Visiting 10 Hindu temples in 10 days, all dedicated to the planets and deities, was a window into the concentrated energy and spiritual life of how Hindus may pray. I caught colorful glimpse of many of these folk carrying out their domestic lives as we drove through street after village street. In my 3+ week South India sojourn there was only one private house I entered into. It was a good one.
What is important to you? What is the transformation you are looking for? Know that your home is the fertile ground where your life takes root.
Allow me to understand what you would like from your home – functionality improvements, aesthetic upgrades – and help you envision it. Together we will make deliberate changes in your environment to enrich your life.
My home has become a laboratory for Biodynamic design.
It’s a new year. All that we have to be grateful for can be astounding. Let’s get into that headspace. Gratitude. Being present. Being open. But open to what? My wise client said recently that “culture is not what we say [we are] but instead what we tolerate.” I’ve been thinking a lot about what this means in practice for our day-to-day lives. Can we walk the walk or just talk the talk. Do we give lip service for how we want our lives to be better/easier/lovelier, or can we make concrete steps towards making it so? I recently returned from a trip to India and, as traveling does, I was able to really spend time exploring these ideas.
This summer marks the 11th anniversary of Samantha Gore Interiors + Design. And, at risk of getting a little spiritual on you, looking back at these gratifying years in the art and interior design business, I find my greatest inspiration comes when I’m designing spaces meant to be enjoyed for a life lived well.
On the occasion of my 11th anniversary (and inspired by my brainwave) I’ve been taking a trip back into my archives, revisiting some of my favorite spaces from those early days. What resonates with me is how much these spaces still so alive, always there to welcome you, a comfort and a refuge.
During my adventures this spring in Italy and at the Salone I found myself constantly drawn to the juxtaposition of ancient forms alongside sleek and minimalist modernity. After all, contemporary and future-facing design pairs incredibly well with more primitive elements. The clean, often austere lines, palettes, and angles are an elegant counterpoint to artisanal, hand-wrought shapes and furnitures.
Environment is huge part of our daily experience. Immersion in a new environment is an opportunity to understand both the area and my self better. Eyes and ears open readily to sights, sounds and ideas while logistics and planning can take a back seat.Visiting with friends living in great cities and regions adds greater context than a visit as an outsider. Finding myself with nostalgia for places as well as for people, I often return to my friend Lucia’s maternal home in Citta della Pieve, a province of Perugia, Umbria.Pictured in town.
Lake Trasimeno, the second largest lake in Italy, is in the distance. It is an alluvial, verdant land rich in Etruscan-Roman History.The town of Citta della Pieve, founded in the 7th Century, has long inspired artists. The most well known, Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci, better known as Perugino, immortalized and idealized his native land in the XVI century.
Here is his work, The Adoration, from 1504. I visited this large fresco in town at the Oratory of Santa Maria dei Bianchi for where it was commissioned. Represented here, for almost the last time, is a dream of the ancient world envisioned as a place of contemplation and harmony. It is no wonder I feel at peace in this place.
This work was contemporaneous with the iconic pieces of Michelangelo Buonarotti and Leonardo da Vinci, with each artist processing the tensions of a modern world troubled by the worries and anguish of contemporary man in their own way. This feels quite current. A less bucolic detail of Michelangelo’s Last Judgement fresco for the Sistine Chapel, 1541.
Being asked into a friend’s home and home turf is a chance to understand and connect further with them, too. Lucia and I first became friends in 1997 while living in Florence at my first internship out of college. I had just completed my degree in Art History and Fine Art from New York University and we worked side by side at the same small painting conservation studio near by to Santo Spirito. When our two lady bosses, Sandra and Nicola were off site at the Uffizi Galleries, we connected through my improving Italian, over music, art and our ragazzi—a singularly Italian bonhomie.
