Archive for the ‘Textiles’ Category

Iznik carnations from MIA

Carnation: I have long lov’d you and you have not known it.
-Mary Wortley Montagu, on Turkish language of flower customs, 1718

For the Victorians, carnations symbolized fascination and romantic love, although certain colors could connote rejection. What you may not know is that the roots of Western language of flowers stems from the writings of an English woman, Mary Wortley Montagu, who accompanied her husband on his ambassadorship to Istanbul in the early 18th century. Through her access to the women in the harems she discovered that “there is no colour, no flower, no weed, no fruit, herb, pebble or feather that has not a verse belonging to it; and you may quarrel, reproach or send letters of passion, friendship or civility, or even of news, without ever inking your fingers.” In addition, during the Ottoman Empire flowers also had strong religious and political meanings for the Turks. Certain flowers, such as the rose, the tulip and the carnation were particularly powerful and it is not uncommon to find portraits of sultans and military leaders in which they are smelling a bloom. Carnations could signify everything from the political to the divine, which were of course intertwined. Evoking spiritual contemplation, they symbolized the power of the renewal of life and its intermingling with the heavenly gardens of paradise.

Haydar Reis (Nigari), Admiral of the Fleet Hizir Hayrettin Pasa (Barbarossa)  (Topkapi Palace Museum)

The town of Iznik in Turkey rose to prominence in the middle of the 16th century as advances in pottery making materials were coupled with the patronage of the Ottoman court and an emphasis on artistry under Suleiman the Magnificent. The newly developed floral artistic style of Kara Memi showed to advantage in the painted surfaces of the pottery. The fan-shaped carnations and three petalled tulips are my favorites among the spring flowers traditionally featured.

iknik pottery dish via bonhams

A great write-up on the chronology of the evolution of Iznik ceramics, as well as a peak into an extraordinary collection can be found on the Louvre’s Three Empires of Islam mini site. Like I mentioned in the textiles post, the “flowering” of this style happened post 1540, when the naturalistic floral designs rose to prominence via the influence of the imperial painting studio. At some point soon I’ll delve into the earlier pottery which was mainly blue and white and highly influenced by Chinese imports, but right now I’m loving the colored slips that characterize pieces from the 1550s…

bowl with carnations Louvre

..as well as those that show the emergence of a true polychrome palette with the clear red, green and turquoise we most often associate with this pottery in the 3rd quarter of the century. I got the full color and floral palette from these pieces at the V & A this summer.

Iznik pottery at the V&A

I’ve got lots to learn on the subject but resources are forthcoming. The Museum of Islamic Art here yielded this treasure, Iznik: The Artistry of Ottoman Ceramics by Walter B. Denny, which I am slowly absorbing. The illustrations are outstanding! Denny was also the co-curator with Sumru Belger Krody of The Sultan’s Garden exhibition I mentioned previously.


There is quite a bit of Iznik buzz out and about in the blogosphere, much of it due to the Iksel‘s incredible printed wall panels which come to think of it, show up prominently in Tory Burch’s Southampton home - so she has definitely caught the bug. In Rebecca de Ravenel’s New York apartment – I told you I’d be mining her space for many posts too – you can spy an Iznik style bowl on the coffee table.


The Turkish pottery industry is alive and well, turning out wares of varying types and quality. Istanbul is high on my list of places to get to soon, but in the meantime, an easy fix can be had by ordering through online sites like Yurdan.


We saw quite a bit of modern Iznik-style wares being produced in the Old City in Jerusalem during our trip this winter. Armenian potters were brought over from Turkey in 1919 to repair the tiles covering the outside walls of the Dome of the Rock and they and their families never left. Over time they have created their own style of Jerusalem pottery, based on Turkish artistry.

Sandrouni green carnation

I didn’t buy any because typically I am obsessed with age and patina. Antique Iznik pottery is not something you see frequently available for sale as it is both rare and quite expensive, but there is an unusual and fantastic (in multiple meanings of the word) new antique shop here in Doha that I will be profiling in the coming month. I saw this piece earlier this fall and while it doesn’t have carnations, I think I could make do with its lovely tulip and hyacinth pattern. I’m in love with its luminescent greens and blues and I have been stalking it for some time now.

