Thursday, September 20, 2012

Albert Hadley: A Heritage of Riches

I want to invite my New York readers to join me on Monday, September 24 at the Avenue Antiques, Art, & Design Show at the Armory. I am very excited to be participating in a panel discussion titled Albert Hadley: A Heritage of Riches. Moderated by Inge Heckel, the presentation will also feature Bunny Williams, David Kleinberg, Britton Smith, and Diana Quasha. The event will include remembrances of the great Mr. Hadley as well as an overview of some of his most memorable interiors. Needless to say, I am honored to be included in a tribute to the designer who has so inspired me.

The event starts at 10 a.m. There are also many other interesting events that are part of this show. For more information, please click
here. I look forward to seeing you at the Armory!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ann Getty Interior Style

One of the most beautiful and engrossing books that I've read lately is Ann Getty Interior Style. Written by the talented Diane Dorrans Saeks, the book profiles the work of San Francisco based Ann Getty, considered to be one of this country's most accomplished and rarefied designers. Getty's work is a prime example of serious decorating. Not serious as in boring, but rather representative of decorating in the most classical sense of the word. In Getty's interiors, sumptuous fabrics, glorious antiques, and unique fine finishes all come together to create worlds of fantasy that somehow remain comfortable and livable. That takes skill, you know.

For some time now, Getty has been regarded as a well-informed collector and connoisseur, one whose collection, as the author notes, spans countries, periods, and styles. But rather than reading as a disparate grouping of items, her collection is really quite harmonious and dazzling. Saeks' captions that accompany the book's photographs often include detailed descriptions of these treasures, serving as an education on the best of the best antiques and decorative arts. Provenances aside, Getty's use of antiques and art, whether they be in her own home or those of clients, is something that should be studied. History obviously plays a role in her work, and yet, one could never call her interiors staid.

The book's photographs are lavish and colorful, a testament to the depth of Getty's work. But whatever you do, make sure to pay attention to the book's text. Saeks' writing is the perfect partner to Getty's work, lyrical, engaging, and magical in its own right. Reading the book transported me to each of the featured homes, making me feel as though I had a very special perch from which to view these rooms.

If you're looking for a book that both inspires and informs, I urge you to take a look at this book. I think you'll find that it's a special addition to your library.

A holiday table setting inspired by Ann Getty's love of Chinoiserie. (Copyright Ann Getty Interior Style by Diane Dorrans Saeks, Rizzoli, 2012)

The Living Room, with curtains crafted in three shades of Indian silk and a pair of George I gilded armchairs covered in antique blue damask. (Copyright Ann Getty Interior Style by Diane Dorrans Saeks, Rizzoli, 2012)

The Trainas' bedroom, with a japanned and gilded Venetian secretaire, which was a family heirloom. (Copyright Ann Getty Interior Style by Diane Dorrans Saeks, Rizzoli, 2012)

The dining room, set for a fall dinner honoring illustrious scientists. (Copyright Ann Getty Interior Style by Diane Dorrans Saeks, Rizzoli, 2012)

Hand-painted, gilded, and semiprecious stone-ornamented Syro-Turkish paneled room, carved and adorned with marble and colored stones, featuring a gilded canopy bed. (Copyright Ann Getty Interior Style by Diane Dorrans Saeks, Rizzoli, 2012)

All photographs and captions reproduced with express permission of the author and publisher. Copyright Ann Getty Interior Style by Diane Dorrans Saeks, Rizzoli, 2012. Lisa Romerein, photographer.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rouen Suite on the Normandie

To those of you who are cruise devotees, forgive me if it seems as though I'm raining on your parade. You see, I'm cruise-ship averse. One reason may be because I get motion sickness at the drop of a hat. Then again, it might also have to do with the fact that the idea of being stuck on a ship in the middle of the ocean kind of freaks me out. And then there's the Norwalk virus. Have you ever seen those news interviews with passengers returning from a Norwalk afflicted cruise?? Talk about a cruise from hell.

