Antiques Blog

Chateau Fontainbleau Burglarized of Priceless Antiques.

15 'priceless' museum objects were stolen in just 7 minutes on March 2 at Chateau Fontainebleau, South of Paris.

15 ‘priceless’ museum objects were stolen in just 7 minutes on March 2 at Chateau Fontainebleau, South of Paris.

Theft of antiques appears to be on the rise. Just this month the fabulous Chateau Fontainebleau, 30 minutes south of Paris, was burglarized of some of the most beautiful and rare antiques in the world.

On March 2, 2015 (in only 7 minutes), fifteen works of Chinese art were stolen according to a report from the BBC.

The objects were housed in the Empress’s Chinese Museum at the palace, located about 50km southeast of Paris.

The spectacular Chateau Fontainebleau.

The spectacular Chateau Fontainebleau.

The stolen artefacts were exhibited in the Chinese wing of the château. They came from China and Siam, known as Thailand today, and were collected by Empress Eugenie, Napoleon’s wife. She had them personally placed in her museum, created in 1863.

Empress Eugenie with her son in 1862, just before the creation of the Chinese Museum in Fontainebleau.

Empress Eugenie with her son in 1862, just before the creation of the Chinese Museum in Fontainebleau.

The chinese museum in Chateau Fontainebleau

The chinese museum in Chateau Fontainebleau

The Chinese wing of the museum is considered to be one of the most secure areas of the palace, equipped with a state of the art security system. “It’s an enormous shock”, said the president of the château de Fontainebleau, Jean-François Hebert, in a statement to AFP “the works stolen were unique and hold an incalculable value.”

Jean Francois Hebert, President of Chateau Fontainebleau

Jean Francois Hebert, President of Chateau Fontainebleau

The Fontainebleau palace is one of the most extraordinary cultural sites in France. With over 1500 works of art displayed in the château and the 130 hectares park and gardens, Fontainebleau is the only royal and imperial palace to have been in use without interruption for seven centuries. Even through the French Revolution and the 2nd WW, the Chateau remained untouched.

Among the items stolen was the replica of a crown the king of Siam gave to Napoleon III in 1861; an enamel piece that dates from the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the 17th century; and a Tibetan mandala. The palace official described them as “priceless.”

The crown of the King of Siam was among one of the priceless pieces stolen.

The replica of the crown of the King of Siam, given to Napoleon in 1863, was among one of the priceless artifacts that were stolen.

“They were among the most beautiful pieces in the museum,” said palace president Jean-Francois Hebert. “We think they (the thieves) were skilled, organized professionals who knew exactly what they were looking for.” the BBC quoted him as saying.

Due to the meticulous execution of this robbery we can only assume the thieves spent months planning this break-in, including a pre-arranged buyer for the stolen goods, a clean getaway, ( a high speed helijet for example ) and a collector who will never resell the items. (Impossible to sell stolen goods in any event ). Due to the searing hot Asian antique market, these goods were probably transported immediately to a collector in Asia where money or ethics is of little concern.

One of the 15 pieces taken from the Museum.

One of the 15 pieces taken from the Museum.

The Chinese Museum will be closed for several months. France’s Ministry of Culture and the police are investigating the case, according to China’s state newswire Xinhua. It’s highly doubtful that these items will ever be recovered. A sad day for the museum community and the world who will never get a chance to see these pieces again.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, B.C. Canada
V5X 2R4

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How a Volcano Contributed to the French Revolution

Marie Antoinette never said those words. In fact she was a great patroness that was genuinely concerned for the welfare of her people.

Many people believe it was Marie Antoinettes’ comment “Let them eat cake” that ignited the French Revolution. In fact the King and Queen may have been responsible in other ways, but Queen Marie never uttered those words. It was a great famine caused by an Icelandic volcano that was a major contributor to the great French Revolution.

We’ve all heard (or even used) the comment “Let them eat cake”. It was a comment purportedly uttered by a callous Queen of France when told of her subjects dying of starvation. Many people believe it was this comment that enraged the people of France and spurred on the discontent that caused the Revolution of France. In fact those words were never uttered by Marie Antoinette. What the Queen did say, out of genuine concern, was “Isn’t there enough bread to feed the people?”.

The Queen was referring to a famine that had hit France and was creating discontent throughout the county. Historians beleive it was this famine that was largely responsible for the French Revolution of 1789. A famine caused by a massive eruption in Iceland. A volcano so dangerous and destructive that its eruption changed the earth’s weather patterns for years causing crops to wither and die. The resulting famine stretched from Iceland to Egypt decimating populations in its wake. It was estimated that tens of thousands of people died during this time making the Laki volcanic eruption one of the deadliest of all time.

The Laki fissure as it's seen today.

The Laki fissure as it’s seen today.

Just over 200 years ago the Icelandic volcano ‘Laki’ erupted with catastrophic consequences for weather, agriculture and transport across the northern hemisphere. Historians believe it was this very eruption helped trigger the French revolution.

The Laki volcanic fissure in southern Iceland erupted over an eight-month period from 8 June 1783 to February 1784, spewing lava and poisonous gases that devastated the island’s agriculture, killing much of the livestock. It is estimated that perhaps a quarter of Iceland’s population died through the ensuing famine.

The Laki volcano in Iceland

The Laki volcano in Iceland

Then, as now, there were more wide-ranging impacts of this eruption. In Norway, the Netherlands, the British Isles, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, in North America and even Egypt, the Laki eruption had its consequences, as the haze of dust and sulphur particles thrown up by the volcano was carried over much of the northern hemisphere.

Ships moored up in many ports, effectively fogbound. Crops were affected as the fall-out from the continuing eruption coincided with an abnormally hot summer and a dramatically cold winter. A clergyman, the Rev Sir John Cullum, wrote to the Royal Society that barley crops “became brown and withered … as did the leaves of the oats; the rye had the appearance of being mildewed”.

A farmer walks on his corn field covered in volcanic ash from Mount Merapi eruption in Muntilan, Central Java, Indonesia, Monday, Nov. 8, 2010.

A farmer walks on his corn field covered in volcanic ash from Mount Merapi eruption in Muntilan, Central Java, Indonesia, Monday, Nov. 8, 2010.

The British naturalist Gilbert White described that summer in his classic Natural History of Selborne as “an amazing and portentous one … the peculiar haze, or smokey fog, that prevailed for many weeks in this island, and in every part of Europe, and even beyond its limits, was a most extraordinary appearance, unlike anything known within the memory of man.

“The sun, at noon, looked as blank as a clouded moon, and shed a rust-coloured ferruginous light on the ground, and floors of rooms; but was particularly lurid and blood-coloured at rising and setting. At the same time the heat was so intense that butchers’ meat could hardly be eaten on the day after it was killed; and the flies swarmed so in the lanes and hedges that they rendered the horses half frantic … the country people began to look with a superstitious awe, at the red, louring aspect of the sun.”

Image of sun through volcanic ash in Iceland.

Image of sun through volcanic ash in Iceland.

Across the Atlantic, Benjamin Franklin wrote of “a constant fog over all Europe, and a great part of North America”.

The disruption to weather patterns meant the ensuing winter was unusually harsh, with consequent spring flooding claiming more lives. In America the Mississippi reportedly froze at New Orleans.

Frozen Mississippi River in 1905

Frozen Mississippi River in 1905

The eruption is now thought to have disrupted the Asian monsoon cycle, prompting famine in India and Egypt. Environmental historians have also pointed to the disruption caused to the economies of northern Europe, where food poverty was a major factor in the build-up to the French revolution of 1789.

Volcanologists at the Open University’s department of earth sciences say the impact of the Laki eruptions had profound consequences.

Dr John Murray said: “Volcanic eruptions can have significant effects on weather patterns for from two to four years, which in turn have social and economic consequences. We shouldn’t discount their possible political impacts even today.”

Thanks for reading!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC. Canada.

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Symmetry, Asymmetry and Radial Symmetry

Symmetry is one of the oldest principles in the design books. As Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing demonstrated, it reflects the human body, with its right and left sides and navel in the center. In his book Symmetry, mathematics professor Marcus du Sautoy writes that our eyes and minds are constantly drawn to anything that embodies symmetry, be it art, architecture, or even music. Needless to say, it’s important to integrate some symmetry into your interior design.

Everyone understands the importance of balance. One lesson that we learn quite quickly from a very young age is that without balance things tend to go sideways. Whether it be learning how to ride your bike, stacking wooden blocks or knowing when to take a break from work to enjoy some leisure time, balance is a constant in our lives. So, how does balance translate into interior design?

The use of symmetry in this gorgeous French salon is obvious from the paired use of everything from the sconces to the chairs, lamps etc.

