Style Court

Eight Years of Textiles, History, Art, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes

10.28.2011

Mental Traveler


[Hector Lloyd illustration for Globe-Trotter]

Adventurous spirit Doris Duke has been mentioned a lot on this blog. I think everyone already knows that she was an inveterate traveler, but the recent illustrated talk by Shangri La's Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Thalia Kennedy (plus material now available at Duke University Libraries) shows that it's not entirely off base to compare her to the ever-popular Keith Johnson (Man Shops Globe).

She wasn't visiting artisans to source unusual wares for a retail shop, but Duke was passionate about craft, she had access, she was curious, and she incorporated less expected finds into her houses back in the States.

For the past few weeks, lavishly produced books have given me a different kind of access to extraordinary places, designers and craftspeople.

[Photo by Paul Barker ©English Country House Interiors by Jeremy Musson, Rizzoli New York 2011]

With British architectural historian Jeremy Musson's English Country House Interiors, I've toured fourteen Western wonders (as Sir Roy Strong describes the houses in the book's forward).

[Photo by Paul Barker ©English Country House Interiors by Jeremy Musson, Rizzoli New York 2011]

This close view of embroidered flame-stitch bed hangings in the Grand Chamber at Parham House, along with the 1580s French or Italian coverlet, headboard, and tester, shows how the book's style departs radically from standard text book or tour guide fare. There's a sense of intimacy and life, and we're able to better appreciate the museum-quality textiles, paintings, and furniture found in these remarkable houses. (Right off the bat, I was struck by the abundance of fresh flowers in the rooms.) Although open to the public, most of the houses are still lived in by descendants of the original owners.


[Photo by Paul Barker ©English Country House Interiors by Jeremy Musson, Rizzoli New York 2011]

Another intimate peek: Green Bedchamber (green was associated with the goddess Venus) at Houghton Hall with bed and overmantel designed by William Kent.



[Photo by Paul Barker ©English Country House Interiors by Jeremy Musson, Rizzoli New York 2011]

As grand as the rooms are, I tend to find details that I want to translate for smaller spaces -- whether it's a certain mossy shade, a crewelwork vine, or a cluster of Chinese export porcelain.


[Photo by Paul Barker ©English Country House Interiors by Jeremy Musson, Rizzoli New York 2011]

Musson covers all the major periods of English country house decoration, encompassing Jacobean, Georgian, and Gothic Revival, and he spends a great deal of time on each house. Anglophiles will be happy to know that Chatsworth, Castle Howard, and Wilton are included. And I have to add, after reading Emile de Bruijn's post about The East India Company at Home, 1757 to 1857, I'm looking at all the interiors with an eye for specific objects. Bonus feature: a very comprehensive bibliography and index.


[Photo by Roberto Peregalli © The Invention of the Past: Interior Design and Architecture by Studio Peregalli, by Laura Sartori Rimini and Roberto Peregalli, Rizzoli New York, 2011]

Laura Sartori Rimini and Roberto Peregalli (of Milan-based interior design and architectural firm, Studio Peregalli) channel the past in their projects. Through their new book, written in their own words and aptly titled The Invention of the Past, I've been able to snoop around sites ranging from a Moorish-style pavilion in Tangier to an austere 1920s house in Munich.


[In Milan, a room within a late-18th-century building for a collector of Oriental art. Photo by Francois Halard ©The Invention of the Past: Interior Design and Architecture by Studio Peregalli, by Laura Sartori Rimini and Roberto Peregalli, Rizzoli New York, 2011]

The way Rimini and Peregalli see things, we are living in confusing times. They like to create protective shells with precise forms and functions -- nuanced spaces that won't inspire boredom or become unfashionable down the line.



[Photo by Andrea Passuello © The Invention of the Past: Interior Design and Architecture by Studio Peregalli, by Laura Sartori Rimini and Roberto Peregalli, Rizzoli New York, 2011]

Their interiors relate closely to the architecture. In many cases they work on a project from the ground up; other times the duo renovates an existing space. Both cut their teeth working for Renzo Mongiardino, so it's no surprise that their projects also include museum installations and opera stage sets. Because the Studio often makes use of exceptional trompe l'oeil finishes by master craftsmen, I think decorative painters will really appreciate this expansive volume.


