Classically Speaking

Dec 092013
 

Just bought a great book on the Empire Period Empire by Madeleine Deschamps. Here is some food for thought from the Introduction.   “The end of the eighteenth century was a tumultuous and remarkably rich period that laid the foundations of modern times.”  This can be said of our times,  the end of the twentieth century laying the foundations of the new age.   “In the course of the century the philosophy of Enlightenment had opened minds to realities veiled until then, and it had awakened hopes of social and political change in many lands.”  Once again, this can be said of our times with the expansion of knowledge, technology and physics all contributing to powers we could not have imagined just 30 years ago.  “In France this new consciousness culminated in a major cultural rupture, the Revolution.  The fall of the Bastille in 1789 and the death of Louis XVI in 1793 marked the end of a monarchy that had shaped France, its society, and its economy for ten centuries.”

It goes on to establish that the Revolution did not immediately find a language to express the social order they were striving to establish.  So there was no real break in the styles and art forms that characterized the reign of Louis XVI and the subsequent Directoire, Consulat and Empire Styles. The Empire style was a natural development of the neoclassical art born in the preceding decades, which explains why Empire also includes styles that predate the coronation of Napoleon.  “Despite a strong connection to its stylistic preedecessors, the Empire style was highly influenced by the personality of one man, Napoleon Bonaparte.napoleon Once in power he not only wished to dominate European countries but also to control their trade. “He also wished to give grandeur and splendor to his reign, a purpose best served by the arts. Thus the short years of his rule were a period of extraordinary development for arts and crafts in France and in the countries he controlled.”

What will be said of this time in terms of the development of the arts and crafts.  The decorative arts business had products and technologies which will enable today’s artists, artisans, architects and designers to surpass anything that has been created.  Hopefully there will always be patrons to support today’s masterpieces and with the advantage of technology the middle class will be able to create interiors rich with artistry.

“When Napoleon came to power he found a country that had been torn apart by civil war and lay in partial ruin. He also inherited royal residences that had been stripped bare by the Revolution.  Today’s interiors are in a sense are stripped bare with large expanses of drywall.  In his ten years as emperor he not only refurbished palaces and chateaux throughout France and Europe but also gave France one of its most superb collections of decorative arts. To accomplish this he provided massive help to workshops and nascent industries, encouraged and publicized technical inventions, and instituted schools, competitions and prizes. No one since Louis XIV’s minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert had been so concerned with the economic status of France and the international image of its arts and crafts.  Just as Napoleon knew how to surround himself with the best political and military counselors, so too did he call some of the best artists in Europe to his service.”

Let’s look at the glory of the Empire Period and dream about our expression of the decorative arts in the 21st Century.

The Chateau de Malmaison, Paris is a country house in the city of Rueil-Malmaison about 12 km from Paris. It was formerly the residence of Joséphine de Beauharnais, and with the Tuileries, was from 1800 to 1802 the headquarters of the French government.

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Mythological Frieze, Chateau de Malmaison

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Josephine’s  Bedroom

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Today’s Mansion - The Enchanted Home

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Hotel de Beauharnais, Paris

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Salon of the Four Seasons – The paintings of the four seasons were formerly attributed to Pierre-Paul Prud’hon and now to Anne-Louis Girodet, who painted works on the same theme for the Platinum Study in the Casa del Labrador in Aranjuez, Spain.

Salon of The Four Seasons

Salon of The Four Seasons

 

Hôtel-de-Beauharnais

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Bathroom at Hotel de Beauharmais

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The Turkish bath in the Hotel de Beauharnais

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Beaux-Artes designed and executed this Powder Room using technology to create the pietre dure design on the vanity and reproduce it below the chair rail with venetian plaster.

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Inspiration vanity.

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Empire has a section on wallpaper since it was becoming a convenient and attractive way to decorate an interior.  Manufacturers as Jacquemart et Benard, Dufour and Zuber made papers of great artistic and technical quality in lavish colors.  It was a young industry when the Revolution broke out.  Wallpaper answered the demand of a clientele that could not afford expensive silks for decorating the home.  The extension of the Empire opened Europe to their production.

