Style Court

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

8.01.2014

On the Wild Side

[Photo of Schuyler Samperton at home by Tula Jeng. Note the planter below the window.]


Imagine an avant-garde 20th-century room. Maybe looks by Le Corbusier or even Syrie Maugham come to mind? But not necessarily Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, right? The funny thing, though, pointed out by Christopher Reed in Bloomsbury Rooms: Modernism, Subculture, and Domesticity, is that the latter two were also taking a walk on the wild side when, nearly a century ago, they started painting with abandon the walls (and doors and mantles and furniture) in their farmhouse, Charleston. The style certainly wasn't sleek or minimal, still Reed says, at that time, it was a whole new way of living.

[Samperton's dining room photographed by Tula Jeng. Click to enlarge.]

Similarly, a few years ago, Los Angeles-based designer Schuyler Samperton felt compelled to try a truly less expected approach. She explains, "I just wanted something crazy in my dining room, so I decided to recreate the [Bloomsbury-inspired] window I originally did for [the fundraiser], Legends of La Cienega."

[Window courtesy Samperton.]
Just as she had done for the window installation, decorative painter Kate Golden covered Schuyler's dining room walls with Vanessa Bell's bold take on the paisley motif -- free-flowing, daisy-strewn forms that seem to mix Bell's combined passions for Indian textiles and modern art.

The vintage red fabric used for the curtains and dining chairs was found at Hollywood at Home.

[Another view of the dining room captured by Tula Jeng.] 

"I first learned about Charleston in college through my ultra-cool brother, Kyle," says Schuyler. "My dear friend Beth Jewett and I quickly became obsessed, and she painted everything from beds to chests of drawers to these amazing ceramic pitchers and platters. We also made some amazing needlepoint pillows based on the designs. In school I was studying Virginia Woolf, Vanessa Bell and Lytton Strachey, so it was fascinating to me to connect their intellectual points of view with their aesthetic points of view."

[Edie Campbell photographed by Jason Bell via Vanity Fair.]



[Click to enlarge. Inspiration board by Samperton for Style Court. Background fabric: Peter Dunham's Kashmir Paisley. Image at left, again Campbell photographed by Jason Bell via Vanity Fair. Trench and hand-painted bootie via Burberry.]

"I also love the Bloomsbury Group's wild, exuberant way of mixing patterns and their crazy color combinations," she adds. It's no shock then that Schuyler is enjoying Bloomsbury's current fashion moment.

[From Charleston: A Bloomsbury House & Garden. Photography by Alen Macweeney.]

If you're interested in learning more about the history behind Burberry's Bloomsbury-inspired fall prints, or just want a virtual escape to Charleston, Schuyler recommends these books: The aforementioned Bloomsbury Rooms and Charleston by Quentin Bell and Virginia Nicholson. Plus there's this past post.

[Queen Mary fabric image via the V & A.]

We've also talked before about Bell's and Grant's abstract printed fabrics designed in the early 30s for Allan Walton. These prints are looser and more organic than their pre-1920s Omega looks. For inspiration, Schuyler is partial to Duncan Grant's circa 1935-36 Queen Mary fabric created for, you guessed it, the ocean liner named after the royal, although never actually installed on board. Re-edition cotton-linen yardage is available through Charleston's gift shop. Proceeds benefit The Charleston Trust.


Fittingly, one of Vanessa Bell's early paintings that attracts Schuyler is titled Still Life: Wild Flowers, a circa 1915 oil on canvas dominated by blue and ochre. And speaking of capturing garden blooms, Charleston is offering this upcoming workshop. Unfortunately, The Young Bohemians mini summer school is sold out (and caps off at age twelve), otherwise I think many of us would've liked to sign up for a creative retreat.

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