However, there are certain ships that might entice me to overcome my cruising apprehension. One is the small but luxurious ship upon which Diane Dorrans Saeks recently traveled during her sojourn to Myanmar. (She
wrote about it last week.) The ship that really strikes my fancy, though, is the late French ocean liner, SS Normandie. I don't wish the ship were around today, because traveling on it would be nothing like it was in the 1930s. There just wouldn't be the same sense of style, gentility, and decorum today as there was back then. But, for a taste of what might have been (had we lived back then, of course), take a look at the Rouen suite on the Normandie. Decorated by the French firm Dominique, the suite's decor is an example of the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne styles that were used throughout the ship's interiors. It's sad to think that just seven years after these photos were published, the ship was destroyed by fire in the port of New York as it was being converted to a U.S. troopship, having been seized by the U.S. government in World War II. Such a shame, especially considering how beautiful and well-appointed these rooms were.

Image at top: The suite's dining room had walls covered in parchment and pallisander.

In the bedroom, lacquered blond wood walls had engraved mirrored panels. The color scheme for the room was bisque and brown.

The blue bedroom had silk paneled lacquer walls and sharkskin furniture.

The salon.

Another bedroom with "laced pigskin...ruddy tones...coarse textures."

All images from House & Garden, August 1935.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chocolate Cordial Cups

In my cache of vintage magazines, there are certain advertisements that appear often. In my 1930s magazines, there are the ads for Heinz tomato juice that feature the Aristocrat Tomato Man (Google it to see what I'm talking about), while the 1950s-era magazines promoted Fostoria glass. And my 1960s issues harbor numerous ads for Chocolate Cordial Cups made by the Astor Chocolate Corp. of Brooklyn.

I think that I've seen these chocolate liqueur cups before, but I never thought much about them until I kept seeing the Astor Chocolate ads time and time again. A search on the internet led me to the Astor Chocolate website, where they are still selling
these chocolate cups bound in gold foil cups. According to their website, the company's owner devised these edible shot glasses in response to 1960s-era laws that prohibited the sale of liqueur filled chocolates. In one's own home, though, one could play mixologist/chocolatier without any fear of breaking any laws. Hence, the chocolate cordial cup.

I'm curious- have any of you served these cups when entertaining? If so, what kind of liqueur do you pour into them? I'm intrigued by the idea of them and am thinking of ordering some. I might serve them with a shot of Framboise seeing that chocolate and raspberries go hand in hand. Amaretto or Frangelico might be nice, too, although I'm thinking that Midori might look a little radioactive in those chocolate cups. What do you think?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Using My Little Grey Cells

I don't know about you, but recently I have found myself having a little difficulty with my memory recall. I doubt that it can be attributed to a physical condition (at least I hope not,) but rather it's a result, I think, of too much information via the internet.

While consulting Martin Battersby's The Decorative Thirties, I discovered the 1932 photograph, above, that depicts the home of Professor Adolf Rading. What is most striking, of course, are those metal sculptures attached to the home's wall. According to Battersby, the metal works, once called "a space-enlivening element", were fabricated by Bauhaus artist Oskar Schlemmer.

Looking at that photo, it dawned on me that I had seen the sculpture to the left quite recently. But where??? Wait! I know where. An episode of Poirot. It only took me an entire afternoon and hours worth of Poirot episodes to locate it:

See? The very same Schlemmer wire sculpture, though here it was located in a ruthless film director's Art Deco home in "The King of Clubs". Do you think it's the same as that in the Rading home or a replica?

While watching all of those episodes, I did find yet one more space-enlivening element that was similar to the other sculpture in the Rading home. It's not quite as Bauhaus in feel, but you get the gist:

Photo at top from The Decorative Thirties by Martin Battersby.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Shell House at Ballymaloe

I have a long list of things that I want to do "someday", and one of those desires is to attend classes at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland. Really, it's more than a passing fancy. I am positively dying to enroll there before actually someday dying.

Of course, it's the esteemed cooking instruction that is Ballymaloe's big draw, but I recently learned of something else that has intrigued me. There is a Shell House, reminiscent of follies from the olden days, on the Ballymaloe property. I'm not sure how I have overlooked this design tidbit after my many visits to their website, but better late than never. The Shell House was constructed in the mid-1990s by
Blott Kerr-Wilson. According to Ballymaloe's website, the roof is entirely covered in scallop and mussel shells that were once served at Ballymaloe House and Ballymaloe Cookery School. That's one clever way to use leftovers.

