24 May 2010

Un Tableau Vivant

According to Merriam-Webster online, a tableau is either 1: a graphic desciption or representation, 2: a striking or artistic grouping, or 3: a depiction of a scene usually presented on a stage by silent and motionless costumed participants. The more I study and consider interior design, the more I know that a good interior is a series of fabulous tableaux. Each tableau in a space is like a motionless actor on stage and when all the tableaux speak to eachother and flow seamlessly, there exists a tableau vivant and a space that possesses that thing without a name.

If you take note of the shots in design magazines, they are rarely birds eye view of an entire space, but instead they focus mostly on parts of the room. I suppose it's not easy to capture a whole room in a way that a reader can appreciate all the details, but I like to think that the photographer makes those decisions based on how complete a room feels or how well the seperate tableaux speak to one another, or perhaps the decision is made solely on what will make a good photograph. In any case, I want to know what makes a good tableau. What are the required elements? What is the formula? Unfortunately, I fear that there is no such thing and believe it is more of a sense you have or don't have. However, I do believe that a good tableau is like a good piece of art and in this case, we can consider the elements and principles of art to better understand a home's various tableaux.

My favorite resource for inspiring tableaux was domino Magazine in which designers and civilians alike would arrange favorite objets d'art in the most beautiful and fascinating ways. The tableaux vivants are present in nearly every domino spread, no matter the style or aesthetic.

This tableau has a strong focal point or central emphasis and contains a lot of objects of various sizes and shapes. It remains harmonious through repeating elements such as monochromatic color and rectangular shape. It could feel cluttered, but seems light.

The living room of domino creative director Sara Ruffin Costello is one of my all time favorite domino spaces. A true tableau vivant, which still consists of various smaller tableaux, but it is difficult to distinguish where one ends and another begins. C'est magnifique!

Yumm! I love the play with scale in this space. That tripod floor lamp is the indispensable item in this tableau. If you took it away, the room would still be great, but it wouldn't have that certain something. I also love the arrangement of items on the sideboard/server. The layers of pictures, sculptural objects and candlesticks have a unifying effect. Maybe that's not the right word, but the space would feel incomplete without it.

My new favorite place to see beautiful homes and tableaux is Lonny Magazine. It is an online publication by some of the same people who made domino so great. They're all about accessible design that doesn't cost a fortune.


Here are some of my favorite tableau from Lonny, demonstrating that a good tableau is all about collecting and pulling items from different places, eras and styles.

This beautiful bedroom is proof that a well done tableau does not always involve lots of stuff. It is about curating carefully to achieve an aesthetic that makes you look forward to coming home.

Although I think the best way to make beautiful tableaux is to practice, you can start by considering elements and principles of art such as color, line, form, space, harmony, texture, balance, and unity. It is important to constantly evaluate your tableaux and don't be afraid to change them often and purge when needed.

20 May 2010

Dichotomy of a Man Cave

My brother will soon be moving into a new apartment and it got me thinking about man-design. My decorating habits are so femme that I don't often consider masculine interiors. So I'm taking a timeout from obsessing over my own space to brainstorm for his. In searching for inspiration, I've found that black and white or some variation thereof is the go to scheme for manly spaces.

I love all of them and I love black and white- it is classic and timeless and everything else, but it's used so often and I think it might get boring. I admit that the first thing that came to mind when decorating my broskys digs was Mrs. Robinson's den/bar area. Picture black leather, animal hides, tropical plants and black and white stripes. Fabulous for sure, but to be honest, it's a little too skeezy for a single guy. He is quite the bachelor, but I want to keep it classy. This is one of my favorite man spaces from an old domino magazine, but I think it's a bit much for him.

I would really love to do a Restoration Hardware-ish rugged look with worn leather and bare wood, but I really don't think that's his style either. If his apartment had amazing architecture (unlikely because dwellings in Florida just seem to be void of structural character [no offense]), then I would use Jenna Lyons home as inspiration, which is just so chic and classic, but very balanced. These photos are from a November 2008 domino magazine feature on the JCrew director's New York apartment.

In reality, I think this is more my style. I'm more J*Crew, he's more Armani, so I decided to try and pull inspiration from the Armani Casa collection, but yuck. I'm sorry but it just doesn't do it for me. I've found that a lot of "masculine" design is very stark and cold. Enter Armani Casa. This is just one picture and the pieces alone are obviously streamlined and beautiful, but all together it makes me uncomfy and this picture feels like a screen shot out of a modern day Stanley Kubrick film.

It's just so cold and void. I don't think masculine has to be stark. It doesn't have to feel cold to feel orderly. The number one thing a home must be is comfortable- your home is your sanctuary. That said, Armani Casa's not gonna make the cut. However, the following pic is at the top of my inspiration list. I can picture it full of guys playing poker, smoking cigars and drinking Johnnie Walker to the sounds of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Yumm.

Unfortunately, once again, this is my taste if I were a cigar smoking, scotch drinking man. Scary thought. So, anyway, I put together a preliminary collage because I think maybe the above mentioned pic is still a bit too much.

After continuing the search a little further, I added some accessories, etc. It's possible that I might have maybe taken it a bit too far. We'll see.

That's enough for now, but I'm expecting comments, questions, and concerns. Godspeed.

17 May 2010

And then there were three...

It's been a while since I last blogged and much has changed since then. Unfortunately, the house is not one of those things. My computer is on the fritz and therefore uploading pictures is out of the question, but, fortunately, with a baby on the way I have a whole new project to focus on. And in the past couple of months, I have compiled quite a bit of inspiration.

Okay, moving on... the baby!!! The little bean is now 17 weeks and I am due October 22nd and getting so excited. I have been brainstorming about the baby's room and think I want a very bright, light, neutral space that is relaxing and clear. I have convinced my other half to paint the floor white! So excited!! It's a small space, so I think the walls should be something vibrant, but I want it to be soothing... perhaps chocolate brown? We shall see. Of course, I am inspired by all things french so I want to use this pic as a guide for my nursery:

I am trying to be reasonable, but I found these absolutely fabulous brass cribs that I thought would be thousands of dollars, but I found it online for less than $700! How cute is this:

But realistically, I really like the classic Jenny Lind Crib. It's simple, not too cumbersome and it's been around for quite some time. I originally wanted the black, but I'm thinking the white is more practical.

We also found this really cute, kind of nautical one at a store in town called Baby Furniture Plus Kids

Decisions, decisions... Off to the grocery for now. More nursery ideas to come...