Let's think about it...

Please take a look at this ad... what would you guess is the advertised product? Right, the closet (California Closets)... see I also have known that from the very beginning ;-)

Another really nice ad is this black and white study, it is for tiles but looks like some kind of surreal art....

Pick of the week

This week my husband brought a nice book (for me) home: “The world of Budget Decorating... Over 400 photographs [..] more than 100 in full color” printed in the year 1971(first edition was from 1964).

One of the themes is for example: Fabulous fakes – from flowers to fabrics to furs- the new synthetics that are inexpensive, and fun...

The book was just so perfect for me and for days I felt, that I am in some kind of vintage decoration Candyland just me, the couch, the book and these fabulous pictures of 1960s to 70s decorations...
I loved the chairs and black-and-white pictures and even many color pictures are looking some kind of modern.. the fabrics might be complete different or the chosen materials, but the setting of the furniture in a room and the decoration is as modern as you can find it nowadays in the magazines...
Of course some describtions are a bit out-of time, for example: The room is a modern vinyl wonderland, wood-like walls, plastic ceiling beams, printed pre-pasted and pre-trimmed wallpaper, vinyl tiles in an attractive pebbled terrazzo design and a synthetic sofa and chair....
But that was considered to be the latest trend at this time... of course it was possbile to have natural wood on the walls, but the people were excited of the possebilities to have plastic wood-like walls. After the End of the 60s, two major decades proclaimed a more natural interior design again, mostly in the 70s and the beginning of the 90s, but its hard to say, where is the border between good and bad design.
For me its difficult to stand the interiors with so many different colorful patterns. Many photos are That! colorful and my eyes start spinning, but this is what 60s style was all about, the brown pioneer and old world era furniture was gone, handcrafted wing chairs started to be boring and all the new space-ship forms in fresh colors and extreme patterns with rounded aero-designs for chairs and tables were 'trés chic'. And even at this time, there was an opposite design direction and thats why one of the most interesting themes is about Mexican Design.. where its just about handcrafted chairs and tradtional styles, but it was also a very colourful style.
Nowadays, we are all IKEA educated and our spaces have to look not cluttered, in the ideal case like a hotel room, every belt, shoe, towel has its own designed places in different boxes, and baskets and box like furniture and so it happened, that just in time, the people remembered the furniture designs of the 50s-70s and a lot of these modern classics became again very very hot.. :-)


Fortuny Lamps

While reading through my decoration magazines -from time to time- I saw lights, which looked somehow very different.
These were silky hanging lamps as accents above dinning tables and in bedrooms. They looked butterfly-light weighted under the ceiling, like a modern interpretation of Chinese lanterns and in the description it was simple written: Fortuny lamp.
I wanted to know more about these lights, about their creator and some clicks in the 'www' later, I found a name: Mariono Fortuny y Madraza.
Mariono Fortuny was born in 1871 in Granada, Spain and died 1949 in Venice, Italy. He had an artistic family background, his father was a painter, his mother came from a painters family and so it wasn't surprising, that Fortuny by himself showed talent in many artistic fields from a young age on.
After the death of his father, the family moved to France and Fortuny got a profound education as a painter from his Grandfather Federico de Madrazo y Kuntz and many other artists of this time.
In 1889, the family moved further to Venice in the 'Palazzo Martinengo' and Fortuny got inspired by the collection of silk and velvet his mother got from varies places of the Orient, Venice and Gent and he was curious about the coloring process and the depth of the color in the fabric.
Out of this inspiration, he started creating fashion with silk fabric, like the famous 'Delphos gown' or the 'Knossos Shawl', which were inspired by the ancient Greek world. The 'celebrities' of his time loved his very modern creations and were wearing his gowns (like for example Sarah Bernhardt, Gloria Vanderbilt or Peggy Guggenheim.) But just being a fashion designer, could have never been enough for Fortuny, so he was also working as a painter, engraver, architect and interior designer, set designer, lighting technician and inventor. He applied for 50 different patents during his lifetime, the most influential invention, was probably the dimmer switch for lights.
Many people believe, that he was born some centuries too late, because his wide spread interests and enthusiasm were fitting very well into the Renaissance with artists like Leonardo da Vinci, or even later J.W. Goethe, who were also known as 'all round-talents'...

Fortuny was very fascinated about the theater, too. He created costumes and designed scenes and while doing so, he got introduced to the lighting system in theaters, which was a bit outdated in his opinion. He developed it further and in 1901, he patented an indirect theatrical lighting system. As one of the first designers, he made use of the electric opportunities and created an artificial light, which quantity can be controlled by moving the source. Due to this, it was possible to achieve different degrees of dimness or brightness, like a bright sky or a cloudy day, as well as many different colors for dramatic effects in theatrical productions.

