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Departure For Design In The Desert

April 28, 1985|JILL FLYNN

The hottest news in the desert these days is a blending of styles--a movement akin to the sophisticated, eclectic mix often associated with urban living. Although it may come as a surprise to some, traditional European designs can indeed blend into desert surroundings as easily as the more-often-seen "desert contemporary" styles.

Joe Ruggiero, director of creative services of the Ethan Allen Co., calls this new resort style "the American look--a look that draws from many traditions and heritages: English, French, Oriental, Spanish, American Southwest and, of course, contemporary."

"I like this mix," Ruggiero says, "because it gives me great joy to sit down in a room full of things that have been collected over a period of years. When everything matches or is of similar character, individuality is often edged out by monotonous repetition."

In this spacious living-dining room, the core of a luxurious condominium in the recently opened, gate-guarded community of Rancho Mirage Country Club, Ruggiero puts the American look into an easy-to-live-with perspective. Elegant furniture from Ethan Allen's Country French collection establishes a center for entertaining. A large, glass-fronted buffet is filled with floral porcelain dinnerware. The dining table, covered with a blue-and-white windowpane-check fabric (all fabrics are by Ethan Allen), is set for a midday gathering. Visible beyond the natural-colored vertical blinds are a patio, a spa and a golf course.

In the living area, Ethan Allen's upholstered contemporary furnishings (armless chairs and chaise, ottoman and two love seats connected by a corner chair) mix splendidly with a Country French armchair and coffee table. Four-foot-high, contemporary-art collages from Winn-I.C.W. Gallery, Los Angeles, are dramatic accents for the high-angled ceiling.

"The secret to the continuity throughout this entire condominium is color," says Ruggiero, who chose soft pastels and clear, neutral tones because of their cool qualities and easy-on-the-eye ambiance. Another unifying factor is Royalweave's Bora Bora carpeting (made of Du Pont Antron nylon), which matches the sand-colored walls--a simple, clean-looking background that seems to intensify the colors in the out-of-doors.

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