Thursday, September 30, 2010

Contemporary Designer Profile: Kerry Joyce

There’s a level of refinement that is sometimes lost the more comfortable a space is created. When you bring textures and materials down to a more casual level, you can lose that je ne said quoi that makes a space pop and sparkle. We found one interior designer who seems to be a master at materials—and combining that certain je ne sais quoi with the skills of making a sophisticated and comfortable space. Today’s contemporary designer profile is Kerry Joyce.

Skimming through Joyce’s online portfolio, you will see a lot of simply refined spaces. Color palettes are classic: whites, creams combined with darker wood tones and black. Layouts aren’t surprising, and art isn’t exactly shocking. To be honest, the whole composition of spaces really strikes you all at once; nothing jumps out at you or tries to grab your attention.

You can see he’s a fan of lots of classic elements that work with a lot of different tastes and which bring that sophistication in right at the beginning, like four-poster beds, sumptuous drapes, over-sized mirrors, stacks of books, creams and neutrals, delicate side tables and more. But, though he has elements and ideas that carry from project to project, each room and home retains its own distinct personality, no doubt informed by the client’s personality.

Again, nothing is particularly striking or overly surprising about Joyce’s work, but that’s its charm. His skills lie in letting the architecture of a space and the materials lying there within really sing. He tells a story through simplicity, and lets the main characters be the people who live in these spaces. That sort of restrained approach is its own kind of luxurious—and we find that very swanky.

Based in Los Angeles, Kerry Joyce is an interior designer, interior architect and furniture designer. He’s won tons of awards for his interiors, including even an Emmy award! He’s been named one of the “Design 100” for Metropolitan Magazine and has been featured in other publications like House Beautiful.

Swank Lighting is an amazing resource not just for the best vintage Murano glass lamps in the market today, but also a wonderful resource for interior design inspiration and a great place to get an education about past and present designers. Keep up-to-date with everything we do on our Facebook page and our twitter.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This Week's Top 5 Favorite 1stdibs Items: The Circus Comes to Your Home!

We're big fans of lots of great television shows and movies here at Swank Lighting. Or more specifically, we're really big fans of beautiful atmospheres created by great-looking sets! One such television show that excelled at atmosphere was the now defunct HBO show Carnivale. Carnivale was set during the Great Depression and the Dust bowl and focused on a great cast of characters that made up a traveling circus. We were absolutely romanticized by the sets, the fashion and yes, the decor. So much so we thought we'd search through today's newest 1stdibs listings and see if we could come up with any carnival inspiration of our own!

1) Clown Shooting Gallery Target
You can't have a circus without a clown, and this cute little guy is from the same era that we are talking about: the 1920s and 1930s. Not as garish as clowns usually are, his soft color palette is just the tongue-in-cheek element to add to as space.
Price: $5,200
Dealer: Clifford A. Wallach

2) Antique Louis Vuitton Steamer Trunk
One would imagine that a life in the circus is mobile and always moving. Gypsy-like, even. That's why a nice, sturdy trunk would be essential, and this one from the turn of the century looks to be perfect. Of course, Louis Vuitton might be a little high-end for the circus!
Price: $22,500
Dealer: M.S. Rau Antiques

3) Rare Petite Streamline 1930's Art Deco Cigar Cutter
Even if you don't smoke cigars, you'll want to incorporate this sweet and stylish Art Deco Cigar Cutter, from the 1930s. It's so sleek and stylish, and would for a great table top accessory.
Price: contact dealer
Dealer: TFTM

4) Crystal ball on custom iron stand
Everyone knows that a palm reader and psychic are necessary additions to a circus, and bring some of the mystical magic to your home with this fun crystal ball.
Price: contact dealer
Dealer: Antiques on 5

5) A Pair of Fire Gilded Six Light Candelabra
After the last item, we're not sure if we're decorating a home or preparing for a seance! Whatever look you're going for, we think these candelabras would be an unexpected and fun addition!
Price: contact dealer
Dealer: Guy Regal LTD

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 items! 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, September 28, 2010

A Perfect Pair: Kagan and Swank!

