With the possible exception of Hollywood, no single force has brought California to the world more powerfully than Michael Taylor. More than a quarter of a century after he created the California look - Taylor, for many, still epitomizes West CoastStyle. The James Dean of decorators is how Diana Vreeland described West Coast designer Michael Taylor I was a student in Design School when the picture below of Michael Taylor's work was published in Architectural Digest . I was totally in awe of his work. Nothing had been done like this before. It was revolutionary and very fresh. I became totally mesmerized by all things "Michael Taylor". The fixation is still going on. In the project I did that was featured in Architectural Digest I used Michael Taylor fabric on a sofa that I custom designed. Whenever I am in LA or San Francisco I make it a point to visit his showroom at the Design Center. He was one of my greatest mentors that I drew inspiration from and wanted to emulate. It was interesting to me to learn that his 3 greatest mentors were women: Syrie Maugham, Elsie de Wolfe & Francis Elkins. I just wish that he had lived longer. He passed away in 1988 at the age of 59. Consistently denouncing the cluttered and pretentious, he had a simple ethos: "When you take things out, you must increase the size of what's left." This spawned the widely emulated California Look, which in the latter part of his career was characterized by oversize furniture and signature elements, including Yosemite slate and fossilized stone; plump geometric cushions; logs; wicker; and lots of mirrors, all against a muted backdrop of white on white or beige on beige. Michael Taylor was born in Modesto, California in 1927 and found early inspiration at a neighbor's house, where he first saw the work of Elsie de Wolfe. Syrie Maugham, the British decorator who helped create the all-white look popular in the 1920s, provided another source of inspiration to him. A third influence was American decorator Frances Elkins (Taylor acquired a substantial portion of Elkins' estate, including pieces originally from Syrie Maugham).
Schiaparelli sofa Taylor rivaled the legendary fashion editor Diana Vreeland in his use of maxims - "Red and green should never be seen!" was one of his favourites. "If in doubt, take it out!" was another.