Monday, June 28, 2010

Monday Miscellany

I am waiting for my breakfast and then to be driven to adventure camp...

...and I am waiting to be let outside so I can go lizard-hunting and bring back a trophy tail...

...and I am waiting to have my flowers gently collected and dried and made into lavender sachets (as you keep promising to do)...

...and I am waiting to be recovered in something fabulous and slightly unexpected...

...and I am waiting to be used in a way that enhances my flavor profile...

...and I am waiting to be devoured...

...oh and please please so are we...

...and I am waiting to be rehung so that I can gaze upon a more scenic vista...

...and I am waiting to be listened to...remember how happy I make you?
(Charlotte Gainsbourg CD, available HERE)

...and I am waiting patiently to support your future endeavors...

...and I am waiting to be noticed, right now, right this minute, in my very last explosion of beauty (when I'm gone, remember that I lived fully and fearlessly, won't you?)...

...and I am waiting to be tucked in because I have camp tomorrow.

What is waiting for you today?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Only Connect

"Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect...and human love will be seen at its height. "

~ E. M. Forster, "Howards End"

The circle is an unbroken connection, the purest shape in nature. Mathematicians consider it a perfect symbol of infinity. Philosophers, artists, and religious leaders believe it to be a metaphor for love and the idealization of unity.

This past Saturday, my son and his best friend begged me to take them to Target and buy them the new cult accessory for Hollywood second-graders, colorful rubber bands shaped like animals, food and other objects.
They each grabbed an assortment of packs.

"Do you really need that many?" I asked. "Mom, yessss," Luca insisted. "Because then we can trade them with our friends. That's the whole point."

Only connect.

Later that day, I noticed that the climbing rose I've been endlessly cajoling to wrap itself around my guest room window has finally succeeded in embracing itself.

Only connect.

Halos of meaning popped up everywhere. In my dining room, my new terrarium became a thriving example of Emersonian self-reliance.

In my guest room curtains, the ever-widening circles on Martyn Lawrence Bullard's "Marrakech" fabric were an homage to beauty expanding outward.
(Martyn Lawrence Bullard "Marrakech" fabric)

Reading an article on artist Ann Carrington in The Guardian, a vintage sculpture in her fireplace became a powerful talisman for the connection between heart and hearth.

In the book "Bright Young Things: London" an antique convex mirror provided a glimpse of infinity echoed in circles of patterned wallpaper.
(Photograph by Jonathan Becker)

Leafing through an old House and Garden magazine yielded multiple treasures: a spread on Oberto Gili's house in Tuscany with this heavenly window frame....
(Photo by Oberto Gili)

...the simple honesty of a bowl of fruit on his kitchen table...
(Photo by Oberto Gili)

...and a crown of plumage around a turkey in his garden.
(Photo by Oberto Gili)

Everywhere I looked in the sphere of domesticity, I found sacred circles of human connection.
(via "Hollywood Style" by Diane Dorrans Saeks)

(via Peter Dunham's website)

(via Ruthie Chapman Sommers website)

(via Peter Dunham's website)

(Suzanne Lalique, "Ronds de Serviette", 1938, via here)

"Only connect! Live in fragments no longer."

~ E. M. Forster

Monday, June 21, 2010

Somewhere in Time

When you gaze at period portraits, do you ever insert your own face into the painting? (I do.) For some reason, I always feel a spiritual kinship with women who look like this.
(Christian Schad, "Maika", 1929)

Or this.
(Portrait of Julia Strachey by Dora Carrington, 1925)

Or this. With her, it's all about the contrast between her soft gossamer looks and that deep unflinching gaze -- she looks as though she has a story or two to tell, doesn't she?
(Fraulein Mulino von Kluck by Christian Schad, 1930)

It's interesting to remember that some of these subjects were the mega-celebrities of yesterday.
(Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Thomas Gainsborough, 1783)

(Princess Mary Tudor and the Duke of Suffolk, c. 1516, unknown artist)

All this preamble is just a lead-in to showing you the next four fabulous portraits. Looking at them never fails to give me an inordinate amount of joy.
(Amy Winehouse via here)

(Brangelina via here)

(Drew Barrymore via here)

(Jennifer Aniston, via here)

Have a cheeky Monday.

(Celebrity portraits from How to be a Retronaut, via the Photoshop geniuses at Worth1000.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Textiliphilia Antiquus

My name is Lisa Borgnes Giramonti and I am a vintage textile addict.
(Stack of rugs from Rugs and Art)

My latest obsession is a shop in Beverly Hills called Rugs and Art (436 S. Robertson, 310-247-1176) that I've been visiting with increasing frequency for about two years now.* Wally, the genial owner, and his son Sammy always indulge my candy shop cravings and assist me in unrolling as many gorgeous antique carpets as my heart desires (even if they know I'm not buying). They understand I need my "fix."

Their stock ranges from priceless centuries-old Aubusson tapestries (the kind you'd find hanging in a Belgian castle designed by Axel Vervoordt) to smaller antique rugs that are perfect for adding a little history to your foyer or dining room, and at prices that compare favorably with big box stores (I'm not kidding).

During my recent art show, Wally was kind enough to lend me a rug for the installation in the center of the gallery.

After the show came down, the rug had successfully burrowed its way into my heart. It currently graces my "forever-a-work-in-progress" bedroom.

