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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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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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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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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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Farmers

Farmers

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For those who live in San Francisco, we have the year-round weekly pleasure of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Smaller markets are also open on Tuesdays and Thursdays but spending an early Saturday morning perched on the edge of the San Francisco Bay is truly a delightful way to begin your day.

The Farmers Market is a sensory joy. It is a composition of locally grown fruits, vegetables, and flowers not to mention mouthwatering homemade cheeses, breads and jams. One will also savor the aromatic artisan street food trucks and local restaurants serving delicious hot meals.

Whether shopping for your produce amongst the San Francisco chefs, buying fresh flowers for your home, or taking in a meal, the experience as a whole is always memorable and inspiring.  The colors alone are inspiration for decorating any room!

For those of you who visit San Francisco, please be sure to allow yourself time to walk along the Embarcadero and take in the decadent sensations of the Farmers Market!

http://www.ferrybuildingmarketplace.com/farmers_market.php

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