The biggest event in the design calendar in January was undoubtedly in Paris at Maison & Objet and Paris Déco Off.
A-Gent of Style was honoured to be for the 3rd time jury member of the Paris Déco Off this year which took him on a whirlwind of launches, talks, events, networking, and many many meals and parties all around the French capital with old and new design friends .
One of the most-anticipated destinations this year was the 2nd instalment of Ancien & Moderne, the lifestyle bohemian pop-up shop located temporarily in a charming street of Saint-Germain des Près only steps away from the Seine river. The brainchild of the divine Stacey Bewkes of Quintessence and Beth Dempsey of Images & Details, Ancien & Moderne regrouped a fine, talented cohort of international design tastemakers who altogether presented their new creations specially conceived for the event. The result was once again timeless and beautiful, and the symbiosis of various creative minds collaborating on a single project was inspiring as well as refreshing.
The star of the show was the incredible composition Bruyère by Fromental who designed a striking hand-painted silk wallcovering inspired by French textiles maven Jean Lurçat that wrapped the whole pop-up in a vibrant English mustard filled with whimsical details taken predominantly from nature.
Justin van Breda presented stylishly customised pieces of furniture with Fromental, The Rug Company a burgundy patterned rug designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard, Philippe Berry his playful bronze furniture with butterflies, Porta Romana table lamps, Michelle Nussbaumer her new book, fabric collection and jewellery, Tuile à Loup their beautiful ceramics, and acclaimed designers Bambi Sloan, Timothy Corrigan, Frank De Biasi and Alex Papachristidis provided dazzling mirrors.
And let it be said, Ancien & Moderne brought much sunshine and optimism on that historical infamous inaugural day. I hope it brings you the same and more today.
Until next year, félicitations to all involved. Chapeau! And thank you for given us, if only temporarily, a new Yellow Room room to cherish!
“I love light and I hate to see windows cluttered up by kilos of fabric, however precious it might be! A window is an opening on the exterior – a link to life.”
It wasn’t until he received the catalogue of the forthcoming Piasa sale last week that A-Gent of Style discovered for the first time Lilou Grumbach-Marquand and fell instantly head over heels for her work. Keen to delve into her work, A-Gent of Style could not find much information (online) about the already ever secretive and private artist. But going through the sale catalogue proved to be a revelation and a treat.
Madame Grumbach-Marquand has been making sublime screens, partitions, blinds, canopies, banners, beds and kimono stands for the last 20 years and has been adored by leading decorators such as Peter Marino, Jacques Grange, Frank de Biaisi but also Diane von Furstenberg for whom she has made a veiled four-poster bed.
PIASA auctioneers are paying tribute to her exceptional talent by offering a score of her remarkable creations on October 25 in Paris, a rare chance to see and own her private creations. The lucky ones who will be in Paris from tomorrow Friday 21 October will be able to see the pieces at the sale exhibition prior to the auction.
Her every designs are unique and made by hand from a luxuriant and fine range of unusual materials – ribbons, braid, tassles, silver or amber balls, gingko leaf, passementerie, fiber, silk, linen, metals, plant fibres, edging of Indian sari. They result in spectacular and refined creations infused with a sense of poetry, and her influences of the far and middle east mingle with European and French sensibilities whilst having subtle echoes of India, Turkey, Africa or Japan. The main thing is that each material guarantees ‘the purest transparency.’ The screen is a time-honoured element of decoration, filtering light and transcending interiors by redesigning their contours.
Now living in Paris’s Marais district, Lilou Marquand had the privilege of being Mademoiselle Coco Chanel’s closest collaborator for fifteen years (for several weeks she waited for Mademoiselle Chanel outside the Ritz, wearing a Chanel dress. Chanel finally noticed her and gave her a job). In the proximity of the « grande dame » of couture, known for her refined sense of colour and her flawless eye for details, Lilou Marquand’s own sensibility quickly developed and so did her obsession with lightness and light. Using her apartment as a creative studio, Lilou designs and creates projects for clients the world over. She recently created an enclosed space for Diane Von Fustenberg, which was on display at the Von Fustenberg’s studio in New York.
You can view the catalogue here.
” Inspiration is a moment in time”
– Christine Van der Hurd –
Since his career change into the world of interior decoration in 2008,
A-Gent of Style has been fortunate to meet many esteemed designers over the years and has even had the privilege to know some of them personally.
