Animalia

Animalia

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The 2016 San Francisco Fall Art and Antiques Show (SFFAS) celebrated its 35th year with a refreshing sense of design, beauty and whimsy.

This year’s fanciful theme of ‘Animalia’ took us back in time to remind us of mankind’s documented allure and fascination of the animal kingdom.   Derived from the Latin word ‘animalis’, animalia translates in part to ‘having soul’.  How fitting to apply this definition to art and antiques which I always refer to as such - ‘having soul’.  These pieces have a story, a history and perhaps most importantly, unique charm.  Animals, in any form of decoration, invoke an immediate sense of character to a room!

Since the beginning of civilization, creators of any sort have been captivated with the animal kingdom and have expressed this in almost every medium imaginable - from stone carvings to pottery to wood carving to canvas, just to name a few.   These influences are evident in art and antiques, from antiquities to the contemporary.

De Gournay wallcoverings and Farrow & Ball paint, both generous sponsors of the SFFAS, enhanced the feel of the show in the most magical way.  The Grand Entry Hall once again displayed designer vignettes created by Catherine Kwong, Ann Getty, Antonio Martins and Jonathan Rachman. Each of these vignette’s walls were adorned by custom desgined De Gournay wallcoverings.  In fact, my cover photo is that of Antonio Martins’ bespoke design with de Gournay of the exotic Brazilian mangrove jungle.   Divine!

In the horizon, each antique or art dealer seleceted a Farrow & Ball paint color for their own vignettes creating a subliminal sense of continuity yet a diverse color palatte.  It was stricking to see the power of paint and color as it relates to how art and antiques come to life in a space.

The SFFAS Lecture Series, as always, was a design dream.  Lectures and discussions included guest speakers such as Peter Pennoyer and Katie Ridder, James Reginato, David Netto, Chara Schreyer and Gary Hutton, Suzanne Rheinstein, Madeline StuartSteven Volpe and Carl J. Dellatore, and Janice Lyle

The annual Institute of Classical Architecture and Art’s (ICAA) Northern California Chapter Lunch and Lecture, held on Designer Saturday, honored the inimatble New York decorator Alexa Hampton.  Her lecture following the luncheon, entitled ‘Decorating with Art, Antiques and People’ left us all laughing somewhat uncontrollably!  Alexa is a delight beyond words and we were honored to have her visit San Francisco.

Parties and events were abundant, shopping was inspiring and a wonderful time was had by all.  Already anticipating what 2017 will bring, I hope you enjoy the 2016 show!

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Blanche P. Field

Blanche P. Field

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Much of the joy of decorating is having the ability to design bespoke items for a client’s home.  It’s these custom details, along with the layering of one of a kind items - often vintage or antique - that create rooms that are unique, timeless and a simply a pleasure to experience.

One of my absolute favorite custom finishing touches comes in the form of lampshades.  Custom lampshades on beautiful lamps make an immeasurable difference in the feel of a room.  They can be incredibly modern, transitional or traditional, but no matter what genre a custom shade is, it is exceptional!

Lisa Simkin, of Blanche P. Field in New York City, is truly a master at designing such exquisite shades. Blanch P. Field, a Boston based company, purchased the business from Ruth Vitow in New York.  Mrs. Vitow worked until the day she died at the age of 102.  She was a milliner who applied her skill to lampshades.  Clearly a craft Lisa has embraced.

Lisa oversees six ladies sewing by hand, one lady electrician and one lady expediter – girl power to say the least and all ‘Hand-Made In The USA’.  In New York that is!   The wire frames are made to order and carefully sized to a lamp.  Shade materials include everything from fine pongee or habutai silk, linen, cotton, Hermès silk scarves or a client’s own material that may match the scheme of a room.  Fabric shades can have box pleats, reverse box pleats, knife pleats, smocking, shirring and twisted trim or tape detailing on the top and bottom.  Pops of color are always remarkably successful.  They can also be pierced paper, laminate or string shades.  The options are truly boundless – these are just to name a few!

Lisa has an innate sense of style and fashion that she applies directly to her shades.  Her vision when she sees couture fashion instantly translates into a fabulous lampshade.  And she treats lampshades as such – couture fashion.  Lisa perfects the scale and shape that best fit a lamp likening it to a dress that fits the body gracefully or a hat that frames the face.

