Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


Omega Centenary

[Detail: White, a 1913 printed furnishing linen attributed to Vanessa Bell. Collection of the V & A.]

A quick bit of news for anyone with plans to be in London this September: One hundred years have passed since art critic Roger Fry brought together artists including Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant, and other creatives typically associated with the Bloomsbury Group, to form an experimental design collective that lasted from 1913 to 1919 -- the Omega Workshops. Rocking Edwardian sensibilities, these artists designed textiles, ceramics and all sorts of decorative items influenced by the abstract works they saw in Paris.

On Thursday, September 19 from 7 to 9 p.m., in conjunction with the London Design Festival, Courtauld curator Dr. Alexandra Gerstein will show participants original Omega designs in the Museum's Drawings and Prints room. Click here for tickets. Also, earlier on the same day, Sophie Coryndon is scheduled to lead an Omega-inspired painted objects masterclass at The New Craftsmen Garage. Details here.

[Omega Workshops (1913-19) mark, Dessert plate, ca. 1914-16, Earthenware with cobalt blue glaze, Diameter: 10 inches, Collection of Jasper Johns.]


Parlor Textiles: Collection II

[From left to right: Filigree in blue and in a bright camel-gold followed by
Confetti Floral Stripe in blue and green.]

A visit to the MFA, Boston inspired parts of Angela Clinton's soon-to-be-available second collection for Parlor Textiles. Still intrigued with ornament and surface pattern, this go round she's infused her new printed-in-the-US organic linen-cottons with more trad florals. Case in point: Confetti Floral Stripe. The design sprang from a motif she spied on an antique Indonesian batik sarong at the Museum but as Angela explained to me, she reinterpreted it through a Western lens.

Her palette has also expanded to encompass soft pinks, which you'll see a bit later. Filigree will be available in four colorways and Confetti Floral Stripe in three. Stop by North Carolina-based Parlor Textiles online next week to shop the first arrivals.


Textile Scout™: Schuyler Samperton

[Bennison's Malabar, an Indian design reproduced from
 an 18th-century hand-drawn and blocked fabric.]

[Click to enlargeAll interior shots by Grey Crawford, unless credited otherwise,  and posted here courtesy Schuyler Samperton.

There's just a hint of pattern-loving Mongiardino in this youthful California room. The Indian-esque print that frames the long expanse of windows may remind some design junkies a bit of Mongiardino's work for Lee Radziwill in the 60s, or fabric-swathed spaces like Napoleon's patterned campaign tent displayed at the Château de Fontainebleau, or the tent at Powis Castle, but L.A.-based designer Schuyler Samperton has kept this Pacific Palisades house a lot airier and much more laid-back. 

For the family's hang-out at the rear of their home, she began with a bright, densely patterned antique Sultanabad (aside from being chic, it camouflages whatever the resident young boys and dogs bring in). Schuyler tells me that she wanted the room to be super-cheery and colorful with lots of overlapping pattern, so after the rug she went with the Bennison fabrics (check out the small lampshade as well as the window shades) and kept layering with more masculine striped pillows. Except when serious TV watching is going on, the shades are kept up to reveal a garden Schuyler reports is gorgeous.   

Stepping back to look at the entire project, you could say Schuyler worked in reverse. She actually began with the client's guest house, which has a very fresh, all-American feel. Both dwellings were extensively remodeled, and in both instances Schuyler worked in tandem with Choate Associates architects.

[Bennison's Dragon Flower]

"Because of the floor plan, I wanted each room to [visually] flow into the next, so I predominantly used a palette of reds, blues, and beiges," says Schuyler. The sofa stripe above is a discontinued Rose Tarlow; the pillows are a mix of antique paisley, Bennison and Claremont velvet. While the clients favor traditional furniture, they collect modern art. This contrast adds more dimension. Other layers come in with an antique stone mantel and old flooring from France.

Another enviable feature of the house is the pair of offices: one for her and one for him.

In the latter, a clubby space constructed from scratch, Schuyler took a very, very long length of Mulberry plaid that had previously served as a tablecloth at the client's fortieth birthday party at the California Club, and re-used it for office curtains and a dog bed.

The Hmong pillows mixed with the plaids are a decidedly Schuyler twist.

More of Schuyler's influence can be spied in this bathroom, evidenced by the warm rug, chair covered with a Loro Piana fabric, and antique textile pillow.

Stately English style meets California dreamin' in the master bedroom. As you can see, the focal point is a darkly stained four-poster juxtaposed with a Chelsea Editions embroidered floral -- a more relaxed take on the iconic, traditional bed. Before the re-do, the clients simply had an upholstered headboard. Schuyler asked Katie Golden (a painter she's worked with before) to hand-stencil the walls. Yet another boyish stripe appears on the sofa. (BTW, Secrets of the Royal Bedchamber, an exhibition of very stately, very English beds, continues through November 2013.)

