Monday, August 31, 2009

Savoir Faire Quote of the Day

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”

So said William Morris, architect, furniture and textile designer, artist, writer, socialist and Marxist.

Lofty words for a Marxist!

Imperial Savoir Faire

Checking into the old Imperial Hotel Tokyo before it was demolished in 1968 to make way for the new building of the new hotel was to partake in a piece of architectural history with tons of savoir faire added into the experience. This was perhaps the most famous of Frank Lloyd Wright’s commercial projects in the world and one of his most stunning! I am a long admirer of Wright as he pushed the architectural boundaries of his era creating whole concepts of buildings that were timeless and beautiful and full of architectural merit.

Wright’s version of the hotel was completed in 1923 to replace the old wooden structure of the 1890’s and was designed in the “Maya Revival Style” which was one of Wright’s trademarks and blended in perfectly with the Japanese style of architecture.

"But in its scale, and in its play with surprise elements, the Imperial Hotel is completely Japanese. Wright was apparently so struck by the smallest of Japanese things that he made everything in the Imperial Hotel tiny...There were little terraces and little courts, infinitely narrow passages suddenly opening into large two- or three-storey spaces;...And there were many different levels, both inside the rooms and outside the buildings, including connecting bridges between the two long, parallel wings of guest-rooms. Finally, Wright achieved something almost unheard of in hotel design: in this most standardized of all fields of cubicle architecture he succeeded in making almost every guest-room different from every other."

(Peter Blake. Frank Lloyd Wright: Architecture and Space)

Testament to Wright’s style and engineering the hotel remained virtually unscathed during the 1923 earthquake which destroyed most of Tokyo and Yokohama.

Exterior and interior didn’t escape Wright’s design aesthetic, and as a whole a perfect example of the Wright’s style. Wright designed every detail of the hotel right down to the notepaper. It almost seems that this could be a prototype for today’s concept hotels like the Missoni in Edinburgh.

Unfortunately demolished in 1968 to make way for the new Imperial Hotel in 2005 the hotel in collaboration with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation opened a suite in his honour. The suite utilises original design motifs as well as replicas of his furniture. It is the world's only suite to combine the unique architectural plans of the Wright Hotel with interior designs created by Wright for private residencies during the same era. The hotel has also incorporated elements of Wright’s style throughout the hotel such as the magnificent entrance below.

Luckily the facade and pool were moved to The Museum Meiji Mura, a collection of buildings (mostly from the Meiji Era) in Inuyama, near Nagoya.

So for some architectural savoir faire this is the only way to go!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Savoir Faire Quote of The Day

"The only one who is alive today and still being talked about is Pierre Cardin."

So said Pierre Cardin, who love him or hate him has style!

Weekend Away with Savoir Faire!

Now that the weekend is here, don’t we wish that were flying somewhere exotic with the below airlines, to start our trip off with a bit of cheeky savoir faire! Let’s banish those drab old uniforms that seem to be favoured nowadays, for some ensembles with a bit of colour and style! Remember when your stewardess was a happy go lucky sort of girl who felt proud and privileged to be working for the airline and who couldn’t wait to engage your every whim??

So pack your bags, and think hard, will it be coffee tea or me?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Savoir Faire Quote of the Day

"Tact in audacity is knowing how far you can go without going too far"
so said Jean Cocteau who knew exactly where the limit was!

Savoir Susie

Susie Cooper ceramic designer extraordinaire was at the forefront of ceramic design from the late 1920’s right through to the late 1970’s. A contemporary of Clarrice Cliff, and not as well known, but still highly collectible, however she was one of the United Kingdom's most prolific and successful ceramic designers. Her career spanned over seven decades and encompassed some of the iconic periods of the Twentieth Century. Most of her designs have stood the test of time and have become design classics within themselves.

Born in 1902 in the Stansfield area of Burslem, Stoke on Trent the virtual home of British pottery and ceramics, she had originally decided to explore a career in fashion, but switched to ceramics and we are glad she did! Susie initially bought in white ware for decorating from various manufacturers, blacking out their factory marks and adding her own, until ultimately moving on to design he own shapes and designs.

Her early designs featured hand painted art deco designs in bold colours that were in tune with period and very similar to Clarrice Cliff’s, she eventually moved on to create some of the most beautiful and contemporary designs of the 20th century in fine china, most notably for Wedgwood. Throughout her career her designs constantly changed to reflect the period. Designs evolved from the bold colours and designs of the 20’s to subtle surrealism of the 30’s to the soft florals of the 50’s , to the refined modern geometrics of the 60’s and 70’s.

Susie worked with Wedgwood through the 1960's and 70's during which time distinct patterns like "Carnaby Daisy," a bright harlequin set based on a simple daisy design, and the vibrant red "Cornpoppy" pattern were amongst her successes.

I love the Cornpoppy” design for its vivid use of colour on the white background. The almost singular motif is one of fluid simplicity, that pairs down the concept of the botanical print, and updates it in a modern form. her rendering of the poppy captures the spirit of the times perfectly. This is immediately at home with today’s design aesthetic. Just as iconic today as it was when it was first created in the 1970’s this is a true classic!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Savoir Faire Quote of the Day

“Women dress alike all over the world: they dress to be annoying to other women”
so said Schiaparelli who dared us all to dress differently.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Some Friday Savoir faire!

