Thursday, March 31, 2011

Color Me Good

Last Fall, I had the opportunity to spend some time with designer Amanda Nisbet and discuss her then soon-to-be-released line of lighting for The Urban Electric Co. For those of you who know Amanda or who are familiar with her work, you know that she is a designer who has never shied away from using color. Perhaps it's a result of her colorful personality, one that is bubbly, exuberant, and just plain fun. This sense of playfulness comes through in her design work, and I'm sure it was a big influence in her now newly released lighting line.

What makes this line unique is, surprise, surprise... Amanda's use of color. All of UECo.'s lights are available in a variety of standard and premium finishes and glass options. And in the case of Amanda's new line, some of the lights also come in a choice of different vivid colors like Forest Moss and Million Dollar Red. (Color matching is also possible.) It's such a great way to perk up one's walls and ceilings. I admit that when choosing fixtures for my house, I stuck to the basics: chrome and antiqued brass. But now with this new line, I finally see, um, the light of day. Leave it to Amanda to show us that lighting can also be a lot of fun, too.

For more information on Amanda's line, visit The
Urban Electric Co.'s website

in polished nickel with navy shagreen and Deep Royal paint.

Sabina in polished nickel and Forest Moss paint.

in ebony with polished nickel.

Travers in cherry and polished brass accents.

NYC wall fixture in polished nickel with Million Dollar Red accent stripe. This lamp is also available as a ceiling fixture.

Image at top: Poppy in hewn brass and Million Dollar Red paint. All images courtesy of The Urban Electric Co.

Easter at Ladurée

One of the beauties of being an adult is that you don't have to wait for Santa nor the Easter Bunny to bring you what you want. You can simply go out and buy it yourself. In my case, that would be Cadbury Creme Eggs, something which I know a lot of you find to be downright dreadful looking and tasting. I really and truly find them delicious. Now what I can't stand, though, are Peeps. Just the thought of them makes me queasy. Oh well, each to his own.

I think that one chocolate we might all be able to agree upon are Easter candy and pastries by Ladurée. I can't vouch for the taste, but the confections look beautiful, perhaps even too beautiful to eat.

Their Easter macaroons include Chocolate & Lime, Chocolate & Cherry, and Chocolate & Passion Fruit.

Moulded Chocolate Eggs are filled with sweets and pralines.

From left to right: The Bright Nest- strawberries, rhubarb, ladyfingers, and Marra Wild Strawberry cream; Colored Eggs; The Silk Nest- Coconut dacquoise biscuit and tropical fruits.

Teddy Bear Chocolates were created to celebrate Chocolate Day.

All images courtesy of Ladurée.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Givenchy Style

You'll have to forgive me. I'm on a tear about The Finest Houses Of Paris. There is just so much in that book to look at and, well, talk about. Seeing that yesterday's post was about Walter Lees, it seemed fitting to include photos from the book's chapter about Hôtel d'Orrouer, the Paris home of Lees' great friend Hubert de Givenchy. As I mentioned yesterday, Givenchy lauded his late friend's "perfect taste", two words that I think also describe the Givenchy aesthetic. In fact, many interior designers credit Givenchy's homes as inspiration in their own work. I understand why. The couturier is able to achieve just the right balance of luxury and simplicity in his homes, and he does so effortlessly. Or at least, it seems that way.

I'm sure that most of you have already seen numerous photos of the interiors, so I'm not showing you anything new. What I liked about the photos featured here, though, is that they are vignette shots which give us the opportunity to study the Givenchy style in detail. Who better to learn from than a master himself?

A closer look at the sofa and lampshades that have inspired more than a few designers.

A simple table set for lunch. Simple, but certainly not ordinary. A white linen cloth and chair slipcovers serve as a backdrop for blue and white Compagnie des Indes plates, embroidered monogrammed napkins, and a beautiful 18th c. silver tureen.

A detail shot in the living room.

A basket of wood and a broom placed next to the fireplace add a rustic touch to a luxurious room.

Givenchy's dressing table with various implements laid out on red velvet.

Audrey Hepburn, Baroness Gabrielle van Zuylen, and a piebald horse also grace his dressing table.

All images from The Finest Houses Of Paris by Christiane de Nicolay-Mazery, Jean-Bernard Naudin photographer.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Walter Lees, A Scot in Paris

I wasn't lying when I wrote that I had added many titles from Adam Lewis' book list to my own wish list. In fact, I purchased one that arrived over the weekend, The Finest Houses Of Paris by Jean-Bernard Naudin and Christiane de Nicolay-Mazury. Let's just say that I totally understand why Lewis considers this a favorite book. The featured homes are absolutely stunning in that very French, opulent, sumptuous kind of way. And while I find these kind of interiors mesmerizing to look at, it was a different kind of home that captured my attention: the Paris apartment of Walter Lees. It's not quite as layered and heavy as some of the other homes. I would call it the palate cleanser of the book.

