Book List of the Week

Daydreams and Memories: Ernest de la Torre’s Book List

By Steve Kroeter January 17, 2012

Ernest de la Torre

Interior Designer Ernest de le Torre: de la Torre Design Studio (New York)

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It’s been said that one of the most valuable traits of a gifted interior designer is perfection of the power of absorption. If there is truth to this, then Ernest de le Torre is certainly exemplary. He grew up in the Midwest, but from his Cuban parents retained a Latin sensibility. His design influences from his Chicago area upbringing include both the formal traditionalism of David Adler and the spare, modern geometry of Mies van der Rohe. His mentors and influences over the course of his design education and early professional practice include Peter Marino, Sotheby’s in London, hospitality work with Ian Schrager, and the home furnishings division of Ralph Lauren.

Leather-paneled library of Central Park West apartment in Manhattan with a painting by Ross Bleckner.
















The books de la Torre sent us range from a Billy Baldwin memoir (also a favorite of Designers & Books contributor Dominique Browning) to a book about a simple, self-built structure, another on Manhattan’s “richest apartment building,” and two books on early modern French design.

Designers & Books had a chance to ask de le Torre a question about each of the titles on his list and what he absorbed from them.

Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes:
Designers & Books: Where did you first run across these books—and are the books themselves as interesting and striking as the exposition they document?

Ernest de la Torre: I first saw them in Peter Marino’s office many years ago. They give a great insight into how all these artists worked together to create today’s antiques.

Les Décorateurs des années 40:
D&B: Who are the two or three French designers from the ‘40s discussed in this book that are particularly important to you personally—and why?

EDLT: Jean Royère is a great influence since he was so sensual with his curvaceous designs. Paul Dupré-Lafon influences my interior architecture.

Mastering Tradition: The Residential Architecture of John Russell Pope:
D&B: Which one room in the Pope house you did in Tuxedo Park did you find most moving and inspirational—and why?

EDLT: The room that Elle Décor put on its cover in November 2009 called the Lake Room. It’s a room you never want to leave.

The Lake Room of house in Tuxedo Park, New York, with 1920s to 1950s furniture by French masters Mategot Audoux-Minet, Jean-Michel Frank, and Jacques Adnet, and an Alberto Giacometti chandelier above.













A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams:
D&B: When you daydream of the perfect place of your own, is it more like Adler or more like Mies?

EDLT: That depends on the day! If I am a little out of control—Mies! If I find an old paneled library in England I want to live in—then Adler!

740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building:
D&B: This book is as much a social history as it is a design history. From the time you spent working on one of the original duplexes, what is your sense of how the building has aged? It was completed in 1930. Did you have to do a lot to bring it into conformance with contemporary lifestyle expectations?

EDLT: Surprisingly, the apartment I worked on was nearly intact and the generous sizes of rooms allowed for many modern conveniences.

Living room of 740 Park Avenue, Manhattan apartment with custom furnishings by Ernest de la Torre and a Mark Rothko painting as a focal point.














Billy Baldwin Remembers:
D&B: What is the one characteristic that Baldwin brought to his work that you most admire?

EDLT: Broad strokes. His blue and white room (the living room he designed for the house La Fiorentina in Cap Ferrat, France) is an example of simplicity as elegance.

D&B: Baldwin died almost three decades ago (1983). Do you think the concept of beauty and comfort that your clients have now is dramatically different than how Baldwin’s clients thought of those two qualities?

EDLT: There is actually quite a bit in common between the two except that today technology is more integrated into everyday life.

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