Great article by Barbara Clark in Artisphere Online showcasing the work of Alan Carroll

“My old business partner, Mark Kusek, really opened my eyes to the digital world. Without him I never would have embraced computers as a tool for decorative artists in the same way. More importantly, he taught me that you can be true to the same creative spirit that flowed through the old guys while at the same time embracing new technology.

You don’t have to be mired in the past, trying to copy stuff that was done way better hundreds of years ago. ”

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“Imagine you have a piece of artwork on your computer. You’ve either painted and scanned it, or created it directly on the computer. Want to make fabric? Wallpaper? Flooring? ceiling murals? Area rugs? verre eglomisé? You can do all those and tons more from the same piece of artwork now by combining the power of digital printing with traditional skills. We are only beginning to touch on the possibilities.”

“We even developed a way to print gold size. You could get a sheet of ebony veneer for example, and literally print from any design you have on your computer screen in gold size right onto the wood – no masking/stencilling necessary – then gild it. The computer is used just to expedite the hand-done finish, not to supplant it. It’s still a hand-gilded product.

Or forget about printing the size. What about printing the ‘painted’ image on the reverse of glass before you gild it? Mark is now in the middle of printing verre eglomisé polychrome designs right onto glass from ornamental panels that I painted using a Wacom tablet and some computer software. This is groundbreaking stuff. Print the image onto the reverse of the glass, and then gild it. He even printed the patina onto the sheet of glass before gilding it. Time savings are huge, and that’s just with this one thing!

“I think that’ll be my theme for the future: exploring how to expand and truly incorporate digital technology into the decorative artist’s toolkit. I don’t mean simply painting something by hand, then selling prints. But how about this other experiment we did with the Glass department of OSU in Ohio: We printed our gold size directly onto paper in super-detailed ornate designs. then we simply applied leaf, and dusted off the design. The gold only sticks to the areas we printed. Then we took these gold leaf designs on paper to the glass furnace. The guy blows a vase out of molten glass, then rolls it carefully across our design. The paper burns off completely, and the gold design is instantly transferred to the glass. Never been done before, but we just came up with it by experimenting.

It’s not just about coming up with ways that save time over traditional methods. It’s also about creating new hybrid techniques that could not be conceived of any other way. That’s the future.”

Josephine and her Entourage at Lake Garda, 1805-6 by Hippolyte Lecomte.  Available as a 12″ x 15″ print for $181.

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Chateau de Compiegne

 

Chateau de Compiegne

Chateau de Compiegne

 

The Ballroom

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Empress Marie-Louise’s Second Salon later called the Salon of Flowers.  Would love to do a variation of the panel art in this room.  The Book Empire has a wonderful closeup of the panels.

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Hotel de Charost

Hotel de Charost

Hotel de Charost

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The Sala di Marte near Naples

Sala di Marte

Sala di Marte

Beaux-Artes Arabesque Panel

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Casita del Principe, El Escorial, Spain

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Platinum study in the Casa del Labrador, Aranjuez, Spain

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Charlottenburg Castle, Berlin

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Queen Luise’s Bedroomcharlottenburg-castle-queen-luise-bedroom

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Sep 272013
 

Today we are experiencing the latest in a series of renaissances that have periodically refreshed the classical tradition throughout the history of Western art.  This revival is fueled by technology.  I have blogged about how Beaux-Artes is utilizing the latest technology to recreate our Arts and Crafts decorative HVAC grilles.  Here is a combination of technology, imagination and innovation representing the beauty and artistry of today.

Dubai Architecture is amazing.

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Recycled bicycle chain chandeliers by Carolina Fontoura Alzaga

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Ceasarstone

CaesarStone’s inspirational new masterpiece collection, the unique Concetto range, is an unmatchable collection of extraordinary surfaces hand-made from individually cut and bound semi-precious stones. A harmonious blend of art, nature and technology Concetto is created by fusing nature’s hues and designs with individually cut semi-precious stones to form the ultimate luxury stone surface – a dream for designers and architects alike.

Some of the semi-precious stones in the Concetto Collection are breathtakingly translucent and can be backlit for added effect. With its vivid colors and awe-inspiring designs, the Concetto range brings out the innate brilliance of the stones while enhancing the luster of their natural hues and shades.