Out of these experiences he decided to create lamps for the 'private' use, also. His first lamp design followed the principles: The 'Fortuny Moda' lamp from 1903 is reflecting a diffuse light on a concave surface. The design was abstract and industrial, like a photographers light and much ahead to other designs of this time.

Later (we finally reached this point ;-), he developed the same technique further while working on his famous silk lamps. At this time, he took all his knowledge from the technical side as well as the fashion designer world together and got also inspirited from Arabic motifs and Chinese silk lanterns to create these silky shining lights, which are known and loved until today...

Fortuny was well-known and celebrated during his life, a 'Magician of Venice' and a man of mysteries and secrets. A lot of the production knowledge of the lamps got lost, because he never revealed it to others, before he got an unexpected heart attack and died in his home in 1949.

But, the story of his legendary lamps wasn't over. Lino Lando was 17 years old, when he visited the Palazzo Fortuny in Venice the first time, which was already converted into the 'Fortuny Museum'. It was a sad place to see, the once beautiful silk lamps were nearly destroyed over the ages, the color of the gowns gone. But Lino Lando started loving this work and after some research, he founded his company “Venetia Studium” in 1984.
While trying to re-find the secrets of the color and the production of the lamps he traveled on same routes like Fortuny did to Asia and other places, trying to find the same inspiration, he tried and tried again until he made products which met his requirements. His first lamps followed the designs of Fortuny, strictly, but later Lando developed own designs also.
Nowadays Lino Landos son Matteo is responsible for the selling and marketing at Venetia Studium, so that Lando can concentrate himself on his life time passion, the production of the silk Fortuny lamps.
So, while trying to find out about the lamps I liked while reading in the magazines, I found two interesting stories, the one about a celebrated artist and the other about a very sucessful company, and I saw, that the function of these lamps is at least as interesting as their design ....and like gleaming kites, they are sending their unique diffuse light, to creating fairy tale ambiences... really magical....

If you want to find out more about these lamps or if you just want to calculate roughly about how long you would have to save money to buy one, just click on the link below...


Our kitchen mandir

Recently I read in a book about a Hindu temple in Edinburgh ('A place for our gods'), that there is a huge confusion about the word 'mandir', which means either a public building to go and pray there or the mandir which every family is having inside their private home, which can be a prayer room, a board with gods or just a small corner with a postcard of the favorite god. So they were asking, why do people have to go to a temple outside, when they have one in their home already...
This confusion evolves, when people try to translate sentences in English, because then there are different words for temple and family altar. So you can just understand the meaning out of the context.
When I tried to find the answer to the opposite question 'why people have an altar in their house', I found the nice sentence:
The Temple serves as a device to remind us of specific circumstances and produce awareness of the holiness in all things. So, every home temple gives you a place for the regular worshiping and prayers to the gods and a sacred space in your house.
Our mandir was not really a planned one, we brought Ganesha from India and we got Durga on our first week in Ottawa and for longer time they were residing on top of the fridge, until I found a nice grey-red colored cupboard with a cute railing and heart shaped beams.

Some fresh white and blue color later, the board found its place above the kitchen table and in a special ceremony the gods found their new place on this board. Together with the statues, we didn't combined the typical colorful kitschy god pictures, but two postcards from the “Dr.Bhau Daji Lad-Museum”, which are showing Durga in an old miniature painting and Ganesha with his mother in a sandalwood statue. Since then they were involved in all important festivals like Karwa chauth and Diwali and of course we are never forgetting the daily offering of sweets and water... (at Christmas with German cookies only and an extra star ... ;-)

As we don't have flower traders, who are just selling 'flower heads', we got artificial flowers only and also our lights are due to safety reasons (two curious cats) electric ones, which are burning the whole night. One local “Indian” is working as a guard and is holding the scented sticks. This native American is a saltshaker by origin and I painted his farm advertisement with a very different kind of statement.


