Thursday, 27 September 2007

In Xanadu...

did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree...

Receipt for an unashamedly pretty Dining Room:
George III Chinoiserie bookcase cabinet
An Italian porcelain and bronze lantern - just that bit chicer than a chandelier
A pair of Jansen corner cabinets
An ebonized Directoire table
Painted Directoire style chairs covered in John Boyd's Ermine-black horsehair
All set against Zuber's Hindustan panoramic paper
Some London blinds in shrimp linen to complement the perfect antique Savonnerie or Ax minster carpet you will spend the next three years looking for
Soft chalky whites for the woodwork and a pale shrimp glazed ceiling, and voila!

All furniture from Kamelot Auctions

Now playing: Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Welcome to the Pleasuredome (Escape Act Video Mix)
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Dear Zaha,

I don't know how to say this - but I think our all too brief affair is over.
It's not you, or your fault . How could it be, you are perfect and amazing.
It's me. I just don't think I'm right for you.
Had things been different, who knows what might have been.
What I do know is that there will always be a special place in my heart for you.


I went to see the newly arrived Moon Unit sofa by the incomparable Zaha Hadid at the very salubrious B&B Italia showroom. As a sculptural object it was beautiful, but to my great disappointment, as a sofa it was too impractical.
It was far too low to rise from with any dignity and the choice of fabrics was far too limited. If the saleswoman, who struck me as more of a PR person, was indeed correct the choice of fabric was either ugly vinylized gold or ugly vinylized purple. While I realise this wet look fabric is part of Ms Hadid's aesthetic, I think there should have been a more practical alternative, as both colourways showed the slightest indentation or mark. I had hoped to be able to do this sofa in a mohair; evidently this is an impossible task.
Given the ground breaking design, I do think B&B Italia should have invested in developing a fabric that is as equally revolutionary. The structure is an ingenious example of engineering. Unfortunately, I can not get past the solid foam construction. After ten years I fully expect something to need refreshing; not, to need replacing.
At the moment, given the limitations and the fabric options I can really only see it working for a certain type of client; but unfortunately there aren't any pimps, drug dealers, or fashion victims on my books at the moment.
Had things been different, who knows what might have been.

Now playing: Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 24 September 2007

Dedicated to all you Gucci bag carriers out there...

The Cramps - You Got Good Taste, a favourite of mine from clubland when I was a door whore extraordinaire.

Saturday, 22 September 2007

I am bored with this neo nonsense.

The whole neo-tribes concept was sparked off by two things. First, the Dana Thomas book. Second, seeing the Beckhams on the cover of W. The former merely added grist to my mill but the latter (after I realised it was not an internet mock up), well, that damn near put me into orbit.
Has the world really changed so much that we admire people like this? Or are things exactly the same as they were at the beginning of the 20Th Century? Under colonialism those who governed were no more than chip shop girls and butcher's boys. Have we acquiesced to being culturally and mentally colonized by vapid vulgarians and corporate greed for the sake of an imaginary 'lifestyle'?
For too many years now I have felt that I have been dictated to, on so many levels, not by the great and the good but by the mediocre and the stupid; two traits I find particularly repugnant.
I know this is "only a decorating blog" (your words and sentiment Ben, not mine) so what does this have to do with the decorative arts? Well, it has everything to do with it. Our consciousness is being shaped (if, we allow it) not by artisans and artists, but by corporate greed. I for one do not want more choices, I just want better things. Better things, made by people who take pride in their work and are paid accordingly, and not made by some dispassionate factory worker halfway around the world.
This is the truly tragic part of the Neophytes; they are incapable of recognizing this. They are too concerned with image to care about the process. They are not the inheritors or the curators of culture, they are merely its imitators. They ape, not their betters, but rather the vain and empty idols of celebrity. So easily gratified with so little - I detest them for not wanting more from life or from themselves.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Eartha Kitt

The fabulous Eartha Mae Kitt - ageless and timeless and still going strong. She even has a website .

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Conscientious Consumption

Hand-painted and hand-stamped wallpaper made in The Alpha Workshops' studios in New York City. The Alpha Workshops is the only organization in the United States that employs and trains people living with HIV/AIDS in the decorative arts. Every purchase of Alpha products and services directly supports their mission.

Left to right: Oh So Faux in Knot So Faux, Amiens in Anne, Bargello in Spice, and Curvy Swervy in Coffee.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Luis Barragan

Luis Barragan (1902-1988) was one of Mexico's most influential architects of the 20th Century. Educated as an engineer and self taught as an architect, Barragan was the perfect synthesis of his time. He gave the newly burgeoning International Style a uniquely Mexican perspective. His buildings are renowned for their mastery of space and light, but Barragan was equally influential as a landscape architect and urban planner. Cited as an inspiration by subsequent Pritzker winners such as Tadao Ando, Frank Gehry, and Rem Koolhaas.

In 1980 Luis Barragan was awarded the Pritzker Prize for Architecture. In his acceptance speech he said he found it "alarming" that publications devoted to architecture seemed to have banished the words, "Beauty, Inspiration, Magic, Spellbound, Enchantment, as well as the concepts of Serenity, Silence, Intimacy and Amazement." He apologized for perhaps not having done these concepts complete justice, but said "they have never ceased to be my guiding lights."

In his closing remarks, he spoke of "The Art of Seeing. It is essential to an architect to know how to see: I mean, to see in such a way that the vision is not overpowered by rational analysis."

