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Magazine    December 2002

Design Wish List, A through Z

1. An English stone mantel of 18th-century design from Chesneys

A Artist and designer Robert Kuo has designed a limited-edition collection (see picture 7) of cabinets, tables, seating and lighting for McGuire Furniture Company combining ancient techniques and exquisite artistry. The remarkable pieces, numbered, dated and signed by the Chinese-born artist who lives and works in Los Angeles, incorporate repousse, the craft of hand-hammering decorative relief into sheet metal that dates back to 800 B.C., lacquer, which has been used in China for more than 6,000 years, cloisonne, an enameling process used from the days of the Byzantine Empire and construction and joinery methods mimicking those used during the Ming Dynasty. The furniture in McGuire's collection is handmade using Chinese woods, such as zitan (ebony), hualimu (rosewood) and yumu (northern elm), that are given 60 coats of lacquer. www.mcguirefurniture.com

B The Balian family in Jerusalem has been producing handpainted ceramic and decorative tiles (see picture 6) since 1922 and despite the political turmoil in the region continues to ship tiles, fountains, house numbers, trivets, plates, vases and other pottery around the world. The studio was founded by Neshan Balian, an Armenian from the Kutahya region of Turkey, where the Armenians for centuries have produced some of the most collectible ceramics. Armenian Ceramics's tiles bearing family names and the mural series are particularly popular. www.armenianceramics.com

C Chesney's offers a vast range of fireplace mantels (see picture 1) in its locations in London, New York and Atlanta, from antique originals and authentic period reproductions to entirely bespoke designs. Whether old or new, the mantels are hand carved in marble and stone to satisfy every taste and style. The names of the reproductions reveal their sources; there is the Fountainebleu, the Kensington, the Versailles and a small collection designed by legendary English visionaries, such as the architect Sir John Soane. www.chesneys-usa.com

2. Antique "chocolate bowls" from Dijon at
Appley Hoare
3.James Tufenkian's Armenian-inspired Erzerum rug

D A great place to witness the uninhibited creativity that can go into setting a dinner table is at Dining by Design, a nationwide event sponsored by Elle Decor magazine. At this year's Los Angeles event, held November 16 to 18, Giorgio Armani, who was one of 30 designers to create an edifice for eating, installed a breezy scrim made of a bamboo organza print to enclose the Armani Casa brown-oak table (see picture 11), giving diners the effect of being in the center of a bamboo forest. The table setting included white porcelain dishes with a glazed interior, from the Spring/Summer 2003 collection, Raku square underplates and coasters and silver-plated flatware. For more examples of how interiors impresarios, fashion designers and set decorators do up the most elaborate dining environments, look at the article on cDecor.com covering last year's Los Angeles event at www.cdecor.com. The next Dining display is on December 5 in San Francisco; for a listing of upcoming Dining by Design events, go to www.diffa.org/dbd.html

E Traditional English furniture with a twist is the specialty of Andreas Scholte, whose Georgia company produces custom dining and banquet tables in the 18th-century Queen Anne, Chippendale and Sheraton styles. Scholte Furniture's conference tables can be found in the boardrooms of some of America's most prominent corporations, such as Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines. Solid mahogany is the rule at Scholte, which has a special English Imports Collection that includes a circular table with an inlaid top and base of gilded dolphins (see picture 5). www.scholte-furniture.com
FFrankly, one of the most sought-after custom furniture makers in the Art Deco style is Frank Pollaro, who is known for leather-topped desks, elaborately veneered console tables, marquetry cabinets (see picture 9) fitted cabinetry and fine architectural woodwork in a variety of styles, from Egyptian to Modern and from Queen Anne, to Biedermier. Having made furniture for entertainment mogul David Geffen and a long list of Fortune 500 members, Pollaro is now dividing his time between the East and West coasts due to the high demand for his museum-quality pieces. Look for a collection of finely veneered accessories from this master wood craftsman and designer some time next year. www.pollaro.com

