Life Is Not Measured By the Number of Breaths We Take,
But By the Moments That Take Our Breath Away
It isn’t often I equate such an emotive quote with design but I came across several pieces of furniture at The Salon: Art + Design fair last Thursday that make the unattributed maxim the perfect jumping-off point for this post. Those of you who follow me know I can certainly grow starry-eyed over exquisiteness but I’m not normally prone to hyperbole so I’d like to know if you have the same reaction to these stunning furnishings as I did.
The Salon Art + Design
Gustave Serrurier-Bovy at Oscar Graf
My first breathless moment was spotting a pair of Saint-Saëns armchairs and matching settee in the Oscar Graf space. The seating sprung from the masterful mind of Belgian architect and furniture designer Gustave Serrurier-Bovy, one of the founders of Art Nouveau. Circa 1905, the furniture is made of mahogany, brass and Loetz glass. In my book, Serrurier-Bovy nailed it with this sexy set, showing his architectural prowess in the detailing. Oh, to have the opportunity to live with these beauties day-in and day-out! The set sold, which means there is indeed some super fortunate person who will have the chance to do just that. Given Serrurier-Bovy’s designs are known as a springboard into Art Nouveau, and he paved the way to modernism and industrial design, this is one historical figure I’d give anything to sit with in a #DesignSalon.
David Wiseman at R & Company
Ethereal light/shadow patterning was at work in several of the gallery spaces this year—one such display was created by David Wiseman’s furniture in the R & Company booth. The artist’s unique bronze and porcelain pieces were so delicately organic I realized I was holding my breath as I stood ogling them. A photograph of the Glacier pendant displayed with the set hasn’t reached me as of post-time, but the fire screen, mirror and table I am featuring here will give you an idea as to why I felt his pieces were so special.
The Collage Column table with its vining bronze twigs and porcelain Cherry blossoms, a unique piece, called The Pillow Book of Sei Shōnagon to mind, as one of my favorite entries is her survey of flowering trees: “As for the cherry, the blossoms should be on slender branches, the petals large and the leaves deeply colored,” she wrote. “Around the time of the new moon at the end of the fourth month or early in the fifth, the sight of the orange tree’s very white blossoms set amongst the deep green of the leaves, seen in early morning rain, is extraordinarily moving. With its brilliant glowing fruit, like balls of gold nestled among the flowers, it’s quite as impressive as a flowering cherry drenched with the dews of dawn.”
Like Shōnagon’s, Wiseman’s point of view is capturing and preserving the fleeting beauty of natural forms, such as blossoming trees, spider webs or glaciers—only in three dimensions rather than with language. He does so with such gracefulness I salute his desire to make tangible what nature would render transitory with his limited editions and unique commissions. You can see the penchant for experimentation the Los Angeles-based artist, a RISD alum, enjoys in the images I’ve posted here. I hope he continues to ad lib because the world of design will be all the better for it.
The young man has been hitting his stride for a few years now with completed commissions for Christian Dior’s flagship stores in Shanghai and New York, and the West Hollywood Library in L.A. His work is privately collected worldwide, of course, and the artist was selected for “Design Life Now,” the 2006 Design Triennial at the Cooper Hewitt. I will add a photograph of the pendant when I receive professional images of it and I promise it will be worth your while to return here to see it.
Maria Wettergren Galerie
I witnessed another remarkable example of ethereal patterns reflecting on surfaces in the Maria Wettergren Galerie space but I have yet to receive photography of the booth. The gallerists are still inundated, as the show continues through tomorrow, November 17th, at 5p.m. I will add the image of the unearthly elements in her space when I have it, as well. Proceeds from tomorrow’s ticket sales benefit the Cooper Hewitt so this is an opportunity to further a good cause that is near and dear to those of us dedicated to covering design. The fair, at the Park Avenue Armory, is open today from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you make it by, let me know if you find something special you’d like to share: I’m particularly looking for exceptional table lamps to feature if you come across any. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest so call me out if you are so inclined.
Text of Breathless Moments at The Salon © Saxon Henry, all rights reserved. Saxon Henry is an author, poet and journalist based in New York City. Books include Anywhere But Here and Stranded on the Road to Promise. She also produces The Diary of an Improvateur and is a columnist on Architizer.