Biltmore House is one property built by the Vanderbilts, of American shipping & railroad fortune. It has 250 rooms, 33 family & guest rooms, 43 bathrooms, 65 fireplaces, 3 kitchens, a gymnasium & an indoor swimming pool!! The tiled gym & indoor pool is the most impressive you will ever see. I find old vintage fitness devices absolutely hilarious & love to see the pictures of ladies & gentlemen of the day, dressed to the nine’s & working out. For those guests who wanted to exercise at Biltmore House, this is how I picture it-
After arriving in the Netherlands for Dutch Design Week, my first stop direct from the airport, was to Piet Hein Eek’s studio which showcases not only his own work but other designs & designers he deems worthy. An impressive curated & displayed array of furniture, ceramic, lighting & even Tokyo Bikes is under one large roof in an old warehouse. Admittedly a very tidy, U-shape one that sits around a contained central wood working shop. This space is cavernous & spread over two floors with over-scaled pieces, a shop & a cafe. Fabulous!
Years ago I styled a Gourmet shoot in an eccentric old house that is now a museum. The shoot was photographed by one of my all-time favourite photographers, Simon Watson. It is in the back paddocks of Pennsylvania next to a ceramic tile factory, and is in fact the folly of its owner. All rambling, turreted and rabbit warren-ish, it is a reflection of the dream & passion of the owners obvious obsession & love of the product he created- tiles.
I recently went on a roadtrip & visited the Mercer Museum & Fonthill Castle once more. It is as fascinating as it was the first time. My modern interpretation of this will be incorporated into my upcoming interiors. I plan to use my favourite chalky Moroccan tiles.
Rather than commit to full tiled areas, I will be creating tiled rugs to inject colour, texture & coolness under foot- & add a little of my globetrotting adventures & experiences into my interiors for all to enjoy. Here’s to more eccentrics!
I plan to seek out, discover & meet more in the future.
At last you can now come & hear about my love of the still-life!! Robyn Stacey has collaborated with the Historic Houses Trust to create her book, House & is exhibiting the beautiful photographs at the Museum of Sydney. My good friends at the Caroline Simpson Library recommended me to speak for the occasion.
You will have the opportunity to hear about my memories & stumbles upon the painted form of still-life and how that affected me in my career as a stylist, the photographers that I have worked with along the way and the process of edit & elimination when creating a still-life will be addressed.
Visual stimulation will lead the conversation & I will create an interesting context to view the exhibition in after a drink & chat & talk.
Questions as usual are encouraged!! Book for next Wednesday, Dec 7. More info & tickets here. This is a real treat for me as the HHT are very special & my collaborations with them have been truly wonderful.
After my booksigning & chat at Fuller’s Bookshop in Hobart- thankyou all for coming- I headed to the much anticipated MONA (the Museum of Old and New Art). Stinging for a glass of wine (must have been my blood sugar levels), I crossed the MONA threshold, indicated to visitors by very modern concrete forms followed by rows & rows of winemaking vines. Already this was my kind of place. An avenue of yet to mature Poplar trees line the drive that leads to the top of the hill. A grouping of contemporary structures are surrounded by native grasses & plants, old wise pines and very well considered landscaping & vista, ready to explore. I ignore the hail like rain & howling, frigid winds that do not complement my short, short attire & make my way to the wine bar that is oh-so-conveniently positioned before the entrance. I stop for some fuel of Tasmanian Riesling & a cheese plate before I submerge myself in what I have heard is a very amusing curation, dictated & moulded by its’ creators desires & humour. We need more eccentrics in this world.
The wine bar is a great design: long, high, communal, marble table edged by low alcoves with caramel leather banquettes that looks into an internal barrel/wine-making room. I wander to the right where there is a view over different paths & levels edged by mini Richard Serra-style balustrades, all iron & rusty.
I realise the entrance to the museum is over an 80s astro turf tennis court, through a funhouse mirror facade that butts up to a white, low-slung, bungalow style structure of brick & tongue-in-groove (wainscoting for you Americans) painted white. believe it or not, it all works. On entry, you are supplied an ‘O’ device as artworks are unlabelled & this gives you descriptions, interviews, artwank & ideas. The top floor is dedicated to a cafe (within the walls of the museum of old & new art are a bar & cafe- I like the thoughtfulness & lingering gesture of this) and a 50s residential foyer of patchworked sealed sandstone, a conical fireplace, settings of Le Corbusier black leather sofas, Bertoia lounge chairs with yellow covers and Arco Floor Lamp. A plummeting spiral staircase leads to the bunker style museum: rough concrete & pebble surfaces with boardwalk/gangplank walkways as varying access points and monolithic rough cut sandstone walls.
The floor is mostly concrete and recycled boards that have random paint marks of their previous life (maybe an old gaming court of the deck of an ocean liner?). The entire place is fit out with honest materials: rope, steel, coal, hessian, chalk, wire & Ship Chandler grey walls. I confused the rope wrapped bench as a work of art!
Beautifully lite, dark & ambient with a labyrinth of mezzanines & enclosed steel staircases. There is often a tease & pull made through light variation, sound or vistas that heighten your sense of curiosity. The journey, the discovery, and the sense of lost & found defines this space cut out of deep mine sandstone. There is no given or dictated path- it’s choose your own adventure so every time is different & unique.
As I reluctantly leave chickens are released from coops to clean up the vineyards, mountains & a lake surround, beautiful afternoon sun shines through showers & a rainbow sits sky high. Great afternoon!
Note: B3 bathrooms- go to the third on the right for an interesting experience.