Monday, July 28, 2014

The Art Of Tableau... Continued...

I've said it before, and I will happily say it again: I love to style a space and create tableaux. It has always been one of my favorite aspects of being an interior designer. I suppose it plays to the inveterate "collector" in me, to be able to group things together, to display objects of beauty or curiosity, or to assemble pieces which would ordinarily not be noticed on their own. Creating a tableau, or a "tablescape" as some call it, is one of the quickest ways to set a tone for a room. It's almost like creating a three dimensional piece of art, a sculpture if you will.

If you missed it, check out my post "The Art of Tableau: Four Tips For A Better Display" and its companion post "Contrast Brings Interest." You'll find pointers and tips about creating tableau and displaying interesting and precious objects.

To be continued...

I hope this post inspires you to try your hand at a tableau in your home!
Happy designing!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Fabric: Ikat

Ikat (EE-khat) is an ethnic fabric found in many cultures across the globe, and originating independently in locations such as Central and South America, areas spanning the Silk Road to Central and South Asia, East Asia, and even Mediterranean Europe. Both the technique for creating the fabric and the resulting cloth itself is called ikat. The dyeing process is a complicated one, akin to tie-dye but instead of fabric, bundles of yarn are tied and dyed using a wax resist process. The dyed yarn is then used to create a warp ikat (warp refers to the fibers in weaving that are vertical), weft ikat (weft is, you guessed it, fibers woven in the horizontal position) or double ikat. This latter type, considered the premium ikat, employs dyed fibers in both the warp and weft directions and is much more time consuming and requires great skill.

Ikat has been a very hot fabric for a while, and as is the case with every trend, there is an expiration date on the "stylishness" of it. But fans of textiles will recognize that ikat is timeless (it has been around for most likely thousands of years). It exemplifies a handcrafted sense, and brings a touch of global style in any application. Below, you can see ikat on drapery, upholstery, pillows, wallpaper, bedding...

Happy designing!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Know Your Sofas: Chesterfield

Originally of English origin in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the Chesterfield sofa is an icon of design. There is much supposition and little fact to attest to its name. Some say that the first Chesterfield sofa was commissioned by the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, Lord Phillip Stanhope (1694-1773). Whatever the origins of the name, the sofa itself can be identified by its generous rolled arms which are the same height as the back of the sofa, along with deep seating and an abundance of button tufting. Its tailored look, traditional leather upholstery, and classic shape lends itself to a den, a luxurious office, or a gentleman's retreat.

But in other colors, it looks playful and fun in a family room, or unique and eclectic in a living room.

As you can see below, it does not have to come in leather.
In a different upholstery and color, a Chesterfield can fit into a clean, modern sensibility.

And with a fun English Union Jack upholstery treatment, a Chesterfield can be downright jolly.

If you are looking for a classic kind of sofa for an elegant room, or if you want to reference a bit of history into a contemporary space, a Chesterfield might be the right sofa for you!

Happy designing!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Know Your Chairs: Wingback

Wingback, or just wing chairs originated in the late 17th century as a way to protect sitters from drafts. The "wings" (or ears, as they call them in French) partially enclose a sitter and help to keep heat in when seated by a fire. The form has evolved slightly over time as it morphed under various styles like Charles II (first photo below), Queen Anne, Georgian, Chippendale, and Hepplewhite.

A version of the wingback chair is the porter chair. Its original purpose was similar to the wingback: to protect the sitter, keeping them enclosed and warm by a fire. But for servants in grand old estate houses whose job it was to sit up all night in the hall in case the Lord or Lady awoke and needed anything, they sat in a porter chair, protecting them from drafts and chill. Whereas a wingback chair's protection comes from the sides, a porter chair's protection is like a bubble... in fact, the chair is also referred to as a balloon chair (since it resembles an 18th century hot air balloon with a gondola). Kelly Wearstler put the mandarin-colored beauties below in her Beverly Hills home, seen in her magnificent coffee table book DOMICILIUM DECORATUS.

Happy designing!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Wallpaper: Timorous Beasties

This installation of ongoing posts about the wonderful world of wallpaper focuses on the company Timorous Beasties, which was founded in Glasgow in 1990 by Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons who met studying textile design at Glasgow School of Art. Their irreverent takes on staples of patterns in wallpaper and fabric have gained them a prestigious place in the world of home furnishings. In addition to wallcoverings and textiles, they now offer cushions, lampshades, rugs, and ceramics.

The traditional Scottish thistle gets a special treatment, looking like an illustration from a 19th century botanical book, but with an edge. The large scale of the pattern brings it into the 21st century!

Their Classic Hunt pattern sees British hunting scenes solarized and overlaid onto a windowpane check. Again, the scale and the fact that the toile-like scenes are solarized make this pattern edgy and modern.

Classic Hunt has a companion in spirit, a pattern Timorous Beasties call Open Season.

In a pattern called Grand Blotch Damask, a traditional damask pattern gets turned into a psychedelic Rorschach test. From far away, it resembles some kind of sumptuous Victorian (or even Art Nouveau!) wallcovering but up close, it is an explosion of graphics.

Speaking of Victoriana, Timorous Beasties have taken the 19th century British penchant for specimen boxes full of insects, fossils, geological samples, and botanical oddities and created patterns with butterflies and moths. The Butterfly and Moth patterns below are stunning, again, because of the scale!

The Napoleonic bee gets a make-over in a pattern called Imperial Apiary.

Ex Libris (Latin for "from the library") is one of their newer lines and is designed to look like the beautiful end papers of old books made from Florentine marbled paper.

And what would a riff on classic European patterns be without a few tweaks to the old toile de jouy. They have created toiles based on several cities including London (shown below--you can see the Gherkin, St. Paul's, and The Eye), New York, Glasgow, and Edinburgh.

I've said it before and I will continue to say that this not your mom's or grandmother's wallpaper. There is an exciting array of wallcoverings being made now. If you are considering something new and interesting for your walls, think about wallpaper...

Happy designing!