AD100 Interior Designer David Kleinberg famously said “When you stay relentlessly in one period, the eye absorbs it all in a single glance. Going against period introduces an energy.” When Kate and Andy Spade mixed such very different stylistic periods as modern abstract art and a romantic 19th century Aubusson rug with floral and architectural motifs, they really went very far against period and the beauty of their Park Avenue living room is something to behold. The venerable Habitually Chic Blog went so far as to say “….it’s one of those timeless homes that will probably look as good in 30 years as it does after three which is a testament to the chic taste of it’s owners as well as their interior designer, Steven Sclaroff.” If we believe that the source of this homes wonderful energy does indeed come from the mixing of very different stylistic periods, then the same contrasting mix will still be there 30 years from now and the energy in the room will still be as wonderful as it is today. In today’s post we will try to get a better understanding of this energy so we can become better at creating it in our interiors.
Fashion designers Kate and Andy Spade’s Park Avenue prewar apartment was designed with the help of interior designer Steven Sclaroff. Image courtesy Steven Sclaroff.
The warm and beautiul energy of the Spade’s living room comes from the interplay of numerous different periods, styles and cultures. For example- the Aubusson rug’s pattern itself is a combination of two very different styles and periods- French romantic florals intertwine with architectural motifs that come from Classical Roman architecture. The grey and white striped fabric evokes humble ticking fabrics, which contrasts with the refined curvature of the French chairs. The simplicity of white paint is another contrast with the ornate curves of the chairs. The grey sofa is a beautiful combination of Art Deco and Federal styles while the solid gray fabric says contemporary. The two abstract paintings bring us to the middle of the 20th century.
This view of the Spade’s living room reveals more stylistic and cultural mixes. The floor pillows are covered in a red and purple fabric in a pattern derived from highly unusual central Asian embroideries called Kaitag which were made in the 17th and 18th centuries. The dark wood coffee table and the small barrel shaped table are inspired by Chinese furniture from the Ming Dynasty (14th to 17th centuries). The black and white abstract painting is mid to late 20th century, the yellow and chrome floor lamp is mid-century modern and the fireplace is in 19th century Beaux Arts style. Image courtesy The Selby.
This seating area in the Spade’s living reveals more mixes of styles and periods- a modern black and white photographic print hangs above a sofa upholstered in a black and white print that reminds me of a famous room by Billy Baldwin. The small coffee table and the side table are in the neoclassical style and the bookcase is in a style reminiscent of 19th and early 20th century furniture from Philadelphia.The gray and white coloration of the walls is modern, but the molding is traditional. Image courtesy The Selby.
So far we have been speaking of the energy that comes from mixing styles from different periods and cultures. But this is not the only source of energy in a room. Energy is also created by five other types of contrasts and mixes. One is the energy created by juxtaposing cool and warm colors and by placing vibrant colors against neutrals for example red against white or black. The third source of energy arises from the interplay of shapes, the fourth source of energy comes from mixing large scale and small scale patterns and the fifth source of energy arises from using a range of different textures and materials.
These five sources of energy will be covered in future posts.