Master The Art Of Modernist Style With The New Book, Distinctly Modern Interiors
Fans of modernist style will be excited by designer Emily Summers‘ first book, Distinctly Modern Interiors, where she unveils many of her striking projects from a 40-year career, including her 1960s Palm Springs getaway. The 14 projects range from historical restorations, contemporary architecture, lake houses and Spanish Colonial new-builds. We sat down with the veteran designer — who was featured on Architectural Digest‘s AD100 list for 2019 — to talk about how to sensitively renovate modernist houses.
Emily completely renovated her ’60s Palm Springs home, which is furnished with authentic mid-century vintage pieces — like original Platner chairs owned by fabric designer Jack Lenor Larsen. “When you renovate a modernist house, try not to increase the footprint,” she says. “You can certainly update bathrooms and kitchens, and the air conditioning systems. In this case we needed to have all new floors and walls because anytime you renovate in the desert, new earthquake requirements require you to stabilize all the walls.” The floor is a terrazzo tile for an expansive look, topped by a flokati rug for warmth. The artwork over the fireplace is a Porter Teleo fabric, which conceals a TV screen.
The sitting room of Emily’s Palm Springs holiday home has a clean palette, with a curvaceous tufted citron gondola sofa. “There’s a lot of chinoiserie mixed in with modernism,” says Emily. “The Qing dynasty screen was bought in the ’60s is from Guinevere’s in London. James Mont was an interior designer and architect from the 60s and 70s in California, and he used a lot of chinoiserie. The little black chair is by James. So that mixing of Chinese and Japanese aesthetic with modernism is always very appropriate.”
A series of gradated artwork in this Dallas home suits the subtle, clean lines of the furnishings and establishes a gallery-like vibe. “I’m a modernist: I generally gravitate toward neutral colors, and I let art provide pattern and color in most of my rooms. I don’t use a lot of floral fabrics,” says the designer. Emily was asked to update this iconic house built by Edward Durell Stone, which was infamous for the floating dining room surrounded by water. “My client frequently rotates the art collection, refreshing the space. She keeps the home full of life,” she says.
This new build in Dallas represented a turning point for her career, according to the designer. “The architect was Antoine Predock, a Pritzker Prize-winning architect,” says Emily. “It was a four-year project and just the most fun. Working with an architect of that status and building a house of this incredible quality kind of pushed me into a zone where I was starting to work with really good architecture around the country. The red chair is by a very major mid-century American furniture designer, Ed Wormley, and the console is by local Dallas architect Russell Buchanan.”
Round House sits on the side of Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, originally designed by Don Price. “It was built in the ’60s and we restored it completely, lifting the ceiling since it was low,” she says. “You can see the pine tree tops through that window.” The curved sofa is a custom design that hugs the contours of the room.
This Dallas home was designed by the architect Mark Appleton, a Spanish Colonial architect working out of Santa Barbara. The library is painted a moody charcoal grey with a hit of navy. “This house belongs to my son and daughter-in-law,” she says. “We were inspired by the Spanish Colonial architecture of Dallas and Highland Park Village.”
A Dallas penthouse is furnished with chairs by British architect Terence Robsjohn-Gibbings. “The artwork is by Peter Lanyon. He was a glider pilot during the WWII and so he created all these incredibly beautiful, aerial view landscapes,” says Emily.