Thursday, 31 January 2008

All that glitters is not gold

Catherine Palace (Tsarskoye Selo), St. Petersburg

Photograph of the original Amber Room

"The Amber Room"
Photographs of the re-created Amber Room.

Construction of the Amber Room began in 1701. It was originally installed at Charlottenburg Palace, home of Friedrich I, the first King of Prussia. The room was designed by German baroque sculptor Andreas Schlüter and constructed by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram. Peter the Great admired the room on a visit, and in 1716 the King of Prussia—then Frederick William I—presented it to Peter the Great as a gift, cementing a Prussian-Russian alliance against Sweden.

The Amber Room was shipped to Russia in 18 large boxes and installed in the Winter House in St. Petersburg as a part of a European art collection. In 1755, Czarina Elizabeth (who, ironically sought to rid Russia of all things German) ordered the room to be moved to the Catherine Palace in Pushkin, named Tsarskoye Selo, or "Czar's Village." Italian designer Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli redesigned the room to fit into its new, larger space using additional amber shipped from Berlin.

Lost since 1941, the reconstruction of the replica room from black and white photographs began in 1979 at Tsarskoye Selo and was completed 25 years later. Dedicated by Russian President Vladimir Putin and then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, the new room marked the 300-year anniversary of St. Petersburg in a unifying ceremony that echoed the peaceful sentiment behind the original.

Now playing: Blancmange - Living On the Ceiling
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

I'd rather have...

Karin Calloway Buffet.

Satan himself over for dinner than invite friends over to watch a football game. Sorry, I meant the Super Bowl. A friend in New York (the one missing some of the more important gay genes) who loves spectator sports asked what would I do for this particular type of party (I typed it once, once was enough). Given the location, what could be better than pizza, buffalo wings, beer, Mississippi mud pie, and maybe a Boston Cream pie just for good measure?

Now playing: Gwen Stefani - Hollaback Girl
via FoxyTunes


In Trinidad's historic capital city of Port of Spain, the elements of calypso, steelpan, and playing mas (masquerade) are harmoniously structured to form a five day pageant of ritual. Beginning with the King and Queen Contest on Friday, Panorama on Saturday, Dimanche Gras on Sunday, J'Ouvert Monday, and concluding with the Parade of the Bands on Fat Tuesday. These main events, and countless others, build to an unforgettable display of beauty and a stunning demonstration of the irrepressible human spirit.
This is Carnival like no other. The country's motto is "Together we Aspire, Together we Achieve", and that they most certainly do.

King and Queen of Carnival Competition, Trinidad 2007

King of Carnival, Trinidad 2007

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Keeping Up Appearances

How to Get On in Society
by John Betjeman (1906-1984)

Phone for the fish-knives, Norman
As Cook is a little unnerved;
You kiddies have crumpled the serviettes
And I must have things daintily served.
Are the requisites all in the toilet?
The frills round the cutlets can wait
Till the girl has replenished the cruets
And switched on the logs in the grate.
It's ever so close in the lounge, dear,
But the vestibule's comfy for tea
And Howard is out riding on horseback
So do come and take some with me.
Now here is a fork for your pastries
And do use the couch for your feet;
I know what I wanted to ask you --
Is trifle sufficient for sweet?
Milk and then just as it comes dear?
I'm afraid the preserve's full of stones;
Beg pardon, I'm soiling the doileys
With afternoon tea-cakes and scones.

Click on the fish-knives link to see what makes this Non U

Now playing: Bronski Beat - Smalltown Boy
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 28 January 2008

Table manners

Linen napkins from Jane Sacchi.
Dinner napkins should be as large (at least 18 inches square) and as luxurious as possible.
And, please, no fancy folding or napkin rings.

A George III pierced silver fiddle pattern fish slice, London 1813.
Highly preferable to the later Victorian version.

A pair of Victorian fish servers, the blade chased with floral swags, on similar handle with beaded edge, in case, 13 1/4" wide, Sheffield 1881.
But these are usually so attractive one could be forgiven for using them. What one should, however, not be lured into using is fish knives and forks. Regardless of how attractive they may be. Strictly a Victorian middle class invention that is seen as de trop.

Cased set of six silver handled dessert knives and forks.
These should be completely different from one's usual service. The choice is endless: porcelain, agate, ivory, etc.

Victorian seven piece dessert set, comprising a pair of grape scissors, two pairs of nutcrackers and four berry spoons with gilded bowls.
This is the sort of thing one can never find when looking.

Dessert service, 19Th Century.
Dessert services should be as pretty as possible, if only because they can.

