Everyday Exquisite: Surrounding yourself with artful design

“Style—all who have it share one thing: originality.” Diana Vreeland

One exquisite element, be it velvet slippers, a moving piece of artwork, or the delicate glow of an antique lamp, can enhance your entire surroundings and has a powerful impact on our mood and sense of optimism. As we approach the new dawn of life during times that have been trying and unpredictable, the joy of looking at, experiencing, and living with beautiful, hand-made objects brings such a sense of permanence and soul to our personal style and interiors which should live in harmony. There is a definite shift in interior design towards the desire to mix in elements of drama through colors and patterns, and to bring in elements of patina and a forgotten elegance. I spoke recently with Randal Dawkins of Acroterion, the famed appointment-only antique store in upstate New York, about his lifelong passion for antiques. “There is an intangible quality that a fine handcrafted antique object innately possesses, and its survival is a testament not only to its character but individuality as well,” he said. At Acroterion, a collection of Chinese export lives harmoniously with French lighting and ancient sculpture. A favorite piece from the Acroterion collection is a circa 1670 Dutch delft baluster form vase converted for use as a lamp. It’s all in the mix and his eye for combining materials and eras feels fresh and soulful.

Christopher Peter Swirl Silhouette and Dover Rug
(L) Christopher Peter Swirl Silhouette (R) Dover Rug

The palette of earthy red and blues in the piece titled Swirl Silhouette by artist Christopher Peter brings a sense of movement and beauty to an interior. His art includes not only his interpretation of silhouettes but extends to richly layered contemporary pieces and custom works. What could be chicer than an original piece of art done in a palette that instantly lifts the atmosphere of your space?

Olive Oil and Trudon room spray and column marble salt and pepper from Trudon
(L) Olive Oil from Casas d Hualdo. (R) Trudon room spray and column marble salt and pepper

To keep with the feeling of inspiration, museums like The Frick Collection in NYC have been hosting a range of digital content called Cocktails with a Curator which has been hugely popular. At these digital gatherings, cocktail and mocktail recipes are provided and a selected curator discusses a piece of art from the collection. It’s a nice way to feel a bit of escapism and culture from the comfort of your home.

To scent your space with a signature fragrance is a way to create a feeling of home and also to bring in memories of your favorite hotel stays or travels through olfactory recognition. A fragrance like smoky wood and peppered air, sparkling citrus, or lavender recalling the beauty of Provence will create instant ambiance. For something with depth, opt for a candle or room spray from a historic fragrance house such as Trudon, which has been creating fragrance since 1643 where Claude Trudon opened the first store on rue Saint Honore in Paris. Trudon went on to become a Royal Manufacturer and created candles for the Imperial court of France. These room sprays and candles in cloches adorn some of the chicest boutiques and hotels across the world and it’s a nice little moment of decadence to bring an element of this historic brand into your own home. In keeping with family businesses, Dover Rug has a collection of exquisite, hand-knotted rugs that elevate interiors by creating a distinct presence and sense of history. “One of the most important parts of working in a family business such as ours is working directly with the weavers and artisans overseas who hand makes these products,” says Hasan Jafri of Dover Rug. The family travels abroad each year and visits the artisans who hand make the rugs, forming a lifelong relationship. In a world of mass production, this intensive process that takes time and a generational knowledge of rug making is a breath of fresh air. A hand-loomed rug is a sound investment as these pieces only get better with time.

Stefano Ricci Octagon watch and John Derian for Stubbs and Wootoon sleepers
(L) Stefano Ricci Octagon watch. (R) John Derian for Stubbs and Wootton sleepers.

Famed interior designer John Derian has a collection of slippers for Stubbs and Wootton that will take the most basic outfit into an effortlessly elegant moment of style. In Florence, fashion house Stefano Ricci has imagined a timepiece inspired by octagonal floor plans expressed through architecture of the Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore and the Tribuna degli Uffizi. When asked about the Florentine inspiration behind the Octagon watch, Stefano Ricci says, “for centuries the best has come from here” and he notes that the eight sides of the Octagon represent a train-d’-union, between man and God. His creations are all an artful tribute to Florence and the history of artistic expression in this beautiful Italian city.

Birds of Paradise Plate + Acroterion Lamp
(L) Birds of Paradise Plate. (R) Acroterion Lamp

On a smaller scale, swapping out a few elements that have everyday use, and therefore are sometimes designed to be basic, such as dishes, spices, and oils, can provide such a lift of mood when replaced with an elevated counterpart. Shown here is the Birds of Paradise Collection plate by Laboratorio Paravacini depicting a whimsical illustration of a bird with exotic plumage. This Malan based brand applies hand-crafted, traditional Italian pottery application to these most charming plates that add style to the table. Inspired by distant lands and extraordinary objects, COCO GIN has created a line of butler trays, used as indulgent breakfast trays or cocktail tables. The Casati Laquer Tray is inspired by the mesmerizing and eccentric heiress Luisa Casati who famously took moonlit walks with her jungle cats along the pebbled streets of Venice. She was a woman who lived on her own terms – freeing herself from the corsets of her Gilded Age contemporaries and dressing in a style that became legendary for its artistic flair. She was dressed by Fortuny, painted by John Singer Sargent, and became not only a fashion legend but a fierce supporter of the arts who promoted the importance of living with your own, wholly original sense of style. She is an inspiration, especially at a time of a reset, where many of us are having a fresh look at our surroundings and style, imagining with hope, and redefining our futures.

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Everyday Exquisite: Surrounding yourself with artful design