Enjoy this visit to her workroom to observe firsthand how the stunning shades you see in magazine spreads and design books are made by hand.  You will notice a collection of grey sconce shades that were on their way to Bergdorf’s chandeliers.  You will also find photos of shades for my Master Bedroom, currently in production, with a ‘box pleat - pinch every other pleat (in contrasting blue thread!)’.  And most irresistible is that sweet little girl Gigi who is as comfortable as can be at her Blanche P. Field home!

http://www.blanchefield.com

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Cuban Style

Cuban Style

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Cuba’s rich and vast architectural history shows us how thoughtfully stylized almost every aspect of its design is.  There is an overwhelming feeling that can be defined by the word ‘ornate’ – even if in a modest way.  No matter what the influence may be -  Spanish Colonial, Moorish , Beaux Arts , Art Nouveau, Art Deco or Mid-Century Modern – it is highly sophisticated and detailed in its language.  Although in many places the structures are truly crumbling, the wealth and culture of decades gone by is still wondrously preserved.

The prevalent pattern of arches and columns is expansive in either the most simple or the most elaborate of classical forms.   Amongst the arched structures are images of the spectacular Catalan-vaulted brick and terra-cotta mazes of theaters and tunnels called the ‘Instituto Superior de Arte’, or the Cuban National Arts Schools.  This school for the arts was conceived and built by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in the early 1960’s but quickly fell out of favor by 1965 with the Russian influence and has been abandoned ever since.

This mindful Cuban design is evident throughout the island – as seen in intricately carved stonework and woodwork, Lalique glass panels and sconces, vibrant Caribbean color, beautiful doors, those fabulous 1950’s cars, stained glass transoms, and endless balconies and stair rails with elaborately molded ironwork.  Also notice the influence of the bat, considered to be good luck in Cuban mythology and embraced by the Bacardi family.  However, the bat in the Colon Cemetery is considered bad luck as one is not to go to a cemetery at night when the bats fly!

Once again, I will let the images portray the experience of visiting Cuba far better than words so please enjoy the stylized detail.  And a special thank you to Chas Miller, Executive Director of the Soane Foundation, for sharing a few of his beautiful photos!

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Cuba

Cuba

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My recent trip to Cuba was nothing less than enriching as it instantly exposed the almost secret opulence of a preserved and rich cultural history. The Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation’s trip to Cuba was as wonderful as I can imagine a tour to be.   Chas Miller, the Foundation’s Executive Director, along with our wonderful Cuban guide Abel, diligently led us through Cuba visiting places that not many others can see. We were also so fortunate to have Tom Kligerman, who serves as President of the Soane Foundation, on our trip as he shared with us his architectural expertise and fascination of this magical island.

The Cuban people are proud of their country. During the 18th century, Cuba became the world’s largest sugar producer after achieving great wealth from its rich soil and sugarcane plantations. Cities such as Havana were filled with elegant stone mansions and exuberant palaces. Having endured several revolutions, it resumed its independence and wealth to later become known as the ‘jewel in the Caribbean crown’.

The island is literally a time capsule - it’s as if the clock stopped moving in 1960 upon the United States imposing the embargo against Cuba. The ubiquitous colorful 1950’s cars on the streets, the flea-market find vintage tableware at restaurants, and the very obvious lack of technology make one feel they are back in time over five decades ago.

The splendor of Cuba in its heyday between 1902 and 1959, is still very obvious beneath the crumbling facades of both interiors and exteriors. The classical architecture is pure – deteriorating but still in its original form with its integrity never having been compromised.  Breath taking examples of such architecture exists with Beaux Arts buildings, Moorish, Art Nouveau and Art Deco influences, and then the beginnings of modernism, which are all prevalent. Not having freedom or money for so many decades has in a very twisted way preserved a magnificent island.

The natural beauty, architecture, culture, food, music and the rich history make for an extraordinary Caribbean island to visit. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves now. You will get a quick taste of the beauty of Cuba!

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Christmas in New York

Christmas in New York

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No matter the number of gridlock alert days, New Yorkers and tourists alike will forever be bedazzled by the sheer creativity of the holiday season.

The lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is an annual tradition dating back 83 years that instantly kicks off the holiday festivities for the entire city. Surrounded by the beautiful Herald Angels and many ice skaters below it, this may be the most special Christmas tree in the world.

Breathtaking store window installations by the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, Tiffany & Co. and the legendary Bergforf Goodman to name a few, provide both visual and musical entertainment with countless Instagram posts. Madison and Fifth Avenues have become a time-honored tradition of miles of opulent eye candy with each year seemingly more ambitious than the previous.

