If you’ve ever attended one of my lectures at High Point Market or the D&D geared towards interior designers you’ll inevitably have heard me say “The most important tool you can have in your toolbox is a passport.” Mine is battered, covered with baggage tag stickers and filled with page after page of stamps and visas. In my current passport, I have only 10 blank pages remaining. (Note to self: Order Extra Pages). Saint Augustine said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page.” If that’s the case, then I’ve been living a well-read life.
More and more during these last few years, I’m taking time to stop and smell the proverbial roses. As business travel is a regular part of my life the easiest way to do this is adding days onto each trip to bookend a business trip. This last month has had a heavy focus on travel – with my vacation to China followed by a business trip across the USA to High Point, New York, Boston and London.
Often as an individual I’ve got my eyes set on the horizon looking towards the destination – I sometimes get so busy considering my plan and next steps of action that I forget to celebrate the milestones.
I dream big.
And in order to achieve big things – it’s necessary to dream bigger than everyone else around you.
But life is a journey – not a destination.
As I write, I’m on the train, the Frecciarossa, en route home from Piemonte from Easter weekend with friends. At home on my bedside table is Eckart Tolle’s Power of Now – a reminder to simply enjoy the Great Big Right Now. I’m soaking up the moments – and as a result, I am finding more and more inspiration each day. For design. For writing. But also just for day to day life. I’m cooking more. Being more creative in general. I’ve even pulled out my watercolors which I haven’t played with in years.
Design Inspiration can come from anywhere. Often it’s my travels that inspire me, sometimes it’s an everyday object that I see in a new way, people I meet and places I go that weave themselves into my soul. When my friend Alessandro told me he was moving to China he gave me Andrea di Robilant’s book Autumn in Venice: Ernest Hemingway and his Last Muse. He told me the title was important, “Hemingway because you were an English literature major in uni. Last Autumn because it’s my last autumn before I move. And Venice IS your muse.”
He was right. Moving here has inspired me. Venice is an obvious choice for inspiration – but inspiration can come from the most unexpected places. Those who follow me on Instagram were fascinated when they learned that the leather on my Roccoco-style bench in my Antiques Diva Furniture Collection by Aidan Gray was inspired by the designo leather in my Mercedes SUV.
Last week I was struck with Global Design Inspiration while visiting friends in England at the end of a business trip. The entire world was brought to me in one destination. Ascott House is a palace-like Jacobean black and white timbered cottage that was the creation of Leopold de Rothschild and architect George Devey. It’s a quintessentially English Country House with exquisite English antiques standing alongside Dutch and Flemish masterworks and fine French furniture and art. I nearly ran into a Rodin as I stepped backward in the Billards Room turned Library.
In the library I looked around – the room was beyond cozy – but something felt different. It was more casual than one would have expected a formal library. (The photo above makes the space look much more formal than in real life). When I commented on the unusually light color of the wooden library shelves the docent confessed, “though it’s now a National Trust estate the family still uses the property – and they stripped the wood to make the room more airy.” Bingo! I suddenly realized why I loved the house so much. That was the difference. While it is a museum – it’s still a family home part of the year.
It’s the perfect example of how to live with antiques.
But not just any antiques – Ascott House could be the pictorial definition of the word wanderlust. It’s layered with generation after generation of antiques, textiles and embroideries from the Grand Tour and the Silk Road. The Silk Road was the ancient network of trade routes that connected the East with the West. It meandered along the northern borders of China, India, and Persia and wove through Turkey, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. It was important because it helped to generate trade and commerce between a number of different kingdoms and empires but trade was not the only purpose of the Silk Road. Just as on the Grand Tour young men and women learned the most important developments in language, arts, court etiquette, legal and political systems, science and culture, the Silk Road was also about the exchange of ideas.
The more we travel, the more we open our minds.
In a conversation recently with a television producer, I was told that Americans don’t want to see TV shows filmed abroad. “How can you travel the world through antiques if you’re not interested in the travel aspect?” I wondered. It seemed incomprehensible. Was the producer telling me the entire American viewing audience had Xenophobia – the fear of foreign places? I’ve made a career out of making both international antiques and foreign places accessible – I’ve been called the Anthony Bourdain of antiques – that girl who travels the world uncovering lesser-known places and exploring their cultures and antiques – then sharing my #Divascoveries with my followers.
As humans – as humanity – we grow when we’re connected with people and places outside of ourselves. We are all connected. What happens in one part of the world, impacts another. Have you heard of the Butterfly Effect? The theory is based upon an idea if you track the path of a hurricane from its inception, you’d see that it was all caused by a change in air pressure caused from the flap of a butterfly’s wings three weeks prior and halfway across the world. The Silk Roads network of connecting pathways changed history because the people who traveled along part or all of the Silk Road planted their cultures like seeds carried to distant lands.
