Design on My Mind

Design on My Mind: 12.6.17

It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. When the first candles were created around 3000 B.C., a need consequently arose for how to hold or display them. Single candleholders made of clay have been discovered that date back to 400 B.C.

To move forward a few centuries, form really does follow function, and as time passed and the world became more civilized, people wanted beautiful objects in their homes. Prior to the 1870s, electricity didn’t exist, so everyone relied on candlelight to illuminate their spaces. It was de rigueur to have candles in a candelabra at the dinner table. This custom continues today, only not usually as a daily occurrence.

I want to clear up the misuse of the word candelabra. It’s not the same as a candelabrum. What is the difference, you ask? The Latin origin of the word candelabrum literally means ‘candle tree.’ Generally, a pair of candlesticks, each with multiple arms, is considered a candelabra. If the aperture is alone but still has several arms, it is a candelabrum. A Menorah is a candelabrum. Its precise, straight form makes it distinctive from other varieties.

These decorative pieces can be made of silver, crystal, pottery, porcelain, brass, copper or iron. In the 18th or 19th centuries, silver or crystal candelabras were especially tall, which made them ideal for the dinner table. Guests could talk ‘through’ them and have an unobstructed view of their tablemate. Today, these can be dismantled to create a single candlestick or a candelabrum. Make it a point to get out your candles and have a civilized dinner!

trade secrets: picture frames
It’s that time of year again when we put up holiday decor and make our homes look festive, only to take it down a month later and realize how much we need to freshen our look!

One easy suggestion that will make a noticeable difference is to change the photos in your picture frames. Just like you should replace the batteries in your smoke alarms at the start and end of daylight saving time, you should change your photos after the holiday season each year. You also can move frames from room to room to add interest to tablescapes.

Let’s face it (no pun intended), looking at the same picture year after year can get boring. We all grow up and change our hairstyles—thank goodness—so why shouldn’t we keep up with the times with our photos? I realize some have great sentimental value, especially those of loved ones who have passed. But those among the living need to be refreshed! You can simply put your new photo over the old one so you know right where it is. Your family and friends will be happy to see current photos, and so will you.

design redux: luggage
I love creative people, especially when they repurpose things and give them new life. It really is the ‘greenest’ thing to do.

A while back, I attended the sale preview of Bunny Mellon’s personal property at Christie’s in New York. I was like a kid in a candy store looking at (and even touching occasionally) all of her beautiful furniture, paintings, silver, crystal and luggage. I didn’t purchase anything from her auction, but if I were in a position to bid on an item, it would have been a piece of her Louis Vuitton luggage.

As a young teenager reading Architectural Digest, I always would be struck by the Louis Vuitton luggage ads with the caption: The art of travel. The ad did the trick, as it made me want a piece!

I have always liked the idea of using a piece of luggage for a cocktail table. It’s easy enough to design a smart, iron base to hold up a prized suitcase. What a great conversation piece, especially if it has a profound history, such as one from Bunny’s collection. Think of the cocktail conversation buzzing about all the ports that well-traveled piece had seen. Although you couldn’t let yourself get too depressed knowing an inanimate object has seen more of the world than you! Even if the chosen suitcase didn’t belong to someone as famous as Bunny, I’m sure it carries some secrets and stories.

The luggage table is a practical idea as well, since it offers storage for various items you need to keep close but don’t necessarily want to see. Or, it’s a great place to stash things when company arrives unexpectedly. A win-win no matter the situation!

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