Icon Trend

Global Views on Trends for Fashion, Accessories, Interiors and more for the aspiring and passionate online trend-setting community. From Sydney with Love.

James Mont - Showmanship and Fantasy

The Miami Beach penthouse designed in 1963 for Nat King Kole by James Mont 
Gold Leafed low table by James Mont 
Table lamp, designed by James Mont. Collection of Todd Merill.
Gilded ceramic, wood, paper and carved plaster with gold-leaf finish. Shade out of heavy paper, gold leaf and applied rings of carved plaster. Designed by James Mont. Collection of Todd Merill. 
James Mont cabinet
James Mont black Lacquered and gilt cabinet - mid century available via Ebay.


James Mont chinese chair
James Mont design sketch for Cole's penthouse

James Mont

JAMES MONT cabinet, Mid 20th
Stunning Custom Designed Cabinet by James Mont
Chinese undulating slipper chairs on skirted base by James Mont
Lana Turner sitting in what looks like a James Mont chair

James Mont

James Mont "Opium Den" Sofa and Low Table
James Mont SlungBack Chair
Sofa by James Mont, New York City, Circa 1948
A Pair of James Mont Designed Twisted Wooden Table Lamps - 1950s
Blue Cerused and Silver Leafed Chestnut Console by James Mont
An example of Mont's cerusing technique. The oak is first bleached, then sandblasted and rubbed with chalky pigments to create the appearance of silk moiré.

James Mont

via Todd Merrill
A Pair of Carved Plaster Lamps by James Mont, New York, circa 1940s 
Slipper Arm Chairs by James Mont
Pagoda Style Chest of Drawers In The Manner Of James Mont 
James Mont console
Glamorous Asian Influenced Gilt Mirror by James Mont

James Mont

James Mont attributed silver-leafed sideboard - USA, 1950
James Mont silver dining table
Silver Leafed James Mont Lotus Cabinets, 1950s

James Mont - Extraordinary Master of Metal-Leafing

James Mont Style 3 Panel Chinese Screen - 1960
An example of Mont's cerusing technique. The oak is first bleached, then sandblasted and rubbed with chalky pigments to create the appearance of silk moiré.
James Mont - Credenza. Asian-inspired fret-work raised on Greek key platform base, ca1960
Master of amazing effects - Mont’ was a master of creative finishing techniques.  The lacquerwork, done in painstaking layers, is typical Mont and he supposedly perfected his wood-finishing technique in prison workshops.

Lacquered pieces took a monumental effort and were coated with as many as fourteen layers of resin, which craftsmen hand-sanded and polished between each coat.  He would stain a furniture piece of wood, then rub it with a chalk, and finally colour it with pigment to pick up the pattern in the grain.
His metal-leafed pieces are extraordinary. Mont was known for applying layers of color (pale green, blue, lavender, yellow) beneath his gold leaf and burnishing it until it was almost transparent.
James Mont chairs. i can see Lana Turner loving them....
Lana Turner loved james Mont's style
Gilt Chinoiserie Lamps in the Manner of James Mont, 1940
James Mont wall mirror
James Mont Arm Chair
Low Lotus Table by James Mont

James Mont and his 'Modern Chinoiserie' Style

Nat “King” Cole, at home in 1957 - Icon-Baby, the blog
James Mont - Slipper chair - Superb lines... Icon-Baby, the blog
Showmanship and fantasy: the designs of James Mont - From the early 1930s and into the 1960s, Mont was one of the most prominent designers and decorators on the East Coast. The flamboyance of Mont’s designs was exceeded only by that of his lifestyle. 


