Mix cutting edge with timeless, industrial with glamour, ornate with restrained – it’s the 21st century way
Union Jack sofa $8889 and Shiraz Persian rug $1295, both from Mercatini, (09) 529 4200; Barbara Coupe hand-embroidered cushion $155 from Inchmore, (09) 303 3545; Dedon Tribeca coffee table $2080 from Domo Collections, (09) 921 5574; on table: William Yeoward pitcher $333 from Cavit & Co, (09) 358 0771; glass stylist’s own; racehorse picture $90 from French Country Collections, (09) 376 6440.
A well-executed room often contains an eclectic mix of furniture that has been slowly collected over many years. It silently documents changing fashions in interiors as well as our own developing sense of style. It’s this organically amassed and highly personalised collection that gives our homes their unique looks as we pair disparate items – industrial metal chairs with marble-topped tables, slick modern sofas with over-stuffed chairs, junk-shop finds with designer pieces. Marrying items of furniture from opposite ends of the spectrum is a key principle of interior design today. Increasingly, we’re mashing up timeless classics with hard-edged contemporary elements and raw utilitarian objects with high glamour.
Curtains made from Destombes Velours de Fiacre (grey) and Destombes Bolchoi Lézard (green) from Decortex e Famiglia, decortexefamiglia.co.nz; metal cabinet $1794 from McKenzie & Willis, (03) 442 7355; Coupelle sur Pied fruit bowl $316 from Domo Collections, (09) 921 5574; deer $275 a pair from French Country Collections, (09) 376 6440.
RAW & UTILITARIAN
The strongest trend of the season is for furniture with a raw, semi-industrial flavour. If it looks as if it might have been recycled from a school, factory, church or studio, then it fits with today’s utilitarian theme. Clashing materials, such as wood mixed with metal, is a key principle of this style. Halo’s Axel Collection ‒ which includes a coffee table, console and bookcase – has industrial roots and is constructed in steel and wood recycled from decommissioned ships. Decor Import’s Michigan range is made of antique elm in distressed iron frames; castors on the coffee table and shelving unit further underscore the theme. At Domo, Grange’s Architecte Collection’s desk in solid French cherrywood was inspired by an architect’s drawing table.
There’s demand, too, for unadorned, almost naive, wooden elements that seem close to their natural state. Occasional tables made of petrified wood or resembling rough offcuts from the forestry industry are gaining traction in 2011 – as is wood overloaded with natural grains, burls and knots. Christchurch-based Davies Furniture’s Gallery side table is sculpted from a solid macrocarpa block, finished with natural oil, and Cavit & Co’s Ethnicraft collection is made of solid teak, oak and walnut deliberately left free of varnish, paint or wax. We recommend mixing such raw and industrial pieces with their polar opposites. Glamorous items such as gold-leaf cabinets, jewel-coloured velvets and chandeliers will relieve any austerity.
Chateau Brittany chandelier $1157 from Interior Accents, interioraccents.co.nz; Hans Wegner wing chair $12,810 from Corporate Culture, corporateculture.co.nz; felt cushion $104 through May Time Marketing, 0800 629 846; ‘Kepos’ rug $4815 from Designer Rugs, (09) 300 6116.
Ligne Roset Divines Couleurs rug $3125 from Domo Collections, (09) 921 5574; Hans Wegner chair for PP Mobler $2322 and table $8750, both from Corporate Culture, corporateculture.co.nz; wooden tray $59.90 from Corso de’ Fiori, (09) 307 9166; tablecloth stylist’s own.
"Choose a design element – such as shape, motif or colour – and repeat it elsewhere in the room."
Grange 1904 console table $4395 from Domo Collections, (09) 921 5574; Cindy lamps $480 from Kartell, (09) 522 7099.
Every home should contain at least one major element that inspires a second glance and invites discussion about its design and construction. There’s no shortage of such eye-catching pieces this winter. Recently released in New Zealand, Philippe Starck’s innovative Masters chair features a silhouette with “an interweaving hybrid of shapes” and is available in six colours, including sage, mustard and orange. Ligne Roset’s Confluences range of interlocking seating, available at Domo Collections, was inspired by contemporary art and is “a playground of shapes, sizes and colours”. GeorgiGregg has the fantastical Org coffee table with multiple flexible polypropylene legs and a transparent top and at Matisse the witty Multi Leg Cabinet is an otherwise austere cabinet juxtaposed with a selection of mismatched legs.
