“A CLOSET OF CURIOSITIES” BY SASHA BIKOFF




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Today, A-Gent of Style would like to introduce you to his new designer crush and rising star of design, Sasha Bikoff. A few days ago, Domaine, the brilliant American online design site, revealed the latest and beautifully curated project of the precociously talented 25-year-old American designer, a 4700-square-foot apartment in Manhattan iconic Dakota building on the Upper West Side.


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Similarly to Nicky Haslam’s new London apartment featured here last week, Bikoff’s total renovation for her client’s new abode is permeated with a fascinating mix of eclectic styles, invigorating colour vibrancy (who wouldn’t want to wake up in a Ladurée-coloured jewel box?), a feminine and glamourous touch, and a bold, fresh and whimsical approach (“I think that people are very afraid to use color and opt for neutrals because it’s safe.” Bikoff says). Once again, there is no sense here of trying to impress and show off but simply a chic yet relaxed environment that captures the client’s personality and lifestyle. Ravishing bespoke hand-painted wallpapers by De Gournay and furniture and objets such as Milo Baughman cantilevered barrel chairs and a French bronze palm chandelier by Bagues, scoured and sourced from international antiques stores and auction sites such as 1st Dibs, rub shoulders and are happily juxtaposed next to less valuable pieces from retail design darlings like Chippendale armchairs from Jonathan Adler or a cotton rug by Madeline Weinrib.

A-Gent of Style was particularly taken by the intense royal blue lacquered walls of the study (see his retrospective here), the wonderfully happy colour combination of melon and mint green in the dining room (the green ikat-ey fabric on the settee is rather wonderful too), the malachite print echoed throughout the dressing room (brilliant use of electric blinds on the wardrobes), the ultimate elegant boudoir look of the master bedroom (a lilac scheme Hamish Bowles would most probably fall for) especially the verre eglomisé effect on the bed posters, the curved corners of the ceiling in the sitting room and the Moorish gold radiator grilles amongst others.



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– Photos by Domaine and Sasha Bikoff –






DESIGN GRAND SLAM: NICKY HASLAM AND HIS NEW LONDON SANCTUM



 

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Six months have gone now since A-Gent of Style met Nicky Haslam at an evening party (the only one A-Gent was attending that night, Nicky’s second by 9pm…) organised by House of Hackney, the maximalist hipster design visionaries, in their fantastic Shoreditch showroom (designed by the brilliant MRA who specialises in high-end retail interiors) where the flamboyant decorateur extraordinaire and inveterate socialite was invited with Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki to chat about their lives and careers. Ensconced in one of the brand’s sofas – upholstered in Palmeral, one of their iconic 1970s fabulously kitsch prints, the two raconteurs and storytellers entertained us with their delightful stories and anecdotes in a very informal and relaxed way as if they had invited us in their sitting room to have a banter and a cuppa  (except that we were sipping champagne).

It is then and there at the drinks reception that Nicky Haslam told A-Gent of Style that he had just finished redecorating his new London flat and that he had just moved in, which, as you would imagine, piqued his interest greatly.


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It was only last weekend that Haslam’s apartment was finally revealed to the world in an exclusive feature of the New York Times T Magazine,one of A-Gent of Style‘s favourite design publications in recent months, for their Spring Design issue
(Joseph Dirand’s Paris apartment and the houses of decorator expats in Tangier are a treat). And as expected, it did not disappoint. Bland, featureless and unrefined are not epithets often used to qualify Monsieur Haslam’s interiors. Actually they never are. Elegant, sophisticated, relaxed, also audacious, unique and certainly kitsch, maximalist, dramatic and theatrical are superlatives that best describe and are commonly used for this great decorative aesthete whose incredible career spans more than five decades and whose slew of clients would make the red carpet at the Oscars look like a symposium of cinephile First Year students at Bognor Regis University.


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You can view the full article here but in the meanwhile, A-Gent of Style will say that he is really taken by the overall glamourous look of Haslam’s apartment, its whimsicality, theatricality, floridity and eclecticism (bespoke items rub shoulders with antiques and Oka pieces – Haslam has a furniture range with the English design firm) particularly the Christian Bérard-esque irregular lines of the painted wall panels, the faux-marble fireplace surrounds, the oversized white plaster ceiling light (Giacometti-inspired possibly but most probably created by Philippe Anthonioz or Stephen Antonson. Do get in touch if you have the answer!), the built-in fretwork hutch, the faux-bamboo green walls (framed with a lovely coral braid), the doors painted in different colour on either side (green and blue gets A-Gent every time! Check it out here), the painted floor à la Jean Cocteau in the entrance hall, the camp rococo baldaquin bed à la Dorothy Draper, partly fabric partly plaster (did you spot the duvet was tied to the bed footboard? Brilliant), the dark green, low Chinoiserie ceiling light and of course the diverse objets, especially the plaster reliefsthat look as if they had been taken out of the Soane museum.

