Mario Buatta

Mario Buatta was born in West Brighton, Staten Island, on October 20,1935 to Felix and Olive Buatta. His Aunt Mary, a whirling dervish of decorating and style, was a defining influence and took him on his first shopping excursions into Manhattan. Buatta was mainly self-taught, after briefly attending Cooper Union and Wagner College. Before opening his own business in 1963, the young decorator’s first work experience was on on the decorating floor of the department store B. Altman, followed by short stints in the offices of Elisabeth Draper and Keith Irvine.

Antiques were central to Buatta’s interiors and he championed their importance as the chairman of the Winter Antiques Show between 1977 to 1991. “If you don’t know about the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, you can’t decorate for the twenty-first. There’s no way,” he said. His roster of illustrious private clients such as Mariah Carey, Malcolm Forbes, and Barbara Walters often remarked on the comfort of the interiors he created for them. He saw himself as creating backdrops along the lines of a stage set that made them look and feel their best. One of his most proudest achievements was the commission, in tandem with Mark Hampton, to redecorate Blair House, the official White House Guest House in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s.

Buatta was honored in 2001 by New York School of Interior Design with the first NYSID Lifetime Achievement Award as well as having the College’s materials library and student work renamed after him. He leaves behind an inspiring legacy of creating joyful and enduring rooms.