Shopping at the Zia Festival? Here's a list of vendors – Ruidoso News

Many fans of Ruidoso Downs Race Track agree that if you only come to the races one weekend all summer, the Zia Festival has something for everyone.

“It’s an exciting weekend for racing and shopping,” Kana Laymon said. She is the vendor sales coordinator for the Zia Festival which now has approximately seventy vendor booths taking part in the three day event.

“It’s a lot about shopping and being able to purchase unique items,” Laymon said. She’s been putting together the group of approximately 70 vendor spaces that will appear at this year’s Zia Festival.

“Our goal is to present a wide variety of artists and products for the Zia Festival so that there is something that every patron might enjoy,” Laymon said. “We’ve worked very hard to present a quality show this year for the fans.”

The Zia Festival includes a play area for children, concessions, music and horse racing. There are 13 stakes race events during the weekend’s race card with first post at 1 p.m. each day. The tent and grandstand opens for shopping at 11 a.m.

Saturday evening, Texas southwestern swing star Jake Hooker will perform on the race track. Hooker has been playing traditional country music his entire career, and plays a standup bass in front of his tradition country music band. The apron of the race track will serve as a dance floor for the concert that begins at 8 p.m.

Tickets are $10 to the show, or $5 with a Dr Pepper can at the box office. For more information, visit

Here are the vendors that will appear at this year’s Zia Festival:

29barranch: Shirley Norris has been a regular at the Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium and PRCA Rodeo in Las Vegas. She has a summer home in Ruidoso that she enjoys when she’s not working festivals and rodeos featuring Trail of Painted Ponies figurines, horse halters, leather purses, barb-wire crosses and children’s accessories.

Blended Hearts: Jaylynn Chapman sells delicious sweet and spicy goodies that will bring back the memories of your grandmother’s kitchen from jellies, salsas and fruit spreads. They will also be selling fresh fruit during the Zia Festival.

Blue Quail Designs: They are a family ran Mom and Pop shop , that has grown to be the largest southwest jewelry and art store in Texas. Very unique authentic Native American jewelry and western art can be found.

Bonanza Western Wear: Here’s a one-stop for every New Mexico cowboy and cowgirl. They carry a full line of cowboy hats, river hats, t-shirts, blankets, and Baha jackets. For the younger racing fans, the offer singing and dancing ponies and western toys.

Capitan 4H Club: These teens are raising funds to do projects in the coming school year and will be offering free face painting for kids by the activity area just inside the tent. They will also be accepting donations to help fund those future projects.

Cattilac Style: Cindy Hendley owns an affordable ladies clothing store at 2400 Sudderth Drive in Ruidoso with accessories, fashion jewelry, shoes, and everything else to complete your style from head to toe. Women’s fashions from popular brands are featured along with leather handbags, southwestern décor and custom boots.

Cowboy Candles: Ken Petree has been making fabulous hand-poured candles for many years as well as creating unique New Mexican leather artwork. 

Emilio and Marguerite Chavez Jewelry: This New Mexican business has a tribal affiliation with Santo Domingo Pueblo where the tribe creates handcrafted and handmade traditional and contemporary jewelry from sea shells, turquoise stones and other semi-precious stones all made into wearable jewelry. You’ll find bracelets, rings, pendants, necklaces, earrings and other unique pieces of fine jewelry direct from their showcase in Santa Fe at the Palace of the Governors.

Enhanced Flavors: Don and Mary Kovach offer a wide variety of flavored olive oils, balsamic vinegars and multiple flavors of pasta. The vinegars are awesome when making marinades, salad dressings and pasta dishes. The oils make great dipping sauces and are great drizzled over bread or pasta.

Friends Of The Hubbard Museum: Is a non-profit organization that supports the museum by funding events, education, presentations and activities that enhance the community. They will be selling raffle tickets for a Peter Hurd painting.

Green Health CBD: This Ruidoso business that sells medicinal parts of the cannabis plant. Because there is no THC in the products there aren’t any psychoactive effects and no medical card is required. The products are made in New Mexico, organically produced and 100% guaranteed. 

Guatemala and More Imports: Will Sican of Santa Fe presents his selection of handmade belts, quilts, hammocks and other originals imported from Guatamala. He also features products from artists that live in the Santa Fe art community.

High Mesa Kettle Korn: Steve Highfill will be serving up some fresh, sweet and salty Kettle Corn. He has been perfecting his corn for five years. He can be found at events throughout New Mexico, Texas and Arizona. 10% of profits go towards helping restore the old mission in La Mesa, NM that was built in 1846.

Hope Springs Gourmet Foods: Vivian Cockrell offers natural Artisan hand crafted gourmet crackers, dip mixes and spice blends. She uses herbs and spices for her ingredients with no added preservatives or fillers.

JAD Custom Engraving & Handmade Western Goods: Jack Allen has worked on multiple ranches throughout the southwest and is an accomplished horseman. He and his wife enjoy living the western lifestyle. He has been tool engraving sterling silver for over thirty years. He learned the trade from his father after working together creating hand tooled leather goods. There will a great selection of unique hand engraved sterling silver jewelry.

Jee’s Gifts: Jean Everett started her business after retiring as an educator. She features handmade custom jewelry and crosses made in New Mexico.

Let Them Be Little: Farrah Cuellar is the owner of Sears in Ruidoso Downs and has grown her children’s boutique into a showcase for unique clothes, handmade woodwork and vinyl products. Farrah also creates and hosts bridal and baby showers and birthday parties. The booth at the Zia Festival will be themed around children’s gifts and apparel.

Lipsense: April Carman is an independent distributor for SeneGence, a long-lasting lip color product, “Lip Sense”. SeneGence has a full line of skincare and cosmetic products that provide anti-aging benefits and are designed to promote and renew skin grown.

LuLu Snacks: Creates unusual cocktail fruit drinks including “crazy pineapple” with fresh fruit and candy, alcohol free Bloody Mary drinks with shrimp and beef jerky. Lulu also features Fresca drinks and many other fresh fruit snacks.

Nuts r Us: Nuts R Us sells rich quality cinnamon glazed nuts for your taste buds. Products are gluten free and contains no oils while cooking. They have 4 ingredients; water, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and the nut of your choice (cashew, almonds, and pecans).

Old Barrel Tea Company: Connor with Old Barrel Tea offers unique selections of loose leaf tea and spices. There are three other shops in Ruidoso, Cloudcroft and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Over the Top Treasures: Linda and Judy Shirley are part of a three generation family owned business that has evolved from an antique store started in the late 1990’s to a handcrafted treasure store. They have unique treasures, such as beadwork, stained glass, hand-forged knives, wooden crafts, jewelry, and much more are influenced by our life-long journey as native New Mexicans. 

Pasta More: “Our barrel aged balsamic is 18 years old,” said owner Gloria Blair. “”We have a dozen flavors or vinegars and olive oils. The flavored pasta is a favorite of our customers. The booth will be offering samples of all their products at the Zia Festival.

Paul Turner Concessions: Paul Turner will be located just outside the tent with some great items to cool you off on these hot summer days. Homemade fresh squeezed lemonade, multi flavored snow cones and large root beer floats served in a chilled giant glass mug that is yours to take home.

Pepper Springs Out West: Ronnie and Jennie Hanson offers high quality dip mixes using only the finest ingredients. They also offer Cactus Jelly and salt water taffy like you remember when you were a kid.

Pepitos Shop: Jose Chavira offers Mexican-made blankets, ponchos, sarapes and jewelry from across the border.

Rodan & Fields: Lisa Martin will be bringing a dermatology inspired skincare line.

Romo’s Crafty Creations: Brittany and James Romo will be offering customizable apparel, accessories, décor and much more. They are a new business and thrive to designing exactly what their customers are looking for.

The Redheaded Outlaw: Jakayly Sealy has created a unique handmade wild rag business. Wild Rags are not just for cowboys anymore. The business carries over 80 unique prints and fabric types. They can be pretty and practical, dress them up or dress them down. Life’s too short to wear a boring wild rag. Stop by and let her show you how you can wear them and enjoy them.

The Red Roan: Corinna Casler brings us new and vintage western style clothing, jewelry and gifts. The Red Roan where pretty meets punchy.

The Thrifty Cowhand: Stephanie Avent comes to us with cowboy clothing, jeans, pearl snap shirts, t-shirts , functional women’s clothing and caps. This cowboy’s wife started her small business, while looking for top quality clothing that was practical, functional and American made as much as possible.

The Queens Southern Charm: This is a mother-daughter team who own a boutique of affordable “southern charm” merchandise in all shapes and sizes with styles Zia Festival goers will love.

Rust and Rhinestones: Stephanie and Chance Black have been creating handmade wooden crosses since their wedding day. They offer standing crosses, purses, handbags, jewelry, clothing and plenty more with New Mexico flavor.

SD Photography: Danielle Rush offers the chance for you to turn your dreams into treasured memories. Have you always wanted to be part of a fairytale, join the circus and as far as you can dream. Anyone from a newborn to a senior, from a single or family, she can make your dreams come true and capture those special moments for you to look back on for many years to come.

Santana’s Black Label: Louis Santana has created an award winning gourmet food company that specializes in World- champion Angus beef jerky, cocktail mixes made with roasted Hatch chiles. They also carry Unique cowboy coffee. They are a major sponsor for the PBR, the western lifestyle and various other sports.

Star Dog Smoothies: Don Taco creates a non-alcoholic drink with a blend of Hispanic culture and serves it in a Mexican pottery cup. This is a one-of-a-kind cocktail that is new to the Zia Festival.

Shanto and Cradleboard Ranch: Fred Resler sells traditional Native American jewelry, silk scarves, Navajo rugs and western-style art.

Shalom & Toys: This New Mexico family started going to shows with a small table selling fidget spinners for children. Eventually the family business began offering even more toys for children of every age.

The Farmer’s Daughter Metal Art: Debbie Hernandez is a small town business and artist who specializes in metal and home décor. She also welcomes custom orders.

Uradisciple: Tona Pettigrew is the regional supplier of Urad Conditioner, considered the #1 leather conditioner on the market imported from Italy. It works great on boots, belts, saddles, and any western leather in your home.

Wildorado Silverworks: All jewelry is hand-cut from antique silver coins with each piece having the mint date listed on the back. The dates are 1964 or earlier since that was the last year silver coins were minted with 90-percent metal. Each authentic piece is American history.

Zia Knives: Les Purcella creates custom handmade knives; all of the knife components are handcrafted. Many of the blades are engraved with wildlife and livestock scenes. The unique handles are created with a wide variety of exotic woods.

Zoo Lou’s: Stephanie Perkins specializes in full size women’s clothing ranging from custom made baseball shirts to full-lace dresses. She also custom designs and manufactures purses made from leather, ostrich, cow hide and saddle blankets. Everything is one-of-a-kind including a wide selection of jewelry and accessories.

In the grandstand are:

As the Crow Flies: Lewis and Becky Crowell have made Ruidoso their summer home for many years. They are involved in the art community here. You’ll find cut and polished stones wrapped in sterling silver or 14-carat gold at their booth. All are unique pieces of art.

Junque N Jewels: This business features new and vintage home décor items along with jewelry, clothing, and gifts for every imagination. Daylene Huey and Tiffany Menix are longtime supporters of the community and the Ruidoso Downs Race Track.

Illusions: Paul and Debbie are known throughout the community for quality home furnishings. They will feature a variety of candles, centerpieces, antiques and home accessories with the flavor of the southwest. Paul also creates custom made saddles.

Victorian Memories: Dina Ortega features the popular “Scentsy” candles that are flameless, wickless and smokeless candles. “The candles are perfect for every home décor,” Dina said. “You just plug them in and enjoy them inside any home.”

Silver by Dave: Dave Scott’s renowned work has been seen in many exhibits including the “Golden Boots Awards” in Beverly Hills, California. His self-taught master craftsmanship in the art of engraved and southwestern silver jewelry has become a known throughout the state of New Mexico.

