Today I’m flying home from a multi-day speaking engagement at the fabulous antiques show, the 2017 Art & Antiques Show London Calling, sponsored by The Women’s Board of Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, FL. I was honored to be invited to speak – but in all honesty had never heard of this show, just closing its 41st year. Frankly, I was gobsmacked by the quality of the antiques and vendors represented at this show! Whether you’re an antiques dealer seeking new places to display – or an avid antiquer traveling to the best fairs – I highly recommend you put next year’s event on your 2018 calendar! I started my talk by speaking about my design icon, Louis XVI, who totally revamped design for centuries to come – his Grand Tour inspired my own Grand Tour – and my own upcoming Antiques Diva Furniture Collection for Aidan Gray (#WatchThisSpace). I believe that for design professionals the most important tool you can have in your portfolio is your passport.
I’m flying home to Berlin to pack up my belongings with feelings of nostalgia; while I’m excited to begin my new life in Venice, I’ll miss the many friends and colleagues I’ve met and grown to care for during my years in Berlin. We’ve shared a lot… one memory in particular was a good old-fashioned barn raising – #DivaStyle!
(Featured photo credit Susanne Ollman)
Mirrors on the Ceiling – Oh My!
One of the things I will miss most about my Berlin is my apartment. For the last several years, I’ve lived in a 3 level loft that in a word – was über cool! After a Thanksgiving night fire burned my 1st Berlin apartment in Mitte, I relocated to another section of town and a totally different style of apartment: Berlin’s Old Malthouse (Die Alte Mälzerei), an urban renewal project that took the Schultheiß-Brauerei (Schultheiss Brewery) and revamped this industrial historic monument into sensational living spaces – I had over 2000 square feet on 3 levels with a fabulous terrace! The dining room happened to be the inside of the oven where the malt was brewed – a round room, with an igloo-shaped exterior and no windows, but openings on both sides that gave the room a cave-like feel. Dinner by candlelight whatever the time of day!
Because of my business as The Antiques Diva, many of my friends are also in the design or lifestyle industries – stylists, photographers, caterers, antique dealers, artists, designers and the like. When I entertain at home, presentation counts: not just to me, but to my guests. The people I entertain seriously like #FoodPorn. Whether we’re at a resto or a private home, with every course out come the iPhones as everyone tries to get the perfect shot to post on Instagram. (I recall one afternoon at Tamara Matthews Stephenson’s with designers standing on chairs in her Hampton’s kitchen trying to get the perfect shot before she served the meal!)
One evening as we chatted late into the night in my dining room with my good friends Christian Lemke and Justina Walczak of Revamp Home Staging and Design in Berlin, we had a scathingly brilliant idea:
A mirror fixed to the brick ceiling of my dining room would provide fabulous light reflections and some serious #FoodPorn photos!
The challenge was on! Now to find a mirror to fit the narrow round spot on the ceiling and attach it to the ceiling – without spending a lot of money! With the interior design skills of Christian and Justyna, that was a breeze as they had a mirror cut to size.
Naturally, I called on my Oklahoma roots and put together an old-fashion barn-raising, er… mirror raising!
Christian – the engineer-minded in the group – built a frame to attach to the ceiling and hold the mirror.
Once we got the mirror up there and correctly positioned…
We had to devise a way to KEEP it up there 24 hours – long enough for the adhesive to set.
As the adhesive dried, I fed the team dinner – served outside on the terrace because we were afraid to eat under the newly installed mirror! Fortunately, it was a beautiful evening for dining al fresco, as my terrace doesn’t have a ceiling!
Dinner served family style, because my friends have become my family.
I love the name of Christian and Justyna’s business – ReVamp Design. Isn’t that really what we do with our lives during pivotal moments – such as I’m undergoing at the moment with my upcoming move to Italy? I’ll be bringing my antiques to Venice – but also… there will be a guest bedroom for dear friends such as Christian and Justyna to come visit! Cherished antiques and friends are vital to a happy home, and a happy life.
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Toma – The Antiques Diva
I’m delighted to share with you a guest post by JoAnn Locktov. JoAnn is sharing stunning photographs by talented architects in her new book, Dream of Venice Architecture. You know I’m smitten with Venice and welcome any opportunity to visit with clients, meet with our Antiques Diva® secret sources, or just stroll along the canale or savor a macchiato and work at a small café and relish my surroundings. Our Venice Diva Guides Orseola & Chiara have opened many Venetian doors for me, the architecture at the Fortuny Museo is a favorite of theirs. The lovely photos and charming commentary in Dream of Venice will transport you to this special city. If you haven’t been, you must schedule a trip to Venice very soon. And if you haven’t visited recently, you must return. Until then, I invite you to Dream of Venice Architecture.
