Friday, February 28, 2014

My Sofa!

Isn't it funny how you can see something over and over again, but it doesn't really register in your mind? And then one day, pow! That something finally makes an impression on you. Such was the case with a pair of fabulous sofas.

Yesterday, while perusing my copy of The Anti-Minimalist House, I stopped my page-flipping when I came to the photo above.  In the middle of the photo was my sofa, bathed in a halo of light.  Well, it's not really my sofa, but it was the sofa that had struck my fancy a few months ago when I first saw it in British House & Garden.  Isn't its camel-back profile and beautiful floral and trellis fabric simply stunning?  I loved the sofa so much that I clipped and saved its photo when it appeared in House & Garden.

The photo above shows the drawing room of a London house, which had been decorated by the great Renzo Mongiardino.  You might recognize the room as it appears both inside and on the cover of Mongiardino's classic book, Rooms, although the sofa, or rather, the pair of sofas (you see the companion sofa's back in the photo at top) did not make that book's cover shot. Here is a photo of the room and the sofas in the Mongiardino book:

The sofas' fabric is appropriate for the room considering that its walls were painted with garden-vista murals.  But it's odd, really, because I have seen this particular photo numerous times as well as the version in The Anti-Minimalist House, but I had never paid much attention to those sofas.

So, after making this pleasant discovery of sorts, off I went to find the sofa photo from House & Garden that had made an impression on me months ago.  Here it is below:

This photo accompanied a brief article about another great designer, Robert Kime.  There is no mention of the sofa in the photo's caption, but it does appear to be the same sofa.  What the article does mention is that this room is located at South Wraxall Manor, Wiltshire.  While the sofa might have made an impression on me, the name South Wraxall Manor really meant nothing to me.  That is, until I started this blog post.  A little digging around jogged my memory that I was in fact familiar with this house.  This is the manor house that is owned by Gela Nash-Taylor (of Juicy Couture fame) and her husband, Duran Duran bass player John Taylor.  And, oh yes, that's right.  Robert Kime helped to decorate the house.  The results were so stunning that the house made the cover of World of Interiors back in March 2010.  Here is the WoI cover:

You can see the back of the sofa, which faces the drawing room's rather elaborate chimneypiece.

And here is the companion sofa, also located in the drawing room:

Fortunately, this photo's caption mentions that the 18th-century sofa wears its original needlework.  So, it's not a printed fabric after all, but rather embroidered fabric.  Stunning.  Had I only thought to design track suits with the word "Juicy" emblazoned on their backsides, I too might now be the proud owner of this fine pair of 18th-century sofas.

What's missing from this story is how the sofas migrated from the Mongiardino-decorated house to that of the Taylors.  That is, assuming that these are the same sofas, which I believe they are.  Were they purchased from a London dealer?  Or, perhaps at auction?  I can't find any past lots on the auction house sites that feature these sofas.  However, I'm still searching.  Any thoughts?

Photo at top: from The Anti-Minimalist House, Massimo Listri photographer; #2 from Rooms by Renzo Mongiardino; #3 from British House & Garden, August 2013, Christopher Simon Sykes photographer; #4 and #5 from World of Interiors March 2010, Christopher Simon Sykes photographer.


  1. That's remarkable! I wonder if the owners know (or care).

  2. OK, now you are frightening me. I saved those exact same images years ago. Lent them to a friend who converted a commercial garage building into a home, using just those images as ideas for the interior.

  3. Oh how I love anti-minimalist homes. And oh how I love contemporary minimalist design. Like trying to figure out which diet is best or which kind of psychotherapy to try, home interior design choices have to start with what's inside of the one-of-a-kind noggin of the person who's going to be living there. That said, I absolutely adore this couch. ;)

  4. Of course I love all the Mongiardino projects, but especially this one, a room created from a garage behind a London house. If I am not mistaken (client names are usually not published), this was a commission from Drue Heinz, the American philanthropist spreading around that ketchup money through a number of causes including the Royal Oak Foundation (which is an American support group for the British National Trust). She is mostly in Manhattan these days, so maybe she gave up the London house. I always wondered about those sofas; Mongiardino was big on custom fabrics and I had assumed that he had that design stenciled.

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  6. TDC knows of course! As you say they HAVE to be the same sofas so they must have been sold as TDC says when the London house was closed.
    I've been looking at getting a new sofa for my living room and often see these antique camel back sofas at sales and wonder how it would work and if it would be comfortable enough -what type of fabric, etc. Great inspiration here.

  7. Stunning sofas and I am so interested to hear the story of their travels! Love the tradition of the camelback design!

    An Invitation to the Garden

  8. The Taylors have spectacular taste!

  9. love the sofa! + my my, what a researcher you are.

  10. Anonymous9:16 PM

    Dear Jennifer, your post sent me back to my World of Interiors collection to re-read about South Wraxhall Manor. I then found an episode of a documentary on youtube (4 parts of approx 15 mins) called 'Country House Revealed' which focusses on SWM and its history. Lots of wonderful background shots of the house as it is now, with an interview with Gela Nash-Taylor at the very end. Well worth a look. I thoroughly enjoyed your own book, too, and it has proved an excellent and popular gift for others as well. Jenny in Western Australia.

    1. Dear Jenny, What a kind comment, and I thank you very much! I'm so happy that you enjoyed my book. Also, thank you for letting me know about the documentary. I will view it later this evening; it sounds like it is right up my alley.
      Thank you!