Richard Shapiro is fanatic that word may carry certain derogatory connotations, but its more genteel synonyms – devotee, enthusiast, aficionado – are woefully inadequate in describing the designer’s particular passion and monomania. He has a long and varied résumé as a collector, entrepreneur, antiquarian, museum, trustee, furniture designer, gardener, and all-around aesthete. But if hid life’s work had to be distilled into a single obsession, it would surely be the cultivation of the two places he calls home.
The first is a quintessentially Los Angeles, hybridised Mediterranean manor house originally built in the 1920s, which Shapiro has coaxed and caressed into a self-contained world of rare beauty and romance. He calls to the Florentine Villa, The second, a beachfront home on a stunning promontory in Malibu, is a magical folly redolent of Moroccan reads and exotic ports of call. He calls this one the Tangier Outlook.
Shapiro’s homes are exemplars of the latter category – to a degree that few houses ever attain. From their bewitching gardens to their bravura communal and private spaces, every square foot has been considered and manipulated to reinforce Shapiro’s illusion of escape from the quotidian realities of time and place. Outside their well-disguised borders, there id noise and smog, commonplace prettiness and unvarnished vulgarity, billboards and traffic lights. Inside, there is serenity, beauty and wonder.
Rizzoli, Richard Shapiro, Mayer Rus, Mallery Roberts Morgan text copyrights | Jason Schmidt pictures copyright