Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Elevator Lobby

Private elevator lobbies and vestibules- it's been quite some time since I've seen one appear in print.  Granted, these bijou spaces are not very common, existing mostly in cosmopolitan, residential high-rises where they usually serve as private entrances to sprawling, whole-floor apartments.  More discreet and gracious than an elevator that pitches people directly into an apartment, an elevator lobby offers visitors a moment of anticipation before entering an apartment's front door.  Think of them as an aesthetic greeting, one that serves as a sign of things to come once inside the apartment's realm.

I was recently charmed by two images of elevator lobbies that were published in 1930.  The photograph at the top of this post shows an elevator entrance with "walls painted black, with panels of antique etched glass.  The ceiling is silver and a contrasting floor in black terrazzo."  Now, that's chic.  Even more elaborate is the lobby immediately below this text: "In the elevator foyer there are alternating panels of black and silver glass with a scalloped valance of gold glass and a draped ceiling of yellow satin. The floor is black with silver metal inserts. The console is black and gold."  I find the gold-mirrored, scalloped valance, which serves as a transition between the fabric-draped ceiling and mirrored walls, to be particularly clever.

Of course, an elevator lobby doesn't have to be over-the-top in order to be stylistically effective.  Mark Hampton created a classically-inflected, barrel-vaulted vestibule for one client (see below), while the elevator lobby of Anne Bass's apartment is rather calm-looking.  But, like Carroll Petrie, whose shimmery vestibule I included below, I think elevator vestibules seem made for mirror or, though lacking the enticing quality of reflection, an astounding mural.  After all, these spaces are usually so small, why not lavish them with wit, whimsy, or a dash of theatricality?

The 1930 elevator foyer with the yellow satin-draped ceiling.

Although this Dorothy Draper-decorated elevator lobby was not a private lobby, the design seems conducive to elevator vestibules and entrance halls alike.

This vestibule was conceived by Mark Hampton.  The walls are painted to appear as if constructed of stone blocks.

In this 1990 photo of the elevator lobby leading to Anne Bass's apartment, the space's walls were faux-painted to mimic the marble floors.

The mirrored vestibule of the late Carroll Petrie's apartment.

Image #3 from Manhattan Style; #4 and #6 from New York Apartments: Private Views; #5 from Private New York

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Château de Castille

If you follow the international real estate pages of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, you are likely familiar with Château de Castille. Located near Uzès in southern France, the 18th-century château with a 13th-century foundation was put up for sale in late 2015. Still on the market (or so it seems), the château has a rich history, especially during the mid-twentieth century, when art collector and historian Douglas Cooper owned and inhabited the residence. (Cooper's then partner, art historian and Picasso expert, John Richardson, lived there for a stint during Cooper's ownership.)

A friend and patron of Pablo Picasso, Cooper engaged the artist, who supposedly coveted the house, to create a series of sandblasted murals, which appear on the walls of the château's loggia. Now officially protected as historic monuments , the frescoes are touted as the château's most famous feature, not to mention its greatest selling point. But as enticing as the murals are, it's the château's interiors that compel me more. Decorated by the under-the-radar American designer, Dick Dumas, the house's interiors are an enticing blend of traditional French fabrics (such as Le Manach's Pommes de Pin, the pinecone print seen in the blue bedroom below) and modern-looking prints, installed alongside antique furnishings and modern artwork. Despite a few tell-tale signs that Dumas likely decorated the château decades ago (namely, the prominent ceiling spot lights), little about these interiors seem dated to me.

Since Cooper's tenure as owner, the château has belonged to a French family, whose heirs made the decision to sell.  After seeing these French AD photos of Château de Castille, I can only hope that a buyer sensitive to the château's unique qualities will purchase it.

Photos from French AD, François Halard photographer.

Palm Beach Fantasy

Winter weather got you down?  Then how about a Palm Beach pick-me-up, courtesy of the February issue of House Beautiful?  Chock full of design goodness, the issue features the Palm Beach pied-à-terre of designer Amanda Lindroth, who divides her time between her home base of the Bahamas and her retail shop in Palm Beach.  Located in an Addison Mizner-designed building, this gem of a home is made even more beguiling thanks to the living room's trompe l'oeil mural, painted by British artist and historian, Aldous Bertram. Inspired by the legendary plasterwork at Claydon House in England, Bertram injected wit and high-style into his mural, which is even more impressive considering the artist had never before painted on this scale.

To see the full article (and I highly recommend you do,) please visit the House Beautiful website or pick up a copy at your local newsstand.

Photos courtesy of House Beautiful, February 2017, Jonny Valiant photographer

Friday, December 23, 2016

Until We Meet Again

Wishing all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah.  May your holiday be filled with all the joys of the season.

See you in 2017!