In fact, two of Barneys’ ‘Chillin’ Out’ windows have been transformed to be actual walk-in freezers for ice-carvers chipping away at a variety of themed ice sculptures while Tiffany’s has themed it’s windows on the 19th Century including dressing the exterior of the building in a glamorous light show ‘jewel’ based on the Tiffany diamond’s exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair.

Possibly the most fabulous windows of all, are those of Bergdorf’s who has partnered this year with Swarovski to create truly sparkling vignettes using seven million Swarovski crystals (and thousands of token pearls) titled ‘Brilliant Holiday’.

Also enjoy the reflections in some of the windows in the photos. You’ll see St. Patrick’s Cathedral and The Plaza Hotel. A walk up or down Fifth Avenue in December, especially at night when the crowds have dispersed, is promised to bring holiday cheer. After all, ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year’!

Wishing you a happy, peaceful and beautiful holiday with much joy in the New Year!

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San Francisco Fall Antiques Show

San Francisco Fall Antiques Show

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The 34th annual San Francisco Fall Antiques Show (SFFAS) in October was an exquisite visual feast while at the same time an opportunity to experience firsthand the theme ‘Time After Time: Bringing the Past Present’.

The show, truly one of the most beautiful in the country, displayed collections of antiques, art, photographs, jewelry, porcelain, silver, rugs and textiles (amongst many other things!) from purveyors around the world. The theme of ‘Bringing the Past Present’ could not have been more relevant as it showcased how all of these treasures spanning centuries of time are perfectly fitting in today’s interiors bringing with them a chic and unique sense of timelessness, history and soul.

Show Chair Suzanne Tucker and Show Director Ariane Trimuschat were at the helm of this monumental event enjoying a smashing Opening Night Preview Gala followed by a well deserved sense of resurging success and excitement throughout the show. It should be noted that the proceeds of the show benefit the San Francisco non-profit Enterprise for High School Students which assists local high school students in employment and higher education.

The Designer Vignettes also made an exciting return to the Grand Entry Hall after a respite of many years with spaces designed by Fisher Weisman, Geoffrey De Sousa and me. The dramatic shingled pergola structure was designed by Ike, Kligerman, Barkley (IKB) while the interior walls of all three vignettes were spectacular custom designs by each of the designers and very generously handmade by de Gournay.

My vignette can be seen with the pink de Gournay 'Flowered Damask' wall covering which is based on an 18th Century English textile pattern that we greatly enlarged to create a more modern feel.  The stencil type pattern is then painted on paper using a special technique which creates a bas-relief (raised) effect after which it is silver leafed and finally antiqued with a rose wash.  With a graphic glossy white and grey painted floor by Stancil Studios, and borrowed antiques and art from dealers at the show, the space transcends the test of time.

In addition to exhibiting such magical antiques and art, SFFAS offered inspiring lectures by the likes of Bunny Williams and Brian McCarthy who shared fascinating stories of their years working for the venerable decorating firm of Parish-Hadley per their new book entitled ‘The Parish-Hadley Tree of Life’. Other wonderful lecturers included Hutton Wilkinson, Manfred Kuhnert, Andrew Price, Count Gonzague Saint Bris, and Jeffrey Wiseman.

Along with designing the Grand Entry Hall black shingled structure, IKB was also honored by the Northern California Chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art (ICAA) at their annual Designer Saturday Lunch and Lecture event. After the wonderful lunch, John Ike, Tom Kligerman and Joel Barkley delighted us all with a spirited panel discussion moderated by Chapter President Coby Everdell on their stunning new book ‘The New Shingled House’.

All in all, it was a fabulous few shopping days for anyone seeking decorative arts inspiration! I’m already looking forward to the 2016 SFFAS!

 

NOTE: Photo below of the three vignettes taken by Tom Kligerman.

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Christopher Spitzmiller

Christopher Spitzmiller

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The making of a lamp, by Christopher Spitzmiller, is an art form in which he creates timeless heirloom-quality pieces of decorating history. Christopher’s lamps are seen in the most casual to the most elegant of rooms, including the Oval Office, adding a touch of modern that is successful in any setting imaginable. In unique shapes with the most saturated gem-like glazed colors, there truly are no other lamps like his.

Most interesting is the 6-8 week long process in which these sculptural and luminous ceramic lamps are made, all happening with a team of skilled artisans in his loft studio on the 17th floor of a West 35th Street industrial building. Christopher was kind enough to ‘throw’ a new lamp to show me how it all starts.

