Sunday, April 10, 2011

Brilliant Collaborators

I started a new project last week with a designer that I adore but only work with a wee bit, so when she calls, it is always a highlight for me.  

To help me with her vision she lent me Suzanne Rheinstein's new book At Home: A Style for Today with Things from the Past.  If you read other design blogs and the few remaining design mags I am sure you have seen Suzanne's Manhattan pied-à-terre  which flanks the cover of her book and the pages of Elle Decor.  The designer I am working with lent me the book to look at a silver finish for a ceiling that she asked me to work on but of course, I cannot stop looking at this mural, every time it crosses my path:

All Images, Elle Decor

Instantly I was reminded of Zuber Wallpaper!
James Andrew in the Zuber Showroom, New York 
Grisaille “Les Courses de Chevaux” 
However, the scale, depth of the tone-on-tone colors and dimension tell your eyes that this is the hand painted work of a real talent, Bob Christian.  I did some searching and found a podcast of Suzanne on the Skirted Roundtable where she describes Bob as one of her frequent collaborators; she describes him as "genius."  "He doesn't do straies," Suzanne says "you go to him for the special things that make the space."  Their collaborative inspiration for this mural was 18th century sepia toned wall paper.  Since this apartment was once a duplex with lots of angles and weird areas she couldn't hang her art on the walls, and she had to have art.

Bob in his Savannah, GA studio
Bob Christian has been painting and working in the decorative field for 33 years and it shows.  He is widely known for his painted floors which I am sure you have seen as well.  They are so understated and beautiful.  To me, it is often a misconception that quality decorative painting has to be bold.  Bob's work is a perfect example of that.

Elle Decor
Not sure of publication, I think Southern Accents

Bob Christian currently resides in Savannah, GA but  began his studies in decorative painting in New York with John Rosselli.  John is most commonly known for his eponymous antique stores in New York and Washington, DC.  
This is from John Rosselli's bio, you can see why I had to include it: "Originally trained as a decorative painter, John has a special affinity for painted finishes. He feels that the artistry in a painted scene or hand-applied surface creates a connection between the craftsman and owner that elevates a piece of furniture beyond its functional value. The artifact creates a relationship, and through its choosing becomes an element of the new owner’s personal story."

Disclaimer: I often get onto tangents when I research these posts.  I research one topic, and find out some other tid bits(re: John Rosselli, had no idea his first career was decorative painting) that I find interesting even though they are completely unrelated to the topic at hand! 

Some facts about Suzanne Rheinstein and her career:
She was born and raised in New Orleans.  Her mother worked in and eventually became the owner of an antiques store on Joseph Street.  (Does anyone know which one it was?) She was educated at Tulane and received a degree in English Literature.  She started her career in research and journalism.  Her first employer was Hodding Carter, a pulizter prize winning editorial journalist who was a fellow at Tulane at the time.  She later went on to produce documentaries and talk shows in Washington, DC and later in her long time home town of Los Angeles.  She quit her life of journalism when she was seven months pregnant with her daughter and a few years later opened her shop in LA called Hollyhock.  She says it is her love of diligent research and growing up with an antiquarian mother that eventually brought her to design.