Before the Oscars, a look at how big red became the thoroughfare of modern royalty

A French Deco Rug

“I am a mortal, a man; I cannot trample upon these tinted splendors without fear thrown in my path.” -King Agamemnon, from the Greek tragedian-playwright Aeschylus in the fifth century, BC.

Those were the words the good (fictitious) king said upon returning home to his plotting wife after leading his troops to victory in the Trojan War. The story goes, wife Clytemnestra laid out a crimson carpet to highlight her husband’s arrogance by having him trample on the color of the gods. He walks on the carpet, but only under protest. Later, depending on which version you read, Clytemnestra or her lover kills him. Because, you know – tragedy.

A Swedish Rug

Evidence suggests that, while there’s a nice mythical quality to tracing red carpet back to ancient Greece, the practice more likely originated at railroad stations. According to Live Science, President James Monroe received the red carpet treatment in South Carolina, his hosts laid red carpet along the river in his honor in 1821. But it was not until the 1900s, when the luxurious 20th Century Limited train from Chicago to New York had passengers board and disembark on a plush carpet that the idea fancy people deserved fancy rugs, i.e. “red carpet treatment,” took hold.

According to the director of the Academy of Motion Pictures’ Margaret Herrick Library Linda Mehr, the red carpet was added to the Oscars in 1961.

Doris Day (1)

Doris Day at the Oscars, 1961
Via: DorisDay.net (http://www.dorisday.net)

 The television broadcasts of the awards show switched to color in 1966, and ever since watching our favorite movie stars traipse down that sanguine, hallowed walkway has become our chief vicarious indulgence.  It would be hard to name a more popular, or more American, fantasy than getting to be part of the Hollywood glitz.

85th Annual Academy Awards - Arrivals

Jennifer Lawrence, 2013 Oscars
Via: The Gloss

So who is responsible for the actual red carpet at the Oscars? Today, it’s a man by the name of Joe Lewis. For seven years Lewis has been responsible for seeing that the carpet is ready and in place to carry the stars from their limos to the doors of the Dolby Theater. The carpet itself is 600 feet long and will be laid out today and vacuumed Sunday just in time for the wave of press to arrive.

Red is the color of blood and power. Cheerful, robust, vibrant, strong – a bold, red textile can imbue a bit of glamour and stateliness into any space, even if there’s no chance of Brad or Angie crossing the threshold. Check out DLB’s crimson textile tide here.

Downton Design, Featuring: European Antique Rugs

Conceptual Cues from Across the Pond

Lady Mary Pillow

Back for a fourth season, Downton Abbey’s beloved residents are now just a few years shy of the jazz age, evidenced by the Crawley sisters’ new hairdos and drop-waist dresses – quite a change from the late Victorian ensembles of previous seasons. Of course, no one expects the grand Abbey itself to change quite so quickly – there are all those centuries of heritage to preserve!

Home goods retailers have been capitalizing on the PBS-induced Anglophilia for quite some time now with Downton-inspired paints, candles, textiles and more. Much of the merchandising is rather lacking in Edwardian authenticity, and maybe that’s fine: There probably aren’t that many of us who want to turn our homes into mock noble estates.

But there is inspiration to be taken from the richly decorated interiors of Highclere Castle, the show’s main filming location. Here’s a look at lessons we can glean from those lovely sets:

Rooms as period collections

Saloon

The castle’s saloon was finished in 1860. Richly ornamented from floor to ceiling, it has Gothic-period vaulted entryways that draw the eye upward and highlight the room’s grandness and opulence. Continue reading

Bold but Wise: Five Steps to Inspired Design

How can we make outstanding, boundary-bursting design decisions while simultaneously resting assured that we aren’t going overboard?

It’s not easy, but keeping the following in mind can safeguard against creating something that will seem prematurely dated in years to come.