Sitting at his wheel, he begins with a mass of earthenware clay. As a traditional potter does, he ‘throws’ the clay until it takes the shape and form he desires. Once he is satisfied, the piece is set to dry. In this case, producing a new lamp that is comprised of two separate pieces which are later combined to create the lamp form. He uses tools of different types, including a ubiquitous fork, to trim the pieces before they are left to be dried.

After drying, the ceramic lamps are sent to be fired in a 2000 degree bisque kiln before being glazed. The glaze is not paint – it is a liquid comprised of minerals and silicates that gives them their magical radiance. Following the glazing process, they are fired a second time in a glaze firing. Even the 2” square sample chips are made using this process.

The lamp Christopher is making is intended to be a model that will be used to create a plaster mold from which the majority of their lamps are made.   A lamp is typically only thrown to be a one-off design or a model for the mold.

Once the ceramic glazed base is complete, each one is individually fit for a hand carved hardwood base in the wood shop. The carved base is either water gilt in 23k yellow gold or 9k white gold for a silver finish, stained in mahogany or finished in black lacquer by one of their artists after which it is paired with its partner lamp. It then awaits the gentleman who wires the lamp. All lamps are made to order so each one is unique. Choices include color, base finish, electrical fittings and cord colors (including red or blue twisted silk!).

Christopher has recently expanded his prolific collection to include tableware and decorative accessories. He is truly an artist. Whatever it is he creates, it is iconic and a treasure that will surely endure the test of time.

www.christopherspitzmiller.com

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ICAA at McEvoy Ranch

ICAA at McEvoy Ranch

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The Northern California chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art recently had the pleasure of spending a glorious summer day at the McEvoy Ranch in Petaluma, CA. We savored a private tour of the sprawling 550 acre ranch owned by the estate of the late Nan Tucker McEvoy. Zoned strictly for agriculture, Nan’s vision in her retirement was inspired by her love of Tuscan olive oil and despite the reported challenges of producing olive oil in Marin County, she planted over 1000 olive seedlings (imported from Tuscany) which have since become a small portion of a now prolific olive oil orchard.

Our first stop was at the Frantoio for an olive oil tasting along with a tour of the agricultural center of the ranch where the harvests are produced by Italian machinery. We then strolled through the olive and grape orchards to the Main House where Nan lived. The house was tastefully filled with everything from chinoiserie treasures and antiques found in a old barn on the property to her fabulous art collection to a chandelier in the main stair made from one of her favorite trees that had been blown down in a storm.

Following beautiful paths and gardens, we then found our way to The Victorian which was an old building on the ranch relocated and rebuilt so Nan could have ‘A fanciful room where the kids can bring their sleeping bags, hang out and watch a movie.’ Also used for entertaining, you’ll see a special edition Elton John red lacquer piano and a cabinet painted by the artist Wayne Thiebaud.

Finally we arrived at the fantasy Chinese Pavilion for a specially prepared lunch accompanied by of course, a refreshing McEvoy ‘Rosebud’ Rosé. Nan, who loved to serve rosé for lunch, wanted a ‘pavilion where we could have a lunch or a party – an olive oil lunch’. Again seeing the influence of chinoiserie, the use of wood planks, rustic metal, and a mosaic stone floor are all indicative of a ranch where a country carpenter would have had such materials easily accessible.

Our day ended on a delicious note at a wine tasting of the wonderful McEvoy (award winning) ‘The Evening Standard’ Pinot Noir and the ‘Red Piano’ proprietary blend. And at the gift shop, splurging on the products of the ranch was simply irresistible.

Lastly, you will see the adorning influence of the ‘Red Throated Blue Tailed Skink’ – also known as a lizard. Once indigenous to the property, Nan’s grandchildren used to have such fun catching and playing with them. Now rare to find in nature, they are preserved throughout as shall we say, the family ‘mascot’.

This eclectic cumulation of buildings and details on the ranch were designed and built over a span of two decades by a collective of architects, decorators, craftspeople and artisans all of whom were led by Nan’s whimsical and adventurous spirit.  Everywhere we turned we were reminded of the serendipity of Nan – truly the ‘best of yesterday and the best of today’. Enjoy the tour!