But more importantly, the lack of Haslam’s concern for following decorative rules
(if there is such a thing), his rejection of conventions or of what people might think, his irreverence, audacity but also rarefied style echoing many decorative but also artistic and cultural references (is that frame above the fireplace really inspired by a Cocteau rather than a Dali!?) are a true breath of fresh air to A-Gent of Style in this saturated world of taupey, soulless and unimaginative interiors, and of course a great source of inspiration that made him think aloud “that’s what interior decoration is all about”. Let’s hope you will concur!



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– Photographs by Simon Upton for T Magazine of the New York Times –





“DESIGN BRASILIERO, MODERNO E CONTEMPORANEO”



 
If A-Gent of Style could be granted one super power, it would be to be at different places at the same time. It would be futile indeed to try to keep up and keep abreast with the plethora of design-led events occurring in London at any given time let alone attend them all.


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By happenstance, A-Gent of Style went to the Embassy of Brazil two days ago to pick up a friend and whilst waiting for him in the lobby, he noticed in the room next door a furniture exhibition that he is delighted he came across.

Brazilian Design: Modern & Contemporary Furniture is the largest and most important exhibition ever offering a comprehensive overview of Brazilian modernist and contemporary design in the United Kingdom. In association with The Embassy of Brazil and Vanishing Points, it presents over 45 pieces on display and focuses on two distinctive periods of Brazilian design, comprising a time span of over 80 years and ultimately warranting the status of Brazil as one of the leading producers of furniture and object design in the world.


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Whilst A-Gent of Style recognises and appreciates the beauty in some iconic pieces that he has seen either in auction sales, design fairs or major museums from around the world, he must admit he was not completely conversant with modern Brazilian furniture until he saw this exhibition, which was not only an eye-opener but also a great way to familiarise himself with important designers or/and their creations.

A-Gent of Style particularly likes the Moderne, minimal and unfussy look of some pieces, like Tenreiro’s chaise longue or Motta’s Pierre Jeanneret-esque ‘Asturias’ armchair, and also the restraint elegance reminiscent of post-war Scandinavian furniture such as Tenreiro’s ‘Three Feet’ chair, Rodrigues’ Oscar chair, Zalszupin’s table, Mendes da Rocha’s Paulistana armchair or even Bo Bardi’s Bowl chair that is resonant with Jean Royère‘s Egg chair and also de Zanine’s contemporary Moeda chair most probably inspired by Mathieu Matégot’s perforated iconic pieces.


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Highlights include the Three Feet Chair and the Five-Woods Table by Joaquim Tenreiro; the Fish Bench, a unique piece designed by the Campana Brothers for their first ever exhibition in Brazil and Sideboard by José Zanine Caldas, considered by many as the first sustainable Brazilian designer. Other pieces on display are the Oscar Chair (Sergio Rodrigues), the Rio Chaise (Oscar Niemeyer), the Africa Chair (Rodrigo Almeida), the Moeda Chair (Zanini de Zanine), the Braz Chair (Carlos Motta), the Água Table (Domingo Tótora), the Bowl Chair (Lina Bo Bardi), a cupboard by Móveis Cimo and lighting pieces by Maneco Quindaré.


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Modernism, often referred to as the ‘Golden Years’ in Brazilian design started in the 1930s and 1940s following in the footsteps of the architectural movement that emerged in Brazil at that time, paradoxically influenced by the Bauhaus school, but which, at the same time, freed itself from traditional European aesthetics creating a language of its own. It was based on the use of concrete and glass materials.

The Contemporary Period thrived in the late 1980s along with all of the other creative movements that remained virtually stagnant for over 20 years during the military dictatorship. This period is notable for its diversity and irreverence in tandem with socioeconomic and environmental sustainability, as corroborated by the works of the designers such as the Campana Brothers, Carlos Motta,
Maneco Quinderé, Domingos Tótora, Zanini de Zanine, Rodrigo Almeida and Gustavo Bittencourt.

It is precisely through its diversity, irreverence, creativity and sustainability that the Brazilian design has achieved unequivocal recognition abroad, both through the accolade of international awards and circulation of key pieces at the selective and highly competitive international market. Solo exhibitions of contemporary exponents of Brazilian design can be seen at major museums around the world with many objects in important private collections as well.


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If you have a spare moment until 9 May to go to Trafalgar Square,
A-Gent of Style highly recommends you paid a visit to the Embassy of Brazil to see this brilliant exhibition in the beautifully dark-oak panelled,  Grade II listed
Sala Brasil, which is open Monday – Friday, 11am-5pm.

Sala Brasil Gallery, Embassy of Brazil, 14-16 Cockspur Street, London SW1Y 5BL. Free admission.


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– Photos by A-Gent of Style



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