Stuff

New Classic Design

1 DESIGN WITHIN REACH PH ARTICHOKE LAMP BY POUL HENNINGSEN, $11,598 – $17,970, DWR.COM

2 COLE & SON PRISM WALLPAPER (112/7025), COLE-AND-SON.COM

3 BOCONCEPT WATCH ME CLOCK, $89, BOCONCEPT.COM

4 ALESSI SALAD BOWL BY BRUNO MORETTI AND GUY SAVOY, $265, ALESSI.COM

5 SPECIAL EDITIONS OF THE EGG, SWAN AND DROP CHAIRS BY ARNE JACOBSEN, MANUFACTURED BY REPUBLIC OF FRITZ HANSEN, FRITZHANSEN.COM

6 MUUTO TILE CUSHION BY ANDERSSEN & VOLL, MUUTO.COM

7 DESIGN WITHIN REACH NOGUCHI TABLE BY ISAMU NOGUCHI, $1,895, DWR.COM

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8 KARTELL MASTERS CHAIR BY PHILIPPE STARCK WITH EUGENI QUITLLET, KARTELL.COM

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF DESIGN WITHIN REACH, COLE & SON, BOCONCEPT, ALESSI, REPUBLIC OF FRITZ HANSEN (LIFESTYLE), MUUTO AND KARTELL

Reading Corner: Under Cover

With the heat of summer ahead, new tomes explore the cooler side of design, whether in the garden or the shadow of fabulous indoor-outdoor spaces.

Written by Jenn Thornton



NewShadeGarden91041JFThe New Shade Garden: Creating a  Lush Oasis in the Age of Climate Change

by Ken Druse

With the realities of climate change altering the horticultural landscape, this new offering from garden guru Ken Druse is incredibly practical, and particularly useful in the full throes of the California drought. Examining shade as a low-stress environmental aid not only for plants but also the planet at large, the book is beneficial on multiple fronts. As a new crop of gardeners look for ways to lessen their environmental impact, a gamut of related topics are addressed, from proper plant selection to preparing soil for planting and identifying foliage best-suited for shade. Nature lovers are sure to appreciate the insights about garden design and plant wisdom, too. $40, AbramsBooks.com.

CL-Porches-&-Outdoor-SpacesCountry Living Porches & Outdoor Spaces

by Cathy Cavender

Taking a page from the slow, casual-cozy lifestyle, this beautiful new book rolls out the welcome mat with its easy take on hospitality. As an exploration of the home’s most gracious spaces—from patios and decks to sunrooms and gardens—this how-to of sorts details ways to refresh and prettify these gathering spots for the indoor-outdoor season. Whether its mixing in downhome décor elements for that spontaneous farm-stand feel, or throwing up some wooden gliders and slapping a few new coats of paint on weathered wood, this tip-heavy tome takes weekend projects to the next level of cool—with the ease of a Sunday afternoon.  $24.95, Amazon.com

IndiaHicks_coverIndia Hicks: Island Style  

by India Hicks

In what is a rousing endorsement of tastemaker India Hicks refined eye, none other than the Prince of Wales penned the forward of this vibrant new volume. Brimming with glorious never-before-seen photos and rich descriptions of India style, Britain’s India Hicks gives readers a lavish look at her enviably stylish life on a beautiful Bahamian island. The London-born beauty has applied her exquisite touch to this effort, curating a luscious interplay of images and text. Together, Hicks’ wonderfully carefree, yet terrifically chic, life is revealed, one reveling in island color and the quieter confines of porches and other places of tastefully decorated refuge. Barefoot elegance at its finest. $45, RizzoliUSA.com

The Good Life: Irises by Vincent Van Gogh

Irises

A Lasting Impression

Reflecting on Vincent van Gogh’s enigmatic Irises at the Getty.

Written by Jenn Thornton
Architectural Images © J. Paul Getty Trust
Irises images Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program

Getty-Center_Museum-EntranceTruly great are the artists whose work stirs a visceral reaction long after they’re gone. This is certainly true for Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, his triumphs and travails equally studied, and his paintings, whether pastoral or portrait,  still fixtures of fascination for artists and art lovers alike. In Los Angeles, it’s the Post-Impressionist’s Irises that inspires.

As one of the crown jewels of the Getty Collection, the museum acquired Irises in 1990. And though it bears the distinction of being one of the priciest paintings ever sold, its true value is incalculable.

“The painting has an extraordinary sense of presence,” explains Kate Flint, chair of the Department of Art History at the University of Southern California. In part because when van Gogh painted Irises in 1889, he was particularly vulnerable— and remarkably prolific. Within a week of voluntarily committing himself to a
Saint-Remy asylum, he painted the landmark work in the hospital gardens, going on to produce many more pieces, including The Starry Night.

Given the fragility of van Gogh’s mental state at the time he painted Irises, one might naturally view the work as a reflection of his troubles. Look past the bold brushstrokes, the vivid color and the monumentality of the flowers, and an uneasy mood emerges. “Blue is normally associated with meditation and thoughtfulness and tranquility, but the wavy leaves and stems are anything but quiet,” Flint explains. “The irises themselves, very many of them just passing their prime, seem anxious, especially by way of contrast with the rigid orange marigolds behind them. There’s an urgency to the brushstrokes, too, that makes it hard to read this as a tranquil piece.” Rather than creating a still life effect, the flowers animate the painting with a sense of movement—“they’re growing, living, and not very happy sentient things,” offers Flint.

