Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Channeling Oliver Messel

When Kelly Crago Hansen told me that the work of famed British designer Oliver Messel inspired in part her vignette, shown above, for last month's fundraiser Dining By Design, Atlanta, I was intrigued and wanted to share more highlights here.

Interior design was a second career for Messel, one of England's most celebrated costume and set designers during the 1930s-50s. In the swinging 1960s Messel escaped to the Caribbean where he designed villas for fun-lovers such as Princess Margaret, incorporating his signature style -- clean white spiced with strong color, elaborate plaster mouldings, Palladian-style architecture, and a general mix of baroque and classical.

I think Kelly truly captured this feeling of easygoing, tropical elegance at Dining By Design. Apart from designing the required tablescape, Kelly created the illusion of an outdoor room complete with a Chinese Chippendale ceiling, a faux bamboo chandelier and cabana-like curtains made from Lulu DK's Paradiso. Those custom-colored bird and vine panels are de Gournay.

Kelly adds, "Part of my inspiration was a project I'm working on at the new residences under construction at Ocean Club in the Bahamas -- this is kind of a dream because growing up in South Georgia, [near the Gulf and Atlantic coasts] I along with my parents loved tabby architecture, which about 15 years ago led me to almost an obsession with Oliver Messel...As far as the blue and white -- it kind of perplexes me because I'm a green freak -- I think I wanted to update a very traditional color pallet. Although now it reminds me a little of Casa de Campo meets South Florida, captiva with family circa 1970s-80s -- updated of course."

While one of the de Gournay panels has been sold, contact Kelly about other pieces from the vignette that may still be available. Email:

Shown below, the exterior of Messel's Cockade House, Barbados.

BTW: If you are in Chicago this weekend, don't forget to attend Dining By Design, Chicago. Public table viewing takes place Friday, November 10 and Saturday, November 11 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at the Merchandise Mart. Admission is a $10 donation to DIFFA at the door. Thanks for the reminder Paper Lily!

1 comment:

Brilliant Asylum said...

I too love tabby architecture. Glad to find some good info on Messel.