Iznik plate from new Doha antique store

If you remember this photo from this post, you’ll know I am game to add some regional pottery to my Japanese pieces – I think the mix would be fascinating.

moroccan lavender Domino

And as little follow up to my last post, I have two photos that I forgot to include in a small case of blogger brain freeze (Does this happen to any of you? Things you planned to put in that you just simply forgot?) But the lavender in the early Carolina Irving room below certainly links nicely to the room above, so I’ll try not to feel bad about it. This photo is from about 1995, so it gives a good sense of how she was finding her style even then. Note the carnation pillow and the tiles on the wall.

Carolina Irving 1995 ED Ottoman Carnation

And I absolutely meant to include this Tory Burch showroom photo with its giant carnation throw pillows, which look to be Robert Kime’s Palmette. Be sure to notice the other Turkish motifs in the wallpaper, including the three-pronged tulip and the great mix with the Asian blue and white porcelain.

Tory Burch beverley hills store via domaine carnation

So maybe it was actually a bit of luck that I forgot these photos the other day and could include them here. Because in addition to everything else in the room, the coffee table is basically the dream piece I have been searching for for the last five months to finish the living room here. It makes a perfect segway to next week’s post on brass, glass and lucite coffee tables.

Related Posts:
Carnation Fixation…Ottoman Inspired Textiles
Colors of the Rainbow…Blue and White Porcelain is Neutral
Preferring Patina Over Perfection…Chipped Porcelain, Threadbare Rugs and Old World Glamour at Tissus Tartares

Image Credits: 1, 5 & 10 my Instagram, 2. Haydar Reis (Nigari), Admiral of the Fleet Hizir Hayrettin Pasa (Barbarossa) (Topkapi Palace Museum) via Sedef’s Corner, 3. via Bonhams, 4. via The Louvre, 6. Iznik: The Artistry of Ottoman Ceramics by Walter B. Denny, 7. APT with LSD: Rebecca de Ravenel’s New York City Apartment in Vogue, photo credit: Jeremy Allen, 8. via Yurdan, 9.via Sandrouni, 10. Domino, date unknown, 11. Elle Decor 1995 via Riviera View, 12. via Domaine Home.

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Ottoman carnations at MIA

Location really hones the eye and I find that as I settle into my new home, certain design motifs are coming to the forefront of my vision. It’s not that I am abandoning my love of sho-chiku-baiamikamon or the rest of the lexicon of Japanese pattern, just that I am deeply interested in adding to it. Long time unexplored favorites, such as the stylized Ottoman carnations seen on this 17th century Turkish cushion at The Museum of Islamic Art here in Doha are catching and fixing my eye. Similar velvet cushions and fragments of this pattern can be found in the collections of museums worldwide, from here to here to here to here and I’ve stumbled across it in a few antique shops. I honestly think this velvet was the equivalent of the modern-day cushion covers we see on benches in the souq.

Embroidered cover (detail), Istanbul, 16th:early 17th century via Textile Museum

During the reign of Sultan Süleyman I (1520-1566), also known as Suleiman the Magnificent, there was an incredible flowering – literally – of artistry in the nakkaşhane, the imperial painting studio, credited to Şahkulu and later pupil Kara Memi, who was responsible for the new naturalistic painting style which incorporated spring flowers, such as tulips, carnations, roses and hyacinths. The embroidered cover above, part of last year’s The Sultan’s Garden exhibition at The Textile Museum is such an example. Stylized versions of these flowers grew out of the more naturalistic designs and both were adopted by artists and artisans in other fields including the weavers and the potters (which we will hear more about later this week).  Ottoman textiles were greatly admired and collected by Europeans, and as this post will show, that has not really changed. And while the fan-shaped carnations became standardized and somewhat formulaic, it is that very simplistic repetition that makes them read as modern today.

No surprise at all to find carnation patterned fabric at Carolina Irving‘s place – in this case a double whammy in the red pillows on the bed and the softer colored panels on the closet doors.

Carolina Irving bedroom Lonny

I wouldn’t be surprised if she found some of it over at Robert Kime‘s shops in London, where antique ottoman textiles intermingle with his modern-day interpretations, including the Palmette Blue and Palmette Red seen here on pillows.

