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French provincial style furniture is a favourite amongst those looking to add a touch of refined elegance to any space. The sweeping curves, elongated proportions, neutral palette and natural finishes of French provincial furniture means the style is great for those looking to create a classic, sophisticated interior with the additions of comfort, ease and practicality.
There is some variety amongst French provincial furnishings as the style draws from different periods; however most of the style was established during the 18th century when furnishings and interiors were influenced by the illustrious courts of Versailles and the three King Louis’.
The origins of the style took hold in the Baroque period during the reign of Louis XIV. This was France’s golden age of culture and enlightenment and saw the rise of an elaborate style of furnishings – often carved, gilded and intricately decorated.
This affluent style spread through the capital Paris and slowly trickled down to the provincial farmers and rural inhabitants of France. Life was beginning to thrive in rural France during the Golden era of Louis XIV due to the boom in local commerce. The result was a new up and coming wealthier middle class, able to mimic the Parisian style of fashionable furnishings, but rightly pared back so as to more aptly suit the country lifestyle. This was the rise of French provincial style, the unique combination of the beauty and design flair of Baroque and Rococo fashionable furnishings and the more practical, pared down style of country living.
The provincial artisans in the country had ample access to the timber of surrounding forests and were apprenticed for up to 8 years, resulting in very skilled craftsmanship and quality production. Artisans chose rich but affordable woods like beech, walnut and oak to fashion pieces from the ladder back chairs and large farm tables to carved oak hutches and classic armoires. The wood was either left in a natural state or completed in a soft satin finish (unlike the highly polished mahogany pieces of fashion capital Paris). Other pieces were either limed, colour washed or painted in soft pastels with stencil motifs incorporating elements of French country life (roosters were popular). In metal furniture, iron, rather than bronze was used because of its wider availability in the countryside.
One of the reasons the style has sustained its popularity is that unlike other traditional styles, French provincial lends itself to a seamless integration with more modern furnishings. The style is easily mixed and matched with cutting edge modern pieces, adding a touch of the homely.
Collectors of French provincial furniture should be aware that a lot of poor quality reproduction French provincial style furniture has been manufactured over the years. As with most reproductions and copies, the lines are usually a bit off to the trained eye so the best protection is to view many pieces of furniture, becoming familiar with the style and comparing design quality.
Most period French furniture was not constructed with nails or screws, instead cabinetmakers used dowels and joinery techniques such as dovetails in their construction. So if screws and nails are present, be suspicious. Remember also that just because a piece of furniture is old, French and made outside of Paris does not automatically categorize it as French provincial. The design aesthetics, style and elegance of French provincial furniture should approach, and in some case actually rival the quality of furniture made in Paris during the great periods of French decorative arts.
HFOC has a number of beautiful French Provincial pieces, below is just a small taste of what we have in store.
The title of this post forms the recently announced theme for this year’s Australian International Design Awards which begin next month at Sydney’s Powerhouse museum. The theme is based on the premise that we are now living in a world where change is so rapid that our notions of ‘normal’ are constantly shifting. In all fields of the design world – from architecture, interiors and fashion to graphic and product design – we are increasingly looking to the past to combine cutting edge technology with human sensibility. It’s like a return to the artisanal, the personal and the traditional.
The Sydney Design website explains, “Designers everywhere are reworking, recycling, and reconfiguring everything about the way we think, behave, create and consume design. At the core of this is a craving felt by designers and consumers for sincerity, honesty and fairness.” The event is asking whether a return to the past, where design was more personal, intimate and individually crafted would offer a new and worthwhile starting point for practioners today?
This year will be the event’s 15th birthday and the event should provide the unusual dose of inspiring exhibitions, workshops, talks, seminars and installations to be announced soon (we will keep you updated with any of particular worthiness!). The team at HFOC can’t wait.
The event kicks off July 30. Head here for updates.
There is something worth a look in the nearby suburb of Camperdown – it’s the tallest green wall in Australia. This superb piece of landscape design is the creation of renown French artist and botanist, Patrick Blanc. The wall dominates the entire north face of the TRIO apartment building (cnr of Booth and Pyrmont Bridge rds), extending 33 metres high and 5 metres wide and is home to some 4500 individual plants chosen from over 70 species.
Maintenance of this epic vertical garden is no easy task and the landscapers responsible have incorporated impressive features into its design. A bespoke dripper-irrigation system draws water from a 36,000 litre tank that collects the building’s storm water run off. Fertiliser can be tested and fed through an automated process, and the irrigation system can be remotely accessed.
The TRIO vertical garden has set a global benchmark in vertical garden maintenance systems – meaning we may well be seeing more of these incredibly beautiful walls adorning concrete structures around town. Fingers crossed!
Giò Ponti lies amongst the very greatest of Italy’s design talents. His work was vast and varied, dabbling in the realms of automobiles, furniture, interiors as well as building architecture. He was a pivotal figure in the history of twentieth-century design, remaining a firm source of inspiration for designers to this day.
The works for which Ponti is best known range from early ceramic work as design director for Richard Ginori, his architectural works, Milan’s Pirelli Tower and the Museum of Modern Art in Denver, his automobile designs for Alfa Romeo, interiors for Italian luxury liners, bathroom fixtures for American Standard and that very famous Superleggera chair for Cassina.
It was the 32-story Pirelli Tower, the second skyscraper built in Milan, that many say was the climax of Ponti’s architectural career. It certainly raised his profile amongst the international community with Ponti drawing attention and commissions from places as far and wide as Venezuela and Baghdad, to Hong Kong and Denver.