Courtesy of Fiona Campbell-Walter wearing Schiaparelli 1952. Those were the days!

Bespoke Savoir Faire for the Home

For the ultimate shopping trip for your home try Soane of London. This design firm has a wonderful range of bespoke furniture that can be tailor made just for you.

Soane is a small London based company founded by Lulu Lytle and Christopher Hodsoll whose main raison d’etre was to fulfill the demand for architecturally designed bespoke furniture and lighting. Everything is made to order by English craftsmen who are the best in their fields

“I don’t care if we could make things cheaper in China or wherever. We source from workshops in this country that are best at woodworking, leather-making, upholstery, metal-working or whatever we need to make the longest lasting and most beautiful objects of their kind.” And beautiful they are!

Of course all the featured products below can be made to your own specifications, by changing woods, finishes and fabrics.

If you cannot make it across the Atlantic, you can order on line.

Savoir Faire Quote of the Day

The average American can get into the kingdom of heaven much more easily than he can get into the Boulevard St. Germain.

W. Somerset Maugham
The Razor's Edge, 1943
(Most of them don't even know where it is)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Celebrate with Savoir Faire!

In celebration of the 100th post on Savoir Faire I have decided to celebrate with some champagne!

Of course we can raise a glass of champagne, however here are few different champagne like ways we can celebrate.

First we can douse ourselves in Caron’s Royal Bain de Caron. Originally launched in the early 20’s as Royal Bain de Champagne, the story goes that it was created for a Californian millionaire who ordered it so that it could be used as a substitute for the real champagne that he liked to pour in his bath. This order which could have been motivated by the excessive strictures of Prohibition is so Gatsbyesque that it reeks of savoir faire. So, if you would like to relive a Fitzgeraldean moment, pour some in your bath! One source mentions that William Randolph Hearst is the millionaire in question and that it was meant to be used by "his wife" whatever that might mean concretely (Millicent Hearst or Marion Davies?).

With the legal battle over YSL’s Champagne in 1993 Caron changed the name to Royal Bain de Caron, however it is still contained in the original Champagne like bottle.

Those damn champagne lobbyists take the fun out of everything!!

If you want to indulge and celebrate in another way this Lollipop is the ultimate extravagance, for those who have everything. It is made by hand with genuine 24 carat Californian gold flakes and flavoured with…. You guessed it! Champagne!

Then you could also listen to Sailor’s “A Glass of Champagne”. This is a real throwback to the seventies, and I just love it. With a bit of a stretch of the imagination I think that the piano in this was supposed to mimic champagne bubbles.

Feeling creative?? The Champagne Chair Contest run by Design Within Reach in Washington DC is an annual event to make the best miniature chair using only the foil, label, cage and cork from no more than two Champagne bottles. Displayed in little plexiglass cubes, the champagne chairs display some pretty impressive craftsmanship.

And for the ultimate champagne glass the Hoffman Series B champagne glass by Josef Hoffmann was first produced in 1912. The cup features clear mouth blown mat crystal with hand painted enamel. I can think of nothing better to drink my celebratory champagne out of, and of course I will raise my glass to all my devoted followers!

Savoir Faire Quote of the Day

" Fashion is what you adopt when you dont know who you are"

so said Quentin Crisp who knew exactly who he was.

Savoir Faire with Jacques Doucet

Earlier on I did a post on that wonderful arbiter of savoir faire, Paul Poiret, however where would Poiret be without Jacques Doucet. Doucet was practically a mentor to a young Poiret, and influenced him for the rest of his life, from his design aesthetic to what art he should purchase. Poiret had done ‘time’ with Doucet and remained a lifelong friend even after opening on his own.

Born in 1853, he was renowned for his elegant dresses of diaphanous, translucent materials in superimposing pastel colours. An enthusiastic collector of eighteenth-century furniture, objets d'art, paintings and sculptures, many of his gowns were strongly influenced by this opulent era. A designer of taste and discrimination, Doucet valued dignity and luxury above novelty and practicality and therefore gradually went out of popularity during the 1920s. By far his most original designs were those he created for actresses of the time. Cecile Sorel, Rejane and Sarah Bernhardt. All often wore his outfits, both on and off the stage.

A passionate collector of art and literature throughout his life, by the time of his death he had a magnificent collection of Post-Impressionist and Cubist paintings (including "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon", which he bought direct from Picasso's studio, which Poiret subsequently bought and hung in his bedroom), as well as two libraries of manuscripts by contemporary writers. It could be said that Doucet was a catalyst for the beginning of the Art Deco period, when he decided to sell all of his classical collection of furniture through a huge auction sale that took place in 1912. This event was as large and as important as the recent Yves Saint Laurent & Pierre Berge sale that took place in February 2009.

Legrain Lamp owned by Doucet.
Dubrujeaud Comode also owned by Doucet

He was one of the first to promote the new “art deco” style emerging in Paris after World War 1, and his new studio apartment was furnished by some of the best designers of the period. For example the doors leading into the main salon were Lalique! How fabulous is that?

Although in the 1920s he was aging and his couture house merged with another lesser firm, and eventually closed, he never lost touch with foreseeing the needs of the French luxury goods market.
While little-remembered today, in his time he was equaled to the likes of Charles Worth and Jeanne Paquin and even now is remembered by fashion historians as one of the great old masters of fashion design.
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