September 30, 2011

It's been a fast and full two days at the fair and project organizer Nicole Uniquole deserves a heap of praise for the monumental effort she and her colleagues undertook to produce this exhibition. It's the 19th Woonbeurs Amsterdam, but the first to partner with Meesterlijk and incorporate craft, allowing show-goers (including the public) to have direct contact with the country's leading artists.

Uniquole's approach to the show (and to design, in general) is to facilitate the interaction between consumer and producer, and to remove any intimidation of working with artists to create custom pieces. "There's a story in every booth," she says excitedly. "Talk to the artists!" It may sound philosophical, but you really can have what you want. All you need do is ask.

Over the coming months, we'll be introducing you to some of the incredible talent featured in the show. We'll bring you furniture, textile and glass designers, ceramists, and metalsmiths -- both established and emerging -- and, if we're lucky, we'll get a peek into some of their homes and studios.

September 28, 2011

Live, from the Netherlands...

This week I'll be blogging from Amsterdam -- am here for the design fairs, but I've also got a few extra days to explore the city and visit some of the smaller museums. I arrived this morning after a long but lovely KLM flight, checked into my hotel (more on that in a forthcoming post) and headed straight over to the Museum Van Loon. The weather's unbelievably beautiful here right now... leaves are falling, but it's warm and sunny... and I'm completely overcome by the fun of strolling the canals. (And, quite honestly, staring into people's homes. To the lady on Heregracht with the cream-lined curtains, elaborate gilt mirrors, and massive ginger jars in each window: I apologize for stopping and staring. I couldn't help myself.)

But,back to the Van Loon. The house was built in 1672 and home to painter Ferdiand Bols, but it is named for the van Loon family, who made their fortune with the Dutch East India Company in the 17th century, and who purchased the home 1884. (And who turned it into the museum.) There were a ton of people touring it today, which was so nice to see! But this place is buzzing even without visitors -- the original carriage house was recently acquired and is in the process of restoration. I'll post a few pics below... well, probably too many. The whole way through I just kept thinking, "Oh, what our Mary and her camera could do with this!"

The entrance of the Museum Van Loon on Keizersgracht, one of the city's most picturesque canals.

Detail of a painted 3-panel screen in the dining room.

The blue drawing room on the main floor faces the canal and has gloriously huge windows...

...and a pretty little settee.

The red drawing room, originally used by the gentlemen of the home, is now presided over by a somewhat startling stuffed peacock.

See what I mean?

This was such a pretty room. It's a tiny, sunny space and leads directly out to the garden through French doors.

Detail of some of the porcelain and glass collections at the museum.
The central stair is adorned with paintings and other antiques, like the Rococo clock and 19th-century painted sleigh below.

An upstairs bedroom... with my most favorite print...

Another drawing room, with beautifully painted murals.

The ostrich. Not a common toile subject!

The kitchen's tiled ciling is vaulted between the beams. (An idea I'd love to see recreated in a modern kitchen.) It's a bright and cheerful place, and loaded with ceramics and painted furnishings.

You can't blame a cat for trying.

The carriage house, a work in progress.

The rear facade of the house.

And tomorrow... another nearby house museum, and the first day at the fair!

September 23, 2011

Putting on the final touches

The real stuff of exhibitions: lists, plans, glasses and tape. Lots of tape.

Yesterday afternoon, Entra Magazine got a special installation walk-through of The Golden State of Craft: California 1960–1985, a new exhibition opening this weekend at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles.

The show is a collaborative effort between CAFAM and Craft in America, and is part of the Getty initiative, Pacific Standard Time. Nearly 80 artists are featured, many of whom were part of the ground-breaking California Design exhibitions held in Pasadena between 1954 and 1976. The CAFAM/Craft in America exhibition is curated by independent curator (and Entra contributor) Jo Lauria, and surveys a period of the state's artistic history that is characterized by an unbound imagination. It was a time of new technologies, innovative materials, hippie counterculture, environmentalism, and a spirit of defiance. The freedom and energy with which the era's artists worked had a profound effect on the American Craft Movement, and on the art world, as a whole. There are vessels by the Natzlers, Sam Maloof's iconic wood rocker, a Claire Falkenstein necklace, a sculpture by Ruth Asawa, and ceramics by David Cressey, Marguerite Wildenhain and Stan Bitters. Plus so much more absolutely incredible material.

