Object Obsession…Glass and Silver Match Strikes

glass match strikes

Since I have been dwelling on the beauty of small things lately – like flowers – it is no surprise that candles are in the mix too. Our garden here has no real outdoor lighting and the house has some glaringly bright overhead spots that I hate to use, so candles have proliferated everywhere, almost on their own accord. With candles comes the need for matches and that has brought up a long-term fascination with antique glass and silver match strikes.

The person who brought decorative match strikes to the design world’s attention is British designer and writer Rita Konig, who has a few favorites, along with a spectacular pink ashtray, that you see in the different incarnations of her apartments over and over again. There is no real date order to these photos, although the first one is from her London apartment in the mid 2000s. That’s the first time I remember noticing the two small match strikes, both antique, one green glass with a silver rim and the other one cranberry.

Rita Konig old London bedroom via fallon elizabeth tumblr

Over the years, I tracked for them every time a photo of her place was featured as she moved first to one New York apartment, then another, and then onwards back to London.

Rita Konig Domino 2 Fancy Fetes December:January 2009 match strikers

Konig herself has written about and featured her strikes in the various publications she writes for including here in The Wall Street Journal and here in The New York Times.

Rita Konig match strikers

Over time a new art glass strike by Lucy Cope got added to the mix with her two small strikes, her pink ashtray and her coral patterned transferware plate. I think one of my favorite things about Konig’s style is that she is truly cumulative, and having committed to something, seems committed for life.

Rita Konig Coffee table

Match strikes like these are quintessentially English, although you can find some made elsewhere. The silver ring is hallmarked as per standard British regulation, most often between the final few years of the 19th century (fairly safe strike anywhere matches were invented in 1898) and the 1920s. They seem to have fallen out of favor with the advent of new match technology. I’m not quite sure how easy it is to find ‘strike anywhere’ matches these days, but it is not deterring me.

Rita Konig match strikers NYTimes

I’ve been hunting on eBay and Etsy but buying one long distance just doesn’t seem fun. If you are planning to search around after reading this, keep in mind that the American term seems to be ‘striker’ with the terminal ‘r’ versus the British ‘strike’. I hinted to sweet hubby for my birthday, but he missed the signals completely. I was absolutely sure the gods of glass coincidence would make one available to me at my recent forays to the shrine sales in Japan – because there is nowhere more likely that Tokyo flea markets for finding a random British antique – but I was sent a jam pot and some Turkish tea glasses instead.

I’ve spied some more recently in the Houston home of Catherine Brooks Giuffre on Domino. She has some great art and an interesting mix of pieces too. When I did a little back research, I stumbled across her previous living room and like Konig, it was quite interesting to see how and what she had repurposed.

Catherine Brooks Giuffre match strikes Domino

Catherine Brooks Giuffre match strikes LR

When I woke up yesterday to a House Beautiful post on what to put on your coffee table that included match strikes, I knew it was time for this post. I don’t think I need a whole collection, but one little one, in emerald green or even bright cranberry would do me just fine.


And by the way, did you know hobby of collecting match-related items, such as matchcovers and matchbox labels, is known as phillumeny? I wonder if that label includes match strikes? Regardless, I’ll have to mention that to my daughter.

Related Posts
Shrine Sale Stories…Vintage Matchboxes, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel and The 1948 London Olympics
Shrine Sale Scorcher…Vintage Mirrors on an Extremely Hot Day
Nogizaka…A Good Place to Start

Shrine Sale Stories…Treasures From My Trip To Tokyo

My long weekend in Tokyo was simply sublime. Days of friends and food and lots of shopping were just the restorative I needed. The weather didn’t cooperate, but it didn’t really matter. Kawagoe was a bit thin on the ground because of the threat of rain and unfortunately the next two days delivered the promised precipitation, although it didn’t keep us from the markets. It did however keep me from taking lots of photos, so most of the finds recorded are from the first day out. I also broke my own rule of “buy it when you see it” a few times, mulling over the weight and difficulty of transport, which meant I lost out on a few things, although as usual, there is a funny story attached to one of them.


There were some things that didn’t get away – like these swirling blue and white dishes – and others that did – like these kutani lidded teacups – so beautifully painted they looked like brocade.

kutani lidded teacups

This very fine takamakura, complete with original buckwheat filled pillow went home with a friend.


A search for a tansu was successful, yielding this lacquer beauty for a fraction of its retail price. Tansu at shrine sales are often in poor condition which is why they are a bargain, but this dealer had lovingly restored this piece.