I think this should apply to everyone, in everything they do - everything they are.

Barragan House, Calle Ramirez, Mexico City


Fabulous mood board style clip of the architect's own house.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

The Neo-Preps

The Official Preppy Handbook, the 80s bible of prepdom.

Any movement that advances the eradication of poorly spoken, badly dressed, and ill mannered people gets my vote. Let's hear it for the pink and green - hip, hip, hurrah! The legitimate children and heirs of Ralph Lauren and Martha Stewart are shiny, happy people. Unfortunately a little too shiny and too happy to be really authentic. They, unlike their predecessors, tend to be easily swayed by new trends. After all, change is anathema to a true prep.
The Neo-Preps are also not very hardy and all too full of 'I don't' s. 'I don't eat this', 'I don't like that', 'I don't ride', 'I don't drink', 'I don't smoke'...etc. This is just boorish and smacks of too much professed self awareness, and is quite frankly NOKD.
Now with regard to their taste - visually also just that bit too shiny and bright, and too concerned with the look rather than the quality (a hallmark of true prepdom). One thing still holds true though, being seen as too intellectual or too cultured is still suspect. It's nice to know that somethings never change.

Ralph Lauren Home the benchmark of neo-prepdom.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

The Neo-Emigres

Image from life in a venti cup.

How different this tribe is from the original Tribe of Émigrés. Instead of luggage laden with talent, old-world style, and woe the Neo-Emigres' bags are stuffed only with cash. Yes, they are rich, very rich indeed. They have had the best education money can buy. Yet they do not posses the confidence that usually accompanies privilege. They are arrogant rather than confident. While polite they lack charm. They have no style, just a great many expensive things.
Their look is boutique hotel lobby.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

The Neo-Trendsetter

Sofa by Artisticframe@1stdibs

Furnishings and art by Fat Chance

Upon first encountering this group one is immediately taken with how generically attractive they are. Usually in their early 30s with very well paid, but inessential and inconsequential careers. Though bright they are not particularly clever. What they lack in cerebral matter they can more than compensate for with superficial charm. They are from good, earnest, but unfortunately uninteresting stock. Though they have been on exotic holidays, they have never really traveled. They may wear the latest designer clothes, but they have no understanding of bespoke. Labels they understand; craftsmanship escapes them. They buy bookcases not for books, but for audio-visual paraphernalia. They are happily and ignorantly ordinary; not unlike their choices.

Their look is only superficially similar to the above selection, and certainly would not be as informed or of the same quality.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Urban Tribes

We all have an affiliation to one tribe or another be it by birth, choice, or chance. This affiliation determines the outward presentation of ourselves to the world. It also determines how we decorate our houses and conduct our inner lives. Author, and social commentator Nancy Mitford simply described it as U and non-U. No longer is it a simple, if it was ever indeed simple, question of social standing.
Today's tribes are driven by the concept of lifestyle and a sense of false nostalgia, not by familial tradition or any sense of connoisseurship.
These Neo-Tribes, as I call them, are:
the Neo-Nouvelles; the Neo-Barbarians; the Neo-Preps; the Neo-Emigres; and my least favourite of all, the Neo-Trendsetters.


Not surprisingly, this is one of my favorite scenes.

Sunday, 9 September 2007

Sex in the City - Hubble

So which are you, a Katie girl or a Simple girl?

Or... are you a Hubble?

Friday, 7 September 2007

The times they are a changin'

Ron Arad's Misfits Seating for Moroso

Karim Rashid's Koochy Sofa for Zanotta

Zaha Hadid's Moon System for B&B Italia

The three designers cited above have not been restricted either by geographical or intellectual boundaries. Though the designs are not revolutionary they are certainly not derivative, and are therefor original and worthy of note. Interestingly, all of these designs are produced by Italian companies.
Though these are atypical of what I would normally choose, I like their boldness of form and admire the concepts behind them. As I mentioned in Moody Design I am looking for something with a post-apocalypse feel and I think in the correct material any of these would work beautifully. I do, however, have a preference for the new Zaha Hadid design - it is the closest to what I had envisioned.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

The Last of England

Prospect Cottage, Dungeness

Artist and filmmaker Derek Jarman created his last masterpiece on the barren, windswept, shingled south eastern coast of England. His garden, like his other works, is a moving and at times witty triumph over a bleak and inhospitable landscape.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Face to Face - Derek Jarman

An artist whose work has had a huge influence on shaping my aesthetic.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Moody Design

Today my horoscope read :
This particular astrological time period should come with a mandatory warning label to be worn by the temporary purveyor of said energy until the effects have passed. What might that label read? 'For your own safety, avoid irritating me -- and if you do, hide the scissors.
An understatement if there ever was one.

Stills from Blade Runner.

Is this less than charming mood responsible for the post-apocalypse look that I am contemplating for a new project ?
Possibly, but more likely it is an attempt to capture the mood of the mid 1980s.
I am of course speaking of the underground 80s, as reflected in the works of such film makers as Slava Tsukerman, Peter Greenaway, and Derek Jarman - not the vulgar hyper bourgeois 80s.
My vision is that of the world as seen through Jarman's lens -brutally barren, yet lush in its details. Details which are aggressively challenging both visually and intellectually.

Film posters for Derek Jarman's Jubilee

Chairs by Ron Arad

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Spitting Image - Diana's Revenge

The alternative tribute - a very British piss take.