The use of symmetry in this gorgeous French salon is obvious from the paired use of everything from the sconces to the chairs, lamps etc.

Just as when we are off balance in various aspects of our lives, an unbalanced interior space can be uncomfortable. There are instances when this is the desired effect, but for the majority of spaces one goal is visual balance. This is achieved by distributing the visual weight of objects within a space to achieve a feeling of equilibrium. The size, color, texture, shape of an element can change its visual weight. For example, larger, darker, brighter, highly textured, complexly shaped objects typically feel heavier and require balance through the placement equally “heavy” items or multiple less heavy items. Balance can also be achieved in three ways: symmetrically, asymmetrically and radially.

It's almost impossible to find two matching commodes but these two French Empire 19th Century pieces are so similar that they create symmetry and please the eye.

It’s almost impossible to find two matching commodes but these two French Empire 19th Century pieces are so similar that they create symmetry and please the eye.

Symmetrical Balance
Symmetrical balance is achieved when items are actually repeated or mirrored along a central axis. This type of balance is frequently seen in nature, our own bodies included. Symmetry is common in interior design and can portray a feeling of stability, calmness and dignity; however, can also be seen as static, dull and unimaginative. Symmetry can be achieved through the use of pattern, arrangement of furniture, fixtures and millwork, and through the application of colour.

The only thing that's not symmetrical in this room is the dog. Love the French Bergeres Louis XVI style.

The only thing that’s not symmetrical in this room is the dog. Love the French Bergeres Louis XVI style.

Asymmetrical Balance
Asymmetrical balance relates very strongly to the visual weight of objects. Rather than repeating the same item within a space to achieve balance, in this case we are using different elements with a similar perceived weight to achieve balance on the opposing axis. As stated above, complex shapes often feel heavier and for that reason are commonly used to achieve asymmetrical balance. Asymmetrical interiors tend to feel more dynamic and less rigid because in these spaces a variety of objects types are working together to create balance. This form of balance can be more difficult to achieve it often requires an “eye for design”.

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The assymetry in this room works due to the balance created by the use of the photos and artwork.

The asymmetry in this room works due to the balance created by the use of the photos and artwork.

Again, the best asymmetrical design is that which is balances the room’s visual weight in a creative way. The chair and end table on the left create asymmetry with the other furniture, as does the tree in the back to draw your eye up.

Again, the best asymmetrical design is that which is balances the room’s visual weight in a creative way. The chair and end table on the left create asymmetry with the other furniture, as does the tree in the back to draw your eye up.

Radial Balance
Just as it sounds radial balance is almost circular – distributed arrangement of items around a central point either extending outward or inward. Common examples of radial balance translated to the interior environment include chairs centered around a table, the structure of a circular rotunda, or even a circular lighting fixture. If you wish to create focus on a central item, applying radial balance (so that the your attention is directed inward) is a great way to achieve this.

The boardroom in the image above is an excellent example of radial symmetry. Notice how the focus is on the centre of the table? We also get a real sense of vitality, but in a organized way.

The boardroom in the image above is an excellent example of radial symmetry. Notice how the focus is on the centre of the table? We also get a real sense of vitality, but in a organized way.

Notice how the eye focuses on the middle of this radially symmetrical room.

Notice how the eye focuses on the middle of this radially symmetrical room.

Whether by introducing different textures, colors, forms, or by literally creating symmetry in a space, interior designers often aim to create a feeling of balance. The way we create this balance (asymmetrically, symmetrically, or radially) can have an effect on your own perception and comfort in your living space.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC.

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The Ateliers of High Fashion

Fashion week wrapped up here in Paris about four days ago meaning the plethora of double parked, black suited drivers driving shiny black Mercedes have now disappeared. Gorgeous amazonian ‘gamines’ (emaciated skin and bone models both male and female) running through the streets in high style ( dressed down torn jeans etc ) have also gone, along with bizarrely dressed fashion ‘victimes’ ( aka fashion journalists, photogs, wannabes ). Paris is back to normal, so to speak.

It's not unusual to see people dressed like this scurrying down the streets of Paris during fashion week.

It’s not unusual to see people dressed like this scurrying down the streets of Paris during fashion week.

While the sharing speed of the internet and social media has made the accessibility to the Paris haute couture shows universal, what is doesn’t show is the intricate artistry of the craftspeople behind these distinguished fashion houses, the “Ateliers of High Fashion”. It is their tremendous talent that translates the designers’ visions into runway reality. And it is this combination of the designers’ creativity coupled with the meticulous expertise of these artisans that elevates fashion to an art form. And now, in the beautiful new book ‘Haute Couture Ateliers | The Artisans of Fashion’, you can go behind the scenes to tour the process of transforming designer dreams into exquisite finished creations.

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Many of these ateliers have existed for a century or more and while their numbers have dwindled, their contributions to the world of fashion have not. And that is why Chanel has, since 1997, quietly acquired a handful of these prestigious workshops, under the Paraffection umbrella, to preserve the Old World techniques and skills so essential to haute couture. In the book, you will meet both designers and experts in embroidery, lace, weaving, textiles, pleating, feathers, passementerie, leather, fans, couture costume jewelry and more whose contributions help preserve an artistic heritage, and whose tradition is so linked to history and culture.

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Designer Stéphane Rolland creates sculptural works of art, using these ateliers of decorative arts to provide the drama for his haute couture creations. Above, from his Summer 2013 collection, a long bustier dress in dipped lambskin and cloud grey chiffon features a glass petal plastron. I love how the bodice lends an architectural structure to the feminine fluidity of the skirt.

Stephane Rollands has dressed the likes of Lady Gaga.

Stephane Rollands has dressed the likes of Lady Gaga.

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Wedding dress and lingerie designer Fanny Liautard began her career as an assistant making clothes for Hubert de Givenchy. After positions as a designer for other top fashion houses, she opened her atelier near the Place de la Concorde, working with many artisans to finalize custom creations for her private clients. Above, an amazing circular stole of handmade silk organza flowers tops a powder pink backless chiffon dress.

Fanny Liautard

Fanny Liautard

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Like Christian Dior himself, Raf Simons is a master of his craft. He has revitalized and redefined the Dior label with his modern interpretation of the house’s distinguished history, including his dynamic use of custom hand embroidery. Above, the sewing of fabric flowers with bead centers on tulle with black chain stitch seams. And below, the spectacular finished bustier and coat for the Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2012 collection.

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The embroidery firm of Lanel, founded in 1949, is now headed by artistic director Bernard Perris, who supplies top houses including Chanel, Dior and Valentino. With an enormous archive, they create a wide variety of patterns such as this colorful creation of fuchsia Rhodoid scrolls set with glass stones and sequins to appear on white tulle.

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Broderies Vermont was founded in 1956 and modernized the industry with new techniques such as the chenille effects used by Chanel to edge her tweed suits. Below, a sample of their baroque-style embroidery with acanthus leaves embroiderered in relief in gold thread and colored resin stones on clusters of old gold and bronze beads.

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Like embroidery, lace has been an integral part of fashion for centuries. The rare craft of Leavers lace is produced by the firm of Sophie Hallette in northern France. This complicated and time intensive textile can provide a wide range of product limited only by the designer’s imagination. This fascinating chapter shows the many steps involved resulting in creations such as Oscar Carvallo’s amazing gown below, from his winter 2013 collection, of Sophie Hallette lace, embroidered with copper beads, tulle flounces and appliqué leather peacock feathers on the bodice.

Oscar Carvallo featured in this photo is responsible for creating this fabulous dress below.

Oscar Carvallo featured in this photo is responsible for creating this fabulous dress below.

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Feathers have played an important part in fashion since pre-Columbian cultures. Often thought to be imbued with magical powers, they have symbolized health, prosperity and healing. Travel, and the discovery of new species of birds with prodigious plumage inspired works of art, fashion and tastemakers, including Marie Antoinette who incorporated them into her elaborate trend-setting coiffures. Featherwork has since been used widely in Parisian haute couture. In fact, the book shares that at the beginning of the 20th century, there were over 800 feather workshops in Paris, which has sadly dwindled down to four today including Nelly Saunier, who has worked with many of the top houses including Jean Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Nina Ricci and others. Below, one of her design notebooks shows a list of materials, colors and dye references, along with feather samples.

Nelly Saunier has worked with many of the top houses including Jean Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Nina Ricci and others

Nelly Saunier has worked with many of the top houses including Jean Paul Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Nina Ricci and others

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Below is an extravagant wrap dress by Jean Paul Gaultier for the spring-summer 2005 collection with dyed ostrich feather trim that Nelly coordinated with the fabric.

