Monthly Archives: October 2011

Where Do You Tansu?

In the Entryway?
Perfect for hats and scarves, keys and keeping other clutter out of view, this iron strap isho dansu is mixed with other Asian antiques and objects in this elegant entry by Vincente Wolf.

Even shoes or rainboots can fit if the tansu is big enough. Love the similarity between the spare Shaker-like English rush-seat chairs and the simple mizuya tansu.

In the Living Room?
The gilded doors and elaborately grained wood on this early 20th century tansu dresses up a corner of Chris Barrett’s tiny home.

In the Dining Room?
Designer and blogger Lauren Liess uses the bottom half of a tansu as a sideboard in her dining room. The big sliding doors and deep cabinet make storage easy.

In the Kitchen?
I know I’ve shown this Michael Smith photo before, but I love it so much I’ll show it again. He is a master at using Japanese antique furniture in his designs. For more great examples from him click here.

In the Family Room?
This example is a bit of a cheat as it actually a Korean bandaji (blanket chest), a family heirloom of Ally’s of From the Right Bank.

In the Bedroom?
A big tansu, perfect for clothes, blankets and pillows in the Chelsea bedroom of Ray Booth and John Shea…

or a small one on raised metal legs, making a perfect nightstand in this gorgeous Madeline Stuart designed bedroom.

Smaller chigai dana with their open staggered shelves, often laquered and decorative, are incredibly versatile too. Besides the most famous one residing in the White House, you can find them tucked in numerous interesting spaces. Check out the one in the left corner of this Markham Roberts designed living room…

…and another hidden in the left corner of Celerie Kemble‘s bedroom.

I’ve had a few questions lately from readers on how to blend Japanese antique furniture into Western interiors, so this post proves my adage that a tansu can work in almost any design style, whether modern, traditional or eclectic. Perpetually underused in the design world, tansu are great for storage and display as well as gorgeous in their own right.

So friends and readers, where do you tansu? I’d love to do a follow-up post showing photos of tansu in your rooms! Get out your cameras, do a little styling if you want and send me photos of tansu in your homes!

Related Posts:
What’s Cooking? Tansu in the Kitchen
Sourcing Antiques for Michael Smith Interiors
A Masterful Modern Mixmaster…John F. Saladino
An Artistic Reflection…The 1860 Japanese Envoy to America and Yokohama-e

Image credits: 1. Metropolitan Home November/December 1995, photo credit: Simon Watson, 2. credit unknown, perhaps Kelly Hoppen, 3. House Beautiful July/August 2011, photo credit: Victoria Pearson, 4. via Pure Style Home, 5. via Chinoiserie Chic, 6. via From the Right Bank, 7. Elle Decor September 2007, photo credit: Eric Piasecki, 8. Elle Decor January 2007, photo credit: unknown, 9. House Beautiful May 2011, photo credit: Thomas Loof, 10. Lonny October/November 2010, photo credit: Patrick Cline

Perfectly Pale…Megan Morton’s Australian Home

Maybe it is the change in weather, or perhaps I am missing my beach cottage, or most likely worrying that I have not made any new progress on it and it is already October, but these photos of stylist Megan Morton‘s home in Australia from The Design Files have left me utterly drooling.

No matter how many times I see a Saarinen tulip table with bentwood chairs, I never tire of the combo. And I love that slipcovered corner chair!

The room is so quintessentially Aussie to me – the combination of sunny open space, found objects and modern upholstered furniture.

I would kill for this console at my beach house – perfect for under the stairs. And her display is so natural and organic.

Ah, the lockers….

One of my summer regrets is not buying a set of giant keys up in the Red Bank antique stores. This photo is really rubbing it in.

Is that a tiny Boston fern I spy in the all white bathroom, tiled in penny rounds and subway tiles?

The house is on the market and the industrial lockers are staying, so if you are looking for a place in Sydney, I say go for it. Oops, it has sold already, so you’ll just have to enjoy the photos…More of them found at The Design Files.

And for good measure, I am adding this photo from Riviera Interiors spotted over at Delight by Design

Note the marble-topped rusty cast iron table in the back corner. Still dreaming of one of those too…

Celerie Kemble’s Peacocks or Samurai Armour…Which Do You Prefer?

After my butterfly finds post last week, I have had a little voice in my head whispering to me over that small detail about the stuffed peacock in the Celerie Kemble designed apartment in the newest Lonny magazine. I had mentioned that taxidermy peacocks have been all the rage for some time now, but as trends go, they don’t do it for me quite the way butterflies do. Here’s the aforementioned bird in the dining room.

But why did it all feel so familiar? The article mentioned that Kemble had designed this space previously as a model apartment for the building’s developer, but that wasn’t it. I knew Kemble herself had a peacock on the wall in her living room, but it was definitely a different one.

