Bringing the Outside In

With the push for wellness-oriented spaces around the globe, interior designers are looking for different ways to incorporate this rapidly-growing industry to their styles. While including more plants and flowers into the home is known to brighten up the atmosphere, some designers are taking this theme to the next level. Here’s how:

Photo courtesy of Maison Valentina

Photo courtesy of VG New Trend

Photo courtesy of VG New Trend

When it comes to lighting, many chandeliers are starting to incorporate elements of nature to bring a more natural, elegant look. Both of these chandeliers are surrounded by vines and flowers, allowing the natural elements to be woven into the design. While critics may argue that the “unrefined” elements of nature decrease the elegance of the chandelier, these rooms prove them wrong. While remaining luxurious, the chandeliers’ design provide a warmer and more relaxed atmosphere.

Natural elements can also be incorporated into the wallpaper of a room, adding a bold yet comfortable piece to the space. Regardless of the individual’s style, nature-oriented wallpaper can be incorporated.

For a more feminine look, a bold, floral wallpaper does just the trick. The bright colors add a fun and relaxed style, while the natural elements of the flowers freshen up the atmosphere of the room.

Photo courtesy of Wallsauce

Photo courtesy of Wallsauce

If you’re looking for a less feminine wallpaper, however, incorporating nature to the room is certainly still possible. The darker wallpaper in this bathroom, although much less feminine than a floral backdrop, still adds natural elements to give the room a fresh look.

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Overwhelming Perceptions

Bruce T. Martin uses photographs as words to create a vivid story about the culture and history of Mayan caves and cenotes of the Yucatan and more.

Photography by Bruce T. Martin

“In 1975, my father gave me a Pentad Spotomatic 35 mm camera, that I still have today,” says Bruce T. Martin, an American Fine Arts photographer. Even early on Martin didn’t pursue other careers or jobs outside of photography. Initially, his interest in cameras and capturing moments sparked when he was studying abroad in Europe 1976 and he’s been studying the art form ever since. Now, Martin explains that he takes a literary approach to his photography. “Images combine like words do in a sentence to tell a story,” he says. “My motivation is to use photography to document our world, explore our perceptions and question our viewpoints. ”

 

Martin grew up in Chautauqua County in western New York where he studied at Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University. His connection to photography continued to grow even building a darkroom in his parent’s basement and later began apprenticing for Irving Penn in New York City. “That experience opened my thinking to a whole new world of possibilities,” says Martin. Although the young photographer already had an affinity to landscape photography, his job at the Chautauqua County Office of Planning and Development led to a deep appreciation for architectural structures. One responsibility of Martin’s new job was to “contact the owners of interesting and important architectural structures in the community to secure permission to photograph their homes and buildings.”

 

Gruata Milenio, Yucatán 2012

In terms of style, the photographer has “tried to combine the excellence of many photographers such as the technical mastery of Ansel Adams, the unique viewpoints of Andres Kertesz and the eloquence of Irving Penn, to name a few,” says Martin. However, from a technical point of view, Martin describes his approach as direct. “Positioning my camera in a place where I believe will reveal what I feel is most important to the image … then waiting for or creating the lighting that best reveals the detail and color to express the emotion and purpose of the image.”

As an artist, Martin is always working on a number of projects such as a larger portfolio of Boston cityscape and architecture. A series called “Fragment Landscape” is also in the works and involves overlapping images gathered in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. However, there has been one persisting project that Martin has been expanding on since 1987.

“I have been working on a project on the Maya of Central America, using historical documents, academic research, and current events in conjunction with my photography and recordings from the field,” according to Martin. The first phase of the project resulted in the book and exhibit, “Look Close See Far, A Cultural Portrait of Maya”, and has now progressed into the next component. “Seeking Sacred Landscapes, Maya Caves and Cenotes of the Yucatan”. Martin describes the project as, “beautiful, mysterious, and compelling.”

The series “Seeking Sacred Landscapes” is a combination of images of the Yucatan’s caves and cenotes with archeological, historical, and environmental essays by established authorities, according to the experienced photographer. Martin’s images compel you to look closer at the detail that has formed over the years within nature.

