Monday, June 25, 2012

Bespoke at Home: San Francisco antique dealer Darin Geise’s interiors are tailored with wit and style

I love his exuberance and muscular humor.

At his trend-setting San Francisco antiques gallery, Coup d’Etat, Darin Geise displays alluring and elegant one-of-a-kind furnishings, along with edgy vintage collections, John Dickinson tables, armillaries, and bold industrial-inspired lighting by Jefferson Mack.

Newell Turner, House Beautiful’s brilliant editor-in-chief, called Coup d’Etat ‘one of the most exciting new design galleries in the design world today

But there’s another, very surprising private side of Darin Geise.

Come for a visit and be inspired. 

Darin at Home: Antique dealer Darin Geise, owner of the acclaimed Coup d’Etat gallery in San Francisco. 

I’ve known the great antique dealer Darin Geise since he first opened Coup d’Etat in San Francisco about a dozen years ago. His collections are always provocative, modern and alluring. A jolt!

Decorators flock to acquire his over-scale wing chairs, orb-shaped rusted metal lighting, chrome lamps, fetishy sculptures, paint-chipped found objects (lots of those, his eye is fantastic), velvet-upholstered ottomans, lush silver, and a bit of weirdness and lots of wonder. The gallery has action and elegance, rough contrast and shock, and perhaps even terror (skeletons, skulls, medical diagrams).

It’s all soothed with the fragrances of French Cire Trudon candles with a whiff of frankincense and myrrh, and with romantic chandeliers thrown in for a glorious boost of Beaux-Arts beauty.

Geise’s deft placement of tufted crimson velvet sofas with rusted military lockers and bronze busts draws avid collectors.

Darin moves you forward. You move with him.

Today we’re making a detour, an adventure trip to visit sunny Potrero Hill, where San Francisco antiques dealer/designer Darin Geise has created his own dreamscape. His interiors are populated with a compelling collection of centuries-old European portraits and venerable antiques. It’s not what you expect from Mr. Subversive. Follow me. 

Past Times: Scene-setting Bennison silk velvet curtains in the living room are trimmed with vintage gold braid found at an estate sale. Geise’s artful mis-en-scene includes an 1870 metamorphic chair upholstered in vintage silk velvet. The pair of cabinets was crafted from old barnwood retrieved in Connecticut and custom-made in the Swedish neoclassical style. Geise acquired the 1920s hillside house five years ago, then refinished the floors, wallpapered the walls and used antiques to provide a sense of architecture. 

With his shaved head, charcoal Lanvin pants, vintage Levi’s denim jacket, black American Apparel t-shirt, seventies gold Rolex with a peacock blue face, and trend-setting antiques gallery, Coup d’Etat, Darin Geise looks like the ultimate South of Market denizen.

But when Geise, whose new antiques gallery has floors (by Erin Martin) of raw salvaged scaffolding boards, and divider walls of concrete block, heads home in the evening to Potrero Hill, his interiors turn their back on today. 

A gold-framed panoply of noble eighteenth-century portraits of alluring ermine-robed French kings, handsome Belgian soldiers, foppish English dukes, Dutch nobles, and handsome princelings is enhanced with subdued lighting.

Handcrafted barnwood cabinets, massive tufted sofas, and a metamorphic chair with the original red velvet worn to a silken sheen invite reflection--or perusal of perhaps a club journal. Geise's collections, edited and perfected, make his residence feel like a turn-of-the-century private men’s club in a secret corner of Pall Mall. With an edge. Geise brings a knowing wink to the elegant scene, throwing in a few nudes to crank it up a notch.

“I admire and appreciate modern interiors and full-on contemporary design but for myself and my Brussels Griffon dogs, I want a big sofa, thread-bare rugs, a sense of tradition and design history,” said Geise, originally from North Platte, Nebraska. “I light the fire, select favorite jazz singers. Candlelight sets the mood. I’m in my own world.” 

Steady Gaze: Geise’s collection of portraits includes a seventeenth-century painting of a Dutch soldier in ceremonial robes. Geise designed the sofa in the Beaux-Arts style, inspired by a classic design by French decorator Jacques Garcia. 

Geise’s living room is framed with burgundy velvet curtains the color of the finest claret and a marble fireplace with a glowing fire adds to the clubby atmosphere.

“I’m fascinated by English country houses, where you can sit by the fire, read a book, sip a good claret with friends, and it’s all very comfortable, and that’s my inspiration,” said Geise. “I wanted the rooms to have a sense of history.”