It was a period of unparalleled discovery. Come and see for yourself.

The exhibition is on view from September 25th through January 8th.

Exhibition designer Richard Amend contemplates a display of Natzler vessels.
Miller Fong's Lotus chair, a reissue made of synthetic wicker, is in the foreground.

Curator Jo Lauria beside a soon-to-be-closed vitrine that includes silver pieces by Allan Adler.

An installer hangs a text panel by a platform that includes Elsie Crawford's Zipper Light II, a chair by Donald Chadwick, a weaving by Lia Cook, a Douglas Deeds chair for Architectural Fiberglass, and a side table by Charles Hollis Jones.

Also opening at CAFAM this weekend is The Alchemy of June Schwarcz: Enamel Vessels from the Forrest L. Merrill Collection.  Schwarcz, whose work is also featured in The Golden State of Craft, is in her 90s and is a Living Treasure of California. The show spans her staggeringly productive career and is beautifully installed by exhibition designer Ted Cohen.

Ted chats with Jo about some of the pieces he selected for the show.

It's all hands on deck at CAFAM (sounds like our magazine!) and director of public programs, Holly Jerger (left), dons her installation hat and helps close a vitrine with the aid of her crew.

The Schwarcz exhibition will feature the artist's quotes around the upper walls of the gallery. Couldn't resist a quick snap.

And don't miss the cases of Dora De Larios's work on the main floor... saw them being finished as we were leaving (couldn't get any pics) and absolutely loved the pieces.

For more information on the shows, click here.

A new season begins

It may be 75 degrees in Los Angeles but it's the first day of fall (yes, LA does have one), and in its honor, we bring you North Carolina artist Nancy Darrell's woodcut and linoleum prints. My sister gave me a set of her guinea hen notecards a while back, and I've been a fan ever since.

The 6 colors in this print are achieved by 4 separate woodcuts. It is printed on 10” x 12” acid-free Japanese paper using a baren and wooden spoon. It is packaged on acid free foam board. Edition of 54.

Darrell is by training a potter, and in the 1970s began a career making porcelain dinnerware, which she illustrated with simple landscapes. But "something about a black and white woodcut print" drew her into relief prints and she began making woodcuts in the 1990s, entirely self taught. In 1998, she enrolled in a printmaking class at the legendary Penland School of Crafts, and has been working steadily ever since. In 2008, she was accepted into the Southern Highland Craft Guild, and has gone on to train in letterpress printing at Asheville Bookworks and wood engraving at John C. Campbell Folk School.

Morning Frolic
6" x 9" woodcut printed on rieves light weight paper

The Giving Tree
11" x 14" woodcut printed on rieves light weight paper

Single Guinea
5" x 7" linocut with watercolor, printed on 7" x 9" rives lightweight paper

September 21, 2011

Now Showing: LAMA and YHBHS

The wait is almost over—we've been like kids waiting for Santa, anticipating all of the fantastic events happening this fall in conjunction with Pacific Standard Time. For the next few months, it will be virtually impossible to walk down the street without happening on something wonderful. 

One event that we're particularly excited about is the  exhibition and sale at Los Angeles Modern Auctions featuring some 400 works of art (everything from Klimt to Baldessari) from the collection of Richard Dorso. From now till the auction on October 9th, you can check out an amazing installation conceived by David John, the talented mind behind the interiors and art blog You Have Been Here Sometime (YHBHS). David, a designer himself, has placed Dorso's collection in an interior setting. Such a provocative placement allows the for the exploration of the collector's practices and sets up a dialogue between past and present. This one is not to be missed!

PS: For all you wallpaper lovers out there, David told me that he's using product from Kreme, based here in Los Angeles. If you haven't checked out what the lovely Cadee Wilder is doing, you should. It's great!

September 19, 2011

Inside the Showrooms: Absolute Fabrics and Home

One of the best parts of my job is getting to know interesting, creative people all over the world. While working on our teak feature for the July/August issue, I (virtually) met Robyn Branch, who owns  Absolute Fabrics and Home, a showroom in Amelia Island, Florida. 