[Lee Jofa's Harrogate]

The powder room off the entry hall really offered an opportunity to let loose. It looks as if flowering tendrils are growing up the walls. And that's not wallpaper, but hand-printed linen from Lee Jofa. Schuyler says a leaded glass window was added for gravitas. Not pictured is an antique glass-front cabinet that holds the clients' collection of old apothecary bottles. 

Notice all the wonderful fresh flowers scattered throughout the house? Tom Piernik, floral designer, contributed those.

Don't forget to surf over here and tour the guest house.


Lady of the Canyon

[Photo by Grey Crawford. Image courtesy Schuyler Samperton.] 

In the next few days I'll be sharing a never-before-published project by designer Schuyler Samperton. This secluded Pacific Palisades house borders the Santa Monica mountains and Will Rogers Park, and is said to have mind-blowing canyon views as well as many rooms with a terrific masculine energy (fitting since it's home to two little boys and two golden retrievers). But shown in this sneak peek is the feminine exception: an office for the boys' mom that Schuyler describes as a delicate little jewel box. To achieve this, she used a Claremont stripe for the curtains and UK-based Fromental's handmade chinoiserie-influenced panels.

Glimpse a bit of the gorgeous rug on the floor? It's one of many richly-patterned old rugs Schuyler found for the house. So get ready for a sumptuous but kid-and-dog-friendly antique Sultanabad, lots and lots of Bennison, antique paisley and of course plenty of fresh flowers.


Pattern Play: Caitlin McGauley

[Unless credited otherwise all illustrations and products ©Caitlin McGauley.
 Images courtesy the artist.]
Look at the lively sense of pattern in Chelsea-based Caitlin McGauley's work. Her elephants and donkeys are always smartly dressed, and she renders layered interiors with flair.

[Click to enlarge.]

This eye for detail -- not to mention her way with color -- attracts clients including Tory Burch, Lonny magazine, Hermes, Christie's, and West Elm.

She counts among her admirers in the press WSJ's Off Duty. Apart from her talent, I think this is because Caitlin has a strong spirit of adventure and a terrific sense of humor, too. I find her influences global but her sensibility very fresh, East Coast American.

[McGauley's portrait of Vogue's always-dapper, endlessly-knowledgeable, and lilac-loving editor at large.]

Intrigued by the references in her paintings, I asked Caitlin about her love of textiles. She also shared a bit about her varied sources of inspiration.

SC: Tell me about your affinity for fabric. Your favorites?

CM: I am a textile fanatic and have had the great luck to work at Ralph Lauren Home, which was a wonderful experience and education. While working there, I was able to visit places like the Design Library in Wappingers Falls, NY, and rifle through all of the racks and stacks of fabric and art. Heaven!!

[Atelier Martine, Digitalis, circa 1912. Design for wallpaper. Via...] 

Consequently, I am drawn to vintage patterns that look hand done and painterly. I love the wallpapers by Atelier Martine, the print workshop founded by Paul Poirret. Raoul Dufy's textiles are also an inspiration.

In terms of modern textiles, I would love nothing more than to have a room wallpapered in anything by Eskayel, especially Galileo Glass in indigo. The pattern is spectacular! 

[John Singer Sargent American, 1856-1925 Fumée d'Ambre Gris 1880. Oil on canvas 139.1 x 90.6 cm Acquired by Sterling Clark, 1914.]

SC: Favorite museums to get your creative energy going?

CM: My husband's parents live in the Berkshires so when we visit, I like to go to the Clark at Williams College. They have the most beautiful Sargent, Fumée d'Ambre Gris (Smoke of Ambergris).

Also nearby is MASS MoCA with its massive Sol LeWitt retrospective which is so impressive. There's plenty of time to see it because it's up until 2033!

SC: Books you love?

 [Jean de Brunhoff, aquarelle originale pour Histoire de Babar, le petit éléphant, p. 20, 1931 
New York, Morgan Library © DR]

CM: I look at books illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans and Jacqueline Duheme for inspiration. I also love old Babar books, and children's books by Leo Lionni. They have such charm and sophistication.

[Lionni via McGauley]
I have always been interested in children's book illustration, and look forward to the Children's Book Show at the Society of Illustrators each October.

[Courtney Barnes's photo of Duheme illustrated book, Mrs. Kennedy Goes Abroad.]


Tillett colorPAD

[From Tillett Textiles and T4, clockwise from top:
Kingston Paisley, Beans and Boys, Queen Anne's Lace.] 

Although they were already perennial favorites of many designers, last year's retrospective at the Museum of the City of New York and inclusion in the Philadelphia Museum of Art's exhibition, Secret Garden, really brought the classic American-made fabrics of D.D and Leslie Tillett back into the spotlight.

[Scheme board for Jackie Kennedy's White House bedroom with silk-screened fabric from Dek Tillett. Image from Parish-Hadley: Sixty Years of American Design.]

