With all due respect to Jackie O, I have never been a fan of twin sets. I am a more mix than match girl when it comes to clothes and to room design. Though I probably have faulty logic, from my earliest days, I remember thinking that buying things in sets showed a lack of imagination and a rigidity that I couldn’t relate to. Even when buying silverware, I buy partial sets to mix and match at the table with other partial sets that I like together. As a poor college student, I inherited a 5 piece walnut veneer bedroom set. Dresser, mirror, nightstands and headboard. I should have been thrilled but instead I spent the next several years trying desperately to disguise the fact that my “perfectly matching” room felt designed to show off some anonymous mass market furniture designer’s personality. When I bought my first house, I finally sold the set, determined to live without (read clothes in cardboard moving cartons for a long time to come) rather than let the set become an unwelcome fixture in my life a second time. Thus began a series of mix-not-match adventures that allowed me to spread my wings and find a look that suited me. An antique Japanese Tansu chest eventually held my clothes (it came with an ancient yellowed scribbled note in calligraphy quality Japanese that was taped to the door of a secret compartment. To this day, whenever I decide to have it translated, I change my mind. I want to believe it is magical and spiritual and I don’t want to know if it was someone’s reminder to bring home a quart of milk.) A Ralph Lauren rattan headboard and footboard, that I scrimped and saved for, surrounded my bed. A nightstand with iron legs, fruitwood drawers and a poured concrete top that a furniture designer friend and I designed and he made became my nightstand on one side; a Pier 1 double tray stand serviced the other side, and an ultra modern cowhide swivel chair with a beautiful old, threadbare Persian rug in front of it faced my bed from the corner. Nothing in the room was made to go together. None of the materials really echoed each other. But, the look was warm, inviting, intriguing, designed and…well…ME.
I came across this chair in Wendy Goodman’s always amazing NY magazine column about design. A pair of them were designed by Studio Dror to flank the pulpit or “bima” of the newly refurbished Soho synagogue. In addition to their eye popping beauty, their obvious inspiration, the peacock, is perfect for those who want something a little more spiritual served up with their design. What the peacock is meant to represent is open to many, many interpretations but here are a few I came up with from a cursory Google search…
- An ancient Greek belief was that a peacock’s flesh did not decay; hence it is a particularly potent symbol of eternal life.
- A peacock grows new feathers each year, thus they are symbolic of rebirth and the cycle of the seasons.
- The many eyes of the peacock’s tail are taken to symbolize the all-seeing vision of God.
Now, for those lucky enough to see them in person, or even sit in them, they may just be things of beauty to covet. For others, their symbolism may enhance the spiritual experience of prayer. One way or the other, they are inspired by a very old image in art and religion and add perfectly to the new design of a very old space. I call that full circle.
I’ve been thinking about polka dots a lot. The world is in trouble and I daydream about polka dots. Crazy! My daughter is past the Dr. Seuss phase so I can’t chalk it up to a stupor induced by repetitive reading of “Put me in the Zoo.” What is it about polka dots that I find so alluring and reassuring? Last night I went to a fashion show called Wearable Art…non professional models of all ages and body types modeling the offerings of young designers…some avant garde, some not so. The look that caught my eye was not the truly, insanely creative gowns made of spun and sculptured felt that were the highlight of the show, but a young girl in the audience, probably about nine years old who was wearing a red party dress with white polka dots and white mary janes with a big red bow in her hair. Her’s was a look that was both ageless and fresh.
I’ve been obsessing about a polka dot bathroom and I think I’ve talked my truly adventurous friend Arleen into letting me design one for her that is also fresh and ageless, but sophisticated. It won’t be red and white, but it will be simple, uncluttered and a statement like I always find polka dots to be. In fact, they are the dot on the bottom of the exclamation point.