4. Appliqued fabrics, pillows and bolsters from 12th Night

G Gilding is the technique of applying gold leaf to a piece of furniture or a picture frame, and antique gilded furniture (see picture 13) seems to fly out the door at Patina Atelier, a charming San Francisco shop that caters both to the general public, as well as designers such as Suzanne Tucker. A 19th-century gilded French settee, newly upholstered in a creamy fabric, seems to offer the appropriate antidote for the winter blues. www.patinaatelier.com

H A double treat for the ever-growing clique of fans of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. On December 3 at the Russian Consulate in New York, Rosamond Bernier, the internationally known art lecturer, will examine the extraordinary collections of two Russian businessmen, Sergei Shchukin and Ivan Morozov, whose pre-World War I "spending spree" in Paris resulted in their amassing some of Matisse's and Picasso's greatest works, now housed in the Hermitage. On December 11 at the New York School of Interior Design, popular historian Olivier Bernier will analyze some of the decorative art masterpieces at the Hermitage with an eye toward comparing furniture that came from western Europe and those that
5. Andreas Scholte's Mahogany Centre table
6. Palm tree tile design by Armenian Ceramics

represented the tastes of the Russian Imperial Courts as they were produced by Russian artisans under Catherine the Great's patronage. www.hermitagemuseumfriends.org
There is not much in the way of Biedermeier furniture in Los Angeles, and New York dealers Adam Brown and Andrea Zemel have opened an annex to their highly successful Iliad Antik in the Denenberg Fine Arts Building in West Hollywood. First, a word about Iliad's Biedermeier, which is a genre of furniture produced in northern Europe between 1815 and 1835 as a reaction to the excessively carved French pieces. Brown and Zemel are focusing on high-period Austrian Biedermeier in Los Angeles. Vienna is the birthplace of the Biedermeier period, and the Austrian pieces are characterized by light walnut veneers and chairs with backs in the most whimsical shapes. Iliad's antiques are accented by Beverly and Stuart Denenberg's collection of Old Master, Impressionist and Modernist art, all of it showcased in the landmark West Hollywood building that was once the home and studio of architect Michael Morrison, a protege of Lloyd Wright. www.iliadantik.com

J Just what the kids want, a playhouse of their dreams, where they can be pirates, cowboys or ladies serving tea. Barbara Butler's wish is to make kids wishes come true, whether they're big kids (i.e., parents) or little kids. Her latest custom play structures, childrens' cabins, cottages, miniature chalets, towers, lighthouses, and clubhouses include the very colorful Fort Barbican (see picture 16) and Fort Barbinga, which will be in the Dreamworks comedy movie Envy starring Ben Stiller and Jack Black and scheduled for release in 2003. There's only one of the Barbinga, which is loaded with all of the extras: dual towers, an octagon castle with crown, two swings under a 9-foot bridge, two slides, secret doors, rock climbing walls, a firepole, a rope net climbing ladder and flagpole. The discounted $34,000 price tag doesn't include delivery and installation. www.barbarabutler.com

7. Copper repousse and wood cabinet and soft-shouldered lacquer waterfall tables by Robert Kuo for McGuire

KThe world-renowned antiques experts, twin brothers Leigh and Leslie Keno, will give Angelenos a behind-the-scenes look at their search for priceless pieces of American furniture on December 12 at a lecture and book signing of Hidden Treasures: Searching for Masterpieces of American Furniture. Those who attend the previous night's gala at $350 per person may bring an object of Americana for the Keno brothers to appraise. Most people know them as the experts on PBS's Antiques Roadshow, though each brother has a full-time career: Leigh runs Leigh Keno American Antiques in New York, and Leslie is senior specialist of American furniture and decorative arts for Sotheby's. The gala and the lecture take place at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

L The English lighting dealer Charles Edwards has become a pro at special metal finishes, having reproduced a variety of lanterns, lamps and sconces for almost a decade. He's now applied his knowledge of an array of surfaces, including lacquered and gilded and antique silver and brass, to a new collection of door knobs (see picture 8). There is a swirl pattern, a beehive and some stunning ring-cut and spear-cut knobs. www.charlesedwards.com
8. Swirl-pattern door knobs from Charles Edwards
9. Art Deco-style cabinet by Pollaro Custom Furniture

