IN BRUNO FRISONI’S SHOES: IDYLLIC LIFE AND VILLA IN TANGIERS




It’s in the cosmopolitan, bustling port city of Tangiers – the now hip Moroccan crossroads where Northern Africa meets Europe, the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic Ocean, and hedonism and history seem to intermix – that Bruno Frisoni comes and takes refuge from the intoxicating but all-consuming life he leads in Paris as artistic director of the luxury shoe and accessories French company Rogier Vivier – credited with the design of the first stiletto heel and renowned internationally since the 1950s for encasing the feet of a discerning clientèle ranging from Ava Gardner, Lee Radziwill to Catherine Deneuve and of course Queen Elizabeth II, a staunch customer since her Coronation in 1953.


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 Published in both AD France and Vogue magazines (with text, in the latter, by
über stylish Hamish Bowles – see by yourself here) in the last few weeks,
A-Gent of Style drooled over the photographs of the ravishing abode Frisoni and his partner, the contemporary furniture designer Hervé Van Der Straeten, created for themselves in the wind-blown and charming Moroccan enclave, a typical melting pot between Moorish, Hispanic, Art Deco, French Riviera and of course Arabic influences. A new generation of globe-trotting, jet-setting artists, socialites and expats like Frisoni and Van Der Straeten (the trend-setting ‘A’ gays have flocked
en masse apparently – who else) have given this fabulously shabby port a new glamorous shine. Even the young king, the 45-year-old Mohammed VI, is an enthusiast, unlike his father – the late King Hassan II who ruled Morocco for
38 years – who was said to have despised Tangier.

Bruno Frisoni and Herve Van Der Straeten

Bruno Frisoni and Herve Van Der Straeten

 

After a few years of re-thinking and re-designing the look of their
“home away from home”but also collating intimate images from their personal experiences and mutual travels stretching from Aleppo in Syria,
Seville’s Casa de Pilatos to the Alhambra Palace of Granada and Damascus, the two designers built an architecturally and detail strong, 300 sq.m. jewel box that juxtaposes tradition and modernity. Whilst the uncluttered and streamlined feel of the first floor sitting room and master bedroom oozes the sophistication of the western world (and especially Parisian art and design galleries), the eclectic second floor comprising the study and fumoir boast intricate Mashrabiya fretted woodwork, elaborate plasterwork, sober Roman arches and monastic arcades reminiscent of the surrealist paintings of Giorgio de Chirico – all locally crafted – that happily cohabit with an injection of colourful and bright 1960s Pop Art-inspired paraphernalia.
With its chic white Carrara marble floors laid throughout the house, its either cloudless, sky-blue or white-washed walls and ceilings, Frisoni’s villa radiates an undeniable air of ethereal tranquillity and relaxed elegance. As for the third floor, an open-air patio enjoys gorgeous panoramic views of the city and the port, and enticing areas to relax in the shade and the cooling breeze.

With such inspirational, picture-perfect locale and the same amount of delightful whimsicality found in Frisoni’s interiors as his sculptured shoes,
A-Gent of Style has now no more excuses to decline a friend’s invitation to holiday in Tangiers this year. All for the sake of research, of course…




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Bruno Frisoni in his study. Modernist Crittal windows (you can view here A-Gent of Style’s special feature on Crittals), a pair of bespoke banquettes built by a Moroccan craftsman A small, round, silver ‘Capsule’ coffee table by Hervé Van Der Straeten and a vintage Migeon et Migeon lamp on the right-hand side. Unfussy window treatment, curtains in a Dedar fabric.



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Geometric, coffered ceiling. Turquoise fabric on the curtains this time in this shoot for Vogue. Vintage Modernist furniture.



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In the sitting room, on the left, a vintage silver coffee table, a 1970s lamp, a pair of wooden chairs and a pair of armchairs. Two ‘Capsule’ white lacquered metal round coffee tables and a ‘Virevolte’ alabaster and bronze ceiling light by Hervé Van Der Straeten.
Crittal French doors. Dedar fabric on the sofa.


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A bespoke Art Deco-inspired, Carrara marble fireplace in keeping with the floor, with two vases and a ceramic bowl by Olivier Gagnère. A Thebes stool in the foreground.



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For this Vogue shoot, the sofa was swapped by the two lattice-backed chairs and, in the right-hand corner, a bench upholstered in leather that looks like a vintage Eileen Gray.