Highly heat, stain and scratch resistant, Concetto

Violet

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Violet backlit

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inserts_14 copy

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Enignum_Canopy_Bed_Joseph_Walsh2Waterjet Cut Marble Floor

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Fiber Optic Fabric for Nursery window and glow pigment.  I designed and painted the nursery.

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Mural with Glow pigment by night

arl nursery mural at night after

Ceiling Medallion

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Jacuzzi Chromotherapy

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Pae White

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Sep 242013
 

The most important surface in a room are the walls.   The Architecture of the Classical Interior by Richard Semmes’  states that  the essential task of the wall treatment in any room is to make a strong connection between the floor and the ceiling.  “The wall must artfully carry the lines of the ceiling down to the floor in accordance with the principle of fictive structure.”    The order is the primary organizing device of the wall, so every wall is treated as an order.  The classical order organizes the wall giving  it the proportions and its ornaments. “The use of a complete order (pilasters or columns) is usually reserved for the grandest or most elaborate rooms.  Nothing endows a room with honorific character as powerfully as a fully articulated order–particularly the Corinthian.”  Spencer House, Princess Diana’s home.

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Cream Dressing Room (1)

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“You can also have a perfectly classical room in which there are no columns, pilasters, or any other explicit evocation of an order.  In many rooms, especially in more intimately scaled and domestic interiors, the appearance of a full order would be overbearing.”   A typical tripartite division of wall surfaces into dado, panel, and cornice is seen in nearly all classical wall treatments regardless of material or elaborateness of detail.  Most classical rooms are astylar or without columns or pilasters.  French designers of the mid- to late eighteenth century developed a style of wall treatment in which the paneled room reflects an implied order.  The order is infered from the proportions and ornamentation of the boiseries which divide the walls into bays by phantom pilasters.  

 

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panels-'wren scott paris apt vogue may 2012

 

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Sep 172013
 

panthenon interior
Steven Semes masterpiece, The Architecture of the Classical Interior is a comprehensive, thematic study of the architectural conception and treatment of classically designed rooms.  In his preface he states so eloquently, “..this book is intended neither as an historical survey nor as an academic theoretical treatment but, rather, as an exploration of perennial themes that have shaped the classical interior throughout history, regardless of style or period. ”

That is our interest as well.  The classical tradition has a rich heritage of architectural beauty and as Mr. Semmes points out,  it was all there was until contemporary arrived.  “The classical tradition is the mainstream of Western art.  From its origins in ancient Greece to the decline of Rome, and again from the middle of the fifteenth century until the second quarter of the twentieth, it would have been unnecessary to define or explain it.  Rich and varied in its ideas and its products, the classical point of view was the way most European artists and architects during this period-and their artistic progeny around the globe-thought about the world and their work.”

parthenon

The Parthenon

parthenon replica- Nashville

Parthenon Replica, Nashville

 

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Pompeii

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Pantheon

Roman House

Roman House

Verseille

Verseilles

 

Library-of-Congress

Library of Congress

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John Adams Syon House

The three countries that have done the most to define the classical interior as a work of art are Italy, France and England. The United States has done more than any other to sustain the tradition into the present. Semmes offers a “how to do it” rather than “what it means”.  His hope is to inspire interest in classical architecture to readers in general and deepen an appreciation for the artistry of the interior in those already devoted to the classical muse.  Classical Addiction shares the same interest.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Period Room

Metropolitan Museum of Art Period Room

He goes on to note, “But the most important contribution to the present-day renaissance of classical art is unquestionably made by the patron, without whom the aesthetic sensitivities of artists come to nothing, the skills of craftsmen go unused, and schools no longer teach the traditional wisdom.  Hence, this book is addressed to the patron as well as the student and practitioner.”

This blog is an opportunity to look at  the amazing work that is being done today in the decorative arts.  I love to feature artists and designers.  So what a  pleasure to show this amazing work by Alan Carroll of Decorative Imaging, for the Kips Bay Show House.  Decorative Imaging designed and produced the surface treatments for this room using a combination of digital and traditional decorative arts techniques. The floor and doors are inlay designs using their revolutionary new digital marquetry process. They have been imaged to wood veneer and applied to the respective surfaces.