Natural curiosities (shells and rare minerals), small bronze sculptures, and antique oriental rugs create an ambiance that seems to have leapt straight from the pages of The World of Interiors, the fusty-chic London design magazine so beloved by young fogeys like Geise.

“I started my portrait collection about ten years ago with a Regency-period dandy in a blue velvet jacket, and I was hooked, so later I found a Dutch nobleman in full body armor, and a seventeenth-century king in a plumed head-dress, then a French courtier and two Italian noblewomen in carved oak frames,” said Geise. “I love the humanity of these portraits. I wonder about the artists. These people have such soul and resonance.” 

Time Travel: Four 1870s Swedish neoclassical chairs upholstered in gray alpaca, surround the industrial table with a zinc top, a vintage find. Walls are painted in a custom-designed multiple-pigment paint that mutates from dusty gray to a sober green with a touch of midnight Aegean blue. It’s an artful background for Geise’s collection of French, Flemish and English portraits. 

Geise recently participated in two by-invitation San Francisco Decorator Showcase houses (a mountain chalet in a former wine cellar, a moody study). His clientele grew.

But while his gallery is a compelling mix of sleek Danish glass, handcrafted chandeliers, and no-holds-barred compositions of rare and precious, rough and smooth, rusty industrial and gilded and refined, old, handcrafted and machine-made, Geise’s house came together with sedate elegance toughened up with an addictive frisson of transgression and provocation. 

A slew of top editors of national publications and design locomotives like Holly Hunt, in town recently, have raved about Geise’s fresh style. Hunt, who brought the highly influential Paris designer Christian Liaigre to the US, is reported to have told her designer colleagues that “Coup d’Etat is the most exciting gallery in the US right now’ and called it ‘world-class’.

At Coup d’Etat, Geise surrounded a vast pock-marked antique jeweler’s work station with whimsical photographs of birds nests, or circling a grand aristocratic red velvet sofa, very ‘Fanny and Alexander’, with industrial relics, rough and cocky in their factory-made rusted surfaces.

Geise’s jolt of steampunk-meets-Louis XVI shakes up fixed concepts, and illustrates masterfully how antiques can be used playfully and with abandon, at home and in his gallery. 

Good Night: Geise created a sense of architecture (and artifice) in the twelve feet x twelve feet guest bedroom, with a hundred yards of Schumacher Toile de Jouy fabric cleverly stitched into swags that suggest a tent. The vintage brass bed is dressed with a traditional Turkish Suzani quilt, originally handcrafted for a bride’s dowry. 

Object Lessons: A neoclassical maple dresser of unknown origin has gilded animal feet. The pine mirror, Belgium 1934, animates the small room. Geise, a brilliant editor of his collections, added an American portrait, c1942, and a collection of English and Indian antique ivory boxes. 

Geise's confident approach offers liberation from debunked and out-dated notions of ‘good taste’. 'Taste' in any case, is a highly dubious concept in the twenty-first century.

His vocation and avocation mean that Geise is always looking for extraordinary decorative objects and art for his shop—as well as for his burgeoning private collection.

“I have more than forty antique portraits in my collection,” said Geise, who travels to Paris and to remote English and Belgian country towns, as well as estate sales, near and far, to find his treasures.

“I’ll go into a dusty auction house or arrive at a flea market before sunrise and hope to find a portrait or a mirror or de-accessioned military furniture that no-one has noticed,” said Geise. “I’ve run out of wall space at home, so now I’m stacking the framed portraits on the floor, a look I love. I’m a bit obsessed. I can’t stop collecting.”

Geise is a master at creating mood. 

Rich Provenance: A handcarved bed originally designed by decorator Billy Gaylord for the Sherman House hotel in Pacific Heights in the early eighties, brings a dash of Louis XVI to Geise’s bedroom. The upholstery is sage green mohair accented with antique brass nailhead trim. Above the bed, a nineteenth-century Italian bull’s-eye mirror has a central convex looking glass. A rare cinnamon-hued Suzani quilt was found in Istanbul. 

“I especially love the house at night with the candles lit, a fire burning, wine in the glass, and the lights of the city shimmering in the distance,” said Geise, seated in a Louis XV-style fauteuil with a verdure tapestry upholstery. “There is nowhere I would rather be than here.”


Coup d’Etat
111 Rhode Island Street
San Francisco
Phone 415-241-9300

All photography by Philip Harvey, used with express permission.

