Category: Art

Adoration of the Home

Appreciate this detail of an Allegorical Figure holding up Home as if on a pedestal, painted by American artist Grant Wood in 1921-2.
allegorical figure holding up a home as a devotional object in the neoclassical style of the Italian Renaissance
Holding a model home aloft as a devotional object, this central figure is painted as a secular Madonna in this neoclassical allegory that draws on the visual language of Renaissance altarpieces.
Grant Wood was hired by local Cedar Rapids, Iowa realtor Henry Ely to paint this scene as an advertisement for the developer’s model homes.
100 years later I feel connected to both the realtor and artist who celebrated Home and immortalized it through art while also making a livelihood from our basic need to nest.

Grant Wood is most famous for his painting “American Gothic.”
Both of these two works, along with many more are currently on exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City until June 10, 2018.

Compelling Curves Ahead

Travel and beauty inspire us. Exploring new cities and towns, experiencing new design and connecting with a different vision of life opens our eyes, our hearts and minds. Wonder has room to wander and allows us to see the World anew. An opening shift in perspective will happen on its own. 

How do we capture that prized shift and incorporate it into our consuming lives – before we are back again, numbed by the daily onslaught of life? I found an answer to that question myself when the sunlight of Tacchini’s salone in Padiglione 16 struck me with its warm, juicy, flattering pastel color palette. DiChirico-esque murals as the backdrop for Jonas Wagell’s new Julep Sofa being launched at the Fair.

 The voluptuous curves in juicy corals, blush pinks and soft citrus were warm, sensual and a bit dramatic – especially welcomed in by my New York sensibility that has been bombarded with new construction of glass, steel, angles and aggressive neutrality!  Imagine instead coming home in the evening to sun-kissed, vibrant softness. Yes, please. Quanto mi piace. 

It seems kind to have a home filled with curves to embrace the space and us within it when there is much to take on in our occupying lives. New York City is a hard place. It can be a real grind. 

Creating an environment that refreshes you and takes you back to that prized shift – one where you can simply slip into a sunset or a morning beginning in paradise – will refresh you day in and day out.

When I feel connected to such a pleasant and resonant environment I get curious. Wondering about its creators and where inspiration comes from. What Zephyr swooped low to blow in the first breaths of creation.  

Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus. 1484-1486 The Uffizzi Galleries, Florence.

After the fair in Milan, I drove along the coast, meandering the serpentine coast of Liguria, south through Genova, Forte dei Marmi and onto Viareggio where I noticed repetition of this color combination abound. I imagined the same vibe in these places that the colors had for me.

Basking in the glow of this palette expressed now as painted palazzi, proudly nestled up in the bluffs and along the coast, facing out toward the sea.  Remembering that life and art influence each in a rhythmic dance. Sun-drenched, still, warmly lit. You get the picture.

It is exciting to appreciate and connect to a region’s palette in this way. It felt so relevant after the Fair. I felt a unspoken understanding of the area and it was comfortable. And experienced a vibe of a warm, sunny get-away complete with aesthetic pleasure unfolding organically. This happens to me in Italy. BUT it doesn’t have to only happen in Italy.

 

As always, I’m reminded of the power of design and palette to bring a sense of place to the everyday, to channel the rich and stimulating pleasures of discovering new environments and exploring new ideas right into our own homes.

 

High in Carrara Quarry

I’m still buzzing with excitement and energy collected during my trip to Italy over the last few weeks. 2018 marks my first visit to Salone del Mobile – the massive and dazzling annual Milan Design Week – which expands over the breadth of the city – both at Salone – the official Fair Ground as well as Fuori Salone – which has become just as large an event spread across this great city. What a phenomenal event with people, ideas, new environments and objects, intriguing and sating the senses. Shapes, textures, colors and materials – how they fit together in familiar and novel ways is on display and shows appreciation, ingenuity and reverence to both design and material. Connecting to material is an important part of my craft. The marble and stone furniture and fixtures at Salone was a standout.