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Klismos chairs and an Ettore Sottsass-esque table from by Hervé Van Der Straeten.



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In ‘le petit salon’, a vintage club armchair, found in the Flea Market of Saint- Ouen, Paris, from Christian Sapet, upholstered in a shiny teal (!!) faux-leather. Moroccan tables sourced locally. Intricate fretwork and plasterwork.


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Entrance to the kitchen: Moroccan keyhole arch and door, traditional elements of Islamic architecture. White Carrara on the kitchen worktop and splashback.



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In the monastic-looking hallway, a console table, wall sconces and cubist lamp lantern, all by Hervé Van der Straeten. Selection of vintage ceramics.
Full length curtains enhance the dramatic ceiling height.



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An old Chinese chair, Iznik vase,  jaguar head sculpture made of Mexican pearls and a Syrian lantern.



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In the Pop Art, primary-colour red and yellow smoking room, cushions
and a pebble-shaped ashtray by India Mahdavi, yellow fabric by Dedar on the customised banquettes, a pair of red coffee tables by Hervé Van der Straeten and a ceramic and metal ashtray by Roger Capron. Stools from Habitat.


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A vibrant corner with a charming echoing of gold details.


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A fresh-looking sitting room with a soothing palette abound with traditional Moroccan motifs.


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In the master bedroom, instead of a painting, an old Moroccan door found in Rabat presides over the bed. A black and white polka dots embroidered bedspread, possibly from François Gilles.
A white bedside table by Hervé Van der Straeten with a vintage 1970s lamp found in Saint-Ouen. Two white varnished Chinese stools by Asiatides.


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A-Gent of Style‘s favourite item in the villa: an ingenious and beautifully sculpted marble step paves the way to the traditional Syrian-inspired bathroom directly opposite the bed.


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Sunken bath and striking black and white horizontal tiles in this spa-room.
Two turquoise and white Chinese ceramic stools (and a Goyard monogrammed washbag. Le Sigh).



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A vibrant souk-like guest bedroom swathed in multifarious vintage fabrics, possibly from François Gilles, and shoe-patterned, embroidered bedspread, possibly Frisoni’s own sketches,
and a Chiavari chair.



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Two AA Butterfly armchairs and a red lacquered ‘Capsule’
by Hervé Van Der Straeten in the exotic but shady patio.



– Photos by Vogue (François Halard) & AD France –




MICHAEL INCHBALD, EXAMPLARY DECORATIVE AESTHETE, & CHRISTIE’S ‘LEGACY OF DESIGN’





“I believe the more you design for the future, the more you should know about the past. You’ve got to have a feeling for the great heritage of civilisation.”

– Michael Inchbald –


Last December, more or less at the same time he started his collaboration with Sotheby’s on his article for the exhibition and sale this winter of Felix Marcilhac’s Art Deco masterpieces, A-Gent of Style was preparing another collaboration with another leading auction house for yet another unique sale and exhibition of a single man’s superb, private collection.

The World of Interiors spoiled us, decoration devotees, not just once with their January 2014 issue featuring Marcilhac’s museum-quality home but twice with yet another exclusive glimpse and insight, for the last time, into the home of the first-rank, decorative aesthete, Michael Inchbald. Similarly to Marcilhac,
this exhibition and sale, this time under the aegis of Christie’s, represent the unique and last opportunity to see the contents of one unique house and the ultimate legacy of an erudite decorator, before its dissipation after the sale to disparate owners.



The Michael Inchbald: A Legacy of Design sale will take place in London on
22 January 2014 at 10.30am and will provide discerning collectors a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire exemplary works of art and pieces of furniture from the personal world of the legendary English designer who died earlier last year at the age of 92. This auction will comprise approximately 250 lots composed of important objects, most of which from Stanley House in Chelsea where Michael Inchbald lived in for decades (at present, the now emptied house still belongs to the family), regrouping an impressive array of interests comprising antiquities, clocks, furniture, Old Master paintings, sculpture and silver but also fine arms & armour, books, chinese porcelain, Old Master & British drawings and watercolours to
19th C furniture, European porcelain and travel science & natural history.
With estimates ranging from £500 to £150,000, this sale is expected to realise in the region of £1.2 million.