[Look at the Tillett cushions. Book via...]

Before those shows, in past posts, I've touched on some of the abstracted 1960s Tillett floral prints chosen by Parish-Hadley for JBK's White House bedroom. But recently I took a virtual visit to the current realm of the Tillett family's fourth generation: Kathleen Tillett and her son Patrick McBride. By playing with scale and color, the designing duo re-imagines the fabric house's original patterns. (Think icons like Queen Anne's Lace.) A constant, though, is manufacturing -- Tillett textiles are still hand-printed in the U.S.

[Kingston Paisley]

Known as T4 by Tillett Textiles, the team offers a free app, colorPAD, that gives pattern junkies instant gratification. With just a few clicks, you can see Queen Anne's Lace or myriad other designs in the colorway of your choice and on your preferred ground. If desired, you may also order a sample. Again, instantly. So pour yourself an icy drink, find a cool spot, and get lost in the summery looks. For added inspiration, check out The Met''s holdings of Doris (D.D) Tillett's wotk.

[Tiger Toile
All of the samples above are my own experiments; below, a couple of picks from T4's spring 2013 collection.


[Double Fern]


Textile Scout™: Lulu DK

[Click to enlarge. All images via Lulu DK Lifestyle Shop.]

Two of the artists mentioned in the previous post never traveled to India (or any place across the ocean, as I understand it), even though the lush imagery in their work often makes me think of densely patterned Southeast Asian textiles. But contemporary artist and designer Lulu de Kwiatkowski definitely has trekked across the globe. Everything she's seen and experienced along the way has informed her paintings and original fabric designs. Like Evans and Rowe, de Kwiatkowski is profoundly influenced by the natural world. While traveling, she's also picked up many treasures from seashells to sarongs.

Her soon-to-launch online lifestyle shop will offer some of these found textiles as well as prints of her original paintings, and bags, pillows, lampshades and ottomans made with her own fabric designs. Take a look here.


Lush Life II

[Minnie Evans / Untitled (Purple Vase with Flowers), / 1948 / crayon and graphite on wove paper / 11 15/16 x 8 15/16 inches / Collection of Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gift of Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz, 2004 / Photo by Andrea Simon. Image via Foundation for Self Taught Artists.] 

Over the weekend I was at the High to take one last look at Gogo: Nature Transformed, an exhibition of Janet "Gogo" Ferguson's Cumberland Island-inspired home wares and jewelry, before the show closes August 25. Adjacent to the installation are permanent galleries with works by other artists who interpreted the natural beauty of the American South in their own unique way; women like Minnie Evans and Nellie Mae Rowe. So I soon wondered over to see what's on view for summer 2013. (Some of you may recall that the High has well over 100 of Rowe's works thanks to a bequest by art patron Judith Alexander.)

[Nellie Mae Rowe Humpback Bird, 1982 8 1/2" x 9 1/2" graphite and crayon on paper. Barbara Archer Gallery.]
While only a fraction of the Museum's Rowe collection is currently out, I think anyone with an interest in surface design, pattern or textiles would appreciate what is on the walls right now. The highly stylized flora and fauna and eye-popping colors in both Evans' and Rowe's work call to mind the botanicals and other paintings that came out of India hundreds of years before either artist was born in the rural South.


Iznik Repeat

[Photo by Courtney Barnes: Margaret Russell's table at Dining by Design, 2007.]

 [Photo by Norman Jean Roy for Vogue, February 2012.]

This twelve-inch high, 16th-century Iznik water bottle sold at Bonhams London a few months back and is highlighted in the summer issue of Hali as an outstanding example of the current interest in Ottoman style -- a passion that last peaked about a century ago when Iznik design was very much in vogue in the West. The ne plus ultra of the style interpreted in 21st century America might be Tory Burch's oft-blogged and pinned dining room, which of course literally was in Vogue.

[Photo by Miguel Flores-Vianna.]

As many of you already know, Burch's room is lined with Iznik-inspired panels by Paris-based Mehmet and Dimonah Iksel. And another ne plus ultra is the Iksel's own kitchen, photographed for domino. In 2007, the couple's fabrics traveled to Atlanta for Margaret Russell's tent at the DIFFA benefit, Dining by Design.

Also based in Paris and inspired by old Iznik tile is artist Aurelie Alvarez. Remember her studio from season one of Man Shops Globe? Although her work hasn't been posted here before, I thought of it when I stumbled across the bottle in Hali. Look for Alvarez's paintings at Terrain.

[Dish, Turkey, Iznik, ca. 1580-85. Stonepaste with underglaze painting. ©2008 David Franzen. Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, Honolulu, Hawaii.]

Doris Duke, ever an independent spirit, appreciated Iznik-ware when it wasn't particularly fashionable in the States. Her dish, above, one of many pieces she collected, will soon be on view at the Nasher. In our countdown we're at the six-and-a-half-week mark.