It’s hard to imagine what being in those types of caves would be like, but Martin describes it as a time full of anticipation. “Knowing that I will experience and learn something new each time fills my mind as I begin the descent into these underground chambers.” This experience has been building over the years. When the project first began Martin became interested in many of the Mayan’s core mythology concepts, which later led to his deeper understanding of the culture. “Harmony in life is a daily struggle. With the rapid development of recent years, many contrasting and violent viewpoints have been introduced, so that the Maya and their environment are being overwhelmed,” says Martin. “Surviving these disruptive influences and maintaining their cultural dignity is the challenge for an uncertain future that the Maya now face.”

The series “Seeking Sacred Landscapes” is a combination of images of the Yucatan’s caves and cenotes with archeological, historical, and environmental essays by established authorities, according to the experienced photographer. Martin’s images compel you to look closer at the detail that has formed over the years within nature.  

It’s hard to imagine what being in those types of caves would be like, but Martin describes it as a time full of anticipation. “Knowing that I will experience and learn something new each time fills my mind as I begin the descent into these underground chambers.” This experience has been building over the years. When the project first began Martin became interested in many of the Mayan’s core mythology concepts, which later led to his deeper understanding of the culture. “Harmony in life is a daily struggle. With the rapid development of recent years, many contrasting and violent viewpoints have been introduced, so that the Maya and their environment are being overwhelmed,” says Martin. “Surviving these disruptive influences and maintaining their cultural dignity is the challenge for an uncertain future that the Maya now face.”

Through images that help to shape and tell a story, Martin is hoping that the series “Seeking Sacred Landscapes” will attract some attention to these struggles. “With a greater awareness of their issues, a more productive dialogue on the Maya and their land can begin, which will promote cultural diversity, protect their environment and respect for their fading traditions.”

Each part of Martin’s experience pushes him further and enhances his ability as an artist. A journey from architectural to landscape photography has proved there is more than what originally meets the eye, which can be seen in the details of his photos. According to Martin, “Each of these naturally-occurring, organic caverns and cenotes are unique yet similar architectural spaces that overwhelm your perceptions and preconceived notions of the world we live in.”

Cenote Ik kil, Yucatán, 2016.

This editorial originally appeared in The High End Spring 2019.

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The Cosmic Balance of Design

New York designer Aimée Wilder explores Eudaimonia, a Greek word commonly translated as happiness or “human flourishing,” in her collection of wallpapers, fabrics, rug and accessories. From the effects of the moon on the evolution of the natural world to the impact of astrological phenomenon, Wilder captures the many ways surroundings can influence our psychological state, and contribute to overall wellness.

“This collection was born through finding balance and stability in my own life,” says Wilder. “Once I learned that living to work instead of working to live, along with incorporating methods like Vedic meditation and natural healing into my daily routine, was able to create a peaceful environment around me, I hoped to thoughtfully reflect that feeling in each design.”

Eudaimonia consists of two wallpaper and fabric patterns, Pyramide du Soleil and Earthlight, with an additional rug pattern, Eclipse. All three patterns reflect the natural balance between the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon, evoking the beauty of cosmic balance. With this collection, Wilder introduces a new construction for commercial fabrics, tested for 50,000 double rubs and available with a range of protective coatings including anti-microbial and stain coating. In addition, for the first time, Wilder will offer wallpaper printed in Brooklyn, New York, where she resides and operates her design studio.

Pyramide du Soleil is a subtly optical pattern manifesting the ancient Sun’s shadow and its balance with the earth, Pyramide du Soleil features pyramid and Sun as they represent the illusive quality of time. It integrates pyramids and circles with sophisticated diagonals and horizontal stripes, inspired by the continuous synchronicity that exists between the earth and the Moon.

Earthlight focuses on the waxing and waning cycles of the Moon’s phases in an eye-catching, geometric pattern across wallpaper and fabric design. Named for the scientific phenomenon in which sunlight reflected from Earth’s surface indirectly illuminates the otherwise dark side of the Moon, Earthlight is sure to brighten any space.

