Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Holidays!

I had high hopes for posting this week before I venture off on my Christmas trip. Unfortunately, I'm stuck in bed with a nasty bug and am far my peak nor am I feeling very chic. So I want to send each one of you warmest wishes for the holidays. Thank you for your kind comments and for the lively discussions that we have, and I look forward to continuing them in 2009.

Hope you and yours have a safe, happy holiday and a happy, healthy 2009!


(image courtesy of Conde Nast Store)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What's In Their Library: Chuck Chewning

I recently had the pleasure of spending a few hours chatting with Chuck Chewning, the recently appointed Creative Director of Donghia. After years of working in the luxury residential and hospitality design field, Chuck's career has taken an interesting turn with his new job at Donghia- a move that is especially appropriate as Chuck has long admired the work of the late design legend Angelo Donghia. Chuck has a lot of passion and enthusiasm for the company and is in the process of returning Donghia to its very stylish roots, and I for one cannot wait to see what he has up his sleeve. But based on what I've heard, you die-hard Angelo Donghia fans will not be disappointed.

One thing that really struck me about Chuck was his extensive knowledge of design history and the decorative arts, not surprising for someone with a background that includes historic preservation. And did I mention his envy-worthy design library? He has decades worth of design magazines and scores of books, so I couldn't help but be nosy and find out which books have inspired him the most. Here they are with comments provided by Chuck:

New York Interior Design, 1935-1985
This is a monumental 2-volume work by Judith Gura who teaches at the New York School of Interior Design and directs the design history program. The books are divided between Traditional and Modern but the crossover of styles is very evident in all the interiors. This is a comprehensive collection of archival photographs of some of the most impressive interiors designed by New York designers spanning 50 years.
(editor's note-the book is available as a limited edition set or each volume can be purchased separately.)

Le style Givenchy
This is an exquisite book showcasing the artistry of Givenchy through his personal interiors, fashion and lifestyle. The photos are beautiful and masterfully woven together to give you a true sense of the Givenchy style. It makes you aware that design and beauty are integral to the whole French lifestyle.

Bloomingdale's Book of Home Decorating
This is a jewel of a book that showcases the eclectic interiors produced by Bloomingdale's in the early 1970's. The diversity of styles and settings are amazing and fun to see. The room settings are very sophisticated and chic!

David Hicks-Living with Design
First of all I love the "James Bond" cover and the format of this book. Hicks' projects are thoroughly represented from residential, commercial, showroom and gardening design. It is full of editorial clippings, archival events and personal mementos of Hicks. He is a pioneer of mixing contemporary and traditional design together. In addition as a Hicks fanatic, I recommend all of his books!- David Hicks on Decoration-with Fabrics, David Hicks on Decoration, David Hicks on Bathrooms, David Hicks Style and Design.

Interiors '70: Carla De Benedetti
This is a new book which chronicles prominent Italian interiors from 1967-75. The photos by Carla de Benedetti are beautiful and the interiors are magical time capsules. I continue to marvel at the masterful eclectic mix that Italians can naturally achieve. Even after living in Milan myself for 3 years I still strive to design with that in mind.

Ten by Warren Platner
I have always been enamored by Platner's furniture design and this book shows the extent of his talent through architecture and interior design. The photos are by Ezra Stoller and have an atmospheric beauty to them. The corresponding text is equally inspiring and worth reading.

Horst: Interiors
This is the quintessential book on celebrity interior lifestyles photographed by Horst in the 1960's, 70's, and 80's. These beautiful photos capture a glimpse into the homes of the world's most glamorous people.

House & Garden's Complete Guide to Interior Decoration
I actually have three editions of this book from 1940 to 1970. I am still lamenting the loss of House & Garden magazine of which I have all my issues dating back to the early 1980's. The H&G decorating books are great "how to" books that feature interior photos, sketches, charts, diagrams and chapters of historical styles all with the idea of educating the housewife on the art of decorating.

Billy Baldwin Decorates
I love Billy Baldwin's design and how he could successfully design both very contemporary and traditional interiors. There is a certain comfort and elegance combined that is timeless and classic in his work.

Vogue Living: Houses, Gardens, People
This incredible book features homes from the archives of Vogue and Vogue Living over the past twenty years never published. Hamish Bowles spent hours going through the Vogue archives to compile these beautiful photographs of the houses and gardens of the world's most celebrated individuals and the diverse lifestyles they live.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Benjamin Dhong's Classical Christmas

Many of you may remember that fabulous bathroom that San Francisco designer Benjamin Dhong decorated for the San Francisco Decorator's Showhouse. Well, I knew this man was talented and clever, but I didn't realize the extent of his creativity. Just look at this fabulous wreath that Ben designed for the holidays!