Philip Harvey is a commercial photographer with nineteen years of experience creating evocative images for clients. Philip guides his clients through the creative process from the early conception of the shoot--helping to creative the “look”, select locations, and find models-- through final printing. After completing his degree in literature and psychology at the University of Oregon, Philip graduated Brooks Institute of Photography with honors then moved to the Bay Area and began shooting for editorial, advertising, architecture, and catalog companies. Philip’s clients include L.L. Bean, Restoration Hardware, and Target. When not photographing Philip can be found canyoneering in Utah, whitewater rafting in Montana, or canoeing in Idaho. But most of the time he has a camera nearby.

Monday, June 18, 2012

London Calling: My New Favorite Hotel in London

The Halkin: It’s the Chicest Place to Stay

Why do I love The Halkin?

Location, location. When I’m in London, I want to be in on a quiet street, in a pretty, central neighborhood, and within walking distance of chic and inspiring and thrilling things to munch, see and do. The Halkin fits the bill with dash and perfection. It’s close to everything I love—but it’s on a quiet residential street. No noise. Discreet.

The staff is lovely (very international) and a guest can come and go without a lot of fuss or fanfare. Perfect for me. 

I was in London recently—mostly to see the astonishingly good Lucian Freud exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. London is looking its best now, with Jubilee fever, a great burst of pride in everything British, and still somewhat in the unknown future, the Olympics.

I spent weeks looking for the right London hotel. I always look first for a hotel in the right location. I want a quiet street with beautiful light, close to Cadogan Square and Sloane Street.

I love walking in London, so from my London perch, I want to be able to walk to John Sandoe Books (near Sloan Square), and to meet a friend at one of the cafes in Chelsea, or Fulham Road.

I want to walk over to Hatchard’s in Piccadilly to load up on (signed) books, and to pop next door to Fortnum’s to stock up on Earl Grey tea, and Sir Nigel's Vintage Marmalade Amphora, plus, oh, yes, Elderflower Jelly and Rose Petal Jelly. All shipped home. 

The Halkin could not be in a more perfect setting.

It’s steps away from the fragrant lilac-filled gardens of Belgrave Square, within calling distance of Buckingham Palace Gardens, and a brisk five minute walk to the Queen’s Gallery. And for a walk in the rose gardens at Hyde Park, it’s a quick stroll to Hyde Park Corner, and along the shaded paths. 


Opened: 1991

Designers: Laboratorio Associati – Design Studio of Lorenzo Carmellini and Rocco Magnoli of Milan, Italy

Uniforms: Designed by Giorgio Armani

Located in Belgravia, The Halkin is within walking distance of Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, Sloane Street, Piccadilly and and a 15 minute taxi ride from the City.

It has every service a traveler could need, and tech systems are excellent. Bathrooms: white/gray marble, with a large bath and an elegant shower.

Management: Kenneth Speirs, has been general manager of The Halkin since 2003. Under his leadership the hotel has recently won many awards—but it has still true to its style of quiet discretion and understatement. It speaks softly. 

The Halkin is modern, fresh, and wonderfully polished. It’s in a Georgian mansion. It’s twenty years old, and you have the feeling that Giorgio Armani might walk in at any moment and start plumping up the pillows.

With its crisp lines and soothing cream interiors, it’s very Armani. David Bowie loves the hotel, and Angelina Jolie used to pop in (before the kids). Fashion people stay there. No doubt, like me, they like the residential feeling there.

Several evenings, I returned to the hotel around midnight from dinner with friends, and would then go for a walk around Belgrave Square (to smell the lilacs). Yes, alone. There was no-one around, but I’d stop and chat to the police officers guarding the embassies that circle the neighborhood. Otherwise, residents were totally ‘lights out’ and London, here, was snoozing.

There are forty-one guest rooms and suites at The Halkin, all generously proportioned.

I asked for a little tour—and was happy to see a similar décor (cream, black) and concept in each room. I love this consistency and the cohesive approach to design.

The hushed rooms are reached from a striking corridor of black, corrugated-wood paneling, which flows in a powerfully sculptural curve on each level.

All rooms are furnished in an uncluttered and elegant style, with pale cream fabrics and burled Sapele Pommele wood with a dark tone.

My bed was a white cloud with an Egyptian cotton duvet, beautifully crisp plain white sheets, and a luxurious array of sumptuous goose down pillows. White beds! Nothing more wonderful when you’re traveling and you’re a little weary. 

