Modern Chandeliers as Works of Art

With a sleek, modern style becoming the new trend in home design, chandelier makers are turning from the traditional designs to modern light fixtures instead. Not only do they add an elegant and modern piece to the room, but they’re becoming pieces of art in their own right. 

The creativity that goes into designing and manufacturing these modern chandeliers is pushing the boundaries on the line that constitutes furniture and works of art. With that said, here are some tips on choosing which modern chandelier is best for you:

Photo courtesy of Covet NYC

Photo courtesy of DelightFULL

1. Get Creative with Material

With any modern chandelier, the material matters. Getting creative with the material used to create the chandelier can add a great addition to the room’s decor. Creativity is proven to go a long way in designing the perfect modern chandelier.

The Botti pendant lamp, inspired by the American trumpet player Chris Botti, adds a fun twist by using trumpets as the main material of the chandelier. While still luxurious in its style and design, it adds personality and a conversation piece to the space. While the chandelier is more retro in its style, using a creative material and thinking outside of the box can be beneficial for whichever style is preferred.

2. The Space it Resides

Both small and large chandeliers can be a great addition to any space. It’s important, however, to consider the type of space when choosing which modern chandelier to include in it. For a foyer or room with high ceilings, look for a larger chandelier to create a major focal point. In spaces like dining and living rooms, a smaller chandelier will still be a work of art, yet it won’t take away from the rest of the design in the space.

Photos courtesy of Muse Residences

In recent years, more and more hotels and apartment buildings are getting rid of the traditional designs and replacing them with modern and sophisticated styles instead. The modern chandelier in this residential building is certainly the focal point, simply for its sheer size and elegance. When visitors and residents walk into the building, they are in awe of its design. 

Photos courtesy of DelightFULL

3. The Lighting

In terms of lighting, either a dramatic flair or a softer hue can be a great addition to any space. While the design and material of chandeliers can be similar, the lighting can make a major difference in the atmosphere in the space.

 

While the first chandelier provides a dramatic light in a darker room, the second provides a more subtle light in a room ample natural light. Both, however, add to the design and atmosphere of the space.

4. A Work of Art

Regardless of the material, design and lighting, it’s crucial to remember the creativity a modern chandelier allows. Whether it’s above a dining table, in the living room as a statement piece or the focal point of the foyer, modern chandeliers aren’t simply light fixtures anymore — they’re works of art.

Photo courtesy of The Alyn

Boho may bring overwhelming patterns and a mix and match style of colors to mind but these refined expressions of boho are bringing a whole new touch of elegance and class to the term. 

Choose the bohemian blend that is perfect for you and your home.

Photo courtesy of Sweetpea & Willow

Photo courtesy of ABSTRACT HOUSE

African Boho

When many people think of boho style, they think of African inspired bohemia, namely the bright colors, clashing prints and metal tones that are often introduced into the décor of a boho themed living space. Include lanterns, jewel-colored cushions, and ottoman style seating to achieve this laid back vibe.

European Boho

European boho is a little more refined in its mix and match approach, though strives to look spontaneous. European style boho is characterized by vintage style furniture paired with rustic beaded curtains and quirky wall art. Layers, mixed fabrics, and statement wall décor will make or break this look.

Photo courtesy of Lights4fun

Photo courtesy of Flo & Joe

Western Boho

The 1960s and 70s saw a resurgence in bohemian style, one that was influenced by community living that became a prominent characteristic of the counter culture. The western bohemian style relies heavily on natural materials and fabrics to complete the aesthetic. Think exposed beams, tribal prints and pouffe’s or floor cushions rather than traditional seating.

Contemporary Boho

So what’s happening now with Boho style? Contemporary Boho style borrows from its processors but combines elements of the classic boho styles with modern minimalist living. Think white walls and floors, wicker seating and animal head wall art. Cushions and rugs add splashes of color while décor pieces can range from vintage to African to contemporary.

Photo courtesy of Melody Maison

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.

Libraries have always been a timeless space open for unique design. Whether the library is modern or historical, small or large, or used for reading or working, the library is possibly one of the rooms that invites the most creativity in its architecture and design.

Mansion Global interviewed Jeffrey Forrest, the founder of STACKLAB, a design studio based in Toronto, Canada, to ask about his advice in designing libraries.

“Your library is a record of who you are,” Forrest told Mansion Global. “Design decisions should be deliberate and very personal — with equal focus on celebrating your history, but also on the joy of reading.”

With that being said, here are a few tips on designing the perfect private library.

