Well, they do say August is the silly season…
It is nearly the month when newspapers have traditionally concentrated on stories about surfing squirrels. When even the BBC’s Today programme can run segments on whether flip-flops are superior to loafers. Well, at least I know where I stand on that one. Think Grace Kelly in ‘Rear Window.’ The loafers are great.
But back to the silly season and I just love Jamb’s owners for their historical correctness and witticisms. The name of one of their new handsome pieces of furniture is of-course accurate but has a interesting twist - the ebonized three-tier ‘Bobbin Whatnot.’
Yes I know it has an historic definition - ‘a piece of furniture derived from the French étagère, which was exceedingly popular in England in the first three-quarters of the 19th century. It usually consists of slender uprights or pillars, supporting a series of shelves for holding ornaments or what not, hence the allusive name.’
But the name still makes me smile, a piece of furniture for trifles or what not. That reminds me I must ask Max Rollitt about the naming of his beautiful primrose-yellow Katzsic sofa and we all should take a leaf out of Simon March’s ‘Colour Makes People Happy’ paint books. Now he is one to resist any dictatorial force.
Here’s a name for the silly season and this is the most summery shade in his palette.
‘I will not dignify that with an answer’
Answers on a postcard
One editor who joined me for champagne on the Ochre Salon said she felt quite humble in the face of Masterpiece, and doubly so having just hotfooted it from Chelsea Harbour’s Superyacht Design week. Walking the plushly carpeted halls of Masterpiece, I could see how even the pious may renounce their vows and wish they’d a few million to spend.
I was at Masterpiece with Ochre, a contemporary design company that I cherish and whose beautifully crafted products I covet. These pieces are modern collectables – something to fall in love with, never tire of and stamped with Ochre’s hallmark – discreet glamour. Ochre’s new creations were in the company of the old masters.
Collectors, curators, and designers flock to savour a staggering array of art, design, fine antique furniture, precious jewels and vintage cars showcasing £1 billion worth of works from antiquity to contemporary.
Standouts range from Impressionist paintings to unique diamonds. Within the first hour of the fair Apter Fredericks had sold an important mirror, a sale that was eclipsed by selling their pair of chinoiserie cabinets by Vile and Cobb to an American collector for a seven-figure sum. Another valuable sale belongs to Symbolic and Chase who have sold a 1912 Cartier Corsage for in excess of $20 million. These are accessible prices for the visiting troupe of shoppers at Masterpiece, which is now part of the glitterati’s social calendar.
The prize for Object of the Year went to Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s ‘The Masterpiece 2014’ exhibited by Blain Southern and Painting of the Year to an ‘en grissaile’ maritime work by William van der Velde The Elder (1611-1693), offered for sale by John Mitchell Paintings.
My highlights Richard Philip and Elizabeth Turk also highlight how Masterpiece is reinvigorating the market in the traditional fields and incorporating that with a new look at contemporary design.
Masterpiece is well worth a visit - even though some of the art and antiquities really do belong in museums…
We’ve certainly had our fill of the Georgians as the whole nation marks the 300th anniversary of George I’s accession. ‘WILLIAM KENT Designing Georgian Britain’ at the V&A until 13 July is an exhibition that explores this polymath, who having lived the high-life in Italy returned to recreate the dream in Britain. Handy for him that his career also co-incided with the rise of country-house building.
I guess what is relevant to our homes is how he turned from painter to architect of interior design tackling an interior space as a whole – fascinated with everything from door frames and fireplaces to flamboyant furnishings. Love or loathe his exuberance he was seen as an arbiter of taste and in modern terminology a brand builder when Britain was ready for a fresh start. Decorex, which is at Syon Park, is going mad for the new Georgiana, just announcing it as this year’s theme, honing in on craftsmanship, celebrity and brand.
Sitting Room in ‘English Decoration’ by Ben Pentreath
The Katzsic sofa designed by Max Rollitt is based on a sofa Max bought in a Manor House in Lancashire which dates from 1790.
Georgian style is considered one of quality and taste. We are building Georgian-style homes again and wresting rooms back from the grips of open-plan living. Neo-classicalism is just incredibly elegant and pleasing to the eye. Perhaps all this marks a move away from minimalism towards a desire for detail in decoration and for interiors that are refined and composed, yet comfortable and joyful.
The above image is Ben Pentreath’s house in Dorset, a 19th century former Parsonage, where as he says the ‘rooms are calm, quiet spaces and I have designed accordingly, using plain, light furniture that responds to the simplicity of the building. The Parsonage is a changing place, as I use the house as a test-bed for my own ideas and thoughts, but an underlying Englishness and sense of comfort prevail.’