Heading west, from the Halkin, it’s a brief and pretty walk along handsome white-painted Georgian terrace residences to the new Pierre Herme macaroon and chocolates emporium at 13 Lowndes Street, and beyond that Sloane Street (Hermes, Prada), to Harvey Nick’s, the V&A, and in the evening, it’s a five minute drive to Claridge’s where I have a date with the great illustrator, David Downton.

The Halkin Bar

Executive chef David Thompson opened Nahm restaurant in July 2001. The restaurant, overlooking a lovely garden offers traditional but very innovative Thai cuisine. Nahm was one of the first award-winning Thai restaurants in Europe, and it has been given a Michelin star. I loved it.

Lunch: Mon-Fri 12pm-2.30pm
Dinner: Mon-Sat 7pm-11pm, Sun 7pm-10pm

Nahm restaurant

Nahm restaurant

The Halkin is a purpose-built hotel – but the property’s Georgian-styled façade of weathered bricks, Portland stone and arched windows blends comfortably into its Belgravia surroundings. The contemporary and innovative design of Italian architects, Laboratorio Associati of Milan, has created a hotel where every detail is tailored, logical. The decor is low-key, tamped-down, tranquil. It doesn't call attention to itself...but let's you rest and recover.

The lobby is open-plan in design and flows into the hotel’s bar on the left and reception on the right, and ahead to the entrance to Nahm, the lovely Thai restaurant.
The Halkin is a COMO hotel, founded by Christina Ong.  I can’t wait to return. This is my new London base. See you there. 

News from COMO hotels: Punakha Valley in Bhutan, site of the future Uma Punakha

Uma Punakha, an intimate 11-room lodge, is scheduled to open in September 2012. It joins sister property Uma Paro for the second COMO outpost in Bhutan. The launch also creates a two-center opportunity to further explore the kingdom of Bhutan for guests seeking cultural discovery and physical adventure, such as Uma’s signature trekking itineraries.

Location:  The new property is situated on a hillside in the verdant Punakha Valley, a five-hour drive from Paro, home to the only international airport. The steep path to Uma Punakha boasts spectacular bird’s-eye views. A few traditional houses dot the vista, along with spreading jacaranda trees, known for their stunning purple blooms, and apple orchards. Bright green terraced fields spread out below, graduating toward a dramatic bend in the Mo Chu River. Famous for its pale blue glacial waters, the Mo Chu (female river) joins the Po Chu (male river) a few miles downstream. 

Punakha is one of the most important valleys to the Bhutanese because it is home to two of the country’s great historical attractions: the Temple of the Divine Madman — a 14th-century fertility temple dedicated to the Tibetan Buddhist Saint Drukpa Kuenley — and the Punakha Dzong, a fortress temple where the current King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuk and his bride Jetsun Pema were recently married. Uma Punakha therefore offers a gateway to this important cultural region, as well as opportunities for white-water rafting, hiking, and cycling.

The lodge will also be home to a COMO Shambhala retreat. Located in a villa complex overlooking picturesque ruins and the valley below, the retreat’s two treatment rooms will include a hot-stone bath.

Design:  Cheong Yew Kuan, a Singapore-born, Bali-based architect, who designed COMO Shambhala Estate and Uma Ubud in Bali, designed this new lodge. True to Yew Kuan’s style, simplicity prevails, with natural light flooding interiors. The lodge comprises nine deluxe rooms and two one-bedroom villas. The look complements the established pared-back, traditionally-influenced splendor of Uma Paro: oversized beds, wood-burning stoves, and calming neutral color schemes punctuated with vibrant flourishes of traditional hand-painted Bhutanese wall designs. 

The COMO Group and COMO Hotels and Resorts
Headquartered in Singapore, The COMO Group represents Christina Ong’s unique vision of contemporary living. This encompasses the hospitality collection known as COMO Hotels and Resorts, the international luxury fashion retailer Club 21, the award-winning wellness concept COMO Shambhala, and the philanthropic COMO Foundation.