Small Town Sign Shop: These New Mexico artists Vicki & Bobby Windham are from Grady New Mexico, they travel to multiple shows in the area and beyond, showcasing their handcrafted metal signs. They are also able to create a unique piece just for you. How about a decorative address sign or even a new sign for your racing stable, or business

La Reina Gallery: Karen Stevenson has been selling top-quality and authentic Native American jewelry for over twenty years. “We feature beautiful squash necklaces and bracelets from well-known artists in the region,” Karen said. There will also be specially-designed western t-shirts and western outfits.

Kiva Jewelry: Jose Benavidez handcrafts Native American jewelry with sterling silver and various precious stones.

Country Relics: Joe Fletcher creates handmade silverware jewelry and other unique silverware creations.

Linda Manion Artistry: She grew up riding horses professionally and they became the subject of her art. Linda can take any photograph of a horse or family portrait and create a once-in-a-lifetime piece of artwork.

Quetzalli: Maria Mendoza brings a unique collection of Mexican style dresses, jewelry and various other handcrafted arts and crafts.

Rope Fast: Kyle Kimple owns the New Mexico company that promotes all equine sports from rodeo, horse racing, cutting, reining, trail riding and everything in between. Rope Fast sponsors athletes involved in PRCA and jockeys. Come see Kyle’s wide selection of caps, shirts, tank tops with the famous logo.

Santa Fe Furniture and Gifts: Chuck and Amy Sonnenberg have quickly become one of the “must stops” for shoppers in Lincoln County. There store located just down the road from the race track offers more than 10,000 square feet of Texas-style furniture, clothing, jewelry, and everything else in-between.

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This newly renovated luxury lodge in South Africa is a nod to the country's diverse arts and crafts – ELLE India

The surrounding landscape informs much of the colour palette for Phinda Homestead, a contemporary Zulu-inspired bush home located on a private reserve. Here, shades of burnt clay serve as colour accents, and basket ware inspired by traditional Zulu weaving populate key spaces. Handmade clay pots, hand blown glass, nguni cow skin, beadwork, and other Zulu flourishes feature in special and surprising ways too. Traditionally, where clay was scarce, baskets were made into vessels, using the native ilala palm, the leaves of which are soaked in a dye made from dung or natural pigments. The plant grows abundantly in the marshy habitats, and so, is a renewable resource that works well as a design material. 


A circular reflection pond at the entrance marks the spot where a giant Marula tree once stood before a fire burnt down the previous homestead. The reflection of the water creates a sense of calm as you enter the house, and to complement its circular form, Debra Fox and Christopher Browne of multidisciplinary agency Fox Browne Creative, who helmed the renovation in December 2018, created a still life installation, combining contemporary hanging planters made by South African designer Joe Paine, woven Zimbabwean basket ware, and traditional handmade Zulu clay pots. These are grouped on a sleek metal table crafted by the design team at The Urban Native, a contemporary South African furniture and product design firm. Its products are defined by the juxtaposition of abstract ethnic cultural graphics and motifs with the functionality, look, and feel of classical European mid-century and Bauhaus furniture silhouettes. 


The dining table and massive sliding doors that lead into the kitchen are the heroes of this room. These are one-off pieces, made from fallen hardwood by a master craftsman from the design workshop, One Good Tuesday. At one end of the room, a large beaded mirror made by Sithabe African Crafts—an initiative started by women who were brought together by their love of South Africa and its crafts—is mounted on a handwoven reeded Zulu mat above the bespoke sideboard. Above the dining table, a collection of woven Ghanaian baskets is grouped together to create striking pendant lights. Finally, woollen handloom rugs from Shuttleworth Weaving, a women’s cooperative in the Midlands region of Kwa Zulu Natal, anchor the space. 

The exterior of andBeyond’s Phinda Homestead villa

The villa’s pool

The circular reflection pond at the entrance marks the spot where a giant Marula tree once stood 

In the dining room, the large table and the doors are made from fallen hardwood by a master craftsman from the design workshop One Good Tuesday

Delicately hand cut and engraved calabashes, used as lights on the outdoor dining deck

Hanging planters by South African designer Joe Paine, woven Zimbabwean basket ware, and traditional handmade Zulu clay pots are grouped on a sleek metal table crafted by The Urban Native

Local influences find their way into the kitchen too, where culinary artistry uses indigenous materials for presentation

In the suites, a large woven circular reed mat, an homage to Zulu tradition, acts as a dramatic headboard as well as a room divider

A custom armchair by Casamento

In the bathroom, hand strung reed curtains made by the women of a craft cooperative are used to frame the bath

In the sitting room, archival botanical prints of the native fever tree create a feeling of being in the bush, even when inside


18th-century archival botanical prints of the native fever tree, a popular image of the African bushveld, are hand-printed on linen wall hangings, creating a feeling of being in the bush, even when inside. The reserve is well known for its cheetah population, so, custom embroidered retro armchairs evoking the animal were designed in collaboration with furniture designers Casamento in Cape Town. To make them, Casamento used traditional techniques to create handcrafted furniture in natural fibres, with embroidery, cross-stitching, tapestry work and painting. It is the only upholstery studio in South Africa that is dedicated to a foam-free environment, and constantly explores recycled and natural fibre alternatives for its products. 


In the suites, a large woven circular reed mat acts as a dramatic headboard and room divider. It pays homage to the Zulu tradition of weaving, while also referencing the reflection pond at the entrance. By the bed, hanging hand blown glass pendant lights, finished with Zulu beadwork detail, were commissioned from a young South African artist, and hand strung reed curtains made by the women of a craft cooperative frame the bath, giving the bathroom a natural, organic and tactile feel.

Photographs: andBeyond

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Home Décor: How To Combine Different Rugs In A Room – INSCMagazine

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Purchasing the right rug for your home may be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. It is important to remember that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all – you usually have to choose a different type of rug for different areas of the house in order to match the style, color and feel of the room. And all of that depends on your personal preference and style.

While you may prefer to place a single rug in your bedroom, you can combine two or three rugs in your living room to elevate and liven up the space. It’s all about how creative and original you want to get with your surroundings.

Although rugs can be pricey, they are a solid investment because not only do they last a very long time when properly cared for, they also give your house a characteristic warmth, coziness and comfort.

Decorating with rugs can allow you to define different areas in a house, especially if it is a studio or an open concept living area. They can also help to regulate the color scheme of a room, toning it down or brightening it up where required. Added to that, they have the power to make a room look more spacious or intimate.

While some people may strictly adhere to certain rules while placing rugs around the house, rug experts and interior designers are much more flexible in their approach, claiming that decorating with rugs depends a lot on personal preference and circumstance. So don’t shy away from sprucing up your place by letting it reflect your own individualized taste and style.

Before we tell you how to combine different rugs in a room, it will be helpful to familiarize yourself with different types of rugs. This will make it easier for you to decide when combining multiple rugs in a room.

Different Kinds Of Textures

Here are some common textures for rugs:

Wool Rugs – Ideal for lasting very long, woolen rugs are resistant to stains and clean well. They are often expensive.

Sisal Rugs – This is a natural flooring material that is great for an organic, warm look. It is durable, environmentally friendly and a classic choice for living rooms.

Jute Rugs – Also made of natural fibre, jute rugs are a fantastic option for living rooms, bedrooms or dining rooms.

Seagrass Rugs – This is one of the most eco-friendly rugs on the market. Easy to clean and highly durable, they are great for layering up.

Silk Rugs – They are great for giving a luxurious feel. They are soft and emit a naturally beautiful sheen.

Synthetic Rugs – These fairly affordable rugs are made from acrylic, olefin, nylon or polyester. They are also easy to clean, however, they don’t last very long.

Chenille Rugs – These lightweight, delicate rugs add a sophisticated touch to living room areas, and are very soft to touch.

Sheepskin or Cowhide Rugs – Made from the hide of a sheep, sheepskin rugs add a rich, soft and comfortable touch to the living space. Cowhide rugs, made from cow skin and hair, are a classic for layering up and adding an extravagant look.

Cotton Rugs – Cotton rugs are affordable and can be washed pretty easily. They are not very durable and may decolourise after a while.

Combining Different Rugs

Using your living space to integrate rugs of different sizes, patterns, textures and colors is a great way to add character to your surroundings. Whether your pick is to choose vintage mid century modern rugs or the more classic oriental rugs, here a few tips to help you in your decision.

Use Rugs To Define Different Areas In Your House

Often times, your living room will consist of different areas, from the sitting area to the dining space. When you don’t have walls and concrete separating and drawing hard distinctions between these spaces, a rug can be your best friend.

You can choose different textured rugs to compliment the different areas depending on your color palette preferences and the furniture. Always remember that when placing a rug underneath the dining table, ensure that the rug is big enough so that the chairs rest on it once pulled out.

Run With Different Shapes And Sizes

It’s time to break away from the usual rectangular rug and get experimental. You can explore different shapes and sizes, ranging from circular, oval and square shaped rugs, and place them after deciding what fits.

This means that you can top up natural fibre rugs, such as sisal, jute or sea grass, with a cowhide or sheepskin to complement your furniture. This could go exceptionally well if you have leather sofas and a rustic style.

Additionally, one of the best ways to layer and combine different rugs is to use a neutral base rug, such as white, grey or brown, and adding different textured and patterned rugs of smaller sizes and different shapes on top. You can do this by either framing the smaller rug on top of the bigger neutral rug or overlapping rugs of different sizes for a boho-chic look. Incase of the latter, make sure the pattern is more or less in the same family – you don’t want to complement a floral pattern with one that has stripes.

Color Scheme For Combining Rugs

Color is everything. It is one of the most important elements to keep in mind when buying or combining rugs. Always remember, use a light color rug to make a small space look bigger. Conversely, use rugs with dark and rich colors for an intimate feel.

Essentially, make sure that there is harmony in the color scheme, with no stark contrasts. Therefore, use rugs from the same color family when layering up. You want a soft, warm look, and something that feels natural. It is always safe to use a neutral base and go from there. Incase you want to play it safe, you can also place solid rugs in different colors around the room.

A pro tip while combining different colored rugs is to ensure that they match some of the colors of the sofas, chairs, lamps, curtains or other pieces of furniture in the room. A dash of the same color will reflect thoughtfulness of style and create a seamless look throughout the room. Moreover, maintain one consistent colors throughout all the layered rugs to add uniformity and cohesiveness in color tone.

Combining Different Textures and Patterns

While layering up, it is important to ensure that you don’t have conflicting textures and patterns. This means that if your base rug is patterned, make sure that the top rug has a unique texture that complements it. Think of a chenille rug topped up with a woolen rug.

Primarily, always ensure that the base rug is a rather flat rug, either hand-woven or tufted, as opposed to braided weave, so that the other rugs sit well on it. Short pile base rugs are also a good option as a base rug.

You can go with the same texture and coordinate the color scheme. Examples would include various hand knotted rugs in beige and browns, but with different patterns, such as half stripes and Oriental.

It’s very important to keep in mind the furniture and wall color of your room. Incase of detailed ornamentation, go for lighter colors in flat-woven weave to even out the space visually. You can go for moroccon rugs or solid rugs in this case. However, if you have muted accent colors, opt for brighter or richer colors that are patterned and textured to add personality to the space. In this case, you could opt for embellished Persian rugs or silk rugs, which would also act as the focal point of your living space.


In conclusion, it is recommended that you envision the kind of space you want to live in, and use a rug to set the mood. Be confident in your choice and show off by choosing the rug that best represents you.

Of course, always remember to render some TLC by regularly cleaning your rug. You can vacuum it once a month, and remove any stains immediately using a damp cloth. Additionally, it is highly recommended that you get your rugs professionally cleaned at least once a year. After all, taking care of your rug is as important as investing in one.

So what combination of rugs are you going to try in your home?

Author’s Bio: Lakshmi is an inspired content creator who switched passions from a career in interior design in order to work whilst travelling the world. A co-founder of CopyThat, a bespoke content creation studio, she focuses on putting into words the often complex and colourful thoughts of her interior and design focused clients. As one of Munich’s newest residents, Lakshmi enjoys hunting down culinary revelations whilst trying not to confuse her der/die/das’ in the local tongue.
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Cowhide Rugs For Every Place In Your Home – Lonny Magazine

Courtesy of Overstock.