Christine Van der Hurd is one of them. Whether it is at Tissus d’Hélène,
Veere Greeney Associates or currently at Redloh House Fabrics, there hasn’t been a month in the last six years where A-Gent of Style has not been in contact in one way or another with Christine’s divine textiles or carpets, nor have her new products or collections failed to get unnoticed by his deco-dar. A-Gent of Style will also go as far as saying that Christine, with a few others, has somehow been instrumental in making him not only appreciate and embrace colours and patterns but more importantly not to be afraid of them, and for that, he is very indebted to her.
Back in February, A-Gent of Style managed to catch the intrepid and itinerant Christine Van der Hurd, based again in London after many years in
New York, who opened the doors of her newly-redecorated, light-filled, white-walled mews house in Kensington one evening to talk to him about her life and career whilst they both savoured tasty Italian wine and delicacies.
Christine, ‘the VanderQueen”, gave A-Gent of Style a tour of her beautiful home adorned with 20th century antiques, her collections of covetable objects, Swedish ceramics, contemporary photographs, and of course some of her own creations – dhurries, cushions and upholstered furniture – all which evince an exquisite collector’s eye for detail, and let him into her fascinating textile design world, delicately suffused with patterns and colours.
Vanderhurd, the company, has evolved over the last thirty years from the inspired designs of a young student born in London’s Portobello from established antiques dealing parents into the internationally acclaimed design studio it is today. Within months of graduating from the esteemed Winchester Art College in the early 1970s, Christine Van Der Hurd was designing textiles for, amongst others, Osborne & Little, Liberty’s, Etro and Yves Saint Laurent. Her success as a textile designer followed her to New York City in 1977, where her work was commissioned by many designers, including Angelo Donghia and Jack Lenor Larsen. Then, in 1980, as Christine designed and produced a one-off carpet, she experienced a revelation that became an all-enveloping inspiration for what was to become her eponymous bespoke textile design firm.
In 1981, Christine set up her atelier at Modernage, a seminal specialist gallery representing new internationally acclaimed designers, which she opened in partnership with David Hurd. Immediately, Christine received commissions from leading designers and architects such as Beyer Binder Belle, Pentagram and Gensler. These collaborations continue to this day, with leading architects and designers. Vanderhurd has designed and manufactured collections for the Italian furniture company Cappellini and for Liberty’s of London, and has produced a line of men’s carpetbags for the luxury house, Louis Vuitton. Recently Vanderhurd collaborated with India Jane Birley on the carpeting for Annabel’s, the famed London nightclub, as well as with hotelier/designer Kit Kemp, of Firmdale Hotels, for the Crosby Street Hotel in New York and the newly opened Ham Yard in London. Her creations grace public spaces such Claridge’s, the Federal Reserve Bank, Saks Fifth Avenue and Browns of London, to name but a few, as well as the private residences of an international discerning clientèle. Past collaborations include designs commissioned by Thomas Goode, Paul Smith and Browns. Some of Vanderhurd designs are part of the collections of several museums, including The Victoria & Albert Museum in London and are regularly featured in the international leading press. Christine is also a guest lecturer at London’s KLC School of Design.
With her constant experimentation in textiles and techniques and her search for perfecting new constructions and developing new designs, Christine’s bold, cutting-edge patterns and new trends in carpets and rugs have deservedly vowed the design world over now three decades. Vanderhurd have sought out the finest manufacturers in India (Varanasi, Jaipur and Delhi and their surrounding areas), Nepal (Kathmandu), the Philippines, New York and Europe, and can boast studios in London and New York as well as showrooms in cities worldwide servicing trade and retail customers.
Christine Van der Hurd’s unswerving passion for textiles, enthusiasm for life, charm, humility and generous spirit have won her many loyal admirers over the years, and this feature will hopefully turn any newcomers into new converts.
How did your past influence and shape what you do today?
My parents were antiques dealers; I was brought up on Hamilton Terrace in a house full of antiques and colour. There were always fabrics, tapestries and ceramics which had a real influence on how I looked at things. My mother was a beautiful woman and she was passionate about fabrics. She used to take me with her to the sales at Liberty or Harrods, and she made most of her clothing herself, and she would always dress impeccably; she still does at the age at 98! Quality was so important to her. It is essential to me too; I suppose those things were instrumental in me wanting to do textiles; I never ever thought of doing anything else, only acting perhaps but I was too shy, and I was so passionate about fabrics and colour from a very young age that I decided to do a textiles degree. I’ve had tragedies, but textiles and creating pattern has always been a part of my life, and given me the ultimate distraction.