Lees, a Scotsman who died in February of last year, led a fascinating life that included being captured as a German POW during World War II, venturing to New Delhi as part of Mountbatten's staff, and later serving as attaché to the British Embassy in Paris, a position that he held for decades. Hubert de Givenchy was one of Lees' closest confidantes, though Lees also counted Sir Duff and Lady Diana Cooper, Dame Margot Fonteyn, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Alberto Giacometti as friends. Based on what I have read, it doesn't seem that he let this heady group of friends go to his head.

As I said earlier, what caught my eye was the restraint that Lees exhibited when decorating his apartment- a far cry from the lavish homes shown throughout this book. Perhaps we could credit this to his Scottish upbringing, or perhaps it was because Lees had a "good eye." When Christies auctioned off Lees' treasures last year, Givenchy wrote the following in the corresponding catalogue: "Walter, who was such a dear and special friend, had perfect taste- sober, simple, elegant, and refined." And that is exactly how I would describe Lees' Paris home as well.

Image at top is Walter Lees greeting guests on a rainy day in Paris.

The small living room would not have looked out of place in New York. The mirrored walls made the small space seem bigger than it was, while the David Hicks rug added a shot of pattern to the room. The sofa was covered in white piqué.

The bath. Notice the view out of the window that was reflected in the mirror. Charming.

Even the storage area oozed style. Look how fantastic the orderly array of plates, crystal, and wine look against the glass brick wall.

Lees liked to entertain and did so with great flair. What I'm taken with are those embroidered napkins. His rooftop apartment overlooked Les Invalides, which appears to be the building embroidered on Lees' linen. If your home looks out onto something interesting, you should consider having your table linen embroidered with that landmark. I overlook a duck pond, but I don't think that would have quite the same effect as an embroidered Les Invalides.

All images from The Finest Houses Of Paris, text by Chrstiane de Nicolay-Nazery, Jean-Bernard Naudin photographer.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What's In Their Library: Adam Lewis Part II

And today, Part II:

Architecture: The Natural and the Manmade by Vincent Scully.

The Decoration of Houses by Edith Wharton and Ogden Codman.

The Finest Rooms in France by the Editors of Maison & Jardin.

Jean-Michel Frank by Adolphe Chanaux (both the 1980 and 1997 editions) and Jean-Michel Frank: The Strange and Subtle Luxury of the Parisian Haute-Monde in the Art Deco Period by Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier.

Pierre Chareau by Marc Vellay and Kenneth Frampton.

Decoration, Vols 1, 2, 3, and 4 by Connaissance des Arts.

The Conde Nast series that includes:
The House and Garden Book of Romantic Rooms by Robert Harling, Leonie Highton, John Bridges.
The House and Garden Book of Classic Rooms by Robert Harling, Leonie Highton, John Bridges.
The House & Garden Book of Living-Rooms by Robert Harling, Leonie Highton, John Bridges.
The House & Garden Book of Bedrooms and Bathrooms by Leonie Highton.

The Country Life series published in the mid-1950s:
English Country Houses: Early Georgian 1715-1760 by Christopher Hussey.
English Country Houses: Mid Georgian 1760-1800 by Christopher Hussey.
English Country Houses: Late Georgian, 1800-1840 by Christopher Hussey.

The Country Life "From the Archives" series that includes:

Scottish Houses and Gardens by Ian Gow.
Irish Houses and Gardens by Sean O'Reilly.
England's Lost Houses by Giles Worsley.
The Chateaux of France by Marcus Binney.
The English Country House by Michael Hall.

Italian Splendor: Great Castles, Palaces, and Villas by Roberto Schezen.
Spanish Splendor: Great Palaces, Castles, and Country Homes by Roberto Schezen.
Splendor of France: Great Chateaux, Mansions and Country Houses by Roberto Schezen.

Palaces of Rome
by Roberto Schezen, Caroline Vincenti Montanaro, and Fabio Benzi.
Palaces of Sicily by Angheli Zalapi.
Palaces of Florence by Patrizia Fabbri.
Palaces of Naples by Donatella Mazzoleni.

Venetian Palaces by Alvise Zorzi.

Andrea Palladio: The Architect in His Time by Bruce Boucher.

The Great Houses of England and Wales by Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd.

Great Houses of Scotland by Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd.

Great Houses of Ireland by Hugh Montgomery-Massingbred.