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Barbara Israel

Barbara Israel

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One perfect June summer night, my fellow Bunny Williams colleague Jonathan Preece and I attended garden antiques collector Barbara Israel’s 30th Anniversary Celebration on the grounds of her almost six acre rambling country property.   The evening garden party was as beautiful as can be – the sun beginning to set in the distance over the Hudson River casting sumptuous light upon the gardens and trees, tables with hors d’oeuvres, cocktails and bouquets of country flowers scattered amidst the gardens, with enchanting garden sculptures, benches, urns and antiques everywhere you turned. Barbara even thoughtfully stashed a miniature figurine display of the fairy tale story depicting the festival of the summer solstice at Midsummer’s Eve under a tree, only to be discovered by the wondering guests.

Barbara Israel Garden Antiques is located in Katonah, New York on her home’s property where the by-appointment only ‘showroom’ is literally a strolling tour of the woodland gardens.   Her business started in 1985 as she adventurously purchased an entire lot of 40 garden statuary pieces from the private estate sale of Adele Lovett in Locust Valley, Long Island. Lovett’s husband, the late Robert A. Lovett, was Harry Truman’s Secretary of Defense. With that single purchase, a career was launched! She has since passionately collected 15th through 20th century garden antiques from the United States, Europe and Asia for decades and is truly the leading expert in this unique decorative field.

Also adorning the property is Barbara’s house which is a nineteenth century Hudson Valley clapboard farmhouse wrapped with an inviting porch anchored by floor-to-ceiling double hung windows. The oval drive approaching the house is aptly named the Sugar Maple Circle, lined with magnificent old trees.   Aside from the Formal Garden dating back to the early 20th century, and rumored to have been designed by the famed Olmstad Brothers firm, there is an Allée, a Woodland Retreat, a Rose Garden, a Display Garden and an Orchard. The property has several follies including two playhouses. All in all, it is truly a magical experience to visit Barbara’s much loved home and garden.

Click here for more info

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Penn & Fletcher

Penn & Fletcher

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Much of the joy of what I do as a decorator is being able to work with extraordinary artisans and craftspeople. From upholstery and curtain workrooms, to metal fabricators, to wood carvers, the level of creativity and skill is always astounding. One of my absolute favorite workrooms is Penn & Fletcher in Long Island City, New York.

Penn & Fletcher is an embroidery atelier founded in 1986. Most of their work is commissioned by interior designers such as Bunny Williams, Charlotte Moss, Ellie Cullman and the late Albert Hadley however they also apply their sewing techniques to costumes for the Rockettes, Broadway shows, opera, ballet and film.   These techniques include applique, crewel, flat stitching, and ribbon work to name a few.

Interior designers in particular collaborate with Penn & Fletcher (Ernie, Alex and Evelyn) to create custom designed patterns and stitches for the most magnificent curtain borders, bed canopies, upholstery, pillows and the like. Inspiration for these patterns can be derived from just about anything. Their showroom is an endless array of samples, patterns, threads and inspiration. Much time and care is devoted to the research and development of each design.

Patterns are computer generated using proprietary software versions of Photoshop and Illustrator. They are then sent to the art department where the printed patterns are transferred to vellum using a perforating machine, fluorescent (cleanable) wax and black light.

The complex stitching is then done by either multi-head machines, hand-guided machines or simply by hand, depending on the type of stitches desired. The more intricate patterns can be produced using multiple techniques. Laser cutting is yet another process used for creating appliques.

Although very much made by hand by using centuries old processes, this embroidery is extremely technical and can also be done on elaborate state of the art machines. The result is always the same though - an extraordinary bespoke detail that will last for generations to come!

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Musée Picasso

Musée Picasso

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The much anticipated reopening of the Musée Picasso Paris in 2014 is incredibly impressive.   For the last five years, a museum I had become enamored with over a decade ago has undergone a tumultuous renovation that is an artistic drama in and of itself. The museum’s public space almost tripled to 58,000 square feet, it’s budget virtually doubled to $70 million, and with allegations of mismanagement and dissent, museum directors were shockingly dismissed. Although the completion was delayed for years, it was still all worth the wait and hopefully the melodrama has all been forgotten!

Located in the Hôtel Salé, the gallery is one of the finest 17th century Baroque mansions in the Marais district of Paris.   Welcomed by an expansive interior courtyard and upon entering the fine Parisian house, one can see the interior architectural detail is as curious and beautiful as the art it houses. With four stories of small rooms, a vaulted ceiling basement and a loft like attic floor with exposed beams for Picasso’s personal collection, the experience of the building and its contents are truly a visual feast.

The Musée Picasso collection originated as a series of donations to the State from his heirs in lieu of paying inheritance tax upon his death in 1973. It was also Picasso’s request to his heirs that his personal collection be given to the State. Included in his self-curated collection are pieces he owned by other artists whom he admired including Degas, Cézanne, Miró, Matisse and Henri Rousseau amongst others.