Venice. Venezia. La Serenissima. The city has inspired artists, musicians, writers, lovers, and poets for over a millennium. The beauty of Venice is well documented. Originally through painting and verse, and now through photography, movies and if we’re lucky, our own eyes. But have you ever wondered what makes Venice so mesmerizing? Can we attribute her appeal to one element? Is it the Lagoon light, the dancing reflections, the patina of age, or the subtle hues of salt-washed color?
Venice is an urban oasis. The natural water that you find everywhere, is delineated by the construction of palaces, churches, boatyards, gardens, and bridges-some iconic and many that are humble. We wanted to know if this city that originated over 1,500 years ago could still be relevant to our contemporary lives. This is what we found out. Come take a passeggiata with us and wander through the memories of architects, architectural writers, and the evocative images of the award winning filmmaker and photographer Riccardo De Cal.
All photos and excerpts from Dream of Venice Architecture
Published by Bella Figura Publications
For so many people, cities are captured by the visual memory of an iconic panorama but for me Venice is a wholly visceral experience where what we see is so much less than what we perceive or feel. In Venice, there is all at once the sound and smell of the water, the chiaroscuro of confined passageways that give way to expansive campi, the constant rise and fall of crossing so many bridges and the twisting irregularities of its labyrinthine streets. A place of great intensity; I know no other city where one must navigate by way of intrinsic memory rather than conscious understanding.
Annabelle Selldorf, FAIA
Every entrance has a four-digit number, always applied onto the frame in a uniform stenciled typeface. A few years ago I happened to be passing by the house numbered 1937, which featured a particularly distressed and ominous-looking door. Suddenly I had a strange vision that the horrific memories of the year 1937—Guernica, Kristallnacht, Stalin’s Great Purge—are hidden behind that locked portal. It took a good half-a-bottle of wine before I could let this disquieting fantasy go. Yet ever since, I cannot rid myself of an impression that every Venetian door represents a particular year; that the city is, in fact, a museum that contains all human history and all our future as well. This would of course explain why the doors are so mysterious and forlorn: why they are always locked; why nobody seems to be ever entering or coming out.
Venice may be too hot, too cold, too humid, too crowded or too easy to get lost in, but “her streets, through which the fish swim, while the black gondola glides spectrally over the green water” — as Hans Christian Andersen eloquently stated — release us to imagine alternatives to the general standard of urban living. Venice is not on the sea but of the sea, eclipsing the tale of Atlantis with a modern mythology both repeated and rewritten with every tide.
Just inside the windows, several pet bird cages were hung above a grand piano, and these, plus the lure of crumbs from the damask-covered tables where guests were eating their morning brioche, attracted small flying birds from the square. As we sipped our coffee, birds darted through the windows, soared around the ceiling twenty feet overhead, then hopped and chirped about the rug at our feet. It was pure enchantment. Those first few days in Venice were one of the transformative experiences of my life.
Venice: the ageless city. How can we take measure of her to a finite time, she who is crystallized by the juxtaposition of styles, of forms, of places, of spaces…
When you walk through Venice at night, in the silence, in the darkness, the canale fills you with anguish, fear, anxiety, dissatisfaction, as if you’re seeing a sleepless dormitory town, full of ghosts and dark clouds…
Inside the places on the ground floors you imagine unmoving ghosts reclining on large tables surrounded by chairs with the light filtering through from the outside—thus faint, so very faint, in the depths. The gondolas are moving slowly as the water laps the shore; the silver blades almost black and you think they are open funeral carriages ready for the reclining ghosts in the rooms.
When I hear the voice of Venice, my mind wanders into that nebulous space where time momentarily stops and I am quietly propelled into an intimate dialogue with my own free floating thoughts. The voice of Venice thankfully reminds me that there is an arena in which fantasy and reality can collide, coexist, and comfortably accommodate contradictions. Venice, for me, is a metaphor for unexpected creative possibilities. This notion never fails to captivate me.
Louise Braverman, FAIA
For the architect, the recognizing of a city is nearly always expressed through emerging elements: a bridge, a monument, a tower, a neighborhood or a geometric structure. In the end, nearly all of us reason like collectors of snow globes, those that are found in all souvenir shops, and show the stereotypes of different cities.
It is rare that landscape is used as the substantial element of a city, its GEOGRAPHY. But Venice is the exception.
