Like A-gent of Style, some of you might admire (and get easily entertained) by larger-than-life characters from the world of publishing and fashion such as Diana Vreeland and Anna Winter – and documentaries about their respective career such as The Eye has to Travel and The September Issue (the newly released The First Monday in May has proven to be a very entertaining). Not many people however would have heard of another charismatic and influential editor belonging to that executive and glamourous club.
Fleur Cowles was a renowned publisher, journalist, author, artist, patron and fashionista who also maintained a position as a doyenne of both New York and London society for the better part of a century. Created in 1950, her magazine Flair was renowned for its striking design and lavish production as for its editorial content. Despite strong circulation, the colossal costs for special features, such as embossed cover cut-outs and unfolding pages that revealed hidden pictures as well as original artwork produced by the celebrated illustrator René Gruau, caused the magazine to run for only a year. To this day, Flair remains a much respected publication and copies are still highly sought after almost 70 years after the last issue went to press.
Tomorrow Christie’s South Kensington will present the collection of Fleur Cowles who died in 2009.
The eclectic collection to be offered at Christie’s South Kensington offers a rare glimpse into the private world Cowles created. She and her last husband, Thomas Montague-Meyer, together occupied two adjoining ‘sets’ at one of London’s most renowned addresses – Albany, Piccadilly – for more than 50 years. Her striking interiors remained unchanged during these decades and the auction will capture the magic of a time-capsule broken open for the first time.
The collection illustrates not only the amazing interiors Cowles created in her secluded London home, but also the amazing life the bigger-than-life aesthete lived; the auction includes everything from her 1950’s Dior hats and designs for famed Flair magazine, to her prized collection of naïf art, furniture, sculpture and works of art, as well as some of her own paintings and photographs dedicated from many of her famous friends, such as Vivien Leigh, Lady Bird Johnson and the Duchess of Windsor – she counted amongst her circle General Eisenhower, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Cary Grant, HSH Princess Grace of Monaco and the Reagans to name but a few.
Now, wouldn’t a biopic about Madame Cowles’s life be just the ticket? And imagine what her Instagram account would be like!
– The sets currently on view at South Kensington designed by Cave Interiors, Joanna Wood Interior Design and Maddux Creative –
Here is A-Gent of Style‘s selection from the collection
You can view the full catalogue here
– All images by Christie’s –
Pearls are considered to be the oldest known and the most valuable gems in history as well as being regarded as ones of the highest for their beauty.
Similarly, timelessness, desirability and beauty are attributes that perfectly befit David Collins Studio who turns thirty today and is celebrating its pearl anniversary.
Having reached this milestone, A-Gent of Style, a long-standing admirer of the Studio’s work and aesthetic, wanted to mark the occasion in his own way as a tribute to and celebration of a towering and much-missed personality of the design world by making a special collaborative feature with the Studio. Rather than looking back at the Studio’s past canon of work, which is much cherished and admired but has already been widely publicised, A-Gent of Style wanted to focus this time on the present and the future by showcasing a diaporama of some of David Collins Studio’s projects since the untimely death in 2013 of its acclaimed and influential creator David Collins, as well as revealing a fascinating interview with the Studio’s Communications Director, David Kendall.
Far too dynamic to ever rest on its laurels and without a lot of fanfare and too much distraction, the Studio itself is hosting from today for two days only a one-off exhibition curated by Nick Vinson of The Vinson View, Wallpaper*: ‘PAST PRESENT FUTURE” at Philips auction house on Berkeley Square. Bringing together imagery and physical elements from some of the Studio’s most celebrated projects as well as a sneak peek at upcoming ones, the exhibition offers an insight into some of the its most definitive creations of the past three decades including its first trailblazing project La Tante Claire at Royal Hospital Road through some of it most famous destinations including Claridge’s Bar, The Wolseley, Mirabelle, Nobu Berkeley St, Bob Bob Ricard, The Connaught Bar, the Gilbert Scott and Colbert, to name but a few.
In the last year, David Collins Studio has collaborated with a number of prestigious luxury brands on some of its notable projects to date, including the Continental restaurant at Pacific Place Hong Kong, VOGUE Lounge in Bangkok, and the Garden Lounge at the Corinthia Hotel, London. Two new departments were realised at Harrods and opened during the summer; Eveningwear and Luxury Collections. These followed the 42,000 square feet Harrods Shoe Heaven launched in August 2014. In September 2015, Alexander McQueen launched a new duplex flagship store on Rue Saint-Honoré, which follows flagships in Miami, London, New York and Tokyo, all designed by the Studio. During The London Design Festival 2015, David Collins collaborated with Italian master furniture creators Promemoria to realise the London collection: 14 pieces of furniture expanding an original Capsule Collection launched in April 2013 which have been continually refined and finessed over the last two years. The Studio also provided creative direction for the design of the new home of London Fashion Week at The Brewer Street Car Park last month. Some of you will have seen snippets of some of these projects on A-Gent‘s Instagram.