Tone on Tone Robert Kime shop Palmetto pillows carnation

David Hicks Herbert’s Carnation Weave is probably the best known Ottoman inspired carnation pattern and comes in numerous colors. Here, his daughter India has it on the headboard in her Harbour Island bedroom in a soft neutral.

India Hicks bedroom Domino

You’ll also find it in India Hick’s childhood home The Grove where a bold colorway on the wing chair stands out in the richly appointed library…

David Hicks the Grove library marbelized paper lampshades via domino

…as well as some drool-worthy marbelized paper lampshades. The spectacular Oxfordshire estate was featured in great detail this winter in Domino and really must be seen!

David Hicks lamphade

Herbert’s Carnation Weave pops up in this pretty living room from Angie Hranowsky

Angie Hranowsky ottoman carnation stool

…and I spotted it in blue on a chair in a Tory Burch interior.

Tori Burch carnation

Schumacher also makes a carnation patterned fabric and wallpaper called Ottoman Flower. It comes in a few muted colorways, like this soft gray Moonstone and the repeat is huge…


…which you can see clearly in this wallpaper application. Ingenious dressing up of plain closet doors, no?

Schumacher's Ottoman Flower via Martha Stewart Living, September 2011 via tilton fenwick

If you need an inexpensive fix of carnation, there is quite a bit of it to be had on the flash sale sites right now, from this pillow on Jaypore with its more traditional embroidered look…

Screenshot 2013-11-23 15.26.14

… to this bright contemporary version over on One Kings Lane.

Mandwa pillow carnation OKL

Back on my own home front, a large remnant of a crazy colored outdoor fabric from Raoul Textiles (called Dianthus I believe) covered in giant Ottoman carnations had suggested a bright color scheme for my kitchen, designed to overcome its severe limitations and make some cohesion out of the colors already in play. The fabric is thick, durable and cleanable, making it perfect for chair cushions for the crumbling rush seats on the Hitchcock chairs.

Raoul and mall Skok's textiles carnations

The super fun and small-scale Rohet Multi from Mally Skok that I mentioned in my last post is a perfect counterpoint to the large Raoul print and will be used for the large Roman shade over the sink.  Add in an unexpected find – this woven rag rug in just the right colors – from the amazing Zara Home (on the top ten list of great things in Doha that aren’t in the USA), and a kitchen scheme is born. Necessity does breed invention!

Raoul Mally Skok and Zara home rug

I mean if you can’t fix, what else can you do but distract?


Watch for more posts on carnations as well as pomegranates and cintamani. I’m just getting started.

Related Posts:
Custom Furniture in Hong Kong with a Little Inspiration from Robert Kime and Carolina Irving
Light Up My Life…The Quest for Lovely Lamp Shades
Dining Room Option Two…Inspiration from Angie Hranowsky

Image Credits: 1. my Instagram, 2. The Textile Museum, 3. Lonny Magazine Oct./Nov. 2009, photo credit: Patrick Cline, 4. Loi Thai via Tone on Tone, 5. Domino, date unknown, 6-7. Domino Holiday 2013, photo credit: Brittany Ambridge, 8. Angie Hranowsky, 9. Tory Burch credit unknown, 10. F. Schumacher, 11. Martha Stewart Living September 2011, via Tilton Fenwick, 12. Jaypore, 13. OKL, 14-15. my Instagram, 16. me.


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Michael Smith Courtney Barnes WSJ border article

Friday’s Wall Street Journal brought a wonderful article by one of my favorite bloggers, Style Court‘s Courtney Barnes on the charm of self bordered textiles. I have long been obsessed with traditional Indian fabrics which routinely use borders as integral parts of their design as well as modern renderings by many of my favorite textile designers, including those of Zak+ Fox , Peter Dunham and Parlor Textiles, whose fabrics are illustrated in the article. Using the auction of a pair of armchairs, covered by designer Michael Smith in a bordered textile reprinted from an antique one in his own collection as the starting point of her musings, she pulls us into the intimate story of her own passion for the fabrics. As luck and serendipity would have it, this was the very topic on my mind exactly as I was reading it.

