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When Madeline Stuart was chosen by Architectural Digest to design this year’s Academy Awards green room, she actually missed the call.
Working on a client’s remote Montana ranch property in November, Stuart had no cell phone reception, and only got the news via email — at which point she let out a whoop they could probably hear all the way from Butte. “For a child of the industry, this is an incredible honor,” says Stuart. “I revere Hollywood history.” And she’s a part of that history: Her late father, Mel, directed 1971’s Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory as well as several award-winning documentaries, and Madeline played a small role as a chocolate-loving, golden-ticket-coveting schoolgirl in Wonka.
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Stuart’s inspiration for the 750-square-foot room, where presenters and other VIPs will hang out during the telecast, is the legendary Hollywood art director and production designer Cedric Gibbons, who oversaw the creation of the Oscar statuette in 1928 and went on to win 11 of them.
Gibbons was a natural choice for Stuart. When AD reached out, Stuart — who is on The Hollywood Reporter’s annual list of the top 25 decorators in Hollywood — was already at work redoing interiors for a house that Gibbons designed for himself and actress wife Dolores del Rio in 1930. The residence is now owned by Stuart clients Gary Newman, chairman of Twentieth Century Fox Television, and his wife, top entertainment lawyer Jeanne, who bought the Streamline Moderne residence in Santa Monica in 2011 from producer Joe Roth.
“A lot of people don’t know who Gibbons is anymore,” says Stuart. “That’s sad to me.” She credits his work on The Thin Man for the room’s glossy black flooring and Art Deco-style furniture and objects; she also incorporated stepped ceilings inspired by Grand Hotel and The Wizard of Oz. Stuart imagined a space where George Clooney might throw back a Scotch with Cary Grant. “I wanted to create something chic, stylish and sexy,” Stuart says. “I could live in this space.”
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The designer, whose other clients have included Larry David and director Gary Ross, custom-designed the exquisite Deco-style bar and stools — the latter of which she’ll add to her own furniture line. “My pieces are usually named for writers,” she says. “But I’ll call this stool The Oscar.” But most of the furniture and dressings were curated by Stuart from products by AD sponsors, including sofas, tables and chairs by Baker Furniture; fabrics by Schumacher; lighting fixtures by The Urban Electric Co.; a pair of vintage Orrefors crystal table lamps and other antiques are also in the mix. Among Stuart’s careful finishing touches are books from her personal library, including Art Deco Complete by Alistair Duncan and Charlotte Benton’s Art Deco: 1910-1939. She collaborated with florist The Velvet Garden to choose pincushion protea and cattleya orchids for the front room, while a dramatic arrangement of white calla lilies stands in front of the door to one of the night’s hottest destinations: the outdoor smoking area (furnished by Janus et Cie). “I hope people will appreciate the detail,” Stuart says. “But mostly I want them to enjoy being in this ambiance I’ve created — a sophisticated, luxe refuge from all the mania.”
Speaking of mania, did Stuart ever consider a Wonka-inspired design for the Greenroom? “Are you out of your mind?” she asks in reply — with a friendly laugh. She’s her father’s daughter, but Stuart is making her own mark on Hollywood with a continuing string of high-profile projects. Next up, she says, “I’m working on the home of a legendary industry scion, John Goldwyn.” As to whether she expects any of Sunday night’s glittering Greenroom visitors to seek her services, “I’m not going to be waiting by the phone,” she demurs. But the calls will surely come. Last year, Oscars producer Brian Grazer was so taken by 2012 AD green room designer Waldo Fernandez’s work, natch, that he asked him to redo his house.
Below, Madeline Stuart with her brother Peter on the Wonka set in 1970.
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