Once upon a time, cowhide rugs were reserved for hunting cabins and establishments with mechanical bulls. Now, if you see a room that successfully features a cowhide rug, it’s hard to get that classy, stylish accent out of your mind. These rugs are quickly gaining popularity in high-end interior design because of how versatile, durable, and cozy they are — but before you incorporate one into your space, it pays to do a little research.

First thing’s first: How do you select a high-quality cowhide rug? If you’re purchasing off the internet, take a close look at the pictures — the hide should be shiny, glossy, and soft-looking. (It’s important to note that, for real hides, you obviously won’t be getting that exact one; it’ll be a “similar size and color,” so if possible, take a look at the reviews and make sure that past buyers were happy with the rug that was actually delivered to them.) Next, check the country of origin. According to manufacturing experts, the highest-quality cowhides come from “Brazil, Argentina, Columbia, and France.” A quality hide will be hypoallergenic, relatively stain-resistant, and last you years — even when placed in a high-traffic area of your home.

If you’re concerned about the animals’ well-being, you can find a company that’s more humane in their practices and will only use hides from cattle raised for food. That said, you also have another option: a synthetic (or faux-hide) rug. Because they’re often made from polyester or other man-made materials, they’re usually not quite as durable or soft — but they’ll be much more affordable, and you can rest easy knowing your rug is cruelty-free. 

Don’t know where to start? Take a look at these 12 popular cowhide rugs for every area of your home. There’s a pick for any price point and color scheme — plus there are real options as well as fake ones, so all different kinds of shoppers can feel good about their new, chic accent.

The Best Overall Pick: Lettie Hand-Woven Cowhide Rug

Cowhide Rugs For Every Place In Your Home

Courtesy of Wayfair.

A genuine, natural hide available in two sizes and over a dozen colors and patterns — what more could you want from a cowhide rug?  The Lettie from Millwood Pines is handmade and hand-woven with a felt backing material for extra thickness and longevity. It has the soft sheen that you should be looking for in a genuine hide (check out this video to see for yourself), and so far, reviewers have given it an overall rating of 4.4 stars.

The best thing about this pick is its versatility. Since you’ve got so many options, you can choose a pattern and a shade that’ll suit any room in the house. Reviewers also say it’s “well-made” and “stands up” to toddlers, pets, and high-traffic spaces, so you can put it at the foot of your bed or in your foyer.

After versatility, the price is the second-most important contributor to this rug’s title of best overall pick. Wayfair is known for its regular sales, but if you catch this rug in between deals, you can still get the largest size for under $800. 

Millwood Pines Lettie Cowhide Rug, $599, Wayfair

If You’re Looking For A Deal: Shaped Faux-Animal Hide Rug

Cowhide Rugs For Every Place In Your Home

Courtesy of Urban Outfitters.

For a statement piece that’s equal parts rustic, boho, wild, and affordable, look no further than this faux-hide rug from Urban Outfitters. It’s made entirely from polyester, which means that it’s still durable, soft, and washable, but the synthetic material also means that you can get this pick for well under $300. It’s available in three different patterns (brown cowhide, gray cowhide, and black and white zebra), and all of them utilize rich colors, careful detailing, and a faux-suede backing, so they look like the real deal. 

Shaped Faux-Animal Hide Rug, $269, Urban Outfitters

Clean Angles And A Modern Pattern: Patch Cowhide Rug

Cowhide Rugs For Every Place In Your Home

Courtesy of Design Within Reach.

You may be one of those people who’s still not sold on traditional cowhide, and that’s okay — the asymmetrical shapes and animal-print patterns aren’t for everyone. If you prefer clean, 90-degree angles and subtle details, this patch cowhide rug gives you the best of both worlds. It’s made by hand-sewing real hide squares into a larger rug, quilt-style, which gives it a sophisticated look — but you’re not missing out on the durability or softness that hide rugs offer.

Each rug has a cotton and canvas backing that improves the longevity, and its natural markings range from a soft beige to a light tan to support a neutral palette while still offering texture and visual interest. You can also get this rug in gray, and both are available in three sizes. 

Patch Cowhide Rug, 1,395, Design Within Reach

Ideal For Darker Color Schemes: Mercury Row Faux Cowhide

Cowhide Rugs For Every Place In Your Home

Courtesy of AllModern.

There are definite dos and don’ts when working with any color, but since gray is especially popular right now, it pays to familiarize yourself with these guidelines in particular. Gray might seem like a no-brainer, but it has cool and warm tones like any other color. Charcoal gray is a great alternative to navy blue and black because it gives the room an elegant, sophisticated touch without going too dark. It’s also relatively neutral, so it’ll compliment both cool and warm color schemes.

The Mercury Row faux cowhide rug is a great example, and a lovely addition to your dark palette. It’s handmade in Brazil using 100 percent polyester, but with a quarter-inch pile and convincing markings, it still has a warm, natural effect. Place it in your man cave or modern cabin for an accent that’s grounding, but not overwhelming. 

Mercury Row Faux Cowhide, $143, AllModern

A Unique Accent For A Living Space: Pasos Cowhide Rug

Cowhide Rugs For Every Place In Your Home

Courtesy of The Citizenry.

This is not your average cowhide. The Pasos from The Citizenry is in fact made from real, Argentinian hides, but it’s hand-stitched into a cross-weave hatch for a contemporary take on the style. It’s also backed with nylon, so it can take “all that life will throw at it,” including traffic, dirt, mild stains, and time. Since each rug is handcrafted by master artisans in a fair-trade environment, every single one is subtly unique. 

If you’re looking for a modern pick that ties a large space together, this one’s the choice for you. Its eight-by-ten design includes a crisscross of white, gray, beige, charcoal, and black for tones that are compatible, but striking. This rug is easily the most expensive option on this list, but because it’s stylish, durable, and unique, it’s definitely worth the splurge. 

Pasos Cowhide Rug, $1,950, The Citizenry

To Create A Homey Bathroom: Faux Hide Bath Mat

Cowhide Rugs For Every Place In Your Home

Courtesy of Urban Outfitters.

When it comes to caring for your rug, water and cowhide to not mix. In fact, moisture can severely damage a cowhide, so it’s best to keep this accent in a dry room, far away from potential stains. Luckily, Urban Outfitters came up with a smart alternative for those who’d like a rustic, cozy touch in their bathrooms.

This faux-hide bath mat is made from fluffy, terry-knit cotton. Thanks to the material choice, it’s natural and capable of absorbing water drips and handling makeup spills. In fact, if it starts to get a little dingy, you can throw it right in the washing machine. Reviewers have great things to say, like: “I have a super small one bedroom apartment, which means my bathroom is tiny. This bathmat fit perfectly and completed my aesthetic. Highly recommend!” They even posted a picture of their cat sitting on it, so it must be comfy.

Faux-Hide Bath Mat, $29, Urban Outfitters

Inspiring Patterns For An Inspired Office: Young & Battaglia Persian Cowhide

Cowhide Rugs For Every Place In Your Home

Courtesy of Kaufmann Mercantile.

Experts advise people to avoid bold colors and busy patterns in the bedroom — but an intricate rug could help to get the juices flowing in an inspired home office or other creative space. This Young & Battaglia cowhide has the irregular shape and silky-smooth feel of a real cowhide, but the eye-catching patterning of a traditional Persian rug. Both features come together to form a statement piece that’s equal parts art and practicality. 

This pick is hypoallergenic, washable, and already non-slip thanks to the rubber backing — so there’s no need to worry about a rug pad, though it may increase the comfortability-factor. Finally, it’s available in three Persian patterns: blue and brown, black and gray, and ivory and gray. 

Mineheart Young & Battaglia Persian Cowhide, $791, Kaufmann Mercantile

Easy To Incorporate Into Any Room: Ivory Printed Cowhide Rug

Cowhide Rugs For Every Place In Your Home

Courtesy of World Market.

As far as faux-hides go, few are as classy and convincing as this one. The ivory cowhide from World Market captures the texture and subtle patterning of a real hide, but it’s instead made from synthetic fibers with a brindle print. It also has a reinforced polyester backing that stands up well to spot-cleaning and gentle vacuuming. 

Even though it’s thin, reviewers say it looks “much more expensive than it costs” — and it feels “extremely comfortable” under your feet, too. The short fibers have a suede-like texture that’ll warm up your living room, dining area, or bedroom, and since it’s light beige with tan undertones, it’ll match virtually any color scheme and effortlessly brighten up a dark room. 

Ivory Printed Cowhide Rug, $249, World Market

Best For Small Spaces: Sabrina Black Cowhide Rug

Cowhide Rugs For Every Place In Your Home

Courtesy of Maisonette.

Argentina is one of the four main countries that’s known for its high-quality cowhides, and the Sabrina rug comes straight from the grassy Pampas region. It’s a good pick for someone who’s looking for understated elegance in their space; instead of long fur and busy patterns, the Sabrina rug features a relatively-short pile and an all-black color. When used in a monochromatic room, this rug will both catch the eye and tie the entire look together. 

Since it’s a bit smaller than other options (specifically four feet by six feet), this rug is best-suited for small living spaces and tight entryways. Thanks to the durability of real hide, this one can handle the foot traffic, so don’t be afraid to place it in your most-used room — but be sure to keep it out of the way of direct sunlight, which can cause the black to fade and the hide to dry out over time. 

Sabrina Black Cowhide Rug, $349, Maisonette

Sunrooms And Entryways: Trent Austin Design Weight Cowhide Rug

Cowhide Rugs For Every Place In Your Home

Courtesy of AllModern.

Cowhide rugs don’t have to look overly-rustic. In fact, some designs can look quite modern, like this pick from Trent Austin Design — and since it’s made using genuine hide, you’re getting the softness, longevity, and durability that’s typically associated with these types of rugs. 

What makes this one look so contemporary? Instead of a single large piece, the Weight utilizes strips of cowhide to create a patchwork design that looks almost like chevron. That said, its subtle coloration and bright, airy tones make this pick well-suited for an entryway or a sunroom. It’ll reflect the light with its glossy sheen, but its felt backing and flat-weave construction holds up especially well to wear. (You can also get it in gray, if you’re worried about the lighter tones.)

This rug comes in six different sizes, from a runner to a ten-by-14 area rug. “[This] rug is absolutely beautiful. It gives our room a very modern look, yet it’s soft and functional,” says one reviewer. 

Trent Austin Design Weight Cowhide Runner, $187, AllModern

Sparkle And Texture For The Bedroom: Gold Faux Cowhide

Cowhide Rugs For Every Place In Your Home

Courtesy of Overstock.

Add a touch of shimmer with this faux-hide rug from Alexander Home.  Despite the fact that it’s made from acrylic fibers, its .15-inch pile gives it an authentic look — not to mention a soft, breathable feel. Scattered throughout the piece, you’ll find glittery metallic accents that compliment the warm, neutral beige. It’s an easy way to glam up your space,  whether you opt to place it in your home office or your dining room. (That said, we think it’d look especially great in a bedroom — it’ll catch the morning light and give the space a chic, airy feel.)

“The gold spots add just enough of a glamorous touch to make it fit in with the rest of my decor,” one reviewer says. This pick measures six-by-eight feet (roughly), and is made so well, it can even handle high-traffic areas. 

Alexander Home Gold Faux Hide Rug, $218, Overstock

For Elegant Hallways And Underused Spaces: Stretched Cowhide Rug

Cowhide Rugs For Every Place In Your Home

Courtesy of Kaufmann Mercantile.

Oftentimes, hallways and awkward transition areas can look cold. There’s really no room for furniture, so people tend to leave them empty — but a well-placed runner serves as an easy way to warm up the space and make the entryway look more inviting. The Mineheart stretched cowhide is the perfect pick for these situations. It’s elegant, looks genuine, and most importantly, helps you make the space more accessible instead of less. 

This piece looks like it came from an especially-long cow, but in actuality, the hyper-realistic pattern is digitally-printed on a rubber-backed synthetic material — and the detail is impeccable down to every last hair, so your guests will never know. It’s also extremely easy to care for, granted it’s washable, durable, and always lays flat instead of curling up at the edges. You can get this pick in natural brown or bleached beige, and it comes in three sizes: small, medium, and large. 

