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Feb 22, 2006
Born in Bogota, Colombia, Juan Montoya spent part of his youth in France, where he was introduced to Louis XIV furniture, and traveled frequently to Sweden, where Gustavian pieces attracted him even more. "They were pared down, and had a modern touch," says the designer. But the far more humble "cowboy houses" that he made and decorated as child-and then sold to friends-were the early indicators of his chosen profession.
A devotee of Mies van der Rohe, Louis Kahn and the English architect James Stirling, Montoya admits an affinity, too, for French design luminaries from the 20s, 30s and 40s, including Jean-Michel Frank, Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann and Paul Dupre La Font. "I was greatly influenced by their use of leather and parchment, and the detail work in metals like steel," says Montoya. He also admires the colors of Wassily Kandinsky and Josef Albers, "who explored the relation of people to color."
It tracks, then, that Montoya's style is redefined by each client's taste and room space. Yet there's always his signature look: clean, never full, never predictable. Objects are chosen and carefully placed to achieve a balance that is classic, almost formal. "My favorite design era is the 1940s," he says, because it was an era when people chose to dress up."
Juan Montoya Design Corporation
330 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022