Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kime and Place

I have always been a huge admirer of Robert Kime ever since I was introduced to his work by way of his sublime fabrics. What I love most about Kime's work is how unpretentious and comfortable his rooms are whether its his own charming farmhouse or a grand palace or country estate for Prince Charles. His rooms always have a sense of time and place as if they have been there for generations. They are not trying to be anything but comfortable and elegant. You cannot put a date on them because they are simply timeless and always gracious. Like the late Bunny Mellon, Kime has a gifted eye for the extraordinary and honest. The most recent T Magazine included the following photos from his country home, Docker Nook, and his apartment in London.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oscar de la Renta- The Designer Who Defined Elegance

I was shocked and truly saddened to hear about the passing of Oscar de la Renta this morning. He was one of the most handsome and distinguished gentlemen I have ever seen while his dashing good looks and incredible work became even better with age. 

I have always felt that fashion inspires interior design and Mr. de la Renta's countless designs over the years are a perfect example. Like one his ravishing dresses, his homes reflected the same sensibilities: Timeless, chic, elegant, appropriate and and always comfortable to live in! 

Mr. de la Renta will always reside among the pantheon of the greatest designers that ever lived and he will be missed by so many. The world will be a lot less beautiful without him and my heart goes out to Mrs. de la Renta and the rest of his family. 

All photographs from the books "Oscar" by Sarah Mower and "House and Garden's Best in Decoration" by Conde Nast. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Designers Choice Award

I was delighted and sincerely appreciative to have been recently selected by Home and Design magazine and my fellow design professionals as Up and Coming Designer of 2015. It is a great honor to me and I send my thanks to everyone who helped make it possible!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Bunny's Bijoux

Admittedly, I have always been in awe of Mrs. Paul Mellon, most famously known as Bunny. Her rarified and exquisite taste was well known and I have had a long held fascination with the magic and refined beauty of her homes and gardens. Her knowledge and gifted passion for the gardens and the decorative arts included everything from modern art to hand crafted flower baskets. Her rooms were never pretentious yet there was a special quality that resided in every object whether it was a million dollar painting or a ten dollar objet. Every piece seemed to have a special meaning, which ultimately gives soul to a room. 

The most recent issue of T Magazine included highlights from her amazing collection of jewelry, most notably from Verdura, which are included below. On November 10, 2014, Sotheby's will be auctioning off her sensational collection of art including works by, Rothko, Homer, O' Keeffe, Hopper and Diebenkorn. On November 21-23 the auction will continue with her collection of furniture, porcelain, glassware, silver and more. It will be sad to see her unparalleled collection disbursed but it offers us a glimpse into the private world of a extraordinary collector that we may never see again in a lifetime. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Paradise Found

I often dream about the ideal garden and what my own might look like someday. It would be filled with a profusion of delicate flowers and textures, pales colors and subtle fragrance. A place to escape the pressures of life and the fast paced rhythms of living in a big city. It would be anchored with pathways and  allées of lush and verdant boxwood framing perennials and the occasional garden ornament. The calming and cooling effect of water would be another essential element. A paradise found that provides inspiration and a sense of romance. 

In the current issue of the New York Times Style magazine I was delighted to read the article on designer, Federico Forquet, whose own self created paradise that represents the dream garden I have had in my own mind all of these years. 

Forquet began his own career with dreams of one day becoming a couturier and worked for the master, Balenciaga, before striking out on his own in the late fifties. After a stellar career in fashion designing for clients such as Marella Agnelli, Diana Vreeland, C.Z. Guest and Babe Paley, to name a few, Forquet closed his atelier and turned his attention to garden design. 

The influence of the great garden designer, Russell Page, who was a good friend, is evident. Like Page, Forquet has relied on structure, color, subtlety and appropriateness to achieve a garden of timeless beauty. He has used the same sensibilities inside his home, which are the perfect extension of the gardens outside. Forquet designed many of the furniture pieces throughout the house and even had custom fabrics made. Like the gardens the interiors reflect quiet and subtle luxury where no one thing jumps out at you and says look at me. They are rooms where you discover things over time and where light is celebrated. I see a connecting thread between the tastes of Forquet, Bunny Mellon, and Pierre Berge. Its almost as if they all collaborated on the house and gardens but the results are clearly Federico Forquet's. Forty years in the making!

Photographs by Ricardo Labougle for the New York Times Style Magazine. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Many Masks of DC

On most weekends, when I am here in DC, I always try to go for a bike ride around the city if the weather is pleasant. DC is the perfect place for riding and it is really the best way to see the city. The streets are relatively flat and the city has created a huge network of bike lanes that make getting around pretty easy.

Its amazing what you are able to discover when you are either walking or biking. You miss so much when you're in the car and all of the architecture and extraordinary monuments here just seem to whiz by.

Today, during my ride I headed down to Federal Triangle, which probably has the highest concentration of Classical Revival buildings in DC. One of my favorite buildings is the Andrew Mellon Auditorium on Constitution Avenue. Designed by San Francisco architect, Arthur Brown, Jr, the massive complex was originally named the Departmental Auditorium, and was dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1935.

The centerpiece of the building consists of a tripartite design with a triumphant temple in the center with colossal, doric columns that rise over 62 feet. The entire building is richly decorated with sculptures, a rusticated base and voussoirs above the lower door and window openings. Above every other lower opening are a series of carved keystones that are decorated with highly detailed carved masks, which are one of my favorite architectural devices in classical architecture.

As I walked along the thousand foot long facade facing Constitution I took photos of a small handful of the carved masks and noted that each one is unique. At first glance many of them look the same. But upon closer inspection the variations of each mask became very apparent. I could have easily spent all afternoon photographing all of the amazing details. Sadly, they don't build them like they used to!

All photos by Michael Hampton

Monday, August 4, 2014

All American Style

I have been on a little bit of a hiatus from writing my blog posts this summer to focus my energies on a series of watercolors that I am preparing for an upcoming show in October. (More on that later).

I couldn't think of a better place then our home in Rockport, Maine to work on my paintings, where it is peaceful and quiet and the air here is filled with a creative spirit.

It doesn't get much more American then New England and while I have been here I have also been reflecting on just what it is that defines American style in my mind. Comfortable and unpretentious rooms that exude casual elegance and where happy and lasting memories are made. Sisal rugs, painted floors and finishes, printed cottons and linens, hand crafted furniture and accessories, decoupage and of course, wicker furniture.

Parish Hadley, Gil Schafer, Jeffrey Bilhuber, Markham Roberts and Richard Keith Langham, to name a few, are just a handful of designers and architects whose timeless interiors reflect the best in American style.