I can’t really pinpoint one thing. Maybe my mother wearing an incredible emerald green thick silk satin dress one night. I saw antiques mixed with textiles all the time; every summer we used to drive to Spain and then Morocco and stop through all the flea markets on the way. I was always looking. It was an incredible education.
Who were/are your design influences? Do you have any design muse?
Sonia Delaunay definitely. When I went to the Bauhaus exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1968 or 1969, that‘s what took me down a path I have been on ever since. I’d lived with antiques and suddenly saw this extraordinarily disciplined architecture and design from buildings through to textiles. I was just blown away. It was a revelation. This incredible movement that was a lifestyle influenced me hugely. And so did the Russian Constructivists and Mondrian. My work is very much about structure for I see things in lines and my work has also been inspired by Egyptian, Roman or Chinese cultures, as there are often lattices and layered patterns. There’s also flora and fauna; within that, you’ve got structure again; leaves and petals are formed by millions of tiny structures. My art work is very detailed, very intricate and it was only in my late twenties when I started in the carpet world that I became able to enlarge the scale I worked in. The first carpets I designed were large collages, similar in method to Matisse.
How did Vanderhurd come to life?
After leaving college in 1973, I was based in Europe and created textiles under the name of Christine Van. I worked with designers such as Yves Saint Laurent, Liberty, Osborne & Little and Biba. In 1980 when my daughter was born, I launched the company Christine Van Der Hurd, and that is when the carpet designs began. A major turning point was in 2003 when Jasper, my late son, joined the business and ran the New York studio whilst I worked in London. We became Vanderhurd, and unlike me he did all his designs on the computer. He really brought Christine Van der Hurd into the 21st C.
London was an amazing place to be in the 1960s especially in the art and design world. I moved to New York in 1977, aged 25, and the city was one of the best places you could be at that time. It gave me the chance to grow; New York was accepting and unlimited for designers. In the 1980s and ‘90s people had faith in a young person, less so than in London. It gave me a very good grounding. My ex-husband and I opened a vintage furniture shop, mainly European, in Manhattan next to the 26th St flea market which was very popular. By 1981, we had relocated to Broadway, and opened Modernage. We focused on European modern furniture design and helped launch people like Tom Dixon, Ron Arad, Danny Lane with shows in our Gallery. Then we progressed and began launching other European furniture companies such as Cappellini, Moroso and Magis. My background concentrated on high-end modern aesthetics then. Later we opened the flagship store for Cappellini in SoHo but sadly this closed in 2003 after 9/11. With Jasper at the helm in New York, I returned to London.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere! Inspiration is a moment in time; you look across the room, one colour hits the light or a structure in a room. It can be a photo, you could be walking down the street and you’ll see an extraordinary facade, a wonderful dress, it could be in a book. It’s never the obvious. If you want it, if you are receptive to it, it’s there. My problem is never ‘what shall I do next?’, but ‘what I shall not do next?’; in the studio they have to edit me. I don’t know when to stop!
Where and how do you work or get your inspiration?
I need to be really private. Running the business takes a lot of energy so right now I have less creative time. All of my work is painted or drawn by hand and requires a great deal of concentration. When my little cocoon upstairs is finished and when I have my beautiful photographs on the wall, I will go there to paint and draw.
What or who is inspiring you at the moment?
So many designers are frightened of using colour. It doesn’t have to be like that, you need to incorporate colour; what frightens me is a beige room; when you walk in the bazaar of Morocco or Istanbul, it’s atmosphere. My house is not bombarded with ridiculous colours but it has injections and flashes of colours. It’s quite toned down actually. There is a balance; it’s relaxing here. We are lucky enough to work with many inspiring designers on extraordinary projects around the world, and recently helped complete some of the suites in Kit Kemp’s Ham Yard project. Jonathan Reed, for example, has incredible colour sense and a unique eye for texture and detail. As a young designer Faye Toogood is also amazing. She’s not frightened of mixing different textures with structured colours. She’s not formulaic. One of my heroes since I was young, is Jacques Grange, who I have been lucky enough to work with on a number of projects recently.
Who are your icons?
John Miles. He was my tutor at Winchester School of Art and later became Professor of Textiles at the RCA; he is an amazing man. I had a tough term at art school and considered dropping out. If it wasn’t for his encouragement and faith in me, I might have not carried on with this career.
Which three interior designers or artists of the past would you invite to a dinner party?