Brought home and placed in the entry it will be a workhorse, holding gloves and scarves and general entry clutter.

lacquer tansu

Speaking of tansu in poor condition, I also popped in to the The National Art Center to view the Joint Graduation Exhibition of Art Universities. Not sure what the meaning of this installation of destroyed tansu by Shunsuke Nouchi is meant to represent, but I couldn’t resist including it. Student exhibits in Japan, as elsewhere, can be really fun, ranging from discoveries of major talent to down right awful. I can’t help but feel bad for these chests!


Another friend and client scored really big, bringing home all kinds of treasures. The giant wooden gears – very Vincente Wolf – will be hung as a focal point on a bare wall. We got very lucky, finding three with just the right amount of variety in size, shape, color and detail. A vintage onbuhimo, better known as a baby carrier, has lovely indigo cloth woven into its straps. And a large lacquer carrying chest, billed as Edo period by its dealer, but not, is extremely decorative with its etched brass hardware.


As for my haul, I had to keep reminding myself that I had to carry anything and everything I bought home. So I left behind an entire basket of small fishing floats and even some charming porcelain. I had to have the gray and white bowls – which were likely the more expected blue originally but now faded – because I knew they would look great with the dining table and they are that perfect not too big, not too small size. I picked up a few wooden pieces, a tray and some itomaki, including this unusual long one. A small hibachi with the great geometric asa-no-ha or hemp pattern was also a keeper. But as always, my eye and my wallet are equally lured by non-Japanese discoveries and I fell in love with these bright Turkish glasses and a cut glass jam pot. I’ve been having a bit of a glass fetish lately – wait, aren’t I always having some kind of glass fetish?


The promised funny story is about the glasses, made for serving arabic tea, but I can imagine them holding dessert or even wine. I saw five of them, 3 pink and 2 purple, on a table at one of my favorite dealers at Kawagoe and passed them only because I decided there weren’t really enough to be useful and their fragility made them hard to transport. My mind kept returning to them over and over (those silver mounts!) as I wandered so I went back only to discover they were gone – massive bummer!

arabic turkish tea glasses

Imagine my surprise when later that evening I walked into the kitchen of the dear friend I was staying with for the week. Long my partner in crime and shrine sales, SHE had bought the glasses and they were now sitting on her kitchen counter. It was one of those moments of fierce purchase jealousy, but the truth was if I couldn’t have them, better she did than some stranger. Or at least that’s what I kept telling myself while contemplating going to the mat for them.

Turkish glasses

The surprise continued when we saw the same dealer the next day and once again he had 5 of the glasses out on his table. It was a confusing moment of déjà vu, but we at least had the good sense to ask if he had more and it ended up he had an entire box! So all’s well that ends well and one day we have to have a massive party together and use them all!

Related Posts:
Shrine Sale Stories…Recent Treasures
Shrine Sale Scorcher…Vintage Mirrors on an Extremely Hot Day
Shrine Sale Stories…Vintage Matchboxes, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Imperial Hotel and The 1948 London Olympics
Shrine Sale Stories…Yamamoto’s Steamer Trunk
Shrine Sale Stories…My French Moderne Bar Cart

A Clear Choice…Modern Brass, Glass and Lucite Coffee Tables

doha living room

Now for a totally personal decorating post, but after my furniture setbacks from last week I am hoping you will indulge me. Somehow, finishing the house has become much more than just getting it organized and usable – it’s become symbolic or representative of my success in settling in to our new life. There are days when the frustrations of getting things accomplished here make me feel like I am failing. While I know it’s all fluff, not rocket science and not world hunger solving, I can’t seem to help it. You can see we have made progress, but without getting too analytical, I don’t think that is really what this is all about. Nonetheless, for now, I can’t seem to think about anything else.

In addition to the French chairs and desk that I am now missing, my living room, shown above, still needs a coffee table. I’m trying to balance desire with practicality, and as ever, some kind of availability. At times like this, with a lack of antique stores and thrift shops, I find myself scrolling 1stdibs, the place where dreams are made. There is a whole host of utterly lovely vintage lucite and brass coffee tables to be found there and that is what I would really like to add here. Visually I don’t want to clutter up the space and I assume at some point I’ll be making my way to Istanbul or Morocco or somewhere else nearby and getting a fabulous carpet that I won’t want to cover up. I’d like something airy and light and at great contrast to Yamamoto’s trunk which is being used as the other coffee table in the large square space. At the same time, I’d love some brass to link the two pieces together as the trunk has beautiful brass fittings. Corners, as on the piece below in Ellen Rakieten’s Chicago apartment, would be particularly referential. And I’m loving the way the transparent table looks with a Chesterfield sofa.