John Adam design

Foyer after Robert Adam
Decorative Imaging
34th Annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House

The Neoclassical, architectural moldings surrounding all of the doors were designed and produced as custom digital wall coverings on mural canvas. The 3D effect has been digitally composed into the print to create the illusion of depth. Digital Imaging controls the angle of the light and shadow effects to match the direction of light coming into the room.  The  2006 Kips Bay Show marked the debut of this process.

Adams Style Ceiling Kips Bay Show House Decorative Imaging

Adams Style Ceiling
Kips Bay Show House
Decorative Imaging

This “Adam Style,” design was created and digitally imaged to mural canvas as a custom trompe l’oeil ceiling. Simulating the appearance of carved, plaster relief, this design mirrors the basic layout of the floor, an Adam trademark.

doors

Digital images on wood veneer applied to a pair of large metal fire doors.  These door treatments were designed for their stately impact.

These rooms are definitely today’s wall art masterpieces.  Some more examples of Decorative Imaging’s products for walls.

Grottesqua

Custom Digital Wallcovering – Digitally painted, foliated, scrolling grottesque wall panels in polychrome.

grottesque

Neoclassical Architectural Wallcovering - Neoclassical, trompe l’oeil architectural wall frieze. Digital image on Type ll Class A wallcovering.

frieze

Ornament for wall and for frieze bands. Digital image on Type ll Class A wallcovering.

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Neoclassical Faux Plaster Relief - Digitally imaged, faux plasterwork.

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Patterned Veneer - Horizontal striped pattern in Amboyna Burl, Ivory and Padauk. Digitally imaged, patterned veneer wallcovering.

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Digitally imaged, faux marbre wall panel.

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Out of time for today.  More to follow.

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Aug 062013
 

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The most common plant used in architecture and design is the acanthus leaf.  The two most common varieties found in early architecture are Acanthus spinosus and Acanthus mollis.  Both varieties feature deeply cut leaves that lend a graphic and sculptural element to columns, borders, and corners.

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Acanthus Mollis

Acanthus Spinosus

Acanthus Spinosus

 

In Ancient Greek architecture acanthus ornament appears extensively in the capitals of the Corinthian capitol.

Corinthian Capital

 

 

The Roman writer Vitruvius (circa 75 BC — circa 15 BC) related that the Corinthian order had been invented by Callimachus, a Greek architect and sculptor who was inspired by the sight of a votive basket that had been left on the grave of a young girl. A few of her toys were in it, and a square tile had been placed over the basket, to protect them from the weather. An acanthus plant had grown through the woven basket, mixing its spiny, deeply cut leaves with the weave of the basket.

acanthus capitals

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It was the Romans who gave the acanthus more of a curl.  I love it in all its styles.  It is a beautiful element. Love all these applications.

Antique Acanthus French Etching

Antique Acanthus French Etching

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I am using this ornament from Decorators Supply in the bottom panel for a door design.  It is a perfect size 8″ x 12″.

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The original William Morris acanthus design.

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Acanthus wallpaper

William Morris Wallpaper

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Book of Hours

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The acanthus works great in this balustrade.

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Today the acanthus leaf motif is found most commonly in furniture.    It gained much popularity during the French Louis XVI period. When you look at the gentle curves of an acanthus leaf you will understand why it has been such a favorite in carved, painted or gilded furniture. On textiles it can be woven embroidered or printed.

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Classic Damask in stylized acanthus.

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Beaux-Artes Victorian recessed light trim with acanthus is available for 6″, 5″ and 4″ recessed light fixtures.

Victorian Trim

Our Louis XIV wall panel ornament.

Louis XIV ornament for panels

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Jun 112013
 

According to Wikipedia:

classical order is one of the ancient styles of classical architecture, each distinguished by its proportions and characteristic profiles and details, and most readily recognizable by the type of column employed. Three ancient orders of architecture—the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian—originated in Greece. To these the Romans added the Tuscan, which they made simpler than Doric, and the Composite, which was more ornamental than the Corinthian.

Well said Wikipedia.  Classically speaking there is also the order that results from the application of classical elements establishing the interior architecture.   The Architecture of the Classical Interior (Classical America Series in Art and Architecture) by Steven W. Semes, is  the architectural model for the conception and treatment of classically designed rooms.  The addition of columns to interior space definitely contribute to the feel of ‘Classical Order’.

