June 1, 2014

Stephen Mallory: 1994 Hall of Fame Inductee

Stephen Mallory

Originally from Boston, but as he told it, always determined to leave Beantown for the glittering lights of New York City, Stephen Mallory, ASID, indeed came a long way. He and his wife Jennifer moved to France (commuting by jet to see his U.S. clients). The chosen mise-en-scene was in deep farm country, at a big distance demographically from the fashionable glamour spots on the southern coast.

Much came to pass in the interim years. Demobbed from the army and enriched (figuratively only) with the G.I. Bill of Rights, Mallory enrolled at Parsons School of Design. Initial design experience came from working with John Gerald and Melanie Kahane; inspirational guidance was provided by Van Day Truex and Billy Baldwin, who sent many a rich and important client his way. In the mid-1950s, he teamed up with James Tillis as Mallory-Tillis Inc. In 1977, he founded his namesake firm. Two custom furniture showrooms-to-the-trade, Stephen Mallory Preferred and Domus, were among his early side-line ventures. Though highly promising, both were aborted. “I realized I was a better decorator than merchandiser,” he conceded.

Mallory then concentrated on residential work. He exceled at honoring the wishes of his clients, many of them sparking instant name recognition, and most returning for more jobs here and abroad – without bending his standards of taste and style. He believed in simplicity and favored a neutral palette punctuated with artworks and small doses of pattern. Fussy florals, aggressive rug designs and overly elaborate window treatments did not appeal to him; he described his preferred approach as more severe. Only once did he compromise, if not capitulate, and that happened right under his own roof. In the design of Mallory’s Manhattan townhouse, the lady of the manor was allowed to have the last word. The ensuing look, in the words of the master, was gentle and soft.

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