Ben was inspired by some old architectural engravings that he had found, so he scanned them, arranged them, and then had them printed on linen. He took the fabric and glued it to a 20' foam square donut. Genius!

The front of the wreath is the acanthus ornament of a Corinthian column while the sides have classic architectural motifs such as egg and dart. Ben joked that "decoupage is back". Well if this is decoupage for the 21st century, then count me in as its #1 fan!

(To see more of Ben's work, please visit his website.)

Images courtesy of David Duncan Livingston, photographer.

Christmas 1954

How long has it been since you've seen a Christmas spread in a magazine that did not include greenery of some type? A tree? A garland? A magnolia wreath? Well, this article from House Beautiful (Dec. 1954) was not a paean to things green and natural but rather a tribute to paper decorations. The gold scrollwork pieces and accordion pleated stars and geegaws were all made of paper and were sold on the market under House Beautiful's moniker.

Now, I think the gold stars are kind of neat but I'm not so crazy about the baluster looking things. I really like the gold scrollwork pieces although I would use them in a more subtle way. And I don't think I'd hang ornament balls from them. That's a bit too kitschy for my taste. All in all, it's certainly evocative of that era and a far cry from today's more natural design.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Georgian Style and Design

For those of you who are fans of Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, I think you'll enjoy her latest offering Georgian Style and Design for Contemporary Living. The book focuses on contemporary interpretations of the Georgian style with interiors that focus on comfort and functionality first and foremost. But what really struck me the most about the book were the lush wallpapers used in many of these homes. Gorgeous scenic and hand-painted wallpapers abound, and you know I've met very few of these wallpapers that I didn't like.

How incredibly fabulous is this hand-painted paper that features an Indian colonial scene? It's perfection to me. Who do you think makes this? de Gournay? Zuber?

I have no idea who makes this architectural toile, but I just adore it. Featured in a 'gents' cloakroom, the paper sets the right masculine tone.

At first glance, I assumed this wallpaper might have been Gracie, but I'm really thinking it might be de Gournay. The book does not mention who the maker is, only saying that it's a hand-painted silk wallpaper that is produced (or perhaps I should say crafted) in China. The wallpaper is custom designed and fitted for the specific setting.

In this Scottish country house, the chinoiserie room features a hand-painted de Gournay wallcovering. I like how the colors are rather muted.

Another hand-painted wallcovering that was painted on silk panels and installed in this bedroom (again, I believe this is a de Gournay). I think that if my bedroom was papered in these panels, I might finally stop waking up on the wrong side of the bed-something that has been known to happen from time to time!

Although it has nothing to do with wallpaper, I also wanted to include a few images from one of the featured interiors that was designed by my friend Patricia McLean, an Atlanta designer. I love the various shades of blue that she chose.

(All images from Georgian Style and Design, Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, Rizzoli publisher)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Saving Ways Can Become Saving Graces

Or so House & Garden told its readers back in 1948. It seems that whenever there has been a downturn in the economy, magazines have made sure to include money saving tips amidst the images of beautiful and aspirational interiors. And in this sixty year old issue, H&G had all sorts of frugal tips. Of course, the one suggestion that came up throughout the article was the impact of a fresh coat of paint. Slap some paint on an old piece of furniture and voila! Instant and chic update.

Some of the tips they gave are a tad dated, but there are some nuggets of wisdom here. And I love how creative Mrs. Gerard Lambert was. Just how much free time did she have to come up with such clever ideas? Who knows, but it makes me wonder what other tricks were up her sleeve. But I think the real reason I'm showing these images today is because the illustrations by Charles Heilemann are just charming, don't you think?

"Line an alcove with a bold pattern. A jog or an alcove becomes an asset if you give it a personality of its own by lining it with an assertive motif."

"Dramatize a picture with shutters."

"Match your closet interior and bedrom walls by lining them with the same flowered wallpaper."

"Paint a headboard, add a ruffle"

"A towel rack of a gay color is used by Mrs. Gerard Lambert to hold magazines."

"A wicker stand, brightened by paint, holds Mrs. Gerard Lambert's garden shoes."

"Paper your walls with plaid chintz. The dashing wall and ceiling treatment which William Pahlmann used for the boy's room...dramatizes odd pieces of furniture."

"Frame a door in growing ivy."

"Paper a chest to match walls and ceiling."

"Transform a bombé chest with black lacquer."