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The exhibition that complements the sale is currently showing at Christie’s London, King Street in St James’s, until Tuesday evening with all the items on display up for grabs. A-Gent of Style was privileged  to be given a private tour by the curator as soon as the exhibition opened a few days ago and was dazzled by the way the exhibition had been curated into three strikingly beautiful areas, each highlighting the multifarious wonders of Inchbald’s eclectic collection. For instance, as they walk up into the room from the main staircase, the visitors will be greeted by the dramatic view of a two-thousand-year-old Roman marble togatus resting on a pedestal, leading in to the main room where Inchbald’s Regence ormolu-mounted bureau and paraphernalia preside, surrounded by an expansive display of furniture and objets d’art. The second room on the right-hand side regroups the partially reconstructed dining room and blue sitting room (this time sheathed in a Lanvin bag kind of blue) with its imposing painting Portrait of Edward Courtenay, 1st Earl of Devon.
The last room is the amalgam of the remainder of the contents from the mini-palazzo’s sitting rooms, living rooms and study featuring a whole wall recreated to look like the rusticated cork wall Inchbald had designed for himself.

You can view Christies’ full catalogue of the sale online here.



A-Gent of Style must shamefully confess he had only come across the name
Michael Inchbald in decoration books and wasn’t very much au fait with his career nor his aesthetics. Like for many people, the name ‘Inchbald’ is primarily associated with and best-known these days, in London I guess, for the renowned
Inchbald School of Design bearing the family name. Inchbald married his wife Jacqueline – now Duncan – in 1955, and in 1960, she started offering courses in all aspects of design, decoration and art history which became the first school of interior design in Europe at the time and which has grown into the school we know today (now based at Eaton Gate, Belgravia). Ironically, Michael Inchbald never taught at the school and was apparently rather equivocal about its success.
“Our house in Milner Street was featured in House and Garden and L’Oeil in 1960 and the work photographed was indeed revelatory”, explains Mrs Duncan.
“In that same year, I started the School in the old Drawing Room on the ground floor and Michael converted the Dining Room into a large studio of office. Our apartment on the first floor showcased Michael’s brilliant selectivity and faultless taste”.
Mrs Duncan has since remained Principal of the Inchbald School.

 

Michael Inchbald was a multi-award winning, internationally acclaimed designer at the forefront of Interior Design whose most prominent projects were the Bank of America, the headquarters of Plessey and a series of outstanding interiors in luxury hotels such as the Ballroom of the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge and the River Room and American Bar at the Savoy. He revitalised Dunhill’s Jermyn Street store but also the QE2’s first-class saloon, the Queen’s Room, where he characteristically designed everything from ashtrays to carpet to chairs for the room, as well as designing interiors for liners like Carpathia, Franconia and the Windsor Castle, which earned him the title of ‘The Most Successful Marine Interior Ever Conceived’. In 1972, Inchbald was commissioned to refurbish the headquarters of the Crown Estate Commissioners at 13-15 Carlton House Terrace. Michael Inchbald‟s private clients included the Duke of St Albans, the ducs de Liancourt and de la Rochefoucauld,
the Earls of Perth, Dartmouth and St Aldwyn, the 13th Duke of St Albans,
the 6th Marquess of Bristol and many other owners of stately homes as well as contemporary celebrities such as the film director John Schlesinger, the author Alistair Horne and the banker Henry Tiarks.




But Inchbald’s most famous project, “his calling-card: his home, design laboratory and showroom” according to the Sunday Times’ obituaries, was Stanley House,
the aforementioned large mid-Victorian Italianate villa in Milner Street, Chelsea, with doors and windows remade to “Georgian” proportions and columned portico lined in mirror glass, he inherited from his uncle in 1956, and where he had spent most of his childhood, then one of the grandest private homes in London. It is there that Inchbald set up his design business in the lower floors and stylishly updated the living quarters to combine, as Tim Knox, Director of the Fitzwilliam Museum, notes “his interest in contemporary design and new materials, with a fearless sense of colour and a taste for theatrical display.” Executed between 1957 and 1959, the interiors of Stanley House cemented his reputation as young designer who could seamlessly fuse the neoclassical with the modern.





