Friday, July 30, 2010

Contemporary Designer Profile: Robert Couturier

Though all the contemporary interior designers we profile have varied and stunning careers (if they weren’t all unique we wouldn’t profile them!), many have similar backgrounds, either having grown up always loving design as a child or having discovered their talents in school or in a later job. None have quite as interesting a story as Robert Couturier.

As legend has it, Couturier was just a regular old bloke when he was plucked out of relative obscurity in 1987 by the billionaire Sir James Goldsmith who entrusted him with the re-design and redecoration of the 20,000 acre kingdom of Goldsmith’s in the Pacific Coast of Mexico. This would turn out to be one of the largest private commissions of all time. 60,000 square feet of space to work with would intimate any designer, but with this job Couturier completely secured the crown as one of the most talented and hardworking designers in the world.

And he didn’t just stop at that palace. Couturier continues to work on large-scale residential commissions located throughout the world. And of course, he’s not only wowing the folks paying him the big bucks to create the homes of their dreams, he’s grabbed the attention of the big wigs in the interior design profession and star struck shelter magazines all over the globe.

So what makes Couturier’s work so captivating? Well for one, he respects the architecture first and foremost. His interiors take their cues from the characters of the building, and this creates incredibly connected spaces. Of course, gorgeous command of texture, pattern, color and spacial clues also hallmark Couturier spaces. Though you might definitely call his style “traditional,” he infuses and imbues his design with contemporary and modern ideas and details, creating well-rounded rooms that many people love and aspire to.

Can’t get enough of Swank Lighting’s great gorgeous Murano glass lamps or fun design posts? Check out our revamped Facebook page for more information about us and follow us on twitter (@swanklighting) to always be up-to-date on Swank Lighting happenings.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Contemporary Designer Profile: Eric Cohler!

On the surface, Eric Cohler’s portfolio seems to be filled with the same sort of things that other talented, multi-styled interior designer’s portfolios are filled with: good-looking, sophisticated spaces that look great in a magazine and are probably pretty comfortable to live in. But looking closer at the rooms contained inside, you begin to notice surprising, unexpected and sometimes even shocking details. These details are so integrated into the design that you don’t see them at first, and their discovery gives the viewer instant delight.

Predictably, but also conveniently, Cohler organizes his online portfolio by rooms, with categories like “entry ways” “living rooms” kitchens” and more, but he also throws in a few great folders like “exteriors” and our favorite “details.” We like his “details” folder so much because we think it’s really indicative of why his spaces work so much: sure the overall picture is lovely, but it’s not until you get into the nitty and gritty details do you really understand what makes his work not only stand out, but really shine.

As with many skilled designers, you see plenty of different looks and styles but you can also see he excels with innovative furniture placements, mixture of patterns and textures and bold pops of color. He must also be a huge art fan, because his rooms often feature giant and wonderful pieces of art that range from abstract, to modern, to contemporary to traditional.

All in all, Cohler’s spaces exhibit a huge amount of playfulness due to their modern mix-ups between classical and traditional elements and more contemporary accessories and furnishings. Not everyone can achieve this mixture successfully, but Cohler certainly quiets any naysayers.

Cohler holds a Masters Degree in Historic Preservation from the Columbia University School of Architecture and attended Harvard Graduate School of Design for interior design. Cohler established his firm in 1991 and since then has become a leader in the design field along with Tony Klein, Jennifer Mason and others, to create a firm that can anticipate and handle any client’s design needs. Need more evidence than just the gorgeous portfolio that they are one seriously talented interior firm? House Beautiful has described him as one of the 14 "best of the best" in the "next wave of designers in America," and he is included annually in their "Top 100" issue and frequently makes it into plenty of other shelter magazines, national and international. He’s created designs in conjunction with lighting manufacturer Visual Comfort and fabric with Lee Jofa.

Can’t get enough of Swank Lighting’s great gorgeous Murano glass lamps or fun design posts? Check out our revamped Facebook page for more information about us and follow us on twitter (@swanklighting) to always be up-to-date on Swank Lighting happenings.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

This Week's Top 5 Favorite 1stdibs Items: Bold, 1980's-ish Color!