Mineheart Small Stretched Cowhide Rug, $900, Kaufmann Mercantile

We hope you found the perfect cowhide rug to compliment your space! So you know, Lonny may collect a share of sales from the links on this page.

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The best vegan homewares for World Environment Day – The Independent

World Environment Day 2019 is here — a global initiative to encourage worldwide awareness and action to protect the environment.

Hosted by the United Nations, the annual event, which this year is on Wednesday, June 5, is a chance to take stock of our impact on the planet, whether by looking at our carbon footprint or the products we choose for our homes.

And following on from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s decision to kit out baby Archie’s nursery using vegan paints earlier this year, it seems we’re all following suit with wanting cruelty-free products in our homes.

In response to this booming trend, animal rights charity PETA have announced this year’s best vegan interior brands to watch out for.

The UK-based charity, dedicated to establishing and protecting the rights of all animals, has announced the winners of its Vegan Homeware Awards 2019 and top high street and designer names have made it onto the list.

Among the winners of this year’s awards are H&M Home’s Conscious collection, Italian furniture makers Cassina and smaller, indie businesses, who all submitted products for consideration for the award.

From innovative apple leather products to feather-free cushions, the vegan homewares that have made it onto the list are both stylish and cruelty-free, a win-win for animal lovers everywhere.

Brands ditching wool for animal-friendly alternatives included H&M Home, who won best wool-free rug for its recycled cotton rug.

Adorned with a turquoise and white floral pattern, the rug is part of the H&M Conscious range, which uses sustainable and recycled materials.

Meanwhile, eco textiles brand Weaver Green has been awarded best wool-free ottoman for its Kasbah Ink Ottoman made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles but with the look and feel of a wool product.


Weaver Green’s Kasbah Ink ottoman won best wool-free ottoman

The award for best wool-free blanket went to House of Kind, for its handcrafted Polku blanket featuring a grey and off-white Scandi design, offset with pink pom poms.

And The Fine Bedding Company’s vegan Smartdown range of bedding – also made from recycled plastic bottles with a 280 thread count – was crowned best down-free bed linen.

Other winners in PETA’s Vegan Homeware Awards 2019 include accessories brand Hetty + Sam, whose stylish geometric cushion is made from cruelty-free fabric, Eden Perfumes’ Vegan Soy Wax Candle in lime, basil and mandarin and Ocado’s Scruffs Eco Donut Dog Bed, made with recycled fleece.

Meanwhile, Italian brand Cassina won the collaboration award for their collaboration with Philippe Starck to create furniture using apple waste in place of leather.

The experimental product, Apple Ten Lork, is made from apple cores and skins that would otherwise be wasted.

And Dutch designer Tjeerd Veenhoven won the innovation award for his use of palm leather to create a range of vegan rugs.

An alternative to cow hide, the innovative rugs are made from palm leaves, which are folded in strips and attached to a woven base to create a patterned appearance.

PETA’s director Elisa Allen says there is a booming demand for vegan décor with buyers looking for fashionable and functional pieces.

“Animals are not fabric – and we need to move away from using their skin, fur, wool, and feathers as such.

“As interest in vegan living grows, so does the availability of stylish, cruelty-free home decor options. In our selection of the winning products, we took into account their look and feel, ethical credentials, and feedback received from PETA staff as well as from compassionate consumers,” she says.

When looking at the criteria for what makes a product vegan and cruelty-free when choosing the winners, the team at PETA get confirmation from the shortlisted brands.

The team also take on board feedback from consumers throughout the year.

Take a look through our gallery above for the best vegan homewares on the market right now…

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Making It All Popp – Sactown Magazine

Call him an an interior designer, a home designer, a furniture maker, a graphic artist, a chef or a classic car collector—or all of the above. Whether he’s crafting the look and feel for a hot new restaurant, a neighborhood taproom, a high-end chocolaterie or someone’s home, Curtis Popp has carved out an eclectic career as one of the city’s most sought-after visual thinkers. Sacramento, meet the modernist Renaissance man.

By Hillary Louise Johnson

Designer Curtis Popp on a Barcelona chair by Mies van der Rohe in the art-filled living room of his Land Park home

Designer Curtis Popp on a Barcelona chair by Mies van der Rohe in the art-filled living room of his Land Park home

Portrait by Max Whittaker

Popp's handcrafted walnut wood birdhouse with burnished steel legs (Photo by Mike Graffigna)

PPop goes the green and blue plaid sofa on an Astroturf-hued rug; pop goes the yellow and white table next to a translucent rainbow of Philippe Starck chairs; pop go the robin’s egg blue legs on a wooden side table, and the bowl of fruit artfully displayed against the black backsplash in the kitchen, all set aglow against a gleaming white oak floor. Welcome to designer Curtis Popp’s world, a vividly imagined, candy-colored place where your delighted eye alights briefly on an object before flitting on to the next surprise, like a drunken butterfly let loose in a verdant flower garden.

 The family room, which constitutes the lower floor of his split-level 1937 Art Moderne home in Land Park, was recently redone after the designer’s departure from Popp Littrell, the firm he had successfully co-piloted for seven years. The creative now works from home, except that he has nothing resembling a home office—there is no desk, no credenza, no file cabinet, and when Popp needs to spread out a blueprint, well, that’s what the dining room table just beyond a floating wall is for. And that’s exactly how he wants it. As an exemplar of his signature brand of bold, eclectic modernism, the family den sometimes serves as a perfect showcase to demonstrate his eye for prospective clients—but it’s more likely to be used for watching movies on a pull-down screen with his nurse wife Susan, son Fletcher, 15, and daughter Olivia, 17. That’s work-life balance, Popp style.

The interior designer, residential designer, furniture maker and graphic artist is entering into the auteur phase of a career that has seen him create some of Sacramento’s coolest public and private spaces while working with and for some of the city’s most notable visual thinkers, and he’s made space—in his house and his life—to be less of an entrepreneur and more of a creator. He designs buildings, interiors, furniture and logos, but he resists being labeled as a multi-hyphenate. “I am a designer,” he insists. “Not an interior designer, not an architect, not a graphic designer and not a furniture designer. Just a designer.”

And although Popp’s sensibility is modern, he blithely mixes genres and eras. Iconic pieces ranged around the den include a glass and chrome Mies van der Rohe coffee table circa the 1920s, a tubular chrome Eileen Gray side table from the ’30s, an Eero Saarinen tulip table from the ’50s and a vertically stacked Ptolomeo bookcase from the aughts. It all works because the designer pays such close attention to pattern, line and texture that the resulting roomscape hews to the same intricate laws of beauty that govern a natural landscape—hence the butterfly effect.

The Popp family room includes royal blue Ligne Roset armchairs, a red Cappellini cross medicine cabinet and a Ptolomeo bookstand by Bruno Rainaldi. (Photo by Kat Alves)

Popp shares some aesthetic DNA with another Sacramento modernist who defied categorization, Ray Eames, who created anything and everything, from furniture to buildings to short films, in collaboration with her husband Charles. Popp’s eclecticism echoes that of the Eames House near Santa Monica, notable not just for its clean, rectangular lines, but also for the joyful abandon with which the couple filled it with Oriental rugs, plants, throw cushions, animal skins, crammed bookshelves and a flurry of other items not normally associated with the severe aesthetics of the Bauhaus movement that influenced them. It’s easy to draw a line from the Eameses to Curtis Popp and call it Sacramento Modern, a formally rigorous yet lived-in modernism with plenty of room to accommodate the past, the present and the future.


Popp’s house has been featured in Dwell, as has the 800- square-foot home in South Land Park that the designer renovated for his dad in 2010, but it’s his furniture, which is a sideline under the brand CPopp Workshop, that has probably garnered him the most national press. That egg-shaped birdhouse, which he made for a group show at the Kondos Gallery at Sacramento City College in 2011, was spotlighted alongside pieces by prominent avant-garde architects like Japan’s Sou Fujimoto, and China’s MAD Architects in Pet-tecture: Design for Pets, published in 2018 by the prestigious London publisher Phaidon. His Phillips table has been featured on the popular blog Design Milk, and his three-legged Soft Side Table made an appearance in Sunset magazine.

Locally, Popp’s greatest impact comes from the work he’s done designing restaurants, boutiques and private homes since 2002. “Curtis is one of the most talented interior designers I know, and he’s evolved a style that’s unique to himself,” says developer Michael Heller, who looked Popp up and introduced himself when he saw the young designer’s very first project—a kitchen and bath remodel he completed for the owner of Stewart’s Automotive, where he’d worked detailing cars after high school—in Interior Design magazine. “You can identify a Curtis Popp design.”

To create a Scandinavian beach house vibe requested by the residents, Popp used light materials like whitewashed pine and placed pieces like white Eames side chairs in the kitchen-dining area of a Tahoe City home. (Photo by Kat Alves)

That style is modern, lively, colorful and whimsical—if you’re a fan of Wes Anderson, you’ll likely also be drawn to Popp’s aesthetic. As a teenager, Popp dreamed of becoming a filmmaker, and that knack for visual storytelling comes across in how thoroughly he imagines the worlds he creates for his clients.

Walk into midtown’s Ginger Elizabeth Chocolates, whose look he created in 2008 when he was the interior designer for cutting-edge home furnishings company Blankblank, and you feel like you’re instantly immersed in Popp’s theatricality. Loopy foil wallpaper is paired with futuristic half-moon shelves and a white candelabra chandelier—think 2001: A Space Odyssey with baroque touches. You can tell the same sensibility lies behind Popp’s last design with Popp Littrell, the newest Bike Dog taproom that launched on Broadway in September 2017, where tables tucked under faux shop awnings look like a set where beery cyclists might burst into a song-and-dance number.

His style is modern, lively, colorful and whimsical—if you’re a fan of Wes Anderson, you’ll likely also be drawn to Popp’s aesthetic. That knack for visual storytelling comes across in how thoroughly he imagines the worlds he creates.

Even when Popp designed a marijuana dispensary eight years ago, he took his inspiration from jewelry store displays, showcasing the buds as precious objects. “It doesn’t matter if it’s beer or jewelry or chocolate or whatever,” he says. “The product is almost irrelevant.”

What he enjoys is the ability to create an immersive experience, and that is evident even when he tones it down to design highly livable homes.

Popp’s version of residential modernism is clean and muscular and unafraid of a bold line, but he brings an unforced levity to his designs through little “aha” moments here and there. In a sleek and sophisticated Folsom home he completed from the ground up in 2017, the concrete floors and walls of glass would be almost forbiddingly cool were it not for a series of delightful shocks to the system. Popp isn’t afraid to put not one, but four pieces of lime green furniture in the living room, for instance. Or cartoonishly large honeycomb tiles in the master bath. He gets away with these graffiti-like bold strokes because the subtle textures he uses everywhere else are so lush: gradated shades of stone and gravel glimpsed out a window, the sinuous linearity of wood cabinets, the dappled chiaroscuro sheen of that polished concrete floor.

But Popp does some of his best work when he’s challenged by constraints, even ones that might dumbfound a lesser design mind—like when a client hired him to modernize a colonial from 1928. Nothing could’ve been less contemporary than this formal, traditional white rectangular house with black shutters, yet Popp coaxed it into cracking a smile. He painted walls and wainscoting gallery white, stained the floors deep brown, and filled the rooms with bits of clever chinoiserie, cow skin rugs and a space-station-worthy chandelier. But he really let loose in the home’s bathrooms, each of which he slathered with a different wallpaper—the tinier the room, the more outrageous the pattern: In the downstairs powder room, for example, a scatter print of zebras leap across a gold background. The gleefulness of that powder room underscores why Popp is happiest when he’s buried in the details.

Parisian-style “storefronts” adorn a wall inside Bike Dog’s Broadway taproom, which opened in 2017. (Top) “Large expanses of glass were  used to maximize light,” says Popp  of a modern home in Folsom he  designed, which also features deep overhangs to provide shade (Bottom). (Photos by Kat Alves)

Popp’s passion for small, all-encompassing projects is one he’s eager to indulge after the amicable dissolution of Popp Littrell Architecture & Interiors last summer. Dustin Littrell, who had been Popp’s draftsperson before they became partners, primarily handled the business and production sides of the company, and was ready to take the creative lead on projects, while Popp was ready to be more capricious in the kinds of projects he said yes to, approaching his work less as a business entity and more as an artist, like the designers he most admired.