Upon turning the pages of the spread in the World of Interiors that revealed to the world the grand and elegant living quarters of Stanley House – which hadn’t been featured in a long time – it immediately dawned on A-Gent of Style that his ignorance was rather pitiful and that he had missed out much over the years for not knowing the extent of Inchbald’s talent. Inchbald was clearly a gifted decorator with oodles of taste and style and with a passion for collecting many objets d’art from various cultures, civilisations and corners of the globe (Egyptology, Antiquities, Renaissance, Orientalism amongst others are all represented in his amassment), which made him somehow a modern Sir John Soane who might have been too on a European Grand Tour.



It was fascinating to also discover that Inchbald wasn’t averse to new technologies, materials or even gimmicks and that he was a daring, inventive man. For instance, the geometric marble floor in the entrance hall at Stanley House was in fact linoleum. He upholstered the walls of the entrance hall with a silver-foil wallpaper and the ones in his study with cork. He built what is believed to be the first modern solarium in any London house. He also seemed to have a knack for cutting out squares out of the back of lampshades to let the light out against the walls. Inchbald was clearly adept at staging rooms like theatre sets and using trickery and illusion as the now iconic black obelisks and (plaster) deer head with (real) antlers, lion’s mask mounts and ad infinitum mirrored walls in the porch (similar to the ones  Orson Welles used in his 1947 film noir masterpiece The Lady Of Shanghai) can attest.




Inchbald seemed to have a penchant for tents (he was a contemporary of
Renzo Mongiardino, which A-Gent of Style featured here a few months ago, so perhaps this theme was en vogue in the 1950s and 1960s and one influenced the other; or was it simply a question of great minds thinking alike?). He designed canopied palanquins (draped in rich burgundy velvet) for the doors in the entrance hall and a sweeping pointed arch at the entrance of the blue sitting room.
Inchbald wasn’t either afraid of colours (always a good sign of a talented decorator, in A-Gent‘s view): the exterior of Stanley House was painted a flamboyant Neapolitan yellow (which presumably stood out from the rest of chi-chi Chelsea) and the sitting room in a striking Wedgwood blue. What also struck me was how masculine Inchbald’s aesthetics were. Despite the floral, Chinoiserie wallpaper in the kitchen, he didn’t seem to embrace the typically feminine look of chintzy, Colefax & Fowler, English country house interiors that was all the rage in the 1950s and 1960s, perhaps due to the fact that Inchbald lived mostly on his own until his death since divorcing his second wife in 1970. 


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According to Tim Knox, “Michael Inchbald is a rare character. Among vociferous and self-opinionated designers he is diffident, among interior decorators he is a true connoisseur of beautiful things; a man of taste, not of fashion”.

Last February, the architectural and design world lost a talented and original exponents. Since there isn’t to this day a monograph on Michael Inchbald, there is relatively  little evidence of his work throughout his career, compared to his contemporaries and alleged rivals, John Fowler and David Hicks who gained international notoriety. But let us hope this oversight gets rectified one day soon.
In the meanwhile, we can still flick through the catalogue specifically put together by Christie’s for the sale to delight us.

 



A special thanks to Christie’s and especially Amelia Walker, the sale specialist,
for their help and support.

– Photos by Christie’s, The World of Interiors and A-Gent of Style




UP IN THE CLOUDS



 

‘I imagined walking into a classical museum hall with just empty walls. There was nothing to see except for a rain cloud hanging around in the room.

– Berndnaut Smilde  –


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Berndnaut Smilde is an artist, a cloud artist to be precise. The Dutch ‘magician’ has developed a process of creating clouds using a smoke machine, combined with carefully regulated indoor temperature, humidity and moisture and also dramatic lighting before their rapid dissipation.

These photographs are therefore “documents” according to Smilde, the only proof of the cloud’s existence if a viewer misses it as each cloud lives for a few seconds and then disappears, without a trace that it was ever there.

His work is defined by the temporary, the intangible and the ephemeral. The shape of the picturesque, billowing cloud and its creation are of lesser interest to the artist than the jarring context and placement of the ominous, fleeting cloud in an indoor surreal, vacant space rather than the obvious outdoor setting.

The first exhibit featuring indoor clouds, called Nimbus, was created by Smilde in 2010. Smilde said he wanted to make the image of a typical Dutch rain cloud, inside of a space. “I imagined walking into a classical museum hall with just empty walls. There was nothing to see except for a rain cloud hanging around in the room.”