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Artificial flowers used in haute couture can be fashioned from such materials as silk, organza, taffeta, velvet, lace, muslin, leather or Rhodoid. With romantic allusions and endless symbolism, these adornments “conjure memories of long-forgotten scents, a nostalgic reminder of their ephemeral nature.” The family of Bruno Legeron has been supplying artificial flowers to haute couture and luxury prêt-à-porter houses for over a century. Below, a cape dress by Stéphane Rolland in sand-colored muslin and jersey is embroidered with burnt ostrich feather flowers.

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And below, a drawer of handmade camellias, assembled petal by petal. Each different style is recorded and kept in the archives.

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This is merely a peek into Hélèle Farnault’s fascinating tome of haute couture crafts. From workshop insights to glorious couture gowns, this is a beautiful book to inspire and inform. If you’re at all into the craft and glamour of Haute Couture this is a must have for your library.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC
V5X 2R4

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How to Mix Wood Tones

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It is good news that the days of matching dining and bedroom sets is long gone, but many people are still afraid to mix multiple wood finishes in a single room. Don’t be. Allowing various wood tones to coexist, just like the many types of trees in a single forest, can create a more interesting and textured look. Here are some guidelines for successfully mixing it up without letting it get so out of hand that you feel like tossing your mismatched wood grains into a pile and lighting a fire.

Pick a dominant wood tone

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The easiest way to pick a dominant wood tone is by choosing your floors. (If you are a renter and your floors have chosen you, work with what you have because the floor will set the tone for the rest of the room.)

The kind of wood finish you choose for your floor is a matter of personal taste and budget. Do you like dark-stained matte floorboards? Honey-toned oak with a glossy finish? Blond maple? Pickled oak with an aged whitewashed look? A new finish can radically change the feeling of a room, but it’s also a major investment, so pick something that you feel comfortable living with for years to come.

If you have concrete, rubber, or carpeted floors, choose a wood tone for larger furniture pieces as a starting point and add more tones as desired.

Pair similar (but not matching) tones

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Medium-toned woods that don’t match but complement one another create a harmonious look. You can also use natural or unfinished woods to craft an organic and rustic feeling. Whitewashed elements add an airy effect, while dark-stained furniture lends contrast and a sense of groundedness. Incorporating too much of the same wood tone results in a static feeling, making it hard for individual pieces to stand out.

Limit your wood tones to two or three to start

The French love pairing white dining French chairs like the one above with a mahogany dining table. You can see from this small example of how interesting the white and mahogany contrast works. We've been advocating the mix for years!

The French love pairing white dining French chairs (like the one above) with a red or brown mahogany dining table. You can see from this small example of how interesting the contrast looks. We’ve been advocating the mix for years!

Limit your mix to two or three wood tones in the beginning, and try to balance them throughout the space for a harmonious look. Once you have your anchor pieces in place, you can experiment by swapping out a walnut coffee table for a distressed-wood piece or adding a driftwood lamp or a bamboo pendant light for another layer of interest. In a kitchen with a wooden floor, you might combine maple cabinets with rustic pine floors or glossy oak floors with a matte walnut island. If the tones of a chair, table, sideboard, or trunk don’t work in your space, consider painting the piece for a more neutral effect.

 

We love the look of the Victorian mahogany chairs paired with a simple farm table. Nothing fussy or boring about this room.

We love the look of the Victorian mahogany chairs paired with a simple farm table. Nothing fussy or boring about this room.

If your gorgeous antique mahogany table looks too harsh on your new bamboo floor, use a rug to create a landing pad and a smoother transition. The same is true when you want to lend the room a sense of contrast or help set off the lines of furnishings that might be lost against the backdrop of a similarly toned wood floor.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC.

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Mixing Antiques with Modern

After living in Historic character homes all my life, I’ve often thought I might like to trade it all in for the super sleek modern look. But which is better, an old house, or a new one?

The answer: Both.

While I’m a huge fan of the character, craftsmanship and ghost stories inherent in historic homes, I also love the energy efficiency, reliable electrical systems, contemporary finishes and the fresh-start-feeling of new construction. Hand-forged nails vs. tankless water heater? Toss-up.

I love a modern house as long as it's not 'cookie cutter'!

I love a modern house as long as it’s not ‘cookie cutter’

Whether a home is 100 years or 100 days old, it looks and lives better when furnished with something old and something new, mixing antiques with modern.

Old houses need some contemporary moves to bring them out of the dusty past. And new houses need a few antiques to give them a foothold in time.

Interior designer, Betty Lou Phillips, whose book, “The French Way with Design” (Gibbs Smith, 2014) is full of wonderful ideas that can help you achieve a look that’s interesting and modern no matter what style of house you have.

“A new look is emerging, for sure.” states Ms. Phillips “It’s is a mix of old-world European and mid-century modern.”

This great antique cabinet gives this contemporary interior a warm interesting look.

This great antique cabinet gives this contemporary interior a warm interesting look.

“Just a decade ago, designers were sticklers and believed architecture should dictate décor choice,” she said. “We were far more loyal to a look. But no more,” said Phillips. Her new book capturing the mixed-era trend is the 13th installment in her series of French and Italian design books.

This photo illustrates beautifully how the character of antiques contrast wonderfully with the sleek modern lines of this room.

This photo illustrates beautifully how the character of antiques contrast wonderfully with the sleek modern lines of this room.

“More people are moving forward while looking back,” said Phillips. “If they have a few lovely old pieces, rather than ushering them to the curb, they are putting them with contemporary furnishings.”

In other words, designers have realized that too much of one thing is old and tired. They’ve realized that all the generations can get along.

This French 'Renaissance Revival' bookcase looks amazing in this modern construction.

This French ‘Renaissance Revival‘ bookcase looks amazing in this modern construction.

Here are some of the design trends Betty Lou Phillips is seeing after spending 15 years writing books about French and Italian decor.

1. Mixing it up.

“We are definitely mixing more midcentury modern with fine antiques. We’re seeing just how well the different eras work together. Social media has given DIY decorators a lot more confidence and made consumers more open-minded,” she says.

This beautiful French 'Lit de Repose' and 'Medievel style chair' look sublime in this modern setting.

This beautiful French ‘Lit de Repose’ and ‘Medievel style chair’ look sublime in this modern setting.

2. Antiques unleashed.

The trend of the younger French abandoning their large farmhouses for the suburbs means they’re living smaller, but still well. That gentrification has not only unleashed a lot of French furniture onto the market, but also allowed antiques to break free of their formal associations, said Phillips. They are getting mixed with modern pieces in smaller contemporary settings. The shakeup has resulted in a whole new look that has found its way across the Atlantic.

Here's the proof in photos how wonderful a 19th Century Henri II French Antique Buffet hutch works in a brand new kitchen. Our friend and client Helen Angus did this very thing to her beautiful house on the beach about 5 years ago.

Here’s the proof in photos how wonderful a 19th Century Henri II French Antique Buffet hutch works in a brand new kitchen. Our friend and client Helen Angus did this very thing to her beautiful house on the beach about 5 years ago.

3. Americans in Paris.

American mid-century style is affecting French style, too. For a long while, the French ignored modern furniture. “They were shunning any reminders of the war and the occupation of France,” said Phillips. “But now they are welcoming it and mixing it (with) their heirloom pieces.”

We loved this classic French  antique farm table in this contemporary setting in Spain.

We loved this classic French antique farm table in this contemporary setting in Spain.

4. Easier to say than do.

As with haute cuisine, when you’re mixing older period and modern furnishings, the proportions and ingredients have to be just right. If your home has mostly modern pieces, make your next piece an antique. If your home tends toward Old-World European, injecting something modern, such as a clean-lined, solid-color sofa, will give it a refresh.

This rare Napoleon III display cabinet looks stunning and provides a stark contrast to the neutrals in this room.

This rare Napoleon III display cabinet looks stunning and provides a stark contrast to the neutrals in this room.

5. Easier on the pocket.

Want to get a great look for less? Mix a few, nicer-quality heirloom pieces, which go a long way toward establishing a feeling of heritage and quality, with contemporary items, which tend to be more affordable.

6. Start with art.

Art offers a great way to blend eras. If your home is all modern, old oil paintings can add a regal note of the past. If your house has mostly older furnishings and antiques, a contemporary painting can make a big splash. “People are loving the flashes of color, whether they understand what’s going on in the paintings or not,” said Phillips. “Even in our designs, our clients will say, ‘I don’t get it, but I love it.’ ”

Look how wonderful this modern art looks when paired with a pair of 19th Century Louis Philippe Armchairs.

