Tag Archives: The Hill House Chair

American Psycho, Foreign Collector

Patrick Bateman's living room in "American Psycho."

I was inspired by Flavorwire’s recent article titled, 15 Apartments on Film That We Wished We Owned, written by Colette McIntyre.  It covered some of my favorite apartments and homes in movies as well, and I could happily write a post for each one of them (and who knows, I may!), but the first one I thought I would tackle is “Patrick Bateman’s minimalist bachelor pad,” as Ms. McIntyre called it, in American Psycho from 2000.

A view of Patrick Bateman's living room from the other direction.

When it’s not covered in plastic sheeting …(yikes!) we get to see the furniture, from all over the world, that makes up his house.  To the left of his sliding glass doors, we see a chair from Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House, in Helensburgh, Scotland.

The Hill House chair, 1904, in its original setting of The Hill House master bedroom.

I love the contrast between the master bedroom of The Hill House, with its stenciled walls, and stylized floral motifs, and Patrick Bateman’s cold, plain, white living room.  It shows what an iconic piece the Hill House chair really is; it can stand alone as a piece of design.

The two black leather side chairs and matching ottomans were designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1929 for the German Pavilion for the International Exposition in Barcelona, Spain.  The Barcelona chair’s original aesthetic matches much more closely the aethetic of Patrick Bateman, but they were still seen in a much warmer environment, with golden marble and rich woods.

The Barcelona chairs and ottomans in situ, 1929.

The third piece of famous design in Bateman’s living room is the coffee table.  It was designed by Italian designer, Paolo Piva, c. 1980 for B&B Italia, and is called the Alana coffee table.  From what I’ve been able to find, Piva seems to give his pieces human names.  He was born in 1950, and his designs were most popular in the 1980s.  The time in which he was designing is especially interesting in relation to American Psycho, because while the movie was made in 2000, it was set in the 1980s.

Alana coffee table, c. 1980 by Paolo Piva.

Bateman’s furniture tastes cover many countries and many time periods, but it is the Alana coffee table that would have been brand new when he purchased it.

Gideon Ponte was the production designer for American Psycho and Jeanne Develle, the set decorator.  The American 1980s is not my area of expertise in decorative arts, and I wonder if the Hill House chair and Barcelona chairs would have been readily available for purchase at the time, and also if they would have been seen as the status symbols that they are now, and as I’m sure Patrick Bateman meant for them to be.

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Mackintosh in Spain

I went to see Pedro Almodóvar’s latest movie in the cinema, Broken Embraces (Los Abrazos Rotas), this past weekend.  Besides being amazed by his ability to tell a story and Penelope Cruz’s beauty, it delights me to report I spotted two chairs by Charles Rennie Mackintosh!

The Hill House Chair, as seen in the master bedroom, Helensburgh, Scotland

The chair, as seen in the image above,was designed to go in the master bedroom of The Hill House, built for Walter Blackie and his family in 1903.  Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed the chair and the house.  Walter Blackie was a book publisher in Glasgow, Scotland.  Many of the books he published were fairy tales.  So, The Hill House, very fittingly, has a subtle theme of roses and Sleeping Beauty.  The lattice-shape of the back of the chair fits both in dimension and theme the stencils on the walls of roses growing on trellises.

Ernesto Martel and Lena in their dining room

The Hill House Chair, as seen in the movie with red seat

I was unable to find a still from the movie that included the Hill House Chair.  It was the customary black, however, it had a red upholstered seat.  There are two in Ernesto Martel’s dining room and they are visible in the scene pictured above.

This is my first post in my new category of “Double Takes” where I plan to document quick views of famous design in movies and not get into the history, philosophy or interpretation of it all.

Although I do have to say, besides having a chair meant for a bedroom in a dining room, there is an interesting layer here with the theme of this chair.  As this chair was meant to evoke the feeling of a trellis where Sleeping Beauty’s roses might grow around her and cage her in with their thorns, so does Ernesto Martel to Lena in Broken Embraces.1

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Filed under Double Takes, Foreign Film, In the Cinema