Photo courtesy of Binyan by IF STUDIO

Photo courtesy of Selwyn Tungol

Using your space

For book-lovers who need an ample amount of shelving space, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves are functional and add a great design to the walls of the room. When all the books are placed on the shelves, it creates a beautiful assortment and makes the walls burst with color from top to bottom. Whether it’s designed with a more modern or classical touch, the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves are sure to be the centerpiece of the room. 

The double-height library located in the lobby of 277 Fifth Avenue in New York City utilizes this concept, creating a beautiful centerpiece for all visitors and residents to see and use.

Bold Colors and Fabrics

Feel free to bring vibrant colors out from the shelves and into the room through the furniture, curtains, walls or rugs. Whether you’re going for a more modern or historical design, bold colors can create a more interesting and unique space. In Washington, D.C., the Jefferson hosts a book room sure to attract book-lovers from all over. Its velvet green couch adds the perfect pop of color, creating the perfect balance in the space between neutral and vibrant colors. 

The bold colors can be used not only in historical designs, but in modern designs as well. Adding a statement rug or sofa can bring a room’s colors together.

Photo courtesy of The Jefferson

1000M, Photo courtesy of Miller Hare

Laying it Out

A library is the perfect opportunity for designers to get creative with the layout of the space they have. Whether the center of the room is a desk, four chairs around a coffee table or an assortment of seating, there are endless possibilities for the designer to create the perfect space to fit the needs of the homeowner. At 1000M, the layout is comfortable yet elegant, with ample seating for readers to use.

If the option for multiple levels is available, create a unique look by adding a spiral staircase to get from one level to the other or ladders on the shelves for the reader to grab whatever book they’d like. Make sure, however, that whatever the layout is, there is plenty of comfort for the reader to use the space often. Adding comfortable seating and plush rugs can do just the trick for this.

Whether designing the space or simply looking for inspiration, libraries are arguably one of the best rooms to have the most creativity in its design. So remember — regardless of what look or layout, make sure to use this unique opportunity!

Photo courtesy Niio.

Smart technologies and artificial intelligence are changing the way we consume art.

While many treasured works of art are safely contained in notable museums or in the homes of experienced collectors, a new tide is cresting along the shores of the art curation field with the influx of digital art.

Digital art, more widely known as new media art, is an interesting sector of the art industry to define, even for Beryl Graham, who is a professor in New Media Art at the University of Sunderland. She notes that the roots of this art form have drawn inspiration from a range of movements, from conceptual artwork to video art, which also began in the 1960s.

“It’s broadly digital but [it’s also] the kind of art that works in different ways in different kinds of behaviors,” Graham notes. One fascinating example would be an exhibition of software art in which the software, sometimes even artificial intelligence-based artwork, can learn and grow on its own. Graham explains that an artist might start a piece of software and watch it evolve, perhaps give it a virus and watch, showing to the audience that the “end point isn’t quite under the control of the artist.”

Magdalena “Magda” Sawon, owner of the contemporary art gallery Postmasters Gallery in New York, says that the digital age has only heightened the senses of curators and artists, who are traditionally at the forefront of new developments in culture and technology.

“Technology is a tool,” she notes, “it is also a moving target and changing constantly. The question is to be aware of new developments and adapt it intelligently to one’s needs and benefit.” Fittingly, as artists have been harnessing the power of technology within the art industry, curators and galleries have had to “keep up with the times,” and embrace digital forms of artwork and the systems and methods in which they are displayed.

 

Donna Holford-Lovell, director of The North East of North festival (NEoN), notes how the incorporation of interaction and participation into art displays appeals to today’s technology-savvy audiences that have been gradually reinvigorating focus on the digital art world.

“The idea of ‘curation’ has become ubiquitous and our audience is seen to be curating many aspects of their own lives,” Holford-Lovell says. NEoN is an organized event that aims to advance the understanding and accessibility of digital and technology-driven art forms by having the artist and curator work together to translate “the spectacle of experience,” via digital platforms within physical spaces, like virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and even social media.

JONATHAN MONAGHAN (US)

The Phoenix and the Medusa (2018), Video, 7 min 69 sec, Edition of 30, Niio Commission Series.

With systems and platforms, from artificial intelligence to online-based forums, both artists and curators now are developing larger platforms and databases to contribute toward. As well as an educator, Graham is co-founder and editor of the Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss, or CRUMB, a resource for curators of new media art that aims to help overcome any challenges presented from this rise in digital art, from installations to networks of artists and individuals versed in these practices.

PERRY HOBERMAN

Suspensions (2018), VR and mixed reality installation, Postmasters April 2018.