Look how wonderful this modern art looks when paired with a pair of 19th Century Louis Philippe Armchairs.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver BC

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Decorating Mistakes To Avoid

I learned a lot about colour and design as a design student at the Parsons School of Design in New York. At the Antique Warehouse we’re always working with designers and decorators (both local and international) on creating that ‘look’ that everyone’s after.

While I’m not a trained designer I’ve developed an eye after being in so many beautiful spaces, both here and abroad. However, I always like to consult with interior decorators/designers when it comes to choosing interior colors, fabrics or tiles for my own personal home. I know what I like and need someone professional to tell me how to achieve it. I suggest you do the same if you’re at all unsure about what you’re doing. It can save costly mistakes and a lot of headaches.

The following ‘decorating mistakes to avoid’ were published on the About Home website that I thought were worth mentioning. Some are obvious and some are not. But it’s amazing how many homes we go into and see the mistakes outlined below. The client knows something’s up but just can’t figure out what it is. Even the simple task of re arranging furniture can have an spectacular effect and it costs nothing. I can’t tell you how many of our friends and clients have been amazed at what a simple re arrangement of furniture can do.

I’ve edited the following article with my own comments and added photos to give examples. In the original ‘About Home’ copy no photos existed. I always love to see photos in an article.

Too Many Pillows

Pillows are meant to add comfort. When there are so many on a sofa that you can barely sit down it’s far too many. Try to limit accent pillows on a sofa to two or three.

How can anyone sit on this sofa without throwing all these pillows on the floor?

How can anyone sit on this sofa without throwing all these pillows on the floor first?

Having More than One Focal Point

Whenever possible limit your focal points to one per room. Sometimes the architecture of the room makes it impossible, but multiple focal points can make a room feel disjointed and leaves the eye without a place to rest.

The focal point in this undeniably French salon is the French crystal chandelier according to the designer. In my opinion I would think it would be the firesurround.

The focal point in this undeniably French salon is the French crystal chandelier according to the designer. The room is so gorgeous that I doubt a single focal point makes much difference.

Not Testing Your Paint Color

Always test a sample of your wall color before committing. Paint colors can vary drastically depending on the amount of light in the room and the way natural light travels over the course of the day. Paint a sample square on the wall and leave it at least 24 hours before making a final decision.

Always test your color and in different lights too. A color will change depending on where in the room it's placed and what time of day it is.

Always test your color and in different lights too. A color will change depending on where in the room it’s placed and what time of day it is.

Buying Cheap Furniture

It can be tempting to buy inexpensive furniture for obvious reasons, but what you save in dollars you often pay for in quality. When it comes to important pieces of furniture always buy the best you can afford. (The exception to this rule is with trends – never spend too much on a trendy piece as you’ll likely tire of it sooner rather than later.) This is why I always advocate going for the classics which French furniture provide.

If you can’t afford expensive antiques, vintage furniture is just as good, because even if it is cheaper, the quality can outdo anything newly produced. Always look for details like carving, breaks, repairs, and dovetail joinery in anything you buy, used or new.

This lovely commode has all the hallmarks of a superior piece of furniture. Beautifully detailed inlay, exquisite bronze mounts and details with intricate carving, and beautifully proportioned. Some reproductions will look 'off'.

This lovely commode has all the hallmarks of a superior piece of furniture. Beautifully detailed inlay, exquisite bronze mounts and details with intricate carving, and beautifully proportioned.

Making Purchases Based on ROI

When you’re buying or renovating a home it’s important to think about return on investment, but not so much when decorating. Don’t buy a piece because you think it will eventually increase in value. There are no guarantees, even with costly antiques, so only buy items you love – if they go up in value later consider it a bonus.

It’s important to be honest with yourself when decorating. If you like cuddle with the pets, put your feet up, or eat dinner while sitting on the sofa it stands to reason that you should have one that’s durable, stain resistant and comfortable. This goes for everything in the room. Don’t try to live in a room that doesn’t suit your lifestyle.

Snuggling with a pet, especially one that sheds, can dirty up a sofa in no time flat. I never buy white because I love my dog but also my sanity.

Snuggling with a pet, especially one that sheds, can dirty up a sofa in no time flat. I never buy white because I love my dog but also my sanity.

Too Many Big Plants

Plants are important, and every room should have a couple. However don’t overdo it and get plants that are going to grow so much they overtake the space. Find smaller versions that will compliment the room and accessorize with them accordingly.

Too many plants looks to 1970's 'Hippie'. Remember the crocheted hanging plant holders?

Too many plants looks too 1970’s ‘Hippie’. Remember the crocheted hanging plant holders?

Being Too Monochromatic

Decorating in a single color can be boring. If you want to keep things neutral choose different shades of color to add interest and sophisticaion.

White on white looks boring in my opinion.

White on white looks boring.

Too Many Wood Tones

While it’s good to have some variety in wood tones in a given room, you’ll want to make sure not to use too many. Mixing woods with orange undertones and those with red can be jarring. Try to keep them all in the same color family but use different varieties.

Allowing various wood tones to coexist, just like the many types of trees in a single forest, can create a more interesting and textured look. Some guidelines for successfully mixing it up will be discussed in a later blog.

Mixing too many wood tones in a room can be jarring. Woods in similar tones look elegant and chic.

Mixing too many wood tones in a room can be jarring. Woods in similar tones look elegant and chic.

Too Many Large Personal Photos

If you like to have personal photos on display, by all means go for it. But extra large engagement, pregnancy, or family portraits can be overwhelming and make guests uncomfortable. Instead of a large portrait consider a photo wall of smaller pictures. You can still be surrounded by photos of loved ones, just in a more stylish and less intrusive way.

Too Many Patterns

Patterns are great but too many can be distracting and look confusing to the eye. When you’re decorating with patterns try to follow some of these rules.

Too many patterns in a room can look cluttered or busy.

Too many patterns in a room can look cluttered or busy.

Using Furniture Covers to Avoid Stains

Everyone hates stains, but if you live in a home where it’s likely to happen it’s better to have furniture that is stain resistant or can easily be washed than covering them up with ugly old throws or canvas covers.

Decorating Too Quickly

A comfortable and inviting room can’t be created in a day. Take time to decide what you want, search out the right things, and don’t make rush decisions. A room will naturally evolve over time so don’t try to hurry and finish it all at once. Chances are you’ll be disappointed with the results.

Treating Every Room as a Separate Unit

A house or an apartment is a whole unit comprised of different rooms. Those rooms (while they don’t need to look alike) should relate to each other. Try to coordinate styles and colors to a certain extent so your home doesn’t feel choppy and disjointed.

Inadequate Lighting

Lighting is arguably the most important element in any room. Make sure you have the appropriate mix of ambient, tasks and accent, and be sure to place lights at different levels throughout your room.

This room is only lit by natural light leaving it dull and uninteresting.

This room is only lit by natural light leaving it dull and uninteresting.

Furniture Scale

One of the biggest mistakes in a room is using furniture that’s far too large for the space. Sofa’s are usually the biggest culprit making the room look cramped.

This sectional is completely wrong for this space. The room looks cramped and uncomfortable

This sectional sofa is completely wrong for this space.

Don’t be afraid to Mix Styles

Many people think because their home or apartment is new and modern, that only modern furniture will look appropriate in the space. Nothing could be further from the truth. The photo below shows just how great the mix of antique and modern look together.

This modern dining room looks interesting with a mix of a 19th Century French sideboard, a 19th Century Empire armchair paired with a Parsons table and modern chairs. Nothing tired looking about this space.

This modern dining room looks interesting with a mix of a 19th Century French sideboard, a 19th Century Empire armchair paired with a Parsons table and modern chairs. Nothing tired looking about this space.

At the Antique Warehouse our own in house designer and consultant, Jason Young, can help you out with a multitude of tasks from choosing the right antique to selecting an appropriate wall color. He’s very talented and has helped many of our clients.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC.

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The Ceremonial Cradle of the Duke of Bordeaux

Last Sunday, Larry and I decided to take a tour of the Museum of the Decorative Arts located directly adjacent to the Louvre Museum. We’d heard there was a fabulous display of furniture dating from the middle ages through the present day. Of course, we couldn’t wait to have a look.

I will be showing photos from our tour in upcoming blogs, but one of the highlights of our tour was the room that houses ‘The Ceremonial Cradle of the Duke of Bordeaux’ built in the early 1800’s by one of the finest furniture makers of the time.

Seven months after her husbands’ assassination in 1820, the Duchess of Berry gave birth to a son, the Duke of Bordeaux and future Count of Chambord. The cradle of this ‘miracle child’ was made by famed cabinetmaker of the time, Felix Remond. It was veneered with burred elm, figured ash, inlaid with amaranth and decorated with gold gilt bronzes. It allegories and symbols were carefully chosen.