Know Thyself

I loved the mint-colored runway looks of spring 2012, but that pastel green wasn’t a longstanding favorite of mine, so it would’ve been a mistake to entirely redo my wardrobe with it. The same goes for interiors. Don’t get talked into a color or aesthetic trend because it’s hot now if you weren’t previously drawn to it.

decoholic                           Via: Decoholic

These violet kitchen accents paired with sharp structural lines are absolutely electrifying, but I assume the choice was a deeply personal one – no one else could tell someone this was the right decision for him or her.

Know the History

Cost, materials and quality are obviously crucial information for big purchases, but digging deeper, knowing a bit about the biography of a furniture piece or textile will ensure better decision-making. Plus, an item that has already stood the test of time is unlikely to look tired in the near future.

pantonVia: Eternamente Flaneur 

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Gratitude and Living Rooms: Four People-Centric Design Principles

Though we (hopefully) enjoy our homes all year long, we tend to most appreciate their capacity to foster bonding and human connection at family gatherings.

Whether celebrating Thanksgiving at your home or someone else’s this year, pay attention to how people interact with the space. Where do they congregate? If two people want to have a more intimate conversation, where do they go? Noticing these things can inform future design decisions. In the mean time, here are some ways to create living spaces family and friends will be grateful for:

A more livable living room

Sometimes, despite our best intentions, the living room is too imposing. A giant sectional flanked by your most expensive art can call to mind a more formal era – but not in a good way – and send guests scurrying to a homier, more casual setting (usually the kitchen).

That said, you don’t have to sacrifice refinement to make a space more comfortable.

photo 1-blog                     Via: HomeDSGN

Place furniture such that people can seat themselves closer or farther from the central focus of the room. Sometimes you want to have a big group engagement, but just as often you want guests to be able to create pockets of intimacy.

photo 2-blogVia: Tosokaki

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Hello Yellow!

PastedGraphic-3 (1){Interior Design by Nick Olsen}

If you’re looking to add a surge of energy to your home, yellow is a secret that top talent designers often use to great effect. Nick Olsen leverages his expansive walls – and even much of his coffered ceiling – to envelope his own loving room in radiant yellow. A tiny bud vase and color block pillow pull the color down into the seating area and keep the energy of the room flowing.

yellow 2{Interior Design by Kelli Ford & Kirsten Fitzgibbons}

This marvelous yellow hallway by Kelli Fordand and Kirsten Fitzgibbons is drenched in the vibrant shade of spring daffodils. While lesser talent might have let the potent shade overwhelm the space, the duo balanced it with soft white trim and gleaming gold metallic accents on every light fixture in the passage. Rather than downplay the tone, they’ve embraced it. Even the art on the walls features pops of yellow. But the piece de resistance? The geometric inlayed pattern on the floor. Stroke of genius. Kelli and Kirsten created a dramatic diamond pattern underfoot that mimics the barrel jointed ceiling design. But it’s the color selection of gold and warm ivory that seal the deal on this magnificent hallway and the overall design of the project.

yellow 3Vintage Modernist Rug C.1960

So how can you harness the color of sunshine in your next project? Rugs offer a interesting way to add both color and texture to a room. We love the Mondrian look of this Modernist rug. It has Kelly Wearstler verve and would set off white upholstery and the ongoing popularity of brass fixtures beautifully. Why limit art to the walls when the floor provides ample opportunities to express your aesthetic point of view?

yellow 4Antique Spanish Savonnerie C.1920

For a more traditional influence, this Spanish Savonnerie rug is an elegant choice. Meandering vines, acanthus leaves and flowing plumes radiate out from the center medallion design. What we love most about it is the grand scale of the rug itself. This is truly luxurious rug intended to anchor a key room in a more formal home. We can’t think of a better selection for a discriminating client.

As you can see, the lively color yellow offers unlimited range and potential. It can be decidedly traditional or crisply modern, dramatically bold or sophisticated and subtle. Regardless of how you choose use it, a dose of sunshine is a welcome addition to any room of the home. The only question is how do you plan to harness the color of sunshine?

