The vast African continent is most often in the news these days for political conflicts and horrible heath crises, but of course there is so much more to Africa than problems. Not only is the continent the birthplace of civilization, but it also brought us some of the earliest libraries, the first surgeries, the oldest known art (drilled shells found in a south African Cave which are believed to be around 75,000 years old!). And yet, often In fact when we’re looking for a jolt of inspiration we often look to Africa for its exquisite craftsmanship, incredibly painterly use of colors, unexpected textures, and soul by the bucketfull, from the ancient, to modern, to contemporary, Africa is nothing short of electrifying in its inspirations.
creator in the 1970s of “Afro-beat”, the distinctly Nigerian blend of American funk and Ghanian Highlife music, Fela is a rock star of mythical proportions. His performances made James Brown’s seem downright dull in contrast and his lifestyle (like 27 wives, for example!) could make Kieth Richards look conservative. Never one to shy away from controversy, Fela was as hated by the political establishment as he is loved by his fans. As the writer Knox Robinson once said, making love with Fela on the stereo turns any night into a threesome. His music should be in constant rotation on any funky playlist.
The great self taught Malian portrait artist was not discovered in the west until the 1990s, but is now universally thought to be one of the most important photographers of the 20th century. His black and white portraits are a visual feast, capturing the life of the particularly fashion forward people of Bamako.
Homes in Northern Ghana[/caption]
Sophisticated designers sometimes seem to shy away from African influences in their homes. Perhaps they view it as too earthy? We’d argue that given the enormous range of cultures and styles, there is something to elevate every style, from the crisp minimalist to the opulent eccentric, unexpected African accents can really help elevate a room, bringing depth and complexity through textures and clean lines.
“I should say: the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.”
― Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space
We repeatedly have this dream, (it must be a classic one in the pantheon of psychoanalysis dream analysis but honestly we’ve never wanted to know what it means…) that we’ve discovered a room in our house which we never knew existed. A door we never thought to open, which upon finally opening, leads to a magical garden, a secret terrace, a forgotten closet of Christian Dior ballgowns, or hardwood floors and achingly beautiful floor to ceiling windows and we think to ourselves, “how silly of me! Why didn’t I think to look in here before!” Just as we’re about to begin planning all the wondrous ways we’ll decorate it and the fabulous entertaining we’ll do there, we wake up.
It’s well known that fashion accessories can completely transform an outfit– dressing it up or down, making it feel edgy, classic, worldly, younger or more sophisticated, depending on what you add or subtract– the same is true of home décor accessories.
A well-accessorized room can truly be the difference between what makes an incredible, luxurious retreat from the stresses of the outside world, inspiring the imagination, or one that suffocates and creates a sense of dread. We want our spaces to provoke our imaginations, nurturing our sensibilities, reminding us of loved ones, our favorite places and our passions. But an overly accessorized room can easily make a space (however big!) feel claustrophobic. Like anything else, it’s a question of taste. For some, simple candles on a table and a stack of carefully selected books are all the accessories they need. For others, small sculptures, images, bowls, piles and piles of pillows, and an extravagantly displayed collection of art, are only the beginning of making a room feel “dressed”.
Whatever your style, accessories have an ability to revamp the energy, the look, the feel of a room. And, unlike furniture they can have the added benefit of transforming a space according to the season or simply your moods without a lot of heavy lifting or expense. Here we celebrate some particularly rousing uses of accessories:
With the seemingly magical powers of accessories to transform space, it comes as no surprise that some of our favorite design accessories actually began as objects with sacred powers. Singing bowls, beaded objects used in Yoruba rituals, dreamcatchers all hold a place in ancient cultures as ways of communing with higher powers, bringing positive energy and warding off evil. And who couldn’t use a little extra protection from negative vibes, in whatever form you believe them to exist.
The use of Yoruba beaded objects, used in traditional ceremonies in this fabulous pink room is the stuff of decorating dreams.
Zona will always have a particularly strong place in our hearts for bringing a unique type of wanderlust chic into the downtown lofts of our dreams.
Adding color to a room can easily be done with accessories in a way that is non-committal (are you really sure you’ll love chartreuse in a few years?) but allows you to add some more dashes of on trend colors to your space.
