27 October 2009
I don't know about you, but I could use a little off-the-wall levity right now.
Which is why I'll be checking out Bad Barbie, an exhibition of David Levinthal's series of photographs, starring Ms. Blondie, her long-time beau Ken, and a breakout role for G.I. Joe. Click here to read more (parental advisory in effect) or visit:
John McWhinnie @ Glenn Horowitz Bookseller
50 1/2 East 64th Street
New York City
November 4th through December 5th
22 October 2009
I'm sure I'm the last to discover Megan Wilson's Ancient Industries shop and blog (thank you to BI for bringing me in from the cold). And may I mention how surprised I was to learn that this is the one and same Megan Wilson whose haunting book covers Porter Hovey mentioned on Little Augury here.
I've already reserved my space.
Monday, November 9, 6pm
$35 with 15% discount off the book if purchased with registration
RSVP Potterton Books 212.644.2292
any other ideas?
Forgive me for boring you with this bit of housekeeping, but since you are the ones who type it in, who better to ask?
20 October 2009
According to architect Peter Pennoyer who co-wrote the newly published The Architecture of Grosvenor Atterbury with preservation historian Anne Walker, the answer is a resounding yes.
Atterbury (1869-1956) began his career designing sprawling summer "cottages" for New York's patrician elite of which he himself was a member. Even though I love a gilded estate as much as anyone, it was Atterbury's innovative and thoughtful town planning for the lower and middle classes that really intrigued me.
Atterbury introduced the use of prefabricated concrete to expedite building and keep costs down, and here is where it gets interesting.
Pennoyer pointed out in a lecture given at the Institute of Classical Architecture last week that Atterbury's pioneering achievements have long been overlooked - perhaps it is the design community's inability to see modernity when it's under a traditional veneer.
19 October 2009
This year's theme couldn't be more glamorous: "Egyptomania: Nile Style in the Decorative Arts." Please join me on Friday, October 30 for a closer look at the Egyptian revival in the British Isles. We'll trace this vogue from Thomas Hope's Egyptian Room in his Duchess Street manse to Oliver Messel's film sets for Caesar and Cleopatra starring the sphinx-like Vivien Leigh as the asp loving Queen of the Nile.
"Of Sphinxes and Sofas" Lecture and Regency Redux booksigning:
Friday, October 30, 11:15 am
San Francisco Fall Antiques Show
Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center
RSVP online or call (415) 989-9019
14 October 2009
Many thanks to reader Sacheverelle who alerted me to Wendy Goodman's profile of Howard Slatkin's own residence in New York magazine. This is a rare glimpse at the work of a designer whose clients are so private and exclusive, we can't even whisper their names.
Click here to see more jaw-dropping rooms.
After a particularly crazy week (isn't it funny how everything happens at once), I found myself escaping to the Aladdin's cave of Ebay. You know I had to have been trolling for hours to have come across this rose petal Schiaparelli hat from the'50s.
Its vibrant shocking pink and crimson reds snapped me right out of the doldrums. Maybe next time I hear Ebay's siren call, I'll just don this little piece of whimsy and Think Pink instead.
After I stock up on some vintage Chanel bangles, that is.....
12 October 2009
A conversation with one of my students reminded me of the saying of some fabulous jet-set socialite* whose name escapes me. She asserted that one must choose between being beautifully dressed or collecting art. I would amend the latter to having a well-dressed home.
Particularly in a city where most of us live in small spaces and don't entertain at home, it is our personal appearance that announces who we are or aspire to be. Just as women of some tribal communities put all their wealth into their jewelry, we may carry a Birkin bag or wear Manolo Mary-Janes. The disconnect is that we may look like a million-bucks, but once home we're eating ramen noodles and sitting on an Ikea sofa.
In the evening, look up at the windows of apartment buildings, and you know what you'll see? my student said. Paper or metal blinds which the owner probably inherited from the previous resident.
Even with our limited budget and full schedules, I believe we CAN have it all. Your home is your cocoon - it nurtures and comforts and energizes you to go out into the world. Making it a place where you love to be will be just as rewarding as looking like the person you want to be.
But how? you may ask. Quality over quantity. Consume less but better. One black cocktail dress, but it's Chanel. (Read any style book on Audrey Hepburn who learned how to wear an Hermes scarf 100 different ways as a teenager during the war.) A sofa from George Smith but it will last you for decades. Over time, it will have paid for itself.
* The omniscient GG has reminded me that it was Gertrude Stein, who he rightly points out wore "brown corduroy sacks so shapeless and frumpy that Spanish peasants thought she was a nun" rendering my description "fabulous jet-set socialite" a bit questionable.
04 October 2009
or one of Burberry's flagships, where he effortlessly channeled cool Britannia chic....
The one thing you could say about Randy's entire portfolio is that no two projects were identical: for each project, Randy delved into the client's needs - whether it was an international luxury brand or a private client on the Upper East Side; considered the architecture, and created a completely unique space perfectly tailored to each client. One of his signatures was bringing the intimacy and comfort of the home into the showroom.
Many of us have had an Aunt Mame in our life who urged us to be bold and to see that anything is possible. Randy's was his Aunt Renee. At the age of 11, she took Randy into the city to see the Wrightsman Galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
A life-long passion for the crisply elegant neoclassical was instantly born. He immediately redesigned (on paper) his family's Long Island ranch house into a pavilion worthy of Marie Antoinette.
Randy loved to draw and even as a child, drew rooms constantly.
After a childhood trip to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, all his drawings of rooms suddenly had dentil moldings. He possessed an insatiable curiosity and tremendous retention of design history. Henri Samuel and Jansen were Randy's sacred masters.
His major weakness (besides a love of "Wife Swap" and Diet Coke) was for books. Anita Brookner and biographies were especial favorites.
Even though Randy was an acclaimed designer with a blue-chip roster of clients, he didn't take himself too seriously. "We're not doing brain surgery," he would say. He had a sense of proportion about the extravagance of the industry and could spot pretense a mile away, which he detested.
Randy loved what he did. His sincere enthusiasm and passion were so titanic that his presentations often ended in applause. He lived and breathed each project - and always devoted himself 100%. The results speak for themselves.
A Memorial Service for Randy will be held on Tuesday, October 6 at 6:00pm.
Friends Seminary Meeting House
15 Rutherford Place
(at the corner of 15th Street and Rutherford Place, just east of Third Avenue)
A memorial fund has been established at Randy’s alma mater, the Rhode Island School of Design.
Contributions can be made to:
The Randy Ridless Memorial Fund
Rhode Island School of Design
Attention: Louise Olson
All photos courtesy of Randall A. Ridless LLC
Thank you to Beth Martell and Tim Rearden for their help.
01 October 2009
Some of you may remember that while reading Empress Bianca, the alleged roman à clef about international socialite and philanthropist Lily Safra, I became obsessed with finding out who the real-life version of Bianca's decorator, Valerian Rybar, was. (Click here and here to revisit Safra style.)
The difference between a decorator and a designer: "A decorator should have a taste for selection; a designer should have a talent for creation."
Photos: top, #3 by Pascal Hinous; #4 by Nathaniel Lieberman