Some of his stuff is incredibly tacky, but a lot of his designs are exquisitely beautiful, really well made and I love them. 
His forte was creating furniture that offered a dramatic, yet stylish take on historical forms (the Greek key design for example) and classical elements taken from pre-Communist China and historical Asian designs. His exotic and expressive designs were large scaled, mostly in the Asian style with simplified silhouettes, amplified with lavish hardware and finishes. In the era of Prohibition, his earliest specialties were collapsible bars and tables and desks with secret compartments.
The popularity of Chinoiserie in Mont’s day was as a matter of zeitgeist. Chinoiserie, the sensual, fantasy style, was present in Paris and New York before the war, and through the fifties in the work of designers as Dorothy Draper or Tony Duquette, and also James Mont. It's amazing, given the scandalous nature of James Mont's life, that his designs would become so sought after and highly regarded. His bold, exotic, often Chinese-inspired pieces stand out in decadent relief against a field of restrained modernism.
Icon-Baby, the blog - Mid Century Modern Pagoda Mirror in the Manner of James Mont
Icon-Baby, the blog - James Mont Screen
Icon-Baby, the blog - Silver Leafed Bamboo Console by James Mont

James Mont - The Nat King Cole Penthouse

Nat King Cole's Miami Beach penthouse designed byJames Mont
James Mont, the important and uniquely American Mid-Century Interior and furniture designer. He established his reputation in America for creating custom clandestine bars during prohibition for Hollywood stars and East Coast mobsters. His aesthetic was defined by combining post-Deco glamour with Oriental accents such as exotic finishes, smoked mirrors, and an abundance of silver and guilt. His characteristic designs often refashioned Asian motives, Mont described as "Chinese Modern'. 
James Mont Dining Chairs
James Mont desk-1963
James Mont chairs
Club chairs, 1963 for the Penthouse in Miami, of Ellis Orlowitz. Maple black lacquer, gold leaf and grey silk velvet upholstery.
James Mont occasional Lotus table
Lotus table, 1963 for the Orlowitz penthouse in Maple finish and silver leaf with gold accents.

High-back Dining chairs with elongated Greek key backs and Chinoiserie fretwork. Finished in satin black lacquer with gold leaf details.
James Mont - The King Cole sofa

Homage to James Mont - The Gangster’s Favourite


James Mont

The Showman From the early 1930s and into the 1960s, Mont was one of the most prominent designers and decorators on the East Coast. James Mont, a notorious, possibly even murderous mid-century decorator was a suave, glamorous and loud and enjoyed flashy cars and the company of chorus girls.

Presumably, he was born Demetrios Pecintoglu in Istanbul in 1904. His father may have been a noteworthy painter in Turkey, and he himself may have studied art and architecture in France and Spain. By all accounts, he moved with his family to the United States in the early 1920's.

A local mafia capo, the story goes, stopped in an Electrical shop Mont was working with a girlfriend one day and was so impressed by the charming proprietor and his creations that he hired Mont to refurnish his house. Before long, Mont became the preferred decorator of Mafiosi, counting Frank Costello and "Lucky" Luciano as clients and friends.  James soon charmed his way into the lives of many show business figures, including Bob Hope, and Lana Turner (who would later herself become entangled with the mob).
Mafia Boss Jonny Stompanato and Lana Turner

Stompanato and Turner at a Hollywood nightclub. Stompanato had been dating Turner when, on the night of April 4, 1958, police were called to her house, where they found the ganster stabbed to death. Turner's teenage daughter Cheryl Crane, then 14, took the blame, explaining that Stompanato had attacked her mother and that she had acted in defense - an explanation accepted by the courts, where the death was ruled justifiable homicide.


Mont's shady business connections would prove to be much less scandalous than the damage his vicious temper would create. He was hot-tempered, and did a stint in prison after assaulting a female colleague who ended up killing herself. In 1937, he married twenty-five year old Korean-American actress Helen Kim. Twenty-nine days after they were married, Kim was found dead in their apartment. Though her death was ruled a suicide, it was always speculated that Mont's temper may have played a role in her demise.

Mr. Helen Kim Mont married to James Mont. Photo in their New York apartment in 1937 (Press Photo)
The back of the photo reads:


A spendthrift and a gambler, he was forever dodging creditors and tax collectors. Mont would each time rebound and continued to work into the early 1960s. But the taste of the time was working against him and his monumental scale of his work. His style began to seem overdone and in blunt contrast to the modernist clean decors.
Today, his work has been rediscovered by interior designers such as Kelly Wearstler. I love most of his work, and like to mix his lavish, exotic pieces to create individualistic and surprising rooms.
James Mont

Stay tuned... Icon brings you more ...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...