Decorative Painting

Sally’s and my presentation on “Creating French Style in your Home” on Sunday at the French Cultural Center was a HUGE success! We came away feeling there is still a place for elegant, classy and sophisticated traditional interiors in the world. During the post presentation social, while champagne and madeleines were being served by the staff from the fabulous Newbury Street French restaurant La Voile, a lady approached Sally and told her, “I’ve been waiting 20 years for someone to do a presentation like this!” Another came up to me and said, “Now I understand why and how the parts and pieces fit together!” Happy Dance!!! It made us feel like our hard work had paid off!

During the presentation, these slides in particular created quite a discussion. I was going thru my Mirrors and Mantels section of the presentation (We had 10 topics/touch points.), explaining and illustrating how and why mirrors were placed and used in 18th century French homes to reflect light and/or to visually expand a room. Using this picture I took of a room in the Musee Carnavalet, I asked whether we were seeing into another room or were we looking into a mirror?

carnavalet, photo  by John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

The answer is we are looking into a mirror. But you need to look twice to notice the picture hanging in front of the mirror. with the window and lantern appearing as they do, it is easy to think you are looking into another room with a window beyond. I asked the attendees to remember this picture.

A short time later I showed this picture of a Parisian apartment done by French designers Champeau and Wilde.

Champeau & Wilde

Then this one and posed the same question. Are we looking into a second room or are we looking at a mirror?

Champeau & Wilde

This is a tough one, no? Most thought we were looking into a mirror. But we are not. We’re looking thru a large hole in the wall between the two pair of doors into the room beyond! Fabulous! Look carefully at the crown molding. The closer room is simple with ornamentation in the corners only. The far room has brackets running the length of the molding. Look at the picture some more and you begin to pick up other details and clues. What else do you see?

Cheers and have a great week!

John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

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The Paris Design District hosts an event called Paris Deco Off, that runs concurrently with Maison et Objet. We were a 10 minute walk to where the bulk of the particiapting show rooms and antique shops were located, near the magnificent St. Sulpice Church. A carnival atmosphere prevailed, with giant lampshades hanging high in the air above the streets. Each lampshade had the name of a participating show room.

Deco Off 2015; photo by Wilson Kelsey Design

While our main focus was visiting fabric showrooms in the neighborhood, we couldn’t resist dropping in on the tiny antique shops we would pass by.

antique shop; Wilson Kelsey Design

Deco Off antique shop; photo by Wilson  Kelsey Design

Please, someone give this terra cotta horse a home!

terra cotta horse; WIlson Kelsey Design

Once again, there was so much, I’ll share a sampling of the hi-lites. The Zuber showroom was amazing. Known primarily for their incredible wall paper and murals (declared a French National Treasure) they also make beautiful fabrics.

Zuber; WIlson Kelsey Design

I find myself fantasizing about an upholstered wall every time I look at this image.

Zuber fabric, Paris showroom; WIlson Kelsey Design

Fortuny was another stop on Sally’s agenda. Absolutely luscious! Photographs don’t do the richness and luster of the fabrics justice. But first, we had to stop to admire their showroom window. The little foxes in their kimonos were cute beyond belief!

Fortuny window; Wilson Kelsey Design

Fortuny 2015 fabrics; photo by WILson Kelsey Design

Fortuny fabrics; Wilson Kelsey Design

Then it was on to the de Gournay showroom. De Gournay’s array of wallpaper, fabrics, furniture mirrors and porcelain is breath taking. A random sampling of images…

de Gournay showroom, paris_france

de Gournay  wall paper and mirror; WIlson Kelsey Design

de Gournay porcelain; WIlson Kelsey Design

Do you think they would sell me this antique sofa? Fabulous!

De Gournay antique; Wilson Kelsey Design

At the other end of the furniture spectrum, we find Grange, with it’s updates spin on classic antique furniture pieces. LOVE!!! I can see one of these in a classic French style foyer.

Grange buffet; Wilson Kelsey Design

Grange furniture; photo  by Wilson Kelsey Design

Next post, the Paris Nobilis show room. It was the hi-lite of our Deco Off visit.

Cheers,

John Kelsey, Wilson Kelsey Design

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With over 3,500 images to sort thru this turned out to be a much more difficult task than I had originally imagined. There are well over 300 “favorite ” images including building exteriors, landscapes, stairs, lighting, paneling, floors, etc. (And this doesn’t include the food/restaurant pics…) Some of these images serve a practical purpose as I see a detail I feel I can learn something from. Others record a “Holy Cow! that is incredible!!!” moment.

I’ll start with this one – a happy accident. Taken in the Louvre, I took a picture of the crown molding detail of a museum display case. It wasn’t until later, going thru the images when Sally and I returned to Salem that I saw what was in the background. I guess I was hyper focused… (We designers can be like that…)

From the Louvre as well. Note – the marble on left is faux. Sally and I saw this frequently and were in awe of it’s beauty.

 

I’m quite sure I took this at Versailles. Several important things here. The use of crystal to reflect and reflect light, increasing/enhancing the candle light from the chandelier. How the adjacent room is connected visually thru the use of light. And as I as to began to see and understand as our visit went on, as ornate as the crown and wall/panel trim were, they were based on the same classical orders and forms as later less orange periods/styles. There was great continuity as one style evolved and morphed into the next over several centuries.

And this was simply overwhelming… The lantern in foyers and foyer-like spaces was an element we saw repeatedly.

 

Fontainebleau yielded a few gems. The scale of this chandelier was massive!

It was interesting to see how Napoleon adapted rooms to his taste and style. This is the ceiling in his bedchamber, formerly the king’s reception chamber.

Vaux Le Vicomte was my favorite chateau and the predecessor to Louis XIV‘s Versailles.  Let’s start with a ceiling detail in the foyer. Spectacularly classical and ahead of it’s time.

These next two images display unbelievable faux painting/finish work. The sheer number of talented artisans employed to complete/finish buildings such as this boggles my imagination.

When Louis XIV had his finance minister, Nicholas Fouquet arrested, he stripped Vaux Le Vicomte of many of it’s valuable features, including tapestries. I believe the fabric panels and frieze indicate where tapestries originally hung. Note again, the extent of faux painting.

A ceiling detail of Fouquet’s bed chamber.  The image speaks for itself…

The bed chamber… No wonder a young Louis XIV was jealous, had him arrested and put in prison for life!

 

And I conclude with an image from the Carnavalet Museum, whose purpose is to preserve the history of the city of Paris. While the museum was described to us as a collection of historical artifacts, it was so very much more – especially the rooms that they have salvaged and preserved as the grand “Hotels” of Paris were demolished years ago.

And an image I need to figure out where it was taken… My guess is Versailles or the Louvre.

 

Hope you’ve had a mini-vacation as we slide into the month of December and the Holiday Season.

Cheers,

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