Of course Oldham is perhaps an extreme example of a color addict, adding color can be fun for the more timid as well, through the use of small items which don’t require a massive commitment to a color or look but brighten a space, adding humor and energy to any design.
In a mostly neutral room, accessories (art counts of course!) really become a way to play.
Accessories can be a brilliant way to highlight contrasts: mixing high and low cultural elements, various textures and colors, which when done right can create a truly unique ambiance in a room.
The designer David Scott uses accessories to make sure even the most sophisticated room never takes itself too seriously: (and of course we love the contrast with our “Scratchout” carpet!)
For a serious contrast with sophisticated marble and a particularly grand entry way, racer Ricky Carmichael uses motorcycles as a unique and unexpected artistic accessory in his Florida Home.
Even the most functional room of the house (and we’ll just go ahead and say it: sometimes boring, from a design perspective) can be transformed into a gorgeously cozy retreat with the right touch of accessories.
All in all, fresh flowers (and plants in general) are pretty much universally appreciated accessories, as are meticulously stacked objects of most any kind, where as unopened mail and messy newspapers (sorry, dad!) are not.
Mirrors can open up a space, creating more light and sometimes even the illusion of a larger room. Pillows add texture and color and can easily be swapped out, altering the room. The main lesson to keep in mind is to go with what you love!
“One is very crazy when in love.”
- Sigmund Freud
This week we’re paying homage to some of the 20th Century’s most memorable couples. Remarkable individuals in their own right, these duos lend credence to Aristotle’s oft repeated claim that the whole really can be greater than the sum of its parts.
Whether they were partnerships built on fame, pursuit of power, creative connection, political passions, or good old fashioned lust, every aspect of love seemed to be magnified in these remarkable couples:
There were affairs, public fights, marriages that lasted half a century, ugly divorces, beautiful children, grandiose declarations of love, ménage a trois’, they even divorced and remarried each other! The stars included here were their partner’s muse, ball and chain, rock, beard, the love of their life, arm candy, inspiration, caretaker, business partner and a multitude of other roles which we can only speculate that they must have played in their time together.
Whatever their métier, these relationships inspired some of the most influential and ground breaking work of the last century, pushing their partners beyond their comfort zones creating some of the most soul wrenching albums, the strangest paintings, the most impressive diplomatic feats, and many of the centuries defining ideas.
Few people can make romance look even better than in the movies, and these couples certainly did. Whether they lasted or not, these relationships left an indelible mark on our imaginations, forever giving us hope that love might be as extravagant (and stylish!) for us as it is for them.
John F. Kennedy and Jackie O.
The couple that set the gold standard for American class, glamour and success, with a heady dose of infidelity and tragedy.
Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward
Hard to imagine but these two seem equally genuine as gorgeous, staying together for more than fifty years until Newman’s death.
Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir
In this complex and prolific relationship that was well ahead of its time, “disrespect for bourgeois notions of decency was precisely the point” writes Louis Menand.
David Bowie and Iman
Twenty years strong! These two continue giving hope to rock star and super model couples every day.
Speaking of rock stars and long legged models…
Mic and Bianca Jagger
Okay, so the relationship didn’t last, but thank god the pictures did!
Beyonce and Jay-Z
We’re pretty sure there is no couple on the planet right now having as much fun as this ultra successful and talented duo. Or they deserve Oscar nominations for their acting ability, either way we’re psyched to call them our neighbors!
Giancarlo Giammetti and Valentino Garravani
Although the film Valentino: The Last Emperor was supposed to be about Valentino’s incredible artistry, it was the beautiful relationship between these two that really stole the show.
Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera
these two tumultuous lovers had a serious penchant for polyamory and married not once, but twice! They supported each other through significant physical illness, political persecution and the creation of some of the 20th century’s most important visual art.
Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg
Looking at these two you can practically smell the sex and booze and cigarettes.
John and Yoko
Will Beatles fans ever get over this relationship? We can’t help but love them for making us want to grow our hair and change the world <3
Patti Smith, New York City’s resident alt scene goddess, said recently that if she were a young artist today she would never have been able to live and work in New York City. She advised that aspiring artists not even bother attempting to survive in the city famous for generations and generations of groundbreaking work, but that they “find a new city”. Detroit, Baltimore, Poughkeepsie, anywhere but New York. Of course, contemporary ingénues like Z Behl are proving that it is still very much possible to thrive producing remarkable art despite the exorbitant rents and other pitfalls artists face in a post 9/11 New York City.
