Max Clendinning has reached an age—90—when to be cold-called by a journalist on a Thursday afternoon must feel as natural as breathing. "Are you in London?" the architect and designer wants to know. Regretfully, the caller is across the Atlantic, and can't pop by Clendinning's near-fabled Victorian house in Islington, filled with giddy-making artifacts that he and his partner, Ralph Adron, an artist and theatrical designer, have constructed, collected, and arranged over several decades. As far as one can tell from photos, the effect is of a luxury acid trip with smart, clear-headed docents.