22 November 2010

Anatomy of a Window

It seems these days I'm never without a bag full of faux ivy* and this morning was no exception.  Armed with said ivy from Center of Floral Design, NYC's best source for silk botanicals, I sped up to Archivia Books to dress a window a la Castaing.

This watercolor of a Castaing installation by Alexandre Serebriakoff was one of my inspirations.  It is the quintessential Castaing room, perfectly pairing blue and green to form an indoor-outdoor room, and fusing the refined Neoclassical with the overupholstered romanticism of Napoleon III.  

Nineteenth century wicker furniture was a favorite of Castaing as seen here in one of her storerooms located a short walk from her shop.  When I found this untouched gem at Marika's (a fantastic source) on Shelter Island for $10, I jumped.

On the Jitney it went to await the magic touch of Claudine who returned it newly dressed in forest green silk velvet.  Through gritted teeth and with hands red from picking out the thousand or so original rusted upholstery tacks, she told me how much she enjoyed working with the chair.  Professional to the end is Claudine.


Castaing was master of the art of the vignette.  She took endless pains in arranging furniture and objects so that it looked as if someone had just stepped away.  As Charlotte Moss recalled, one felt like an impostor walking into her shop because it seemed as if one had trespassed into someone's home.  This was what Castaing called breathing life into a room - and a room was nothing without love or life, as she said.

Accordingly, I gave my imaginary occupant a Limoges teacup and a booklet on Chaim Soutine, the painter Madeleine and her husband Marcellin patronized exclusively.

I was given free reign to curate the wall adjacent to my window with books related to MC, including the dishy Cafe Society.  Stay tuned for my complete recommended Castaing reading list.

For a good time and beautiful books, visit Cynthia and Will at Archivia Books.
993 Lexington Avenue
between 72nd and 71st
Tel: 212.570.9565

*Why the ivy madness?  Castaing's son Michel recalled his mother at Leves, constantly clipping ivy and artfully training it around statues and other architectural elements.  Inside, she preferred "make-believe" vines (they didn't die which saved her the depressing sight of the real thing wilting and turning brown) which she wrapped around epergnes and drain pipes alike.  Like Sleeping Beauty's overgrown forest, the untamed ivy (or simulation of) conjured up a place of enchantment, of fairy tales.


Laura Casey Interiors said...

When we lived at 72nd and 3rd Archivia was one of my regular stops. Certainly wishing I could stop by...

Cathy Whitlock said...


You and your ivy! I can see just picture you now. Wonderful window and even more wonderful book!

Square with Flair said...

I love ivy too. I collect Wedgwood's "Napoleon Ivy" and it looks as good on a Christmas table as it does on the terrace in summer. The little wicker chairs of the 19th century remind me of photo portraits from that era. If you look, you frequently see those chairs in the photos.

little augury said...

Emily, love the vignette. It is a wonderful way to get it all out-that creativity that has No dictates. One of my favorite things to do-the most fun I had at the antique shows we did was setting it Up! this is beautifully there, just wish I had been there to hand things to you. I am giving your signed book away next week.

home before dark said...

Girl, you are having way too much fun! I understand that ivy has been put on the terrorist garden list. But still, it does a job that is asked of it. Love the Victorian blend of hedge and fence with an ivy fedge. Slim pickens' when slim is the operative term!

Karena said...

English Ivy trailing along a brick wall is especially wonderful...beautifully inspirational Emily!


Art by Karena

Anonymous said...

I used to live around the corner, as did another wonderful designer, David Barrett. It's a great store in a historic design neighborhood. I went to the New York School of Interior Design and loved the stories of all the great old designers who still haunt the neighborhood, in spirit. :) Your window is lovely. What a fun opportunity! I am sure Madeline would approve.
for some reason I can't log in with my blogger account here. But this is me:http://magpiepie.blogspot.com/


Emily Evans Eerdmans said...

Square, Napoleon's Ivy is CHARMING!!!

Gaye - the plotting and setting up is where all the fun is, no doubt! You and Jesma made magic, I am sure.

Home, TOO much fun. Although, Madam, you were sorely missed at Parrin and Co. I think you owe me a trip to NY.

Diane, First of all, what a wonderful neighborhood to have lived in. Did you know David Barrett? I never met him, but walking through his house shortly after his death made it clear that he was an original talent.

An Aesthete's Lament said...

Bravo on the window! And David Barrett was sheer heaven. I spent an afternoon at his house — which was famously Elsie de Wolfe's show house, which she remodeled with the help of Ogden Codman and decorated with her assistant Paul Chalfin — and was transfixed. He was quite a splendid figure and most candid when it came to telling tales. And his house was a treasure trove. Not my taste but thrilling to visit.

Janet said...

Oh, wonderful! The chair, the window, everything. Bravo!!! xo

Today's word verification: chilly (I had to laugh).

colette said...

Brilliant. Mad mad mad about wicker, every room should have some. thanks for the post - loved the window.x colette www.nh-design.co.uk/blog