His eyes light up when he tells a story about how Frank Lloyd Wright, after he finished a house and all the furniture in it, designed a dress for the hostess to wear to her housewarming party. One of his longtime clients, the developer Mark Friedman, laughs when he hears this. “Well, I draw the line at letting him pick out the art,” he says, smiling. Friedman is a noted art collector, which is why the notion of Popp picking out the paintings and sculptures gets a chuckle. Heller introduced the two in 2008, and they hired Popp to design the interiors of their joint Sutter Brownstones venture that year.

 “He helped us craft a sensibility that was different for the Sacramento market, but that was very well received,” Friedman says. At a time when most developers commonly specced decidedly lower-level finishes, the more stylish fixtures, tile and flooring Popp brought to the table—literally, and within budget no less—helped the project sell out in a down market.

Although Popp’s sensibility is modern, he blithely mixes genres and eras. Iconic pieces ranged around the den include a glass and chrome Mies van der Rohe coffee table circa the 1920s, a tubular chrome Eileen Gray side table from the ’30s, an Eero Saarinen tulip table from the ’50s and a vertically stacked Ptolomeo bookcase from the aughts.

Since then, Friedman has twice hired Popp to inject some contemporary flair into his English country-style home in Arden Oaks—the first included a reworking of the living room and an upstairs bath attached to a home gym. “That remains the nicest bath I’ve ever done,” Popp says of the concept that cleverly uses a mirrored wall to visually multiply lava stone tiles so that they almost appear to float. They’re currently in the design phase of a second renovation, turning Friedman’s pool house into guest quarters, remodeling the kitchen and updating now-grown kids’ rooms.

“Whatever style he’s working in, there is this consistent aesthetic where he simplifies and tries to reduce the vision to three, maybe four moves, and I think that adds a real clarity and power to what he produces,” Friedman says. “Part of it is eclecticism, that ability to appreciate that sometimes old things look best when set in opposition to something new, that rough edges look great when contrasted with something smooth. He’s really good at playing with contrasts. I admire his ability to make those quirky moves that give originality to a space. I probably wouldn’t be brave enough to do them on my own, but when somebody like Curtis presents it, it’s like, ‘Wow, that works,’ ” Friedman says. “But what I really admire is that he’s got a positive personality. He’s a lot of fun. He’s got a reputation in town not only for the work, but for the experience of working with him. I wouldn’t say that’s true of every designer.”

“The family wanted a rustic-modern look,” says Popp of this Land Park home remodel. To achieve that feel, he blended warm wood pieces (like the curved mahogany banquette he designed for the dining nook) with cool contemporary lighting (like the Roll & Hill chandelier in the living room, below). (Photos by Kat Alves)

His empathetic approach helped persuade Edward Roehr and Janel Inouye, owners of Magpie, to let go of a beloved style motif when the restaurant moved out of a tiny cafe space on R Street and into an expansive corner space in the new 16 Powerhouse building across from Fremont Park in 2015. The transformed Magpie was a revelation and became an instant hot spot. “We were coming from a 100-year-old brick warehouse, and the culture around restaurant design at the time had a lot to do with repurposed style,” Roehr says. “Curtis was influential in waking us up to the idea that we should embrace change.” Popp nixed any notion the couple had of recreating the reclaimed wood and exposed brick of the original cafe. He sensed that it was a trend in restaurant design that had run its course. Instead, he gave Magpie 2.0 brick painted black, honeycomb tile—a texture that has become a bit of a signature in Popp’s designs—and a sleek, polished bar. “When we did it, it was new,” Roehr says. “Now it just feels contemporary.”


When you first meet Popp, design snob is about the last label you’d think of. The burly, friendly 48-year-old is physically more like a dude who should be hanging out in a sports bar (he helped his daughter Olivia start a rugby team). While he is a worldly maven who moves in sophisticated circles on the creative scene, he’s also a happy, grounded family man who loves hanging out with friends he’s kept since high school. It’s as if his perfect pitch for design extends to the art of living well.

His design education started almost at birth, when his father, Ronald, painted a mural depicting the family’s history on his infant son’s bedroom walls. His dad won an award for animation at the Cannes Film Festival in the ’60s, and worked for PBS’ Children’s Television Workshop in Los Angeles before moving back home in the late ’60s to marry Sue, also a native Sacramentan. The family took up residence in Land Park and Ronald became art director for KCRA before briefly helming his own design shop. “He could do anything,” Popp says. “He was my example, even more than Mies or Corbu.”

Popp wanted to be like the designers he most admired. His eyes light up when he tells a story about how Frank Lloyd Wright, after he finished a home and the furniture in it, designed a dress for the hostess to wear to her housewarming party.

While Popp got his artistic side from his dad, his energy and elan came from Sue, who died in 2011. “She was a consummate volunteer, connected in the community, galvanizing for causes,” he says. There was a cautionary lesson to be had too when Ronald gave up art to take a job at the meatpacking company Sue’s family owned, which Curtis thinks planted the seeds for the couple’s eventual divorce. “He went to work for his father-in-law,” he observes. “It had to kill him.”

Seeing how unhappy his father was as a nine-to-fiver, Curtis Popp made deliberate choices to ensure that he would never have to go down that path himself. As college loomed, he took a long, hard look at his pipe dreams—becoming a filmmaker or, alternatively, “going to work for Pininfarina designing cars”—and decided they weren’t actionable. Instead, he decided to become a generalist.

A freestanding Philippe Starck bathtub serves as the focal point of a new master bath inside a Sierra Oaks house. (Photo by Kat Alves)

“I looked at people like the Eameses and Philippe Starck, and I thought, you know, they’re not limited by anything. They can design a macaroni noodle, a door handle or a house. That’s when I found CCA.” The collaborative environment in the design department at the Bay Area-based California College of the Arts was just what he needed. “You’d be next to a jewelry designer next to an architect next to a fashion designer, and they’d give you a problem to solve and everybody could have a different point of view. That’s the kind of thing I’ve always been attracted to.”

Fast-forward 20 years, and Popp’s newfound freedom has made room for passion projects and hobbies, like cooking and car collecting, that have taken him to unexpected places. A conversation with an old high school buddy led to a growing side venture, Hilltop Motorcars, in which they buy and sell sports cars together. “Basically, the idea is to treat these cars like wine, wait until they hit their prime and then sell them,” he says. “And in the meantime to enjoy them.”

The practical side to Popp’s automotive idyll is that the extra revenue stream from the car project will hopefully get him to that sweet spot as a designer where he can say no to projects that don’t feel right. But really, he’s already there. Popp recently passed on a boutique hotel he very much wanted to work on—up until that point where the project’s proposal phase began to feel ominously bureaucratic. And whether it’s because or in spite of his willingness to turn away work that doesn’t speak to him, Popp is finding himself knee-deep in cool new gigs—and digs.

In 2016, Popp designed an oasis-like bedroom suite, replete with a reflecting pool and wall-mounted fireplace, for a home in Sutter County. (Photo by Kat Alves)

“I’ve got nine or 10 jobs going right now, in various stages,” he says. There is a new home and guesthouse for the owners of Sutter Creek’s design-forward bed and breakfast Hanford House Inn, where Popp is taking advantage of the rural Gold Country setting to explore the idea of what he calls “agrarian architecture, a modern farmhouse.” He’s also remodeling a Japanese-influenced 1970s home in Carmichael, and a 1960s “atomic” ranch in Land Park.

And he is just finishing an addition and whole-house remodel of a home in the Fab 40s for Mike and Michelle Casagrande, a dentist and an ex-model whom Popp describes as “a real-life Barbie and Ken. But I say that in the best way: They’re good-looking and very stylish. They like Italian contemporary—and they have a Federalist-style house. It’s a fun project where there’s been architecture, interior design, furniture selection, everything,” he rhapsodizes. And don’t tell Mark Friedman—but this time, the clients are letting him pick out the art. S

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Curious Creatures: Remarkable Taxidermy from Private Collections – Adirondack Almanack

taxidermy exhibit

taxidermy exhibit Adirondack Experience, the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake is set to exhibit approximately 100 pieces of taxidermy on loan from private Adirondack collections and camps as well as mounts, photographs, and manuscript materials from its own collection.

This special temporary exhibit opening May 24, 2019 for one season only, will include the work of famed English taxidermist Walter Potter (1835-1918). Two of his pieces will be on exhibit at the ADKX for the first time in the United States. Rabbits’ Village School, 1888 and Monkey Riding the Goat.

Taxidermy animals and animal parts have long been used as camp décor in the Adirondacks. Beginning in the 19th century, black bear skin rugs, mounted moose heads, antler footstools, and deer hoof gun racks testified to the hunter’s prowess, and proclaimed man’s conquest of, and superiority over, wild nature. Mounted creatures were also considered to have educational value, and brought a sense of the outdoors inside.

Hunting and fishing trophies, particularly mounted white tailed deer, are still commonplace in Adirondack camps and homes, but in the late 1800s many camp owners added an exotic note to their décor by displaying animals from all over the world: mounted lions, tigers, elephants, and polar bears; zebra and leopard skin rugs; and furniture upholstered with jaguar and cow hide. Such animal objects added to the air of exoticism created by assemblages of Japanese paper lanterns, Navajo rugs, Balinese statues, Turkish textiles and other rarities. The overall effect was that of a cabinet of curiosities — a private wunderkammer.

Several of today’s Adirondack collectors have created their own taxidermy wunderkammer that mirror the 19th-century camp aesthetic. Examples of their holdings in the exhibition include antique and new mounted hunting trophies as well as oddities such as deer hoof inkwells, fox tail thermometers, antler furniture, and cased dioramas. Tableaux of animals engaged in human activities — dancing, playing tennis and cards, smoking, and getting married were popular in the 19th century and with today’s collectors as well. A set of boxing squirrels was shown at the 1851 Crystal Palace Great Exhibition; a monkey riding a goat illustrates a scene from one of Aesop’s fables; and a class of baby rabbits study writing, sewing, and music in a village school. Grieving pet owners, not wishing to be parted from their beloved companions, had their dogs and cats mounted. Their owners too now gone, these mounts grace the rooms of an Adirondack camp and silently testify to the bond between humans and their animal companions. While some today may find these, and other mounts in the show disturbing, Curious Creatures will seek to help visitors understand the historical and social circumstances that led to their creation.

The word taxidermy comes from the Greek taxis, meaning arrangement, and derma, meaning skin. It is the art of preparing, stuffing and mounting skins to recreate the appearance of a live animal. Today, taxidermy is ungoing a resurgence among collectors and artists who are pushing beyond the traditional aesthetics of merely simulating life. Best known for his rustic furniture, Adirondack artist Barney Bellinger incorporates vintage taxidermy pieces in his work, “deconstructing” mounts to reveal what lies beneath. A selection of his art will be include in this exhibition.

The exhibition will include taxidermy as well as advertisements, business ledgers, and period photographs of Adirondack trophy lodges, camp interiors, and taxidermists and their studios. Taxidermy and the law; hunting and fishing trophies; Adirondack style and taxidermy; natural history; beastly fables and fantasy, and taxidermy today will be among the topics covered.

Adirondack Experience, the Museum on Blue Mountain Lake is located at 9097 St Route 30, Blue Mountain Lake. For more information, call (518) 352-7311 or visit their website.

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Isle of Wight: Why walking the island is the perfect way to explore countryside & history – Express

isle of wight walking festival best walks uk near me walk holidays 2019

Isle of Wight: Walking the island offers some of the best UK walks and is enjoyable in all weather (Image: Getty Images)

I am being pummelled so heavily by the unrelenting wind that I fear I may not remain upright for long – and I love it. The sheer exhilaration of being in this vast open field – trees shaking in a frenzied dance to my left and a foggy vista of villages and countryside falling away to my right – as the elements swirl around me, leaves me inexplicably grinning from ear to ear. I am far away from my urban London life; I wanted a walking holiday in rural England and by Jove have I got it.