Bringing your travels home has long been a tradition in interior design. A classic English Country House simply wouldn’t be an English Country House without its global influence – seeds plucked from faraway places and transplanted at home.
Ascott House exemplifies the East Meets West decorating vibe. My favorite room is the living room where you’ll find Ikat silk chapans from Uzbekistan repurposed into Roman Shades. Someone painstakingly de-assembled vintage robes and hand-stitched the fabric together to form patchwork, and then used the patchwork to make the fabric for the blinds. In one corner of the curtain, you can see still see the vague outline of the sleeve of an arm. The whole setting is very Robert Kime – one of my favorite London Interior Designers known for his elaborate use of antique textiles, creating what 1st Dibs calls, “comfortable classically English Rooms that his clients – including Prince Charles – say they never want to leave.”
I found myself thinking about travel, collecting and interior design as I toured Ascott House. What is it that makes us desire to see far away places and to bring a piece of it home? Is it a Napoleonic desire to conquest? A holdover from the caveman days of hunting and gathering? Why do we collect? Is it merely a means to give meaning to our lives – making an emotional connection to a period, place or time? Or does it have deeper meaning?
As Ascott House caused me to contemplate my own travel I thought about how antiquing abroad has influenced me over the years. The Antiques Diva started because I was traveling the world. Some people buy a t-shirt on holiday. I buy antiques as my souvenir because that’s what interests me. The French word souvenir means memories, and for me – that’s what I am doing when I antique abroad. I buy memories.
Traveling and antiques have always been intertwined in my mind. As a child, I remember family dinners when my mother pulled out the antique silver that my grandparents brought over with them on the boat from England to America. This cutlery represented not only my family’s heritage but faraway places that influenced how we lived. I saw antiques as a way to be transported to other times and other places.
While traveling in China last month one of my favorite moments was in Kaifeng, the 11th Century Song dynasty capital. My friend and I had stumbled into an antiques and artisans two-story gallery that was partially abandoned. Antique furniture, fragments and tools were propped against walls, while porcelain and lacquerware filled the shelves. Men gathered at card tables played mahjong near their stalls. One of the things I Iike about antiques is that antiques unite us. When you go antiquing, people with different backgrounds, interests and passions collide. Each person can find something that speaks to their soul. My friend Alessandro is a physicist and etno-mathematician. On a purely surface level, we couldn’t be more different if we tried. I lost track of him while we were browsing the stalls and at a certain point, I rounded the corner and saw him bent over a box smiling from ear to ear. He looked up and showed me what he’d found – an antique abacus, a Chinese counting tool. Ironically, he was the one who bought antiques that day – not me.
Meanwhile while touring this gallery I was introduced to something new. I’d become obsessed with the Chinese traditional painting. In the gallery nearly 2 dozen artists had ateliers and you could watch them dip their brushes into black ink or water-based color pigments, creating patterns on paper or silk using traditional themes, materials and techniques. Watching the artist paint felt like peeking through the window into the soul of the country. Guóhua, as traditional Chinese painting is called, is one of the three pillars of Chinese culture (the others being medicine and opera.) Chinese painters tend to learn their craft by copying earlier masters in order to build their foundation.
To understand the past is to understand the future.
Elizabeth Hammer, Head of Sales of Chinese Classical and Modern Paintings at Christie’s New York explains that “the most prized Chinese traditional paintings are those that reveal the artist’s personality and character. It is believed that an evil person cannot make a fine work of art. To really understand an artist’s works, it helps to learn his or her biography, and about the times in which the artist lived.”
Last year during the Architectural Biennale in Venice I met the team from Chanel who were documenting Coco’s life, travels and inspirations for Chanel’s in-house archives. “We need to see what she saw, be influenced by her influences, to design a brand that stays according to her vision.” Once you’ve traveled, that knowledge of a country, it’s people, traditions and architecture, their decorative arts and their environment, the natural world – the subtle sense of a place – will continue to inform you. Hemingway said, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
But it’s not just Paris that’s a moveable feast – all your travels – your adventures – are your personal progressive dinner.
For me, while visiting Ascott House my olfactory memory went straight to the Silk Road. Having just been in China last month, my jaw dropped when I walked into Ascott House’s Porcelain Room filled with turquoise and purple-glazed ceramics from the mid to late Ming dynasty (1368-1644) displayed in specially designed bamboo cabinets. The collection was formed by Anthony de Rothschild when he used a buying agent (the 1920’s equivalent of an Antiques Diva Guide) to help him source pieces that suited his tastes.
In the end – that’s what it all comes down to. Taste. Buy what you love. Whether you’re an antique dealer, interior designer, or a private antique buyer – that is the best advice I can give you. Buy what you love. As Elizabeth Hammer of Christie’s explains, “Follow your instinct when collecting and buy something that delights you.”
