Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Heads up

photo Denis Gliksman, Inrap
The tomb of a Celtic prince dating from the 5th century BC was recently discovered in the Champagne region of France.
I haven't made any such monumental discoveries but
do seem to keep coming across interesting faces these days.

photo: Le style et la matière
Foire de Chatou

quot capita, tot sensus

"So many heads, so many opinions," said Terrence.

photo: Le style et la matière
Foire de Chatou
And Youtube says that cats will change your outlook. 
I hear that in the US, Uber  delivers kittens like call-girls or clowns to offices 
for entertainment between 12 and 4pm. Am I the only one to find that unpleasantly odd?
Cats at your service?

photo: Le style et la matière
Musée de Cluny
 A regretful monster squelched under the unrelentingly firm hold of
St Margaret's foot in a painted panel of the saint from the 13th century.

photo: Le style et la matière
Musée de Cluny
Carvings of the kings of Judah were from the facade of Notre Dame de Paris c.1220.
These statuary heads served as foundation filler for post-revolutionary construction. 

photo: Le style et la matière
Musée de Cluny
Sable from the Middle Ages;
its handsome coat aside, the marten has an expressive face.

photo: Le style et la matière
Musée de Cluny
Rock crystal lions

photo: Le style et la matière
Musée de Cluny
A child's moony face carved in
chalcedony from 2nd century Rome.

photo: Le style et la matière
Musée de Cluny
Reliquary busts

photo: Le style et la matière
The holy family c.1500 Alsace
Musée de Cluny
Tu m'as fait tourner la tête....
Gentle, dear!

And as silly as it might be, all this relative roundness has me humming
"Mon manège à moi"

Monday, January 26, 2015

Tiroirs secrets

high tech desk from 1781 by David Roentgen

I have not yet been able to pop over to Versailles to see the design exhibit that is showing until February 22, but I will Soon! 

In case you haven't seen it either, I've found this two minute video to be a beautiul demontration of the architecture and efficency of a very fine 18th century desk. A demo that would be silent if not for the  doors and drawers and other movable parts that click and slide crisply into position at the biding of  gloved hands. The desk is by the German cabinetmaker, master of marquetry and mechanisms, David Roentgen, who worked a great deal for the French court.

This is just a  foretaste of  the exhibit 18th Century aux sources du Design at Versailles where works of decorative art are taken out of context to be appreciated as museographical specimens - jewels on pedestals - but as often as possible no longer monolithic and static. Instead they are up for analysis and finally reveal their proud secrets through a play of mirrors, neon lighting and documentary films.

More than one leg to stand on... and the etymological source of  "design."
For me, the French word dessein has always been the equivilant of design, 
but it is the English expression (derived from the French in the 16th century) that is used today to get across in a flash the more modern conception of the not so recent idea,
The idea, namely, that there is a skilled author and craftsman behind the desirable designed object and that that object contains a quality of innovation, of being up-to-date. That is an aspect that is hard to grasp when looking back through history. When it is done, it is often with condescension.
Remember, no one who was interested in decoration in the 18th century wanted to hang on to Grandfather's old furniture. Antiques were from the antique world - Greece and Rome.

 Photo RMN-Grand Palais Château de Versailles/Christophe Fouin
Commode André-Charles Boulle, 1708

Architect Jean Nouvel was invited to provide his own modern point of view with 
commentaries that punctuate the exhibit.

screen cap from Hack King's Design, a 
design contest associated with the exhibit
So often, the ancients and the moderns are in opposing camps.
 Today's designers should be able to study these ancient constructions differently - 
with the very definition of Respect = 
to look back at something to better consider what is in the present.

for more on the exhibit see: château de Versailles

another video:  Louis XV's desk , here

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Fill in the blank

photo from: interiors inside out
Vanity Olympia by Nika Zupanc

To proceed with filling in the blank...
 sit before the table.

Picasso Girl before the Mirror
What is a face really? 
Its own photo? 
Its makeup? 
Or is it a face as painted by such or such painter?
That which is in front? 
And the rest? 
Doesn't everyone look at himself in his own particular way? 
Deformations simply do not exist.

 Pablo Picasso

Friday, January 16, 2015

Solstice: a gathering in Paris

photos: credits at the end of post
Tree of Light
oxidized and waxed walnut, metal, gold and silver threads
A moment of union – an exchange in an atmosphere of quiet – has been carefully carved, painstakingly molded, and lovingly woven by Anne and Vincent Corbière at the gallery, Salon H.

The husband and wife duo, cabinetmaker and weaver each in the highest traditions of their respective arts, has created one of the most poetic moments in their careers. Convoking us in a ring around a Tree of Light,  we find stools, the most primitive of furnishing elements. The exhibit called “Solstice,” evokes the time of the year when diminishing light has become all the more precious. The pagan notions of the sacred - circle, tree, light - are expressed with great craftsmanship in the most contemporary fashion. A beautiful and living reminder that what is most important in life never really changes, that furniture can be art and convey emotion.


Blackened steel, 
upholstery silk bayadère stripes on a ground of gold threads


Patinated steel, 
upholstery of freestyle weave of silk stripes with a glint of silver


Carved chestnut, textile woven with printed vinyl yarns

Solstice can be seen at Salon H until Tuesday, January 20th.