ED0310 Nate Berkus and Anne Coyle, top TV producer Ellen Rakieten

Jonathan Adler’s Jacques Table is readily available on his website and oh-so tantalizingly says “Yes, We Ship to Qatar” in big letters on the bottom. Unfortunately, the table is one of those items that is exempt from international shipping. It is too small anyway, whispers the sour grapes voice in my head.

Jacques Cocktail Table Jonathan Adler

Even better than just brass corners or edges is a table that has a shelf. I love having space to put books and other items without cluttering the top. This one, in a room designed by Lindsay Coral Harper looks like it may even be a closed vitrine. I could definitely have some fun with that.

Lindsey Coral Harper - House Beautiful brass and glass

I think it was this 2010 photo of Elizabeth Bauer‘s NYC studio in Lonny that really propelled this table onto everyone’s want list.  Hers has a bit of faux bamboo detailing around the edge and a low shelf that makes for lots of magazine storage.

Lonny Mag lucite and brass coffee table

There are some seriously to-die-for vintage examples of this style to be had all over 1stdibs, from this Romeo Rega beauty…

Italian Vintage Table by Romeo Rega |

…to this one by Pierre Vandel. Serious love.

Pierre Vandel Lucite Coffee Table 1stdibs

I haven’t really found a budget option in this style, but the Winston Gold Leafed Coffee Table from Worlds Away might do for those of you in the USA.

Worlds Away Winston Gold Leafed Coffee Table

An X frame is another shape I love, seen in Vogue in the home of model Miranda Kerr.

Madeline Weinrib White & Black Mandala Tibetan Carpet in home of model Miranda Kerr, photographed by Jason Schmidt for Vogue glass and brass coffee table

Some pretty ones on 1stdibs…

French Lucite & Gilt Brass Coffee Table 1st dibs

…including my favorite Karl Springer shape. I’ve been sighing over different versions of this table for years and years and it occurs to me that Mr. Springer could really use a post of his own.

Karl Springer lucite and brass coffee table 1st dibs

In the spirit of the Springer table is the new Helix Table from Design Within Reach, designed by Chris Hardy. The addition of wood to the legs gives the table a bit more heft, but I don’t mind.  I tried to convince DWR to sell me the table without the glass top this summer, before leaving for Doha, as the legs come disassembled. I thought maybe I could squeeze it in my carry-on.  Who knows? I may be forced to that plan this summer.

Helix Coffee Table DWR

A possibly easier option to come up with is a full-on lucite table with little to no detail to detract. I don’t want this simple waterfall one and I haven’t seen it here anyway, but ironically, CB2 will ship their version to me here. The table is inexpensive ($300) but the shipping is another 150% of the purchase price.

CB2 Peekaboo Clear acrylic lucite coffee table

I would definitely consider a big simple square like this one in Claiborne Swanson Frank‘s apartment and if I was back in Hong Kong I know I could get that made easily.

Claiborne Swanson Frank's apartment lucite coffee table.

I like this one that shows its joints and we could use brass screws – see I can squeeze in a bit of brass – to connect the parts.

lucite table french settee pop art

Again there are beautiful examples on 1stdibs, most of which are also quite expensive. I don’t mind the prices on the signed pieces made with metal in the photos earlier, but find it harder to justify prices when it is only lucite.

1970s Modernist Lucite and Glass Cocktail table 1st dibs

Especially since Wisteria makes this version, on sale for $719 right now. It too comes disassembled, so I wonder about packing up the pieces and having a new glass top cut here.

Wisteria lucite and glass square coffee table

This is one of those posts that has no clear (ha ha) answers at the end, but I’d love to hear what you think and which ones you like. Any suggestions on sources that might be available to me or even making my own would be appreciated! I think I must be at the six month mark – isn’t that always a dip time in expat adjustment?

Links to all the photos and 1stdibs items can be found on my related Pinterest board, along with many other goodies.

