Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Inspiration Rooms : A Study in Symmetry.

This room makes me want to say 'thank you, may I please have another'.  On the surface, it has all the things I love: Chinoiserie, sconces, chandeliers, french furniture (though I'm also a fan of English and American furniture as well). a beautifully proportioned room, but the feature it possesses that I think is the most admirable is it's use of symmetry.  Louis XV pier mirrors over Regence iron consoles flank the mantelpiece in matched harmony.  The Louis XV bureau plat is surrounded by Cresson bergeres that radiate out from the corners (a rather novel idea that serves to open up the defined conversational areas of the room), clusters of seating balance each other visually.  Symmetry gives a calming effect, and even when it is asymmetry at play, it is the balance in form and mass that give the effect of tranquility.

- Ian

Blue Room by Benjamin F. Garber and William C. Kennedy. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Budda Desk Tray for Your Zen Moment.

I saw this while out shopping and fell for it.  It's so elegant and has the feeling of an antique from the early 20th/late 19th century.  The Buddha's robes flow into ripples that surround him, creating a pool like effect.  Perfect for placing your pens and paper clips in plain sight.  I love the contrast between the golden jewelry and the bronze finish, too.  Such an attention grabbing piece.

- Ian
Buddha desk trya from L'objet.  Retails for 395.00.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fortuny by L'Objet.

You all know how I j'adore all things Fortuny.  So imagine how giddy I became when I was walking through Neiman Marcus and saw the new collection from L'Objet that features Fortuny's designs on table wear and home accessories.  Tidbit trays, bowls, boxes, decanters, coaster and glasses are all embellished with golden prints of his original textile designs over earthenware colored with the organic hues he loved so much.  Consider this entry level Fortuny.  If you can't dress your windows in it, then how about your cocktail table or night stand?  It doesn't take much to make something special happen.

- Ian

I love the little boxes and those journals.  The boxes are perfect for a bedside table.
This marvelous box covered in textile and accented with metal retails at 895.00.
This adorable little tray has a cabochon stone at the center and retails at 85.00.
I love the gold plated base on this petite dessert server that retails for 295.00
A perfect hostess gift, the scented candles from the Fortuny collection are packaged in a fabric wrapped box. 
It's like two gifts in one.  Each candle retails at 125.00.

Death by Television.

I have no words to describe how hideous the monstrosity I am about to discuss is.  OK, that is a lie.  I have words.  Lots of words, but I won't go down that road right now.  I went to the Greystone Showcase House sponsored by Luxe Magazine last December, and it was OK.  Lots of big name designers phoning it in for publicity, some quite horribly.  I'm not going to name names, but if you went, you probably saw something awful.  Don't get me wrong, there were some delightful things, but most rooms were forgettable and some of them should be burned.  Out of an entire mansion filled with every item imaginable, this monster topped my list of things that should never have been created - the flat screen television framed in Venetian mirror.

One of my cardinal sins is a television in the bedroom; it should never happen.  You'll never sleep.  Another of my cardinal sins is mounting a television above a fireplace.  This applies to every room in the house.  No TVs above fireplaces.  Period.  I know this Designer has done a Fornasetti screen saver to give the impression of art, but it's not cutting it.  Commit to a piece of art or even a mirror and take the high road.  Through this installation, I have also discovered a new sin I hadn't thought of, because who in their right mind would ever consider doing it; that sin is surrounding a television in Venetian mirror.  This grotesque invention was part of a scheme for a mans bedroom; sorry, but no man I know, gay, straight, bi, thai...would ever do that to a television.  I don't think you could be gaudier or more gauche than this, but then again, I didn't think something like this would ever happen.  This is the design equivalent of Lindsay Lohan.  This is Bruce Jenner's face in television form.  This is the hottest mess I have seen in a long time.

I'm doing this as a public service announcement, for your own safety.  As a Designer and a friend, I would never do this to you, but there a people out there that will tell you this is a good idea.  Those people need an intervention and possibly some sort of medication.  If you know anyone who has anything like this in their home, break off all communications.  You'll thank me later.

