Living with Castaing: John Woodrow Kelley

Madeleine Castaing has inspired so many people and what I find fascinating is how different all these people are and how each one resonates to something quite different.  Charlotte Moss brought to life MC's retailing skills, Jacques Grange gave me an entirely new lens when he said it was all about architecture, and my new friend John Woodrow Kelley, a classicist through and through, surprised me completely.

The Allegory of Classical Architecture, 1998, by John Woodrow Kelley
After training as an architect, John continued on to become a painter whose work is a contemporary interpretation of the Classical tradition.  It can be no coincidence that he hails from Tennessee, whose capital Nashville is home to the only full-scale replica of the Parthenon in the world. 

MC's bath in her Paris apartment
 When John heard of my MC book, he didn't enthuse over the coffered vaulting above her bath reminiscent of the Baths of Caracalla or some such Classical detail. No - what John astonished me by saying was that Madeleine Castaing gave us permission to be romantic!  Indeed the creation of a mood, of atmosphere, is just as important in the experience of a space as pleasing proportions and scale are.  So for those of you who think Classicism or Classical architects are hardened to the possibilities of the picturesque, think again.

John found this pair of lamps complete with Coolie shades a la Castaing at a flea market

A mantelpiece arrangement in Castaing's rue Jacob shop - in the center is a photograph of a young Madeleine looking adoringly at her husband Marcellin; photo by Jean-Francois Jussaud 

Click here to visit John's Brooklyn residence courtesy of New York Social Diary.

A view of John's sitting room where he is magically able to arrange 6 people for dinner around the center table

Top photo with John sitting next to a Castaing blue shade found at Just Shades and bottom photo by Jeff Hirsch courtesy of