Related Post:
A Clear Choice…Vintage Baker Brass and Glass Coffee Table

Trifore…Magical Triple Windows in Lebanese Houses

“In English the trifore is a triple arch, and is also known by the name “Lebanese window” and is identified with the typology of the central hall house that was common in Lebanon…This is a decorated wooden window characterized by three arched openings supported on the sides by engaged stone columns in the wall and in the center by separate columns that are mainly made of marble. The column consists of three components: a base, column and capital. The carpentry details include a wooden lattice that adorns the upper part of the window and a folding double-wing window element on its bottom part. The trifore also occurs next to the balcony – in these instances the middle unit in the trifore is constructed as a door. “

One of the joys of change is how it can alter our vision. Moving to Qatar has turned my eye towards parts of the world I didn’t think about much while I was living in Japan. I have written effusively about designer May Daouk’s Beirut home featured in Architectural Digest before, in particular the amazing arched windows in her great room. What I hadn’t quite realized was that this layout and design is not unusual and is in fact a classic style Lebanese house, with roots that stretch back through the Phoenicians, Romans, Ottomans, Venetians and others. I’m not going to show the other photos of May’s house again, so be sure to visit them in the post or the magazine. They are truly that good!


In addition to May Daouk’s home in Lebanon, I have stumbled across a few others and been amazed at the architectural consistency among them. Trifore, triple arch windows, or mandalouns as I have also seen them called, are the integral centerpiece to a great room with doors opening directly and symmetrically off to smaller chambers. Having just toured Pompeii and ancient Rome a few weeks ago, I can clearly see the links between the open courtyard centered homes there with these. The windowed axis provides cross ventilation in the summer months and copious sun for the colder months as well as views across the water or over the valleys, as traditionally they face outwards and often have a balcony. The triple window is almost always on the second floor, as we would call it, much like the Italian piano nobile that is so common to Venice. It seems very practical that the principal rooms for entertaining and living should be upstairs where the light and views are better.

trifore lebanese window via because i love sand

The vacation home of Kamal Mouzawak and Rabih Kayrouz, a Lebanese fashion designer, that was featured in The New York Times a few years ago has the same exact setup – a grand salon with a trifore window and doors opening off to the other rooms. This home was stripped to its bones and fully renovated after having been shuttered since Lebanon’s civil war in the 1980s. It was very sensitively done – about 70% of the original stone floors were taken up, restored and replaced. The decorating here is the antithesis of that in May Daouk’s home, being as spare as hers was richly layered. But both versions work. My eye can’t help but be drawn to the oval tulip table in front of the windows, proof again that that table works anywhere. I am excited as mine is on the boat from Malaysia as I type.

lebanese salon NYTimes

From this angle you can see more clearly how the other rooms open directly off the great room. Inset transom panels were painted in the early 20th century by Lebanese painter Youssef Howayek.

Lebanese house central hall

It isn’t only in the central salon that the light is outstanding. This view of the dining room with the kitchen beyond shows the high ceilings and tall windows throughout the house. I love the colors and simplicity of this space.

dining room lebanon house NYT

Shoe storage for them seems to be just as much of an issue as it is in Japan. This antique console has been well repurposed as a shoe cupboard.

shoe cupboard antique console

On yet a third design note is fashion designer Elie Saab’s Beirut home, designed by Chakib Richani, also featured in Architectural Digest.  Saab’s house is unusual in that the central hall and main living rooms are on the ground floor, not the second floor, with an enclosed garden. The doors in the central arch open directly to the lushly planted space, rather than the more expected balcony.

Elie Saab AD trifore Lebanon house

The simple palette and minimalist upholstery is designed to set off the carefully placed antiques. The space is also broken into three sections with internal trifore, again similar to May Daouk’s home.

Elie Saab Chakib Richani Architects AD Lebanon LR

The arch motif and gothic tracery continues into the master bedroom.

Elie Saab Bedroom Beirut AD

I can’t resist this photo and its detail of what looks to be an amazing inlaid chest. More on inlay coming soon!

Elie Saab Beirut Lebanon inlay dresser

Are you as entranced by this extraordinary architecture as I am? I know it influenced me tremendously in the choosing of our Doha house, but I can feel it affecting me well beyond that choice.

Related Posts:
Living Lavender Dreams

Image credits: 1. Architectural Digest, photo credit: Simon Watson, 2. via Because I Love Sand, 3-6. The New York Times, photo credit: Bryan Denton, 7-10. Architectural Digest, photo credit: Marina Faust.

Old Versus New…Does Provenance Matter?

So I’ve been out shopping for dining room tables and heaven forfend, it looks like I might actually be buying a new one, not an antique. The table is so beautifully made and lovingly finished that mixed in with other pieces you might never even notice. But truthfully, outside of upholstered pieces and IKEA Billy bookcases, I’m not sure I own any new furniture. I can tell you where and when every item was purchased and the story behind it. Which leads me to wonder if that is only my personal obsession? Does provenance really matter to you? Do you care if something is actually antique? Is it looking good and looking right that matters? Is it the story of finding something that matters? Is it the right price?

