Saturday, November 20, 2010

Close a door another window opens...

To quote Maria from the 'Sound of Music' - when one door closes...another window opens.  I am drawn to doors and windows.  Perhaps it's something subliminal like beginnings and endings.

Perhaps, but I think it is something about framing a space that I like, a door or window sets a point of perspective.  Each of these pictures look to me like true pieces of art. 

Lovely charcoal door, black urns with florals

Mackenzie Childs Wrought Iron Gate

Chinese lantern + fretwork window

Mirrored ironwork

Moroccan curtain + white button chaise + mirror

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A picture paints a million feelings...

I love beautiful art, because it is a way to express the human condition in colour and shapes.  However I think what is more impactful to me is truly beautiful photography.  Of course we all know the celeb photographers like Annie Leibowitz, Helmut Newton and Richard Avedon, but I follow photographers who really are artists in their own right.

This is how I feel about Michael Eastman.  He is a true photographic artist.  Not only does he feature my favourite colour quite a bit (green) he looks at lines of architecture and landscape and finds something moving in every shot.  His works are highly collectible and he is represented by galleries in New York, USA.

I feel with his work I'm intruding in on a very private scene - looking through a keyhole or a door into another room.  Eastman seems to relish and delight in those things that aren't accessible, that are vanishing or in decay.  Enjoy these truly inspiring works of art courtesy of Michael Eastman Images.

Cuba - Green Interior, finally found my Havana green!
Rome - River God (doesn't this feel like you're spying on someone?)

Cuba - Blue Arch

Urban landscapes - Brick reflection
Landscapes - Hillside, Montana

Vanishing America - New Orleans school

Urban Landscapes - Lobby

Vanishing America - Shotgun House, New Orleans

He photographs European architecture to Midwestern storefronts. His work is in many collections, including those of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the International Center of Photography in New York City, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Eastman has been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant and has been published in Time, The New York Times, Life, American Photographer, and Communication Arts. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri in the US.

Cuba - Flatiron, Havana

Cuba - Portrait

Show stopping popping armchairs

Red & green a perfect pairing
I'm a chick with a truly 1970s childhood, I was totally immersed in bold patterns and colours with my parents' decoration of their business and home. Lime green was big, red was another feature colour. It was nothing to put mandarin orange with lime green and chocolate with turquoise and hot pink with canary yellow. 

What I like about bold fabrics for armchairs - is that the chair assumes a 'personality' of its own.  I can't wait to get my feature chairs covered now!

Michelle Nussbauer - beautiful green pagoda chair

The Eponymous Squint Design - a cavalcade of colours

The Waterloo Armchair

Orange Imperial Trellis cushions, turquoise mirror & beige couch. 

Turquoise pagoda covered love seat

Light chartreuse green walls with candy red stripes and jacquard prints

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Washing your cares away

The spray of water, the fresh soap clean smell and the cold crisp feeling of tiles underfoot.  I really need to upgrade my bathroom - right away!

Old factory windows as a shower screen.  Source: Remodelista

Love the worn mirrors!

Marble & glass the layered shower bath wet room

Mirrored bathroom furniure - J'adore!!!

The bath angle of the same bathroom

Amanda Nisbet bathroom with Manuel Canovas wallpaper

Zinc tub

Another angle - lovely.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shanghai - Skyscrapers, pagodas and shingles

Jin Mao Tower
Jin Mao Atrium (Grand Hyatt)
 I haven't been posting regularly for one simple reason - I've been in Shanghai, China for work.  In the past 15 years I've seen Shanghai grow into a space age modern city from a decaying city of the 30s, surrounded by farmland and run down buildings.  This city has a population of 22 million people, he largest city in the world and the growth is phenomenal.  What I love about their architecture - it draws deeply on Chinese design aesthetic.  As one of the great trading posts of the East it was a hot bed of ideas in design and architecture, both past and present.

For instance the Jin Mao Tower (above) is the headquarters for the company I work for as well as housing the Grand Hyatt Hotel, where I stay.  Shaped like a pagoda, this building is majestic yet gives a gentle nod in the direction of Chinese roof shingles.

I adore the old villas on the Puxi side of the river in the French Concession.  Such a beautiful melding of East and Western architecture and design.

Decor in a modern Shanghai apartment - note the Chinese fretwork
What I love most of all about Shanghai is driving along the tree lined streets of the old concessions and seeing all of the fantastic fretwork in gates & grills.  The designer Spencer Dodington has photographed and sketched many of these grille designs and has now designed a range of accessories for the uber chic Chinese retailer Shanghai Tang.  I wanted to highlight a few favourite patterns of mine.

Huaihai 2

This design is a somewhat large grille built into the rear door of a ground floor flat in a Shanghai 1930s apartment block which is still standing. Around 80 Art Deco buildings like these were built during the late 1920s and 1930s, as real estate prices rose in the heart of the city. They represented the height of luxury, complete with space for servants and doormen, and fitted out with the latest Art Deco furniture and appliances. The symmetry of this design, as well as its  construction including curves and straight lines, are typical of traditional Chinese window screen design. However its scale and tight curved elements are pure Art Deco. Its height and simplicity allow light to flood through the door into the interior of the flat.


This grille was found on the front entrance of a  lane house, the most common type of housing in pre-World War 2 Shanghai. Located in Shanghai’s former International Settlement just off the present-day Beijing Xi Lu, this residence would have been built for a professional-class Chinese family. The lane was constructed in 1941, and as such is one of the last examples of Concession-Era Shanghai residential architecture. In the spring of 2003 this entire lane, containing  this residence and its grille, was unfortunately raised to make way for a group of up-scale tower blocks. More than two years later this construction project has yet to begin.


The rows of lane houses that include grilles like this are located in the quietest part of Shanghai’s former French Concession. As such, they and other houses in the neighborhood have become highly desirable residences. The dwellings are typical for the 1930s: three-storey stucco terraces that owe their architecture heritage equally to European and Chinese styles. They would have originally housed Shanghai’s Chinese middle-class families. Containing both linear and curved elements of traditional Chinese window screen design, but showing a different scale because of being executed in riveted iron and not wood, this grille is typically Shanghainese of the 1930s. The symmetry of the design delights the eye, which is drawn to the centre rectangle panel that may have originally been a space for a name or house number. These houses and those of the surrounding streets are home to many of today’s Chinese power elite. Thus high-rise developments and road enlargements that have punctured much of Shanghai’s urban landscape will not likely  come to this area. It will remain a green oasis of plane trees snuggled between  busy shopping and commercial centers.

Some fabulous and really favourite examples.

Villa garden

The Bund in old Shanghai

The new Shanghai on the Pudong side of the river

Typical villa in the French concession


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