Eclipse showcases the inversion of colors in this rug design suggests the effects of an Eclipse, a harbinger of change in the daily life that acts as a guiding hand when questioning one’s path. With a boldness that invokes a new take on a vintage aesthetic, the Eclipse rug comes in a range of warm tones that will add a welcoming touch to a room.

Pyramide du Soleil

Photos courtesy Aimee Wilder.

Eclipse

Photo by ©Dylan Chandler 2018.

Earthlight

Photos courtesy Aimee Wilder.

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Explore the Combination of Architecture and Nature

Architectural tours are gaining popularity as designers revamp historic sites with fresh perspectives and classic details.

Photo by Eirik Johnson

The Glass House found in New Canaan, Connecticut, is an architectural icon and offers ideal tours for families, architecture and nature lovers, and more. The stunning grounds and architectural wonders make for an intriguing visit full of history.

The Glass House is one of 14 structures that can be found on the 49-acre site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in New Canaan, Connecticut. The structure dates back to 1949 and has since been restored to near pristine condition. Described as a pavilion, best used for observing the surrounding landscape, the structure’s walls are made mostly from glass. The house is 55 feet long and 33 feet wide, with 1,815 square feet.

Photos by Michael Biondo

According to The Glass House website, “Philip Johnson, who lived in the Glass House from 1949 until his death in 2005, conceived of it as half a composition, completed by the Brick House. Both buildings were designed in 1945-48.” The Brick House was completed just prior to The Glass House and sharply contrasts the near-unobstructed views by being almost totally encased by brick.

Photo by Eirik Johnson

Other structures on site include the Da Monsta, Studio, Painting Gallery, Pavilion in the Pond, Sculpture Gallery, the Ghost House, and more.

Photos by Michael Biondo

Three tours are offered. Find the one that works for you!

Glass House Tour – One hour

  • Tour the glass house and promontory
  • Minimal walking
  • Concise and enjoyable

Glass House and Galleries Tour – Two Hours

  • The most popular
  • ¾   mile of walking
  • Visit the Glass House, Painting Gallery, Sculpture Gallery, outdoor sculpture, and Da Monsta

Glass House Extended Tour – Two and a Half Hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Michael Biondo

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Luxurious Pianos Become Grand Works of Art

Transforming the already luxurious grand piano into a genuine work of art requires both imagination and respect for centuries-old traditions.

Few possessions are as classic and exquisite as a grand piano, an accessory that complements an elegant residence as naturally as a tuxedo suits James Bond. Even if rarely played, that timeless piece of functional art makes a profound statement about the homeowner’s style and sophistication. And like yachts or haute couture, a grand piano can be customized to indulge the most extravagant tastes.

Meticulously handcrafted in Queens, New York or Hamburg, Germany, every Steinway & Sons piano is a masterpiece. The company’s defiant adherence to Old World craftsmanship — each grand piano takes up to a year to build — is rare in an era when manufacturers are rewarded for automation, cost-control and uniformity. Even a standard-issue Steinway grand is impressive, but the company’s collaboration with renowned artists and designers elevates the product to another level altogether.  

GOLD LEAF by Fazioli. 24-carat gold leaf completely covers this F228 piano model, giving it a touch of royal prestige. The transparent polyester that protects the gold leaf gives the surface a precious luminosity of iridescent shades.

Photo courtesy of Fazioli/Roberto Zava-Studio Step.

In addition to accommodating an exclusive clientele seeking something completely unique and willing to pay a premium for it, Steinway appreciates the excitement its exclusive art case pianos generate among a broader audience. “A very cool and unique limited edition that garners some press also brings attention to Steinway & Sons as a whole,” explains Director of Product Management Robert Polan, who oversees the company’s custom piano program worldwide.

“A lot of care is taken to find partners that are compatible with Steinway’s mission and principles,” says Polan, citing frequent musical associations like the “Imagine” John Lennon limited edition. “In other cases, the connection is more along the lines of a company with a similar dedication to craftsmanship and quality — a great example being what we’ve done with Lalique,” he says. Polan reports some partnerships are forged to commemorate a Steinway milestone, such as a collaboration with designer Frank Pollaro for “The Fibonacci,” which celebrated the company’s 600,000th piano in 2015, priced at $2.4 million.