Ponti himself regarded the Superleggera chair as one of his three masterpieces (together with the Pirelli Tower and the Concattedrale of Taranto). It represents a symbol of perfection and balance between solidity and lightness, with a minimum weight of 1,700 grams. It is the fruit of Gio Ponti’s research and the experimental and creative ability and expertise of Cassina and its craftsmen, who have produced this chair non-stop since 1957. Ponti said of his superbly symmetrical design that “In the darkness it will be even lighter because it will be supported by just two legs”.
The chair is a beautiful classic and we currently have one in store. Hurry, this piece will not stay on the floor for long.
Vivid Creative Sydney is back again at the end of the month. Starting on May 27 and running until June 12, the annual festival of light, music and ideas is definitely something to stick in the calendar. This year attracts some of the most forward thinking people in the business, including the founder of Future Shorts, Fabian Rigall and the director of hugely successful online commerce business Etsy, Matthew Stinchcomb. The series of free events invites visionary creative industry leaders to share their experiences and advice on how to build sustainable businesses and communities and create innovative brands and products. There will also be some pretty cool light displays to look out for around town. A festival celebrating creativity could not be more welcome.
Check out www.creativesydney.com.au for more information on the free events.
The city of bright neon lights and gaudy excess is not usually looked to as a beacon of good interior taste, however we had to share some recent shots of the latest hotel to join the va va voom Vegas strip, sent to us by our HFOC correspondent in the US.
It’s called the Cosmopolitan, and with no expense spared decking this place out (3.9 billion to be exact), it merits a design-focused gander. Definitely the kind of place James Bond would be seen sipping his vodka martini.
The hotel hosts a vast number of shops, bars, nightclubs and restaurants. This impressive door opens onto a cosmetics shop, creating a touch of characteristic Vegas retail theatre.
Some live digital art makes a dramatic entrance lobby.
And the secret pizza joint…vintage records are such a cool and easy way to decorate.
The rooms take on a very 50′s feel. I can see Don Draper of Madmen, whisky in hand, perched on the lounge chair below.
Check out Merus – a winery located in Cali’s Napa Valley. The project was executed by very-hot-right-now Amsterdam-based agency, Uxus Design. It’s a perfect mixture of old world and modern, where exposed beams and wooden barrels meet sleek, high gloss tables and contemporary statement lighting.
So, you are moving house, relocating overseas or redecorating and you have a piece of furniture you would no longer need. Lets look at the options available to you.
Firstly, you can store it, you can try and sell the item on ebay, or you can contact us and we can sell it on your behalf.
One of the biggest questions we receive here at HFOC is, why would I consign my furniture when I can sell it myself?
The answer is simple. Consignment is easier, safer and will normally get you a better price.
Let’s break it down…
Firstly, cost. The costs involved in using commercial storage have a way of creeping up on you. You might not consider $25 a week to store a sofa or a dining table expensive, but over a two year period, you have added $2,600 to the price of the piece you no longer have any need for. And you haven’t factored in the cost of transporting your item to the storage facility.
Secondly, privacy. When you are selling an item of any value on ebay, it is the norm for many shoppers to request to see the goods prior to buying. This means strangers – in – your – lounge room! Inconvenient at best, intrusive at worst. Consigning through HFOC means the piece sits in our showroom, nicely lit and arranged by our professional stylist, alongside other quality pieces.
Thirdly, nightmare logistics. Think removalist trucks, reams of bubble wrap and complaints about nicks and scratches. HFOC makes it easy for you as we handle all the logistics. We arrange for a professional removalist to deliver your furniture to our showroom. We polish and touch up your furniture to make it as desirable as possible.
So next time you are thinking of selling your furniture, think about getting a higher price, maintaining your privacy and avoiding logistical nightmares by giving HFOC a call.
Sounds great! How do I consign my furniture?
To consign your furniture at HFOC, you must begin with an approval process. We recommend submitting a photo via email. If the items are suitable for consignment, we will make an appointment to inspect the furniture, agree in writing on the price you will receive and arrange for the items to be transported to our showroom by specialist furniture removalists.
Visit our website for more detailed instructions on how to consign your furniture here.
Achille Castiglione was one of the 20th century’s most prolific design talents. Born and bred of Italy’s design capital, Milan, his work stands as an example of his rigorous method, fine technical skill, exuberant talent and fierce wit; a dynamic combination that saw him achieve the balance of beauty and functionality in every piece.
A young Castiglione studied architecture at the Polytechnic in Milan and trained in a studio run by his two older brothers Livio and Pier Giacomo, also architects. This foundation in architecture led him to develop firm principles in form and function and saw him consistently striving towards a process of “integral design”. He had a means of keeping things simple and effective, describing his process with the words, “Start from scratch. Stick to common sense. Know your goals and means”.
The designer was motivated by the everyday, driven by a desire to make life more enjoyable through good design. The 1957 Sella stool that he designed from a bicycle seat was inspired by Castiglione’s want for a more comfortable form of seating from which to make calls from a pay phone when he liked “to move around” and “to sit, but not completely”.
The designer had an insatiable curiosity and was famous for his extensive collection of found objects, gathered over a lifetime, which he used as tools in his teaching and became the means through which he pursued good design. From toys made from beer cans found in Teheran, odd eyeglasses and small wooden stools bought in Colorado – these unusual objects were his inspiration.
Whilst earning some nine Compasso d’Oro awards over his long-spanning career, Castiglione’s greatest achievement was elevating industrial design to the highest level of culture – that of art.