 

Marie-Caroline, The Duchess of Berry

Marie-Caroline, The Duchess of Berry

The cradles overall design is that of an angel of sorts, holding up a horn of plenty overflowing the Frances’ riches to the heavens: fruit, vegetables and fleur-de-lis, emblem of the French monarchy. The heir to the throne’s ‘boat’ symbolises the regimes’ political stability after the turmoil of the Napoleonic era. Medallions depicting the sciences and arts illustrate the benefits of thie newfound prosperity.

 

Exhibition of Products of Industry in 1927

The boat bed won a prize at the Exhibition of Products of Industry in 1927. There is not a single straight line in it’s ship-like structure.

This fabulous ceremonial cradle is located in the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in the 19th Century pavillion in the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. The Museum of Decorative Arts has one of the largest and finest collections in the world: 150,000 works dating from the Middle Ages to the present day and covering every field of the decorative arts – furniture, precious metalwork, ceramics, glass, jewelrey, wallpaper. It also includes drawings, toys and an exceptional donation of paintings, drawings and toys.

 

The Museum of the Decorative Arts on Rue Rivoli next to the Louvre.

The Museum of the Decorative Arts on Rue Rivoli next to the Louvre.

We enjoyed the tour of this fabulous museum and highly recommend it anyone who loves furniture, porcelains, and art. The other side of the museum boasts one of the best collections of fashion anywhere.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

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Flea Markets in Vancouver for Antiques?

 

Marche aux Puces in Paris

We visit the Marche aux Puces in Paris, but not many in the Vancouver, area.

Many people ask us if we ever do the flea markets in Vancouver to source any of our furniture. The answer is no. Not because we don’t like flea markets or think we wouldn’t find anything, but it’s always been our focus to import our products from France and other parts of Europe. We love the uniqueness and the quality that European antiques are famous for. And our clients seem to love them too!

 

19th Century Italian farm table

The likelihood of finding a 19th Century Italian farm table like this at a Vancouver Flea market is remote.

Flea markets are usually independent people or dealers that deal mainly with ‘smalls’ as we in the trade call them. That means china, glassware, and other collectibles. The odd dealer will haul a big piece of furniture but it’s difficult and for a ‘day’ it’s hardly worth the effort.

However, if you like flea markets they can be a fun way to spend the afternoon perusing through the myriad of tables and displays. You’ll never know what you’ll come across.

I’ve put together a list of local flea and farmer’s markets in the Vancouver area. The list was gleaned from the bcfleamarkets.com website. Some I’ve attended and some I’ve not. I love farmer’s markets particularly! There is a very good one out in the Ladner area that takes place in the summer on alternating weekends. Great produce and interesting vendors.

21st Century Flea Market – The flea markets and Retro/Antiques Fairs are all held at the Croatian Cultural Centre and the two Kerrisdale Antiques Fairs are at the Kerrisdale Arena in Vancouver.

General Admission $5 at Door 10am-3pm, Special Early-Bird Admission $20 at Door 7am-10am Children Under 13 Free with Adult Free Parking Snack Bar ATM. Phone (604) 980 3159 for more information or visit their web site at http://www.21cpromotions.com/index.html. “We are a European-style collectors market, specializing in collectibles, antiques, retro, vintage and the like, rather than new or craft-type merchandise” says Renee Lafontaine of 21st Century Promotions.

 

Vancouver Flea Markets - Croatian Cultural Centre

The 21st Century Flea Market by 21st. C. Productions takes place at both the Croation Center and the Kerrisdale Arena.

2015 Dates:

Sunday, January 18, 2015 – 21st Century Flea Market

Sunday, February 22, 2015 – Retro Design & Antiques Fair

Sunday, March 22, 2015 – 21st Century Flea Market

Sat & Sun – April 18 & 19, 2015 – Kerrisdale Antiques Fair

Sunday, May 24, 2015 – 21st Century Flea Market

Sunday, June 28, 2015 – Retro Design & Antiques Fair

Sunday, July 26, 2015 – 21st Century Flea Market

Sat & Sun – Sep 5 & 6, 2015 – 21st Century Flea Market

Sunday, October 18, 2015 – Retro Design & Antiques Fair

Sunday, November 15, 2015 – 21st Century Flea Market

Sunday, December 6, 2015 – Retro Design & Antiques Fair

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Gates open every Sunday 7:am to 3:00 pm. Table cost: $15.00 inside the hall and on the patio. Parking lot space $20.00 each. Tables are available for rent at $5.00 each. Admission: $1.00, children under 10 years are free.

Reservation required for inside and outside space. To reserve call Gary Johal @ 604-580-8444 office.

Aldergrove Flea Market – This is a new outdoor only market for 2013. It is at the corner of 264th Street and the Fraser Highway in Aldergrove, B.C. It is outside on blacktop. You can find most anything there. There is a very large tool vendor there and others who handle most everything else. It current runs Saturday and Sunday from 8:00am to approx. 3:00pm depending on customers. No one will likely be there on rainy days. but it’s a lot of fun. There are restaurants nearby. You can take in the large Cloverdale flea market on the way there or back. Spots to sell are $10 per parking stall. You must supply your own tables. Best times are sunny or non rainy days from April 01-Sept 30. There will be some vendors there earlier and later that this if the weather is good.See you there.

 

Vancouver Flea Markets - Aldergrove

The Aldergrove flea market is a fun way to spend a warm sunny summer afternoon.

Chinatown Public Market Weekend evenings (Friday to Sunday from 6:30 to 11:30) Keefer and Pender Streets become an open-air public market.

Cloverdale Flea Market – Update April 24 – New at this point is the return of our nurseries. For the next several Sundays, we will be filled with plant vendors. The plant people carry everything from bedding plants, hanging baskets, shrubs, perennials, annuals, flowers, succulents, etc… the list goes on! Definitely the best deals in the lower mainland!

The hours, 6:00 AM – 4:00 PM every Sunday with very few exceptions, remain the same. It is located in the Cloverdale Fairgrounds with entrances at 176th & 62nd Ave. and 176th and 60th Ave., Surrey. Admission is $1.50, children under 12 are free.

Please contact Andy Janes at 604-837-1676 or email at [email protected] Website, www.cloverdalemarket.ca.

The Eastside Flea – The Food Cart Fest ends on Sept 22, and the Eastside Flea is on-going monthly at the Wise Hall. We would like to invite you all to join us at the Wise Hall this fall, every 3rd Saturday of the month, for a day of wonders, treasures, charm, and good company! The Eastside Flea is a fresh new monthly flea market in East Vancouver featuring a diverse array of vendors from handmade goods, vintage clothing & antiques, art, craftsmen items, garage sale, and more! Admission into the market is by donation, and is all ages! Please bring the family, friends, anyone you know… we’ll have something for everyone!! This is a community-oriented event, and we would like to encourage all types of vendors to participate, from people with extra knick-knacks around the house to local businesses.
**VENDOR INQUIRIES**
If you are interested in becoming a vendor at the Eastside Flea, or want more info, please send us an email at [email protected]

 

Vancouver Flea Markets - East Side Christmas Market

The east side flea market Christmas market.

East Vancouver Farmers Market has a number of markets in the Vancouver area and it stakes its claim as the only “true Farmers Market” in the heart of the city. Buy directly from farmers and other local producers. For more info, call (604) 879-FARM (3276) web site link http://eatlocal.org and look under ‘Markets’.

Fall Market Place Montage a Fall Artisan Market to be held @ the O.P Hall 1577 128th Street, South Surrey. One day only! Saturday, October 11th, 2014 10:00 a.m. ± 4:00 p.m. An eclectic mix of tasteful home and personal accessories from a variety of talented artists and artisans. If you are an artist looking to display and sell your works, contact me, Cathie, right away.

Leather Goods Woodworking
Sterling Silver Jewellery Handmade Soap
Original Paintings Photography
Up-cycled Furniture Knitted Goods
Collectibles Vintage Inspired Jewellery
Flowers for your Thanksgiving Table Fall Comfort Food
Admission by Donation and Concession (Admission and Concession proceeds will be donated to The Canadian Woman’s Foundation and BC Guide Dogs) Contact Cathie Stonier for more information.

