Monday, September 29, 2014

Fabric: Toile de Jouy

Toile de Jouy was originally produced in Ireland in the mid 1700s, but jumped from the island to England and to France where it was dubbed "Toile de Jouy," which literally means "cloth from Jouy-en-Josas," a town in northern France. Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf moved to Jouy-en-Josas and started a factory there in 1759, which produced the now eponymous "toile de Jouy." Thanks to advances in wood block printing in the 18th century, the cotton fabric, and subsequent wallpaper (there are many other applications for this pattern) consists of printed self-contained, repeated scenes of historical figures or landscapes inspired from true stories, novels, operas, or legends. This type of patterned fabric was eventually produced in other areas of France and other countries, yet the name remains.

Toile is a fabric that garners either love or loathing. The traditional application is to put toile on everything in sight, which can be perceived as fun and textural, or oppressive and fussy, depending upon one's history and aesthetic outlook. Since toile usually consists of a small-to-medium-ish repeating pattern, the effect can be a little overwhelming. But taken in a design context, it can be seen as an historical reference, or as more of a statement than a stuffy affectation.

If toile seems too Marie-Anottoinette-via-your-Grandma's house, there are some wild and wonderful modern takes on toile de jouy. Check out the "toile de jouy de Manhattan" as well as the "toile de jouy de-what-looks-like-Kansas" designed by Wendren Setzer below!

New York City based interior designer and television personality Sheila Bridges designed a Harlem toile. She states, "Harlem toile de Jouy tells a rich yet satirical story about African American life through the often distorted lens of the media. I designed it to remind people of many of the stereotypes that have historically been and continue to be associated with African Americans living in rural parts of the country as well as urban areas like Harlem." Pretty and provoking!

The Brooklyn Toile is from Flavor Paper and features scenes and characters one might encounter in that particular borough such as Coney Island, the subway, and Hasidic Jews. It was designed by Vincent J. Ficarra and Adela Qersaqi from an idea by Mike Diamond of The Beastie Boys.

And as we have seen in a past post about the wallcovering manufacturer Timorous Beasties here, the Scottish company has made their own London-themed toile (you can clearly see the Gherkin, St. Paul's, and The Eye).

But you don't have to use a modern, tongue-in-cheek toile to achieve a modern look. Used judiciously, toile can be incorporated into any style. It can reference the past without being archaic.

The Toile de Jouy museum is located in Jouy and maintains a marvelous historical archive of patterns and fabrics. If you find yourself in the vicinity, consider visiting!

Stay tuned for a fantastic wallpaper post next month in which I will feature a Scottish company creating some outlandish, modern toiles!
In the meantime, happy designing!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Black Trim For Drama

Trim or moulding color in a room is really like cuff links on a tux, or diamond jewelry on a gown. It is the finishing touch that outlines and finalizes the body of what is present. Traditionally, trim color is painted white, and I recommend a bright crisp white for nearly all of my clients. But every now and then, a space calls for something more dramatic, something more graphic, more bold. And nothing defines a space better than a solid, deep black. Just look at how the spaces below tighten up with an assured, striking black trim. It is edgy, modern, and thoroughly chic.

Happy designing!

Monday, September 15, 2014

BIG Bathrooms

I love designing spacious, luxurious bathrooms...just take a look at these enormous, jaw-dropping spaces...

By Tim Clarke

By Alterstudio

By Khosla Assoc.

By Matthew MacCaul Turner

By Martha O'Hara Interiors

By Visbeen Assoc.

If you have the room for a special space like one of these, give me a call!
Happy designing!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Westside House by Fiorito Interior Design

After more than a decade of being bi-coastal, my clients decided to retire from the east coast to the west. But the task of packing up a whole lifetime in a home was quite daunting so they hired me to comb through their furniture and accessories to see what could fit, what should be left behind, and what should make the move. The job proved difficult since my clients have a wealth of absolutely gorgeous objects and furnishings collected from trips to exotic, far-flung locales like Nepal, or amazing antiques inherited from relatives in England. It was tough to pare down, but after hours of diligent measuring, I mapped out what would migrate west and where it would be placed once here. Several key rooms in the new house turned out to require all new furniture configurations so I then filled in some blank spaces with new, custom pieces.

They bought their recent Craftsman-style home from the contractor who had designed and built it for his family. While the house is extremely well made, the interiors were bland, as you can see from the "Before" photos below.

The only architectural work we did was to transform the den at the rear of the house into a television/garden room. My clients did not want the television to be on display, and from a design point of view, sticking a TV in an armoire just doesn’t cut it anymore. I recommended installing a hidden, mirror TV from The Art of TV, along with accompanying invisible in-wall speakers. To do this, we removed an unnecessary small door in the corner of the room (there is another existing small door right next to it leading from the kitchen to the backyard) to free up the entire wall. Now, at the touch of a remote, what looks like a beautiful wall mirror mounted over a low Japanese tansu comes to life, and theater-quality sound magically floats out from the wall around it! Since we removed the small door, we replaced an existing bank of windows with glorious French doors to allow easy access to the garden. A warm color palette in the TV room, seen below, contrasts nicely with the greenery visible through the new French doors since the garden now plays such a prominent and important role in the design and ambiance of the room.

Above, you can see the custom wall mirror as an element of decor in the room. The carved bamboo-like frame is from Larsen Juhl. The new Shinto media console is a place for my clients to display their collection of exquisite art pottery and ceramics.

Above, a SuperBright Samsung Smart television comes to life: TV when you want it, a mirror when you don't, solving the problem of "what to do with the television." The curry colored wall anchors the television within the space. My clients' striped silk and nettle woven rug is from Nepal.

Above, a large, custom sectional with nickel nailhead trim, and a leather topped/baseball stitched cocktail table add comfort and convenience. My clients can now host their movie group for movie night! Below, brightly colored custom pillows blend beautifully with some of my clients' textiles collected from around the world.

Photo by Jeff Fiorito
Photo by Jeff Fiorito
Photo by Jeff Fiorito

The warm woodwork was lost in a sea of beige. It felt heavy and clunky, and I was not at all a fan (I had actually considered painting out all the woodwork white). I knew the only way to make the woodwork succeed was to pair it with a color that would accentuate it, not make it blend. I chose a deep aqua color palette for the rooms at the front of the house which makes the woodwork sing. And we discovered a wonderful art niche over the living room fireplace that the previous owners had covered with a framed print.

The previous owners' arrangement of smaller yet oddly puffy pieces of furniture made the living room feel cramped. It may seem counterintuitive, but the best way to combat that feeling is to put larger pieces of furniture, properly scaled, in the space. When I use all the space in a design, the eye reads a larger expanse, making the room feel larger. Above, a generous three-cushion custom sofa in a luxurious Butternut chenille provides plenty of seating for guests to gather around the fireplace after dinner in the nearby dining room. And the niche above is now home to one of my clients' prized carved Asian figures.

The aqua color palette continues throughout the space, visually connecting the living and dining areas. The color makes the woodwork seem richer, deeper, warmer. It now reads as a special element in the house and not simply "trim." Even the beautifully stained concrete floors (with radiant heat) look better. I replaced the old out-of-scale chandelier with a sleek, glass and marble slab light fixture that is more appropriately shaped for the space and echoes the Craftsman elements of the home. The table runner is a vintage embroidered textile from Turkey.

All "After" photos by Bernardo Grijalva except as noted.

Help with furniture placement or new pieces? Color selection? Art placement? Give me a call!
Happy designing!