M New Zealand-born furniture creator and decorator Sandra Costa was asked to design a special chair (see picture 17) for the heralded St. Louis Rams runningback Marshall Faulk. Leather was an obvious choice for its buoyancy and comfort, and the headrest was a must for an athlete so frequently jostled about. Then came the conveniences, like the mesh magazine holder on one side and beverage holders at the ends of the armrests. Costa also had the opportunity to flex her design talents: She sheathed the Marshall Faulk club chair in a highly polished burled veneer and came up with a second version whose front supports are made of a matte metal finish. Gentlemen, start your televisions, please. www.thechairstore.net

N The new edition of Dress in Eighteenth-Century Europe offers many more illustrations and additional material on the clothing worn by the middle and upper classes in Europe. Etiquette, retailing and the masquerade of dress also are topics covered in this richly visual historical compendium written by Aileen Ribeiro, an art historian at the University of London. Yale University Press, $55. www.yale.edu/yup

10. Intricate stencil on beam at right was handpainted by Elisa Stancil

O Oh, what will they think of next? The mother-and-daughter team of Appley and Zoe Hoare has a most interesting and unusual collection of decorative antiques on their website. From a hundred-year-old French car model from a fairground, with its original yellow paint, to huge crusty metal French clock faces and zinc baths. A recent addition to their peculiar assortment, beautifully glazed antique French chocolate bowls from Dijon (see picture 2). They were used for drinking hot chocolate, but Zoe Hoare likes them for cereal, soup and "as coffee bowls they go rather well with a croissant." www.appleyhoare.com
11. Giorgio Armani's table for Dining by Design
photo by Don Miller
12. Go Green Ice carpet made by Tufenkian Carpets

P Pillows would hardly describe what 12th Night produces for designers around the world, particularly in the United States. Owners Douglas and Angeline Stibbs hand-make elaborately appliquéd handprinted fabrics (see picture 4) with layer upon layer of detailing that they then fabricate into embroidered upholstery panels, curtains, lambrequins, drapery and valance ornamentation, table runners, bedcoverings, pillows and a host of other decorative home accessories. Designers like to work with the Stibbs because they never leave the imagination unsatisfied. www.cdecor.com/12thnight

QThe queen of decorative painting is Elisa Stancil in San Francisco. She can render a patterned wood floor so authentically that a flooring company has called to ask her if they can copy it. She and her team are as adept at painting a wall to look like stone as they are at producing a mural in the manner of something that's hundreds of years old. But where her creativity bursts forth is in the unusual techniques and patterns that she comes up with to enhance the mood in a room. In a lodge designed by one of her longtime collaborators, San Francisco decorator Paul Wiseman, Stancil created an unusual, primitive-looking crosshatch stencil pattern for the beams in the room (see picture 10). She has worked for America's finest decorators, including the late Mark Hampton. www.elisastancil.com

13. Late 19th-century settee in the Louis XVI style at Patina Atelier

14. A 17th-century Augsburg cabinet at Galerie Neuse

R Repositories of knowledge, cabinets of curiosities. In 17th-century Augsburg, Germany, it was the fashion to make cabinets with many small drawers and cubbies for collectors to present and keep prized possessions. Often, they were used to display and store natural specimens, and they were intended to represent knowledge, science, culture and religion. Galerie Neuse in Bremen, Germany, was offering one such cabinet (see picture 14), made circa 1630, at the Biennale des Antiquaires in Paris. Sheathed in ebonized wood, the cabinet, when opened, shows 12 biblical scenes painted on the gilded doors. The asking price: $65,000. www.biennaledesantiquaires.com

S The spirit of France will never leave Washington, D.C. From Paris's influence on L'Enfant's design of America's capitol and Jefferson's ideas for the Capitol building to Maison Jansen's decoration of some of the rooms in the White House during the Kennedy years, Washington, D.C.'s architecture is undeniably French-inspired. Sparrows fits right in, with its huge inventory of French antiques, from the late 18th century through Art Deco periods, from country to formal. The furniture is made of woods such as walnut, cherry, oak, mahogany, pine and exotic hardwoods and is accented by a vast collection of French majolica and faience figural items, tobacco jars, cachepots and jardinières. www.sparrows.com