Kennedy Flea Market **New Owner** March 2014
8870 120 St, Surrey, BC V3V 4B4
Contact: Lucky Ph. # 778-709-5872

Kerrisdale Village Farmers Market Saturdays, July 7 – October 6 10am – 2pm each week East Boulevard between 37th and 41st Avenue – near Kerrisdale Arena INTERACTIVE MARKET MAP

Kitsilano Farmers Market Sundays, May 20 – October 21 10am – 2pm each week 2690 Larch Street at 10th Avenue, Parking Lot of Kitsilano Community Centre INTERACTIVE MARKET MAP

Main Street Station at Thornton Park Wednesdays, June 6 – October 3
3pm – 7pm 1100 Block Station Street along Thornton Park across from the VIA Rail Station and near the Main St Skytrain Station INTERACTIVE MARKET MAP

North Shore Green Markets – Has a variety of markets each week with the SHOWCASE being the Friday Night market 5pm – 10pm June 15th – Oct 26th, 2012 Shipbuilders Plaza 138 Victory Ship Way, North Vancouver. It features 4-6 different local musicians, dancers and performers each and every Friday night along with up to 70 local artisans, vendors and unique gourmet food trucks.
The market location is on the pier, to the east of Lonsdale Quay and is perfectly situated along the new and future Spirit Trail. The Pier development neighbours over 10 residential towers, Lonsdale Quay, restaurants, the Seabus and many other businesses. The location will make this event a perfect destination to bike, walk, rollerblade or hop the bus or Seabus and relax at the Pier take in the sights, sunsets, shop, eat and be entertained.

Their web site is: http://www.canamade.com/green_markets.htm and the contact is Ingrid, 778-995-9461 | [email protected]

 

The North Shore Green Market

The North Shore Green Market

Otakara Hakkutsu (Treasure Hunt) Market at Japanese cultural centre! Date & Time: Every March. Location: Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre, 6688 Southoaks Cres., Burnaby (Kingsway & Sperling Ave).
“One’s Garakuta (junk) is another’s Otakara (treasure).” Over 40 tables selling Japanese items, dishes, clothes, small appliances, toys, books etc. Find treasures! Join the many scavengers!

Open free to the public, free underground parking. Tables are available at $25 each. For more info: www.nikkeiplace.org or call 604.777.7000

Royal Canadian Legion Branch 118 – Cost is $20 per table – come join the fun, make some money and clear out some stuff! For information please stop by the branch or call 604 985 1115 Royal Canadian Legion Branch 118 123 West 15th Street (@ Lonsdale) North Vancouver.

Star of the Sea Catholic Church hall – markets are held the first sat. of Sept.4, Oct 2, Nov. 6, Dec 4. Some tables are available for rent. Please call Phil@ 604 536 5411.

Trout Lake Farmers Market Saturdays, May 12 – October 20 9am – 2pm each week North Parking Lot of John Hendry Park at Trout Lake Between Templeton and Lakewood south of the 13th Avenue Alley Please note: There is no parking in the North Lot and no parking on 13th Avenue. Please park away from the area & walk in. INTERACTIVE MARKET MAP

The Twilight Drive In Theatre Swap Meet – Every Sunday, gates open at 7AM & close at 4pm weather permitting mid April to mid October. Admission Sellers: $15, Buyers: $1, 260th St. & Fraser Highway, Langley, BC. For more information call 604-856-5165 or go to www.twilightdrivein.net. Sellers are welcome all day, no reservations required.

UCWLC Branch & St. Mary’s Parish – Saturday, May 25, 2013 9:30 – 2:30 Great stuff new & used Lunch available Gently used articles No clothing Tables: $25 Contacts: Olga 604-274-9804; Mary 604-271-1131; Marlayne 604-274-3164 ** St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Centre, 3150 Ash Street, (16th Ave. & Ash Street, Vancouver) Sunday, February 22, 2015 – Benefit Concert by S.K.A.Y.
Location – 550 West 14th Ave Vancouver BC (St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Centre)
Time – 7 PM.
S.K.A.Y. band can fairly be called one of the most popular rock bands in Ukrainian show business. They will perform at the St. Mary’s Ukrainian Catholic Centre with all proceeds going to support wounded Ukrainian soldiers and their families.
Tickets $40 ($45 at the door).
Call 604-336-0887 or e-mail [email protected] for tickets and more details.

 

SKAY Concert Performance

SKAY will be performing a concert in support of the Ukrainian soldiers during the crises in the Ukraine.

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Vancouver Flea Market – 703 Terminal Avenue, Vancouver. The Vancouver Flea market – 360 tables Open EVERY weekend of the year Admission $1.00 Tables $25 We sell everything you can imagine. From Antique and collectibles to gold and silver jewellery. http://www.vancouverfleamarket.com We now take consignment info 604-685-8843 Call (604) 685-0666 | 2014 Show Dates: Sun Jan 12, Sun Mar 9, Sun June 29, Sun Sept 14, Sun Nov 9 – Be sure and look for them!

 

The Vancouver Flea Market is located at Terminal and Main St.

The Vancouver Flea Market is located at Terminal and Main St.

West End Farmers Market Saturdays, June 2 – October 20 9am – 2pm each week 1100 Block of Comox Street across from Nelson Park at Mole Hill INTERACTIVE MARKET MAP

Vancouver’s Winter Farmers Market at Nat Bailey Stadium – Every Saturday, 10am – 2pm (closed December 24 & 31) Location: 30th and Ontario Street in the East Parking lot and Plaza of Nat Bailey Stadium. No access to 30th Avenue from King Edward on Ontario Street. There is no access to 30th Avenue when travelling south on Ontario Street.

You can always consider visiting the Antique Warehouse for a semblance of a trip to a flea market in Europe. We have over 12,000 sq. ft. of furniture and collectibles imported from France, Italy, Belgium and England. Our visitors and clients tell us they love to spend an afternoon just ambling through our store looking ( and buying ) some of the most beautiful things in the city.

If antiques are your thing then pay us a visit soon.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC
Canada

Visit our website

Mardi Gras!

Mardi Gras comes and goes with little fanfare or even as much as a whisper in Vancouver. However, in other parts of the world it’s quite a different matter. In fact, Mardi Gras is officially tomorrow, February 17 on the Christian calendar and it signifies the beginning of Lent.

Some of the largest most colorful celebrations occur in Rio De Janiero, Venice, and New Orleans. Mardi Gras is also observed in Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Colombia, Sydney, Netherlands and even in Quebec City, Canada where it’s officially called the Winter Carnaval with Quebecers rolling around in bathing suits in the snow. (In -20C. that’s courageous!)

Venice Mardi Gras celebrations.

Some of the most fabulous and elaborate costumes are seen at the Venice Mardi Gras celebrations.

Mardi Gras also Fat Tuesday in English, refers to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after the Epiphany or King’s Day and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.

Related popular practices are associated with celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. The date of Fat Tuesday coincides with that of celebrations of Shrove Tuesday, from the word shrive, meaning “confess”.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Mardi Gras in New Orleans proceeding down Bourbon Street.

The carnival season in France has a long history, with its oldest origins tied to ancient Rome, where a circus-type festival took place. The event, known as Lupercalia, honored the Roman deity Lupercus and is similar in many ways to today’s Mardi Gras celebrations. When Christianity was introduced in Rome, certain aspects of those ancient rituals were incorporated into the new religion, allowing Christians a time of feasting, revelry, and abandonment prior to the 40 days of Lent.

Mardi Gras Origins

A popular theory holds that Mardi Gras’ origins lie in ancient pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, such as Saturnalia and Lupercalia. Some experts contend, however, that Mardi Gras-type festivities popped up solely as a result of the Catholic Church’s discouragement of sex and meat during Lent. Church reformers may have helped to propagate the pagan rumors, these experts say, in the hope of dissuading pre-Lenten hedonism.

The creation of what resembles today’s carnival season in France didn’t occur in earnest until the Middle Ages, when the Feast of Fools began to be celebrated each year, with revelers participating in the ongoing activities of feasting, singing, and dancing. Today, several French cities continue to celebrate with parades and assorted activities lasting for several weeks.

A painting by Bruegel of the Feast of Fools from the Middle Ages.

A painting by Bruegel of the Feast of Fools from the Middle Ages.

One of the major carnival celebrations in France is the Paris Carnival. Beginning with a procession through the streets, participants at the Paris Carnival wear costumes made of vibrant colored fabric, full half-face masks, painted faces, and elaborate head pieces, or all shapes and sizes, adorned with ribbons, glitter, and assorted feathers. Music fills the air as street dancers, puppeteers, and performers entertain the crowd while giant figures propelled by stilt walkers, oversee the crowd.

Le 'defile' or parade of Carnaval in Paris

Le ‘defile’ or parade of Carnaval in Paris starts in the place Gambetta and ends at Republique. It’s held on the Sunday before.