The trick to incorporating such individual pieces with more conventional items is to make them seem like an intrinsic part of the whole scheme. So choose a design element in the cutting-edge object – such as a shape, motif or distinctive colour – and repeat it elsewhere in the room, perhaps in a fabric or artwork.
Sometimes being of the moment is less about adventurousness and more about restraint and understated principles. Davies Furniture’s Mintaro range in solid American white oak with a natural oil finish has a straightforward and uncomplicated design; their Alto range has a retro edge, featuring American ash construction and cantilevered cabinet boxes. The minimalist Newport bed at Rose & Heather is another stellar example of simple contemporary elegance.
Low-pad chair by Jasper Morrison for Cappellini $2760, Bong side table by Giulio Cappellini for Cappellini $1620 and Barovier & Toso Erfud chandelier $15,530, all from GeorgiGregg Home, (09) 368 7777; Daisy painting $1650 from Mid Century Design, (09) 365 1150; Bud rug $4295 from Designer Rugs, (09) 300 6116; Coupelle sur Pied fruit bowl $316 from Domo Collections, (09) 921 5574.
"Look for finely crafted furniture that draws inspiration from the past."
Betsy kitchen table $1750 from French Country Collections, (09) 376 6440; cup and saucer $54 and rectangular bowls $97 and $44, all through May Time Marketing, 0800 629 846.
Some pieces of furniture stand the test of time. Solid and reassuring, they anchor a room, allowing us to introduce more frivolous fashionable pieces. Look for finely crafted furniture that draws inspiration from the past, such as Halo’s traditional Kensington buttoned three-seater leather sofa. Constructed with 1700 hand-applied nails and a traditional hessian/burlap base, it’s built to take the knocks of family life. A classic sofa emblazoned with the Union Jack is a fresh interpretation of the Cool Britannia movement.
Locally produced pieces will always look and feel apt in Kiwi houses. Furniture made of wood reclaimed from old buildings has intrinsic character and a few nail holes can be evidence of a rich heritage. Consider pairing Philippe Starck’s polycarbonate Louis Ghost chairs with a recycled wooden dining table. Juxtaposing smooth and modern with rustic and aged creates visual and tactile interest.
Davies Furniture has a 50-year history of furniture-making using traditional techniques such as dovetail joints and mitred cabinet bases. Key materials are ancient swamp kauri as well as rimu, totara and oak. Pieces from the Classic Kauri Collection, including pedestal tables and curio cabinets, can be mixed with more streamlined elements such as the Componibili modular storage units, designed in 1969 by Kartell; their compact footprint means they’re useful anywhere in the house, even in the bathroom.
Ligne Roset Bon Thé motif cups and saucers $605 for set of four, side plates $270 for two and dinner plates $310 for two, all from Domo Collections, (09) 921 5574; woven place mats $14 through May Time Marketing, 0800 629 846; Betsy kitchen table $1750 from French Country Collections, (09) 376 6440.
Demand for glamorous pieces is soaring now that we understand how to balance their opulence with more discreet items. Mercatini offers unabashed glamour with furniture by Christopher Guy – a British designer whose name is synonymous with luxury. Baker by Barbara Barry continues to project Hollywood glamour from the 1930s and 40s at Cavit & Co.
Lavishness, gilded accents and regal motifs – such as GeorgiGregg’s throne-like armchairs by Cornelio Cappellini ‒ are all part of the high-glamour story. Matisse represents the Armani Casa brand known for its luxury; see the Diana sofa upholstered in sumptuous gold Rubelli fabric and the limited-edition Aida desk comprised of gilded glass and bronze-coloured leather.
Then there’s the more restrained interpretation of glamour, an art that Le Forge has mastered. The ornate black base of their Christine stool is tempered with ultra-matt black suede upholstery and their curvy Louis-influenced chairs are de-glamorised with understated black linen upholstery – the 21st century way of introducing low-key glamour.
Story: Shelley Bridgeman
Photographs: Belinda Merrie
Stylist: Tracey Strange Watts