Nov. 07

 

DESIGN DICTIONARY: Blackamoor

by Lynn Byrne

Coco Chanel with Blackamoors

Coco Chanel with  a pair of Blackamoor scuplture

 “If you are going to walk the walk, you should talk the talk.”

“The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.” –Socrates 

BLACKAMOOR (RHYMES WITH AMATEUR  AND CONNOISSEUR):  A dark skinned figure, typically African,  used in jewelry, sculpture, armor and decorative arts. Blackamoors have a long history stretching back to the 17th century.  They are often portrayed in pairs.  Andrea Brustolon (1662–1732) was the most famous sculptor of  blackamoors.  Often they are shown in positions that a real person could not hold at length.

Pair of Italian blackamoor tables

Pair of Italian blackamoor tables

Although controversial, many tastemakers have collected blackamoors in some form. Coco Chanel had a pair of Venetian Blackamoors in the foyer of her private apartment above her atelier.

One of a pair of Blackamoors in the foyer of Chanel's private apartment in Paris

One of a pair of blackamoors in the foyer of Chanel’s private apartment in Paris

Helena Rubenstein also collected them.

Diana Vreeland collected Blackamoor jewelry and famously said: “Have I ever showed you my little blackamoor heads from Cartier with their enameled turbans? I’m told it’s not in good taste to wear blackamoors anymore, but I think I’ll revive them.”  Indeed, just recently in their SS2013 collection,  Dolce & Gabbana raised a firestorm by decking out its models in blackamoor jewelry.

Cartier jewelry and model wearing Blackamoor earrings in the SS2013 Dolce & Gabbana show

Cartier jewelry and model wearing Blackamoor earrings in the SS2013 Dolce & Gabbana show

Despite the controversy, the form persists.  When it comes to decorative arts, it is most often seen as a small stand, as lamps or candlesticks or on a clock.

Traditional form of a Blackamoor table

Traditional form of a Blackamoor table

C.1950 Blackamoor based table

c.1950 Blackamoor based table

Pair of Blackamoor lamps c.1920

Pair of Blackamoor lamps c.1920

20th century Blackamoor candlesticks

20th century Blackamoor candlesticks

Reproduction in the Empire Style of a Blackamoor Clock

Reproduction blackamoor clock  in the Empire Style

Some consider the blackamoor to be chic.  It is not something I would wear or put in my house, but now that you know its many forms, you can decide how you feel about it.

Blackamoor sconce in the home of John Lyle

Blackamoor sconce in the home of John Lyle

Blackamoor bust with Fez in a London home

Blackamoor bust with Fez in a London home

Untitled (Small Blackamoor Plantstand), Magazine Interiors Series 24” x 20”, framed Oil on panel © 2007 Page Laughlin

Untitled (Small Blackamoor Plantstand), Magazine Interiors Series
24” x 20”, framed
Oil on panel
© 2007 Page Laughlin

Photo credits: Coco Chanel.  Chanel foyer  Vreeland quote.  pair of tables. Jewelry collage: brooch, earrings, model  Table   c. 1950′s table  lamps  candlesticks  clock  John Lyle home from the New York Social Diary  London home image  from 2011 House and Garden.  Painting

Nov. 05

 

Architecture, Sculpture and a Faucet

by Lynn Byrne

 

parcopaviliniai_08

I always have thought of great architecture as giant sculpture.  So it makes sense to me that the objects placed inside are artful too.

We have all seen the commercial where a couple presents a faucet to a fancy architect and demands that a house be designed around it.  Well, in my opinion,  that could truly happen with Gessi products.  When I took a look at the website of  BlogTour LA sponsor Gessi, I found that the company took the manufacturing of kitchen and bath fittings to a whole new level.

Gessi was founded in 1992 with the revolutionary idea that they would take an ordinary object–the faucet– and transform it into a designer object with sophisticated forms and functions.  They certainly have succeeded.  Take a look at these fine homes where only Gessi products would do.

Family home in Lithuania designed by G. Natkevicius & Partners. Gessi Products: Rettangolo and Dispenser

Family home in Lithuania designed by G. Natkevicius & Partners.
Gessi Products: Rettangolo and Dispenser

Randolph Duke's Hollywood  Home

Randolph Duke’s Hollywood Home

randolph duke collage

Randolph Duke’s home in Hollywood designed by Xten Architecture
Gessi products; Rettangolo, Rettangolo doccia

A penthouse in Austria designed by Atelier Heiss Gessi products: Rettangolo Doccia, Private wellness, Rettangolo J, Quadro High Tech, Font

A penthouse in Austria designed by Atelier Heiss
Gessi products: Rettangolo Doccia, Private wellness, Rettangolo J, Quadro High Tech, Font

My favorite Gessi innovation is their Goccia (Drop) Collection designed by Prospero Rasulo, which debuted in 2009.  Rasulo was inspired by the fluid and natural forms of water.  This collection represented Gessi’s first efforts in organic design.  At the Westedge Design Fair during Blogtour LA, I was mesmerized by one paired with a platinum basin. Some may think I am going to far, but I think the Goccia faucet belongs in a museum!

Goccia (Drop) Collection from Gessi

Goccia (Drop) Collection from Gessi

Last week I posed whether hardware could be sexy (Yes!).  Today’s question is whether faucets can be sculpture.  When it comes to Gessi, you know what I think.

This post is sponsored by Gessi, but as always, all opinions are my own. All project photos from the Gessi website.  Goccia faucet image in white from the Gessi website. Goccia brown basin here. I shot the image of the platinum faucet and  basin, Water droplet from here.

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