Friday, 30 May 2008

When just being was enough

The year was 1987. Margaret Thatcher was beginning her third term. Terence Trent D'Arby, ABC, Black, and Depeche Mode all had hits. None of us really had careers, just badly paid, but fabulous sounding jobs. Jobs that barely covered living, never mind the the necessities. The necessities being Gaultier, Johnny Moke, the odd bit of Westwood, taxis, and white shirts by Comme. White shirts by Comme that would come in very handy when waiting tables in order to pay for the necessities.

Stephen Tennant, Cecil Beaton, 1924

This was also the year that the Hon. Stephen James Napier Tennant died. The youngest son of the Scots peer, Lord Glenconner, and one of The Souls, the former Pamela Wyndham. And along with him, so too passed the last vestiges of an age, and a culture, where just being was enough.

The Wyndham Sisters (Madeline, Pamela, and Mary), by John Singer Sargent, 1897.

In the Wilderness, Stephen Tennant Modeled as St. John the Baptist for Rex Wilstler

Wilsford Manor

...the house was commissioned by Stephen Tennant's parents, Sir Edward and Lady Tennant. The architect Detmar Blow, his assistants and a dedicated band of masons and carpenters worked on the site of an older, much-altered farmhouse; in March and April 1904 the original structure was carefully dismantled in order to re-use its materials... on 16th May, the new foundation stone was laid by Sir Edward's mother-in-law, the Hon. Mrs Percy Wyndham, who had seen the building of her own house, nearby Clouds, during the 1880s.

The dining room with its cornice of pink plaster shells.

Youthful Edwardian good looks turned florid with age.

One of many ivory satin sleigh beds, this one in particular covered in silver tissue.

Stephen was the first to go all-white in the early 1930s, with the decorator Syrie Maugham. Later, he embraced a palimpsest of flock wallpapers headed by cornices of gold cake braid, not to mention straw suitcases everywhere bulging with Thai silks and carefully arranged journal pages, each written in a different-coloured ink and often containing beauty hints directed to himself: “No mascara for seven days. Rest the eyes completely.” - Emma Tennant

All images of Wilsford Manor from World of Interiors, October 1987.

Now playing: Pet Shop Boys - Rent
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Monday, 26 May 2008

Foot fetish

Lot 469 - Pair of continental hide upholstered occasional stools, late 19th century, each with a padded circular top above a concave frieze, raised on three legs ending in hoof feet.

New Orleans Auction Galleries, Inc.

Now playing:
Eartha Kitt and Bronski Beat - Cha Cha Heels
via FoxyTunes

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Just as one is happily going about one's business..

quietly building a collection, Hatta Byng has to go and spoil it.

I recently decided to stop taking House & Garden (UK edition) as it has been a while since anything that has graced those venerable pages has piqued my interest. That is until I saw the recent post, Object Lesson, that An Aesthete's Lament did on Thomas Wiggins's house in Epsom. Low and behold the spread was not disappointing. Except for maybe the dining room curtains. Perhaps they just didn't photograph well...

Also included in the June issue was a spread on retail legend Joseph Ettedgui's new flat. No surprises here. Seamlessly perfect and tasteful as one would expect. Just like one of his former shops. What one did not expect to see were vases by Constance Spry being highlighted. Not just in the spread but also in Hatta Byng's feature Copy That. The title says it all, don't you think?

Until now these esoteric objects have been the province of the die hard collector. Undoubtedly, every bored design dilettante from Chelsea to Notting Hell will now be in search of them. Not because they get them, but because Joseph has them. Thanks Hatta Byng. Should one of said dilettantes get in my way, let their fate be on your head. Trust me, it will make the Celine bag incident at I.Magnin look like child's play.

Mantel Vases, 1937, Constance Spry.

Now playing on iTunes: Sophie Ellis-Bextor - Murder on the Dancefloor
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Friday, 23 May 2008

Just couldn't resist this one

Saw these on Beach Bungalow 8, and naturally no one liked them. To each their own.

Of all the comments this one, left by Anonymous - 10:24 AM PDT, struck me in particular:

I actually feel ill after seeing these. One can only wonder what the person who would have this in their home or shop wish for this to convey about them?

Now, I can't help but wonder if they are in fact interested in a genuine response or if they are really just looking for some sort of validation of their opinion? Experience, and the opening line, tells me it is the latter. Regardless, here is the opinion from one who has not only sold such lamps, but also has one of these very lamps in their own house.

As difficult as some may find it to believe, there are people who recognise that the world is a less than perfect and pristine place. Rather than live in a sanitised version of the world, we embrace it in all its hideous splendour. We strive to find beauty in that hideousness. Our lives are filled with chiaroscuro. We are passionate about who we are and what we do. While one may see just two vulgar lamps made from detached feet, we see how nothing is wasted. We find beauty in that. We try to understand the need/desire to create them.

Most of us start this journey by acquiring these things. These things that others find distasteful — so offensive to their delicate sensibilities. Initially we are drawn to them because they are bizarre. Later, we fall in love with them because they signify to the world how we are not like you.

Baudelair said it best, In art, only the bizarre is beautiful.