To me, old rugs are a colorful narrative that link the handmade past to the hi-tech present. Literal pieces of history, they give a room a vibrant heart and add texture, color and drama to any space. I have an especial fondness for threadbare ones that have seen better days: their condition makes me long to know the tales behind the worn patches and ghostly footsteps and worn patches.

Since that's impossible, when I look at a rug, I weave a backstory for it...

Did it live in the dining room of a 19th century Danish sea captain? Is it in such pristine condition because he was away 8 months of the year and they rarely held dinner parties?
(Painting by Carl Holsoe)

Did it come from the study of a widowed English vicar? Is one particular area of the rug more worn because his faithful cocker spaniel sat patiently by his feet as he toiled away on his never-to-be-published memoirs?
(Edward Bawden, "Life in an English Village", 1949)

Was the rug part of a royal household? Did future kings romp and play upon it with childish abandon beneath the disapproving images of their forbears?
(Johan Zoffany, "George, Prince of Wales, and Frederick,
later Duke of York", c. 1764-65)

The masterfully photographed book "In Rooms" features quite a few swoonworthy spaces with tattered heirloom carpets that make you ache to sit down on a kilim-covered sofa, crack open a leather-bound copy of Boswell's "Life of Johnson" and sip a wee dram of amontillado sherry.
(Villa Malplaquet photographed by Derry Moore)

It's pure heresy to follow a monumental photo like the one above with an image of my little Hollywood dining room, but in its own very small way, I think my aged-to-perfection rug lends my 1935 house an eminence that belies its relatively youthful age.

Sadly, despite my love for rugs, I am completely clueless when it comes to identifying them by category, name or driving by Rugs and Art the other day, I decided to go in and make Wally tell me the names of some of my favorite styles.

Ready? Some of you probably know the names of them already; if so, award yourself 50 points and go watch "The Real Housewives" reunion. Everybody else, read and be enlightened.

*Note: I took very close-up photos of the rugs to give you a sense of their vibrancy and detail. Obviously, they are much more subtle when viewed from farther away.

This type of triangular geometric pattern identifies the rug as a Turkish kilim. Now you know, now I know.
(Detail, Turkish kilim, 1930's, Rugs and Art)

In Annie Kelly's new book "Rooms to Inspire in the City", master decorator Peter Dunham uses a kilim in his dining room. There's no arguing with that seal of approval.
(Photo by Tim Street-Porter)

Here's another one that caught my eye: can everybody say "Konya kilim"? If you ask me, those dense patterns make it virtually stainproof -- perfect for a high-traffic area.
(Konya Turkish kilim, 19th century, Rugs and Art)

This next one is a Caucasian Chi Chi carpet. (Did anybody get that correct?)
(Caucasian Chi Chi rug, 19th century, Rugs and Art)

This next little rug is actually a Turkish grain sack from the 1930's. The fact that someone would so exhaustively embroider a bag used for daily transport is incredible to me. It's about 3' x 5' and would make a perfect bath mat for a sleek woodsy-modern bathroom.
(Turkish embroidered sack, 1930's, Rugs and Art)

This rug is also a Caucasian. I'm not normally a pink person, but this rug transcends its hue, evoking the wistful palette of sunset, twilight and the gloaming.
(Caucasian rug, 19th century, Rugs and Art)

In a wonderful bit of serendipity, I found a photo from one of my design files which shows a rug almost exactly like the Caucasian above. Subtly elegant and seriously gorgeous, no?
(Room design by Tim Clarke. Photographer unknown.
If you know, email me.)

Red rugs aren't for everyone, but they have a passion and a vitality that is inescapable.
(William Merritt Chase, "The Studio")

This red rug is called a Verne kilim. Love that fish pattern.
(Turkish kilim Verne, 19th century, Rugs and Art)

I had to take a photo of Wally's stacks and stacks of rainbow-hued, museum-quality suzanis, ripe for the picking.
(Suzanis, Rugs and Art)

One of my favorite stacks to look through is his remnants pile. This is where you go if you want to recover a chair or make a gorgeous pillow or cushion.
(Remnants pile, Rugs and Art)

Here, Wally upholstered this chair with a vintage kilim remnant.
(Upholstered chair, Rugs and Art)

I love this one, too. Kilim, you say? You would be correct.
(Turkish pillow kilim, 1920's-1930's, Rugs and Art)

And this oversized pillow made from an old Turkeman rug says, "Do you have any idea how comfortable I am?"
(Pillow made from 1930's Turkaman rug, Rugs and Art)

Here's another photo I found from an old Elle Decor. The combination of rugs, vintage textiles, books and that lovely oil portrait adds up to a room that's steeped in the past but still feels relevant today.
(Photograph by William Waldron; thank you, Style Court!)

Just two more pictures and then I promise I'll let you get on with your day...

Look at Rudolf Nureyev in this photo. Would you just look at that man? Swaddled in exoticism like a Middle Eastern potentate. Oh, that I could drape textiles like that around me and go to lunch at my neighborhood bistro and not be deemed a freak. I think the only places you can still get away with sartorial eccentricity like that are the Far and Middle East. (Note to self: book flight to India/Mongolia/Kazakhstan stat.)
(Photograph by David Seidner; via here)

And his bedroom. Enough said.
(Photograph by David Seidner; via here)

Okay, now go forth with visions of vivid hues and tribal patterns and faraway destinations and colorful adventures in your heads and see the world today through that rose-colored lens. Peace be with you.

*If you do happen to stop by Rugs and Art, mention this blog and Wally will be happy to give you a special discount.


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