For me, nothing reflects those questions back more that my addiction to blue-green glass bottles and fishing floats. Having been in Tokyo for the last nine years I have been buying the Japanese variety almost exclusively – you never know a Chinese or Korean piece could have slipped in, but I don’t think so. I look for glass that has distinctive characteristics, from makers marks to hand blown evidence like bubbles and I particularly love wonky necks, spouts and glass screw tops. The floats I have gathered from shrine sale markets and from fisherman directly as they are considered obsolete and can sometimes be traded for a really yummy box of cookies. But funnily enough, while I consider that I have found floats “at the source,” many people think that beach combing them – finding them washed up on the shore – is the only true way to collect them.

glass and fishing float round up

The popularity of this kind of glass has skyrocketed in the last few years to the point of becoming almost ubiquitous. Floats and bottles are in all the catalogs and on all the flash sale sites. So the question is, does provenance matter?

At prices like these, I think the answer is most definitely yes. And if you read the fine print, it’s fairly fuzzy in its implications of age and history. We all know the colors are wrong and that these floats were never used, but if you like these colors do you care?

Screen shot 2013-09-17 at 2.51.48 PM

OKL glass floatsWhat if you stumble across a store in Bali selling floats that arguably were made for the tourist trade? Does that make them more interesting or better than ones bought from a catalog back in the USA?

floats in Bali

For me personally, there is just no comparison to a variety of well used floats collected over time. The antique soba bowl holding them doesn’t hurt either. But you all knew I’d say that and I am not sure everyone would agree with me.

small floats in soba bowl

What about these large floats from Wisteria? Again, the fine print says handmade – which they may well be – but there is only an implication that these were used, because in fact, they were not. Note how conveniently the glass blowing pontil falls inside each float, giving it a perfect flat end so that you can style it nicely and easily on your bookshelf or coffee table – not something fishermen prioritized.  But the color and texture of the glass looks lovely. The price isn’t half bad either, especially if you are aware that they are recently made and not antique.

Screen shot 2013-09-17 at 2.55.45 PM

But do you think it truly compares to the real thing?

floats and bottle

Bottles with fishing style ropes have become more popular and we all covet that rope bottle lamp that Tom Scheerer and Steven Gambrel love to use. Both of them have perfected the way of blending something that looks old with things that actually are old to create a seamless whole. I’m not sure this bottle does that. And bottles with fishermen ropes seem a bit made up to me actually…

glass bottle float net from hayneedle

The really giant bottles I collect were often covered in protective wicker for transport. Called demijohns, this was the method of choice for transporting liquids for thousands of years – even the ancient Egyptians encased their bottles in papyrus. Over time, many of the bottles lost their degradable wicker casing. leaving just the bottle. While you can find wicker-cased ones all over Europe, I had never seen any of the Japanese ones – used mostly for sake and other alcohol – covered in anything. That is, until right before I left. Can you believe this charmer actually has a bit of ivy growing on it? Swoon-worthy!

demijohn from shrine sale glass

New ones, like these from Pottery Barn, abound on the market. Again the fine print gives the impression of antiquity and use, but I am sure these bottles are new. Would you care? Or would you rather lug some back from that romantic trip in the south of France?

Screen shot 2013-09-17 at 3.01.49 PM

I’m finding the shapes and details of the mass market ones to be lacking in variety and interest compared to the ones I have hunted up. Variety really is another advantage of vintage and antique.

other glass jugs and bottles

So before you start feeling bad for me that I have left the land of blue-green glass behind, take a look at one of my most recent Doha finds. Mostly likely Lebanese or from that region, these rustic forms of demijohns were used to transport regional liquids like olive oil. The protective wicker looks like a birds next and the bottle is crooked and handmade, just the way I like it. Since this photo it has cleaned up nicely and come to hang out with its new Japanese friends. The language barrier is slowing them down a bit, but I am sure they will get along fine.

glass bottle lebanon

If you think this post was just one big orgy of self-congratulation that my glass made it through the move intact, then you are correct. But I’d love to hear from you on this subject. Does provenance matter to you? Do you care about true antiquity?

If you want to read more about these treasures you can scroll through posts in the glass floats and glass bottles tags or even read the post that started it all: Buoys, Bottles and Bargains…the Rainy Day Special at Kawagoe

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