2010 Texas Book Festival

Italy of My Dreams: The Story of an American Designer's Real-Life Passion for Italian Style

2010 Texas Book Festival

'Italy of My Dreams: The Story of an American Designer's Real-Life Passion for Italian Style'

Funny how most aesthetes who grow up in trailer parks fail to take the style with them when they go. In the introduction to Italy of My Dreams, Amarillo native Matthew White spins a charming tale of his early years in the Tumbleweed Trailer Park with his wholesome, hardworking family: It's a mostly bucolic picture that includes fun siblings and supportive parents who encourage his decorating habit and take the kids on tours of Amarillo's ritzier neighborhoods to marvel at the homes. While White genuinely appreciates the high plains and its denizens, most of his (and his mother's) early efforts were aimed at transforming the environs into something else: planting busy gardens, sinking an old bathtub for a "reflecting pool" outside a bunkhouse, making over his parents' foyer with a sort of British solarium theme.

No surprise, then, that when White leaves the neon and tumbleweed behind (first as a professional ballet dancer, later moving on to antiques dealing and ultimately interior design), his tastes veer far from both modern spareness and Airstream cowboy chic. Specifically, he is entranced by classic Italian style, and in Italy of My Dreams, he throws open the doors to four homes whose interiors he designed for himself and his partner, Thomas Schumacher. By drawing the connections between a style's origins (Florentine villas, Roman city houses, Venetian palaces, Palladian country houses), its manifestation in an American vernacular, and his own interpretation in his residences, White makes Italy of My Dreams into more than a pretty coffeetable book. It's informative to the lay reader and refreshingly nontechnical, combining deep knowledge and affection with wit and charm. Regardless of whether one shares White's taste, Italy of My Dreams is an impressive testament to the dogged development of an individual style, helpful and inspiring to anyone in pursuit of his or her own.

Italy of My Dreams

With Matthew White
Saturday, Oct. 16, 2-3pm, Austin Museum of Art

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Texas Book Festival, Matthew White, 'Italy of My Dreams: The Story of an American Designer's Real-Life Passion for Italian Style'

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