Now playing: Lighthouse Family - Absolutely Everything
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, 27 January 2008

See Emily play

Kew Gardens 2003

Emily Young is considered to be one of the foremost sculptors
in Britain today. Born in London in 1951 to a family of artists and writers. Her grandmother, sculptor Kathleen Scott (nee Bruce) was a pupil of Auguste Rodin and widow of the famous Antarctic explorer Capt. Robert Falcon Scott. The widowed Mrs. Young subsequently married Emily's paternal grandfather, the politician and writer Edward Hilton Young, 1st Baron Kennet. Her father Wayland Hilton Young, 2nd Baron Kennet was also a politician and writer. Her uncle was the famous ornithologist, conservationist and painter, Sir Peter Scott.

Young achieved a certain immortality in 1971 as the inspiration behind the song See Emily Play written by the elusive genius Syd Barrett of Pink Floyd. Though originally a painter she began to work exclusively in stone, owing to its timeless quality, in the 1980s, and has since produced breathtaking sculptures of luminous intensity and great beauty.

"I am doing Nature’s bidding. I am a part of Nature, and I am a manifestation in human form of her creativity; me carving stone is one of the infinite ways nature expresses itself. I am compelled by everything that I have ever experienced, or was born from, or know about, to do this, here, now..." Emily Young

The cover of Young's book,
Time in the Stone: A Light Touch and a Long View

Lion Woman, 1999 Chatsworth

Lunar Disc I, 2005 Salisbury Cathedral

Disc 2006, On Form

Now playing: The Beauty Room - Soul Horizon
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, 24 January 2008

The Big Easy

New Orleans Auction Galleries, Inc. is having their next sale on
26 January 2008 10am CDT (4pm GMT)
27 January 2008 11am CDT (5pm GMT)
28 January 2008 Midnight runover

Here are my picks from a fabulous selection. Swamp Palazzo or modernist interior, in either setting these pieces would lend an air of quiet grandeur.

Lot 163: Good Queen Anne Walnut Side chair, first quarter 18th century, the padded shell-form back covered in period tapestry and joined by crook arms to the padded seat, raised on cabriole legs ending in squared feet, the seat having horsehair padding, h. 39-3/4".

Lot 576: Pair of Italian Carved and Gilded Wood Corinthian Pilaster Capitals, fourth quarter 19th century, now mounted on custom rust-finished steel stands as table lamps, h. 28", w. 14-1/2".

Lot 492: Restauration Mahogany Work Table, early 19th century, the lift top fitted with an interior looking glass and opening to expose a compartmentalized interior with a fold-out pin cushion, the drawer with an inset leather writing surface, on a scroll-form cheval base with an unusual dished stretcher, saber legs and brass casters, h. 30-1/4", w. 21", d. 15-1/2".

Lot798: Pair of George III-Style Polychromed Side Tables, fourth quarter 19th century, in the chinoiserie taste, each with a rectangular shaped top with squared corners above a conforming frieze, raised on chamfered square legs ending in molded feet, the whole accented with gilt and polychromed figural landscapes, h. 35-7/8", w. 54-1/4", d. 22".

Lot 574:Pair of Oak Columns, 19th century, each with a fluted shaft to a molded circular base on a socle plinth, h. 97".

Lot 582:After Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velasquez (Spanish, 1599-1660) "Portrait of a Princess Playing the Harpsichord", late 17th/early 18th-century oil on canvas, 58" x 42", inscribed middle right "ETA ANORV 10 1644", unsigned. Presented in a good Spanish carved dark-gilded wood frame, first quarter 18th century.

Now playing: Tina Turner - Proud Mary
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Kaare Klint

As the primary force behind the founding of the furniture school at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen in 1924, Kaare Klint (1888–1954) helped shape the sensibilities of many of the young designers under his instruction. Most notably Poul Kjærholm and Børge Mogensen.
Klint believed that thorough an understanding of the materials, proportions, and construction of classical furniture was the basis for understanding the principles for designing the new. The following pieces, some of his most enduring designs, are the distilled essence of their 18Th Century forerunners.

Cuban Mahogany Cabinet, 1930.

Mahogany Desk, 1930.

Stained Ash and Leather Safari Chair, 1933.

Stained Oak and Leather Propeller Stool, 1927.

Leather and Mahogany Sofa, 1930.

Can be sourced at: and Andrew Hollingsworth, arguably on of the best retailers of European design classics in the US.

Now playing: Breaks Co-Op - The Sound Inside
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 21 January 2008

Move over Liberace

Lot No 303 A 19th century copper and brass samovar, a copper jug, copper funnels, watering can, etc.
Estimate : £50 - £80.
Tell me this would not make a great lamp with a black almost can shaped shade, with the knob handle becoming the finial. Evidently this is sort of thing is only befitting the "Spawn of Liberace".