We referred to yesterday's designer influence as the “Madonna of furniture design” because of his ability to both start trends and keep up with trends over many decades. To say it was hard to choose a piece of his for today’s perfect pair is an understatement; the man created TONS of gorgeous furniture pieces over the years. But, we chose one design, and think you’ll like the Swank Lighting lamps we’d suggest to go with it.

This pair of Vladimir Kagan Armchairs totally represent just how great Kagan was at both taking current design trends and combining them with his own design sensibilities to create something really amazing. These chairs feature his love of soft, comfortable and plush furniture with great cushions upholstered in a really neutral and natural looking material. The surprise to this piece is the stark and sleek plexiglass slabs used as arms. You wouldn’t think these elements work together, but they do, and they create a look that says 1960s.

Swank Lighting’s Vintage Murano Lamps in Golden Honey are from Italy in the 1950s, but they seem to bridge several time periods, don’t they? We’ll admit, it was their sweet honey color that caught our eyes first. Warm and creamy, almost like amber, this color is the perfect tone for a space needing a cozy natural color. We also really love the curves to these lamps. And the swirls really create a lot of interest.

We just really like the contrast between the curves and swirls of the lamp and the sleek, straight lines of the arms. The curves of the lamp help the arms soften up, and the lines of the arms give a little back bone to the pair of lamps. And you can’t deny that the natural and textural material of the chairs goes beautifully with that warm honey amber color of the glass of the lamps. We love it!

Love what you see in this post but want more? Like fun perfect pairs, designer influence profiles and profiles of contemporary designers? Thank goodness for you we’ve got a Facebook page and tweet a lot; you can keep up with everything Swank Lighting does.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Extensive and Modern Designs of Vladimir Kagan!

Every now and then we’ll come across a designer who we’ve never heard of and wonder, did the more well-known designers just have better public relations firms? Vladimir Kagan, for all intents and purposes, appears to be one of the most important, long-lasting and influential designers of our modern century. Can you believe we’re only just learning about the extent of his talent?

First of all, his body of work is HUGE. We’re talking a-workaholic-spanning-decades huge. Kagan started designing in 1946 and never looked back. Many of the important influential designers in our history designed for a certain period of time and then moved on or passed away. Not this designer. Kagan’s like the Madonna of the furniture design world: he’s stayed on top and kept up with the times, enabling him to be influential for many, many years.

So what’s his style? Well, accessible. Seemingly safe, yet, but with chances taken, as well. Some of his most famous pieces show what we’re talking about. The Cloud Sofa, the Floating Sofa and the Illuminating Omnibus sofa combine past designs (for familiarity) with cutting edge technologies (often with how the materials were shaped or constructed) to create pieces that are at once trendy and new, but also comfortable and enjoyable. He wasn’t looking to create work that people were afraid of or turned off by, he wanted to create pieces that anyone could use.

Again, his ability to transition through the decades, somehow following other designers leads and introducing his own elements seems to be his most enduring trait. All his furniture pieces are comfortable and soft, too, with curves and cushions and good intentions. Stylish, yes, but able to fit in with a number of different home styles.

 Born in Germany in 1927, he emigrated to the United States in 1938. It was at the School of Industrial Art that something in him was sparked. He would graduate from there in 1946 with an architecture degree, and then study more architecture at Columbia University. He opened up his first office and shop in 1949 in New York City. He started off early creating commissioned pieces for commercial spaces and even the now-famous Mid-Century Modern designed "Monsanto House of the Future" at Disneyland.

A quote from the New York Times, taken from Kagan’s website, sums him up perfectly:

"Vladimir Kagan is one of the most important furniture designers of the 20th century. Furniture designed by him in the forties, fifties and sixties have become icons of Modernity and an obligatory reference to every designer. He is the creative grandfather of a whole new generation of designers."

Love what you see in this post but want more? Like fun perfect pairs, designer influence profiles and profiles of contemporary designers? Thank goodness for you we’ve got a Facebook page and tweet a lot; you can keep up with everything Swank Lighting does.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Contemporary Designer Profile: Hunter-Barnes!