One of the most elaborate celebrations taking place in February is the Nice Carnival. This event is the most popular Mardi Gras in the French Riviera attracting more than one million visitors each year. The Nice Carnival is always held in February when the weather in is at its best. Nestled along the luxurious Mediterranean, Mardi Gras in the French Riviera has its advantages with its beautiful weather, scenery, and coastline.

Mardi Gras Parade in Nice

Mardi Gras Parade in Nice promises to be the most eleborate in France.

The parade in Nice features musical and street performers along with nearly two-dozen floats adorned with hundreds of giant papier-mâché heads, each with a face of a different caricature. On Fat Tuesday itself, spectators enjoy a spectacular fireworks display and a brilliant night parade lit by thousands of colorful lights. The Nice Carnival can run for two weeks or longer but due to yearly calendar changes that affect the dates of Easter and Ash Wednesday, the schedule here (and at any other Carnival or Mardi Gras celebrations) vary from year to year.

Another of the outstanding parades during carnival season in France is held in Limoux. This small, quaint city has the distinction of being the longest running carnival in the world. Carnival events in Limoux run from January through March, and this carnival is also know for having exceptionally intricate costumes and elaborately decorated masks.

The Carnaval Parade in Limoux

The Carnaval Parade in Limoux is reputed as the longest running in the world.

Mardi Gras in Limoux features three parades at 11 am, 4:30 pm, and 10 pm, every day of the festivities. The parades feature participants in elegant as well as outlandish costumes and masks who make their way through the crowd singing, joking, and dancing. The night parade is highlighted with torches along the route adding a touch of mystery to the procession.

If your heart is set on celebrating here, be sure to plan far enough in advance when making reservations for next year’s Paris Carnival or Mardi Gras in the French Riviera to ensure you can find accommodations or take advantage of special vacation deals.

Happy Fat Tuesday my friends. Spend it with your loved ones having a wonderful rich, fattening dinner. You have the rest of the month to diet.

Try finding a Mardi Gras cake and celebrate!

Try finding a Mardi Gras cake and celebrate. My favorite French bakers in Vancouver is ‘French Made Baking’ on Kingsway. They make a Galette de Roi that’s better than anything I had in Paris. Tel: (604) 558.4880

Until next time.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC.

Visit our Website by clicking here.

Valentine’s Day in Paris

It may sound cliche, but spending Valentine’s Day in Paris is considered by many people the dream of a lifetime. After all, Paris is supposed to be the city of love. Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the world, but Paris is the city where lovers plunge impetuously into fairy tales: walking along the Seine and its countless bridges; admiring Paris’ oldest monuments; and, of course, ending the day with a delicious dinner at a Parisian restaurant.

Valentine's Day in Paris
For Valentine’s Day, the French like everyone else, give gifts of flowers, jewelry or chocolates. As many of the chocolatiers in Paris are considered the best in the world, a gift of chocolates is a sublime idea.
I have many favorite chocolatiers in France which include Patrick Roger, Pierre Marcolini, Servant, and a host of many others to numerous to mention.

Patrick Roger is considered the best chocolatier in France

Patrick Roger is considered the best chocolatier in France. HIs windows are always conversational and can include anything from a giant chocolate gorilla to adorable 2 ft high penguins at Christmas.

Another form of luxuriating in chocolate is to drink chocolat chaud (hot chocolate to some degree) in an authentic Parisian tearoom. I love hot chocolate, but the mix of intense chocolate, sugar, and creme put me into the stratosphere of an all time sugar high. There are cafés everywhere (some are better than others). The hot chocolate at the restaurant La Rotonde is delicious. Its chocolate is sweet (and in good dose), and the Chantilly is velvety-smooth. Two other tearooms that are famous for their hot chocolate made in the traditional Parisian way are Angelina and Le Grand Colbert.

The 'mont blanc' in the lovely but very touristy 'Angelina' on Rue Rivoli.

The ‘mont blanc’ in the lovely but very touristy ‘Angelina’ on Rue Rivoli.

For Valentines, the wonderful Pierre Hermes makes a heart shaped cake to die for. It’s a blend of the essence of Jasmine and roses intermingled. This combination is inspired by the fragrance Joy by Jean Patou, one of my sister’s favorite fragrances. What could be more romantic and joyous than enjoying a piece of this devine cake with a glass of superior French Champagne. Unfortunately this cake and my favorite champagne ‘Deutz’ can only be had in Paris. They do not deliver to North America.

The 'tarte coeur' is one of the most sensational tasting cakes in the world.

The ‘tarte coeur’ is one of the most sensational tasting cakes in the world.

Now if dinner is your idea of celebrating Valentines Day you’re not alone. I’m sure every romantic restaurant in the world is solidly booked for this Saturday. One of the best restaurants in Paris is the Jules Verne on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower. Surprised that a tourist attraction could actually boast a fine restaurant? Well in this case it’s true. From every account I’ve heard from Parisians, Jules Verne is really very good with a view of Paris that goes on forever. (I’ve yet to try)

The Jules Verne restaurant in the Tour Eiffel Paris.

The Jules Verne restaurant in the Tour Eiffel Paris.

However you decide to spend your Valentines Day, I wish you a wonderful day spent with your loved one.

Valentine's Day in Paris

XOXOXO

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

The Antique Warehouse

Besieged Louvre Museum Temporarily Grants Visitors Free Entry

The Louvre in Paris, France.

The Louvre in Paris, France.

Visitors to the Louvre museum on Thursday got a pleasant surprise. Approximately 100 archeologists blocked the renowned museum’s ticket booth during the afternoon, allowing visitors to pass into the museum without paying the typical €12 entrance fee, reports the AFP.

The blockade lasted for around four hours. During the protest, the archeologists posted a sign in one of the ticket counter’s windows, which read, “Free entrance offered by the archeologists.”

100 protestors blocked the Louvre entrance for 4 hours yesterday, Feb. 5.

100 protestors blocked the entrance for 4 hours yesterday, Feb. 5.

Protesters were organizing against what they view as the progressive threat to archeological sites in France and around the globe due to the privatization of their profession. Since 2003, private companies have been allowed to compete with archeologists employed by the French government for projects related to the preventative maintenance of archeological sites.

The Lascaux Caves in Southern France is a world heritage site.

The Lascaux Caves in Southern France are a world heritage site.

A cohort of unions representing the protesting archeologists said in a statement to the news agency, “For more than 10 years, the privatization and commercialization of this sector has led to a catastrophic situation,” for archeological sites in the country. They suggest that, should privatization measures continue, the well-being of the country’s heritage could be in danger.

France’s most popular cultural attraction and the world’s most visited museum, the Louvre attracted more than 9.3 million visitors in 2014, a number on par with 2013. A whopping 70 percent of those visitors coming from abroad (see The Louvre is still the Most Visited Museum in the World).

In the next 10 years, the museum expects their annual visitor numbers to top 12 million (see Louvre Expects 12 Million Visitors Per Year by 2025). To accommodate that increase, new Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez has planned a significant overhaul of the museum’s presentation of its permanent collection.

Jean Luc Martinez, director of the Louvre

Jean Luc Martinez, director of the Louvre, proposes the most ambitious renovation in over 30 years.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Two Bronzes May Be Michelangelo’s Only Surviving Bronzes In The World

Two bronze statues of muscular men riding panthers, each a meter (three feet) high and whose attribution has long been a matter of conjecture, are now thought to be the only surviving bronzes of Michelangelo, the Fitzwilliam Museum said on Monday.

The Fitzwilliam Museum

The Fitzwilliam Museum is the art and antiquities museum of the University of Cambridge, located on Trumpington Street opposite Fitzwilliam Street in central Cambridge, England.

The statues of two men, each holding an arm aloft in a gesture of salute, were attributed to the 16th-century Italian Renaissance artist based in part on a tiny detail from one of his student’s drawings, the Fitzwilliam, which is the museum of Cambridge University, said.

It said that last autumn Professor Paul Joannides, Emeritus Professor of Art History at the University of Cambridge, connected the bronzes to a drawing by one of Michelangelo’s apprentices now in the Musée Fabre in Montpellier, France.

Paul Joannides of the University of Cambridge

Paul Joannides of the University of Cambridge discovered the tiny drawings by Michaelangelos’ apprentice in Montpellier, France.

Dr Victoria Avery, keeper of the applied arts department at the Fitzwilliam, said: “It has been fantastically exciting to have been able to participate in this ground-breaking project, which has involved input from many art historians in the UK, Europe and the States, and to draw on evidence from conservation scientists and anatomists.”

Michelangelo's Only Surviving Bronzes In The World

The bronzes have most recently been attributed to the Dutch sculptor Willem Danielsz Van Tetrode

The bronzes have most recently been attributed to the Dutch sculptor Willem Danielsz Van Tetrode and the 19th Century belief the sculptures were by Michelangelo had been dismissed by experts for at least a century.

