Collectables

Inspired Monday Morning: Christophe Côme by Raji Radhakrishnan

                                      Christophe Côme in his studio (image via Architectural Digest)

                                      Christophe Côme in his studio (image via Architectural Digest)

Almost always a truly spectacular piece of furniture is born when unusual forms and materials fuse together perfectly and envelope what is a fundamental base for functionality. That's easier said than done. Unless you are born in an artistic family, raised and taught to be an exceptional craftsman, have the will and the tenacity to explore working with new materials and forms mid-career and in essence if you are Christophe Côme. The French artist and furniture designer creates furniture that are really sculpture portrayed in the form of furniture. His most unusual furniture pieces invariably steal the show even in a room filled only with the finest of furniture and art. I should know as I showcased one of his cabinets in the 2011 Hampton Designer Show House and where every person who walked into the room had to ask about this cabinet and who it was by. The facets and dimensions that the glass pieces create is pure magic and it is all due to the clever shapes, placement and encasement within finely sculpted steel that is Côme's signature style.

His Loukoum lamps are another favorite of mine. Like an ice block glowing from within. A simple idea but executed in the most beautiful way acting like jewelry in a room. Even in a room with my large murals and exceptional vintage furniture, his lamps quietly made people gravitate towards the desk where I placed a pair of these lamps on it. As odd as it may sound, being in the company of great pieces like this does certainly feel like you've been whisked away (think Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris) to a time and place where the intellectuals and the artists met, discussing fervently the most important issues of our time. The dialogue and interaction that each have with the other then become of utmost importance but it all starts with the integrity, craftsmanship and style of each piece and that in turn starts with the kind of person, the artist who created them in the first place. And for that reason and beyond, Côme won my heart a long time ago...

xo, Raji

                               

                               

2011 Hampton Designer Show House Designed by  Raji RM  featuring a Christophe Côme cabinet

2011 Hampton Designer Show House Designed by Raji RM featuring a Christophe Côme cabinet

2012 Kips Bay Show House in New York by Raji RM Interior Design featuring Christophe Côme's Loukoum lamps on the desk; Photography by Rikki Snyder

2012 Kips Bay Show House in New York by Raji RM Interior Design featuring Christophe Côme's Loukoum lamps on the desk; Photography by Rikki Snyder

Inspired Monday Morning: Christian Astuguevieille by Raji Radhakrishnan

                               

                               

Has this ever happened to you? You come across a material or color that you fall in love so much that you want to cover every object or surface you possibly can with it? Or you start with one and you love it so much that you continue looking around for other objects or surface you can cover it with?! And I wonder if that's how it started for Christian Astuguevielle and his rope furniture. Surely, it's far more deeper, well thought out et raisonné. When I first came across Astuguevielle's rope furniture in early 2000s, I thought they were absolutely incredible, sculptural, very impractical and loved them!

Over the years as I have explored objects searching for the unusual, the difficult, sometimes unseen and unheard of, I came across many interesting rope clad works including lighting by the likes of Adrien Audoux and Frida Minet. But, I have grown to love furniture covered in this age old, rough, pliable material that requires acute precision and the eye of an artist to create a truly beautiful object more passionately than any other material and now have immense respect for Astuguevielle's work. His ability to take a mundane object and create a sculptural presence once he encases them in cotton cord, twined fiber or hemp, is pure genius. So what if they are sometimes robbed of their daily use especially when they are imbued with such a tactile quality, begging you to touch the stiffened ropes and feel the knuckled knots all while they take on a persona far more interesting and potent than most other objects in a space.

And what less can you expect of a man who has been the artistic director of fashion houses like Nina Ricci, Rochas and Hermès as well as the nose behind the fragrances produced by the Japanese design house Comme des Garçons. Well groomed and seasoned, enriched and exposed, Astuguevielle's work is the embodiment of knowledge and refinement that transcends the ordinary to extraordinary. Sublime et tout ma tasse de thé!

- xo Raji

Images of Astuguevielle's Paris apartment via Elle Decor (Espana)
Images of Astuguevielle's furniture via Holly Hunt

                                                                            Astuguevielle's Paris Apartment

                                                                            Astuguevielle's Paris Apartment

                                                                           Christian Astuguevielle

                                                                           Christian Astuguevielle

Inspired Monday Morning: Guy de Rougemont by Raji Radhakrishnan

Great vintage originals have always been in vogue and are very often replicated. However, it's one thing to find vintage furnishings that look so right for today but an altogether different experience to find those that look like a perfectly made contemporary design but are in fact vintage. It is pure bliss and exactly how I feel about the French artist, Guy de Rougemont (born 1935). A prolific painter, sculptor who also designs furniture till date and tapped by the influential French designer Henri Samuel back in the 1970s. Guy de Rougemont's iconic Cloud Table designed in the 70s and in different variations is shockingly au courant and hard to believe he designed it nearly four decades ago! His Table Nouage Rouge (Red Cloud Table) from 1970 seen above is a good example.