Silk Road: Legacy and Contemporary Design

The Silk Road has been getting lots of headline press lately. Unfortunately, it has to do with the online narcotics marketplace and not the ancient trade routes that connected East to West.

I doubt I’m the only one who disapproves of repurposing world history to sell drugs. However, all the media attention got me thinking about the real Silk Road and how it opened up the globe – connecting cultures and facilitating development.

Many volumes could be written about the myriad textile traditions originating from the disparate cultures along those ancient routes. Here’s a look at just three regions whose traditions were introduced to the Western world centuries ago and remain perennially relevant to contemporary design.

China

Rug design in China was influenced by the images and styles found in silk tapestries. Buddhism and Taoism informed composition. Misty landscapes or a bird on a budding branch could evoke nature’s harmony and peaceful contemplation, while depictions of regal dragons symbolized wealth. Chinese artists were ever conscious of the evocative power of negative space.

In the 1920s and 30s that tradition was woven into the Art Deco movement, evinced in pieces like these:

BB4822

BB5193 (1)

This wonderfully modern living room relates its floral-motif Chinese Art Deco rug to the leafy-patterned armchairs, as well as to the twiggy centerpiece and blooming wall art. This is a prime example of how to execute a theme that’s bold but not overly matchy.

Chinese Deco

 

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Irish Donegal Rugs

Irish Rugs have a long and proud tradition. Their most famous rugs come from a town called Donegal in Ireland. The Donegal Carpets are a trademark brand of handmade wool carpets that can be found in esteemed establishments all over the world; including the US White House, Dublin Castle, Eltham Palace and Norte Dame University.

BB1504 Donegal 21.5 x 13.4

Rug and carpet making is an ancient tradition for Donegal and the most famous manufacturer was a Scottish textile company over 100 years ago owned by Alexander Morton. Morton practiced the same techniques of the Donegal people for his wool carpets. The popular Celtic designs made the rugs a real success. Soon the rugs began to be purchased by and gifted to famous churches and other establishments around the world.

BB1148 Irish Donegal 16.4 x 11.4 C.1920

In 1957, the Morton’s sold the company to a consortium called Donegal Carpets Ltd. Many Irish textile manufactures that made rugs and carpets closed their doors during “The Great Depression” and in 1987 the last facility was forced to close its doors. In 1997 the government reopened Donegal Carpets by petition of the local people. Now Donegal once again makes their signature Celtic rugs for the world to enjoy.

BB0990

Today’s Donegal rugs are typically custom made with colors that are chosen by the clients. In their contemporary designs the Donegal rugs are now often neoclassical or abstract. The designs are graceful, the quality is top-notch and the colors divine. There is no greater quality rug to be found.

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A Rug Roundup: Doris Leslie Blau’s Year in Review!

Horizontal press

As the year is coming to an end, it’s time to reflect on what an exhilarating year it has been.  It is quite the honor to have had Doris Leslie Blau antique, vintage and custom rugs placed in so many impeccably designed rooms by fabulous designers, as well as being featured in many of the top media outlets. Below is all the wonderful press we’ve received in 2012! We look forward to seeing you in 2013!

Michael J. Fox Home

Architectural Digest featured Michael J. Fox and Tracy Pollan’s home designed by Gomez Associates. Doris Leslie Blau’s antique and vintage carpets were placed in their home.

Promenade winter 2012

DLB’s Persian Malayer carpet was featured in the article, “Fine Art for the Floor… Whether Modern or Antique, These Beautiful Rugs Transform a Room.” Our very own Nader Bolour was quoted in the article, “It’s like putting a soul into a body. The eye always goes to the floor when someone enters a room.”

NY Spaces Special issue 2012 inside

DLB’s custom rug was featured in NY Spaces page “Artful Furniture and Home Accessories.”  Doris Leslie Blau’s rug was titled, “Tibetan Beauty.”