Now playing: Billie Holiday - God Bless the Child (Single Version)
via FoxyTunes

Where less is more

Let's do the math, shall we.
On Decorno's Decorating for Beginners I commented:

If I had a daughter, this is what I would stock her first apartment with:
Operative word being I.

1. Baldwin Tuxedo or Nantucket sofa in a durable timeless solid fabric.
$9,000 plus say three recovers in 15 years @ $2,500 per recover $7,500 Total: $16, 500 or $3.01/day.

A William IV mahogany version, House of Talia

2.A Regency tilt top breakfast table.
$8,000 say over a lifetime, works out to be very inexpensive. Even the Joe Nye one (which is a very fine example), recommended by some wag, is a steal over the course of a lifetime. Mine is in store, awaiting a kitchen refit, but if I did indeed have a daughter it would be going to her.

3. Wedgwood classic white china.
No idea what this costs, but I know it won't break the bank; as I have cupboards full of it of varying ages.

4. Proper silver flatware - Tiffany Bamboo - tell everyone who ever wants to buy you a present that is what you want and you will have a service in no time.
Frankly this is what godparents are for. I do it for my godson, he doesn't understand it now but one day he will.

5. Interesting lamps - anything can be turned into a lamp, i.e. silver plate samovars. Remember, lamps are the jewellery of a room.
With a little imagination (one thing Ikea doesn't sell) these can cost very little.

6. A better than average bed.
Say $3,500, it is important to have as good a bed as a sofa.

7. A starter set of Calphalon, a cast iron skillet, a copper egg bowl, a wall mounted scale, and a French press.
Kitchen, let's say $750 over five years works out at .41 cents/day. And, as we all know those pieces will last much longer than that.

And tell her not to waste money on the in between or on the style du jour. Wine crates cost nothing.
Just like those folding French park chairs and continuity. This is not about instant gratification. This is about building a life with an eye on the future. This is not about snobbery, it is about quality. Quality comes at a price. A price one is, or is not, prepared to make sacrifices for. Simple.

Now playing: Kevin Aviance - Cunty
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, 20 January 2008

There is a name for girls like you...

You get a fella all worked up and then..Poof! You're gone.

First there was Flair,

then Nest,

then House & Garden,

and now An Aesthete's Lament.
What is one meant to look forward to now, I ask you? I don't know how, or if , I will be able go on.
Come back, little Sheba, come back!
Now playing: Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine
via FoxyTunes

Bagdad Cafe - Calling You

This is a lovely film with one of the most beautifully haunting songs one has ever heard.
Do you believe in magic? Surprisingly, I do.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Call me Madame

Madame Wellington Koo by Horst P Horst, 1942.

In the early part of the Twentieth Century it became fashionable for Chinese women of rank to be addressed as Madame.
An Aesthete's Lament has profiled one of the chicest of these women, Madame Wellington Koo (nee Oei Oui-lan). I think these portraits of her by Horst certainly prove the point.
In our globalised and politically correct society, allure has been traded for acceptance in the name of equality. An inequitable transaction, in my opinion. Madame Koo, and a few other women like her, was, and is, a perfect example of how to preserve one's essence while meeting the world on an equal, and exquisitely shod, footing.

Now playing: Madeleine Peyroux - La Javanaise
via FoxyTunes

The Soong Sisters

Thursday, 17 January 2008

With only...

two months to live I would not be wasting my days looking at anything less than these...unless of course I could spend those last two moths at Versailles. In the Hall of Mirrors to be precise. There one would have all the chandeliers one could possibly want. After all, there is no point in dreaming small when facing... Hell, there is no point in dreaming small. Ever.

Barovier e Toso Murano Chandelier, Italy 1960s.
Monumental Barovier e Toso Murano chandelier from the 60s. Consisting of a metal frame with four lights and 27 hand-blown pieces forming the sphere.

Barovier e Toso "Feathers" Chandelier Italy 1960s.
Huge 1960s Barovier e Toso Murano chandelier with 126 hand-blown glass feathers.
Both from Adesso.

Large Venini Polyhedral Glass Chandelier in Champagne, Italian 1960s.
Craig van den Brulle

Now playing: Talking Heads - Once in a Lifetime
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Why have a dog and bark?