I talked to Robyn a little about her background, her vision, and the changing shape of the business.

How did you get started?
My inspiration was a life change. My son was leaving for school, I met my love, moved to Florida and knew I couldn't sit still. I already had retail space in a few locations and with family and friends still there, kept them running. The distance started to be too much, so I decided to consolidate. I was building a home in Florida and ordering fabric from a local store, Absolute Fabrics. The owner wanted to move, too, so we found a location, renovated and opened with fabrics, furniture, lighting and accessories. We wanted mid- to high-end inventory, with good resources for everyone.

What's your background?
My background was always retail. I grew up in a family that owned a furniture store. The old, small town showroom with televisions, appliances and even riding lawnmowers out front. Folks would come in weekly to pay on their purchases. North Carolina is my home state, and I've never lost my love for the artisans that crowd that area. Handmade furniture, pottery, glass, textiles, you name it! My degree is in dance and theatre, but even there, I was designing costumes, dressing sets and painting scenes. I worked in fashion and produced fashion shows and fundraisers, combining the two interests. I have always been intrigued by how talented and creative people are!

What's your vision for the showroom?
The aesthetic of our showroom and how I make my choices is simply inexplicable. The closest descriptive word is eclectic, to say the least. I use that overworked word because our customers use it to describe us. Many people remark "I had no idea anything like this was here!" We are sleepy from the outside and wild on the inside! Our collection ranges from traditional to transitional to bohemian to contemporary. I am big on crossovers! I love to mix old with new and texture with smooth. Anything that looks inviting, desirable and intriguing. That's where my interest lies. I adhere to that when I buy for clients or for the showroom.

Who are your clients? How do you shop for them?
I cover a lot of ground, get to know my designers and vendors and pride myself on being able to adapt. I try to be respectful of other's designs, but I know what I like. I gravitate to anything that evolves. Product and design evolution is an incredible process to watch, and again, I love to see what these brilliantly talented people have created. I know I buy ahead of the market and I have learned not to buy what I think will sell. Most of our clients are repeat customers and I can buy with those good folks in mind, but I still follow my heart. Probably not the best way to do business, but certainly the most fun!
My ideal client is looking for change. They are open and inquisitive. I love to teach someone about a piece of art and introduce them to the artist! Explain to them the process of one person making a custom table to their specifications. I want people to know what it is they have. Education is the only way. Trust is a big thing with me, also. When I am in someone's home, I am in their life. They need to trust that my decisions are for their best end result and to my benefit for future clients! Communication is key. My clients are all so different and it has been a pleasure knowing each and every one of them. I am very flattered when they come back for their next renovation or purchase!

How has technology changed how you do business?
The digital world has impacted the showroom tremendously. I say that honestly. Shopping online is great; yet it can never take the place of actually touching a really luxurious duvet or sitting in a really comfortable chair. I love to lose myself in aisles of treasures. When showrooms exist for ideas only, we will lose them. Unless the merchandise continues to sell from the floor, it will no longer be economically sound to build a showroom. We forget how many people don't know what they want! We do a great business with customers form Australia, New York, California and Chicago, all because of our online merchandise. I take the time to talk to each one and tell them their options. It has opened a new market for us. I feel very honored that the world loves us!

Of art and wine in Canada

Don't miss the 31st Annual Okanagan Wine Festival, which is on from September 30th through October 9th. Mission Hill, in British Columbia's West Kelowna, is planning some very special events. Click here to learn more.

Go for the wine, but leave plenty of time to explore the estate's architecture and art collections. The winery was designed by Tom Kundig, a principal with Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen, in Seattle, Washington, and is currently exhibiting fifty sculptures by Nathalie Decoster (two of which are seen below). The winery also has a tapestry by Marc Chagall, and displays of ancient drinking vessels.

Animal Tales is one of only 29 tapestries made by Marc Chagall. Photograph by Paul Warchol

A display of ancient bottles hangs in the barrel cellar. Photograph by Paul Warchol

A collection of historic glass bottles and decanters. Photograph by Aldo Rossi

Aldo Rossi

 Photos courtesy Mission Hill Family Estate