The Halkin
15 Halkin Street 
London SW1X 7DJ
Tel +44 (0)20 7333 1000
Fax +44 (0)20 7333 1100

Guest services:
- 24-hour room service
- Daily maid service and evening turndown
- Laundry, dry cleaning and pressing
- Shoe cleaning
- Express check-out
- Secretarial services
- Playstation 2 and other games for kids
- Valet parking
- Foreign exchange
- Limousine, car rental and airline reservations - Theatre ticket reservations
- Personalised shopping itineraries

Photography of The Halkin hotel, courtesy The Halkin.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Modernist Masterpiece: At Home with Designer David Oldroyd

In the hills of San Francisco, above the Castro district, designer David Oldroyd recently completed his sleek and brilliant reinvention of a thirties townhouse. Light-filled purist interiors are the perfect canvas for sensual sculptures, vintage furniture, and rare collections. 

Designer David Oldroyd’s impeccable light-filled monochromatic interiors are the perfect canvas for his life away from his fast-paced design practice. 

Modern Mix: The dining table is a vintage 1970s Michael Taylor cypress trunk base with new glass top. Dining chairs are vintage 1970s attributed to Milo Baughman. On the wall, the plaster sculpture, P-Wall (2006) is by Andrew Kudless/MATSYS, 

San Francisco interior designer David Oldroyd has been a modernist since he started his design and architecture career over twenty-eight years ago. He’s a partner with Orlando Diaz-Azcuy and Greg Stewart at Orlando Diaz-Azcuy Design Associates, an interior design and architecture studio noted for perfectly planned and rigorously modern interiors. 

Contrast Concept: Side chairs, a pair of vintage Frank Gehry “Wiggle Chairs” purchased at Lou Marotta in New York, appear to jostle a sedate pair of chaises longues, nineteenth-century English, upholstered in Rogers & Goffigon sage glazed linen. Glazed strie wood finish by Claudio Mariani. Chaises longues acquired from March, 

Mid-Century Modern: Molded chairs are vintage French 1970s molded resin purchased at March San Francisco, Artwork above resin chairs: Ice Painting Study 2010, artist Ronnie Genotti. 

But as a minimalist, Oldroyd is also a secret romantic, decorating his newly completed house with sensual handcrafted objects, rare and beautiful furniture, poetic art, sexy hand-beaten silver collections, and handcrafted Scandinavian glass designs.

“I believe in simply detailed interiors and rigorously planned rooms, but for myself I love the addition beautiful and eccentric and arresting pieces to captivate my eye,” said the designer. “I’m not a fan of hard-edge. I’ve selected them so that the effect is captivating and welcoming, not at all museum-like.” 

Sleek and Pure: David Oldroyd designed the elongated white lacquer credenza in white lacquer with bronze blade supports, fabricated by Jason Gaidmore Furniture, Glass collection on credenza includes large apple and melon vases by Ingeborg Lundin c 1958; Venini “Veronese” Nero vase; frosted double-lobbed vase is by Ritsue Mishima “Petali” no. 11, 2007, from Hedge Gallery. 

As a minimalist he painted all walls of his house an ultra pale grey mist tone that’s ethereal. At high noon, it reads almost white, and at dusk it fades to a pale mysterious taupe. The hardwood floors in his living room are covered with chunky rush matting. The tonalities of fabrics, art, textiles and upholstery range from palest ivory to pale sage, soft charcoal, and a dash of blue. It’s all very controlled and coherent in approach. 

But Oldroyd has a maximalist side that he celebrates, choosing great flourishes of branches that he stands in tall zinc or handblown glass vases. When he loves an objects—Alan Alder silver, ancient Chinese terra cotta pots, or sixties Danish or Italian glass-- he acquires it en masse and displays it boldly.

He’s artful at creating counterpoints of old and new, rustic and modern, and luxurious and humble. In a corner of the living room, in full sun, a rare Michael Taylor-designed raw cypress trunk table base has a new clear glass top.

A frothy white wall sculpture hangs on the living room wall above the undulating glossy black lacquer grand piano. Freeform vintage Frank Gehry ‘Wiggle’ chairs are juxtaposed with an austere elongated pure white cabinet that’s suspended on three ultra-slim ‘blade’ supports, cast in oxidized bronze. It’s an artful counterpoint of custom-made cabinetry and flea-market finds, ancient ceramics and modern cast plastic all in the same room. All perfectly posed. 

Calm and Composed: In the study, a table, nineteenth-century English, with a painted metal base with original white Carrara stone inlaid top. Sculpture above fireplace: “Quiet Bark” 2006 cast bronze, Yoshitomo Saito, purchased at Haines Gallery San Francisco, Oldroyd installed the leaded glass windows to add texture and pattern, and to offer privacy. 
With his perfectionism comes patience.