She can’t be credited with starting the trend - for instance, here is Anna Sui’s NYC apartment resplendent with pattern and peacock from an autumn 2009 Elle Decor issue…

…and prior to that I can recall the one in Jeffrey Bilhuber‘s gorgeous place, featured in the New York Social Diary.

The recent September Elle Decor featured the San Francisco home of Alexis and Trevor Traina with their peacock filled dining room, which I was also decorated some time ago and shown earlier elsewhere. But I am getting off tangent and I don’t really mean to be writing a post about the trend of dead birds in decorating! If I was really planning on doing that, I’d need to get all historical on you…

Then it finally hit me! Kemble’s dining room, which I had featured in a previous post, was basically the same room. Maybe her clients live in the same building in a similarly laid out apartment?  After all, it is a big new building. And Kemble’s dining room had quite unusual display items too – a pair of samurai warrior armor. Do you remember these?

At the time of that post, I asked what you thought of the armor. So I guess today’s question is which do you prefer? Stuffed birds or stuffed suits?

And while we are talking about peacocks anyway, I simply cannot avoid getting all historical on you. I have to put in a pitch for the most extraordinary peacock related place in the world – James McNeill Whistler’s Peacock Room – the showpiece of the Freer Gallery in Washington D.C. Recently restored to its original splendor…

…the curators have taken yet a further step by temporarily taking down the blue and white style porcelain that Frederick R. Leyland originally displayed in there and installing Charles Lang Freer’s (who later purchased the room and brought it to America) original collection of ancient Asian ceramics. In effect, the room has been rewound to 1908. Furthermore, on the third Thursday of each month, the shutters on the windows will be opened, allowing visitors to view the room in natural light. This is truly a special opportunity and not to be missed! The full history and further information can be found here and here.

Courtney mentioned it this summer and a few friends from the D.C. area wrote to me about it as well. I plan on making a pilgrimage (and when talking about the Peacock Room, that is the correct word) there this summer with the girls. Anyone want to join me?

Related Posts:
Thumbs Up or Down? Samurai Armor in the Home
Artist Spotlight…A Final Dose of Japonisme for the New Year
Artist Spotlight…Whistler, Hiroshige and the Best Coffee table Book of All Time

Photo credits: 1. Lonny September/October 2011, photo credit: Patrick Cline, 2 & 6. Lonny October/November 2010, photo credit: Patrick Cline, 3. Elle Decor September 2009, photo credit: Eric Bowman, 4. New York Social Diary July 13, 2007, photo credit: Jeffrey Hirsch, 5. Elle Decor September 2011, photo credit: Simon Upton, 7-8. Freer/Sackler website

Artist Spotlight…56th CWAJ Print Show

So once again it is that time of year. Starting on Friday, October 14th and running through the weekend, the College Women’s Association of Japan‘s annual exhibition and sale of modern Japanese hanga is on at the Tokyo American Club. Admission is free and open to everyone and the prints themselves are as varied and well-priced as they always are. Whether you go every year or this is your first time, I recommend that you do not miss this show. It is a chance to view and purchase top quality original art, whether you are looking for a souvenir of time in Japan, are a serious art collector or are simply tired of looking at your bare white walls. I am going to highlight a few pieces from the show in this post, but if you are not familiar with the history of Japanese printmaking I recommend that you read my Hanga 101 primer first.

The cover print shown above, Evening Snow on Mt. Hira, is by master printmaker KUROSAKI Akira (it is a standard device to put the last name first in capital letters), whose print last year was also on my top list and sold out completely. Kurosaki is working on a series called “Eight Views of Omi,” a title reference to the early ukiyo-e series by Ando Hiroshige. I continue to think they are his best prints in years and that by looking backwards, he is actually moving forwards.

Another artist moving forward by looking backward is URATANI Hiroto with his (Face I <Hill Form>). After years of similar looking prints – colored and lined rolling fields – his entry this year builds on those hill forms by creating a face from them while also speaking to earlier 20th century printmakers and even, to my mind, Modigliani.

I am never normally an animal print lover, but the charm and fun of IMAI Yosuke’s Braid has really caught my attention this year. I know you dog aficionados are going to like this one.


And KIM Sohee must have the funniest sense of humor of any of the artists in the show. Her inaugural entry last year made the catalog cover and left everyone smiling. This year’s print is hysterical and inventive again.

For sheer prettiness, I think there is a tie between MATSUSHIMA Junko’s Spring Scent No. 3 and…

…OKAWA Miyuki’s A Life, and A Life over Lives.

Nostalgic Japan prints, while lovely, don’t always push the artistic envelope. This year, NORIKANE Hiroto’s Big Roof-2 (Autumn) is so visually arresting in the way the roof dominates the space that I have to change that opinion.

Traditional CWAJ Print Show rules require submitted prints to be from the current year or one prior. New changes in these rules have allowed invited artists (as opposed to those prints selected by jury) to submit older work. For example, in this NAKAYAMA Tadashi Wind/Girl from 1956, the youthful exuberance not only of the subject, but also of the artist, shines through.

