Friday, January 23, 2009

Wabi Sabi

I recently came across this book and it has opened up a whole new concept to me. The wabi-sabi aesthetic comes to us from ancient Japan. It is centered on the idea that nothing is permanent, nothing is perfect and nothing is ever finished. Wabi-sabi "occupies roughly the same position in the Japanese pantheon of aesthetic values as do the Greek ideals of beauty and perfection in the West." Andrew Juniper claims, "if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi."

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity, simplicity, modesty, intimacy, and suggest a natural process.

When looking at actual wabi-sabi objects, I must admit, i don't like them very much. I do, however, LOVE the concept of findign beauty in the imperfect, the transient and the unfinished. 

Mock-ups to Generate Ideas

Mock-up 1 Escavara
Mock-up 1 Escavara - by Christopher Grace on

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Soft Spot for Neon

Being from Miami, I have a soft spot for palms, stucco and neon among other things. I found these amazing lamps made out of neon tubes by Roger Borg. I would love to have one of these. His philosophy is that 
 there is no longer a need for an interior bulb.  "The bulb is the shape.  The shape is the light."

In other news, this past weekend I redid these two darling plant stands that D.D. and I found one night coming home drunk. I painted the wire frame an ivory cream color and had new tops made for them out of a bright orange see-through plastic. They look fantastic! I wish I could post pictures, but my camera died and I need to wait until I can get another one. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Further Thoughts on the White House

As I am sure many of you are, I have Inauguration on the brain. I've been thinking a lot about the new first family and what they represent. I have also, of course, been slightly obsessed with the history of the White House. I read a great article in the American Museum Association's January issue explaining the history of the White House and how it was only fairly recently (thanks to Jackie) that the White House and it's contents were treated as a Museum. Since the Kennedy administration, the White House has been  a living museum with unique curatorial challenges. These challenges are mainly the fact that the house keeps changing as it's occupants change and most first ladies take it upon themselves to make the house reflect their personal tastes, the image they wish to project and the physical requirements of their families (Teddy Roosevelt had six kids living in the house!). Another challenge is that the furnishings and rooms are in constant use with continual wear and tear. 

The interiors of the White House have passed through three distinct phases and made a full circle, from neoclassicism to Victorian and then back to a consciously revived neoclassicism after 1902. Before 1961, the furnishings of the previous administrations had simply been removed, sold or thrown away, without any attempt at preservation of the house's history. Most of the original furnishings were sold at auction by Chester A. Arthur to finance the Victorian redecoration of the mansion. When Mrs. Kennedy moved into the house it was decorated in mostly governmental department store furniture circa 1948 (eek!) and she sought to revive the old house and place it back on the map of noteworthy design. She also realized the importance of trying to regain the original furnishings of the house and created the post of White House Curator to assist her in the task. For the first time in it's history, any furnishings or objects that entered the doors of the White House became part of the permanent collection. No longer could President's and their wives dispose of furniture and objects in the house, they are now removed to a secure off-site storage facility for preservation and cataloguing.  

Thanks to Jackie, the White House now has one of the most impressive decorative arts collections in the world. The focus is on American furnishings and decorative arts from 1800 to 1825, the Federal Period. The aim is not to create "period" rooms, as Jackie once said, but rather elegant, usable rooms that enhance the sense of American history. First Ladies have the entire collection at their disposal when redecorating the White House. What a dream! to have all ofthat historical furniture to mix in with contemporary pieces! In short, I LOVE JACKIE, well I mean, what she did was ensure that even though the White House is in constant flux, reflecting the politics, interests, tastes and composition of the president's families, she ensured that all of the objects would receive museum-like care, scholarly seriousness and would be preserved in a permanent collection. 

My previous post sounded very disdainful towards the rumored interior designer that Mrs. O might be using but now that I have read more about how the interiors of the White House work, I like the idea that the Obamas will be leaving their imprint on the history of our nation's house

Thursday, January 8, 2009

White House Redecorating

The online design world is abuzz with rumors that designer Michael S. Smith has been tapped by the fabulous Mrs. O to redo some of the rooms in the White House. Take a look at his portfolio and share your thoughts. My thoughts are - safe, expensive, conservative (is that the same as safe?) yet trying to be "with it" by injecting modern art, "ethnic" pieces, and Buddah statues - In short, everything you would expect from somebody meant to redecorate the White House in a faux edgy way. (vomit!) 

Knots & Knitting

Check out this new line of interior seating by Bauke Knottnerus called Phat Knits. These can be very cool for a lounge or TV room. Anywhere really, where casual seating and flexibility are key. As soon as I saw them I thought of D.D. and his love of knitting. I love the massive gray threads - the largest could work as an individual chair and with a few carefully selected pillows the other would make a fabulously squishy sofa.