Your first visit to the website of interior design firm Hunter-Barnes provides you with a vital piece of information: these two talented lads are in-your-face good. With an online portfolio that has the biggest photos we’ve ever seen combined with what’s actually in the photos: rock start-quality interiors, you can see why we’re pretty enamored with today’s contemporary designers.

Bold. Playful. Sophisticated but not too serious. These are words and phrases that you can see right off the bat when viewing Hunter-Barnes’ portfolio. We’re seriously impressed with the slick interiors we are seeing. Their first project as a team, the Kate Somerville Skin Heath Experts commercial space, is a perfect example of their boldness. Not content to sneak into the profession of interior design, these guys burst onto the scene with a space that is luxurious, fresh, trendy, timeless and young. All white-rooms steeped in texture and pattern punctuated by feminine touches of color live harmoniously with rooms that play with a little more hue. Each space has its own identity that ties back brilliantly with the overall design.

After the Kate Somerville Skin Health Experts project, the team only got better and bolder. Expanding to more commercial spaces and residential spaces, no wall is safe when these guys are around. Excelling at creating drama in a space, these spaces affect ones senses mightily. Luxurious details speak to one’s sense of sophistication. Warm wood tones remind you that you are still on earth and not in heaven. And I'm sure you can also see, when looking at their projects, another reason why we love them: their great tastes in lamps! Take a look at their portfolio and focus on their choices for lamps and lighting; you'll see they are brilliant when it comes to knowing that a fabulous lamps makes a fabulous room.

Lest you think all their projects culminate with shiny black metallic walls, these boys are also experts at the subtle art of neutral palettes, and have worked on projects that gently combine lighter colors so deftly you hardly notice what’s being done. In these spaces, as with all their spaces, patterns, textures, textiles and other tools of the trade are mixed and matched to create custom spaces full of personality and potential.

So who are the two designers behind Hunter-Barnes? Adam Hunter spent 10 years starring in Broadway productions while attending the Parsons School for design. Spencer Barnes, who is also an internationally famous makeup artist, has been designing interiors since he was a teenager. In 2007 they combined their talents to become a full-service, extraordinary interior design duo. The world took notice fairly quickly of their talent, and they have a number of celebrity designers they cater to, like Neil Patrick Harris, Travis Barker, Jon Heder and Kate Somerville. They’ve even been named one of the rising stars of interior design in a local publication. Really, their fabulous interiors speak for themselves.

Swank Lighting is an amazing resource not just for the best vintage Murano glass lamps in the market today, but also a wonderful resource for interior design inspiration and a great place to get an education about past and present designers. Keep up-to-date with everything we do on our Facebook page and our twitter.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Contemporary Designer Profile: Thad Hayes

Thad Hayes’ biography located on his website starts off with four words: optimistic, essential, rigorous and refined. Lofty adjectives for just an interior designer, but after reviewing this designer’s work in his portfolio, one can see why these four words are his defining characteristics.

The first thing we notice is that all of Hayes’ interiors have a lot in common. He’s clearly one of those designers that while talented, has a distinct style that is hard to hold back from any project. This is not to say that his work trumps clients’ needs or wants, just that he has a specific look that he gravitates toward, usually because it’s drop dead gorgeous.

Some of the similarities we spotted: wide swaths of color as bold walls or art, a great grasp of time periods from old to modern and the ability to mix simplicity and details beautifully. We’ve got other words we’d assign to his interiors: classic, bold, sophisticated, elegant and exciting.

Hayes’ online bio will also tell you that relationships, both to clients and of his interiors to the architecture, are of the utmost importance to his work. He’s got a gift for proportions, that’s for sure. He knows how to wield masculine, over-sized accessories with just-right-sized furniture, all fitting perfectly in the architectural settings he’s given to start with.

Another delight we discovered when learning about Thad Hayes: he grew up and went to the same school as the writer of the post—Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He did study interior design at the Parsons School of Design though, and resides in New York where his practice is. He was honored as one of "The AD 100" and was named a "Dean of Design" by Architectural Digest Magazine.
Swank Lighting is an amazing resource not just for the best vintage Murano glass lamps in the market today, but also a wonderful resource for interior design inspiration and a great place to get an education about past and present designers. Keep up-to-date with everything we do on our Facebook page and our twitter.