Over the last three decades, David Collins Studio has become synonymous with redefining luxury interior design around the world and with revolutionising the contemporary aesthetic and urban landscape with its distinctive vision. Remembered for designing some of the most remarkable, innovative and desirable hotels, bars, restaurants, boutiques and residences of the last thirty-odd years in London and all around the world, its achievements are extra-ordinary and its legacy indisputable.
In the last couple of years, The Studio’s imagination and creativity has brought to fruition luxury interior design and architectural projects worldwide that are once again inspiring, unexpected, unique and thankfully not formulaic and faddish. Its incredible team of in-house designers as well as its trusted network of artisans and craftsmen have effortlessly carried the designer’s name and have kept his legacy alive and flourishing without any compromise. Reflecting myriads of influences and inspirations, the new projects are notable for how richly textured their interiors are – The Collection of David Collins estate sale last November at Christie’s was aptly named “Luxury – Colour – Texture” – and these new projects feel simultaneously contemporary and already established, rooted in the life and traditions of their respective location. Each of them exemplifies the Studio’s extraordinary capacity to grow, flourish and reinvent and reinterpret itself.
An interview with David Kendall, David Collins Studio’s Communications Director
How did David Collins Studio look back on the last three decades?
Why an exhibition? Can you tell us about its genesis and purpose?
How is the studio balancing the David Collins legacy with the need to develop new ideas?
Would you say there are David Collins design hallmarks or is it more about an underlying ethos?
You can look at our work and say it is about colour or symmetry or geometry, or texture and detail and lighting, but really the consistent is that our projects function and operate allowing them longevity. Simon Rawlings our creative director worked with David Collins for over 15 years and so he understood and shared his vision. There is an underlying ethos, and that is the spirit with which David built The Studio and mentored his team and the processes that were instilled in the office.
The images below are the undeniable proof that David Collins Studio has turned all of their new enterprises into glorious hallmarks that already bear the creator’s unique and indelible style, vision and DNA. David Collins Studio’s journey to enhance our lives is far from over. It has just started.
– Happy anniversary –
Projects by David Collins Studio 2013-2015
A special thanks to David Kendall and Jodi Feder at David Collins Studio for their help, trust and support.
– Photos by David Collins Studio –
When A-Gent of Style started working for Veere Grenney a few years ago, the learned decorator told him one day as they were sourcing lamps together that “this lamp was one of the most iconic lamps of the 20th century. Make sure you know it”. Ignorant and arrogant, A-Gent immediately disregarded his master’s pronouncement, probably with a with the raise of an eyebrow, as he had never seen this lighting fixture before, and carried on looking at other lamps.
Within a few weeks of flicking through magazines, books, auction catalogues and online searches, it turned out that “this lamp” was everywhere to be seen, ubiquitous and almost omnipresent in many photos of inspiring interiors, and also that vintage, original versions of this lamp were the prized objects of many collectors, antique dealers and auction houses. Needless to say A-Gent of Style learned a lesson of humility that day.
1UWV is the real name of “that lamp” which was created in 1966 by American designer Cedric Hartman. It was an instant hit and it has now reached iconic status. As it is very much the case with design classics, the 1UWV floor lamp is the masterful result of simplicity, purity and functionality.
It is an all metallic slim tubular floor lamp with a rectangular counterweight base, triangular shade, spherical dimmer, adjustable height and directional light that disappears in the background, that very often unpretentiously and discreetly peeks over the back of an armchair, a chaise longue or a sofa. At the time of its creation, the look of 1UWV and its down lighting were quite revolutionary, and the antithesis then of the more fashionable fringy, chintzy lampshades with their heavy bases that casted an ambient glow rather than a focalised floodlight.
The architectural yet elegant object nowadays comes in different finishes such as stainless steel, aluminium, nickel-plated, metal gun but the most famous finish (and chicest I think) is in brass. Over his illustrious career, the 85-year-old Hartman has designed and developed other models of lights as well as furniture such as tables, chairs and sofas but the 1UWV lamp is still is best-known work. Two of his lamps have permanent resident at MOMA in New York. Unlike his masterpiece, Hartman has always shied away from the limelight but he is still working today on new prototypes, LEDs in particular.
Here is a selection of images of 1UWV, its creator and their appearances in striking interiors over the decades. Can you spot them all??
by Lauren Coburn LLC
-all images courtesy of the decorator mentioned –