Never the less, it is true that other cities are proving particularly hospitable to the next crop of trouble-makers, thought provokers and visual bric-a-brac-ers. Berlin, with its drool worthy apartments, thriving gallery scene, and generous subsidies for artists, has been the go-to art city for at least the first part of the new milenium. But the truly avant guard is always restless, dreaming of new horizons, cheaper rents, more inspiring geographies and untapped potentials. Mexico City, (or “El D.F.” to locals) previously known primarily for kidnappings, mariachi bands, the worlds best tacos and largest flag, is quickly becoming a significant destination for artists and art lovers. The result is a particularly inspiring wave of artists and gallerists expanding the established means of both producing and displaying art. We asked a few insiders for their favorite galleries, artists and of course the best bars to hang out in, so we could share their secrets with you. Disfrute!
Galleries to Check Out
La Condesa/Roma is often known as the most beautiful neighborhood in Mexico City and is the perfect place for strolling around taking in the sites in a calmer atmosphere than much of the frenetic city.
Proyectos Monclova has fantastic exhibitions by local and international artists
Colima 55 Roma Norte Mexico D.F. 06700. T. +52 (55) 4754 3546. T. +52 (55) 5525 9715 email@example.com.
San Rafael is known by locals as the the most up and coming area for art spaces.
YAUTEPEC Gallery (Melchor Ocampo 154-A
Col. San Rafael, Del. Cuauhtemoc) has particularly innovative curators
who in addition to the gallery have developed Mexico City’s highly praised alternative art fair “Material Art Fair” emphasizing affordable art (Much of the work ranges from $5,000– $12,000)
Also in the neighborhood:
Lodos (García Icazbalceta #30)
NO Space, an artist run project space located in the artists gorgeous home
Casa Maauad is an artists residency whose international artists regularly produce and exhibit wonderful work during their stays.
In San Miguel Chapultepec:
Kurimanzutto (gob. rafael rebollar 94, col. san miguel chapultepec)
Eating and Drinking!
Mexico City would be worth a trip for the food alone. Here are some of our favorites, not including pretty much every taco stand on any corner:
Mercado San Juan is the major “foodie” market. You can spend hours exploring the glorious produce, and stalls featuring some of the best “fast food” on the planet.
For incredible oxacan food in Colonia Roma be sure to head to Yuban Comida Casera Zapoteca (Colima 268, near Av. Insurgentes)
A bar/cafe that hosts noteworthy pop-up events is muebles-sullivan (Miguel Schultz 146-1)
Pinchon is a traveling restaurant that everyone in the know can’t stop swooning over. Email niki.nakazaua [at] gmail.com to find out for yourself
For other great food recommendations visit: goodfoodmexicocity.com
Welcome to the first installment of “Artists We Love” where we showcase artists whose work we find particularly thrilling and noteworthy. Whether they are established luminaries who line the walls of the world’s greatest museums, or an emerging talent with a unique style and sensibility, these are some of the creative minds we currently look to for inspiration. We hope to hear feedback from you! Is there an artist you have in mind that we absolutely must highlight? Let us know!
Z Behl is the type of artist myths are made of: the realms of the world that concerns her would have, once upon a time, been listed on maps as simply “here lie dragons”. She, and her work which are sometimes inseperable as is so much of the work of great contemporary female artists, often strikes me as a beautiful mash up of a pirate and a mermaid.
Shortly upon finishing college Z and a number of her friends were recruited to create the magical fantasy world of the film that would go on to become the Sundance winning, Oscar nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild.
In the film’s design we see an incredibly prescient number of themes that seem to follow Z: A fierce young girl living in a makeshift world, giant creatures, and the difficulties of natural disasters.
This theme of the flood has a kind of biblical presence in Z’s life and art. Years after making the film Z was rooted in Brooklyn’s Red Hook art scene when Hurricane Sandy destroyed much of her and her compadres work. In response she curated The Flooded Art Show, to highlight the work altered by the creative-destruction of Sandy, raising funds and awareness. Despite the frustration over loosing a considerable amount of work, this group show eventually resulted in grants and a studio space through Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, which has enabled here to develop a number of remarkable large scale projects.