Oldroyd acquired his house, perched in Corona Heights, in 2004. He spent one year planning and getting permits. The following five years were spent in an extensive remake and re-invention of his property.

‘I was drawn to the south-facing location, the rather hidden street, and views of hills,” said the designer.

From his front deck, Sutro Tower, with sails of white fog, appears as ethereal and grand as a galleon. Ships hover in the shimmering bay to the south. 

Oldroyd, with his extensive list of requirements, spent more that two years searching for the house. He wanted fireplaces, high ceilings, and a house with some architectural heritage.

The 2,000 square foot, multi-level house, which had been built in 1928, has a Spanish-style exterior, and had not been touched since 1960. For Oldroyd it was full of potential. It had a garage and direct access to a flat garden with Meyer lemon trees.

“I was bidding against contractors who would have done a quick fix-up and flip,” said Oldroyd. “But after everything was signed up, I discovered that the house had serious leaks and cracks, the windows let in the draughts, and the electricity was so haphazard and primitive that the previous owners improvised lighting in the living room with Christmas lights.” 

Oldroyd further learned that the house was listing to the east, that the floors sloped, and the roof would have to be replaced.

“The blessing was that as my own client I could do whatever I wanted,” noted the designer. “The reality was that I had a budget, and so I had to be extremely inventive with every move and material.” 

Meet the Designer:

David Oldroyd has been created polished and inspiring interiors for the last two decades. He’s based in San Francisco and far from the New York design circles and publications, but he is known to design insiders who admire the rigor and perfectionism of his projects. It’s time to get to know David and his design insights!

Join me for a chat with David Oldroyd.

DDS: Most exciting new design trends?
I tend not to trend. I believe that good design stays good. However, open eyes and a teachable mind are essential to good design, to assure we learn from the past and influence what we design in the future.

It is no longer necessary to have a room full of traditional furniture, art and accessories to create a feeling of warmth, comfort and luxury. We are now using line, shape and volume; contrast, color and texture; simplicity, openness and space to accomplish the same thing. New and innovative materials are complimenting age and patina in a way that is more interesting and stimulating than ever before.

DDS: Please describe a recent room design you completed.
I am continually fascinated with the absence of obvious color and am drawn to interiors that are inviting, even intoxicating without the use of strong color combinations. Colorful rooms can be extraordinary. And, color is a good tool for problem-solving, and can make a room fashionable and current. But color will not hide a fundamentally poor room and when not deftly employed will become dated.

I recently created a room using only the subtle shades visible in a thick piece of glass…pale gray/green/silver/blue/gold. The lack of obvious color feels fresh and interesting and lets you feel the room rather than just see it. I used contrast and texture and subtle shades of almost non-color to keep the eye interested and moving. The walls are painted flat in a chameleon shade of pale gray mist that is both warm and cool. The ceiling is a gently contrasting off-white to lift the eye. The wood floors are clear and stained a light walnut with a hint of green to anchor the room.

DDS: Do you think design has changed in San Francisco over the last twenty years?
San Francisco design has become much more urban. People are living downtown, in lofts, in high-rises. The influence of the relaxed, boldly scaled elegant style that Michael Taylor championed is still felt, and has a timeless quality. The contrasts that he became famous for still feel current today. But this is a much more vertical city than it was, and we are responding to that. Floor-to-ceiling glass has become normal and even expected. The influence of the sky and the view from condo towers has changed the way we bring the natural world into our rooms. Colors are lighter and fresher, and not as heavy and earthy. Antiques are used, but more sparingly. Modern art and accessories play a much more important role in design, and are now more than ever necessary to make a room feel contemporary. And the pace of technology has and will bring change and challenge us to keep up!

DDS: New design idea?
I love the idea of no tile in a bathroom. I’m constantly looking for new materials to use on the wet walls of a shower that will provide the necessary function…my current favorite is exterior plaster, smooth-troweled.

I also think that the cluttered garage as entry hall should be banished! Most people in California drive home, and enter through the garage. Instead it should be one of the best rooms in the house. I have artwork on the walls in mine and I’d have a window with a view if I could afford it. 

A Sense of Classicism: Oldroyd’s sense of minimalist perfection is evident in the all-white bathroom, with its panel of glass neatly balanced on the mosaic floor, and sliding glass doors opening to the terrace. Painting over tub: vintage 1960’s unsigned, a flea-market find. The bathroom faces south and has no nearby neighbors. 

All photography by Philip Harvey, used with express permission.