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FELIX MARCILHAC, ART DECO COGNOSCENTE, AND SOTHEBY’S COLLECTION PRIVEE




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Today’s post, the first of a few exciting projects and events
A-Gent of Style will be involved in at the beginning of this year, is about Art Deco. The French Art Deco. The high-end kind of Art Deco. The iconic kind of Art Deco.
So, as some of you might have surmised by now, working on this topic has sent A-Gent of Style, a self-confessed Art Deco fan-atic, in a state of stratospheric exaltation and elation in the last few days. Actually, it all started around a month ago, back in December last year, when the January issue of World of Interiors came through the door. The tantalising cover was the promising sign its readers were in for something very special – if you like Art Deco, of course.


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The distinguished British interior design magazine featured over eight delectable pages the spectacular interiors of a home replete with some of the most iconic and sought-after masterpieces of 20th C Decorative Arts, mostly Art Deco, collected by one single man over his life and remarkable career.

Felix Marcilhac

Felix Marcilhac



Sotheby’s, in association with Artcurial, has the privilege to present and sell the private collection of the illustrious French dealer, expert valuer, art historian,
Art Nouveau and Art Deco pioneer Félix Marcilhac which will be go under the hammer on 11 and 12 March 2014 at Sotheby’s Paris. This spectacular sale,
Félix Marcilhac Collection Privée, with its accompanying exhibition, represents therefore the distillation of this highly respected connoisseur‘s personal and museum-quality collection he and his family lived with over a few decades in the very same house featured in The World of Interiors.


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Felix, Amelie & Felix Junior Marcilhac

Felix, Amelie & Felix-Felix Marcilhac

 

To complement what will most probably be a seminal sale in the history of
20th C Decorative Arts, a visiting exhibition of selected but important pieces has been touring the world, first in New York and then Hong Kong at the end of last year, and has now arrived in London at Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, running
until 21 January before it reaches its final destination in Paris, first at Artcurial and then at Sotheby, Faubourg Saint-Honoré. The entire collection – more than
300 lots dating back to 1900 up to 1935 – will be on show there 3-11 March culminating on the much-anticipated auction on 11-12 March.


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A-Gent of style is privileged and ecstatic to have collaborated with the wonderfully helpful and passionate team at Sotheby’s London on reviewing and publicising the beautifully curated exhibition and actual sale, and to have been given a private tour of the collection on Tuesday morning as the exhibition opened to the public.


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This unique collection, amassed over the course of more than forty years, features a series of Art Deco masterpieces not seen in public for decades boasting a provenance of illustrious names such as Vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Lanvin, Paul Cocteau and Jean-Michel Frank. The ensemble regroups pieces from illustrious artists such as Frank himself, Pierre Legrain,
Pierre Chareau, Jean Dunand, Jean Goulden, Paul Iribe, Marcel Coard, Emile Gallé, Gustave Miklos, Edouard-Marcel Sandoz, Josef Csaky,
Ossip Zadkine, François-Louis Schmied and Jacques Majorelle – which altogether sounds like calling illustrious 20th C designers on the red carpet  – all of whom worked with luxurious materials such as parchment, vellum, shagreen, lacquer, mother-of-pearl, rosewood, bronze and eggshell.



Félix Marcilhac has enjoyed an exceptional career and has gained a worldwide reputation as one of the world’s top dealers and experts in the field of
20th C Decorative Arts and, having devoted much of his activity to writing and research, stands out for his academic background and art historian’s approach.
He has written a host of authoritative reference works on inter-war painters, sculptors and architect-decorators including René Lalique, Edouard Sandoz,
Chana Orloff, Joseph Csaky, Gustave Miklos, Jean Dunand, Paul Jouve,
Jacques Majorelle, André Groult and the design firm Dominique, which monographs contributed to the rediscovery of many of them.


BRAFA Jan 2014

BRAFA Jan 2014


Marcilhac’s passion for 20 th C Decorative Arts began when he bought a sculpture by Gustave Miklos in Paris in 1967. Two years later he opened his namesake gallery at 8 rue Bonaparte in Paris now run by his son, Félix-Félix Marcilhac. He has worked as an advisor to the most important collectors of the genre and also organised the sales of a number of high-profile private collections, including those of Karl Lagerfeld in 1975, Marcel Tessier (devoted to Art Nouveau) in 1978, Madeleine Vionnet in 1985 and Nouran Manoukian in 1993. His clients have included Hélène Rochas,
Yves Saint-Laurent, Pierre Bergé, Andy Warhol, Catherine Deneuve and Alain Delon along with prominent French public figures and many private clients.

