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Magazine    January 2002

The Gilded Age

Louis XVI-style console, chair against Chambord wallpaper

Christopher Norman, the New York–based showroom where interior designers decorating in the ancienne regime taste will find gilded chandeliers and tables and sumptuous velvets and silks, has brought its “refined Upper East Side look” to Los Angeles—and business is booming.

“People are turning back to the traditional. They want richer, more sophisticated homes,” says L.A. showroom manager Lloyd Arnold. “One client told me, ‘I want to look like I’ve come from money and have had it for a long time.’”

One of Christopher Norman’s European lines that would satisfy that criterion is Tisserant Art & Style, a French company that produces more than 2,000 models of period and original lighting, including the Serguei chandelier (below), a gilded bronze chandelier with crystal drops and a blue glass core that was reproduced from a Swedish antique. The gilded-bronze and white-marble Babylonian gueridon also harkens back to a 16th-century table.

Serguei Swedish-style gilded-bronze chandelier Babylonian gilded-bronze and marble-top gueridon

While neither of those pieces are destined for the Malibu beach house (though gilded bronze does resist fading, tarnishing and pitting) or a Palm Springs country club, where Christopher Norman and his partner and artistic director, Kevin McNamara, now reside, Hancock Park, the Hollywood Hills and Montecito, with its abundance of Italianate and French- and Georgian-style architecture, are appropriate contexts for the company’s high-style collections.

And, Arnold reminds, Christopher Norman also shows casual furnishings, such as Budji’s bamboo and natural furniture made in the Philippines—a prominent furnishings line that the showroom added to its repertoire—as well as a large selection of cast-stone urns, jardinières, fireplace surrounds and fountains from the Kaleh Design Collection.

Fabrics, which are the showroom’s bread and butter, are varied, to suit the tastes and sensibilities of people on both coasts of the United States and inbetween. The cotton print Duc de Borgogne (below left) picks up on the heraldic symbolism of France’s Burgundy region, and Faidherbe is a rich, traditional cotton velvet stripe that comes in a range of colors, from bold hues such as cardinal (below right) and peat moss to more neutral tones. On a more contemporary theme are the La Rosa chenille (bottom middle), a stylized rose pattern that comes in a variety of earth tones as well as slate, another chenille called Westport (bottom left), a thoroughly modern rendition of a traditional floral print, and the silk Laguna Plaid, which, in bronze/black or gold/bronze, offers a more dressy look in contrast to the more casualbeige/café combination (bottom right).

Southern California designers have remarked on the showroom staff’s diligence and the company’s flexible return policy. As Arnold puts it, “We’re after the Four Seasons level of service. When you have a request, the answer always is, ‘My pleasure.’”

Duc de Borgogne cotton print

Faidherbe cotton velvet

Westport chenille La Rosa chenille

Laguna silk plaid

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Christopher Norman
Pacific Design Center
8687 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90069
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