As I close I challenge you:
Go someplace new. Do something new. Maybe you can’t go to Uzbekistan this week – but you can seek out an Uzbek restaurant. Take yourself on an Artist Date. Last month in New York City we did our first ever Antiques Dealer Training Workshop. Interior designers Justin Shaulis and Robert Passal joined us as guest speakers for a break-out session, advising our attendees on How Antique Dealers Should Work With Interior Designers. While closing, Robert told a personal story of his own career and how he became an interior designer after he read Julia Cameron’s book The Artist Way – a book that also inspired me to launch The Antiques Diva & Co. In her book, Cameron advises each week to take an Artist Date. Make time for yourself – on your own – to do something enchanting. Expose yourself to new places and new ideas. Where will you go on an Artist Date this week?
To Book Your Antiques Diva Tour in 16 Countries
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Toma – The Antiques Diva
While taking my summer vacation in the Amalfi Coast this summer one of my favorite things I did – besides merely lounge poolside in my BoxerinBlue swimwear under the wafting smell of the lemon trees – was visit the Ruins of Pompeii, which I talked about in a recent blog post when I announced my furniture collection – The Antiques Diva Collection by Aidan Gray.
Pompeii continues to fascinate – Mount Vesuvius had erupted in a phenomenal fashion straight off a Hollywood movie script – perfectly preserving the ancient town of Pompeii and the surrounding countryside in ash. The result – while devastating at the time, burying the people alive – did preserve the works of arts for centuries allowing us to see frescoes from the time of Jesus. (Segway from religion to sex… ) While the frescoes in the brothels were… uhm… especially interesting… what continues to fascinate me is the lush decadent lifestyles they lived in ancient Roman times. When I think of 2000 years ago, I imagine people walking around barefoot and yet in Pompeii the rich were living in villas I’d be happy to call home today.
Pompeii was to Rome like the Hamptons are to New York. And these villas surely must have been where the profession of interior designer came about. The wealthy employed sculptors and painters and other artisans to create an atmosphere that reinforced their position in society. In addition to proper sewage, they had gyms and swimming pools, libraries and courtyards with gorgeous mosaics… but for me… it’s all about the frescoes. The villas were painted ceiling to floor with motifs that were anything from actual images of other villas to architectural elements such as porticos or even cards, rivers and coastlines as well trees, fruits, flowers, birds… But my favorite room, a kitchen in one of the villas, reminded me of my own home. The walls of the kitchen were painted with swimming fish found in the sea nearby.
At my home in Venice, I live in a small apartment a stone’s throw from the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, on a side canal just off the Grand Canal. Soon after I got an apartment here I found myself dreaming of water – which apparently is a trait of Venetians. Water is as much a part of daily life in Venice as is air and breathing. Meanwhile fish swim in the canals outside my kitchen window, they are served in every restaurant and I even have pet goldfish (Frank Sinatra Jr and Frank Jr Jr – fans of the TV series Friends will catch the joke in the name of the later). Wanting to connect the interior of my apartment to my surroundings, I decided to commission the artisans from Porte Italia to come and paint fish swimming down my entry hall. I chose to do the entire entrance in a dramatic high gloss black paint – painting the ceiling as well as walls which makes the space feel infinitely larger.
A fan of Fornasetti, I had the artisans nod towards Piero’s style. The fish swim towards a reflection pool in the middle – aka, an 18th C Gilded Mirror with the original mottled and melting mercury glass. The mirrors frame design is straight out of a fresco design in Pompeii, a basket overflowing with pomegranates and roses. This mirror created most likely between Louis 15 and Louis 16 reign reflects the notion we discussed in a recent blog – where does design inspiration come from? Everything we see and feel and do, influence who we are and our design aesthetic. Louis 16th furniture makers were heavily influenced by Pompeii, just as I was heavily influenced by Louis 15 and 16th when designing my furniture collection – The Antiques Diva Collection for Aidan Gray, which debuts this week at High Point Market.
Fall 2018 High Point Market I’m speaking on 2 panels that broach the subject of Design Inspiration. I’ll be Facebook Living both events – so don’t worry if you’re not able to be there in person, know you can always catch it online on my personal page Toma Clark Haines.
Inspiration Behind the Designs – Saturday October 13 2-3pm
Surya Showplace 4100
Join interior and product designers Mary Douglas Drysdale, Michel Smith Boyd, Toma Clark Haines (“The Antiques Diva”), Xander Noori, and Keon Khajavi-Noori as they discuss where they seek inspiration, how they overcome the dreaded creative block, and give tips and tools for recharging your creative batteries.