The guaranteed sell out? YAMAMOTO Keisuke’s Kiyomizu Temple covered with snow. If possible, it may even be more beautiful that last year’s print, as well as smaller, with a dusky blue of twilight. Supposably, you cannot see the temple from this angle, so he is working entirely from his memory, not a photo. Make sure to enlarge this one by clicking it. Even the poor quality of the scan cannot hide the incredible quality and detail of his lithography technique.

The winner of best title goes to ZHUANG Man for her Outside Is All Buzzing of Cicadas, as I find the roar of late summer cicadas in Japan to be a romantic sign of our return after the summer, but I have also always admired her moody detailed mezzotints. I believe she was a dentist before she became an artist, so fine detail work comes easily to her. Part of what made me notice her print so strongly this year is that is sits on the page of the catalog right next to…

…my absolute favorite print in the show – YOSHIHARA Eri’s Mark Rothko’s chair. I have had a passion for Rothko’s work since college and am currently having a bit of a Thonet chair obsession. But even if you don’t, it is just such a witty print and the scan doesn’t do it justice. This is Yoshihara’s first year in the show and it reminds me that new artists are what interest me most and leads me to my next topic…

…the Young Printmaker Award. Once again, I must offer up a caveat as I co-chaired this committee with the lovely Akiko Tatsuke, but I am so excited by our winning artist and our returning artist.

HIROSE Risa, with her stunning collage of finely detailed wood engravings supplemented by rose petal ink, was the recipient of this year’s award. The photo of Document-A Taste of Impressions in the catalog is about the size of a postage stamp, and cannot do the 97 x 67cm print justice, even if enlarged here. In addition to her winning print, we have two smaller works for sale including this one shown below, The Time Before Morning is Over (which could also be in contention for best title). To really get a sense of her work and technique, please see Artist Spotlight…Rise Hirose’s Ephemeral Beauties.

Our returning YPA winner from 3 years ago is ISHIZAKI Miku who also has three extraordinary works in the show, printed on her signature handmade washi paper. They are gorgeously textural and warm.

Don’t miss the Associate Show in the downstairs Fred Harris Gallery either, an incredble retrospective of work by HAGIWARA Hideo, spanning some 50 years and including amazing prints from his Mt. Fuji series.

The CWAJ Print Show opens at 11am on Friday, October 14th until 8pm that evening. I’ll be there from opening until about 3pm working as a docent. I’m available to answer questions and give tours. The show continues 11am-6pm on Saturday and again from 11am-5pm on Sunday. There are so many more prints I could mention here, but unfortunately not room for them all. Catalogs are available for sale at the show if you would like to have a record of all the prints.

Interested in working on the Print Show? Join CWAJ and get started.  Volunteers are needed for returning day in November and that will give you a chance to actually touch and see the work close up.

Image Credits: All images from the 56th CWAJ Print Show catalogue.

Related Posts:
Hanga 101…A Quick Primer on Japanese Prints
Artist Spotlight…55th CWAJ Print Show
Artist Spotlight…Rise Hirose’s Ephemeral Beauties

My Kitchen Island is Back on the Table

Just been perusing the Jayson Home Fall Flea Market full of to-die-for antiques and other items, when I spied this late 19th century marble-topped cast iron table from France…

Close-up

…And this Belgian one with a salvaged oak top.

Close-up

Now I have talked a lot about the perfect kitchen island for my tiny Victorian beach cottage here. And just a few weeks ago I waxed endlessly about my long-term dream island from Peri Wolfman’s house here. And we all know that whatever I choose will be antique, but all of a sudden, the particular charm of a cast iron table base has really caught my attention. It wasn’t just these offerings at Jayson Home either. I saw one, brought all the way from France, at the Oedo market that day out shopping with Peri. I loved it – it was sold of course – and I wasn’t dragging it back to the US anyway (imagine the carbon footprint on transport from France to Japan to the USA). But I think the idea has been germinating in the back of my mind for a while.

The more I think about it I realize the idea is not a new one for me. I looked at a similar one this summer in Asbury Park at the great cast iron and garden furniture store.

It had a great rusty patina (I can hear some of you chuckling at that idea) but I also might have considered painting it. It was actually too small and once again sold to boot, but I liked the idea then. It was also missing its marble top.

Side view

So I went off to check that magic market of all things – eBay – and came up with a few gorgeous, but wildly expensive options (the items at Jayson have pretty hefty price tags too), including this 1920s French marble-topped butchers table with bull head details.

Amazing, but too large and at over $8000, definitely not the answer. But liking this idea…What say you all???

Image credits: 1-4. Jayson Home, 5-9. me, 10-11. via sillyrabbits95428q90

Related Posts:
Ingenious Repurposing…Unusual Kitchen Islands and Printers Drawers
What’s Cooking? Peri Wolfman’s Kitchens Through the Years and That Marble-Topped Bakers Table

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