I found these photos of the Shell House on the
Blott Kerr-Wilson website, and I urge you to visit the site as you'll find amazing examples of their shell houses. For more information on the Ballymaloe Cookery School, click here.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Brooke Astor and The Philosophers' Room

Funny enough, one of my favorite Parish-Hadley designed interiors is not Brooke Astor's library, although I do fancy it. Nor is it the yellow drawing room of the Paleys. Instead, it's the snappy-looking room seen above, one that was featured in Christopher Petkanas' Parish-Hadley: Sixty Years of American Design. What drew me to this Parish-Hadley room was not its leafy green vista, but rather the geometric-print fabric hanging on the walls combined with the blue lacquered bookshelves. To me, this room is so quintessentially American, comfortable in a crisp, chic, and casual way. Can't you just imagine what it must have been like to lollygag in this room on a Sunday afternoon?

The book only mentioned that the solarium was part of a 68-acre Westchester County estate, something which left me wondering for years who owned such a lovely garden room. But now I know where this room is located thanks to the Sotheby's catalogue for the Brooke Astor auction. It's at Holly Hill, Astor's estate along the Hudson River. Finally, the mystery is solved, although I'm sure that quite a few of you knew who the homeowner was long before the auction catalogue was published.

According to the catalogue, this is the Philosophers' Room, a fitting name for a room filled with such a collection of books. What struck me about the catalogue's photos, seen below, is how bright those blue bookshelves really are. I don't think they're being auctioned off, but the Roman marble head of a Satyr, perched on top of the bookshelf, is. (That too you can see below.) And wouldn't you love to see a close-up shot of the books? I can make out a few titles:
The Flowering of the Middle Ages; Pearls: A Natural History; American Rococo, 1750-1775: Elegance in Ornament. But the other titles in the library? I suppose that in a way, the mystery surrounding this room endures.

Image at top from Parish-Hadley: Sixty Years of American Design by Christopher Petkanas. The remaining photos courtesy of Sotheby's.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Palm Beach Entertaining

I do enjoy books on entertaining, and this fall there are quite a few new book releases that look intriguing. One that I just finished reading is Palm Beach Entertaining: Creating Occasions to Remember by Annie Falk. The book, a fun and zippy read, is filled with lush photographs of food and table settings, but what I appreciate even more are the recipes and tips provided by some of Palm Beach's leading hosts and hostesses. After all, those Palm Beach denizens really know how to throw a party.

With recipes like Vegetables Provençal, Cheese Grits, Chicken Hash, and Chocolate Bundt Cake, this book promotes a traditional yet comfortable style of entertaining right down to the Tiffany flatware and Blue Canton china. And really, I think that's how most of us entertain. Exotic and new is fun to try along the way, but inevitably, we always come back to the tried and true classics. I think that after reading this book, you'll find a few new ideas and dishes to add to your entertaining repertoire.

Lunch with the Ladies at the home of Victoria Amory. The menu included Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Tarts, Turkish Eggplant and Yogurt Salad, and Shrimp Skewers with Cumin and Honey.

Dinner in the Country at the Pine Creek Sporting Club home of Karin and Joe Luter. This menu featured Cornmeal-Crusted Quail and Wild Turkey Pot Pie.

The well-outfitted butler's pantry of Lars Bolander and Nadine Kalachnikoff.

Gathering at the Lake House with Talbott Maxey and Kit Pannill. Dishes include Roasted Caprese Salad and Ham Rolls.

All images used with express permission of the publisher. Copyright Palm Beach Entertaining: Creating Occasions to Remember by Annie Falk, Rizzoli New York, 2012.

Legendary Rooms for Americans Abroad

I'm most excited about the October issue of House Beautiful, especially considering that this particular issue profiles Americans living abroad, a departure from our usual stateside focus. One article of particular interest to me is "Legendary Rooms for Americans Abroad" which profiles some of the memorable international interiors that American authors, tastemakers, and designers called home-at least when they weren't at home in America. But, I'm a little partial to this article as I helped with a bit of the brainstorming.

The homes range from Ernest Hemingway's Cuban domicile to that of fabric designer Jim Thompson in Thailand. Accompanying the photos is commentary on each room provided by a slew of designers including Alexa Hampton, Suzanne Rheinstein, and Hutton Wilkinson. I'm only going to show a few photos so as not to spoil it for you, but do pick up a copy and enjoy these worldly interiors.

Jim Thompson's Living Room in Bangkok, Thailand

Pauline de Rothschild's library at Château Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, France.

Van Day Truex's home in Gargas, France.

All images used with the express permission of House Beautiful.