Designing Women of the World – Sunday October 14 1.30 to 2.30pm
Suites at Market Square Seminar Room SAMS T 1014
How do you prioritize travel as a busy designer and business owner? How do you prepare for design inspiration at a particular destination? How does getting outside of your local marketplace help your business? Join our traveled designers as they discuss these questions and many more, while giving tips and inspiration on how to incorporate travel into your design process. Panelists include Adriana Hoyos, Tina Nicole, Toma Clark Haines, Sandra Espinet, and Aviva Stanoff with Deb Barrett as moderator. Reception and book signings to follow.
Until then, Be Inspired.
Toma Clark Haines – The Antiques Diva®
As I transform my Venice apartment into a home, I take pleasure in the process of unpacking the pieces I’ve collected and arranging (and re-arranging!) them into tableaus that please my eye. The French art of mise en scène – putting things in place – to give my home the ambiance and personality that I want to project. For guests of course, but I honestly arrange my collections for myself.
What is your definition of home? I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes a house a home… for me it’s a space filled with people and laughter in the air. Fabulous smells coming from the kitchen, open bottles of wine and champagne always on tap. It’s antiques and family heirlooms, next to flea market finds and objet d’art, and the odd pieces of Ikea. It’s window boxes and shutters and flowers in every room and candles alongside cozy places to read. A real home is a mix of high and low… beautifully choreographed moments for a life well lived. I’m a natural collector. But how does one start a collection? Today my favorite dandy (j’adore being called The Dandy and The Diva!), Gary Inman is sharing with us his expert advice on the art of collecting. Don’t miss Gary’s favorite books on the art of collecting!
Featured image: William Morris textiles and wallpaper set the tone for this Virginia mudroom. The table is an antique Chippendale inspired fretwork design. English tole, majolica, and French garden finials provide character to the space. The bespoke herringbone floor is by Waterworks.
All images provided by Gary Inman
The Art of Collecting
Everyone is a collector, some just don’t know it yet. After twenty-five years of designing and decorating luxury homes, I have had many clients insist that they’re not collectors, only to become impassioned collectors once they discover their genre. Helping them find their passion has been one of the most rewarding parts of my practice. If you think back to your childhood, you’ll surely recall something you collected with unbridled enthusiasm. It can be as simple as sea shells or baseball cards, but regardless of value, nothing surpasses the thrill of the chase! The objects amassed can be costly or free, academic or whimsical, and the collection can be as small as three objects or as massive as a museum.
As an art historian, I have always admired the erudite collections amassed by legendary collectors such as Henry Francis Dupont, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Sir Richard Wallace, Albert Barnes, Richard Jenrette or Henry Clay Frick. Their mammoth collections are now available to the world at museums and historic buildings devoted to the conservation of their achievements. Some collectors become as famous at their curations which are significantly autobiographical. Gertrude Stein, Carolyne Roehm, Coco Chanel and my personal favorite, Sir John Soane are examples of this phenomenon. I encourage you to visit all the museums associated with these collectors.
So how do you become a collector? I suggest you begin by doing your homework. Read the books I’ve listed below, visit antique shops and shows, research various categories such as ceramics, silver, textiles, art, antiques, illustrations, the list is endless. Also, survey auction houses and online dealers and wait for the magic to happen. You will discover a passion that will bring you joy for a lifetime! Once you buy that first piece you’ll be hooked.
This entrance vignette gave me a chanceto indulge my passion for blue and white porcelain. I love mixing antique and modern, and high and low in these groupings. Add fresh roses for a punch of color and this becomes the perfect first impression.
There are many books on collecting, but here are three that I found to be great references:
- Barbara Milo Ohrbach, A Passion for Antiques. Clarkson Potter/Publishers, New York, 2004.
Commissioned paintings can be centralto an art collection. Lea Barksdale’s bold blue stripe leads the eye up the 3 level staircase. Erika Vaden (left) captured the spirit of Cy Twombly in this vibrant blue calligraphy inspired painting.
Gary M. Inman
Vice President, Hospitality at Baskerville
I am a book collector. I don’t use books as decor, I love to read books – not on my iPad – I like bound books made with real paper. One of the tragedies of my life was when we lost all our belongings in a Thanksgiving night fire in Berlin… years of cherished and collected books gone in the flash of a candle’s wick. Out of that loss came a whole new library of books given to us by dear friends and Antiques Diva readers – books that have now made the journey with me to Venice and line the shelves of my office, are stacked on the floor of my living room and cover every inch of surface on my bedside tables. J’adore Rome Antiques Diva Guide Désirée’s new ideas on how to use books – even antique books – as decor. I’ll be incorporating a couple of these ideas ca Toma.