Felix Marcilhac and Felix Jnr

 
 Now, 71, the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur Marcilhac, is retiring to Marrakesh and, eager to downsize, has “decided that he would sell his treasures during his lifetime in order that he could share the passion which has motivated him throughout his life and also to pay homage to the people and the time which has so captivated him” explains Cécile Verdier, Senior Director Europe and Head of Department
20th C Decorative Arts & Design. Discover the highlights of the exhibition here in a video with Madame Verdier.

The World of Interiors special feature was therefore the last time these masterpieces were seen together in situ before the dissipation of the sale.



A lacquered and eggshell desk by Jean Dunand and Jean Goulden with a rock crystal and obsidian sculpture ‘Paon’ by Joseph Csaky (€60-80,000) next to a unique cubic armchair ‘Fauteuil Cubique’ (c.1920) in rosewood, vellum and mother-of-pearl by Marcel Coard (€200-250,000) and ‘Chaizch Endormi’,
a painting by François-Louis Schmied (1937) (€40-50,000).




A gold leaf and brown painted plaster sculpture ‘Jeune Fille à la Colombe’ (1928) by Ossip Zadkine (€150-200,000) and on the table in the middle of the room a statue, ‘Femme’ (1926) by Gustave Miklos that belonged to Jeanne Lanvin. This very objet played a central role and became a benchmark in the collection as this was the first important piece Marcilhac bought which inspired him to become a collector and subsequently a dealer. In front of the pair of curved, lacquered doors with two oriental women, possibly by Jean Dunand, that lead onto the private study, you can just about see the Pierre Legrain console table (c.1924) in perforated nickel and plated brass with a glass top (€100-120,000).



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The glass display case by Dominique is covered in parchment and laid inside with gold leaves.



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Two iconic armchairs (c.1928) by Jean-Michel Frank upholstered in shagreen and made of oak with seats covered in a vibrant green velvet (€250-300,000),
an Orientalist painting by Marcelle Ackhein from around 1935, a serpentine fire surround by Eugène Gaillard, a sculpture by Etienne Béothy on top of the plinth and a unique black and gilt patinated bronze ‘Lampadaire Deux Serpents’ floor lamp (1931) by Edouard-Marcel Sandoz (€100-120,000).


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Clockwise from top left: a gypsum chest of drawers by Jean-Michel Frank,
a Rose Adler notebook on top of a drawing by Christian Bérard and a music sheet by Francis Poulenc, a table by Marcel Coard with a parchment top above an
Ernest Boiceau carpet, and finally a drawing by Etienne Béothy, photos of interiors by Jean-Michel Frank and a shagreen notebook.


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The study’s rosewood bookcase was designed by Jacques Grange. The geometric rug in wool (1927) is by Jean Dunand (€40-60,000) and the desk by Pierre Chareau dating from the seminal 1925 ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes’ in Paris. The lacquered doors, leading to the aforementioned study, with the stylised landscape is probably too by Dunand .



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A beautiful collection of perfume bottles (some with stoppers) by Maurice Marinot from 1928 in various shapes and colours, made of clear glass and internally decorated, some with bubbling (€6-10,000).



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The timeless Paul Iribe ‘Nautile’ tub-shaped armchair from 1913 with oversized carved scrolls, a low seat and a high back in walnut covered in a leopard print fabric reminiscent of Madeleine Castaing (€150-200,000). And an Orientalist painting
‘Le Vanneur’ (1936) by François Louis Schmied (€60-80,000).


La Famille Marcilhac

La Famille Marcilhac


 Bought in 1980 in Boulogne-Billancourt, the chic Art Deco district in west Paris,
this private repository was only accessible to Marcilhac family’s and close relations, and was designed over the years by his long-standing friend, the renowned
French interior decorator Jacques Grange. To think that Marcilhac and his family lived in a house surrounded by exceptional pieces of furniture is almost beyond belief especially when you imagine his children running around such valuable – and for some of them – fragile objects.

Vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles, 1938, by Cecil Beaton (National Portrait Gallery) next to Pierre Legrain's console table (1924)

Vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles, 1938, by Cecil Beaton (National Portrait Gallery) next to Pierre Legrain’s console table (1924). Courtesy of the Cecil Beaton Studio Archive at Sotheby’s.