My septuagenarian mother at my side doesn’t seem to quite share my glee. At several inches shorter and a couple of stone lighter, the likelihood of her bird-like frame being lifted right off the ground is all the more probable; and so we press on. I’m clutching a fragile piece of A4 bearing a map (which threatens to whip out of my grasp at any moment) that tells me a footpath change is approaching, and the idea of missing the turn and delaying this six-mile walk is visibly unappealing to my mother.

We have found ourselves on the Isle of Wight ahead of the island’s May walking festival. Set to run from 4-9 May, the Festival – sponsored by Warner Leisure Hotels – gives walkers the chance to get up-close-and-personal with the best of the Island’s stunning scenery. Most of the walks are free, although some walk leaders request a donation for their chosen charity.

The particular walk we’re following is a circular one, beginning at Godshill in the southeast, and is scheduled for 6 May in this year’s festival. The route promises “varying landscape with some more challenging slopes” which is certainly what it delivers (it makes no commitments regarding the wind) and is definitely one to check out if you’re visiting.

We spy woodland as well as coastal scenery during the adventure, but of particular interest to me is the path past Appuldurcombe House. While my mother ponders the etymology of the name, I am more thrilled by the place’s scandalous past – one of the owner’s wives in the 1780s had a whopping 27 lovers. It is now owned by English Heritage and can be visited between April and October.

Ruddy-cheeked from the four-hour walk and bracing winds we head for lunch at The Taverner’s Pub in Godshill. The quaint establishment is welcoming from the off with its huge open fireplace, an assortment of traditional kitchen items from old weighing scales to copper jugs, and rustic wooden beams.

Isle of Wight: Walking the island offers some of the best UK walks and is enjoyable whatever the weather

The cosy pub offers local fresh produce, with its menu dependent on what has been caught, foraged or hunted. I tuck into a starter of tasty ham hock with sourdough toast and piccalilli followed by a succulent and tender lamb shoulder teamed with garlic mash and roasted vegetables – the ideal delicious country fare for after a walk. The atmosphere in The Taverner’s is convivial and clearly popular with locals as a birthday trio are celebrating behind us and know all the staffs’ names by heart.

Not content with one old English house for the day, my old English mother and I set off for Osbourne House on an estate bought by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1845. A visit of the Italianate building – described as a “little Paradise” by Victoria – takes in the royal couple’s children’s nursery, Queen Victoria’s bedroom where she died, an 1893 lift installed for the increasingly infirm monarch, the hugely impressive India-inspired state reception room and much much more.

The woods of Osbourne are also well-worth exploring, and the 2.5 mile circular Osborne Beach and Woodland Walk features in the walking festival on 16 May. They’re now a backdrop to the pleasure grounds and gardens of the house, but the woods were planned as an essential part of Queen Victoria’s working estate and planted under Albert’s direction, Bob Hurst, an Osbourne volunteer tells me.

He advises walkers to look out for a whole host of woodlands critters, from red squirrels, foxes and badgers to dormice, woodpeckers and bats, as well as plenty of flora including wild garlic, bluebells, primroses and fungi.

Our quota of fresh air and culture complete, we return to our hotel ahead of dinner. We’re staying at Warner Leisure Hotels’ Bembridge Coast Hotel. The rooms are pleasant and comfortable, but the sight of a row of mobility scooters on our arrival rather dampens any illusions of glamour. If you’re over 70 and looking for cheap and cheerful then this is the place for you. If you’re not, it probably isn’t. The food is fairly unremarkable, one is forced to sit at the same table for every meal and on our second breakfast the waiter simply forgets we are still in residence.

isle of wight walking festival best walks uk near me walk holidays 2019

Isle of Wight: Osbourne House was described as a “little Paradise” by Queen Victoria (Image: Getty Images)

Fortunately, we have a booking at The Little Gloster restaurant in Gunard, just five minutes west of Cowes, which offers panoramic sea views of the Solent. The Scandinavian-influenced eatery is delightful and the owners Ben (a whizz of a chef) and Holly (the so-very-glamorous manager) are very friendly indeed. There’s a modern, elegant yet homely vibe to the place thanks to the wooden tables and chairs, fresh tulips and cow skin rugs; spot-on mood lighting and low music help, too.

It’s lucky we’ve benefited from so much exercise during the day as we are presented with a feast. We start with oysters before moving onto tasters of juicy, melt-in-the-mouth smoked confit pork belly with a gochujang (Korean red chilli paste for the uninitiated) and apple glaze; rabbit agnolotti (nope, me neither – they’re packets of pasta similar to ravioli, and, at this place, sublime) and “gravadlax” (a Nordic dish of raw fish cured in salt, sugar and dill – keep up) house-cured Hampshire trout on sprouted spelt croutons.

My stomach straining slightly, I tuck in next to the day’s special, a delicious pasta dish of crab pappardelle while my mother opts for the crab salad, once again proving how she manages to be several stones lighter.

As my insides beg me to stop overindulging I turn a deaf ear and eagerly peruse the dessert menu. My mother does not. I plump for the rhubarb and mascarpone mousse – a delectable and fancy concoction which at first glance looks rather like a pink shiny macaroon preening itself atop a ginger nut biscuit. I crack my spoon through the glaze and reveal the refreshingly tangy mousse inside. The exquisite creation appears to sum up The Little Gloster’s attention to detail and both imagination and pride in their presentation. In short – go here, wear stretchy clothes, and take someone who won’t judge your three-course gobbling.

The next day we meet Isle of Wight rambler David Howarth and head off on a challenging circular eight-mile walk around the western tip of the island. This walk – entitled Best of the West with the Travel Ambassadors – will take place on 18 May during the Walking Festival. The weather Gods are smiling down upon us and the sun shines for most of the day as we march off along the coastline.

isle of wight walking festival best walks uk near me walk holidays 2019

Isle of Wight: Writer Harriet Mallinson enjoys the coastal route along High Down (Image: David Howarth)

isle of wight walking festival best walks uk near me walk holidays 2019

Isle of Wight: We stop to look out at The Needles Rocks – a row of three distinct chalk stacks (Image: Harriet Mallinson)

The route along High Down affords excellent views of the sea and striking white cliffs. We pass the Tennyson Monument, an 1897 memorial to Alfred, Lord Tennyson, the Victorian Poet Laureate. He lived on the island with his wife for 39 years and greatly loved walking on the down; he famously said: “The air is worth ‘sixpence a pint,’” – and I can easily believe it as I inhale the fresh sea air. The hugely chatty and amicable David is a veritable mine of information and we learn a lot as we walk.

We stop to look out at The Needles Rocks – a row of three distinct chalk stacks which rise out of the sea off the western extremity of the island. The name Needles comes from a former fourth rock which was needle-shaped and known as Lot’s wife after the Biblical figure.

For those more interested in human history, West Wight boasts a number of defences designed to protect against invasion. Now under the care of the National Trust, the Needles Old Battery is a Victorian fort built in 1862 and used throughout both World Wars. Further up the headland is The New Battery where British-made rockets were tested under conditions of great secrecy during Britain’s Cold War ‘race for space.’ There’s a very interesting exhibition which tells the incredible and little-known story of those who worked here and what was achieved. Visit Isle of Wight is a useful wealth of information for those looking for more history and facts about the island.

We lunch at The Piano Cafe in Freshwater Bay. It’s a lovely spot in a large well-lit room looking out at a delightful view of green fields. It boasts a buzzy atmosphere as customers pour over newspapers with their coffee or enjoy a glass of wine with friends, a dog dozing at their feet. It offers an abundance of baked goods such as carrot cake, brownies and flapjacks as well as marvellous toasties which are absolutely worth trying. I overhear one elderly gentleman telling the waitress it’s the best brie toastie he has ever had. And, having scarfed my own down, juicy with cranberry sauce and the salty tang of bacon, I heartily concur.

It’s then off to the nearby Dimbola Museum and Galleries – an art and photography gallery in the former home of Victorian photographer Julia Margaret Cameron which is worth a nosy round if you’re in the area. Cameron, who lived from 1815 to 1879 was one of the most important early photographers and a woman ahead of her time. Today she is credited with creating the first photographic close-up portraits. She snapped the great figures of Victorian art, literature, and science, from Sir John Herschel (the scientist who coined the very word ‘photography’) to Pre-Raphaelite artist William Holman Hunt.

And so our weekend comes to a close. We are ferried back to our hotel by our very friendly and knowledgeable taxi driver, E-taxi owner Matt Malkin, who has the Isle of Wight’s first 100 per cent electric taxi service and then on to the Wightlink ferry back home, which provides a very quick journey back indeed and is super easy to manage.

The trip has provided just the refreshing break I needed from the chaos of city life on the mainland. Fingers crossed all the walking has balanced out the indulgent eating during the stay – is what I think. My mother is off nibbling on celery, googling the origins of Appuldurcombe and wondering if David is single.

Getting there

Wightlink is the leading cross-Solent ferry operator carrying almost 4.5 million holidaymakers and Islanders across the Solent to the Isle of Wight every year. Eight ferries on three routes complete over 45,000 sailings a year, giving Islanders an easy and frequent service to mainland Hampshire, and tourists an accessible way to enjoy a taste of Island life.

Prices from £53.50 return (based on a day return ticket travelling by car on 7th May 2019) or from £20 return as a foot passenger (based on a day return ticket on 7th May 2019). Find out more at

Routes and crossing times:

Portsmouth Car Ferry Terminal – Fishbourne Car Ferry Terminal: from 45 minutes

Lymington Car Ferry Terminal – Yarmouth Car Ferry Terminal: from 40 minutes

Portsmouth Harbour Railway Station – Ryde Pier Head: from 22 minutes

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Don’t wipe your feet on my cow rug – Kimberley Bulletin

I have a dark secret to confess, friends.

I am addicted to home decorating shows. Seriously, if my TV is on, it’s tuned to HGTV and other channels of its ilk.

I feel like I am BFFs with Chip and Joanna Gaines, and Dave and Kortney Wilson, and Drew and Scott, the Property Brothers.

Vanilla Ice and I are still getting to know each other. Yes, former rapper Vanilla Ice has a home makeover show, and no surprise, his design style is a little, shall we say.. blingy.

Anyhoo, I am learning a great deal from my friends on these shows.

First, if you walk into someone’s kitchen and all the appliances are not stainless steel, you must turn up your nose and sniff that “the appliances could use some updating”. Doesn’t matter if they are relatively new — which for a fridge would be anything made post 2000 — if they are white, or black, or God-forbid, avocado, they need updating.

Secondly, take another look around the kitchen. Are the countertops granite? Or at the very least, quartz? No? Just laminate? Oh dear.

Your bathroom has just the one sink? How do you manage?

Also, I have apparently been displaying my books wrong, for lo, these many years.

Yes, according to the designers, hard-cover books are now displayed spine-to-the-wall. I know! Crazy!

But there they are in these newly designed homes — row upon row of books on a shelf, all with pages facing out. I mean I guess it looks interesting, but it reduces a book to merely a design element. I’m imagining wanting to read a few passages from a beloved leather bound book, perhaps Don Quixote, on the weekend. You walk to the shelf and pull the first book out. Nope. Not Don. Next one. No Don. Do you carefully put it back, or do you toss it aside and keep searching?

This is a design idea that could lead to anarchy. Or a lot of not-reading.

I don’t know which designer began this craze but once I saw it the first time, it began popping up on all the shows.

Much like the cow rug. You’ve seen these — cow patterned, throw rugs in the shape of well, what a cow skin would look like if you peeled it off the animal. I’m sure these are synthetic but just the idea gives one pause.

Also the ‘farmhouse sink’. Everyone has to have one, whether you live country or city. It must be big enough to wash off a side of beef — perhaps after you’ve peeled off its skin for a rug — and deep enough to drown in.

A bed must have a minimum of 26 pillows, all artfully arranged, with different colours and textures. And if you put a tray with a vase of flowers on the bed, so much the better. Because what better, safer place for a vase of flowers than a bed?

Another designer has a thing for swings and is constantly installing them in people’s living rooms. That one doesn’t seem to be getting much traction though.