Elle Decor Nov 2012

DLB’s Persian Sultanabad rug was featured in Elle Décor’s  Arts and Antiques page, “For the Adventurous Collector.”

Trad Home Fall 2012

Traditional Home featured a dining room designed by Mary Douglas Drysdale; the carpet is a Doris Leslie Blau Aubusson carpet.

AD Oct. 2012

Owner Nader Bolour’s Starburst designed rug was featured in Architectural Digest’s article, “Most Wanted… From Simple Pleasures to Ultimate Luxuries.” To quote the article, “The exuberant black and white design of Nader Bolour’s Starburst rug for DLB evokes the tactile brushstrokes of abstract expressionist paintings.”

Veranda July-Aug 2012

Doris Leslie Blau’s Brown Stripe rug was a featured rug in Veranda’s “The World of…” page discussing flat weaves.

AD Sept. 2012

In Architectural Digest’s article, “A Plum Assignment,” interior designer Jamie Drake’s designed room featured Doris Leslie Blau’s custom designed Lily Rug.

Architectural Digest August 2012

A Doris Leslie Blau Persian Tabriz was used in a Carey Maloney designed room in Architectural Digest, August 2012.

Atlanta Homes June 2012

Atlanta Home featured a Lindsey Coral Harper designed room with our Eskayel Madagascar rug. Lindsey said, “My jumping-off point was the carpet. I wanted to do a rich jewel-toned room, glossy from floor to ceiling. So when I found the inkblot carpet from Doris Leslie Blau, I flipped! It looked like a Rorschach, so I thought that my room could double as an in-home shrink’s office.”

Interior Design Magazine May 2012

Two Doris Leslie Blau custom rugs, the Madagascar and animal skin flat weave, were featured in Interior Design magazine’s article, “Painterly Strokes that are Artfully Placed.”

Metropolitan Home April 2012

In the article “Lighten Up,” Doris Leslie Blau’s cotton Dhurrie carpet was a featured rug. To quote the article, “Forget plush
pile carpets, thin is in. Today’s most desirable carpets are graphic flat weaves.”

Cover Magazine Spring 2012

Our Madagascar Eskayel custom designed rug was a featured rug in Cover Magazines “Rug Revolution” edition.

Elle Decor April 2012

Elle Décor featured DLB in their “Happenings” feature. They shared Doris Leslie Blau’s custom-made collection of hand-knotted jute sisal rugs. The collection was said to“Come in various voluptuous colors with a solid, self-contained cotton border, give delight to the senses.”

In Style March 2012

In Style featured fashion designer Nanette Lepore’s living room designed by Jonathan Adler with a custom Doris Leslie Blau peacock carpet.

Elle Decor March 2012

Elle Décor featured Doris Leslie Blau’s custom Ikat-style rug. “The rug has an overscale motif in hand-loomed hemp.”

W Magazine Jan 2012

W Magazine featured one of our Eskayel designed rugs in the article, “Six Room-Making Rugs.” The rugs were said to be “A series of ethereal, Rorschach-esque statement pieces.”

Thank you for joing us and supporting us on our journey through 2012!

The Versatility of Designing with Oushaks

We were planning to have a 1 day photo shoot to photograph many of the Turkish Oushak rugs in our inventory and I decided it would be more interesting to make the photographs 3 dimensional by adding furniture to the images. So I went around to several of the Antique dealers that are located in our building – the Interior Design Building- and asked to borrow some furniture. The following images are an eclectic mix of periods and styles illustrating the versatility of designing with Oushaks and also the spirit of collaboration. Many thanks to the dealers who graciously loaned the furniture pieces featured.

Demiurge New York Editions Mongolian Chairs and

Bauhaus Cocktail Trio Tables.

 Raymond Han Oil on Canvas “Standing” available through Demiurge New   York.

Shown with Doris Leslie Blau Vintage Turkish Oushak Circa 1940 Item # BB5091 Continue reading