Working for gay men, sometimes, is like having a dog and barking. To put it bluntly, no matter how supposedly busy they are, when they are not cruising the Internet for cock, they are cruising it for furniture. There, I said it. No matter how beautiful a presentation they have been given they always have a possible Internet alternative. Always. Even the ones who claim they want commitment (you know who you are) have an alternative Internet suggestion. Unlike shoes or relationships, furniture requires a real and heartfelt commitment. There will not be a better option just around the corner or on the next trendy LA based website. Trust me, I know. Just as I know the combination below would be hard to beat for a Kensington drawing room with a modern edge.

Illum Wikkelso King Chair and Stool.

Georgian sofa in a diamond woven Lee Jofa linen.

Aldo Tura parchment covered eliptical dining table.

Now playing: Lena Horne - The Lady Is a Tramp
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Three reasons to fall in love


1."The lady's fashion sense was just as singular as her maquillage."
Just say it out loud maquillage. No one says maquillage anymore, which in itself is a travesty.

2."My only disappointment in this bohemian, vaguely Swedish-meets-French-country tableau is the couple's utterly conventional decision to marry in a church rather than in a country meadow."
This person really, really gets it.

3."If you are under the sunny side of 60, it is unlikely that you know much if anything about Dorinda Prest Dixon Ryan (1928-2007). Which honestly, however, is no excuse for ignorance, if you possess the slightest interest in style and the people who have it, make it or influence it."
As esoteric a choice as Picayunes.

Now playing: Etta James - At Last
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, 13 January 2008


Amazing how this applies to so many different things on so many different tables. I mean, levels


Now playing: Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Two Tribes

via FoxyTunes

Friday, 11 January 2008


It looks like a rainy weekend ahead. I haven't seen this in years. Maybe I will have a Taylor movie filled Sunday.

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Interview with a film maker

I have chosen Layer Cake Films to do a promo clip for HOBAC.
I see my role as that of a curator, rather than as that of an artist. I do, though, find the creative process fascinating. Hopefully this interview will give an insight into an interesting young woman's work.

What inspired you to become a filmmaker?

I always loved film and had been interested in becoming a film editor really before I even knew what it entailed! I just knew I would love it. The film Pretty in Pink was my favorite movie as a teenager and it really was the movie that made me want to be a part of film! I loved how it made me feel and I wanted to create things that made people feel emotion ever since then. Not very exciting, I know. I guess Pretty in Pink, the simple little John Hughes teen movie, is what got me interested in doing film as a career…thankfully it did not inspire me to become a dressmaker like the main character in the film or I would have been equally as bad.

What do you say to those who do not see film as a
legitimate art form?

I think people who don’t see film as an art form can’t look beyond the technical aspect of it. I think if people could see the amazing amount of creativity that goes into every facet of film making they would be shocked. It’s not just people shooting other people speaking words from a page. Every shot is thought out, planned, lit. Every edit I do I watch it over and over to make sure I get the best emotion or beauty or feeling from it. All the camera work I do is thought out and the selection of film stock for lighting or mood is thoroughly researched. I think I would tell people who don’t see film as a legitimate art form that they should try to make a film…even a simple 2 minute film they shoot and write themselves for fun. I think the realization of how creative, emotional, and personal film is would blow them away.

Where did you study and who, or what, were your
influences then?

I attended the Academy or Art University in San Francisco, California and received my BA in Film. My influences in school were mainly horror filmmakers! I was a huge fan of Peter Jackson before he became PETER JACKSON: DIRECTOR OF LORD OF THE RINGS. His early work like Heavenly Creatures and Dead Alive are amazing films that were funny, beautiful, and twisted. Also in school I got a lot of inspiration from Dario Argento, a famous Italian horror film director. His stuff was always beautiful and disgusting. I really got into rare European horror films in that time period. Most of them were banned in the United States and I could only get a hold of really bad VHS copies. I liked how a lot of those films would push the limits of storytelling and the endings were always unapologetic and dark, very un-Hollywood and I liked that there were people out there willing to do what they wanted and not what a studio told them would sell.

One of my teachers in school was also a huge influence on me, mostly on my editing. I started working with him and we both moved to Los Angeles later on and I continued to work for him. He was my mentor and his style of editing really shaped the basis of my editing.

And now?

I still adore horror but watch it mostly now for entertainment and not inspiration (though horror movies usually have amazing editing!). One person who can do no wrong in my eyes is Jean Pierre Jeunet. I knew Delicatessen when I was in school and loved it but his work has more meaning for me now. I think everything he does is visually stunning and inspired. Floria Sigismondi is also my favorite. Her work is so artistic, dark, and just odd. I don’t know how she creates some of the things she does but I wish I had her talent and knowledge. She influences me in so many ways…I wish I could work on something with her! I also really like all the filmmakers popping up from Korea. Chan-wook Park is amazing! His work is unbelievable. Ji-woon Kim who did Tale of Two Sisters is also great. I can’t wait to see what he does next. I also love the Brothers Quay. I could go on forever so I’ll stop now…

What have been your most notable projects both
artistically and commercially?