The 1980's were a time of wonder. Bold patterns, bright colors and styles that give those who sported them during the time period horrible design hangovers today, ruled. None of the pieces we chose from this week's 1stdibs' newest listings are from the 1980's, or even really look like the 1980's. But by golly, they sure do boast bright, bold colors, and we can't help but applaud that. Infuse a little hue into your living space (or a retro-feel, if you so dare) with these fun picks:

1) Corner Sofa by MaxForm
We start our journey through color with this amazing 1960's sofa. The sofa is reupholstered in a dark purple Kvadrat fabric, and its shape makes for a very comfortable and very attention-grabbing view for any living room, den or extra room.
Price: $31,500

2) Vasa Mihich Lucite Sculpture
We were initially drawn to this sculpture because we mean, what is it? We're still not sure, but these Lucite pyramids are totally funky. And, we like the neat colors that permeate throughout the entire art piece. A fun punch of color for a table top.
Price: $3,600

3) Three-Panel Screens
They're big! They're bright! They're glossy! They're orange! And if you have the need for a giant swath of bright color or something to create a screen in a space, these two three-part screens form a semi-circle when placed together. Neat!
Price: contact dealer
Sebastian + Barquet

4) A red lacquer cabinet by Luigi Moretti
Built in the 1960's for a private residence in Rome, this gorgeous piece arrests the senses, and basically becomes the centerpiece of any room. We love all the metal work seen here.
Price: $18,700

5) Collection of Venini Vases
You know we love lovely glass pieces here on Swank Lighting, and these great examples from 1960's and 1970's come in a gorgeous array of colors that we'd love to see displayed somewhere in a house, providing bold pops of color here, there and everywhere.
Price: $3,200
Douglas Rosin

Don't forget to check out the rest of this week's listings from 1stdibs, where you can find more fabulous, one-of-a-kind show-stopping pieces, as well as a number of other great pieces! Also: please visit our revamped Facebook page for more information about us and follow us on twitter (@swanklighting) to always be up-to-date on Swank Lighting happenings.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Swank Lighting Now on Architectural Digest Shopping Site!

We're so happy to announce that Swank Lighting was chosen to be included on the new Architectural Digest shopping site that has recently premiered! An amazing resource for designers and home owners alike, you'll be able to search for curated, high-quality home decor items that not only look great, but are some of the best available in the world.

Swank Lighting only has twelve pairs on the new site at the moment, but we'll be loading more over the next couple of weeks, so check back often to find our newest listings and catch a peek first! To see our listings, search "table lamps" or "swank lighting."

Can’t get enough of Swank Lighting’s great gorgeous Murano glass lamps or fun design posts? Check out our revamped Facebook page for more information about us and follow us on twitter (@swanklighting) to always be up-to-date on Swank Lighting happenings.

A Perfect Pair: Mallet-Stevens and Vintage Murano

Yesterday’s designer influence, Robert Mallet-Stevens, was an unusual designer and creative mind veiled in mystery and intrigue. His furniture designs somehow managed to be both of their time period yet just outside of it. We love them all. We chose a pretty bold piece of his to be featured in our Perfect Pair; we hope you like the combination.

It’s not every day you see a furniture piece made for inside the home that is so loud, bold and, well, chrome. But, Mallet-Stevens’ Chrome and Enameled Iron Console has cast a spell over us. We almost didn’t know what this French piece, made in 1930, was at first, but after reading the description we now know it is a satin chrome and enameled iron radiator cover, but also a console with a marble top. What a gorgeous solution to a modern design problem: those pesky ugly radiators. We love when form meets function so wonderfully, and can’t help but feel a piece like this would really make a statement in a space.

We just love these Swank Lighting Seguso Aqua Blue Opaline Winged Vintage Murano Lamps, from Italy in the 1950’s. Of course, we also seem to be struck by the gorgeousness of Swank Lighting’s lamps’ color first, and this blue is no different. The glass’ color is crystal clear aqua blue, like the sea of some pure, tropical locale. It’s not just these lamps’ great hue that caught our attention though; we love their subtle, gentle shape. Classic ribbed wings wind their way up the bodies of the lamp, giving just the slightest hint of curve and femininity. Placed atop Lucite bases, these lamps just float ethereally above any piece they’d be set upon.

Most of our combinations of lamps and furniture here on the Swank blog involve furniture pieces that are made of wood, or often upholstered. This Mallet-Stevens piece definitely breaks the mold due to being so harsh, metal and loud. It’s certainly a show stopper, but we like it that way. Not any lamp pair could go with this console, but we chose the Seguso Aqua Blue Opaline Winged Vintage Murano Lamps due to the electric nature of their color and the softness of their curves. We were hoping the softness of the edges of the lamps would contrast to the piece, and the color complement. We think they make a smashing pair.

Can’t get enough of Swank Lighting’s great gorgeous Murano glass lamps or fun design posts? Check out our revamped Facebook page for more information about us and follow us on twitter (@swanklighting) to always be up-to-date on Swank Lighting happenings.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Modern, French and Colorful Designs of Robert Mallet-Stevens

It’s true we’ve been on quite the Mid-Century Modern, Brazilian designer kick lately, featuring two weeks in a row of fabulous Brazilian modern furniture design (Martin Eisler and Joaquim Tenreiro, if you are curious). Well we’re traveling back a few decades and hopping across the globe for today’s designer influence, a rather eclectic and unique designer who had a rather odd request upon his death. Who is it? Robert Mallet-Stevens.