For all its floating qualities, Venice is heavily laden with history, stone, and gravity. Though its marble monuments aspire artfully upwards, they are ultimately more preoccupied with down than up. One counterpoint to all this weight is the prominent windvane poised lightly atop the Punta Della Dogana. This figure of Fortune, presiding over the Bacino’s daily ballet of watercraft, pirouettes between architecture and flight. It has for centuries signaled the comings and goings of Adriatic weather that tints this city’s beguiling atmosphere. For some, perhaps, it pivots to the ebb and flow of dreams as well.
Max Levy, FAIA
The main facade of the Fortuny palazzo faces the Campo San Benedetto. It is adorned with the characteristic ogee arches of Venetian Gothic, a classification of the Gothic architecture that originated as an ecclesiastical style in northern Europe where it can be dour and forbidding. Venetian Gothic is neither. Adapted to residential construction and suffused with Byzantine and Moorish influences, it is light, graceful, and whimsical—almost feminine. The right setting for the fashion maven who was known as the “Magician of Venice.”
Palazzo Fortuny, Orseola and Chiara’s favorite
Ciao, and pleasant dreams of Venice
Toma Clark Haines – The Antiques Diva®
Custom Couture For A Curvy Diva
I have a bit of a reputation… in addition to drinking entirely too much champagne, I’ve got a penchant for high heels and fabulous dresses. In fact one of my most frequently asked questions when I speak is and when I meet clients and brand followers in real life.… “Where do you get your dress?” And while I’m a fan of both high end and low end – from DVF to Laundry – I look for items that flatter the figure. I’m a curvy girl and what curvy girls everywhere know is you can look fat… or you can look curvy. I choose the latter.
I’m going to let you in on one of my biggest fashion secrets… This January we hosted our annual Paris Champagne Brunch at Paul Bert Serpette in the Paris Flea Market – I wore a sensational cape-sleeved knee-length red jacket with a simple strapless tube dress underneath. The design was a one-a-kind design by Cambodian Designer Romyda Keth.
I first visited Romyda’s shop this summer while laying the groundwork for our Phenom Penh Design Inspiration tours. One of the things I love about our Asian Antiques Diva Tours is #ItsNotJustAntiques – from helping you find a furniture factory to custom-make your designs, to art studio and gallery tours to giving you access our favorite local craftsmen whether that’s hardware for your furniture and doors or lantern and lighting makers or simply a fabulous tailor…. A stop in Romyda’s shop is fabulous for retail therapy for fashion hunters, but even if you’re not looking for clothing it is worthwhile for the design inspiration. (Plus she has a maison store next door).
For years – even before we started working together and were just friends – I’ve admired my colleague Angela Somwaiya’s wardrobe. Angela now heads up our Asia Antiques Diva Tours. She is statuesque, standing a good head above me. She’s gorgeous, very sultry and has a mysterious look and wears the most amazing dresses of anyone I know. Curvy, Vivacious and Va Va Va Voom.
I was thrilled when as we were heading to Phenom Penh as part of our groundwork for setting up our Antiques Diva Asia Tours Angela asked… “Toma, is it possible we can make time to shop at my favorite dress store?”
In South East Asia when you attend a social event the well-heeled who’s who will all be wearing Keth’s designs. But the amazing thing… not one of the women will be dressed the same. Keth only makes 1 dress in each size for every design. Created in her onsite factory, the designs are done in a gorgeous Khmer silk in a harmony of colors cut specifically to emphasize on women what differentiates them from men. From now on a trip to Asia is not complete without at least a 36-hour stopover to stock up on my fashion needs for the next season.
Romyda is Cambodian-born, was raised in Paris and studied at the Paris School of Fine Arts and at top fashion design school Esmod. She is one of the few Asian designers to have established a worldwide following; after the first Atelier Ambre opened in Cambodia in 1999, the brand has since expanded to Middle East, Africa, Australia and the rest of Asia. Her designs are all about COLOR and CURVES. Those are the key words that describe my fashion sense. Each item is custom tailored on site, fitted by Romyda. And for a luxury brand creating nearly one of a kind designs the prices are reasonable. I think my custom fitted dress and jacket combined were around $300. The dresses I purchased ran between $75 and 150 USD. For more information visit Romyda Keth.
Kheunh anak chab,
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
Aidan Gray, one of my favorite companies, will be opening a new showroom at High Point Market! The four-story, 7,000 square foot showroom (located at 201 Main Street) will be jam-packed with European-inspired inspiration. The new collection they’ll be releasing will reflect timeless, tried-and-true looks with just a little edge. Focusing primarily on accent pieces, the showroom will be filled with tables of all sizes, dressers, benches, chairs, and statement pieces. Aidan Gray also creates unique accessories including candle fixtures, lighting and garden pieces.ince I’m getting ready to head to High Point Market this month, I’m putting together my own personal list of must-see showrooms and organizing my schedule for doing High Point, Antiques Diva Style. Imagine my delight when I received news that
Let me share with you a preview of this year’s premiere pieces that will be seen at Aidan Gray’s High Point showroom!