Commercially I have edited tons of rap video’s for some really huge people. I worked on the show Monster Garage before it ended and commercially that is probably the largest thing I’ve done. I also edited a Greatest Hits compilation for Fox Racing a long time ago but it is still really popular. Fox Racing is a sponsor/clothing company for motocross riders, which is a huge sport in the US.

Artistically there hasn’t been much to be honest! I don’t have a lot of time to work on the more artistic projects as they usually don’t pay much, if at all! Layer Cake is how I really want to even it out. The films are very artistic and very me…I just want people to have fun in front of my camera and be themselves. I look forward to doing more promos and documentaries as well with the company. They give me a great deal of creativity and I like finding ways of making them fun and entertaining and not the boring corporate type film people think of.

The last company I worked for did events and weddings. I was proud of my work there. I was very artistic with most of what I did and it was satisfying to take badly shot footage and make something beautiful and fun out of it. No one could tell how bad a lot of the footage was when I was done with it. It was a challenge but it was a learning experience. I guess I am proud of a lot of the work I did there and that would fall in the more artistic project category.

Do you differentiate between the two?

Yes, because one pays (commercial) and one doesn’t (artistic)! Artistic work usually inspires you more and is what you prefer to be doing. But that doesn’t pay the bills. I started Layer Cake to try and even it out.

What would be your dream project, besides my promo,
that is?

Working with Jeunet or Floria most definitely. I would do anything they asked of me just to see them in action! My intention was always to be a movie trailer editor. That never happened because I didn’t know anyone in the industry who could get me “in” anywhere (that’s exactly how it works too…your talent doesn’t matter, only who you know). So I guess some kind of major trailer editing thing would be a dream project as well.

If my company becomes the kind of company that people go to to get fun, offbeat, creative, custom films whether it is for weddings or promos or whatever, that would be a dream. Just because in the past those kinds of films have been boring doesn’t mean they need to continue to be. I hope I get the reputation of someone who can make those types of projects fun, modern, and entertaining.

Do you think the younger audience has had a broad
enough education to fully understand and appreciate,
what either you or I do?

I think for what I do, yes. Kids are just completely immersed in film and TV and they respect it. A lot of “cool” comes with what I do. It would be cooler if I worked on the set I’m sure but film garners respect because people love it. I don’t think people realize how much work goes into it but they appreciate it. DVD’s alone include so much information now on film making and “how it’s done” documentaries that more and more people are becoming more knowledgeable and want to be a part of it. For you on the other hand I would say no! Everyone thinks they are a designer and sadly, they are not. I watch HGTV all the time (the Home and Garden Channel) and they make designing/interior design look simple and I think it’s given most of America this sense of “I can do that” and they sadly can not. Most people think it is really simple to design rooms or homes so they do it themselves. It’s created a world of really badly painted walls and rooms full of bland IKEA furniture. Gag. Like the bad kitchens of the 1970’s and the atrocious wallpaper epidemic of the eighties, we are well on our way to the over-IKEA’d furniture apocalypse. People think they can design it themselves…just say no! Most of those people have never even heard the term “color chart” and it’s obvious when you see their homes and offices.

What do you see as the next big thing in film and
how will that affect the peripheral industries?

I think the next big thing in film would be the fact that film may not be around for much longer! Everyone wants to go digital. It is so much cheaper and easier to use and it is very clean. There are already major Hollywood movies shot digitally and it looks so good you almost can’t tell anymore! I think it would be horrible to move over completely to digital because I love the depth and color and grain film gives but I think the future holds all things digital. I think in a shorter rather than longer period of time all theaters will start projecting digitally. No more film projectors…everything will be downloaded. It will be a huge thing and change all aspects of film, film making, film distribution, etc., but it’s going to happen, good or bad. I think this is one reason why super 8 film has become really popular in weddings or promos or commercials, etc. It gives that nostalgia of FILM. Not just old film but the look and feel of all film. Even movies that are shot on film these days are so clean and crisp you can’t tell…maybe it’s digital, maybe it’s film. With super 8 you get that complete film look. It’s not clean but grainy and scratchy and it’s beautiful! Hopefully the complete move to digital will make what I do more popular. The use of super 8 will become the artistic expression of doing something different.

Now playing: Duran Duran - Girls On Film
via FoxyTunes