[Photo by Aurora Di Girolamo © The Invention of the Past: Interior Design and Architecture by Studio Peregalli, by Laura Sartori Rimini and Roberto Peregalli, Rizzoli New York, 2011]

Personally, I'm drawn to the warm and rich (yet also somehow mellow) layering of color and pattern. Vogue's Hamish Bowles describes Rimini and Peregalli as the alchemists of contemporary decorating and architecture. The room above has decoration that suggests 18th-century leatherwork of Cordoba.


And more flowering branches: perennial favorite Flowering Quince by Clarence House as seen in another new release, Clarence House: The Art of the Textile, by the firm's longtime design director, Kazumi Yoshida. This book is transporting me to the 1960s, when the theatrical American, Robin Roberts, founded the firm, and opening my eyes (more widely, at least) to the East-meets-West influence of Yoshida -- particularly in recent years.

Designed in 2000, it's said that Flowering Quince encapsulates Yoshida's signature brushwork and his marriage of the spare Japanese aesthetic with a "fuller" American style. It's not completely abstract but it's also not pictorial.

[Photo by Francois Halard © Clarence House: The Art of the Textile by Kazumi Yoshida with Sabine Rothman, Rizzoli New York, 2011]

Yoshida says Roberts was an amazing teacher who provided inspiration and opened his eyes to new things -- museum exhibitions, antique textiles -- so that Yoshida could hone his eye. But the fabrics we know today as Clarence House aren't stylized or updated takes on old document prints, they are free-wheeling Yoshida originals. His hand is clearly evident.

[Photo by Francois Halard © Clarence House: The Art of the Textile by Kazumi Yoshida with Sabine Rothman, Rizzoli New York, 2011] 

Because the spirit of the book centers on Yoshida as artist, I think students contemplating a career in textile design will find it interesting and inspiring. (Although Yoshida is quick to point out that he had the opportunity to learn and evolve on the job -- a chance everyone doesn't get.) Apart from Francois Halard's stunning pictures of fabric, there are also many images of Clarence House's trademark ads, which should appeal to a variety of creative professionals as well as decorators.

Hector Lloyd's terrific illustrations for the iconic British luggage maker Globe-Trotter may be downloaded as desktop wallpaper. Learn more here.

Book reviews and sneak peeks are based on books in my own library as well review copies -- sometimes digital, sometimes hardcopy -- provided by the respective publishers. In this case Rizzoli gave written permission to share preview images.

7 comments:

Emile de Bruijn said...

Great to see those images of Chatsworth. There is a lot going on there at the moment in the way of renovations and redisplays. The way the (now) dowager Duchess of Devonshire turned around and displayed Chatsworth in the latter half of the twentieth century was extremely impressive, but now the new generation and their advisers are bringing back a little bit more of the original Baroque atmosphere, which shows how those houses keep renewing themselves.

I am pleased, too, to have skewed your eye a little bit more towards the oriental element - but then you were already a longstanding afficionado of chinoiserie :)

Shoshana said...

Did you know, there is a planned exhibition of Shangri-la? It begins at MAD in NY next year, I believe.

Style Court said...

Shoshana -- can't wait to learn more about this. Thanks!

Style Court said...

Emile -- always appreciate your insights. You know the houses in the book so well.

Tokyo Jinja said...

And I was just getting ready to write to you and mention that the other book I just had to have this fall was the Studio Peregalli one and of course you have beat me to it!!!
Fabulous post Courtney!

Style Court said...

Jacqueline -- what a nice way to kick off Monday. Thanks! Happy Halloween :)

ArchitectDesign™ said...

oh no -more fantastic books to add to my wishlist! I may crash amazon's harddrive or more potentially overload my already over-burdened shelves! haha