3 Smart Methods For Using Books as Decor
I’m of the same mind as Cicero on this one… I think that having books in your home is essential. I have a habit of picking up books while traveling. My favorite souvenirs are antique, hardbound novels by an author who had written in the particular city I am visiting. I bought Jack Kerouac in Oregon, Hemingway in Paris, and Robert Louis Stevenson in Scotland. Rekindling beautiful memories while going about your daily rituals, is a classic DIVA move!
Unlike other holiday purchases, like a ridiculous T-shirt or another coffee mug, a well-cultivated library can be used in multiple ways around your home.
#1 Books as a Knife Holder
Some of the most practical pieces in our home can be an eyesore, so I love this charming solution to an annoying issue.
I keep my knives separated by size and shape, making the division provided by the book covers ideal. Depending on your needs, the covers can be glued together for additional stability, however, it isn’t necessary.
- Books – You could use vintage cookbooks, but I like to have my cookbooks easily accessible. Instead, I used 3 books I have thoroughly read that were not completely precious to me. The books should have a hardcover and I recommend something quite long- the thicker the book, the more stable the base.
- Rope – I used a piece of old rope (this, in particular, was a Ralph Lauren rope-belt with leather tipped ends that I picked up at a thrift store for one dollar).
Note: Make sure you dry your knives properly before putting them away, as the water easily damages the books.
#2 Books as Floating Shelves
- I bought these floating book mounts on Amazon:
- The mounts are easily attached to the wall and create a whimsical ledge on which the most beautiful pieces of your library become additional space for lamps, eyeglasses by your bedside, or even a fabulous hat.
- Choose within a theme: books you intend to read, your favorite books, books which evoke strong memories, or even books that provide a pop of a complementary color to the space.
#3 Books as Pedestals for Antiques
I am a Stylist, not a Librarian, so I have no problem organizing my library by color. If your brain works differently than mine, you may stack books by author or subject.
- Simply stack a group of books from large to small.
- Place the books absolutely anywhere! I like to use them as a solution for hiding cords or unsightly details at home. I stack them to cover an unruly lamp cord, or in empty spaces that are easily accessible to a potential reader. Truly, ANYWHERE!
- Place some of your favorite objects on top, to highlight your treasures and collections and help elevate them into art.
Since I first began exploring Asia nearly a decade ago, I’ve been in love with Asian antiques. When I launched Antiques Diva® Asia Antiques Tours two years ago, I knew we were ahead of the curve helping interior designers and antique dealers (as well as hoteliers and restauranteurs) source antiques in Asia. Even 2 years ago you didn’t often see Southeast Asian antiques in interior design magazines but today I’m seeing a change. When you flip open a magazine today you quickly see it’s all about the mix – globally chic interiors are mixing not just periods and echelons but geographic origins – European goes next to American next to Asian for a well-traveled interior. Globally chic interiors are on the cutting edge of design and some of the best antique dealers around the globe have started mixing Asian antiques into their traditional European inventory.
On a personal level – I want my home to be as individual as I am. I don’t want a cookie-cutter style looking like I chose my furniture from a catalog. I want my home to reflect my travels and interests. I like to mix it up: a high-end piece with a provenance next to a modern trendy piece, an Asian antique juxtaposed against a modern abstract painting, a 17th-century Venetian apartment with a global sensibility.
Each time I visit Thailand my first stop once in Bangkok is Paul’s Antiques, the headquarters for our Thailand Antiques Diva Tours and the shop owned and operated by Asian antiques expert – and Antiques Diva Asia Guide – Angela Somwaiya, one of the leading experts in Southeast Asian antiques. Angela is a long-time expat living in Thailand, and she’s who I turn to advise on all things Thai. When Angela introduced me to The Siam Hotel in Bangkok it was love at first sight! The Siam combines all my favorite things – Asian antiques with an uber-luxury hotel and exclusive service alongside some of the best food in Bangkok. It’s also a hotel interior whose vignettes could grace the pages of Elle Décor or Architectural Digest. And it’s the place I go in Bangkok for #globaldesigninspiration.
Art and Antiques at The Siam Hotel
I won’t blame you if when someone says “Thai antiques” nothing comes to mind.
However, if you ever wanted to take a crash course on Thai antiques, and learn first hand how to decorate your house beautifully using Thai antiques, a visit to The Siam Hotel, located on the banks of the majestic Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, would be a superb idea indeed.
As a long-term expat living in Bangkok, I’m always looking for unique outings that will give visiting friends a taste of Thailand. Designed by globally acclaimed architect and interior/landscape designer Bill Bensley in collaboration with its owner Krissada Sukosol Clapp, The Siam Hotel does not disappoint. So when my colleague and friend, Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, visited Thailand recently, The Siam was at the top of my list of places to take her. Antiques, award-winning architecture, delicious food, authentic experiences – I knew were all right up her alley.