He explains in the World of Interiors (January 2014) “…but on top of being highly refined, these objects were made to be used. So you live with them, you put water in the vases, you walk on the rugs, you put things in the chest of drawers, you sit in the armchairs. In short you make them ordinary by daily use. One day my children were dazzled by a Csaky sculpture in a museum. They hadn’t realised that there was one at home and that they lived amongst works of art. It was so much a part of their daily experience that they didn’t realise how unusual and how wonderful the objects were”. Envious doesn’t even start to cover it.

Jacques Doucet's Oriental Cabinet ,1930 featuring Zadkine's sculpture 'Jeune Fille a la Colombe' (1928) on the left-hand side

Jacques Doucet’s Oriental Cabinet (1930) featuring Zadkine’s sculpture ‘Jeune Fille a la Colombe’ (1928) on the left-hand side



Needless to say it was an unbelievable experience for A-Gent of Style to be allowed to scrutinise up close, touch, open, pull and even sit on some of those pieces of the exhibition and to engage in fascinating conversations with a specialist of 20th C Design. However, the ophidiophobic A-Gent did stand the furthest he possibly could from all the snakes on show – a popular symbol in Art Deco representation –
so please show your appreciation when you get to the close-up shots of the objects represented with snakes (the things you’d do for love!). And since you ask, yes, the iconic Jean-Michel Frank’s fauteuil upholstered in shagreen is very comfortable.
Le sigh!




What was revelatory and astonishing was that most of these pieces – eighty to one hundred years old – look incredibly modern and contemporary and showed no age of ageing or being passé. On the contrary, they have stood the test of time and, like a good old wine, have grown old gracefully and even developed over one century a patina and vintage look that are nothing short of jaw-dropping. Pulchritudinous and timeless are the two qualifiers that came to mind when A-Gent of Style walked through the three rooms of the exhibition and saw for the first time the 50-odd gems in real life. The anticipation for and buzz around the entire collection in Paris and sale which will regroup more than another 250 objects – undoubtedly a monumental feat to put together for Sotheby’s – are simply thrilling.





Whether you are an art collector, a discerning aesthete or simply an Art Deco enthusiast, Félix Marcilhac Collection Privée is a must-see. You have until
21 January in the evening to visit Sotheby’s in London for a taster, or
amuse-bouche, of the sale, or see the crème-de-la-crème ensemble in Paris mid-March.  And if you would like getting your hands on a piece of history, why not bid! The lowest estimate for the sale has been set at 8 million euros. Going, going…gone!


1381914259644

The catalogue, with a contribution from Karl Lagerfeld, of this exceptional sale will be available early February and will be accompanied by an art book
by Jean-Louis Gaillemin (published by Editions Le Passage) charting
Félix Marcilhac’s career and taste, and containing interviews with
Monsieur Marcilhac himself and key figures from the worlds of fashion and decoration who count among his friends and clients.

But for now, follow A-Gent of Style in this decorative odyssey.



Entrance/First Room:




Hallway & Second Room:




Third/Last Room:




And finally, if all of this hasn’t satiated your appetite for Art Deco, have a look at the post A-Gent of Style published last summer about the collection of books, ‘Bibliothèque Félix Marcilhac’, belonging to Marcilhac himself, with dazzling Art-Deco bound covers which was auctioned in December 2012
by Binoche et Giquello. You can view it here.


cover


– Photos by The World of Interiors, Sotheby’s (plus video), Gallery Marcilhac,
The National Portrait Gallery and A-Gent of Style



SOTTSASS-TIC








A few weeks ago, the French A.D magazine featured a series of houses which dazzled A-Gent of Style with their sheer uniqueness, vibrancy and originality. Situated in Tiruvannamalai in the south of India and built as far back at the 1930s, these bright houses with their wonderfully clashing colours and their geometric patterns look like toys and positively stand apart from their neighbouring rural environment. They also have a striking resemblance with the works of Italian architect Ettore Sottsass who would have visited this part of India in the 1960s and which possibly influenced his work.

A breath of fresh air and an intoxicating injection of exoticism in comparison with the homogeneity of our lacklustre buildings and the grimness of a cold winter.

Happy Friday!
















Photos courtesy of French A.D magazine



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