On my first trip to Paris I traveled with a group gathered from our many friends from Sacramento and Los Angeles who were interior designers and architects. One of our private audiences was at the studio of Andree Putman. The year was 1995.
How impressed I was by her individual style and presence as we reveled in a designer of her stature and global influence taking time to meet with our group! She was an emissary of Parisian chic culture and rediscovered forgotten 1930’s French Modernist furniture found in the flea market chic which she then marketed through her own Ecart International. Ms. Putman’s designs favored simple lines and a few good pieces that enhanced an otherwise hushed, monochromatic environment. “Good design is pure and simple, and I am interested in the kinds of things that will never date.”
Guest room at Morgans Hotel (Wmagazine.com)
Her career changing commission came in the early 1980’s when the NYC hotelier Ian Schrager hired her to design the interiors for his new Morgans Hotel. This became the prototype of the new boutique hotel, a small artistically designed answer to standardized mass-market hotels.
Andree Putman and daughter Olivia (nestle-nespresso.com)
Now, as I celebrated my own milestone birthday in Paris this past January, I was saddened to read that this legend in interior design had passed away. I immediately went online to read more about her firm and how her daughter Olivia had become the artistic director at her expressed wishes in 2009.
The notice of her death gave the time and location of her service at St. Germain des Pres. Arriving as the church bells rang, I watched as her simple wooden casket was received by the classic black hearse. Andree’s stunningly attractive daughter, Olivia, with her three sons received condolences from a cluster of black cloaked friends and colleagues. Multiple flower memorials were coordinated in white flowers only. The mourners walked a few steps across the street to Café Flores upstairs for the reception. It was as simple and elegant as the designer herself. I was gratified to have witnessed and whispered my own goodbye. Her influence on my profession was profound.
To learn more about the amazing Andree Putman visit her website: www.StudioPutman.com
While at a The Design Bloggers Conference in L.A. this past week, I had an opportunity to stop by the Pacific Design Center(the Blue Whale) and the new emerging design showroom hot spot on La Cienega boulevard. I get inspired every time I visit a new city and get to see their interpretation of design. The windows of Scalamandre caught my eye with dancing zebras.
Zebra print is something that we’ve seen for decades, but Scalamandre is bringing back a classic idea inspired by one of their wallpapers they designed in 1945. This zebra print features zebras prancing on a red background while arrows float through the air around them. The graphic contrast and movement of the fabric make it very striking.
Inside the showroom the print was found not only on fabric but wallpaper and Lenox china as well. The motif has also been redefined with a multitude of modern color ways.
The most refined print inspired by the original 1945 print in my opinion was the yellow and black version that plays with the idea of positive and negative, and actually puts yellow stripes on a zebra.
On my return flight home, my suspicions of a zebra print trend were confirmed. I opened the Currents section of the New York Times to find a brief article about the Zebra print I had just seen in the window at Scalamandre’s showroom. The article revealed to me that they are using this print for human and dog bedding alike.
Photo from New York Times article “Bedding Basic Zebra Commands: Sit, Stay, Roll Over, Sleep”
Photo from New York Times article “Bedding Basic Zebra Commands:Sit, Stay, Roll Over, Sleep”
While I was in Paris, I had the amazing opportunity to see the Pierre Frey archives. For those of you who may not know, Pierre Frey was founded in Paris in 1935. Ever since then they have been creating beautifully elegant fabrics, wallpaper, rugs, and even furniture. Pierre Frey is known mostly for their exquisite fabrics which are inspired by people, cultures, and ideas from around the world. Patrick Frey is convinced that textiles bear witness to the period in which they were created and encapsulate a wealth of social, aesthetic and technical information. In 2003 Pierre Frey started an archive of fabrics which date back to the 16th century. They formed this archive not only as a resource for themselves, but also for the general public as well. Lorraine Frey expressed her feelings on the importance of having an archive. “It’s important to make way for a younger generation, but we must never lose the sight of the French Dimension, or the importance of historical traditions and craftsmanship.” The archive includes all of the companies four collections as well as pieces they’ve acquired from private dealers, auction, and antique dealers. Today the collection has over 30,000 designs, fabrics, and carpet samples. Patrick Frey also commented on the archive by saying, “Luxury is about accepting that creativity takes time, respecting history…this heritage includes the company’s extensive archives, a treasure house of inspiration and expertise. While its roots are centuries old, this[textile design] is a timelessly modern art form which draws on ancient and contemporary techniques of the 16th century to the present day.”
I had the opportunity to tour the archives along with a group of Interior Design students from Iowa State(small world). Sophie was our wonderful tour guide for the day. Sophie, who was a former French museum curator, handled the fabrics with the utmost care with white gloved hands. The fabrics are stored in a series of acid free metal drawers where the fabrics are wrapped in conservation paper. Sophie went through the drawers giving us a variety of patterns, colours and motifs to view. As I viewed the variety of fabrics I began to see how the fabrics represent the aesthetic of the time they were created and how in turn that influenced the Interior Design of that time. I left the archive inspired by the people who designed and meticulously created these gorgeous fabrics over the centuries. I took as many photos as I could during the tour, but there were so many it was hard to keep up. If you want to learn more about Pierre Frey Fabrics go to their website http://www.pierrefrey.com/maison, or better yet visit Paris!