Meet the photographer:
Philip Harvey is a commercial photographer with 18 years of experience creating evocative images for clients. Philip helps guide his clients through the creative process from the early concepting of the shoot--helping to creative the “look”, select locations, and find models-- through final printing. After completing his degree in literature and psychology at the University of Oregon, Philip graduated Brooks Institute of Photography with honors then moved to the Bay Area and began shooting for editorial, advertising, architecture, and catalog companies. Philip’s clients include L.L. Bean, Restoration Hardware, and Target. When not photographing Philip can be found canyoneering in Utah, Whitewater rafting in Montana, or canoeing in Idaho. But most of the time he has a camera nearby. 

Designer David Oldroyd, originally from Utah, is a long-time partner with Orlando Diaz-Azcuy Design Associates in San Francisco. 

Architectural design, renovation, and interior decoration:
David Todd Oldroyd, Principal, Orlando Diaz-Azcuy Design Associates, 201 Post Street, 9th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94108 (415) 362-4500,

General Construction by: Saturn Construction,

Plaster Wall Sculpture: P-Wall (2006) by Andrew Kudless/MATSYS,

Paint color on walls throughout: 
Benjamin Moore OC-131 White Down,

Monday, June 4, 2012

A World of Style: Rug and Textiles Specialist Madeline Weinrib Opens Her New Bespoke Design Atelier and Launches Chic New Products


Fans of the great New York textile and rug designer Madeline Weinrib are in for a treat, exclusively here on THE STYLE SALONISTE.

She has just opened a 2,700 sq ft appointment-only showroom on lower Fifth Avenue, adjacent to her studio. This highly anticipated space gives Madeline the opportunity to address the demand from the design industry for custom designs, ultra-luxury collaborations, and new concepts.

“In my new atelier, by appointment only, I can work closely with architects and designers in what I envision will be a design laboratory,” said Weinrib, giving a tour of her new space.

There she offers the full range of carpet and textile collections but she has also created new products, including cashmere carpets that are exclusive to this location.

“I’ll continue my focus on the hand of the artist, artisanal traditions, handcrafted rugs and textiles, my silk velvet ikats, and always with contemporary elegance, “ she said. 

I recently chatted with Madeline Weinrib to learn for about her new atelier, her new products, and her designs.

Stop by for a moment, and join us for an inspiring conversation. 

The new showroom carries the full range of Madeline Weinrib carpets, textiles and pillows. She works directly with designers on contract carpeting and other bespoke services. There is another small line being offered exclusively as bespoke called Classic Indian Dhurries.

Madeline Weinrib’s Mission Statement:
“ I embrace authenticity as one of my hallmark values. My aesthetic is defined by the use of techniques that favor hand over machine and tradition over automation. Rigorous and process-oriented, my design approach is one of open-ended experimentation, reframing and refinement.” 

A Chat with Madeline Weinrib: Art and Soul 
I recently spoke with Madi about her designs, her inspiration, and her love of textiles and carpets.

Sit down with us and meet Madeline. In her work, her devotion and passion for beauty shine through.

DDS: Tell us about your exciting new venture.
My new Showroom enables me to work on a more personal level with architects and designers, which is very inspiring to me. I also have a wide range of different weaving techniques that I can work with on a one to one basis with my clients. These would be difficult to retail. For instance, I have just created a carpet made of cashmere that will be available on a bespoke basis. It is an incredibly luxurious product. I love it. I also have beautiful jacquard fabrics that are new and not available anywhere else.

DDS: In your work you collaborate with art galleries, fashion designers, and other creatives. Tell us about your recent project in Italy.
The show in Milan was titled Climbers & Ramblers; A Series of Carpets by Madeline Weinrib. It was held at the Alberto Levi Gallery in Milan in conjunction with the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan.

My show in Milan was an exhibition of a series of carpets made in Pakistan from hand spun, vegetable dyed wool. Inspired by Persian carpets. I feel that this is one of my most important collections. It integrates Old Persian motifs with contemporary design and is based on conceptual ideas. The weavers who make these carpets are master craftsmen. It would be quite hard to make these carpets anywhere else. 

DDS: You travel for inspiration and to work with hand weavers and visit workshops, always learning.
Next I am off to Turkey, which is one of my favorite countries to visit. Fortunately I go often for production. I have been making gorgeous Angora goat hair carpets. They come in beautiful hues inspired by the colors of the Ottoman Empire.