Now playing: Afrika Bambaataa - This Is Time Zone
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Thursday, 22 May 2008

And another thing

Diana Vreeland

Let's face it, if I only posted things that tickled me posts would be few and far between. So here is one on sidewalk etiquette that everyone under 35 seems to be oblivious to. There is no excuse for not knowing and practising this simple display of common courtesy.

1. The man walks on the outside of the pavement. Always.
2. When walking abreast while approaching other people, the man drops behind his companion.


The Tony Awards - Coco

Now, who knew Katharine Hepburn played the role of Gabrielle Chanel in the Broadway production of Coco?

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

I remember laughing at another decorator once

Once in particular, that is, for asking for chamomile tea after dinner. Far too fey for our company. I asked him what on earth would be next, knitted cushion covers? While one adores the personal touch, one also abhors the loving hands of home.

Grace Kelly in High Society.

There is indeed a vast difference between artisanal and craft. Just a little something to bear in mind. The wrong crafted accessoire can take one from High Society to The Country Girl faster than one can say Etsy.

Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby in The Country Girl.

Now playing: Terence Trent D'Arby - Dance Little Sister
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 19 May 2008

The panicle of the London Season

Chelsea is upon us again; undoubtedly my favourite signifier of the London Season. This year marks the return of Arabella Lennox-Boyd. Lady Lennox-Boyd is a veteran landscape designer of thirty years, a five-time Chelsea gold medalist, and is arguably one of Britain's best garden designers.

The Daily Telegraph Garden by Arabella Lennox-Boyd.

Roman by birth and English by design. She has a wonderful understanding of the need for structure, which she softens and enlivens with an assured use of colour and planting.

Gresgarth Hall, the Lennox-Boyd's country house in Cumbria.

Now playing: Cocteau Twins - Persephone
via FoxyTunes

Friday, 16 May 2008

If one knows one is likely to shake the baby

'tis best not to pick up the baby in the first place...

Well, it seems to be official. I have stopped smoking. Not through design or desire, it just happened. Just when I had found the perfect Orrefors ashtray, too. Damn.
For the moment, all I can liken it to is the difference between using a telescopic rifle, and using a sawn-off shotgun.
With a cigarette, it was ready, aim, and fire. Kill shot.
Without a cigarette, all those words swirling in the ether are given life rapidly, rabidly, and indiscriminately. Carnage.
Anyone want to make book on an early Glorious Twelfth?

Alan Bennett's - The Loneliness of the Non-Smoker

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Somehow we have managed to skip spring

And have gone straight into summer. I for one hate summer. For so many reasons. Not least of all because all and sundry feel at liberty to:

1. Put their ugly (and more oft than not, this is an insult to ugly) trotters into a pair of flip flops, or, my all time favourite, a pair of Birkenstocks.
2. Wear unconsrtucted and all too unflattering "summer" clothes.
3. Eat as they walk along.

One could understand if this were a seaside resort or one of those summer towns. It's not. It's L O N D O N. This is probably just a reflection of my very colonial upbringing, but it all just a bit too shanty town for me.

Flogging's too good for them.

Woman with parasol in the village of Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe.
Why is this degree of self respect and respect for others so elusive to those who reside it what is considered to be the developed world?

Now playing: Morrissey - Trash
via FoxyTunes

Friday, 9 May 2008

Get misunderstood

The dreamy song Get Misunderstood from the Troublemakers. Dialogue is from La Naissance de l'amour.

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Things that I know for sure

Shug was right about the colour purple.

There will be Iris Garden Grace,

and Iris Violet Reprise bordering our pond.

And, this year, there will be a wildflower meadow with purple Cosmos behind said pond.

Now playing: Nigel Kennedy - Purple Haze
via FoxyTunes

Monday, 5 May 2008

Mr and Mrs

Vache Paysage, 2006.

Hippopotame II (bar)
Bronze, iron, copper and wood.

François-Xavier Lalanne.

Grand Sphinx, 1999.

Banbiloba, 2005.

Pomme de Ben, h: 48 x w: 36.2 x d: 33.5 in.

Les Grandes Berces, 2000.

Gingko Guéridon II, 2007.

Banc Crocodile, 2005.
Claude Lalanne.
All images from JGM. Galerie

The husband and wife team of François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne have been creating some of the 20Th Century's most original furnitures for over forty years. They are the personification of what the decorative arts can and should be. His pieces are monumental, allegorical, yet lighthearted. Hers are organic, poetic, and dream like.
François-Xavier Lalanne's credo, The supreme art is the art of living.

Now playing: The Housemartins - Sheep
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Thursday, 1 May 2008

Fête du Muguet

Convallaria majalis 'Fortins' Giant'

This elegant majolica ribbon plate has a yellow background with raised white lily-of-the-valley. The center of the plate has a flower shape made of green leaves.

Square Cachepot, c.1870

No list about classic perfumes embodying the yearning for spring would be complete without Diorissimo by Dior. Composed by master-perfumer Edmond Roudnitska in 1956 it remains a central reference as the lily-of-the-valley fragrance that has come to embody the very spirit of spring for generations of wearers -
The Scented Salamander

On May Day in France it is tradition to give loved ones a nosegay of muguet for good luck. When not in France, one need not be too literal as muguet can be quite difficult to find.

Now playing: Queen - Lily Of The Valley
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