Salon H, is not just a gallery. 
Located in the narrow streets of 6th arrondissement, 
it's founders,Yaël Halberthal and Philippe Zagouri, have formed a salon for the 21st century. Here meet artists, writers, performers - creating events of dynamic and intelligent exchange 
designed for this very intimate and particular space.

           photos courtesy of Salon H and Bruno Suet

Monday, January 12, 2015

Right in the heart

drawing: Gésbi

Haut les cœurs!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Nouvel an

Sunrise by the Ocean  by Vladimir Kush
Starting over again.

Happy 2015!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Where to find textile treasures in Paris

photo: Le style et la matière
precious fabric wound around wooden dowels  
It is possible for anyone in Paris to find a gold mine of fashion fabrics
and like many of the very best things, this treasure is hidden in plain sight!

My neighbor just asked me where to go for fabric in view of some very special occasions where she must be dressed en conséquence. I was pleased to pass along a very good address and thought some of you would appreciate it too.

photo: Le style et la matière
wish you could touch this too!

In fact, this shop isn't really hidden at all, but its unassuming storefront will have been passed up by more than one fabric enthusiast if she hasn’t been informed of the location in advance. Costume-makers and stylists, however, all know about this Aladdin's cave of fabrics. The good thing is, you don't have to be a textile professional to go to De Gilles Tissus. Venture past the plain threshold and the promise of fabric marvels awaits -many rarely accessible to the general public -
yet the atmosphere is undeniably nonchalant.

You might not even notice the famed Schiapperelli lobster design framed on the wall behind the front desk; it's half hidden by photos of family, friends and the exotic travels of the shop's owner, Catherine Kouliche-Goldman. Some of the fruit of those trips, suzanis and ikats are hanging nearby too, jostling the French silk in a neighborly way. You might say it's the colorful movie posters lining the stairwell that hint at  the uncommonly high level of interest of the material here. Yes,
 along side Vincent Lindon, Audrey Tautou, Jean Dujardin etc, etc, we could say,
also starring De Gilles Tissus!

photo: Le style et la matière
The puckers of a rose-colored couture cloqué fabric

The majority of the merchandise is French, a portion of it comes from the UK and Italy, but most importantly every single fabric found in the shop has been chosen individually by Catherine Goldman, who guarantees its quality. Not for her, the bargain-container approach that some in the field practice. Catherine is the third generation owner in her family, though the trade has changed along the years from wholesale to retail. Her stock today is a treasure trove of articles from buttons, ribbons and even vintage pantyhose to truly precious stuffs otherwise destined for couture houses. There are gold and silver braids and trim from a  passementier specialized in metallics, fabrics from the 50s-80s of mills now defunct, overstock from today's manufacturers, as well as a more limited selection of valuable hand-crafted items from Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Peru....

photo: Le style et la matière

This magnificent silk velvet on transparent ground has the flavor a Gruau illustration and I would guess it comes from the great house of Bouton-Renaud in Lyon known for hand-painted and high novelty articles of this sort. 

photo: Le style et la matière
floral lampas/brocade
De Gilles provides mostly high fashion fabrics but there are exceptions and of course, your own creativity can come into play here. The haute couture is well-known for using furnishing fabrics to suit its own ends, I say these things can go both ways with a little good judgement. After all, the notion of specificity between fashion and furnishing fabrics only came about in the late 18th century. So, a length for a skirt, a bit more for drapes - Scarlet did make a dress of her curtains....

photo: Le style et la matière
Vintage meets South American

photo: Le style et la matière

Some of France's finest -
warp printed silks with their distinctive soft blurred appearance and full-bodied crisp handle.

photo: Le style et la matière

photo: Le style et la matière
Fancy silks

photo: Le style et la matière
Crunchy tweeds

photo: Le style et la matière
reworked tweed
photo: Le style et la matière
Mmmmm, fabulous highly textured yanked wool

photo: Le style et la matière
The coppery coating of this Grand-Siècle-inspired design gives this fabric a lot of punch!

photo: Le style et la matière

photo: Le style et la matière
This billowy silk mousseline (chiffon) was printed to resemble an Indonesian ikat 

photo: Le style et la matière

photo: Le style et la matière
Among the exotic textiles can be found a few costumes and hats.

photo: Le style et la matière
 Rare lacquered silk brought back from Taiwan.
This ancient artisanal technique that uses mud to achieve a noble,
almost leathery look with a subtle sheen.

photo: Le style et la matière
cotton, linen, hemp - here a mix of weaves in bold blue ramie

photo: Le style et la matière
threads left hanging - but oh, what threads!

And another part of the treasure is Catherine Goldman herself. She is no-run-of-the-mill shop owner! She was educated at the Ecole du Louvre, understands the arts and is passionate about fabric's place among them - as well as in world economy.

Like many of us in the textile profession, Catherine has become more and more concerned with the problem of the diminishing quality of textiles today and what's more, with the steady loss of the textile culture. She does her part to remedy to the problem by raising consciousness through a very lively blog called Passion Textiles that I warmly recommend. You will find articles on the history of various fabrics and their techniques, reporting on the textile craft from around the globe, as well as practical tips on care and some op-ed pieces, too.

Mass production and the battle of always more-for-less has led to a certain disregard for fabrics. What was once valued as essential and often precious is taken for granted because too often it is replaced with ersatz materials that don't last a season. Those who have not been educated to distinguish quality often settle for what is easiest and cheapest to obtain.
We live with textiles everyday. They are our second skin. They transform our homes. Don't settle.

De Gilles Tissus
156 Rue de la Roquette
75011 Paris