I admire Lucia as she continues her work as an art restorer. She has incredible skill, patience and knowledge of color pigment, solvents, technique and history. My career path brought me here instead. Visiting Lucia; her home and her studio, gives me a warm, nostalgic feeling of a road not taken as well as the eternal pleasure of seeing a creator at work in their created habitat. Lucia’s spaces are a perfect representation of the rich, painterly life she leads in them. This is, of course, deeply resonant for me as an Interior Designer.
Il Ritocco or retouching a canvas.The eastern light from over the Valdichiana illuminates the room.
What a trip. Linking back and forth and back again further through time. Connecting with art and artists through a sharing of vistas and city streets. My life, my friends and experiences woven into the fabric of a landscape that resonates through me.
Grace and power of environment, indeed, all of the earthly delights.
Appreciate this detail of an Allegorical Figure holding up Home as if on a pedestal, painted by American artist Grant Wood in 1921-2.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Henri Matisse Interiors + Design
Matisse is my favorite colorist. While visiting my family in my hometown of Newton, MA, I went to see the new “Matisse in the Studio” exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
What strikes me most about this series of paintings is Matisse’s use of shape and color. In his contemplation and depiction of textiles, treasured objects and stylized studio space — he shows himself as a designer and decorator.
His paintings of everyday life in his studio transcend the mundane by elevating mere objects into works of art. What an inspiring vision to consider: that our simple, personal objects transform our homes into artwork.
3 Things to Consider When Choosing a New Rug:
1. Size matters. Consider the size of your room and scale of your furniture, and select a rug that relates to both. Read more on selecting the perfect-sized rug in our recent blog post.
2. High-fiber for your home. Wool or silk pile rugs add a luxurious cushion under your feet and wear very well. Flat weaves or natural fiber rugs like jute are crisp, casual and add texture.
3. Celebrate your style! A graphic, patterned rug adds visual interest and character to a space–and is a clever way to play with scale. Be it a Beni Ourain picked up in Marrakech or a traditional treasure you remember from your grandparents’ home, your rug acts as a canvas upon which your life is painted.
Size and scale are paramount in choosing your rug. Oftentimes, bigger is better. Your rug should relate to the other furniture pieces in your room and serves to anchor the space. The following drawings demonstrate how different size rugs will work in different rooms.
BEDROOM: The first 2 drawings are what we recommend! A rug that encompasses more than half the length of the bed, with at least two feet on either side – to greet your feet in the morning – and about a foot of coverage past the foot is a beautiful addition to any bedroom. To find something more budget friendly, consider two runners on either side of the bed. What we don’t suggest is a rug that sits only at the base of the bed, making both the rug, bed and room look smaller.
DINING ROOM: Our rule of thumb for area rugs in the dining room is pretty and simple. A rug with enough coverage, as shown in the first drawing here, to lay beneath chairs when they are pushed in and pulled out is well advised. The last thing you want is for your guests to be half-on and half-off, wobbling their way through dinner.
LIVING ROOM: In the living room, your rug unifies the space and sets the stage for your seating and conversation area. If not all legs, we are recommending at least the front two legs of each piece of furniture to sit on the rug as displayed in the first drawing. If a fabulous vintage small rug catches your heart, layer it on top of a larger, more appropriately sized natural fiber rug like sisal or jute. We like to avoid “rug island” shown below in the red!
Now that you’re an expert too on how to select a rug size, call me to discuss flat weave vs. pile and whether you’re a fancy Persian mohair or Tibetan knot kind of client!
During a visit to One World Observatory this weekend, I was reminded of just how breathtaking the city of New York is. The 360 degree view from the top of the Freedom Tower rejuvenated my love for Manhattan–its architecture and vitality could not be overlooked — even at this angle!!
It brought to mind an Architectural Digest article from superstar Nate Berkus. If your home needs a fresh look, Berkus quips “it’s much more rewarding to rearrange what you already have” which “brings new energy into your space and let’s you see things in a new way”.
His advice: shop your home! Great advice and I agree. We often already have “enough” or at least enough to get started! And please, do not hesitate to call on me to lend a hand! Often times clients and friends compliment me on my particular perspective. This feels great. I would love to share it with you and with your home.