Friday, June 20, 2014

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Several years ago we had the pleasure of working with Matthew Patrick Smyth on a review of his, then, new book, "Living Traditions:  Interiors by Matthew Patrick Smyth."  We were instantly taken by his down-to-earth demeanor and gentlemanly charm.  Since that initial meeting, Matthew has become a friend that we ring for lunch or dinner whenever we're in New York.  A few months ago we ran into each other at the New York Botanical Garden's Antique Fair, and he asked when we were going to start blogging again.  Unbeknownst to him, we had been toying with the idea of starting up again, and his unsolicited question was the light we needed to get our fireworks off the ground.  So, it's only fitting that the first post for the re-launch of Bubble & Squeak should be with Matthew, and his dream retreat in the Dingle Peninsula on the West coast of Ireland.  Bubble & Squeak sat down with Matthew recently to discuss Irish cottages, Gloria Vanderbilt, and his underwear...  Enjoy!

 no. 1 - Dingle Peninsula

Bubble & Squeak:  You have homes in New York City, Connecticut, and Paris.  In which do you feel most "at home"?

Matthew Patrick Smyth:  I feel most at home in NYC as I was born here and this is where my life functions at it's fullest.  But, Paris is a close runner up. Two very different cities but they balance each other in a way that suits me fine.

B&S:  Your retreat is in the Dingle Peninsula of Ireland.  So, what about the Emerald Isle captures your imagination?  

MPS:  It's officially my other county as I have dual citizenship.  My family comes from Ireland and it's very familiar to me...the faces, attitudes, contrasts.  I love the West Coast and it's dramatic coast line, landscapes and challenging weather.  Ireland is not as well known to me as England and France so there is more to discover which is part of its allure and mystery.  The Dingle Peninsula has always fascinated me since I saw David Lean's movie, "Ryan's Daughter", in high school.  I re-watch it every couple of years. 

B&S:  Having two passports must make you feel a little like James Bond?  Except your saving the world from bad chevron throw pillows and tab-top drapery.

MPS:  Yes, it comes in handy!

B&S:  So you're in the cottage, the candles are lit, you’ve been planning the dinner menu for weeks, the table is perfectly set, and there’s a knock at the door...  Who's coming to dinner?

MPS:  Gloria Vanderbilt!  She has great energy, enthusiasm and lives very much in the moment.  She is the most creative person I know.  Her stories are fascinating and, if lucky, she sings...  She knows every word to every Cole Porter song ever written.

B&S:  And what would you serve?

MPS:  Dinner would be simple.  Gloria recently mentioned in an interview with the Financial Times that her favorite meal is angel-hair pasta "mixed with kale, a can of petit pois, some crumbled bacon, shredded carrot, red pepper and olive oil."  I would just follow her recipe.  Why experiment with perfection?

B&S:  And I'm sure you'd save a seat for Anderson Cooper too, just in case...

B&S:  Many designers have a personal aesthetic different than what they would pull together for a client.  Would any of your clients appreciate your Dingle cottage?

MPS:  I think they would appreciate the photos! Many would get the simplicity which seems to be the common tread we are all dealing with to some degree in one way or another.  Most would understand the reason of why I am there.  

B&S:  Any great designer knows that music creates atmosphere.  What is your go-to mood maker album?

MPS:  Other than Gloria Vanderbilt singing Cole Porter, the soundtrack to Ascenseur Pour L'Échafaud.  It's Miles Davis at his best, recorded in Paris in 1958.

B&S:  There are two kinds of people when it comes to firewood (or peat logs in your case)... those who cut their own and those who don't. Does Matthew Patrick Smyth cut his own peat logs?

MPS: Matthew likes the idea that he is supporting a professional log cutting person, who neatly stacks, in doing what they love to do! I do not believe in cutting into someone else's livelihood, especially when an axe is involved.

B&S:  Lastly, Matthew, the design community is all a-buzz with one important question. While at the cabin, boxers or briefs?

MPS:  Boxers.... 

no. 1 - Dingle cottage
no. 2 - Dingle traffic jam
 no. 1 - Batting down the thatches
no. 2 - Traditional lime-washed facade
 no. 1 - Blackthorn Shillelagh walking stick, a centuries old Irish icon
no. 2 - 18th century Georgian entry
no. 3 - Carved mahogany walking stick
 no. 1 - 19th century mirrored candle sconce
no. 2 - 16th century drawing room inglenook
 no. 1 - Matthew Patrick Smyth's Connecticut home
no. 2 - Textiles by Matthew Patrick Smyth for F. Schumcher & Co.
no. 3 - 18th century Irish mahogany drop leaf wake table
 no. 1 - Kitchen window ledge with brass candlesticks, c. 1830
no. 2 - Irish brass eight-arm chandelier, c. 1880
no. 3 - 19th century Irish poplar kitchen cabinet
 no. 1 - Unpainted beams and architectural supports
no. 2 - Studio Donegal hand-woven undulating twill blanket
no. 1 - White glazed terra cotta bath tub with wood surround, c. 1728
no. 2 - Irish Georgian marble-top console table with claw and ball feet, c. 1770

Matthew Patrick Smyth
136 E. 57th Street, Ste. 901
New York, NY  10022

A special thank you to Matthew for giving us the shove we needed to get back in the game.  And for reminding us that its not the money, or the fame, or the number of subscribers we have that keeps us blogging, but that the friendships we make along the way is why we do what we do.


  1. Fantastic interview. I know MPS quite well and this conversation opened my eyes about him. Nice to have a new blog to follow. Many thanks.

  2. Adore Matthew, what a super interview, I enjoyed learning more about him. I am one of your newest followers and love your site!

    The Arts by Karena