Gio Ponti! I’m so inspired by him, and I have been since I was 30. It’s once again the structure and the colours. My new collection is inspired by him. He was an amazing man. One of my early rugs, from 1993 I think, was called ‘Ponti Pucci’ after Gio Ponti and Emilio Pucci; the border was like a key border and very much like one of his ceramics and the centre is Pucci’s free forms, but I did mine in black. Helen Mirren would be there too; she is such a versatile actress. And Leonard Cohen of course!
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Seeing my girls happy, my “Vanderbirds”, seeing them inspired and excited. They’re such a wonderful group of people!
What do you attribute your success to? And what’s your proudest career achievement?
To still being here! After 40 years, I’ve managed to survive. I never ever betrayed myself, I have never compromised myself or been overtly commercial. I enjoy doing what I do and being able to make a living and make people happy because of what I create for them.
You already have a few of your pieces at the V&A. How do you feel about leaving a legacy?
I’m hoping that one day people will look at my work not just as a product but as an archive that will be important to other people who want to see it, and who can benefit from it.
Do you have any advice for young craftspeople or designers today?
Patience! Never lose your confidence, keep trying even though you may be knocked back; experiment, just be true to yourself that is more important than anything, don’t compromise your ideas too much, be open to advice. And always, always listen.
What exciting new projects do you have on the horizon?
Well, I think the interesting thing going forward for me will be collaborations. I’m doing a collaboration with a painter called Cipriano Martinez and I’m going to interpret his paintings into silk flat weaves. He has very similar aesthetics to me; he thinks in lines. He’s Venezuelan and he’s brilliant. I am excited as I haven’t made carpets for other people before; this is going to be something different. We currently create a bespoke fine weight silk dhurrie textile for the New York designer Wendy Nichol. She is incredibly talented and individual, and her products are made entirely by hand in New York. She has recently launched a new Wendy Nichol x Vanderhurd Bullet bag exclusively for Net A Porter.
Why India and Nepal? Why not keep all your production in the UK and support the British economy?
The reason we make our carpets and dhurries in India and Nepal is because I have 25 years experience of working closely with them and training them. The Vanderhurd fabric collections are all printed in the UK. Why is ethical production so important to you? Our weavers and embroiderers are the most important people to me, and they have to be paid fairly and looked after well. The workforce in India can be fickle and I am confident that due to the care we show, and effort we make means they thoroughly enjoy their work. Everytime I visit I can see their pride in their work. You get what you give.
What do you like to do most in your spare time?
I love cooking and entertaining for my friends and family, and discovering new worlds through reading.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I’m obsessed about photography; since I was a child, I’ve always taken photos of my friends and family. I’m surrounded by them in photographs. I suppose I live in the past and the present and not so much the future. Photography is the one thing I definitely would have loved to have explored. In my new studio at home, they’re doing an entire wall with all my photographs. It will be my “Vanderworld”! I also speak several languages; French [Christine has a perfect French accent] as I went to the Lycée français from the age of 4 until 18, and Spanish as I spent every summer in Spain until the ages of 9 and 45. I wish I spoke Italian, I stumble at it and I find it frustrating as I have many Italian friends. But I’m trying!
What is your most cherished possession? Do you collect things?
My personal photographs are my most cherished possessions.
What was your favourite holiday?
What is your dream holiday destination? I don’t have a favourite spot as such or certainly not anymore. Baja in California is exquisite, the beach is so beautiful there. I love the Caribbeans where the water is so clear. I used to be a fish; I loved swimming, any time of year. I guess I love being with my family together in a warm climate where there’s water.
What is your favourite natural scent or perfume?
Perfume sounds awful to me; I like something that no one knows. I like a mixture, something complicated; I mix scents together. A natural scent would be jasmine or ‘rakirani’ in Indian.
What would be your ‘last supper’ like?
What a dreadful thought…there’d be lots of vegetables, beautifully cooked, with freshly caught fish, cooked by son-in-law who’s an amazing cook, in a warm climate near water with all my friends and family.
What books are currently on your night table?
I love reading; I can go from novels to biographies, it really varies. At the moment I have ‘Chatting with Henri Matisse The Lost 1941 Interview.’
Do you have any current favourite TV shows?
I don’t watch television; I love movies which I watch mostly when I fly. I was brought up at the Lycée in the 1960s and a lot of directors at the time were people like Buñuel, Fellini, Bergman, and we used to go to the Curzon and watch these incredible films on a Sunday afternoon.
Describe a really good day in the life of Christine Van der Hurd.
A-Gent of Style would like to thank Christine Van der Hurd for letting him into her fascinating “Vanderworld” and also her ever so lovely “Vanderbirds”.
– Imagery by Vanderhurd, A-Gent of Style and as otherwise stated –