The Doric

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The Doric order originated on the mainland and western Greece. It is the simplest of the orders, characterized by short, faceted, heavy columns with plain, round capitals and no base. With a height that is only four to eight times its diameter, the columns are the most squat of all orders. The shaft of the Doric order is channeled with 20 flutes. The capital consists of a necking which is of a simple form. The echinus is convex and the abacus is square.

The Greek forms of the Doric order come without an individual base. They instead are placed directly on the stylobate. Later forms, however, came with the conventional base consisting of a plinth and a torus. The Roman versions of the Doric order have smaller proportions. As a result they appear lighter than the Greek orders.

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The Ionic

The Ionic order came from eastern Greece. It is distinguished by slender, fluted pillars with a large base and two opposed volutes (also called scrolls) in the echinus of the capital. The echinus itself is decorated with an egg-and-dart motif. The Ionic shaft comes with four more flutes than the Doric counterpart (totalling 24). The Ionic base has two convex moldings called tori which are separated by a scotia.

The Ionic order is also marked by an entasis, a curved tapering in the column shaft. A column of the ionic order is nine times its lower diameter. The shaft itself is eight diameters high. The architrave of the entablature commonly consists of three stepped bands (fasciae). The frieze comes without the Doric triglyph and metope. The frieze sometimes comes with a continuous ornament such as carved figures instead.

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The Corinthian

The Corinthian order is the most ornate of the Greek orders, characterized by a slender fluted column having an ornate capital decorated with two rows of acanthus leaves and four scrolls. It is commonly regarded as the most elegant of the three orders. The shaft of the Corinthian order has 24 flutes. The column is commonly ten diameters high.

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Had to include the lovely piece with its corinthian columns.

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I feel the Classical Order in all these examples.

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May 292013
 

This lovely room looks ‘old’ vintage.  But it could very easily be created today.  The molding is quite simple.  Add well proportioned ornament and finish in a beautiful soft glaze.  tumblr_mmb1kvmuzk1qddbc1o1_500

A fabulous ceiling of gold ornament against the bright white is so classic.  I love it with the contemporary furnishings.  Of course it is gorgeous with traditional.  Okay it works with everything.

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Nothing else will do for creating beautiful beds.

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How about shoe ornament.

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Fashion.  I don’t know what happens with creations such as these.

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Add ornament to the exterior.  Imagine finding this beautiful header and adding it to your front door.  Any door really.

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We just completed this  header for the entrance of a historic Tudor.

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This is a great inspiration picture.  Composition ornament can achieve this look.

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Furniture a fabulous use of ornament.  The large central feature really makes this piece.

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This piece is all about the ornament.

35_116What a fun piece!  We love griffins though.

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RH is doing a lot with ornament.

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You can purchase this framed ornament from RH or create your own.  Get acquainted with Decorators Supply.

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Create a panel design of ornament.

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My ‘Arabesque’ panel design for our gold leaf entrance foyer.

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Gold Leaf Entrance Foyer Panel without the arabesque panel ornament and before the panel molding.

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This panel molding which is very similar to the molding we used for this project.  Mirrors are another great use of ornament.

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The Panel Molding.

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Trumeau Style Mirrors

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Ornament is perfect for small ceilings and reveals.  A great option you may not have considered for the space.

tumblr_m8f501SjrG1qzpkato1_1280A small ceiling over my table in a tower on the back of the house.

chandelier

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Jan 242013
 

It is fun to look at homes from the past and today.  They reveal so much about the people who live in them and the times in which they lived. My list of trends to watch for in 2013 combine classicism with technology,  the imagination and the creativity of today’s artists, designers, artisans and craftsmen.

Stone Is In

Donatella Versace’s new boutique in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood was created in collaboration with London architect Jamie Fobert, who combines clean, contemporary lines with old-world artisanal touches.  The mosaic-tile floor was inspired by Roman basilicas.

 

“It’s a celebration of the house’s love for both ancient and modern,” Versace says of the space.  Laser cutting technology enables the creation of complex flooring options today.

Love this fabulous design from Country Floors.

Artistic Tile has a beautiful selection of stone.

Predict you will be seeing a lot of white marble.

Artistic Tile installation.

With the increased desire for environmentally friendly alternatives, stone and the look of stone surfaces is a winner.

