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My advice to new expats includes the caveat for a small escape clause, often timed to that six month-or-so point (dip?) in the experience. After mulling over the mysteries of the cosmos in my last post, I am taking my own counsel, spurred on by a little February calendar magic. I’m headed out tonight for the lovely land of Nippon and will be in Tokyo over the weekend. As luck would have it, the 28th this month – better known in some Tokyo circles as Kawagoe shrine sale day – falls on a Friday, nicely followed by an entire weekend of other shrine sales around the Tokyo area. Three days of uninterrupted antiquing, plus lots of eating and best of all, seeing friends.

I’m not the only one thinking about things Japanese these days. The March issues of the major shelter magazines brought a rush of antiques, mostly in the form of tansu, which while always unusual to spy, was made more so because there were so many of them! House Beautiful featured a new construction Sonoma property that had a zen-like feel even before I learned the owners had formerly lived in Japan. Designed by Rela Gleason, who brings a multicultural viewpoint and proficiency in mixing in Asian antiques, it has a few standout pieces like this iron strapped tansu…

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…and the real yowsa piece, this massive mizuya tansu in the bedroom. I’m always preaching these large pieces in lieu of built-in cabinetry, whether it be in the kitchen (where they were designed for) or better yet, in the bedroom, where they can hold massive amounts of clothing and extra bedding. The contemporary bed in indigo plays off the other vintage pieces from the trunk to the herbiers. All things close to my heart as you well know.

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Elle Decor featured a Joe D’Urso designed double NYC brownstone, the kind that has had its facades restored but the interior completely blown out. A skylit living room laden with well stocked book shelves has a lovely tansu tucked in the corner…

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…but the yowsa piece here has to be the 17th century byobu of pines on a golden background in the master bedroom. Again, the Japanese antiques look so fresh when paired with the modern spaces and furniture.

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So I’ll leave you salivating over these lovely pieces as I go off to pack my suitcase – very lightly so as to leave plenty of space! I have a few client requests that I am searching for, so let me know if there is anything you need or want (aren’t they the same thing?) I’ll be posting live from Instagram as I find things too. Details on the shrine sale schedule this weekend can be found here, as always. And as for my Japan based readers, I am hoping to see you all out at Kawagoe on the 28th. Please be sure to say hello!

Related Posts:
Where Do You Tansu?
Where Do You Tansu? Part II
What’s Cooking? Tansu in the Kitchen
Provenance…Byobu and the Race to Acquisition
Beautiful Byobu…Japanese Screens at The Nezu Museum and at Home
Michael Smith Has One Too!

Energy exists within, between and around everything from the infinitesimal to the astronomical. It seems to have tendencies that manifest itself in similar ways at all scales, a common language.
- Mariana Heilmann

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I had both the visual pleasure and an amazing hands-on experience with Colombian born artist Mariana Heilmann’s Resonance exhibit at Katara Art Center this week. Heilmann is a Doha-based contemporary artist who is delving deeply into matters of energy, time and space through a technique of perpetual motion and the innate tendency that chaos has to bring order to itself. Her long-term interest in science feeds and enriches the visual vocabulary of her work as she explores dispersion, connection, repetition and sequence in a variety of mediums.

The Resonance exhibition actually stems from a continuation of her earlier 2005-6 Energy series, which was an epiphany moment for the artist. By releasing her energy through music she found a universal message:

It was a process of sustained repetitive mark making, involving a suspension of thought and a spontaneous release of energy; an attempt to witness and record how continuous, random and chaotic movement tends towards order. The resulting image was like looking through a microscope and a telescope at the same time.

Number 37 21:07:2005

Using one print from the earlier series as the basis for all the work in the exhibition, Heilmann has created a mixed media show, featuring prints, collage, string and some more unusual materials. By manipulating the original image in a variety of ways, she ruminates on the cosmic and the microscopic. The show-stopping piece in the entrance, 4 floor-to-ceiling panels – a blow up of the original work divided and hung randomly – sets the tone for the beautifully arranged exhibition. Of course, I had visions of an amazing loft designed around these monumental prints…

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A smaller monoprint has one quadrant repeated as mirror image fourths and reads as a kaleidoscope or stained glass or perhaps even neural pathways in the brain. It reminded me of a more visceral version of these from the Damien Hirst exhibit earlier this year. And the church-related analogy turns out not to be very far off.