15. Uppark Tapestry Room wallpaper from

T James Tufenkian has been residing in Armenia almost full-time for the past several years, supervising his company's large handmade carpet manufacturing enterprise in the small nation, designing hotels in the pristine countryside and adding to the firm's vast inventory of contemporary and traditional rugs. In the latter category, he's as adept at designing patterns reminiscent of Caucasian rugs (see picture 3), which tend to be abstract, geometric representations of wildlife and historically have been produced by Armenians residing in the Armenian plateau around Mount Ararat, as he is in using the motifs common in the Arts & Crafts period of the late 19th and early 20th centuries (see picture 12). Tufenkian's contemporary rug collections are created by designers Barbara Barry, Vicente Wolf and Kevin Walz for designers. www.tufenkiancarpets.com

16. Custom child's fort designed and built by Barbara Butler

U Unusual, decadent and outrageous are perfect descriptions for Miami's South Beach, and South Beach Style by Laura Cerwinske presents a South Beach that is just that, and more. The book takes readers on a trip down streets lined with pastel hotels and into artists' studios, painted cabanas, romantic guesthouses and elegant hotel lobbies orchestrated by the likes of powerhouse commercial designer Philippe Stark and fashion maven Todd Oldham. Abrams, $29.95. www.abramsbooks.com

V Big and tall spaces are what residential and commercial decorative painter Lynne Rutter loves to work in. Dubbed the muralist of giant heads, Rutter is known for painting larger-than-life portraits of people on walls, though she's also well versed at rendering chinoiserie patterns with flowing vines and trees, stenciling and an assortment of other painting techniques. One of her recent big projects was the ceiling mural in the lobby of the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which features handpainted trompe l'oeil cartouches and griffin-faced arabesques joined together by stenciled garlands and 22 karat gold-leafed accents. www.lynnerutter.com

17. Marshall Faulk chair designed by Sandra Costa

W Robert Weston and Georgina Hamilton get called on by a great many film producers to provide historic wallpapers, either custom or from their collection, for period sets on films such as Charlotte Gray. Their latest big-screen exposure was in The Lost Prince, a BBC film of the untold story of Prince John. A number of wallpapers from the Hamilton-Weston collection appeared in the various sets used for the filming. What Weston and Hamilton do best, however, is to recreate wallpapers from small swatches or historic documents. Uppark Tapestry Room (see picture 15) is a circa 1850 handprinted wallpaper copied from a National Trust property. It was especially handprinted in red for a client who had undertaken the restoration of a historic 19th-century Newfoundland lighthouse. www.hamiltonweston.com

X Repairing exotic materials, such as parchment and shagreen, is one of the specialties of DeRosso Finishing Company, a New York company that has been involved in antique restoration for nearly 50 years. John DeRosso's experience includes working with European and American furniture from a broad range of periods, including 17th- and 18th-century French, Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Arts & Crafts and English. www.derossofinishing.com

18. Hunter Douglas blinds operated by satellite remote control

Y Yes, satellite technology has made its way into the house. Hunter Douglas has a vertical blind system called PowerGlide (see picture 18). Armed with a satellite eye, these blinds are operated by a handheld remote control that not only runs the vanes left to right and back, but also rotates them. The blinds themselves also are made using advanced techniques of applying sheer fabrics to cloth vanes. The sheer face fabric in the picture is the soft-textured, fine-lined Stria. www.hunterdouglas.com

Z English designers like Nicole Farhi and Nicholas Haslam and Ralph Lauren's styling team are among the creative types who buy from dealers at the Decorative Antiques & Textiles Fair in London. The next fair, which will run from January 14 to 19, features Oriental and Middle Eastern rugs, European embroideries, sample books, English and European printed and woven fabrics. www.decorativefair.com

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