Considering van Gogh’s isolation when he painted Irises, the work’s lone white iris seems particularly poignant as a symbol of his seclusion, although without textual proof, it’s at best a projection. The bloom may have simply caught the eye of the artist, and it’s our own restiveness responding. So much of what we choose to see in Irises is conjecture, but its enduring pull is very real. Hence, those who flock to the Getty see a painting that we can only ever hope to partially understand.

But, Flint adds, “[Irises] is a terrific example of how we can be strongly affected when we first see a work of art without necessarily knowing why. It makes us stop, and look, and think… about its relationship to us, and to our feelings.”

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Irises, 1889, Oil on canvas
74.3 x 94.3 cm (29 1/4 x 37 1/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

Reading Corner: Spring Reads

With inspiration for both the kitchen and bath—plus, a seed  of the same for the garden—the season is blooming with books!

WRITTEN BY JENN THORNTON

Twenty Dinners
by Ithai Schori and Chris Taylor with Rachel Holtzman

This compendium of all that’s cookery, out this month from Clarkson Potter, is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. More than 100 recipes and equally savory photographs conspire to compel home chefs to use their own chops to make versions of eat-with-friends fare and Mason jar cocktails. Also in the mix are tidbits from the beverage set, including sommeliers and baristas, along with dessert details from a pastry chef. All make for a useable yet highly styled kitchen confidential. $37.50, CrownPublishing.com

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Charlotte Moss: Garden Inspirations
by Charlotte Moss

How does her garden grow? For celebrated interior designer Charlotte Moss, lushly, over time, and in the wilds of East Hampton. This lavish new monograph from Rizzoli tours Moss’s verdant gardens, which, as one of her primary muses, has influenced her interior projects as well as her collecting, dining and entertaining.  Tips on floral design, lessons from glorious public and private gardens, and a look at the famous green thumbs Moss admires make this season-perfect pick ideal for coffee-table perusal. $50, RizzoliUSA.com

MichaelSmithKitchensandBaths_cover

Michael S. Smith Kitchens and Baths
by Michael S. Smith and Christine Pittel

From the fine eye behind the Obama White House comes a fresh look at the home’s high-traffic spaces. Giving utilitarian a sumptuous upgrade, this volume from Rizzoli crisscrosses the country in pursuit of superior styled spaces, no matter their address—whether a tony Upper East Side apartment, an alpine sanctuary in Montana, or a beach bungalow in California. Featured rooms were either designed or inspired by Smith, who manages to make his sophisticated design process—one that factors in concerns ranging from social engineering to selecting finishes—accessible. Made all the more so with a complete resource listing. $45, RizzoliUSA.com

Inspiring Beauty: Soolip

Soolip founder Wanda Wen sparks conversation with her newest pursuit.

Written by Jenn Thornton

L.A. tastemaker Wanda Wen is a case study in following your bliss. Armed with a background in fashion, an eye for artistry and a mind for business, she opened her classily curated West Hollywood paper-arts boutique, Soolip, in the midst of the Digital Revolution—a gutsy move that proved visionary, with a boldface following and spinoffs, from A Soolip Wedding to the Wen-penned The Art of Gift Wrapping. Now, in her first foray to attain luxury brand status for Soolip, Wen turns her exquisite touch on developing a new line of scented candles to bring a little more allure to the home.

untitled-14-2How did your early inspirations translate to Soolip?

The beauty and intelligence of nature has always inspired me, paper too. Ever since I was young, I loved exchanging and embellishing Valentine’s cards and family photo albums. It was always in my blood.

As a businesswoman and an aesthete, how can paper inspire the way home and office space is utilized?

Today, we live in a world fraught with email, E-vites and E-cards, Facebook messaging and digital technology. While there’s no doubt about the great benefits of electronic messaging, nothing captures a moment better than putting pen to paper. The handwritten note is making a comeback in the business world as the single-most effective way to engage a client, as it indicates investment.

Did Soolip’s other ventures spin off organically from the boutique?

Yes. Soolip Weddings came out of what I felt was a need in the wedding
industry to curate a collection of the best of Los Angeles, along with a certain aesthetic level, and an inspired way of doing business. From this luxury showcase grew client interest in my styling [for] actual weddings and adding the
Soolip touch.

What are you working on now?

A new line of candles—my first step into the lifestyle world, outside of paper. I’ve formulated the scents, concept and the packaging, and the line will be available on our website, Soolip.com, by this fall, as well as at select retailers.

Why candles?

I’m attracted to scent and how it transports people, and am naturally responsive to sensory and tactile elements, as all humans are. That’s the reason why people gravitate toward paper, because it is tactile and touches our senses. It’s also a way to package the Soolip brand into something that is accessible to many.

There’s a romantic, time-honored quality to everything you touch. How do you keep it all modern?

For me, it’s about staying true to my aesthetic with always a nod to nature. I’m a modern woman living in a modern time, so the burning of a candle, writing a letter, taking time for oneself—to me that’s the new luxury. Soolip is a luxury brand, but not what many may still be hanging onto, where it’s about flash and bigger is better. The new luxury I refer to is about time-honored experiences and quality. That’s my vision.

How do you balance art and commerce so beautifully and successfully? 

I grew up within a family of entrepreneurs, which taught me about work ethic. And I knew that business would take me where I needed to go. Being passionate about what I do has always been most important to me. Now that Soolip is 20 years old, I’m ready to leverage the value of the brand.

What do you hope Soolip’s legacy will be?

I want to see Soolip as a premier luxury brand, moving the luxury consumer to
see luxury in a way—time-honored and mindful. I see it as aspirational and touching many facets of design. The gift that I want to leave is to inspire others to see beauty in the simple and the unexpected, connect people back to nature and to themselves, and to foster the celebration of those who work with their hands and hearts.

Red-Feather

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