The Shield Back Upholstered Chair
The Parker Gray wood finish combined with black leather gives it a modern sensibility. Aidan Gray offers the Shield Back Chair in upholstered and cane back options with 9 choices of wood/fabric combinations.
The Blue Silver Lamp
The dark navy glass base has been overlaid with an intricate pattern of embossed motifs in silver leaf. The combination of navy, silver and black makes this lamp a classic right from the start.
In celebration of the showroom’s opening during High Point Fall Market, Aidan Gray will host a Crown & Glory chandelier giveaway. Crown & Glory was conceptualized from the “Ray of Light” motif that surrounds the dove found on most alter carvings in and throughout Europe. The rays represent beams of light radiating from the sun, arranged in a slightly tapered manner. Carved from solid wood and finished with proprietary distressing techniques, each light is unique in its own right. The first 201 High Point customers to write an order of $1000 or more will receive the Crown & Glory chandelier complimentary with their High Point order. And why 201? Because that’s their new address at High Point! 201 Main Street.
With Aidan Grays signature combination of textural finishes, graceful lines and understated elegance, I’m sure to find many favorites at this showroom. I can’t wait to take a tour and see what they’ve got to offer the market!
See you at High Point!
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
hile most of our clients come on buying tours with serious agendas—they often want to fill a container with European antiques in a matter of days — some people also choose to add on time at the end of their tour for more of a vacation since they’re already over in Europe! And believe me, after power shopping with an Antiques Diva Guide, a little R&R is necessary (hmmm… perhaps we should start including massages at the end of each tour)! Often times while on tour, our Diva Guides will point out interesting places along the way—after all, our guides are all locally based so they know the surrounding areas very well!
Recently one of our Diva Guides in France, Katie, was taking clients on a buying tour in Normandy, which is a great place to source antiques at discount prices from Paris prices. Along the way, Katie passed right by the Monet house with clients and they decided to stop en route to sneak in a little design inspiration visiting his famous house in Giverny. With warm weather just beginning, Spring time is a perfect time to take in the gardens and the scenery in this charming part of France.
Claude Monet lived in the house for forty-three years (1883-1926) and as you can imagine, like any artist would, he made many alterations to the original structure over that time. Originally the house was called House of the Cider-Press as an apple-press was located on the nearby square. It was a small home compared to the long, spread out place it is today. As his family and career grew, Monet had the house enlarged on either side, resulting in the structure we see today. The barn next to the house became his studio and above that is an apartment he used while he worked.
The distinct color palate (pink and green) of the exterior of the house was chosen by Monet. Rather than go with the traditional grey shutter of that time, Monet opted for green and planted Virginia creeper on the facade of the house so it would blend in with the surrounding landscape—almost like a Monet painting! From his bed he had beautiful views of the garden which he loved.
The property is divided into flower beds where flowers of different heights create depth and volume. Ornamental and fruit tress are mixed in as well to add to the character of the garden. A mix of rare flowers as well as common ones such as daisies and poppies populate the beds. The central path is covered by iron arches that support climbing roses. However Monet’s gardens are not structured. He preferred to pair flowers according to color and then let them grow rather freely.
But the garden isn’t only about plants. The water garden was cultivated ten years after he moved to Giverny. A small brook runs through the property and Monet had a little pond dug, which was later enlarged. Inspired by the Japanese gardens Monet had the Japanese Bridge built by a local craftsman and then planted it with wisterias. For more than twenty years he found inspiration for paintings from this very garden.
After Monet’s death in 1926 the house passed through various family member’s care until 1977 when his son bequeathed the estate to Academie des Beaux-Arts. After much neglect, it took almost ten years to restore the property to what we see today. With a crumbling staircase, trees growing in the studio, and much of the garden grown over, it took many donations, mostly from Americans, to bring the place back to its former glory. And since September 1980, the house has been opened for visitors.
Just like Monet was inspired by the gardens and home he created, our clients were inspired after their visit too! Whenever you’re traveling it’s so important to take in the historic and cultural places that you come across. You never know what you might learn and what ideas you may have after touring a historic property. That’s why I love our Diva Guides—they know this all too well and always go above and beyond for our clients.