The Antiques Diva Asia Team visits The Hotel Siam, Bangkok
Our day read like a page out of the most perfect travelogue. Like most savvy visitors to The Siam, we skipped Bangkok’s infamous traffic jams and took advantage of the hotel’s complimentary private riverboat taxi. The journey filled us with a rush as we got to experience quintessential traditional Thai living along the river, reminding me all that I love about Thailand. Cruising past golden temples, rice barges, and children swimming along the banks, we soaked up the exhilarating feel of the rich, lush and exotic life in the tropics that still is accessible despite the urbanization of Bangkok.
Once we arrived at the private pier of the hotel and were greeted by staff with a refreshing tropical herbal drink, the sense that we were about to experience something special was palpable. Owner Krissada Sukosol Clapp is a prime example of how a collector can often be a conservator, and how following one’s passion is always a sure way to success. Coming from a musical family, Krissada is not only famous as an antique collector but as an actor and musician. In the case of antiques, he has made a mark for himself as having one of the most unique and aesthetically stunning collections of antiques in Thailand.
Being the owner of an antique shop, it is hard for me to put into words how truly special what Krissada (who is an occasional visitor to Paul’s Antiques) has accomplished. He has taken the best of what Thai antiques has to offer – shop house display furniture, finely carved statues and architectural salvage, Thai traditional theater masks, ceramics and a cache of interesting curios and historical documents related to the Thai royal family – to design the interior of his hotel in a way that is stunning and unique. However, you don’t have to be the owner of an antique shop to appreciate the beauty and other-timeliness the collection evokes and to be whisked away by the ambiance. From the perfectly-patinated teak and leather art-deco club chairs to the super-rare solid teak traditional medicine shop cabinets in pairs, exquisitely carved statues, to the quirky tiger settee, old photographs and books, vintage gold shop display counters – even an antique billiards table – the collection is truly amazing.
Perhaps the pinnacle of the collection is three antique Thai teak houses on stilts (now serving as private villas for The Siam’s guests) that have a fascinating history. They originally were acquired by legendary silk icon Jim Thompson in Ayutthaya for his friend Connie Mangskau – a famous socialite and antiques connoisseur. It was in these houses that she entertained the worlds’ glitterati who visited Bangkok during the 60s, 70s and 80s, people like heiress Doris Duke, who amassed one of the largest collections of Thai and Burmese antiques which are now displayed in museums, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, who visited Connie’s antique shop, The Monogram, on her visit to Bangkok in 1967.
In this YouTube video, we get to see Jackie Kennedy touring Bangkok by riverboat and shopping for traditional Thai hand-woven baskets.
If you are ever lucky enough to make this magical trip, do stay long enough to enjoy cocktail hour at sundown – one of the most enchanting times of the day when the golden rays of the sun dance upon the Chao Phraya as it sets behind the Krung Thon Bridge. It’s the perfect way to relax and take in some of the best sights and sounds that Bangkok has to offer.
2018 is the year of chinoiserie – and where better to stock your antiques store, source architectural salvage or discover one-of-a-kind pieces than on a private, customized, 1:1 antiques buying tour to Bangkok, Chiang Mai or Ayutthaya, Thailand. We will custom plan a Thailand antiques buying tour for you whether you’re looking to purchase antique furniture, textiles, decorative accessories, handicrafts and artisanal creations or architectural salvage. We will also help maximize your time and money by translating and negotiating on your behalf, and finally liaising you with an international shipper.
Toma – The Antiques Diva
One of the curses of loving your work is that in your downtime, you find yourself working! That is always true for me. Even when my brain and body are exhausted from The Antiques Diva® tours and strategy calls, emails and meetings, my mind craves… Design Inspiration! Since launching our Antiques Diva Asia Buying Tours, I can’t get enough of Asia. I’m planning a trip to Asia this summer to work on both our Antiques Diva tours and my TCH Collection jewelry line, and absorb some southeast Asia design inspiration.
When I can’t travel to Asia, I immerse myself in books and magazines featuring Asian design. One of the things I love about working with Angela, our Asia Antiques Diva Guide, is that she is an intellectual – and her tips on reading books about Asia reflect that. Me? I tend to like something that spoon feeds me #DesignInspiration and have four great books about Asia on my shelf, and I’ve ordered Angela’s recommendation Four Reigns for summer reading on the beach.
Southeast Asia Design Inspiration On Toma Clark Haines’ Bookshelf
Burmese Design & Architecture
by John Falconer and Elizabeth Moore
It is the first book to showcase the amazing diversity of architecture, design and art found in Burma (Myanmar). Ranging from the monumental pagodas of Pagan (Bagan) to the architectural heritage of Rangoon (Yangon), religious as well as contemporary secular buildings are presented in rich detail. A series of authoritative essays by archaeological experts highlight the major influences and styles found throughout the country, while chapters on Myanmar’s rich art and craft traditions provide a wealth of information on Buddha images, lacquerware, painting, ceramics, woodcarving, bronzes, textiles, costumes and much more.