Lighting using natural crystals and shells.  Corbett Lighting was recognized with one of the industry’s most prestigious honors, the 23rd annual ARTS Award – again.  Nominations are made once a year in advance by an independent panel of judges and awards are determined by votes from independent retailers, manufacturers and designers, sales representatives and other industry professionals.  Here is one of my favorites.  The Dolcetti with mixed shells and crystals.

 

Details

Classical design embraces details.  Details such as perfectly placed and selected ornamentation.  When adding ornamentation,  less can be more if the scale, proportion, placement and style of the embellishment is appropriate to the architecture.

Old details can provide lots of character and it’s easy with today’s faux finishing products to create aged details and walls.

A great lighting detail is adding our Beaux-Artes recessed chandelier to your recessed lighting.

Walls Are In

Where the decoration is the wall.

Love the Beaux-Artes wall panels to achieve classical symmetry.  The panels are sold as a kit which includes the ornamental corners and 16′ of molding.  They come in 27 finishes, are easy to install.  $199 for a kit.  Use them alone or with wallcovering,  a faux finish or canvas.  Beaux-Artes’ Georgian wall panel with Georgian Canvas Panel.

 I took this design from a historical wall panel.  It looks great just in shades of grey.  Which brings me to my next trend grisaille.  An elegant addition to a monochromatic color scheme.  And is great with accent colors.


Grisaille Walls and Accessories

Zuber Wallpaper

Suzanne Rheinstein grisaille from her book At Home.

 Stone Angels Wallpaper

Tara Shaw grisaille chair

Upholstered Beds

Loving this wingback headboard. This is Bethany Frankel’s bedroom as shown in February/March Traditional Home.

The Company Store headboard.   A beautiful backdrop of wall panels for the wingback headboard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 302012
 

After seeing Hampton Court Palace during the Olympics this weekend,  I have chosen it to begin my Historic Homes and Palaces of Britain tour.  The Olympic Flame at Hampton Court Palace.

The Royal Barge Gloriana carries the Olympic flame as it leaves Hampton Court Palace.  Love this barge.

Hampton Court Palace is located in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.  It has not been inhabited by the Royal family since the 18th Century.

In 1838 the restoration of the Palace was completed and the Palace was opened to the public. This is a fabulous gate!

Throughout the 20th Century in addition to becoming a major London tourist attraction, the Palace housed 50 grace and favor residences given to esteemed servants and subjects of the crown.

An elderly recipient of one grace and favor apartment caused a major fire to spread to the king’s apartments in 1986, which led to new restoration work which was completed in 1990.



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Jul 252012
 

With the Summer 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony on Friday, July 27th at 9:00 p.m.,  it is a perfect time to feature fabulous London.  Big Ben is scheduled to chime more than 40 times the first day of the games.  The clock tower was Built in 1859 by Augustus Pugin and it is still the largest in the world.

Film Director Danny Boyle is the Artistic Director for the Opening Ceremony in the Olympic Stadium.

From the beginning, Boyle, the director of Slumdog Millionaire and the National Theatre’s Frankenstein, was prepared to take risks. Instead of relying on impressive numbers of heavily drilled participants, as at the Beijing ceremony, he designed a narrative about the British Isles based on the themes of Shakespeare’s last play and featuring a parade of emblems of national history and culture, from cricketers, farmers and 70 live sheep, to striking miners, suffragettes and a cloudburst of real rain.
Another reason for spiffing up Britain was the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, so the government has pumped billions of pounds into the city in anticipation of this year’s festivities.

“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”-18th century author Samuel Johnson

Windsor Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world, and the oldest in continuous occupation (over 900 years). It is one of the Queen’s three official residences, and is often said to be her favourite. Samuel Pepys proclaimed the Castle to be “the most romantique castle that is in the world”. That was in 1666, and the same is true today.

State Apartments

Buckingham Palace


Britain is a feast for lovers of all things classical.

London’s stylish, timeless neighborhoods.
Notting Hill

Notting Hill hosts the Portobello Road antiques market every Saturday.

Soho District

Famous Harrod’s in Knightsbridge

Another must see store is the brain child of Arthur Lasenby Liberty.  No other shop in London has such a strong iconic association with design.


Central London has top visitor sights with one of London’s most striking buildings, The National Gallery.

Westminster Abbey

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