- Ian

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Govenors Mansion, Atlanta Georgia.

Staircase Rotunda at the Governor's Mansion, built in 1967. 
Architect Thomas A Bradbury, AIA.
A wonderful job was done recreating a period home
in the modern age. 
Scale, proportion, and details are all pitch perfect.
A long time ago, I remember watching an episode of Designing Women in which Julia Sugarbaker (the late Dixie Carter), in a brief moment of enforced fun, put her head between the railings on a staircase and gets her head stuck.  The staircase was at the Governors Mansion in Atlanta and the crew of Sugarbaker's Interior Design was decorating it for the annual Govenor's Ball.  The plot revolved around getting Julia's head out of the railing without having to cut through the wood handrail which was made of one continuous piece of timber (known is the episode as the 'Abbott Banister', a fictitious piece of historic memorabilia).

Silly little things like the plot of a defunct sitcom episode from 1989 have a funny way of sticking with you.  So when I found a spread in a 1970 issue of Architectural Digest that was all about the Atlanta Mansion immortalized (for me, at least) by one of my favorite television shows, I had to share it.  In addition to nostalgia, it's also a beautiful example of a Greek Revival style home that pays accurate tribute to its antebellum roots, but was built in the 20th century.  If architectural interest isn't enough, it's also home to a fine collection of American Federal antiques.

Surrounded on all sides by fluted Doric columns, the rose-toned brick structure is a perfect example of the Greek Revival style popular throughout the South during the first half of the 19th century.  Assembling the furnishings was a two year process that involved acquiring important pieces attributed to noteworthy cabinetmakers from Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania and Georgia, plus antique chandeliers and period marble mantels imported from England.

I'm sure that in the past 40 years the interior of the mansion has changed slightly with new upholstery and window treatments, but with a grand collection of American Federal furnishings, significant American art and the drama of the architecture, the core strength of the home has surely stayed the same.  and I'm sure countless tour groups have attempted to get their heads between the rail, just like Julia.

- Ian

In the Reception Hall, American Federal chairs, c. 1880, surround an English podium table in the Greek Revival style.
The niche in the background holds a bronze bust of George Washington by Houdon, c 1778.  The marble topped pier table in the background, c. 1815, is one of four pieces in the home attributed to Charles-Honore Lannuier.
The State Dining Room room with reproduction 19th century chairs and a
New England accordion Federal style table attributed to John Seymour.

The State Drawing room features and Aubusson rug and a marvelous mantle with a
gold Greek Key motif.  The red upholstery, by Scalamandre, is a document silk woven originally for the Red Room at the White House.  The sofa,one of a pair, is Duncan Phyfe.

The Cherry paneled library with a Tabriz rug and a collection of books relating to Georgia.
I love the simplicity and elegance of the window coverings and that Greek Revival
chandelier with it's spare use of crystal and gold.  So understated.

The Ground Floor Guest Bedroom houses an alcove bed (with gilded Egypian busts and animal paw feet)
attributed to Charles-Honore Lannuier, c. 1815.  The rug is English needlepoint, the artwork
is a wallpaper panel illustrating Psyche showing her jewels to her sisters. 
The arm chair is Sheraton in style.

Julia gets her head stuck in a fence.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Inspiration Rooms : A Blue and White Display

You all know how I love me some blue and white china.  Timeless, classic, elegant, fun for all ages, a great party favor, nice place to stash your stash, etc.  I love seeing it en masse, and until I have my own plethora, I will have to live vicariously through the collections of others.  Case in point, the home of Benjamin F. Garber and William C. Kennedy, both former associates of Syrie Maugham, the white queen of Interior Design.  The pots sit on a Regence table a gibier with a Chinoiserie tapestry designed by the Rococo painter Francis Boucher behind.  The pots below the table are Louis XV.  Also catching my eye is that minimal spray of dogwood blossoms.  How architectural and organic, and such a nice contrast to the uniformity of the pottery.  The white carnations with the excessively long stems, however, are another story.

- Ian