Working mostly around the turn of the century and the 1920’s and 1930’s, Mallet-Stevens’ body of furniture design is quite varied in design and style, and very unique in its approach. It’s as if Mallet-Stevens worked a tad off the grid; his designs are recognizable as being from that time period, but they are also different enough that doubt of their origin creeps into one’s mind. Though it definitely hints at early modernism, with some sleek lines and primarily colors, there are many elements to his designs that reference previous historical designs, as well.

The variety of materials that he dabbled in no doubt adds to the mysterious collection of his furniture designs. We spot wood, painted wood, lacquered wood, metal, chrome, marble, Rexine (artificial leather), upholstery and more. This makes his particular style hard to peg down, but also showed how experimental and talented of a designer he was.

Born in Paris in 1886, Mallet-Stevens was a French architect and designer. Although Le Corbusier is usually the most recognizable French architect, Mallet-Stevens had a huge impact on French design and architecture during that time period. Coming from a family of art collectors, Mallet-Stevens just had such an amazing understanding of all the creative fields, able to move from profession to profession seamlessly, making huge strides in many areas.

As an architect he designed shops, factories, fire stations, apartment buildings, residences. As an interior designer, he created beautiful interiors for commercial and residential spaces. He even dabbled in the film industry, creating and designing sets for movies during the silent film period. He is also known to have assembled quite the talented crew of designers and craftsman to help him with his many projects and commissions.

And, in perhaps the most evidence that Mallet-Stevens was a rather unusual man, it’s rumored that Mallet-Stevens ordered his archive of work to be destroyed after his death. According to Wikipedia, this destruction led to him not being remembered as much as other designers of that time period or as much as he should be. Luckily, the great bastion of modern art, the Centre Pompidou, held an exhibit of his work in 2005, and his work has slowly been gaining in popularity since then!

Can’t get enough of Swank Lighting’s great gorgeous Murano glass lamps or fun design posts? Check out our revamped Facebook page for more information about us and follow us on twitter (@swanklighting) to always be up-to-date on Swank Lighting happenings.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Contemporary Designer Profile: Jeffrey Bilhuber

We love bringing you the profiles of current contemporary designers so much, we’ve decided to expand the blog and write one for Fridays, as well! So, here is your second (but none less superior) Contemporary Designer Profile of the week. If our main purpose with these is to inspire you through fun philosophies and gorgeous photographs, then we’ve succeeded greatly with today’s designer: Jeffery Bilhuber.

The first thing you notice when you visit Bilhuber’s website and online portfolio is that he doesn’t organize his previous client jobs as “entryways” or “living rooms.” He distinguishes between his previous jobs with phrases like “Confident Color,” “Defining Details,” “Modern History” and “Urban Charm.” Reading this, we knew we were in for a treat.

Flipping through his cleverly named folders of previous jobs and gorgeous photos, we delighted time and time again in Bilhuber’s amazing skill in creating exciting and great-looking spaces. In the “Confident Color” category (perhaps our favorite) one could find daring color palettes like ebonized paneled walls, bright and huge modern abstract paintings, sunny yellows, ruby red drapes, cool and calming baby blues and more. One can see instantly how color not only transforms a room, but absolutely catapults it outside even the realms of the walls of the space itself.

In the “Defining Details,” one can really see how the even the smallest elements to a space—the finest attention to detail—is what can take a space from good to great. In his rooms you see things like intricately carved and high-quality pieces; you see rooms where the upholstery of a sofa matches the wallpaper. We saw a space where panels are created on a wall using metal buttons, and a ceiling painted a lacquer orange (which could have easily been placed in the “confident color” category).

One of our favorite things about his online portfolio is the little tips written for each photo. In one sentence, you get a snapshot of why what Bilhuber did work in the space, and can possibly take some of these ideas and even apply it in your own home. We’re certainly going to try it in ours!

We think we can sum up Bilhuber’s ability to really capture a client’s needs and wants by relaying a quote by celebrity client Mariska Hargitay (featured on the website): “I feel that I’ve lived here forever and that we’ve done it ourselves. That’s due to Jeffrey’s gift for listening and taking everything and everyone, in.”

For a full biography on Bilhuber, we suggest visiting his website, but in a snapshot we can tell you it’s impressive. So impressive, Mariska isn’t the only celebrity who’s used him before. Ever heard of David Bowie or Anna Wintour? If the biggest woman in fashion today—someone who literally defines style herself—charges Bilhuber with designing her home, you know he must be good. Please visit his website for more great photos, fun tips and more information about him.

Can’t get enough of Swank Lighting’s great gorgeous Murano glass lamps or fun design posts? Check out our revamped Facebook page for more information about us and follow us on twitter (@swanklighting) to always be up-to-date on Swank Lighting happenings.