Monday, February 13, 2012

Refining the Tablescape, Part 1, The Master

A David Hicks tablescape
Okay, I'll admit it, the word "tablescape" is one I hate to love--or maybe love to hate. It's evocative, sure, but also cheesy. I had thought "tablescape" to be a new term, coined on one of those decorate- in-a-day cable programs, or perhaps in a booth at the Javits Center gift show, so I was surprised to read that it's quite a bit older than that. As it happens, the legendary Swingin' London decorator David Hicks coined the phrase in the mid-sixties to describe his penchant for arranging objects into decorative groups.

Hard to believe this photograph is from a Hicks tablescape in the mid 60s. It looks so fresh.
Unsurprisingly, Hicks had a real knack for tablescapes. Sometimes he grouped by color...

Other times by medium...

But, most often, the mix was more eclectic, a little of this and a little of that added until he got it just right. In the room below, a set of three blue Opaline boxes prove a welcome counterpoint to the profusion of red.

Above, between two windows, a python covered table holds yellow Peking glass and a porcelain dish. Hicks described the room below as being "darkest Coca-Cola colour--an excellent foil for modern paintings and sculpture." 

All of the above images are from David Hicks: A Life of Design, by Ashley Hicks, an excellent reference.

Hicks best tablescapes were the ones in his own homes, and I think that's typical.  The most interesting tablescapes tend to be derived from highly personal collections: items that were picked up here and there over the years, items that remind one of fun trips, good friends, beloved pets; items one is fond of examining and rearranging. I have a few of my own that I'll show you next time--along with appealing tablescapes from other great designers. For now, let's look at some very Hicksian objects. Perhaps one of them speaks to you. Heed the call, roll up those sleeves and get arranging!

French blue Opaline box, at Jim Wroda on February 25th, estimate $200-350.
Bronze incense burner, at Gordon Converse on February 29th, estimate $120-300.
Chinese yellow Peking glass vase. At 888 Auctions on February 23rd  in Ontario, estimate $600-800.

Bilston box, at Gordon Converse on February 29th, estimate $250-400.

Ivory elephant carving, circa 1920. At Louis Dianni on February 20th, estimate $20-40.

Bronze bust of a youth. At Klein James in Seattle on February 23rd, estimate $800-1,200.

Pair of lapis veneer vases. At William Jenack on February 19th, estimate $140-200.

Trio of malachite objects. At Leslie Hindman on February 22nd, estimate $300-500.

Pair of French Empire Gilt Bronze candlesticks. At William Jenack on February 19th, estimate $600-800.
Pair of Blanc de Chine Foo dog figures. At Elite Decorative Arts on March 17th, estimate $300-500.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Your Bed, Your Sanctuary Part Two

This Miles Redd bedroom is among my favorites. Contemporary beds, such as this one, do come up at auction from time to time and generally sell for within their estimate of $1,000-$1,500.
Earlier in the week, I wrote about antique wooden beds. Today, I'm covering more of a mixed bag--gilt beds, metal beds, upholstered beds--which is incredibly fun. It's also fitting. Your bed should be something special and unique: your personal haven, your own little world. After all, it's the single most important piece of furniture, not only in your bedroom, but in your entire house--where else do you spend as much time?

With that in mind, let's take a look...

A 20th c cast metal queen-sized canopy bed. At Christie's on February 28th , estimate, $1,200-1,800.
If the bed above, is too Spartan for your tastes, consider using it as a base for a more elaborate design...

photo, courtesy of: At Home: A Style for Today with Things from the Past
Suzanne Rheinstein draped a simple, metal-framed lit a Polonaise in celadon silk...

...but gave some metal frames a simpler treatment, below.
photo of Suzanne Rheinstein's NY apt, courtesy of Elle Decor
Charlotte Moss also likes using a metal frame as a platform for her creations...

photo from:Charlotte Moss Decorates: The Art of Creating Elegant and Inspired Rooms

I am obsessed with this French Directoire bed. It's narrow but long: perfect for a child's bedroom or a tiny guest room. At Neal Auction Company in New Orleans on February 4th, estimate $600-900.
Green velvet tester bed, at Christie's, London on February 21st, estimate ~ $3,200-$4,700.
This green tester bed is at Christie's in London, which has house sales even more frequently than the New York branch. The auction house now has an internal shipping department that will find the lowest estimates for you from a list of respected carriers. Quite a bed!

I've shown this picture before. I am crazy about the interplay between the wallpaper and the Italian Neoclassical bed in this Michael Smith designed bedroom. From Michael S. Smith: Elements of Style. Nothing as nice as this one around right now. How about a flashy brass bed instead?
Brass and porcelain bed, at Fontaine's in Pittsfield, MA on Feb 11th, estimate $1,500-2,500.

Let's face it, above bed is not for the fainthearted. It has cupids on the frame and is part of a fancy three part suite, which would be very intense in one room. Still, fun to see. Late 19th century bedroom suite,  at Cowan's Auctions on February 25th, the estimate a jaw dropping $10,000-$20,000.

Pair of giltwood, Louis XV style twin beds, at Leslie Hindman on February 12th, estimate $800-$1,200.
Also intense, albeit in a different fashion, is this set of twin beds. I could see them in a light filled bedroom with a french floral cotton on both the walls and furniture in the house of a true Francophile. Perhaps the master bedroom would have a headboard like the one below, adapted from a pediment, which I just adore.

King sized, Italian polychrome headboard, at Christie's in New York on February 28th, estimate $1,200-$1,800.

 That headboard made me think of this room, courtesy of Elle D├ęcor...

So all those are grand, but if you really want to make your bedroom your temple, look no further...

Chinese Wedding bed. At Great Gatsby's in Atlanta on February 4th, estimate, $1,200-1,800.

 Have a great weekend everyone--and happy bidding!