Vania Zouravliov – et memento mori

Born in Vladimir, a medieval city in Russia, Vania Zouravliov creates richly layered illustrations which are brillant, dark fairytale works. It takes you a long time to look at them and try to understand what you see, but the pictures also seem to show the disturbing, disconcerting and lonely world (...of childrens nightmares).
These illustrations are not just there. They are continuously evolving and creating emotions. Some things you start to like and adore and then you dislike it, because you see that it leads to destruction of it. And that is the reason such mixed feelings are even more attracting you to his work.
Zouravliov's influences were in former interpretations described as symbols from The Bible, Dante's Devine Comedy, russian fairytales, early Disney animations, japanese Mangas, aboriginal north-american crafts and E.T.A. Hoffmann.
In general, his work combines modern elements with historic references and a blend from eastern and western cultures to create scenes which look like something from a lost myth.
His mother was an art teacher and he started drawing “evil” hammerhead people, when he was just four years old. At the age of 13 he became a child prodigy in Russia, he had TV-Shows, got introduced to many famous communist artists and was already exhibting internationally.
Later he studied at the Edinburgh College of Art and still lives and works in the UK.
In my opinion, his work is still a bit too much organ of and skull orientated. And so I am really looking forward, how and if Zouravliov will start exploring the “grown-up” world and the fear it can create of if he will be forever the four year old, who draws evil people who are making him fear... What gives me hope? This quotion from Zouravliov by himself:

Holding back the night
With its increasing brilliance
The summer moon

show us the moon...

Yelena Bryksenkova

This young artist is a student of Illustration at the Maryland Institute, College of Art. And despite from her own blogspot, until now I hardly found her pictures anywhere else.
She is often drawing simple interiors like a plain bathroom, a room with a heater and window, a green plant at a window and heater, etc. and thus she is is making the daily life a theme.

At first you think her pictures are very easy to understand and the moment you turn to the next one something forces you to turn back to the earlier picture. And then you are left surprised with the tiny details which are not usually expected. For instance an elephant with pullover (the elephant can be seen in many of her pictures but sometimes instead of it you see a red bird ), a flowered teakettle, splashes of color in white and grey environments, etc. Discovering these details made me smile and happy. It allowed a glimpse of the character of the person behind such illustrations.

Slavic Inspiration

The slavic speaking countries, like Russia, Romania, Poland etc., developed a folklore style, which inspires the fashion industry repeatedly during the winter shows with its rich pattern and tradional elements for colourful coats, blouses and skirts.
It is a style which actually seems to fit the winter season. It tells the stories of old fairytales with hard russian winters, (colorful) wooden churches and small dark wooden houses warmed by the oven. These houses are shown to be filled with rustic hand-crafted furniture and fabrics which women use to weave in the rural villages.
Such fabrics are generally made out of wool and linen and the folk costumes are filled with ornamental embroidery, which varies according to age, gender and region of the wearer.
The textile patterns and colors also vary regionally, with color schemes often based on specific combinations of red, dark blue, black, and white.
This style has greatly influenced the fashion industry. I
ts exploitation for designing the intereriors of a house has not been the highlight until now.
But still you can try to adopt some of these ideas in order to change the outlook of your house. Although may be not as a complete decoration but you can set some accents like an embroidered pillow in a well-known white and red scheme or a table cloth, or even a rug, which can help to maintain a russian or general slavic inspired feeling adding a bit of cosyness into house while you are prepared to face the dark, cold winter days.

One of the most unusual music videos filled with such inspiration is “Sun Zara” from a Bollywood movie called “Lucky”. It tries to transport the style and tradition into a romantic dramatic feeling and its really beautifully filmed:

And even when the world is fascinated and inspired by the rich history and the nostalgic feeling the folklore art can create, the people who are living there are not much into it.
For example, the russian interior. Initially it got influenced by chinese laque furniture and then the Russians developed it further with their own ideas. The huge castles of the Tsars were at first filled with an all over french design, which got replaced by the soviet ideas of uniformity and function.

The furniture wasn't imported from anywhere else but it didn't even followed their own traditions and style. It was heavy, industrial made and everyone had similar pieces standing in their houses.
After the political changes taking place in the 1990s, the people orientated themselves on an all-western look. Everything had to be new to be good and were therefore cheap copies of western designs.
Nowadays they try to look back and ponder, whether what the world like in their ancient designs and they try to create a look, which is in between: a blend of old traditions, western culture and very modern technology. It is a very fascinating idea and I am already eager to see the outcome.

Following link will direct you to an interesting article I found in the NY Times. The four pictures above were taken from there:-

There are other contempory polish folk style furniture (like the retro and folk inspired shelf and chairs), which you can find at the link below :-

If you are interested in watching other music videos related to the theme described above then please try “Tatu-All about us”, the European Song Contest winner “Ruslana- Wild Dance” and out of the crazy 1970s: “Boney M- Rasputin”. So Enjoy. =)

While trying to find some images for this post, I came across two graphic artists, Yelena Bryksenkova, a young student and Vania Zouravliov, a well-known artist, who according to me are at the oppposite end of the same rope. Their work depicts the russian folklore themes and their pictures have really impressed me. So I thought they are worth each an extra post.


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