 

 

 

 

THE HELICONIA Designed by Lalique. Originally designed in 1992 by Marie-Claude Lalique — the granddaughter of René Lalique — the heliconia flower forms the perfect decor for these fine instruments. Lovingly crafted at the Lalique manufactory in Alsace, 75 crystals make the instrument shine, while silver-colored inlays are decoratively arranged into the design creating interesting reflections as well as a sense of clarity. 

Photo courtesy of Steinway & Sons.

Most whimsical of Steinway’s limited editions is a $2.5 million piano created by pianist/painter Paul Wyse based on “Pictures at an Exhibition,” a masterwork by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky inspired by the paintings of fellow countryman Viktor Hartmann. “In this case, ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ was this unique and momentous occasion in history where visual art and music converged in a perfect way,” says Polan.

Like Steinway, Baldi Home Jewels has been creating luxury goods for more than 150 years, and the company’s use of semiprecious gems and 24-karat gold redefines home furnishings like bath fixtures or tableware. The Florence, Italy-based firm partnered with Steinway to create “Armonia Limited Edition by Baldi,” in which the cases, lids, music stands and legs of glossy ebonized pianos are embellished with Italian Renaissance ornamentation. Decorative bronze elements are hand-chiseled to perfection — an exacting process consistent with Steinway’s own commitment to craftsmanship — and plated in precious metals with a choice of nine different patinas.

PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION. Painted by Paul Wyse for Steinway & Sons. Photos courtesy of Steinway & Sons.

Steinway’s “Heliconia,” the product of a partnership with Lalique, is a black or white grand piano adorned with 75 jewel-like pieces of the renowned French glassmaker’s signature frosted crystal. 

Created from a design by Marie-Claude Lalique (granddaughter of founder René Lalique), the result is a stunning, understated marriage of two great artisanal legacies. “Lalique is a company with a very similar history and tradition of craftsmanship, so as ‘kindred spirit’ companies, this partnership made sense on many levels,” says Steinway’s Polan.

Gene Korolev, who learned the art of piano refurbishment in Russia’s cultured city of Saint Petersburg, reimagines Steinway grand pianos with his daughter, Katherine Banyasz. With his 40-plus years of piano experience and her background in interior and graphic design, their Piano Solutions XXI creates glamorous, over-the-top instruments from a studio in suburban Los Angeles.

The Piano Solutions principals are quick to distance themselves from the ostentatious rhinestone-clad showpieces Liberace made famous. “I like to tell a story, not just slap some patterns onto a piano case,” explains Banyasz, who reports her father’s craftsmanship is an appealing antidote to the prevailing culture of mass production. An early work paid tribute to French fashion designer Coco Chanel, an Art Deco design in which nearly 50,000 cubic zirconia crystals tell Madame Chanel’s story, with her silhouette appearing inside the lid.

When the Chanel piano sold for $250,000, the father-and-daughter entrepreneurs recognized the demand for elaborate, finely-crafted art case pianos. “Anybody who appreciates art, wants something unique to pass from generation to generation, or who finds meaning in the themes,” is how Banyasz characterizes the company’s exclusive clientele.

NEW YORK SERENADE by PIANO SOLUTIONS XXI. Photos courtesy of Piano Solutions XXI.

Piano Solutions XXI’s “New York Serenade” is a Steinway grand enveloped with images of Manhattan landmarks created through the application of about 165,000 cubic zirconia crystals. Its music rack features a couple seated on a park bench viewing the skyline and the entire composition represents a love letter to the Big Apple. A total of 2,880 crystals were affixed to the sides of the piano’s 36 black keys, which Korolev remembers consuming many of the 3,000 hours of labor invested in this project. New York Serenade is on the market for $1.5 million and Banyasz believes a luxury Manhattan hotel would be a natural buyer.

Fazioli was founded in Italy 130 years after Steinway but produces among the most coveted instruments in the world, and serious musicians dominate its clientele. Only about 100 are handcrafted annually at its factory near Venice, and admirers suggest playing a Fazioli is the musical equivalent of racing a Ferrari. Founder Paolo Fazioli insists that the drive to explore new techniques and aesthetics is embedded in his company’s DNA. “This is our life, experiments. You can increase quality and do a good job, but only if you continually experiment,” he says.