One look at his work on canvas, murals, totems and sculptures can tell you how he uses abstract art to interpret his view of the world in a rather baroque and colorful way. It is said that Guy de Rougemont has thought of cities as jungles and has tried to create, through his interventions, ways to penetrate and resonate with his surroundings. Not limiting his art (or his thinking) to canvases, his work extends to sculpture, furniture, objects, rugs, stained-glass windows (of course!), porcelain, ceramics, stamps, posters and more recently wine labels. And the fact that he continues to create art and objects that are not only very much his style but always relevant and avant garde at the same time is not an easy feat. Neither is being always one step (or several steps) ahead of his time. I for one find that the causal and casual effect of having a piece of art made functional and amidst other "regular" furnishings, a delightful and unique experience and one that I would love to see adopted in more interiors!

- xo, Raji

Guy de Rougemont, 2011

Guy de Rougemont, 2011

Folding Screen by Guy de Rougemont

Folding Screen by Guy de Rougemont

Cloud Table by Guy de Rougemont

Cloud Table by Guy de Rougemont

Guy de Rougemont 1992; Photography by  Michel Baret

Guy de Rougemont 1992; Photography by Michel Baret

Inspired Monday Morning: Joris Laarman by Raji Radhakrishnan

What makes a furniture or object collectible? For me, it should first be absolutely divine in its creation - that means nothing like you've ever seen before but also something that makes you wonder how in the world they created it. The furniture is usually architectural or sculptural with considerable engineering, artistry and skills behind it. In the vintage collectibles category, so many great vintage designs are being copied easily today but when Jean Prouvé originally made his Compas table in the early 1950s it was no ordinary table for his time and the technology available then. If you could get your hands on an original Jean Prouvé piece, that is a collectible. In contemporary furniture design, there are a handful of product designers today whose works are highly coveted. Their work straddles functional furniture, technology, science, architecture and art. Those of Elizabeth Garouste & Matteo Bonetti, Marc Newson, Ron Arad, Zaha Hadid and Claude & Francois-Xavier Lalanne come to mind. In a way, a collectable also has something to do with demand and supply and unless it's a prototype, vintage or contemporary, mass production is not a collectible. Limited editions can be collectibles. But when a piece is truly extraordinary and innovative it is usually also one that is incredibly difficult to make. They are crafted meticulously with unusual or new materials, using complicated machinery and tools requiring highly skilled labor and in a very controlled environment like a lab. An engineering and technological feat almost every time it is made thus taking a serious amount of time to produce and hence very rarely available. In this sense, these pieces are a rare work of art.

Joris Laarman, a young Dutch designer is one of those contemporaries I very much admire as he defies what functional art is and can be - a true innovator in every sense of the word. Many of his creations are very much a collectible attested by the number of world class museums that have added his work to their permanent collections. Like many of his predecessors who have experimented with new materials and design and where some of their creations were translated from their original designs leading to mass productions (while others, often due to their complexity, remain limited custom creations), Laarman's experiments have led him to fantastical creations while constantly trying new possibilities, most recently, with 3-D printing. The thing to note though is that he is not only innovative in his design and his manufacturing process he is also creating the all important new "digital" material that will work through a 3-D printer to create his furniture. Of course some of his 3-D printed designs will eventually lead to mass production. But I can't help but think that, as we sit in the brink of a new generation of design, Laarman gives new meaning to the term "pushing the envelope". What can I say, Il est tout ma tasse de thé!

- xo Raji

Joris Laarman

Joris Laarman

Laarman's Bone Table custom created in his lab

Laarman's Bone Table custom created in his lab

Laarman's Gradient Chair created using a 3-D printer and bi-truncated cubic honeycomb shapes.

Laarman's Gradient Chair created using a 3-D printer and bi-truncated cubic honeycomb shapes.

Joris Laarman's Bone Chair custom created by his lab

Joris Laarman's Bone Chair custom created by his lab

Claude & Francois-Xavier Lalanne by Raji Radhakrishnan

It isn't an entirely new concept when designers talk about sculptural furnishings. It's been a stylistic aspect of many designer's work for decades and something I strive for in most interiors I create. My personal thoughts have always been that whenever possible make the furnishings (that includes furniture, lighting and accessories) as sculptural as possible but hopefully not at the expense of comfort or practicality. If comfort was the only objective, I think it would make for pretty but bland and boring interiors. On the other hand, if beautiful and sculptural furnishings were the only objective then the rooms tend to feel like museums. Hence the adage, a balance between form and function. One way to do this, is to keep all the key pieces of furnishings in a room as practical and comfortable (and beautiful) as possible and then introduce at least one terrific piece even if it is purely for it's sculptural presence.