My own Michael Smith bordered fabric illumination occurred years ago with this Santa Barbara guest house in which he used a myriad of inexpensive Urban Outfitters Indian bedspreads to upholster the walls, the furniture and make the draperies. His masterful manipulation of the borders really demonstrated the punctuation they can provide, in this case both as a fillet and curtain edge and trim. His use of these simple artisanal fabrics turned me on to the idea of their flexibility. You know I love good repurposing!

Michael Smith Indian beadspreads

The serendipity part comes in because I have been working on and off all fall and in particular this past week for my most exacting client to date – my 14-year-old daughter. When moving a young teenager halfway round the world to a new school, it’s good to have a bribe, in this case a big new bedroom and entirely new decor as she had outgrown the furniture and color scheme of her old space. Add an en suite bathroom – about the size of her old Tokyo bedroom – and the potential for happiness goes way up. While her younger sister’s room is basically finished, progress on her’s had stalled. Her request for soft blues and a bit of Indian block print had resulted in this dreamy Instagram palette, but other than actually ordering the Parlor Textiles French Ikat in blue for her headboard and bedskirt, nothing had been done.

Instagram blue design scheme for G's room

For that “bit of Indian block print” I had turned to my favorite source, Aleta Bartel-Orton (also mentioned by Courtney in the article), whose online shop sells both her’s and Brigitte Singh‘s beautiful fabrics. The bedroom plan calls for Roman shades, ideally to be made in a blue and white print, highlighted by some sort of decorative edge. In addition to yardage, Aleta has tablecloths and other finished pieces available which I thought might be perfect as they tend to have borders. But while I was scrolling around the website I realized that what I really wanted was my favorite old standby, Hibiscus Branch. Of course, the print run is finished and there is basically none left – why is it I only manage to figure out that I need a particular fabric from her only after she is out of it? Luckily Aleta was willing to search for any remaining pieces of the Hibiscus Branch (and it seems like there may be just enough)…

Brigitte Singh Hibiscus branch blue Aleta

…and also came up with this cotton panel, mainly white and unprinted but with the loveliest borders which will be added to the Roman shades to create the effect of a single fabric. The flowered portion won’t go to waste either – I’ll use it to make throw pillows. It’s good to note here that complimentary fabrics can be combined to create the bordered look.

Blue Hibiscus Cotton

This brings me back to Michael Smith’s bargain trick with bedspreads that I find works even better with tablecloths. Different projects need different sizes and tablecloths are available small to large. Both can be counted on the have the quality Courtney refers to her in her article, the constrained “frames, along with symmetry, to bring order to a profusion of ornament.” So in addition to Aleta’s offerings, other resources I have been exploring include Priya Raj’s beautiful block prints at Peacocks and Paisleys. I almost grabbed this Exotic Mint Sprigs tablecloth in the sale this weekend with an eye towards using it to make a shade for the guest room.

exotic mint sprigs peacocks and paisleys

And instead of ho-hum shower curtains, it’s not that hard to put 12 button holes in a tablecloth or bed sheet, which is exactly what I am planning on doing in my daughter’s bedroom with the block printed bed sheet I bought this summer from Jaypore. And for purpose made shower curtains in block print patterns, take a look at Saffron Marigold. I recently recommended their Wedding Day pattern for an impossibly boring yellowy-beige bathroom.

saffron marigold wedding day yellow shower curtain

I have also given up on trying to get permission to change the ugly tiles in our kitchen here and am going for a new approach which involves distraction. In searching for fabrics for the French chairs, I had an epiphany and realized Mally Skok‘s Rohet Multi on Oyster might be just the thing to link the disparate elements in the kitchen together. More on that later in the week but be sure to notice that it too has a border.

Screenshot 2014-01-18 12.13.27

I’ll be putting it to good use.

Related Posts
Sourcing Antiques for Michael Smith Interiors
Even Movie Stars Recycle…Early Homes of Cindy Crawford and James Belushi
Renovation Report and a DIY…Using Indian Wood Blocks to Create “Wallpaper” in the Master Bathathroom

A Curtain’s Leading Edge…a New Idea for Kaku-obi

Image credits: First two photos Michael Smith via 1. The Wall Street Journal, 2. Cote de Texas. Other photos mine or as linked.

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