Monica and Walter Noel hailed from Greenwich, CT. They had purchased a giant home called Discovery. It looked like a set from a James Bond movie á la the reign of Roger Moore. The bedroom had open construction walls and a pool in it that connected directly into the living room, providing a convenient view. The Noels knocked it down and constructed a palapa in its place, called Yemenjá. It expressed Monica’s Brazilian heritage. The name Yemenjá originates from the Brazilian Goddess of the ocean and motherhood. This home was meant to be their big, showpiece vacation place and it was a giant property even for Mustique.

I had met Monica at Linda de Pecciotto’s opening night party at Ocean Breeze. The party turned out to be not only a fabulously fun and exciting night for both Linda and I, but the best possible advertisement for my work that I could ever have hoped for. There were certain pieces that I still hear about from people, which they found unforgettable upon seeing them that night. In particular people were stunned by the pair of mirrors I commissioned for the dining room, they were by an artist in Paris who crafted them out of black muscle shells dipped in pewter, which were a tasteful interpretation on traditional shell mirrors. They were really stunning and people couldn’t quite get over them.

One of the guests whose interest was piqued by my design flourishes was Monica. She immediately inquired through Linda about working with me. Linda, who was always generous when it came to sharing resources and was incredibly supportive of my career, put us in touch. At the time I was still working with Peter Marino and that turned out to be not the best fit for Monica and Walter. However, when I was ready to go out on my own several years later, Monica was the first person I talked to and she immediately brought me on to complete Yemenjá.

She had made a rather heroic attempt to design it herself, but a 50,000 square foot resort home that sleeps eighteen is a challenge even for a seasoned pro. As this was my first big project on my own, I was glad that it wasn’t also my first job on Mustique as I might have lost my mind. Designing on Mustique is akin to designing on another planet so at least I had some of the basics down, but Yemenjá would bring its own unique challenges to the table.

The house is not only immense but it’s on a steep incline. They hired an architect called Manolo Mestre who I had known for years. The moment Monica ‘introduced’ us was pretty hilarious as we immediately ran to each other and gave each other a giant hug. It seemed like incredible serendipity that they would have hired him.

Because she had been decorating the house by herself, Monica had already made a number of purchases. Monica has excellent taste and had chosen some great pieces that we were able to work into my specific vision for the villa. I became known as the “furniture butcher” for my reinventions of the existing pieces. This has since become one of my very favorite things to do. See this post for some tips on how you can do a little “furniture execution” of your own!

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