A close up
When I met up with her in late june in New York City we spoke about the difficulty of being a young female artist, attempting to assume similar positions to her male contemporaries, the kind of bold, necessarily egoistic stance of an artist that is difficult for a woman to assume and be similarly understood. What is the female version of all these iconographic roles: The trickster? The Pied-Piper? The Pirate?
While she hasn’t quite worked out a name for this role yet, she certainly is well on her way to crafting this art of the uniquely daring, sexy, adventurous trouble seeker, leading her audiences into previously unseen or unknown versions of reality.
To see more of her work visit http://www.zbehl.com/
The Fourth of July is summertime and all its glorious traditions at its peak: blankets laid out for picnics, barbecues galore, swimming holes, roof-top parties, fireworks, road trips, meteorite gazing. Of all these beloved, seemingly immortal rituals, one essential American summer activity has been quickly disappearing from our landscape: The drive-in movie. So here, on our nations birthday we’re paying homage to the great outdoor cinema going experience.
Perhaps ironically, it seems it took the acclaimed japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto to really capture the current state of drive in theaters, in his almost ghostly but deeply nostalgic series of photos of American drive-in movie theaters. To capture these images Sugimoto leaves the exposure open on his camera to run the entire length of the movie, subverting the photograph’s typical relationship to time. Instead of just capturing one split second, Sugimoto captures an entire film.
In doing so, there is an almost buddhist-like quality to these images: Although the screens appear empty, they actually contain the residue of innumerable images that have passed over them during the length of the film. They seem to be a meditation on stillness and desertedness, but upon closer examination they are simultaneously about motion and fullness.
While we don’t see many of the things we typically expect to see in an image of a drive in- cars or people for starters! We do see many other things that are difficult, if not impossible, to see with the naked eye, like the movement of stars across the sky, or maybe more philosophically we can say we actually see the passage of time in these images.
But the joy of watching movies outdoors on hot summer nights certainly isn’t a uniquely American experience. Mahen Bonetti, Founder and Executive Director of the New York African Film Festival speaks often of the importance “cinemobile”‘s had for the development of cinema in colonial Africa.
These trucks– Land Rovers carrying a 16mm projector and screens– would arrive in remote areas of Africa, often places that did not even have electricity and set up a mobile outdoor cinema. Many times this was people’s first ever experience seeing a moving image. Can you imagine how glorious that must have been!?
Ms. Bonetti’s wonderful organization continues the tradition of bringing movies outdoors to underserved areas, only now in New York City Parks. These free events, which commence this weekend, are often accompanied by live music and dance, and bring together a beautiful cross section of the city’s cinephiles. We cannot recommend them enough! For more information and a complete schedule, visit their website.
To find drive in theaters near you visit driveinmovie.com a site which keeps an impeccable record of drive ins all over the United States.
There are few things whose glory remains equally potent as in childhood and summer is certainly at the top of that list. We never seem to be less than thrilled by salty skin, sandy feet, the unparalleled bliss of falling asleep exhausted by a long day of swimming and laughing with friends in the hot summer air. Tomorrow marks the official start to summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and we couldn’t be happier.
The soundtrack to summertime lazing
Maybe it’s anticipating the world cup’s commencement this month, or that one of our shop girls has fallen madly in love with a Brazilian & won’t stop telling us about it, whatever the reason, this week we’ve got some serious saudade for Brazil.
Saudade,(Pronounced souˈdädə) if you hadn’t heard of it before, is one of those indelible words that doesn’t exist in English. It captures a mix of emotions Anglophones can only begin to approach with a string of adjectives: Think of saudade as a kind of yearning, sentimental, nostalgia. It’s a state of happiness and longing caused by deep feelings for something- maybe a time gone by, or a person so intoxicating they can’t ever be close enough to you… Here are some of the things giving us some serious saudade lately.
It doesn’t get more Brazil than Antônio “Tom” Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim, the high priest of Bossa Nova and all things classy-cool. You’ve certainly heard his classic song The Girl From Ipanema, but did you know he recorded an entire album with Frank Sinatra?! We want to spend the whole summer dancing barefoot to these magical songs.
It’s impossible to talk about Brazil without mentioning the women!
Centuries of slave trade, European and Asian emigration, combining with an indigenous population, Brazil has long been known as a country with an incredibly mixed ethnic background and of course some of the most beautiful people on the planet.