THE HELICONIA Designed by Lalique

Photo courtesy of Steinway & Sons.

MARCO POLO By Fazioli

Photo courtesy of Fazioli/Roberto Zava-Studio Step.

Among Fazioli’s experimental art case models is a grand piano entirely clad in 24-karat gold leaf, the ethereal “Butterfly” designed by architect Bing Thom, and the high-gloss red “Marco Polo,” originally commissioned by a client from China. The crimson instrument’s inside lid features a reproduction of an ornate Canaletto painting that celebrates the ancient connection between Venice and China

Showstopping Pianos

Fazioli: www.fazioli.com

Piano Solutions XXI: www.pianosxxi.com

Steinway & Sons: www.steinway.com

Collaborators

Baldi Home Jewels: www.baldihomejewels.com

Lalique: www.lalique.com

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Custom Maps and Illustrations Q&A With Cornelia Carpenter

Artist, illustrator, and cartographer at Cornelia Carpenter Studio

 

Cherish your travels, trips, adventures and more with these hand-crafted, custom maps and illustrations. Each map is unique and individually designed based on your experiences.

This is a unique idea, how did you come up with it? What is the inspiration behind your company?

 

I have always loved maps. They are a wonderful way to explore the world, and for me evoke a sense of adventure and wonder. I created my first illustrated map while studying abroad in Nicaragua as an undergraduate student. I majored in Geography and Studio Art, so this was a natural blend of my two interests. Since then, I have created custom illustrated maps of countries around the world. The most rewarding part of my job is the excitement of my clients when they receive the final map documenting their special and unique adventures.

 

What are some of the biggest challenges when creating these products?

 

Getting my work out there! I have relied on word-of-mouth and social media to get my work out into the world, and I’m beginning to feel like my presence is growing. In addition, I am committed to accuracy and sometimes the research can be quite time-consuming. For example, I will spend hours studying a particular building or the cuisine of an area down to the traditional serveware and drinking glasses. I’m all about making my maps look and feel as authentic as possible!

What is your favorite step of the process when creating maps? 

 

I love working with people and learning about their adventures. When I create a personal map I ask for photos, personal stories, inside jokes, favorite foods, and random events that make each place special. Some of the trips are truly awesome and it’s quite fun to study exotic corners of the world that I otherwise would not know about.  

 

Please explain why your company stands out among others?

 

Maps are very “in” right now and there is a growing competitive market, but I strive on the details of my work. I make maps so my clients can revisit their favorite places. As a lifelong student of geography, accuracy is so important to me. Although my illustrated maps can’t always be physically exact, I always make sure landmarks, locations, and the topography are placed thoughtfully. The same goes for buildings, food, flora, fauna, activities, and the culture of each place. I like to think my maps have an extra bit of attention and love.

 

What kind of customers do you expect to buy your products?

 

I think everyone needs a custom map. Whether it’s of your neighborhood or far-away adventures, maps have the ability to spark conversation and evoke curiosity. I create mini-maps that are 5” x 5” to massive worldwide adventure maps. To me, maps are the perfect way to document the things that make life special and are worth remembering and smiling about. It doesn’t matter if it’s an everyday occurrence or a once-in-a-lifetime experience, maps are the perfect way to display life.

 

How is your business different from your original expectations?

 

Last year I decided to go all in, but before that creating maps were a side gig. Because my business is still so young, I’m not sure what to expect. Ultimately, I hope that people find joy in my work and they can relive their happy memories through these maps.

 

Do you have plans/hopes to expand your company?

Yes! If I could imagine the perfect job, it would be making maps every day, all day. I do offer custom illustrated wedding invitations (including maps), personalized travel maps, and other illustrated projects. Right now, I am focused on offering unique one-of-a-kind products.

Photos courtesy of Cornelia Carpenter Studio 2019. Find more at www.CorneliaCarpenter.com or on Instagram @CorneliaCarpenter_Studio 

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