(Image: A festive holiday table in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Renny Saltzman)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dana Gibson for Stroheim

Before we break for the holidays, I want to bring you tidings of a new fabric, trimmings, and wallcovering collection that is full of good cheer. Designed by artist Dana Gibson for Stroheim, the collection's prints are reminiscent of those charming patterns of yesteryear, but thanks to perky colors and a sometimes robust scale, the designs feel both of-the-moment and timeless, too.

Below are a few of my picks from the collection, but you should visit the Stroheim website to see the entire collection. (The trimmings are especially fetching.)

Chintz in Green Grey

Courtesan in Green

Escutcheon in Black

Folly in Pitch

Occidental in Cobalt Blue

Parish Patch in Navy Blue

Priya in Pink Orange

Peony wallcovering in Pink

Taj in Persimmon

Trot wallcovering in Stone

Twig wallcovering in Grass

Monday, December 19, 2016

And Last but Not Least...

Copyright Lee Higham, Assistant, 1979

Photograph by James McMillan, collection of Stiles Tuttle Colwill

Photograph by James McMillan, collection of Andrew Ginger

And now, my last book review blog post for 2016. There were so many excellent books released this past fall, including Cecil Beaton at Home: An Interior Life by Andrew Ginger.  To be honest, I have difficulty reading Beaton's diaries, as they contain too much vitriol for my taste.  But my ambivalence towards Beaton doesn't mean that I don't find the man and his many homes intriguing.  Finally, thanks to Ginger, we have a book that gathers the many photos and illustrations of Ashcombe and Reddish House, Beaton's country houses, as well his various London flats.  If, like me, you seek inspiration and guidance from interiors of the past, then you will find Cecil Beaton at Home immensely engrossing.

© Fred de Cabrol, from Beautiful People of the Café Society (Flammarion, 2016).

Speaking of prominent tastemakers of the twentieth century, Baron Fred de Cabrol, the late aristocratic French decorator, remains much admired today. A figure who, along with his wife, Daisy, was present at most of last century's most acclaimed balls and gatherings, Baron de Cabrol counted the likes of Duff and Diana Cooper, Charles de Beistegui, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor as friends.  Such a glittering social life deserved documentation, but not in prosaic fashion.  Baron de Cabrol's scrapbooks, with their charming blend of photographic cut-outs and illustrated backgrounds, present a highly-colorful and delightful record of a social milieu that has all but died out.  It's no wonder, then, that author Thierry Coudert has devoted his latest book, Beautiful People of the Café Society: Scrapbooks by the Baron de Cabrol, to the Baron's handiwork.  Just as he did with his previous book, Café Society: Socialites, Patrons, and Artists 1920-1960, Coudert provides the reader with a dazzling account of twentieth-century European café society.

I've long been a fan of the work of London-based designers, Paolo Moschino and Philip Vergeylen. So when I caught wind that the pair's first monograph, Signature Spaces: The Well-Traveled Interiors of Paolo Moschino and Philip Vergeylen, was due to be published this fall, I quickly added the book to my wish-list.  As I suspected it would be, Signature Spaces is one of my favorite designer monographs of the year.  Moschino and Vergeylen's work is always visually-engaging, an all-together pleasing mix of luxurious fabrics, refined finishes, antique furnishings, and modern accents.  Their work, lavishly photographed for this book, provides much to look at, but what I found equally as engaging were the photos of people, places, and things that inspire the partners, including Babe Paley, Eugenia Errazuriz, and Belgian Loafers.  No wonder I admire these two.

Truth be told, I have not finished reading Empire Style: The Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris, but based on what I have read so far, I am certain that the book's authors, Jörg Ebeling and Ulrich Leben, have written the definitive work on this Empire-style gem. Built in the eighteenth-century and later, in 1813, purchased by Josephine Bonaparte for her son, Eugene de Beauharnais, this magnificent palace, which today serves as the Germany embassy in Paris, remains one of the great examples of the Empire Style of decor. The book's sumptuous photographs are sights to behold, but the real draw here is the authors' extensive research into the history, the inhabitants, and the style that have earned this monument an important place in both French and design history.

(All photos © Francis Hammond, from Empire Style: The Hôtel de Beauharnais in Paris by Jörg Ebeling and Ulrich Leben (Flammarion, 2016).)

And finally, for a book that is both light-hearted and fun, I recommend Ladurée Savoir Vivre: The Art of Fine Living.  This bijou-sized book is a guide to living well and living elegantly.  Did it teach me anything new?  Not really, because at my age, I'm familiar with the details of fine living.  But what the book did do was remind me that when life is hectic, it's important not to overlook life's little luxuries.  And with the book's snappy illustrations and detail photographs, you'll certainly have a good time reading it.  This book would make a great gift for teenage girls and young women who are just starting to make their way in the world.