May 25, 2011

Aesthetics | From Blogger to Architect

Images from Little Augury blog

I was taking part in my first tweet-chat hosted by @DesignTVchat on Twitter the other day, and we were asked which design blogs inspire us. There are many good blogs that I read regularly [see blog-roll on the right], but the blog Little Augury instantly came to mind. It's author [and decorator] Patricia Gaye Tapp touches on subjects that truly inspire—art, fashion, literature, décor and a pantheon of cultural/style icons; I cannot be inspired by one without the other. And, this is why Little Augury hits the mark in interior design blogs. For me, design inspiration comes from all things that are rooted aesthetically and return to the basics—light, color, texture, shape and scale. And, this is what matters to me in interior design.

I was recently reminded of these basic elements of design while reading  Benjamin Baldwin: An Autobiography in Design. Benjamin Baldwin [who died in 1993] is the type of designer who inspires me. Louis Kahn called him the dean of "American interior designers." He studied architecture at Princeton then painting with Hans Hofmann—eventually returning to Princeton for a masters degree in Fine Arts—and then, on to the Cranbrook Academy of Art where he met and collaborated with Pei, Kahn and Saarinen. Brilliant!

Baldwin [at left] designed residential and office interiors, furniture and textiles, and beautiful gardens. He felt that gardens represented the ultimate form of creativity. In his concept-house of the future, Baldwin imagined... "floors would be friendly to bare-feet and sandals, furniture would be nondescript and inexpensive." As much as I love interiors that are full of lush, tactile beauty, the foundation of my design principles are aligned with Baldwin's philosophy.

Photographs [above] from Benjamin Baldwin: An Autobiography in Design, W.W. Norton

The spaces Baldwin created seem timeless because they are rooted in an architectural aesthetic of good taste and practical judgement. I find much the same sensibility in the work of my favorite American decorator, Tom Scheerer.

Scheerer [shown above in bare-feet with Saarinen table!] also has a degree in architecture. Tom carries on the tradition of a studied yet relaxed modernism by creating civilized and beautiful, yet unpretentious spaces. I am a huge fan. I can spend more time studying a Scheerer-designed room because of its foundation in design and abundance of aesthetics, and cozy common sense.

Tom Scheerer photos top: Paris Townhouse, Lyford Cay Club by Pieter Estersohn
photos bottom: by William Waldron

So, the circle of my wonderful tweet-chat brought me back to thinking about the fundamental elements and principles of good design and what inspires me—whether found in the architecture of an inspiring blog or a simple American interior.

Visit Little Augury here.
See my previous interview with Tom Scheerer here.
Learn about another student of Hans Hofmann here.
Visit @DesignTVchat on twitter.Read about my grandfather, the architect here.

May 14, 2011

L'Amour Fou | Mad Love

L'Amour Fou [Mad Love] opened in theaters nationwide yesterday. The documentary by Pierre Thoretton, focuses on the 2009 auction of the elaborate art collection amassed by Yves Saint Laurent and his partner [in business and in life] for a half-century, Pierre Bergé. In the film, Bergé reflects on the history of their personal relationship and the experience of the sale of their joint art collection at Christie's in 2009. From Yves Saint Laurent's 1958 debut for Dior to their houses in Paris, Marrakech, and Normandy, L'Amour Fou is a tribute to a shared life and the importance of the memories—and, not so much the objects that surround us—no matter how beautiful.

Note to blog email subscribers: Please click on photographs to view trailer.

May 11, 2011

George's Odhni | Cora Ginsburg

The lessons I've learned from my godfather George continue, even two years after his death. This lovely textile of his recently sold at Cora Ginsburg—the notable New York City dealer of antique textiles + historic clothing. My godfather highly regarded the shop and [now] owner Titi Halle, lugging many pieces he collected over the years to Titi for her expert knowledge of textiles from all over the globe. This particular piece is an Odhni, a woman's veil-cloth or head covering. The intricately embroidered silk from India [Banni, Kutch region, Gujarat, circa 1900] was made perhaps, as part of a dowry. At the center of the design is a large diamond-shaped medallion of mitered stripes of branching triangles, worked in running stitch. Each corner is finished in a geometric embroidery studded with shimmering mirrors, and the entire textile is covered in minute, embroidered eyelets. The embroiderer limited the scheme to just four colors of silk thread: garnet red, dull gold, cream, and black. According to Halle, a similar example is in the Victoria & Albert Museum collection. A serious art collector, my godfather volunteered at the Metropolitan Museum in the European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Library from 1992 until months before his death at age 88, in 2009. He was a life-long scholar of the arts and luckily for me... a teacher, too.

May 4, 2011

Summer + Beach Days II

I love spring in New England and scouting-out summer looks in anticipation of beach days. It's foggy at the moment and drizzling, but I can smell the ocean and hear the pounding surf—soothing reminders of summer days to-come!

Hat by Wavelengths • Tunic by LemLem • Sandals by Emilio Pucci