Yet despite some of these weird design choices, I just can’t get enough of the flipping shows and the find-me-a-waterfront-home shows.

I live vicariously through these house hunters as they wrinkle their noses in dismay at the many upgrades needed before their homes are up to snuff. I envy them as they choose between one gorgeous home or another, or view the results of the makeover.

And I gasp in awe as they tell the realtor, “Our budget is $1.2 million and that’s final”. The realtor then makes a sad face and says with a budget that tight, they may have to make some compromises.

But it always works out in the end, and the homeowners have their stainless appliances, backward facing books, cow rugs everywhere, a deep and cavernous sink, mounds of pillows and maybe even a swing in their living room.

It’s magic, I tell you.

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Karl Lagerfeld, The Impresario –

Today, at the age of 85, Karl Lagerfield, one of the most legendary designers of the 20th and 21st centuries, has died. Below, we reprint Kennedy Fraser’s profile of Lagerfeld, “The Impresario: Imperial Splendors," which first appeared in the September 2004 issue of Vogue.

Karl Lagerfeld is a complex, brilliant, postmodern sort of man. He gives the impression that there is nothing you can think—especially nothing you might think about Karl Lagerfeld—that he hasn’t thought of for himself. “Perhaps I am pretentious,” he will say with a smile. Or “In a way my life is bizarre and eccentric, but to me it is the most normal thing in the world.” His life is ceremonial, even when he is alone. On the eve of a recent collection, I saw him pause at the top of the famous mirrored staircase of the Chanel salon in the rue Cambon. There (where Mademoiselle once sat on the third stair down, in her tweed boater, surreptitiously watching the audience for her shows) was Lagerfeld reflected by the angles of the Art Deco walls. Many Karls, wearing their hair in a white-powdered ponytail, lifted a hand with knuckles half-hidden in biker rings to check the knot below a starched collar a full four inches high. The same platoon of Karls gazed back through dark-tinted spectacles as if checking up on their collective mood. “I am a puppet of my own life,” he once told me. “A marionette. Not a human being.” The mirror moment passed. There was another pause at the threshold, a perceptible presentational instant, as if he were poised on the balls of his feet in order to see and be seen. Now he stepped into a square of brightness, already speaking to the people in the room. His step is light and quick. He loves ballroom dancing, and one friend compares him to Giacometti’s striding man. He looked inquisitive, happy, eager to work with the people from the ateliers and the models. He treats these co-workers of his with courtesy and kindness.

Rilke, a poet he reveres for the untranslatable beauty of his German, once wrote, “We are born provisionally, it doesn’t matter where. It is only gradually that we compose within ourselves our true place of origin, so that we may be born there retrospectively and each day more definitely.” Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg in 1938, but his life could have flowered the way it did only in Paris, where he moved when he was a teenager. He trained at the couture studios of Pierre Balmain and became head designer at Patou when he was 20. (Yves Saint Laurent, a friend of Karl’s in their youth, became the head of Dior at 21. “There are no young designers or old designers,” Karl says, dismissing the way new names are now pushed as if they were rock stars by the moneymen in corporations. “You’re there as long as you’re OK for the job. It’s like movie stars—based on nothing. There is no justice. You cannot expect pity.”) He became well known when designing for the luxurious ready-to-wear firm of Chloé, in the seventies. He has designed furs and fashions for the Italian firm of Fendi since 1965. And he has been a freelance designer for various manufacturers of shoes, jeans, and knits. He produces a line of his own, called Lagerfeld Gallery. And these days he works continually as a commercial photographer—a second career that enables him to create many of his own advertising campaigns, editorial coverage of his fashions, and portraits of himself. But in the blossoming of Lagerfeld’s celebrity—if not his rebirth as a Parisian—nothing has the weight of his masterminding fashions at Chanel.

After a triumphant comeback that began in 1954, Coco Chanel withdrew into a shadowy and embittered old age and died at 87 in 1971. Her house belonged to the Wertheimers, perfume manufacturers who had invested in No 5 in the early twenties. In 1983 Alain Wertheimer, having taken the reins of the privately held company, asked Lagerfeld to give the kiss of life to the house. For a decade the fashion had been ticking over in a shadowy backwater, taking care of aging clients. “If you want to ruin a business, be respectful,” Lagerfeld says. “Fashion is not about respect. It’s about fashion.” With an impeccable sense of timing he created the clothes, the publicity, and the atmosphere that drove the Chanel company forward. In German, French, English, and Italian, he sweet-talked the fashion press, giving them visuals and witty sound bites on demand. He made sensational shows, subverting and redefining the Chanel look in every way imaginable (trashing, slashing, parodying if need be) but perpetually filling the stores with a fresh supply of wearable sexy clothes, often with the magic logo of the double C. The new designer stretched to the limit Coco’s maxim “Luxury is not the opposite of poverty, but the opposite of vulgarity,” the way the special machines in the factories stress-tested handbag-chains and tweeds. “It worked,” Karl says simply, of the company’s remarkable success. The couture, the 134 ready-to-wear boutiques on three continents, the fragrances, the cosmetics and skin care—it all became the model of how to rebrand and make sales in the billions from a dead designer. Wertheimer, Karl says, has been “divine” as a boss. They trust each other completely; and there are no stockholders to whom they have to “streetwalk.”

The people at Chanel like to talk about the chemistry between Lagerfeld and Mademoiselle—such a productive one for the company for more than 20 years. Just because she’s been gone so long and he never met her doesn’t mean their relationship isn’t alive. When he was young in what was then the small, familial, still craft-based world of the Paris couture, the extraordinary comeback she had made at 71 was rolling along; only Balenciaga rivaled her influence on fashion. Lagerfeld has a grounding in the tradition, in the ancient techniques of hand-making luxurious clothes, that few if any designers can now rival. In his teens, he learned from elderly seamstresses at Balmain “stiff dressmaking” methods from the 1920s and 1930s. “In a way, I knew more than Yves, who had only the Dior techniques,” he says. He also had in his head a capacious image store of fashion history. His designs for Chloé seemed fresh in the late sixties—the age of Quant, Courrèges, the miniskirt—in part because of their old-style femininity and their postmodern nostalgia for the thirties. He was rich enough to build what became a world-famous collection of furniture and decorative objects by then unfashionable Art Deco masters such as Ruhlmann and Dunand. The seventies was a great age for dandies. Karl had a beard and a monocle, double-breasted suits, and then in his close friend the limpid-eyed, elegant, and aristocratic Jacques de Bascher a man whom Proust himself could have fallen for.

Karl’s vigorous, ironic, and knowing modernity, and his long experience in the business, made him just right to colonize the legend of Mademoiselle. “I want to be part of what is to come,” she used to say. What was to come, for fashion, was multinational luxury branding; fashions aimed at a broader, richer, and more “aspirational” market than the world had ever seen. Like Mademoiselle, Karl was a genius of self-presentation. He understood the value of a carefully controlled personal image as engine for the house’s sales: the designer's life as icon and artifact. For sheer fable, few lives could rival the life of Coco Chanel: the low-class provincial origins, the orphan years in the Cistercian school, the glorious progress from kept woman to independence and entrepreneurial wealth. The small daily journey (for, like Karl, she loved to work) across the rue Cambon from the Ritz, where she slept, to the salons that were spritzed before her arrival with her own perfume. The famous photographs of the enduring beauty that attracted a lifetime of loves—Balsan, Capel, the duke of Westminster (“the richest man in Europe,” she said), Iribe the ultra-reactionary illustrator, and more. Then there was the dashing “Spatz,” a Nazi officer and propaganda attaché. All through the Occupation she went right on living in great comfort at the Ritz, which had been requisitioned for use by the German high command.

In the new world of Chanel in the eighties, Karl chose a design strategy based on what the house referred to as “les elements eternels,” including the quilted bag, the camellia, the two-tone shoe, the braided trim. He embraced her continual play of contrast and contradiction: tweed and satin, black and white, and the “democratization” of jewelry by mixing priceless things with flashy fakes. Like most couture houses, Chanel had no archives, and Mademoiselle kept none. “She survived everybody,” her successor says. “She pushed the image of what was important in her own past, and there was nobody left to say it was different.” At first, he was like another admirer, wooing the now-virtual Coco: His published sketches of her—he is a brilliant draftsman—were tender and even romantic. But by this year, when he acted as the photographer for a Chanelish story for French Vogue, his cartoon of Mademoiselle—old, and with an exaggeratedly jutting chin—wanted only a pink tweed broomstick to be a picture of a witch. The photographs were shot in the private apartment of Mademoiselle, on the floor between the public salons and the ateliers at 31 rue Cambon. Visitors from all over the world come to pay homage to the Coromandel screens, her ashtrays and reading glasses, the white bergère where she was photographed by Horst, and the quilted-suede sofa, where she was photographed reading or entertaining friends. In Karl’s shoot the apartment looks gloomy and claustrophobic, reflecting his distaste for the decor of rooms he says he never enters as a rule. (Their occupant, he says, was nasty. He doesn’t think that he and she would have got along.) The model wears a Chanel suit from 1961 and a couple of pieces from the current Chanel couture, but the clothes are mostly copies of Chanels by designers other than him—worn with real diamonds from the fine-jewelry division of Chanel.

PARLOR GAMES: Lagerfeld is famous for taking the classic, iconic pieces of Coco Chanel’s day and rethinking them with provocative originality. From left: Chanel Haute Couture navy tulle dress with feathers. Chanel tweed jacket and embroidered lace dress with tweed detail. Neiman Marcus. Chanel lilac tweed jacket with lace sleeves and sheer camellia-print mousseline dress.

“Nobody believes me,” he tells me over lunch in his own enormous, light-filled, eighteenth-century apartment on the Rive Gauche. “But I have limited ambition. I only wanted to have a privileged life. A civilized, elegant life that is right for now. You have to have ambition to get to that level. But the minute you are there, you don’t have to kill your mother, your father, and the rest of the world to stay there. No. To go ahead—to go on doing it—is already a big ambition. One day I may be old, tired, bored. I don’t know. I don’t think like that. For me it’s six months. Six months. Six months.” He knocks his knuckles emphatically once, twice, three times on the tabletop, setting the iron-cross biker rings clicketing away like chain mail. “There’s always another collection.” (Eight of them a year, just at Chanel. And there are rumors that he is about to take on a big new challenge, as well.) “I have no idea of the future, never, ever. That’s what I like about fashion. It’s paradise now.”

Where Mademoiselle was reinvigorated by collecting and deacquisitioning lovers, Karl sheds his skin from time to time by divesting himself of houses and collections of priceless things. He lives in a palatial hôtel particulier—grand, high-ceilinged eighteenth-century rooms with historic wood paneling. For years the rooms were filled with furniture and rugs that had been made for King Louis XV and his queen at Versailles; Karl slept in a brocade-curtained bed topped off with a canopy of bird-of-paradise plumes. He became a world-famous connoisseur. He is a voracious reader of historical memoirs, among many things. As he sat on their chairs beneath their pictures, was he a character in the world of Madame de Boigne and the duc de Choiseul, or were they characters in his?

“The eighteenth century was a most polite century,” he once told me. “And so modern. It was perfect. The rooms were so flattering to live in. You can age gracefully in them. No one was young; no one was old. Everyone had white hair. Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Barry wore the same sort of dresses. Age is a racisme that showed up later.”

Then at a stroke he guillotined his dix-huitième: the little chairs and escritoires were shipped off to Christie’s or banished to the Louvre. He says he didn’t want to live any more as his own curator. “I like to collect things; I don’t like to own them. What I like about collecting is to create a mood, to put things together, then . . . gone.” The great Art Deco collection went under the hammer. The Memphis pieces went next. He has bought and sold a number of houses, including some where he is reputed never to have spent a night. But the apartment in Paris is where he has put down roots since 1977. “This is where I fit,” he says.

