I like to surround myself with things that have provenance. An impressive provenance is not a requirement, mind you, although I would be thrilled to own something once owned by someone I admire: Albert Hadley, Van Day Truex, or Dorothy Draper, for example. And I don't think that anything in my house has a really, really fine pedigree. I have some nice pieces, but nothing by a blue-chip designer like Boulle, Kent, or Frank.
The kind of provenance that is important to me is one that connects me to someone or some place important in my life. One that establishes a connection to one of my grandparents, say, or to my Atlanta roots. Something that tells a story. Story, to me, is most important. Take my headboard. It has a curvy black wrought iron frame that comes to a point at top, capped with a fleur de lis; the interior is upholstered in gray mohair. It's nice looking and unique, but it's the history behind this piece that I just love. The frame actually used to be a outdoor sign, one owned by Charles Willis, the old Atlanta jeweler and tabletop purveyor. In fact, the companion sign frame still sits on Peachtree, holding the Dante's Down the Hatch sign. (Dante's, by the way, is a fondue restaurant/ jazz club that has been around since the 1970s.) Some of you might remember that the house that holds Dante's used to house Charles Willis. See? That's a story, one that probably does not mean much to most of you, but it's one that reminds me of the good old days in Buckhead.
There's also my framed 1930s photo of the actress Irene Dunne. Truth be told, I have never cared for Dunne; whenever I see one of her movies, I find myself getting a little irritated. But, she was my late grandmother's favorite actress. My grandmother's friend happened to be down in Sea Island, Georgia at the same time that a young Dunne was visiting the resort, and she somehow took or obtained the photo of Dunne standing outside of the Cloister, in turn giving it to my grandmother. Not only does this photo remind me of my grandmother, it also makes me think of all of the summers that I used to spend down at the Cloister. That's a double connection.
So now I'm contemplating buying a new dining table, and I'm strongly considering getting a Platner dining table. First and foremost, it's a really good looking table, one that is now considered to be a classic. And, it looks great with more traditional table accessories. (Just look at all of the yummy examples below.) But, seeing that I'm a nostalgia seeker, there is another reason. It was a Platner chair like that at top that was the first piece of modern furniture that made an impression on me. My mother used to take my sister and me to the dress department at Neiman Marcus where we would sit in Platner chairs, ones that spun around much to our delight. Platner's design seemed awfully exotic to me, as did all of that late 1970s fashion at Neiman's. And you know? A slick table like this would add a little edge to my antique French sideboard. Oh, and by the way, my parents bought the sideboard at Rich's department store which, at that time, employed the soon to be legendary designer Dan Carithers as its home furnishings' design director.
Good grief. I just can't stop making these connections. It must be a sickness, and an exhausting one at that!
A Platner table and chairs in the Dallas penthouse of Pat Patterson.
Jonathan Adler used a Platner table in this dining room that he designed.
The dining room of designer James Andrew
Patterson photo from Elle Decor, May 1999; Ka Yeung photographer; Andrew photo from Elle Decor; Adler photo courtesy of his website.