For this year’s Sotheby's Designer Showhouse and Auction, twelve established and up-and-coming designers are curating signature rooms with unique pieces from a range of Sotheby’s departments, including 20th Century Design, Prints, Silver, Photography and English furniture. Here, Patrick Mele, who is creating the Showhouse Withdrawing Room, shares his design philosophy, tips for new collectors and more.
Since diverging from retail to start his own interior design firm in 2009, the New York-based Mele has focused on creating private, individual spaces, a practice he applies to his Withdrawing Room for Sotheby’s Designer Showhouse. “This is not a room in which to impress or entertain others,” explains Mele. “It should be a space that you dedicate to your interests and passions.”
PATRICK MELE. PHOTO BY CHARLES DE VAIVRE.
Describe your aesthetic in three words.
Impassioned, joyous and comforting.
Is there a major rule you like to break?
I don’t pay too much attention to rules in general.
Finish this sentence: No room is ever complete without ______.
Dimmers, down pillows and a memorable fragrance.
MELE'S AIRY LIVING ROOM IN GREENWICH, CONNECTICUT. PHOTO BY TIMOTHY KOLK.
What do you want to achieve with your Room for the Showhouse?
I love the idea of a withdrawing room, which developed as the English answer to the 16th-century Italian studio – a room for one’s most precious and treasured items, a place to sit and dream, dedicated to memories and escape. I believe that, as a society, we need this more today than ever before.
What adjectives would you use to describe the perfect withdrawing room?
Enveloping, transcendent, tactile, sensory and luxurious.
What period are you most inspired by right now?
I love reinterpreted Victorian, though I’m not big on the Victorian palette. The style has been out of favour for so long, but I love the round lines and humorous shapes. We’ve been living in a rigid, right-angle world for a long time now. Some roundness and pattern would be nice.
A MANHATTAN APARTMENT BY MELE. PHOTO BY ANNIE SCHLECHTER.
What’s your advice for first-time antiques and art buyers?
Start small, or if your budget allows, start big. For most, I would begin with the odd sketch, footstool, bowl, lamp – something that can easily be worked into the mix of what you already have. Those won’t dictate a space. They’ll add some punctuation to it, and from there you can add on.
Which design sites do you browse for inspiration?
I’m glued to Instagram. That’s really where you see the best imagery these days. And there’s so much of it!