DDS: I admire your idea of taking folkloric and handcrafted traditional patterns and making them modern. Your new colors are glorious.
I'm so glad that you picked up on that current in my work. My appropriation of traditional patterns and modernizing of that visual language has always been central to what I do. Now this idea seems everywhere, but at the time--12 years ago-- that wasn't the case. I discovered that it really resonated for me and that it could serve as my voice in the decorative arts. It became a departure from my paintings, which at the time were organic abstraction. This departure was possible because I was open to using new materials--the decorative textiles that I had been looking at-- and was responding to the particularities and formal constraints that they presented.

Once I started shifting my ideas, I had to rethink my technique and my perspective. I trained myself to see from the floor as opposed to the wall and realizing that it had to exist in dialogue with the decor in the room, that it would have furniture placed on it. I had to plan for that, to work with that. It couldn't be as hermetic. In painting, it's a world of its own. That’s not true for rugs, which are part of the décor and must be functional. 

DDS: What was your original design motive and inspiration?
I fell in love with an antique Tibetan carpet with a traditional design of a checkerboard. As an artist at that time, I was working on a series of drawings and sketches on craft paper and the designs on the checkerboard corresponded to the color of my paper and charcoal. That's when I realized I could transfer my ideas to a different surface with a different set of values. I designed my first collection. 

DDS: Your designs can be read as both very modern and quite traditional.
When I started working in textiles that was something I wanted to achieve. I designed concepts that would be contemporary and speak of its own time, but if it were a really strong design, it would work well in other environments. Great design should have flexibility. Using traditional motifs that have been simplified and pared to their essence has allowed me to achieve this duality. 

DDS: When did you start designing textiles?
I started making textiles about nine years ago. I meet a lot of interesting people through my travels, including a woman working in Uzbekistan helping to resurrect the art of ikat weaving. I wanted to produce ikats using my own palette and designs. It took a long time, but it has really taken off. I do the same thing with suzani textiles, and they are even harder to develop, but they look very beautiful. Five years ago, I started developing a hand-woven brocade. At this time, I can only make 14 yards per month. It’s rare and exquisite.

DDS: Thank you, Madi. I can’t wait to see what you do next. See you in India! 

A Selection of Collaborations:

Neue Galerie
The Neue Galerie in New York carries exclusive pillows in the gift shop. . More recently, Madeline created the Opium Ikat Kimono exclusively for the museum. Inspired by a photograph by Viennese photographer Madame D'Ora, it took Madeline years to perfect the ikat pattern on this beautiful handcrafted piece. It is currently available at the Neue Galerie.

Sebastian & Barquet
Madeline held a collaborative exhibition with renowned furniture gallery Sebastian + Barquet. Madeline brought her signature textile designs to a dozen pieces of Modernist furniture. “Reimagining mid-century touchstones by Gio Ponti, Vladimir Kagan and Arne Jacobsen through her own contemporary and highly-singular lens, Weinrib’s project explored the relationship between form, color and pattern and upends the formal rigor of the Modernist aesthetic.

Barneys NY
Madeline has launched an exclusive collection of home accessories for Barneys New York. The line of lacquer items was created from Madeline’s signature hand woven ikat textiles and is comprised of two serving trays, a stationery box, pencil box and Parsons table. The collaborative line is in the Chelsea Passage section of the retailer's Madison Avenue Flagship store as well as online. 


Visiting historic and highly decorative palaces throughout India, Madeline was drawn to the timeless beauty of the traditional hand-woven Indian cotton Dhurrie. Her designs reflect the elegant simplicity and rhythmic geometric sequences that give these carpets their allure. To evoke the mood and style of the old Indian palaces, this collection is stonewashed and gently weathered for an earthy, age-softened look. These versatile carpets look equally at home in a city apartment or a modernist beach house. Hand loomed in India from natural cotton and reversible.

Available exclusively as a bespoke offering, any Classic Indian Dhurrie style can be made to size and color. 

Where to find Madeline Weinrib:

New Bespoke Showroom
Madeline Weinrib Showroom for Bespoke Services
126 Fifth Avenue, 2nd floor
New York, NY
By appointment only, telephone (212) 414-5978

Madeline Weinrib Atelier
ABC Carpet & Home
888 Broadway, 6th Floor
New York, NY

All photographs courtesy Madeline Weinrib, New York. Showroom photos by photographer Antoine Bootz and Madeline's portrait by photographer Jason Rothenberg.