I loved the simplicity and freshness of this piece.

Italy has always had a profound effect on me. I lived in this fertile environment—in Florence for a number of years in my early 20s. Since then I must travel back every few years for a fix; to visit, re-visit and, always, to experience something new.

Right after Milan I finally went to Carrara. This Tuscan town, part of the province Massa-Carrara, is bordered by Liguria and Emilia Romagna, has an extensive coastline. The other defining feature of Carrara and the region are the Apuan Alps, a mountain ridge in the near distance, raised high and parallel to the sea. This town has been on my bucketlist for over 20 years. To discover and explore the environment which Renaissance Master Michelangelo Buonarroti had available and the material deemed worthy of his talent and creative genius. From these mountains the white marble for his Renaissance masterpieces, like David and La Pieta, was sourced.

Slicing away at mountains is giant work. Machinery and men are scaled down and look like toys. Michelangelo’s sculpture quarry is still in use though the marble being removed today is a creamier white than before. The mountain is carved away at and no longer the same. Its still beautiful, in a different way than its natural state, as it is sculpted at by man and machines. And it is the void, too, that I came to see.


My guides Mariano from Marmosil and my friend Paolo, knew their native topography, brought me to small towns, vantage points along the way, into the quarries and actually through the mountains themselves. (I’m happy to share what stone comes from where if interested!)


Here I am afterwards in the neighboring town of Pietrasanta with a Carrara marble sculpture by Kan Yasuda entitled “Chiave del Sogno” or “The Key to our Dreams“.

Watching man vs. nature to domesticate this element of natural beauty was big for me. We are taking away these mountains leaving less and less behind. Being high up in those marble mountains felt incredibly grounding.

The ingenuity and design that Italy is known for along with its staggering natural beauty makes for a compelling and complex country indeed. It allows something as old as this mountain range—once under the sea—appear like a light shining on both the ancient and the new. I continue to be awed and inspired by this people and this place, eternal cities and landscapes creating eternal, endlessly livable design.

It’s All About Your Home: Winter 2017

 
 3 Ways To Connect With Your Home:

1. Take inventory on your belongings and decide which are functional, beautiful, and which are just stuff. Recycle, donate, or regift the superfluous!

2. Create fresh vignettes in eye-catching spots around your home. Group a treasured object, art books, and some greenery on an entry console.

3. Connect with loved ones. Invite family and friends over to enjoy your newly revived space.

Inspiration
Palazzo Fendi Lounge: Rome, Italy

All Roads Lead To Rome.
I am inspired anew by my love, bell’Italia. During a Fall visit to this magical land, I visited Palazzo Fendi to reconnect with old colleagues and toured the recently remodeled 17th century space. This chic, avante-garde room looks toward the future while maintaining historical roots, with its geometric lines and boiserie a deep teal. It exemplifies a design philosophy that our homes keep us grounded while giving us the space to thrive.

NEW YORK’S 50 SHADES OF GRAY

The snow and the wind gets New York City gritty real fast. Billowy white drifts are short-lived as sooty, dirt-specked, packed mounds of ice and muddy, slushy, wet puddles make themselves right at home. The view is bleak as we trundle through the cold in a city veiled in way more than 50 shades of grey ranging from hazy cloud cover to slick black ice. New York City’s Winter Canvas.

Upon this backdrop, both the Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum of Art exhibited shows that were anything but bleak. The joyful, bold and bright palette of Matisse’s Cut-Outs at MoMA and Chris Ofili’s sensual, warm, bright and textural works at New Museum, were both infused with unexpected, free and experimental interactions of color in art works masterful and rich. New York City’s Winter Colors.

No surprise then that my palette is experiencing a shift. I can’t get enough of warm, rich and bright jewel-toned colors around me. In various combinations and layers. An interior cycle is said to last 10-15 years while a fashion cycle for 2.5-5 years. 2015 is off to a very bright start indeed!