In decor he seems to be moving at lightning speed back up the rabbit hole to the present. He sleeps now in what he calls a “very funny” modern bed made with columns of light and metal. At the top of the great marble stair leading from the courtyard, the anteroom is a mirror image of his contemporary design for a reception room at the Chanel jewelry showroom in the Place Vendôme. His salon at home now has elongated, modernist white sofas and white flowers, as neutral as a luxury hotel. On the walls behind the sofas are giant plasma-TV screens, while the space at the center of the room is filled with towering stacks of extraordinary books on art, decoration, history, and philosophy. (He is the proprietor of a bookstore, at 7 rue de Lille; in addition, through the German firm of Steidl, he publishes what interests him.) He has never disposed of a single book, but he claims to want less and less of everything else. “I sold so many things, but I still have zillions.”

If he has been a shapeshifter in decor, he has also made dramatic changes in his personal style and most dramatically, in recent years, of his body. His response to entering the twenty-first century as a man in his 60s was to go on a strict diet and emerge, thirteen months later, looking like an insect. He lost such a large amount of weight (some 90 pounds) that people suspected an eating disorder. He had fallen for the narrow-cut clothes of the designer Hedi Slimane, who had taken over men’s fashions at Dior and was showing them on boys scarcely old enough to use a razor. Out went Karl’s roomy black Japanese suits (and his trademark fan, which had hid the double chin from the camera), and in came Dior Homme.

Karl was wearing a chalk-striped suit at our luncheon. A dark jacket, jeans, a high-collared shirt, and cowboy boots—for the present, that is his more usual uniform. He waxes enthusiastic about the cut of the Slimane sleeve: high in the armhole, tight, yet mobile.

“That's all Chanel was about—the tight sleeve. I won’t say Hedi invented it, but he put it back on the market for men.”

In his youth Karl was a bodybuilder, before it became the fashion. In 1971, he played a role in L'Amour, one of the movies Paul Morrissey made in association with Andy Warhol. There is a young Karl, with a head of thick, short black hair and bulging biceps, doing chin-ups in an undershirt while Jane Forth and Donna Jordan, naked, giggle and paint their nipples (a sight only slightly less startling than to see him passionately kissing Patti D'Arbanville). But happily he long ago gave up building muscles, which would not have worked with his Slimanes. (“Ugh, how grotesque!” he thought on waking up one morning.) He also stopped going to the beach, although he loves fresh air and has homes in seaside places (Monte Carlo and Biarritz). For exercise, he does the tango with Hedi.

Like Mademoiselle mixing precious stones with paste, Karl wore the tacky Chrome Hearts biker rings with a rare black diamond ring. He said he had owned this for six years.

“It’s very simple but very beautiful,” he said. “I always wanted it. But it belonged to somebody who refused to sell it. It took me 20 years to buy it.” As his house pares down, ornament sprouts on his person like an irrepressible efflorescence of his inner rococo. Round his neck, over a narrow necktie, he had a necklace of Napoleonic bees, from Dior Homme, and a Chrome Hearts chain, designed for backstage passes at rock concerts, holding the wedding rings of his parents.

He often talks about his mother and his early childhood on a huge family estate in Germany near the Danish border. The deer his mother would feed from the balcony, the cow barn like a palace, with fancy brass name plates for the pedigreed cows.

“I was lucky; I escaped everything. I saw nothing of the war.”

His father was a Hamburg-based industrialist with a fortune made, Karl says, from introducing condensed milk to Europe. His mother (who was in her 40s when he was born) was an aristocrat whose salad days had been in the 1920s. In later years he would have liked to talk to her about that era. “The twenties are over,” she said. “Who cares?” His father spoke Chinese and Russian; his mother could translate philosophy from the Spanish. In any of the languages he is fluent in, he rattles along at top speed—a habit he has often ascribed to his mother’s telling him to hurry when he was a little boy, because his stories bored her. “You may be six years old, but I am not” was how she put it. “Make an effort when you talk to me, or shut up.” She said he reminded her of von Ribbentrop, a statesman she thought particularly stupid.

He was, by his own account, an infant prodigy who by the time he was five could write, speak English and French, and demand his own valet. His whole ambition was to be grown-up. As a little boy he bought himself a print depicting a fashionable gathering in the Age of the Enlightenment—men and women in the fashionable dress of the day, with intergenerational powdered wigs—and hung it in his bedroom. Presumably when he imagined himself up there with them, they had all the patience in the world to listen to him.

His sisters, who were older, were sent away to boarding school—a fate he sought as a small boy to avoid at any cost. “I understood that if you were a troublemaker, you could do what you want,” he says in his forceful, enigmatic style. His parents were away sometimes. He learned to entertain himself. “I hate it when people say I was alone,” he says. “No. I was enchanted to be free. To read, sketch, learn languages.” The estate was filled with Eastern European refugees, one of whom taught him French.

Right up to the moment when lunch was served the day I went to his home, Karl had been working in his cavernous studio—the largest room in the house. As I sat waiting for him I heard his Afro-Cuban music and then some Beethoven float out through the door. The uniformed maid stood in the hall, awaiting the slightest signal that the wizard was ready for his low-fat lunch. (He keeps a large staff, including bodyguard, chauffeurs, butler, laundresses, and chef. “Do you think 40 servants is too many for one man?” he once asked.) When at length he emerged, he invited me to peek inside at his seven different tables, each with giant piles of books, dedicated to the different tasks—making his sketches for his collections or the cartoons and caricatures too mean, sometimes, to be seen while their subject is living; reading; writing the notes (sometimes illustrated) in his boldly sloping handwriting that he faxes or sends round by chauffeur to a network of friends. Somehow this luxurious workshop (whose disorder the maids are categorically forbidden to touch), this dream factory and power plant for thousands of jobs reminds one of the little boy alone. Like a dauphin’s, his private routine is often observed. Meanwhile, he conceals his reactions to the world by wearing sunglasses indoors and out. Even in the frolicsome L'Amour, he projected a blithe, good-humored detachment that is still characteristic of him.

“I am a watcher,” he says. “I have a kind of voyeurism in my relationship with periods and with persons. I never want to change people. I am the way I am, and I like people who are very different from me.” He never drank to excess, smoked, or did drugs like so many people he knew in his youth. “Somebody said the most important thing in life is not how to save yourself, but how to lose yourself. I wasn’t very gifted for that. My deep nature is Calvinist.” So many people of his own generation, he says, are “ruins” by now, who want to talk about their health or—worse still—about the good old days. “Fuck the good old days,” he says. “Today has to be OK, too. If not you make something second-rate out of the present.” He reads serious books, but for conversation he likes gossip. Mostly, he says, he spends time with people far younger than himself, people who are 30 or 35, like Hedi. He says he hates the louche. “I only like the light side of life.”

He was fourteen when (with his parents' consent) he moved to Paris to continue his education. He lived in the house of a woman who had been his mother's vendeuse at Molyneux in the thirties. He was supposed to go to a private school but spent more time walking the streets in a kind of rapture, looking for the hôtels particuliers that once belonged to the titled ladies he had read about in memoirs. He kept his own journal at this time and sent it to his mother. In 1954, at sixteen, he entered a contest sponsored by the International Wool Secretariat; he won the prize for a coat, while Yves Saint Laurent won with a dress. Saint Laurent, who triumphed so early and had Paris at his feet after he had established a fashion house of his own, faltered and ran out of ideas before retiring two years ago. Now his work is to be found only in his museum. As it turned out, Lagerfeld, with a far more complex career than designing clothes, was the survivor. “I was too pretentious to want my name over the store,” he says, laughing. He doesn't care if you call him an artist or not, and he is almost superstitiously opposed to designers’ having retrospectives.

For a man with such an interest in letting go of things and who swims so serenely through the modern world of image, subversion, and the context of no context, he is tremendously cultivated in a way that seems almost quaint. He has a phenomenal memory, and his conversation is continually peppered with quotations from poetry and the classics. At his huge house in Biarritz, he has three miles of books. He may be friends with Sir Elton and Sir Mick, with La Kidman and Princess Caroline, but he remains at heart an eighteenth-century scholar-gentleman whose inquisitiveness about the world is boundless. You get the impression he has worked to know himself and to accept what he finds, however nice or nasty. His virtues are eighteenth-century virtues: stoicism, a lack of sentimentality, and the rejection of hypocrisy. “It starts with me and it ends with me,” he says. “I never wanted anything that looked like a family.” He and de Bascher, who died in 1989, never lived together.

And all appearances to the contrary, there is a kind of modesty to him, a part that is very simple. He is supremely loyal to a few old friends; the gestures of affection he makes to someone who is sick or who has suffered a bereavement are experienced by recipients as a minor art form. His graciousness as a host is legendary: Decades later, people remember parties lit by candles, with footmen in powdered hair and breeches. An American friend, flying over to visit him in France for two nights, was astonished to realize that he had put himself and his whole staff onto Eastern Standard Time to spare her from jet lag.

Many of his staff and the people in the ateliers have worked with him for decades. “Il est un ange, Karl,” said Anita, the head of studio at Lagerfeld Gallery, who has worked with him for 40 years. He smiled when I told him. “I am an angel with the angels. And a devil with the devils.” Like many witty people, he can be cruel about others in conversation. Stupid and ugly are words he uses almost as freely as interesting and boring. If someone violates what he perceives to be his code of honor, if they “overstep the mark” with him, he will cut them out of his life, and he sees no need to forgive them.

“My mother was quintessentially Prussian,” he told me when we were talking about his high shirt collars, which are more like corsets. “Her idols were Walther Rathenau, the German foreign minister murdered by the Nazis; Koestler; Stresemann. They were all dressed like this. These clothes are cut like the clothes of those chic people.” After the war, his parents moved to Baden-Baden. His mother retired completely from social life (“She was not unhappy; she liked to read and be alone”), and then his father died—Karl likes to say of boredom. She didn’t tell her son about the funeral until weeks later. “You don’t like funerals,” she said. “Why should I tell you?” (It’s true; he also doesn’t go to weddings.) She disposed of many things, including young Karl’s journal (“The world doesn't need to know you were that childish and stupid”), and moved to France—a small château in Brittany, with four formal gardens. At 70, she threw out every last one of her skirts; from then on she wore only pants and cardigans. Frau Lagerfeld herself died, he says, of thinking she knew better than the doctors who told her she should take more exercise. She had the flu and sent for her doctor. Before he came, she got her hair done. She died as she crossed the room to greet him.

“She looked chic,” I said.

“I don’t know,” Karl said. “I never saw her. She left a paper to say I was not allowed to see her dead. Or go to her funeral.”

Normally when Amanda, Lady Harlech, Karl’s confidante and “muse,” comes over to Paris from her home in the English countryside, she stays at the Ritz, which stores her clothes from the Chanel couture. But she told me once that she had stayed in a little green-walled room at his house, with shelves of poetry and furnished with the pieces from his childhood bedroom. After lunch, I asked my host if I could see it. We went down a tiny hallway and into a room of such modest proportions, compared to the rest of the place, that we seemed to be in another country. When his mother closed the Baden-Baden house, she had it all shipped to him: his narrow French-style bed, the little Biedermeier chairs, the desk, the table where he used to sit to sketch and eat his breakfast, the German romantic landscape paintings with cows and stags and mountains. “The same,” he said, as we stood there in this green-tinted daze, with a garden outside the window. “Exactly.” His dream, he says, is to have a comfortable little apartment, with his books and this furniture from his childhood. “To have no appointments, never look at my watch, go to the movies in the middle of the night, read, sketch, daydream. Totally free, the way I was in Paris, those first two years before I started working.”

MASTER OF CEREMONYKarl Lagerfeld, photographed in the Jardin du Luxembourg. “If you want to ruin a business, be respectful,” he says. “Fashion is not about respect. It’s about fashion.”

PARLOR GAMESLagerfeld is famous for taking the classic, iconic pieces of Coco Chanel’s day and rethinking them with provocative originality. From left: Chanel Haute Couture navy tulle dress with feathers. Chanel tweed jacket and embroidered lace dress with tweed detail. Neiman Marcus. Chanel lilac tweed jacket with lace sleeves and sheer camellia-print mousseline dress. Jacket at Bloomingdale’s. Dress at Neiman Marcus.

Karl Lagerfeld has taken a legend and turned it into a masterpiece. Out of a remembrance of things past, Kennedy Fraser writes, come the design ideas of an ultra-modern connoisseur.

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