Mouflon de Pauline, 1993, by Francois Xavier Lalanne

Mouflon de Pauline, 1993, by Francois Xavier Lalanne

There are many beautiful and sculptural furniture out there but to me the ones that are the epitome and the very definition of sculptural furniture are those made by the Lalannes. Of late, auction prices for the Lalannes have skyrocketed so much (and for good reason) that it makes acquiring one of their pieces as rare and pricey as a Picasso. The husband and wife duo, the late Francois-Xavier Lalanne and Claude Lalanne, both worked and exhibited together and you can see how much their thoughts and works were in unison.  They had different subject matter preferences. Francois preferred over-sized animal figures with secret compartments, whereas Claude, now 86, enjoys flora over fauna and also worked on jewelry and more intricate and smaller subjects. But the sculptural quality, materials and the basic whimsical nature of both their pieces spoke to each other so well that I think one picked up where the other left off. That is the kind of flourish that's hard to come by. And the kind of work that I think will inspire us for centuries and generations to come. Il est certainement ma tasse de thé!

These are some of my favorite Lalanne pieces - images via Flickr & Pinterest

Claude & Francois Xavier Lalanne

Claude & Francois Xavier Lalanne

One of my favorite is this 1964, rhinoceros-shaped bar created by Francois Xavier Lalanne

One of my favorite is this 1964, rhinoceros-shaped bar created by Francois Xavier Lalanne

Image via Paul Kasmin Gallery

Image via Paul Kasmin Gallery

Ginkgo: A patinated bronze side chair designed by Claude Lalanne, 1996

Ginkgo: A patinated bronze side chair designed by Claude Lalanne, 1996

YSL Bar

YSL Bar

Yves Saint Laurent & Pierre Bergé home in Paris

Yves Saint Laurent & Pierre Bergé home in Paris

Oiseau d'Argent chair by François-Xavier Lalanne

Oiseau d'Argent chair by François-Xavier Lalanne

Paris Apartment of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé featuring branches and leaf clad mirrors by Claude Lalanne. Image via Christie's.

Paris Apartment of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé featuring branches and leaf clad mirrors by Claude Lalanne. Image via Christie's.

Image via Architectural Digest

Image via Architectural Digest

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Collections & Collectibles: Robert et Jean Cloutier by Raji Radhakrishnan

As designers we are exposed to many beautiful things in our daily life. When I'm shopping for our projects, traveling, dining, reading, visiting and browsing - I find that all these forays are an opportunity to hone the eye and learn something new. In this day and age we are not short of exposure, if anything it's overexposure and hence it is equally important to be able to glean through the millions and zero in on the things that are truly beautiful and make the cut. Quality, material, skilled workmanship, price, age, provenance and uniqueness are all important - some relatively more than others depending on who and what you are shopping for.

Decades ago I stumbled upon a ceramic box given to me as a gift which had a signature at the bottom. I loved the box for it's shape, the sweet birds painted on it and it's fragility. At that time, I had no idea who it was by or even what that signature meant. Many years later rummaging at Paris' Marché aux Puces I stumbled upon a ceramic vase. Vaguely familiar in it's colors and finish, turning it upside down I realized it was the same signature that was on my box. Determined to find out who the signature belonged to and what these wonderful ceramics are about, I talked to a few vendors I knew and soon embarked on a search for more pieces by the "Cloutier Freres". As I discovered more ceramics by these exceptional artists and twin brothers, Robert & Jean Cloutier, my love for their work increased exponentially. While I await the first book on these exceptional ceramicists' works, collecting these whimsical, puts-a-smile-on-your-face, beautifully made pieces est juste ma tasse de thé!

Image via  Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

Images via  Pinterest

Images via Pinterest

Images via  Pinterest

Images via Pinterest

Image on left via  maison et toi  and on right via  Pinterest

Image on left via maison et toi and on right via Pinterest

Raji RM & Associates | Interior Designer & Decorator

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Félix Marcilhac at Sotheby's Paris by Raji Radhakrishnan

A collection worth flying to Paris for. I spend a lot of time going through auction catalogs and this is one of the finest Art Deco and Noveau collections that's ever come on the market. Below are some of my favorites from Marchillac's collection. Juste ma tasse de thé!

A 1928 Maison Bagues Suspension from Marchillac's Dining Room

An excerpt from Sotheby's - Sotheby’s Paris is hosting the Private Collection of dealer, and art historian Félix Marcilhac on March 11 & 12, 2014. Art Nouveau/Art Deco pioneer, Félix Marcilhac is counted among the world’s top dealers in the field of 20th century decorative arts. His private collection seen for decades in his house, runs to over 300 lots and includes paintings, sculptures, furnishings and objects of art, from major French creators of the 1920s and 1930s. (all photos from Sothebys)

Pierre Legrain Console Table & Detail

Paul Iribe Fauteuil Nautile, 1913

Michel Dufet Grand Beaureau (polished zinc), 1928

Joseph Csaky, Fontaine Poisson, Gilt Bronze, 1928

Gilt Wood Column by Rene Prou, 1925

Image via #Tmag

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