25Jul

Highlights from the Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar/Kapalicarsi has 22 entrances, 64 streets, 17 inns, 10 wells, 4 fountains, 2 mosques, 3500 businesses/shops and about 25k people working it. It can feel like a rabbit warren but you are never really lost here because there are maps taped up at most intersections, or you can ask any of the shopowners – though you may have to repay them by looking in their store. They are true merchants & traders! Here are some of my stops.

-Dervis Keseciler Cadessi, no.33-35 and Halicilar Cadessi, no.51

I stopped here briefly on the first day but went back with more time on my last day. The longer you stay, the more you find. Passionate owners (they have 2 stores & a few brothers) find old dowry pieces amongst many other textiles, mostly from Turkey but some from India too, and have a great selection. Some more precious than others, but my love is for the more naïve, understated nomadic ones. They have bolts of old hammam linen, Turkish towels, woven jute, sacks, blankets and all the new hamman towels as well. I bought tassled everything: woolen blankets, hand-beaten hammam bowls, dowry tea towels and other must haves that I kindly left with them to ship home.

Home Textile Kapalicarsi Takkeciler Sok. No.48-50

New by-the-yard ikat lengths in silk, cotton and velvet. I am crazy about dots & zig zags at the moment. So after about an hour of pulling everything off the shelves, decisions were made. The fabric is folded so neatly and concisely. It is mind blowing. They have ready-made cushion covers & bolsters, an easy suitcase pack!

Horasan Yorgancilar Caddesi no.22.

If, like me, you love talisman & amulets and other jingle jangle, this store is chocabloc full of all your needs. Tassles, beads, coins, bells, readymade stuff: it’s all here.

24Jul

Kim Ficaro

I have worked with this wonderful girl & amazing stylist from way back when in my early NY days. She is a star stylist & one of the few amazing ones that exist in this world. We had some lovely hang-out time on my last trip and visited some hot new Brooklyn & NY spots. These are her go-to’s for The Stylist’s Guide to NYC (& Brooklyn):

Warm

Reynards

Mociun

I had time to drop into her super oragnised office/prop stop (private I’m afraid) on Crosby St, that she shares with Copenhagen/NYC-based stylist, Christine Rudolph another great in the styling world. Check out Kim’s portfolio.

20Jul

Wagner’s Free Institute of Science

Mr William Wagner (merchant, philanthropist, amateur scientist) began holding free lectures on science at his home, men & women welcome. He used the specimens he’d been collecting since he was young as examples.

He believed people had the right to education & when the lectures got so popular he could not upkeep the audience in his home, he built this natural history museum, library & auditorium to run educational workshops dealing with the questions of the day.

I had organised to hold my meeting of the day at the Wagner Free Institute of Science, smelling new fragrances for my soap range. We were for the most part the only guests & were left to our own devices to conduct our business within the upstairs museum.

The room is large, full of glass topped scientific counters & large cabinets displaying Wagner’s mounted taxidermy, skeletons and large conchology (Wagner’s fav topic), crustation & fossil collection. His collection is by no means complete, but a lovely personal one, that reflects the man he must have been and a sign of the times.

The building is over 3 floors, with people working away in book-lined rooms, a generous library & auditorium on the ground floor & the museum on top.

The auditorium seats about 500 and was known to be packed out when Wagner was holding court. It is set up in a semi-circle with fold down wooden perforated seats and glass display cabinets book end the stage with a large table for experiments, show & tell and demonstration. The corridors are wide, the wood well-oiled. I would love to hold workshops here, this was definitely my kind of place.

Note: If you are heading here, do not get perturbed if you feel like you’re not in the right place. It is in the middle of an unlikely place in Northern Philly, that would once have been quite different. Book a cab well in advance, the friendly staff are more than happy to help.

Ps. Look in the small door beside the main door.

11Jul

Noguchi: Adventures in LIC

A favourite designer, I reference often and never tire of his paper lamps. His museum in LIC is a mix of raw concrete and beautiful trees, bamboo all carefully placed, and considered to compliment the architecture both inside and out.

11Jul

My next book, Bowerbird!

I’m working on a collection of postcards to accompany my new book, Bowerbird. It is a book about collections & ideas of how to bring them into your homes with lots of direction on display. It is about my collections, that you too may also collect.

I am attempting to choose just eight images for the postcards but finding it difficult to edit down! Here are some of my favourites.

10Jul

Eleanor Ambrose

I went to visit Richard Wrightman in Long Island City and was in for an unexpected treat.

It was enough just to visit Richard & his incredible furniture (check out my blog) but I had not expected the basement of the building he occupies would be so full of history, stories & intrigue! Its owner is Eleanor Ambrose.

The building was an electrical goods warehouse/factory back in the day. It is sprawled over 4 floors, each floor about 6000 square feet. Eleanor purchased it around 30 years ago as a storage space for her furniture and many bits n’ bobs.

The story goes that Eleanor (who is now in her 80s) was a decorator to ambassadors. She would loan out furniture, artwork & objet d’art for their temporary abodes. She picks up salvage from the sidewalks of NYC (the ultimate recycling ground where ‘one man’s junk is another man’s treasure’ is put into action). She continues to drive around in a truck always on the ready to pick up wall panelling doors, lights, lamps, tubs & showers.

Her massive collection of furniture is spread over the levels in clever sectioned off areas using the salvaged interiors of walls & doors she has picked up. Some of the floors are cleared and uncluttered for rental for parties, shoots & shenanigans (oh you can imagine a lot of them). One resembles a French chateau! Think painted old wooden floors, panelling, secret rooms, layers of wallpaper – see the pictures to get the gist. Its cavernous, fantasy, magic, industrial. I had the best time ever!

It has a rooftop with spectacular views of the breathtaking Queensborough bridge & the classic Silvercup sign, a Pentshack sits quietly on the roof, a path of wooden crates/slates leading the way to the one room structure. A comfortable sofa, a chinese gong & scattering of occasional furniture sets the scene. You can imagine whiling the night away over conversation, debate, song & lots of wine !

Although I didn’t met Eleanor, she looks like a Gypsy Queen, and I know I would adore her.