As Picasso proclaimed himself to be the ‘the greatest collector of Picassos in the world’, the museum’s vast compilation of his archives contains over 200,000 paintings, sculptures, ceramics, prints and drawings with thousands of works from all of these techniques, mediums and periods of his life on display. It is almost impossible to begin to describe the significance of the collection.

An additional bonus to the museum is its collection of 50 pieces of furniture and lighting designed by the Swiss sculptor Diego Giacometti. He had been selected by the museum director upon it’s opening in 1985 to create cohesive furnishings as a link between Picasso’s 20th century art forms and the intricacy of the 1659 Baroque Hôtel Salé in which they would reside. The bronze pieces are amusing and delicate with references to nature as evidenced by the animals and tulips in the lighting.

For anyone traveling to Paris, this should most definitely be on the ‘must see’ list of things to do. The Musée Picasso is far more than just a museum – it is many layers of historic art and architecture that leaves one feeling truly saturated with French culture!

http://www.museepicassoparis.fr/en/

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Gilded

Gilded

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While strolling the streets and taking in the sights of Paris and London, one cannot help but notice the lavish brightly shining gilded ornamentation that is fit for a King or Queen.  It's a gilding that exudes royalty and extravagance, be it old or new.  Not only found on architectural elements, gilding is brought inside and detailed on furniture.  I always love a little gold in a room - be it gilding or brass. It adds a layer of patina in what feels like history.  It's shine is pleasing to the eye and inevitably makes that piece more special.  Royalty!

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Rouge

Rouge

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Rouge (Red)

In this month of Valentine’s Day, red is the color we see so much of. ‘Red,’ as the legendary Vogue fashion editor Diana Vreeland once proclaimed, ‘is the great clarifier - bright, cleansing, revealing. It makes all colors beautiful. I can't imagine being bored with it. It would be like becoming tired of the person you love.’ Bill Blass once advised, ‘when in doubt, wear red.’ It has also been said that every room needs a bit of red. This could be a glossy red doors, a pillow or a chair, lampshades, or simply flowers – at the very least, a touch. We love the utterly timeless library for Brooke Astor in which Albert Hadley mastered red lacquer bookcases with brass detailing. Whatever your interpretation of red is, it is surely confident and empowering!

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McMillen Inc.

McMillen Inc.

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The New York School of Interior Design (NYSID), recently presented a fascinating and inspiring collection of photographs, renderings, watercolors and archival materials entitled ‘McMillen Inc.: Nine Decades of Interior Design.’

McMillen Inc., our country’s oldest, and possibly most significant, decorating firm has catered to the tastes of clients such as Doris Duke, Henry Ford II, Babe Paley, President and Mrs. Lyndon Johnson and more recently, Carl Ichan and Paul Allen. In addition to being a decorator of choice for successful business leaders, celebrities and prominent families for the last 90 years, McMillen has trained some of America’s most influential decorators, most notably Albert Hadley and Mark Hampton.

McMillen Inc. was founded by Eleanor McMillen Brown. Within a few years it was a full service decorating firm taking great pride in its high level of professionalism and the design education of its decorators. For a Victorian lady, Eleanor had a great vision of what the business of decorating should be and to a large degree shaped the profession as we know it today. The firm has since been led by Betty Sherrill for over forty years and is currently run by her daughter Ann Pyne.

The following photos I have taken are just a small sampling of the exhibit at NYSID and include the extraordinary collection of original watercolors of interiors from the firm’s vast archives.   It is obvious that McMillen’s design philosophy begins with the traditional vernacular and quickly transcends to become timelessly modern.

“There is nothing more trite than a set period – any antique period bought intact for today’s living. But, by the same token, a contemporary house that ignores all vestiges of the past in order to express a purely modern philosophy runs the risk of becoming a stagnant document of its own time.” – Eleanor McMillen Brown, Sixty Years of Interior Design

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Floored

Floored

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The visual stimulation at the Musee du Louvre is beyond description – it's simply in every direction one looks.   I couldn’t help but look down though.  The miles of floors are timeless and simply beautiful.  They are subtle patterns and layouts of hardwood or more graphic designs of stone.  All of these are inspirational either to reproduce literally on floors or even bath walls, or more figuratively through painting or stained stenciling.  And who doesn't love an elongated hexagon pattern!  (notice the Gothic arch at the stair!)

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