight living rooms and two swimming pools. So just sit there quietly and listen to a man who was.
The first thing you must do as a von Furstenberg disciple is decide exactly what sort of Power Look you want. Power Looks, it seems, come in three basic styles: the Cosmopolitan Man, the Traditionalist, and the Individualist.
The Cosmopolitan Man is the "ultimate city person" who gets his Power Look through suave touches like leather benches and gray flannel upholstery.
The Traditionalist, according to the Prince's definition, is "a serious person who eschews the social scene" in favor of a solitary evening at home, tracking a straight line, in furniture terms, from his Windsor rocker to his four-poster. And so, a Power-Look good night.
The Individualist responds to the "karmam of objects," which means that his rooms tell the story of his life. And if they don't, he, alas, will, fondly recalling where he bought each Power-Look article, from whom, and why -- including the "masses of plants he loves simply because he loves them." The Prince's favorite Individualist appears to be a German baron who "has filled every crevice of his castle with an increadible collection" of pop art, featuring the comic-strip portrait of a big-band girl singer, above whose head the balloon floats: ". . . The melody haunts my reverie. . . ."
Call us a peasant, but this sort of princely generalization gets a bit rarefied for out tastes. "Where should we put the sofa, huh?" is the sort of question that echoes through our career as interior decorator.
For those piano movers, like us, who want to get right down to the splinters, so to speak, we have prepared a translation for key von Furstenberg phrases:
"Dark, intimate." Translation: Small rooms with no sun.
"Timeless sense of purity." Translation: No furniture on the floor. No paintings on the wall. No money in the bank.
"Strong, no-nonsense design." Translation: Warning -- tubular steel is about to enter your life. Watch out for your shins.
"True eclecticism." Translation: The poor fellow couldn't decide if he was a Cosmopolitan Man or a Traditionalist -- and the Morgan Memorial had a little of everything.
"Sculptural quality." Translation: Golly, it was just too much work to cover up the radiators and the pipes.
"Symbols of luxury." Translation: A swimming pool, a Jacuzzi, a sunken bathtub, or at the very least gold faucets -- always something to do with water.
"Low profile." Translation: Rather than "clutter the walls with pictures" (the Prince's phrase), one rests them on the floor. "Things gives the floor a casual feeling."
Well, we should hope so.
If his reader longs for a "low profile" but has no pictures available, Prince Egon recommends that he "have six- or seven-foot-square canvases stretched at art supply stores and then painted one color -- any color -- and leaned casually against the wall." With the help of direct lighting and a palm tree, he promises us, "it will look like a work of art."
Is the Prince's guide worth $25? As his translator, we are not the one to say. When we read his suggestion about the "low profile," we swore we would never live alone again. Ever.
Still, we've got our money's worth out of a single idea on a single page. Like one of the Prince's friends, we're planning to hang a couple of rows of work gloves on the wall and call them "soft sculpture." We'd be embarrased to achieve a Power Look, but we're going to love being thought of as droll.