Tropical Asian Style
The first book to showcase contemporary residences throughout Southeast Asia from Chiang Mai to Bali, Kuala Lumpur to Java highlighting tropical dream houses in their breathtaking natural environments.
Living in Bali
by Angelika Taschen (Editor), Reto Guntli (Photographer)
Loved by travelers for its lush, tropical scenery, and charming people, Bali is considered to be one of the most magnificent places on earth. Spirituality and nature are integral parts of everyday life for the Balinese, so one can easily see why the island’s traditional architecture has a peaceful presence to it, mimicking its surroundings and sometimes blending in with them. When it comes to Balinese houses, walls are not compulsory, wood is everywhere, earth tones are dominant, and thatched roofs abound. Opening onto gorgeous green landscapes, majestic mountains, or beautiful coastlines, the homes herein ooze relaxing, contemplative vibes. Gazing at these opulent examples of simple and elegant living, one wonders why more people aren’t rushing to move to Bali…
What’s On Asia Diva Guide Angela’s Bookshelf?
Angela Somwaiya has lived in Bangkok for 24 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Japanese Studies and master’s in Thai Studies. In 2008 she took over Paul’s Antiques which has built its reputation as having one of the leading collections of colonial-era Burmese teak furniture. Since acquiring the business the collection has come to reflect her tastes and love of unique market finds throughout Asia. Innovative and entrepreneurial by nature, Angela developed a bespoke furniture service using reclaimed teak and enjoys up-cycling and repurposing found items. Angela is considered one of the leading experts in Southeast Asian antiques.
Sacred Skin: Thailand’s Spirit Tattoos: A book about sacred tattoos in Thailand that reflects animistic beliefs prevalent in Thailand. You can see many Thai symbols, designs and motifs in traditional tattoos.
Sacred tattoos, called ‘sak yant’ in Thailand, have been around Southeast Asia for centuries and afford protection from accident, misfortune, and crime. Young women get tattooed with love charms in order to attract partners, while adolescent men use the protective power of their yants in fights with rival youth gangs. For most though, the tattoos serve as reminders to follow a moral code that endorses positive behavior.
The Buddha in Lanna: Art, Lineage, Power, and Place in Northern Thailand: Having a basic knowledge about Buddhism is helpful. Any books about Buddhist art or symbols would be useful.
by For centuries, wherever Thai Buddhists have made their homes, statues of the Buddha have provided striking testament to the role of Buddhism in the lives of the people. The Buddha in Lanna offers the first in-depth historical study of the Thai tradition of donation of Buddha statues. Drawing on palm-leaf manuscripts and inscriptions, many never previously translated into English, the book reveals the key roles that Thai Buddha images have played in the social and economic worlds of their makers and devotees from the fifteenth to twentieth centuries.
Are you craving Asian design? Armchair travel is nice, but there’s nothing like experiencing southeast Asia first-hand. Book an antique buying tour or design inspiration tour with The Antiques Diva.
Chan khoy tii jah daii jerr khun
Toma – The Antiques Diva
Summer is simply the best time to visit Sweden – the daylight never seems to end, stunningly beautiful hills and orchards and shimmering lakes, enjoying a crayfish boil and icy vodka at an outdoor café… and antiquing! Sweden is HOT for sourcing antiques this summer… and Sweden is on sale at The Antiques Diva® & Co!
The summer season is the low season for Swedish antique dealers – and those crafty Swedes use this season to stock up on new inventory. Which means for foreign buyers coming abroad to source antiques in Sweden they get 1st dibs on seeing new inventory their competitors (who are also shopping in Sweden) have not yet seen! Swedish Antiques Diva Guide Daniel can’t wait to introduce you antiquing in Sweden!
BUY 1 / GET 1 SWEDEN SUMMER ANTIQUE BUYING TOUR
• Book a 1 Day Sweden Antiques Buying Tour, Get a 2nd day FREE
• Tour Dates: June – July 2018
Get a two-day custom, private antique buying tour in Sweden for the price of one day! Learn more here.
(The event was streamed on Facebook LIVE by Aspire magazine, watch here.)
When I spoke to a room of design professionals on How to Source Antiques like the Pros with interior designers Robert Passal and Garrow Kedigian at an event at the D&D Building hosted by The Robert Allen Duralee Group, the audience asked the panel, What are the most popular European antique sourcing destinations? My answer:
Why Sweden is HOT for Sourcing Antiques
Today in interior design, its all about the mix: what I call global chic. People don’t want one specific style in their home, they want their home to reflect their travels and their interests. They like to mix it up: a high-end piece with a provenance next to a modern trendy piece, an Asian antique juxtaposed against a modern abstract painting, a mid-century home with a European sensibility. Swedish antiques marry perfectly with pieces in different styles, and different price points. With their clean lines and typically soft, muted paint colors, Swedish antiques blend beautifully with pieces in many other styles.