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Other works featured map-like collages which are actually enlargements of small fragments of the original drawing fleshed out by cut up x-rays. The light and dark spaces have been reversed in these lucite sandwiched pieces and the cut up x-rays are fragmented and ghostlike.

Thanks to scanning facilities and large scale digital printers I am able to feed off the image and explore how manipulating scale can reveal layers of similarities with the natural world. (neurons, bone structure, surfaces of a leaf, skin, road systems, city layouts, etc.)

My immediate visual connection to these pieces was seemingly unrelated to Heilmann’s references as I saw the traditional architectural jali screens so common to this region. But my comment sparked a larger conversation about the nature of Islamic ornament – so often geometric – and its relation to god. From there we touch on the perfection of the universe, which brings us right back round to the works being a meditation on the universe and the interconnectivity of everything. Functionally, Heilmann has dreams of these pieces being used in just the manner I suggest, as large-scale panels or dividers, perhaps quite apropos in the entryway of a hospital. I love that you can see our engaged conversation as a reflection in the photo.

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Also included were some elaborate two-dimensional works made from string. The photos cannot begin to do these pieces justice, making them look just like drawings, but take my word for it, they are spectacular.

The thread pieces have come from a very different tempo than the fast and chaotic energy of the drawings.  Nevertheless, they are still an exploration of repetitive movement and the resulting web that emerges from this.

1-Thread piece

Earlier work, from an exhibit at Virginia Commonwealth University last year, was a meditation on similar themes, in this case using end of life materials like milk cartons assembled into mysterious landscapes.  This last-gasp final dispersion of energy from these disposable objects is about as good of an end game as a milk bottle could ever hope for. The link between this piece below and the one above, while reversed in color, is a  similar examination of the microscopic versus the cosmic.

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All of her work has a luminescent beauty, but nowhere more so than in these translucent collages. Again, are we viewing moonscapes or cellular bodies?

DSC_1321T_2 DSC_1298T1_2_5

On Saturday night I participated in her Action Drawing Workshop, which “allows the participants to embark on their own exploration of how energy manifests itself.” We rocked out to techno music while allowing our conscious minds to let go – basically a rave for the artsy set.

The piece I made to the song in the video was my best attempt and I am thinking of grabbing an IKEA Ribba frame and hanging it – not for the long-term, mind you, but as a placeholder until I find something I really want.

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As I am finishing up writing, my mind leaps ahead to my upcoming trip back to Japan (yes!!!!) and it occurs to me that the x-ray collages are also reminiscent of resist dye techniques like tsutsugaki and batik. The indigo variations in this piece look hand-dyed by a master!

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If you are in Doha, the show runs through March 8 at the Katara Art Center. Don’t miss it. And if you see Mariana around, be sure to introduce yourself – she is absolutely lovely! If you are interested in contacting her, feel free to drop me an email at jacquelinewein[at]yahoo.com.

All images copyrighted by Mariana Heilmann. Please do not re-post without writing to me for permission. Thank you.

doha living room

Now for a totally personal decorating post, but after my furniture setbacks from last week I am hoping you will indulge me. Somehow, finishing the house has become much more than just getting it organized and usable – it’s become symbolic or representative of my success in settling in to our new life. There are days when the frustrations of getting things accomplished here make me feel like I am failing. While I know it’s all fluff, not rocket science and not world hunger solving, I can’t seem to help it. You can see we have made progress, but without getting too analytical, I don’t think that is really what this is all about. Nonetheless, for now, I can’t seem to think about anything else.

In addition to the French chairs and desk that I am now missing, my living room, shown above, still needs a coffee table. I’m trying to balance desire with practicality, and as ever, some kind of availability. At times like this, with a lack of antique stores and thrift shops, I find myself scrolling 1stdibs, the place where dreams are made. There is a whole host of utterly lovely vintage lucite and brass coffee tables to be found there and that is what I would really like to add here. Visually I don’t want to clutter up the space and I assume at some point I’ll be making my way to Istanbul or Morocco or somewhere else nearby and getting a fabulous carpet that I won’t want to cover up. I’d like something airy and light and at great contrast to Yamamoto’s trunk which is being used as the other coffee table in the large square space. At the same time, I’d love some brass to link the two pieces together as the trunk has beautiful brass fittings. Corners, as on the piece below in Ellen Rakieten’s Chicago apartment, would be particularly referential. And I’m loving the way the transparent table looks with a Chesterfield sofa.