If you’d like information on taking an Antiques Diva Buying Tour in any of our 8 tour countries, email us at email@example.com
Until next time,
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
Gary Gibson. Gary is an L.A. based interior designer, product designer, and owner of a fabulous store. He’s one of the great style makers of our time setting trends and establishing the way we live today.hile in Los Angeles recently I had the opportunity to meet so many fantastic people – one of the most inspiring was
Gary Gibson breaks the mold of traditional decorating, and yet his interiors and shop still feel comfortable and welcoming. He thinks outside the box and combines different textures and mediums, all the while playing with scale, color, and light. When shopping his store, you get a real sense of his aesthetic; playful, unique, out-of-the-box with taste.
The mix of metal furniture (some bronze and stainless steel pieces are his own designs from his line Gibson Studio) and wood pieces along with interesting vintage accessories feels familiar and fresh all at once. In one vignette he combined a sleek wood console, rustic metal letters, marble urns, and a glass lamp—what a chic mix! And Gary isn’t afraid of color, which is refreshing. His interiors are meant to be used and that is evident even in his store. I mean, he has a stocked bar set up on the sales floor! If I wasn’t jet-lagged and it wasn’t morning when I visited, I may have just poured myself some bubbly! How welcoming!
With features in publications like Architectural Digest, Veranda, and Elle Decor, Gary Gibson is definitely “one to watch” if you want to be inspired. Visiting his shop and chatting with him was definitely a highlight of my trip to LA!
The Antiques Diva®
Dear Diva Readers,
Caption: Eddie Ross Seen Here Bed Shopping
morning in bed with Eddie Ross. Perhaps I should rephrase that lest Mr. Antiques Diva (not to mention Jathan) be not too impressed with my comment! One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to start taking more time to get inspired. While doing my job leading European Antique Buying tours a key element involves inspiring my clients with our flea market and antique warehouse finds, helping them stock their stores or purchase pieces with a past for theirs or their client’s homes. In order to do my job better, I realized I really should top the tea kettle with a continual stream of inspiration myself. So when writing my New Year’s Resolutions this year, my # 3 was to Get Regularly Inspired.spent the
This fell behind #1 – the annual resolution to lose weight and #2 – to make more organized office systems and procedures. Neither #1 nor #2 are that interesting and are probably destined for failure. But #3…. now THAT resolution has legs I can run with. (Hmm, if only flipping through my favorite magazines burnt more calories…).
But I digress. This morning my husband’s alarm went off at 4am and I kissed him good bye as he headed to the airport en route to Amsterdam (note, I love that guy, but it’s January and I didn’t offer to put on clothes and drive him to the airport). And while I regularly start my work day at dawn – finding it the best time to get caught up on office work (see I’m already implementing ways to conquer the work place clutter, who needs resolution #2?) – this morning it was raining. Rain is my kryptonite. I also had my regular feature article deadline for Antiques Shops and Designers magazine and a looming deadline is a guaranteed way to give me writer’s block and a desire to procrastinate. And the cat was in bed. And he was purring. He even rolled over and showed me his white belly, flopping one paw over his eyes. (The cat, not my husband. The husband had already left by this point). And it was still dark outside. And cold. Then I remembered Resolution # 3. Get Regularly Inspired. No time like the present.
So I turned on my Fortuny-styled bedside lamp (note to self – REALLY MUST find the real thing on one of our Italian buying tours someday) and crawled deeper under the covers, propping my iPad up on my lap. A tweet from Stacey Bewkes of Quintessence lifestyle blog flittered across the top of the screen about meeting up in Paris during Maison Objet. And I thought bingo. What better place to start my inspiration prowl. Stacey is a blogging genius and hers is one of my all time favorites. As I began reading her latest posts, I noticed something on the side bar. What’s this? Video Series – Stylish Shopping with Susanna Salk . The next thing I knew I was watching flea market maestro Eddie Ross shop the Elephant Trunk.
Which reminded me… I LOVE EDDIE ROSS… so I flicked over to his site – where I soaked up divine design inspiration and spent the next hour in bed with Eddie, reading a backlog of posts I’d missed in my absence away from his site during these days when work had overtaken my life. I use to read his posts all the time. I love finding images styled by him.
Caption: Classic Eddie Ross
He’s a genius. And budget conscious. I had hit the gold mind of inspiration. The mecca. The motherlode.
Which reminded me, whomever your design hero – I want to encourage you to spend a morning in bed with them. Go get inspired.
And Eddie – thank you for inspiring me. Though I should warn you… next time we meet up it might be in the bath.
The Antiques Diva®