Meet Designer Lynne Scalo
Mixing a love of the classics with a glimmer of shimmer, Scalo characterizes her home with glamorous comfort.
Photographs by Tim Street Porter (excluding portrait)
A native New Englander with a background in interior design and theater, Lynne Scalo launched a furniture-design firm that led to a full-fledged career creating homes characterized by glamorous comfort.
After starting in design, you spent years studying theater and even did some acting. What attracted you to the stage? I like its collaborative nature. It’s not just a one-person show but a group of people working together. And it’s about revealing the truth, being authentic, and that has impacted my work. When you moved back to Connecticut, what led you to furniture design? Returning from L.A., I was surprised to find the traditional New England options were so limited. I came up with some designs with historical references reimagined in a more contemporary way. I’d do a desk, but instead of inlaying it with pearl and bone, I’d use pieces of mirror. You’re noted for creating a seamless blend of classic style and glamour. How do you achieve that? I think my style is full of history and references coming from classical and different periods. But they look different if done up in new fabrications—using brass instead of wood, for instance—blending the new and the classical. What attracts you to the classics? There are reasons things stand the test of time. I’m staying in a beautiful old French Norman estate in Newport. When it was built, it was elegantly proportioned—it still is now, and will be hundreds of years from now. You can mix things up by different centuries, but it must always be based on the best of its kind. How do you combine glamour and history? I think it goes back to Klimt. You add touches of gold and silver in appropriate places, and that’s how you turn things into something that’s glamorous. You often work with a gray and silver palette with mirrors. What attracts you to that? I love shiny silver objects. They bounce light back and forth, and they can do a lot for a space. If the architecture isn’t perfect, a well-designed mirror hung at the right height can create a sense of symmetry. How do you adapt your style to different clients? I approach it like theater; it is a group ensemble experience. I have to be able to translate that person’s ideas and aspirations and lifestyle choices to reflect the individual. It’s a collaborative effort. Does fashion affect your work? I’m always inspired by fashion. I just designed a home, and I remember tearing out a fabulous color combination from a Louis Vuitton ad—plums and mints and black and orange and pink. How have movies and the stage influenced your work? A lot of my approach to design is informed by that rectangular experience, looking at things through that angle. I kind of have a storyboard for each room. Is there a play or film you’d like to design the sets for? One of my favorite plays is A Streetcar Named Desire. The old run-down background really informs the story—the high-ceilinged rooms, beautiful wrought-iron staircase, mirrors that are crumbled and not cut. The decadence of a bygone era would be great to do.