ED0310 Nate Berkus and Anne Coyle, top TV producer Ellen Rakieten

Jonathan Adler’s Jacques Table is readily available on his website and oh-so tantalizingly says “Yes, We Ship to Qatar” in big letters on the bottom. Unfortunately, the table is one of those items that is exempt from international shipping. It is too small anyway, whispers the sour grapes voice in my head.

Jacques Cocktail Table Jonathan Adler

Even better than just brass corners or edges is a table that has a shelf. I love having space to put books and other items without cluttering the top. This one, in a room designed by Lindsay Coral Harper looks like it may even be a closed vitrine. I could definitely have some fun with that.

Lindsey Coral Harper - House Beautiful brass and glass

I think it was this 2010 photo of Elizabeth Bauer‘s NYC studio in Lonny that really propelled this table onto everyone’s want list.  Hers has a bit of faux bamboo detailing around the edge and a low shelf that makes for lots of magazine storage.

Lonny Mag lucite and brass coffee table

There are some seriously to-die-for vintage examples of this style to be had all over 1stdibs, from this Romeo Rega beauty…

Italian Vintage Table by Romeo Rega | 1stdibs.com

…to this one by Pierre Vandel. Serious love.

Pierre Vandel Lucite Coffee Table 1stdibs

I haven’t really found a budget option in this style, but the Winston Gold Leafed Coffee Table from Worlds Away might do for those of you in the USA.

Worlds Away Winston Gold Leafed Coffee Table

An X frame is another shape I love, seen in Vogue in the home of model Miranda Kerr.

Madeline Weinrib White & Black Mandala Tibetan Carpet in home of model Miranda Kerr, photographed by Jason Schmidt for Vogue glass and brass coffee table

Some pretty ones on 1stdibs…

French Lucite & Gilt Brass Coffee Table 1st dibs

…including my favorite Karl Springer shape. I’ve been sighing over different versions of this table for years and years and it occurs to me that Mr. Springer could really use a post of his own.

Karl Springer lucite and brass coffee table 1st dibs

In the spirit of the Springer table is the new Helix Table from Design Within Reach, designed by Chris Hardy. The addition of wood to the legs gives the table a bit more heft, but I don’t mind.  I tried to convince DWR to sell me the table without the glass top this summer, before leaving for Doha, as the legs come disassembled. I thought maybe I could squeeze it in my carry-on.  Who knows? I may be forced to that plan this summer.

Helix Coffee Table DWR

A possibly easier option to come up with is a full-on lucite table with little to no detail to detract. I don’t want this simple waterfall one and I haven’t seen it here anyway, but ironically, CB2 will ship their version to me here. The table is inexpensive ($300) but the shipping is another 150% of the purchase price.

CB2 Peekaboo Clear acrylic lucite coffee table

I would definitely consider a big simple square like this one in Claiborne Swanson Frank‘s apartment and if I was back in Hong Kong I know I could get that made easily.

Claiborne Swanson Frank's apartment lucite coffee table.

I like this one that shows its joints and we could use brass screws – see I can squeeze in a bit of brass – to connect the parts.

lucite table french settee pop art

Again there are beautiful examples on 1stdibs, most of which are also quite expensive. I don’t mind the prices on the signed pieces made with metal in the photos earlier, but find it harder to justify prices when it is only lucite.

1970s Modernist Lucite and Glass Cocktail table 1st dibs

Especially since Wisteria makes this version, on sale for $719 right now. It too comes disassembled, so I wonder about packing up the pieces and having a new glass top cut here.

Wisteria lucite and glass square coffee table

This is one of those posts that has no clear (ha ha) answers at the end, but I’d love to hear what you think and which ones you like. Any suggestions on sources that might be available to me or even making my own would be appreciated! I think I must be at the six month mark – isn’t that always a dip time in expat adjustment?

Links to all the photos and 1stdibs items can be found on my related Pinterest board, along with many other goodies.

Related Post:
A Clear Choice…Vintage Baker Brass and Glass Coffee Table

french chairs

So I have been promising this story for ages and it is a good thing that I hadn’t told it as it developed a surprise ending yesterday. Design resources here in Doha are in some ways more limited and in other ways less limited than they were in Japan, but for everyone back in the USA, it really is a struggle to source items that you all have in such abundance of selection. This story might have been part of a larger post on decorating as an expat – entitled “Getting Lucky or Making Do” perhaps? – but now I think it is entitled to its own show.