Compared to other French or English antiques, Sweden antiques are rare because they did not make as many. And because provenance plays a big part when it comes to pricing – it’s a tricky field to enter. There is – or rather SHOULD BE – a significant price difference between 18th C and 19th C pieces of the same style. And as it’s a case of “Buyer Beware” it’s important to educate yourself so you know what you’re buying to guarantee you’re paying the right price.
International buyers sourcing in Sweden aren’t just competing with an international market when it comes to sourcing – Swedish antiques are popular in Sweden with the Swedes too: and because Swedes appreciate quality, they are willing to pay the price for authentic Swedish antiques. When sourcing Swedish antiques, knowledge is power!
Shopping at the antique warehouses in Sweden is an education. From painted Gustavian pieces to Rococo, Baroque, or Empire pieces we’ll educate you on what differentiates these periods. Opening the by-appointment-only-door is like treasure hunting: Everywhere you turn you will see something unexpected.
When you’re antiquing in Sweden, walking in with AD&CO is instant validation. Not only do we have access to private antique warehouses that aren’t online, dealers know The Antiques Diva means business. When our clients come in the door they are typically there to buy. And not just buy one piece – but container loads. This means that when you come with us sourcing antiques in Europe, you as our Antiques Diva client you have NOT ONLY your own buying power – but the reputation and the buying power of all our clients behind us! That power and those relationships help us negotiate on your behalf.
The key thing is this – our Antiques Diva Guides are local experts and personally know most of the dealers. We have the dealers’ private phone numbers and when our clients have questions or needs we can call up the dealer direct and talk to them on your behalf.
Daniel Larsson is our native-born Swedish Divo Guide. Daniel takes pride in helping clients find the right piece at their desired price point. Daniel has an international mindset and has traveled to the US, England, India, Norway, Spain and Holland; and runs D.LARSSON Interiör & Antikhandel which deals in fine Swedish antiques ranging from 18th to late 19th century, specializing in high-quality Rococo and Gustavian painted furniture, Swedish country and decorative items.
One of things Daniel warns clients is, “When walking into a Swedish antique warehouse you can have no expectations – you must be open to what’s in stock at that time.”
When Daniel takes clients antiquing in Sweden he provides an education in antiques:
• You need to understand the story behind the pieces, the romance, and connect each piece to its period.
• More than that you need to understand what lies underneath the pieces – understand restoration, what creates value in the pieces and what doesn’t.
• He teaches you about famous artisans in Stockholm and the countryside, explaining about various furniture makers, mirror makers and clockmakers.
• He teaches the differences between Swedish and other pieces – Sweden had periods that ended and unlike France where the periods often overlap in Sweden they never continued making them, so more limited editions because periods were finite.
I always say that taking an Antiques Diva Sweden Tour is like taking a Master Class on Swedish Antiques! Last summer at the Dallas Market Center Daniel and I presented a Swedish Antiques Master– see our slideshow below to learn about the three important Swedish furniture periods.
- At first look, the presentation can seem unorganized and random: then our Diva Guide helps you zoom in, find what you’re attracted to and you understand the differences in an antiques warehouse and an antique store.
- Inventory isn’t random. Antique dealers often specialize in a particular style – one of our vendors happens to be a museum curator who also sells antiques.
- Dealers enjoy talking about their pieces and sharing their knowledge. But its also important to understand the difference between style and period, and original and rebuilt, because there are disreputable dealers in all fields.
Antiques Dealer (and US Antique Diva Guide) Margaret Schwartz of Modern Antiquarian took a recent antique buying trip to Sweden with Daniel:
Swedish antiques are very much in demand. We had someone come in recently and practically buy out the Swedish inventory we had at The Antique & Artisan Gallery in Stamford, CT. Swedish furniture is timeless elegance at it’s best. Swedish looks good in every style interior and as a major benefit, they tend to hold their value in the marketplace if you ever tire of them and decide to sell. Not that you would tire of them! If you are looking to buy Swedish antiques I wouldn’t wait too long because we the price is very much on the rise, as is the demand. More buyers mean higher prices and less availability of period and quality pieces. There is a lot of reproduction and component pieces our there so do your reading, know what you’re looking for, and ask the questions. We dealers love to talk about all our inventory so don’t be shy in asking (appropriate) questions.
Act Fast: our Sweden 2-for-1 tour promotion is only available until July! We’d love to take you on an antique buying tour to Sweden, and introduce you to our expert dealers and secret sources!
Toma – The Antiques Diva