On my most recent trip to San Francisco, I was able to take some time to walk through the Galleria in search of materials for a returning client. I always make a stop at Wroolie and Company who are known for their high end furniture and lighting which range from custom reproductions, original designs, to contemporary. I was delighted to see several cerused oak side tables near the front window of the showroom. I’ve been fond of this finish for years and am very pleased to see that it is being used in new and interesting ways. These pieces by Mario Grimaldi International were in a variety of rich stains and finished with a high gloss finish.
With my interest piqued, I did a bit of research on cerused oak and learned a few interesting facts. The technique of cerused oak, known as limed oak in Britain, began back in the 16th century. Carpenters rubbed a material containing lime into the grain of the wood to fill it, then the wood was stained and finished giving you a two toned effect. Cerused oak became popular again in the age of Art Deco and is having a comeback in our decade as well.
Mario Grimaldi International London Dining Table
My fascination with everything Julia Morgan has taken me to a series of lectures presented by the California Institute for Classical Art and Architecture, California north Chapter in San Francisco. The third in the series was Tuesday evening, ”Hearst the collector” , an illustrated lecture by Mary Levkoff.
It was delightful to drive into the Presidio as the evening was falling and the view of the bay and the city skyline from near the Golden Gate Bridge was breathtaking. The Disney Family Museum is in the buildings near Crissy field. Here we met with the author for a reception and book signing in a space with “It’s a Small World” art work on walls and floors.
“It’s a Small World” Wall Tile
“It’s a Small World” Floor Motif
Ms. Levkoff , former curator for the LA County Museum of Art has studied Mr. Hearst’s collections extensively. She credits him to have been the most outstanding Collector in America of European Sculpture, tapestries, silver and armor.
Janice and Ms. Levkoff at the Book Signing
Mary Levkoff shared with us her process, pouring over old interior photographs, to discover which outstanding pieces of his collection are now dispersed in museums throughout the world.
Perhaps I’ll have a long weekend this summer to enjoy the home of only a small portion of his collection at the Casa Grande, San Simeon, the Hearst Castle, designed by Julia Morgan for him. For over thirty years she collaborated with him on his castle on the Enchanted Hill.
Perhaps it is the light that makes this room my favorite. It filters through the grass woven shades to soften the cocoa and cream textures and brings healing to my soul like a warm frothy latte. My Francophile persuation is played to with the antique over mantle as a headboard, framed on either side by striped ombred silk. Here is where I grab my current read and snug under covers or on top of the forgiving matlesse bedcover.
I can indulge myself in the sentimentality of photos of the ones I love surrounded with fresh flowers sharing their happy colors and faces to my “altar of endearment.”
The pale blue ceiling gives my space a magical sky effect, to enhance the quiet solitude and beauty of my very own cocoon-like retreat. Here I can thank God for all He has provided in home and love while enjoying the rhythm of my restful breathing.
The luxury of a crystal chandelier sparkles with reflection and candlelight to add the element of romance. It’s beauty greets me in the morning light as I awaken in my bed below.
Small cherished artifacts add to the happiness my bedroom brings me. Like the small tatted bookmark cross handmade by a favorite great aunt.
This is where I like to be no matter the altitude of my moods. It is where I can let the rest of the world go by!
Julia Morgan has been an inspirational talent in my design career since I was given the amazing opportunity to work on a project at the one and only Julia Morgan design house in Sacramento in 2000. The gorgeous historic home designed in 1918 breathes nostalgia back into Sacramento, has been owned by Sacramento State University since the 1960’s. Through research I knew the pioneering spirit of Julia Morgan. She was the first female licensed architect in California and she achieved this by receiving a degree from Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where she was the first female admitted as well. I thought it only fitting to pay homage to this remarkable woman by making a pilgrimage through the streets of Paris to see the school she attended and the places she lived.
During Julia’s five years in Paris she inhabited three apartments throughout the 6th androssiment. The first apartment was located at 4 Rue de la Chevereuse. The crisp white of the facade is contrasted by the large black paneled doors of the entry. Today the building is used as a satellite of Columbia University and works to establish partnerships between America and European scholars. During Julia Morgan’s time the building housed American students pursuing their degrees in Paris.
Julia’s second apartment was located at 7 Rue Honore Chevalier. This building which was constructed in 1891 would have been less than a decade old when Julia Morgan lived in it. The rustic brick mixed with iron work exemplifies classic French architecture.
The third apartment Julia lived in was 15 Rue Guenegaud. The high gloss rich emerald green doors are flanked by tiny boutiques on the street level with apartments on the three floors above. This apartment is the closest to the school of the three and is within close proximity to La Siene river. I imagine this was Julia’s most treasured apartment during her stay in Paris.
After leaving Julia’s third apartment I journeyed to Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts where Julia received her degree in Architecture. Just beyond the gates to the school you are greeted by ancient architectural ruins displayed in the courtyard.
The grand courtyard transitions students and guests from the street and into the glass ceiling space of an interior courtyard.
The colors and motifs of this space are inspired by Pompeian architecture.
As I was walking up to the front gate of the school I was delighted to see three architecture students, two of which female, with projects in tow. I talked briefly with these students and was truly inspired to see young and eager designers pursuing their passions.
My adventurous spirit was stimulated as I followed in the footsteps of the inspirational talent, Julia Morgan. With Julia Morgan’s legacy of over 700 designed buildings in California and her treasured design located on our T St. here in Sacramento, her designs will be forever remembered as harmoniously classic architecture.
“My buildings will speak for themselves” Julia Morgan
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”