Those of you who have been reading along with me these past months know from this post and this post that I snagged 3 French style fauteuils for free early this fall. They have been an integral part of my design scheme for our dining room, which has been proceeding nicely.

dining room progress

Along with the chairs I also got a huge marquetry desk with gold mounts and an inlaid leather blotter. It may sound potentially ugly and it certainly is a bit over the top, but it arrived on my horizon as if it had been an answer to a prayer. As you may also know, I’ve been working on redesigning my elder daughter’s bedroom. Her Pinterest board is full of Moroccan shaped upholstered headboards in interesting fabrics, monogrammed hotel linens, simple night stands and gourd/vase-shaped porcelain lamps. Basically, it is a look that is super popular right now and in her case, Ashley Whittaker has been her go-to designer for inspiration.

Ashley Whittaker House Beautiful bedroom suzani

Circumstances make it such that like the Whittaker room below, we too bought the IKEA Malm 3 drawer dresser to use as night tables. There are not a lot of other choices to be had and its simplicity and large storage capacity is unbeatable. We discussed using mirrors and O’verlays to create our own IKEA hack and make the Malm look like the dressers above, but decided we were perfectly happy with it on its own.

ashley whittaker bedroom HB

The trouble for me in all this was that the room had become too full of bright white furniture and was starting to feel childlike or worse perhaps, have that blogger-on-a-budget look. It needed some weight, some gravitas, some wood to ground it. Had I been at home, I would have trotted off to some antique/consignment/thrift shop and picked up an interesting wood desk in an afternoon. That isn’t possible here so I thought a bit and realized that what might be perfect – and more importantly available – would be a French style desk. As I have mentioned before, decorating here has a tendency to run to the super ornate brocade/damask/gilded avenues, but a piece or two plucked out and used in a tongue-in-cheek manner in a different environment could be perfect. And certainly a little OTT can be just right for a teen’s room. I mentioned it to my family that night at dinner and my daughter thought it sounded like a fun idea.

The very next day I was visiting a friend over at her large compound (think gated community if that word is just too weird) and as we were taking a walk we passed a villa (glamorous sounding but basically a house) that is used for compound storage. In the open car park stood a bunch of washers and dryers, metal bed frames and other detritus, but more importantly a huge desk in full Continental style with ormolu mounts and dark blue leather top. It was so exactly what I had been thinking of that I couldn’t believe it. Even the leather blotter was blue! It was covered in sand and dust and had just been sitting out there getting ruined. Tucked in a corner under cover were the three chairs, so dusty you couldn’t see the color of their upholstery. While not antiques in any way, they were good pieces of furniture with definite potential and needed saving. My regret from that day is that I didn’t think to snap a photo so you could see how trashed they were getting.

My friend proceeded to call her compound manager and over the next few weeks they determined that nobody needed or wanted the furniture and they gave it to me gratis. Because they were free I was particularly satisfied with them – one doesn’t look a gift horse in the mouth after all! I spent a good day cleaning them and I worked on the desk with some lemon oil and slowly it emerged. Since the room is in no way finished, I don’t have real photos, but here is a quick snapshot. We are planning to turn the tall vase into a desk lamp and be sure to note my small IKEA hack – I painted the legs of the Snille desk chair with old gold spray paint to make the modern chair integrate with the antique looking desk. The room was really beginning to come together.

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So the closing of this post should have been some kind of musing on fate and luck. Instead, I got a call yesterday from the aforementioned compound manager. It turns out that the furniture didn’t actually belong to the company that leases all the properties and is actually the personal property of the Sheikh who owns the compound. And guess what? He wanted it back! So as of today, I no longer have accent dining chairs and my daughter’s books and papers are on the floor of her room. I feel a bit paralyzed about going forward. Do I look for just the same things? Do I try something different? I love the serendipity of the find and now that has been snatched away. Your thoughts?

Related Posts:
(Fabric) Bordering on Obsession
Tussle at the Antique Jamboree…or the Never Wait Rule

Image Credits: Ashley Whittaker photos via Ashley Whittaker and House Beautiful

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.

Walter_B_Denny_Iznik

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.

apt-with-lsd-rebecca-de-ravenel-final-03_110348406611

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.

Iznik-bowl-from-Yurdan-Image-One-of-Two

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.

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…

ottoman-flower-moonstone-by-f-schumacher

…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?

IMG_0020

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.

 

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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