Colorful style, beach living and an obsession with fitness certainly contributes to exquisite people watching.
Brazil’s capital, Brasília might be one of the strangest cities in the world. Built from start to finish in only 40 months, it’s a fantastic experiment in high modernist urbanism. Designers Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer’s extraordinary combination of stark minimalism and sensuous curves have been equally lauded and criticized, but we find them we find endlessly inspiring.
Espasso continues the tradition of Brazil’s phenominal modernist design at their store here in New York City. We love having them as neighbors, not only do they have a superb selection of furniture, but they throw a great party!
Is a distinctive graffiti style native to São Paulo, the name comes from the word for tar in Portuguese (“Piche”), the substance in which political slogans were written on walls in the 1950s. Beginning on the 1980s young people began writing their names and the names of their crews on walls in the recognizable vertical typography inspired by lettering found on 1980’s heavy metal record covers.
Pixote’s bold and elegant work, featured in our current exhibit Back Against the Wall, epitomizes this avant guard style.
Pixote’s 5 x 9 carpet, currently on display in our NYC showroom
For more on Pixação check out this incredible book
Did we miss any of your favorite things about Brazil? Let us know in the comments!
Talented female artists are often over looked in the boys-club that is the street art scene. That’s why we were extra excited to see our very own ELLE getting some serious props in this New York Times article on the burgeoning number of women-artists giving the boys a run for their money. Julia Baird writes, “ELLE bucks against the inane, repetitive stereotyping she sees in advertising signboards, and instead depicts “strong, powerful, beautiful women.”
ELLE explains that she “got into graffiti because I saw so many men scrawling on the streets and putting up what they wanted to see,” she said. “I wanted to be protected by large warrior women as I walked down the street.”
Come see this incredible piece of ELLE’s in our showroom before Jay-z and Beyonce snatch it up for Blue’s room!
Part 2: Office, Hotel, Restaurants
The growing popularity in fine art, fashion and lately, home décor and interior design, has street/graffiti art consistently blurring the line between high and low brow. The principal component of Street/Graffiti Art is that it is found on the Street; on display in public, and for public consumption. While not completely rid of its vandalism stigma, the bold and expressive nature of graffiti and street art is becoming more and more prevalent.
Pattern Pairings: Vivienne Westwood Contemporary Cocktail Dress and Carini Lang DAIN Street Art Rug Collaboration
Vivienne Westwood Contemporary Cocktail Dress & Carini Lang DAIN Street Art Rug Collaboration
Looking for More Eye Candy?
Formerly The Spring Show NYC has been re-envisioned as Spring Masters, New York. The inaugural edition of the Fair spotlights traditional art in a contemporary context.
Carini Lang is showing pieces from the recently premiered Back Against the Wall Collection of Street Art and Graffiti inspired carpets. It is the perfect example of traditional art in a contemporary context: Back Against the Wall was created from the combination vibrant, living, breathing street art into luxury handwoven and custom dyed tapestries/rugs represents the very core of what this years Spring Masters show is all about.
Tree Bark & Camo Fatigue
Our recent collaboration with Interior Designer extraordinaire Andy Goldsborough, resulted in a gorgeous (and on-trend) Camouflage Collection. The collection’s Camo X caught the eye of the editors at Architectural Digest as one of April’s Most-Wanted Home Furnishings.
Whether happening on a colorful wheatpaste of a Hollywood icon or on wood in a white-walled gallery, street artist DAIN’s exciting work unquestionably demands our attention.
Born in Brooklyn, DAIN combines glamorous black and white head shots of Hollywood actresses both old and new from Elizabeth Taylor to Angelina Jolie with collage from newspapers, advertisements, fashion magazines, and vibrant spray paint, most noticeably and iconically around the eye of the Hollywood stars.
Through his elegant juxtapositions, DAIN adopts the content and contexts of the original images to create his own surreal portraits. Using images of Hollywood icons and fashion models, DAIN splices and overlaps famous faces, creating hybrid ‘icons’ that dissociate the familiar to create something a bit more surreal.
Coupling male and female identity into unified characters, DAIN points to a disjointed harmony, which simultaneously complements and detracts from the whole. In his correlated images, famous personalities (and our idealizations of them) become subsidiary and empty.