QUAYOLA (UK)

Camouflage (2018), Moving Image, 6 min 4 sec, Edition of 30, Niio Commission Series

On the luxury spectrum of art curation, Niio is a brand integrating digital art and technology-driven forms of collection and distribution that surges past the limitations of traditional artwork. Niio is an art and tech company aimed to enable the exposure of digital artwork in a time that to the company feels like a fourth industrial revolution.

“Art has always reflected the world we live in,” says Rob Anders, CEO and co-founder of Niio, “and artists will create their art with any tool they can access.” In today’s world, that tool has come to be technology. Anders, who understands the eclectic background of digital art from conceptual and video art, wanted to help designers and architects best fit homes with the art of today, and after speaking with top galleries he found that what’s really needed are new models of both the business and technological side that reach a broader audience — even better: one with a subscription.

 

“We envision a world where in homes people will have more digital canvases with interactive or immersive works, all on a centralized connected system that can very easily change,” Anders says, with access to top artists in the world in this ecosystem of artists, galleries and collections all on the Niio platform. Luckily, the CEO notes, the technology is “already there,” from artificial intelligence in devices like Amazon’s Alexa devices to smart televisions, all devices that can easily work with the Niio platform to display digital artwork.

To those interested in having access to the “world’s finest art accessible on-demand,” Niio is open as a limited edition membership at about $5,000 a month, with access to curated exhibitions and collections, or art “playlists” of over 7,500 art pieces on the platform that can be easily changed and displayed on devices like smart TVs, projectors, screens, et cetera, which can be installed by Niio technicians as well.

“Art curation is telling a particular story,” he says. “In order to give people these digital works, it’s not about just finding the individual works, it’s about giving people the ability to learn about the works they are looking at,” he says.
Rob Anders

CEO, Co-Founder, Niio

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.

Renowned artist Tristan Eaton, in partnership with The Kaufman Organization, has painted a 100-foot mural celebrating a NoMad icon and the history of the neighborhood during the Gilded Age.

The 97-by-40-foot mural portrays Evelyn Nesbit, known as a 20th Century fashion icon appearing on the covers of Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, and Harper’s Bazaar. Evelyn was highly sought after as a model by the top brands of the day, embodying the Gilded Age with the ascension of fashion photography and setting the standard for female beauty. An upscale unveiling party for the mural was held on May 16 in New York City.

Various images depicting the rich history of the NoMad area, the original Madison Square Garden and New York City during the Gilded Age are interwoven in a collage throughout the mural. The images were curated with the assistance of a New York City historian.

The Kaufman team worked closely with local historical and landmark preservation experts to ensure the mural would accurately and appropriately represent Ms. Nesbit’s story and the history of the NoMad area.

Tristan Eaton has been a leader in the advertising and commercial art spheres and is regularly commissioned by a roster of clients that include Nike, Versace, and even Barack Obama. Eaton’s work can also be seen in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.

A home inspired by art and designed to showcase master works becomes a work of art in itself.

Upscale properties are often conceived to showcase art, but it’s rare to find an estate comparable to the villa featured on our cover. Known as The Chow Residence, the home was built by the legendary restaurateur Michael Cho and Eva Chow. It reflects their passion for art. Not only is it designed to display an exceptional collection, but it could also be considered a work of art itself. Like all masterpieces, this property is the result of seven years of careful curation and construction.

For inspiration, the owners looked to the Reina Sofía museum in Madrid, the curved ceilings at the Pradro, the Lanvin atelier in Paris and the elevators at the Hermés, eventually hiring Mexican architect Humberto Arigas to bring their vision to fruition. Here Spanish architecture, Art Deco, Venetian influences, contemporary art and Chinese antiquities happily mix with 400-year-old Moorish columns and 18th century Florentine ceilings in a diverse palette that seems ideally suited to the magnitude of the structure. The centerpiece is a dramatic two-story, 30-foot tall atrium from which rooms on two levels branch out.

The lower level is devoted to collections and amusements, including space for a collection of vintage cars, extensive wine storage and an underground theater.

Museum quality rooms are only one quality that makes this property exceptional. The location is the best street in the city. “Mapleton Drive is as good as it gets,” says Jeff Hyland, who along with his partner Rick Hilton, is marketing the estate. It is also one of the very few sites in Holmby Hills offering a view of downtown Los Angeles. A rooftop deck is oriented for these premium views, and the addition of a kitchen and a bar make it ideal for entertaining. “You can have 100 people up there,” Hyland adds. Hilton & Hyland is offering the property at $78 million.

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

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

Style Selector
Select the layout
Choose the theme
Preset colors
No Preset
Select the pattern