This changed last autumn, when Paul Joannides, emeritus professor of art history at the University of Cambridge, connected them to a tiny detail in a 16th Century drawing held in the Musee Fabre in Montpellier, France.

Musee Fabre in Montpellier, France.

Musee Fabre in Montpellier, France.

It was also “drawn in the abrupt, forceful manner that Michelangelo employed in designs for sculpture. This suggests that Michelangelo was working up this very unusual theme for a work in three dimensions.” said Joannides.

One of Michelangelo’s apprentices had copied various slightly earlier lost sketches by his master and in the corner of one was a drawing of a muscular youth riding a panther.

Its pose is very similar to that of one of the bronzes and is drawn with the same style used by Michelangelo in his designs for sculpture.

The bronzes, which have spent over a century in relative obscurity, are now thought to be early works by Michelangelo, the museum said, made just after he completed his marble David as he was about to embark on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Michelangelo's David Sculpture

The sculptures were made shortly after Michelangelo completed the marble David, pictured in the Accademia

The bronzes were compared with other works by Michelangelo and found to be very similar in style and anatomy to his works of 1500-1510. The date was confirmed by the preliminary conclusions of initial scientific analysis.

Using X-ray, the team established the cast were thick walled and heavy – an indication that they date to the late 15th or early 16th Century.

Research is continuing and the final conclusion will be presented in July.

Michelangelo was known to have worked in bronze, but other exemplars were lost or destroyed, the Fitzwilliam museum said.

“If the attribution is correct, they are the only surviving Michelangelo bronzes in the world,” the museum said.

The bronzes, which are currently on loan to the Fitzwilliam Museum from a private collection, will be on display until 9 August.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse,
Vancouver, BC.

The Antique Warehouse Website

A ‘Louis Khan’ House Up For Sale..For less than $300,000 U.S.!

Who is Louis Khan you ask? He’s only one of the greatest architects of the 20th Century. A titanic figure in 20th-century architecture, Kahn is known mainly for institutions like the Yale University Art Gallery and Yale Center for British Art; the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas; the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, in La Jolla, California (see Getty Foundation Will Rescue Modern Architecture Gems); and the National Assembly Building in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The most recently constructed Kahn project is the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park, on New York City’s Roosevelt Island.

Franklin C. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island

Franklin C. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island ( I lived on Roosevelt Island back in the 1980’s)

When I read that a Louis Khan designed house was up for sale I went a bit mad. I found it almost impossible to believe that a building built by an architect legend could go for such a paltry sum. But considering the prices people pay for ugly boxes in the city of Vancouver, it’s little wonder I feel this way.

The three-bedroom, two-bath house, at 417 Sherry Way, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, was completed in 1962 and sits on a lot of less than an acre. It measures about 1,700 square feet. Cherry Hill is about 10 miles from Philadelphia.

The Louis Khan 'Clever House' was built in 1957 for Fred and Elaine Clever

The Louis Khan ‘Clever House’ was built in 1957 for Fred and Elaine Clever.

“For those who admire architecture,” says realtor Fox Roach on its website, “this home is a delight.”

Though the house is being sold in “as is condition,” realtor Rosemary Mercanti-Anthony says the only problem is that the radiant heat is not working properly. “Everything else seems to be cosmetic,” she told artnet News. “It hit the market on Thursday and I have a lot of interest in the property,” she added, with a number of scheduled showings through next week.

“It’s just amazing,” she said of being inside the house. “I love watching people come in. When they walk into the central room, they look up and light up. You really have to be there to feel it.”

The 'Clever House' interior - Louis Khan

The ‘Clever House’ interior.

Fred E. and Elaine Cox Clever commissioned the house after seeing Kahn’s Trenton Bath House (opened 1955), stark modernist buildings that frame the entrance to the Trenton Jewish Community Center. The monumental concrete forms represent Kahn’s first adaptation of ancient structures, and the project saw Kahn hit his artistic stride.

Opening Day of the Trenton Bath House in New Jersey opened in 1955.

Opening Day of the Trenton Bath House in New Jersey opened in 1955.

Kahn built only nine houses. In the Clever house, five small rooms with pyramidal roofs surround a central living room topped by four gable-like structures.

Visionary architect, expert manipulator of form and light, highly complex individual, Louis Kahn (born Itze-Leib Schmuilowsky 1901-1974) is one of the most influential architects of the mid-twentieth century. He realised relatively few buildings, yet the formal restraint and emotional expressiveness of his Jonas Salk Institute, Kimbell Art Museum and the Capital Complex in Dhaka are regarded as an inspired interpretation of Modernism. Louis Kahn died on the evening of 17 March 1974, but when his body was discovered in the public lavatory at Penn Station in New York, it took several days for the police to identify him as one of the world’s most admired architects. He had died swiftly of a heart attack and the only form of identification among his possessions was his passport in which he had crossed out his address. On the evening of his death, Kahn had flown back to the US from India where he was building the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. He had gone to Penn Station to board a train home to Philadelphia.

Louis Khan (1901 - 1974)

Louis Khan (1901 – 1974)

The Institute of Management and another ongoing work, the Capital Complex of government buildings at Dhaka in Bangladesh, were not only Kahn’s most ambitious projects, but architectural masterpieces now revered by architects across the globe. Yet he had built so little during his life that he died bankrupt owing hundreds of thousands of dollars. The few buildings that Louis Kahn did realise were so remarkable that they established him as one of the most important figures in twentieth century architecture.

The government buildings in Bangladesh designed by Louis Kahn.

The government buildings in Bangladesh designed by Louis Kahn.

If you want to catch up on Kahn’s work, I recommend ‘My Architect’, a 2003 documentary by his son Nathaniel Kahn, who barely knew his father. Kahn had several families, who set out to understand him by touring the world to see his buildings and interviewing his other wives, lovers and children. Showing up to sing Kahn’s praises in interviews are architects I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry, Philip Johnson, Moshe Safdie, and Robert Stern.

There is lots of information on the strange life of Louis Kahn and his iconic work. Do an internet search and you’ll be amazed how revered and gifted this man was.

About the ‘Clever House’ Larry and I are looking for a second recreational house. This just might be it. (Even though my tastes run more to a 18th Century farmhouse in the South of France!)

Have a great week!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
Vancouver, B.C.

The Antique Warehouse Website

Buy Vintage or Antique!

In the February issue 2015 of House and Home magazine a classic vintage Louis XVI Bergere is featured as a candidate for re-upholstery. We couldn’t agree more.

We’re obviously biased in our love of vintage and antiques, but there are some great reasons to buy vintage or antique that people rarely consider.

Think of it in these terms.

Houses are springing up everywhere at a breakneck pace with people spending fortunes to insure their investment is built to last. The foundation and structure is everything if you intend to keep the roof from falling on your head. So why think any different of your furniture?

Sure new reproductions are potentially cheaper and may ‘look’ like a vintage French or Italian piece. But look closer before you buy and consider the following. A new piece is probably produced off shore where quality is replaced for quantity. Newly produced pieces produce ‘off gas’ that is detrimental to most peoples health. Even the glues are toxic! Do you really need another pollutant to invade your life?

Then there’s the question of longevity. A good vintage piece (particularly from Europe or North America) will outlast anything produced offshore.

And of course aesthetically, a vintage piece always looks more beautiful. The carving and details are finer and will always look pleasing to the eye. Again, people pay exorbitant amounts on new construction with focus on the detail and finishings. You’re furniture deserves the same consideration.

 

House and Home Magazine recently featured a vintage Louis XVI Bergere to purchase and re-upholster. We think this is a great idea for many reasons.

House and Home Magazine recently featured a vintage Louis XVI Bergere to purchase and re-upholster. The recovering looks modern and chic.

So before you buy that new piece of furniture check our your local antique or vintage store. You can find anything from Mid century modern, Art deco, French Empire to Louis XV or Louis XVI pieces that will outlast, be more beautiful, and be safer for your environment too!

Happy Hunting.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Open 7 days a week.

PS..We’ve just received a new container from Europe with gorgeous things from France, Italy and England. Be sure to pay us a visit online or in person. Remember these are all one of a kind pieces and once they’re gone they’re history!

Picasso’s Granddaughter Selling her Grandfather’s Art

A new cache of Pablo Picasso works from the personal collection of his granddaughter, Marina Picasso, said to be worth $290 million, are about to hit the market in 2015.

marina-picasso Grand Daughter Marina Picasso

Marina Picasso in her French antique filled home.

Marina Picasso in her French antique filled home.

Among the seven pieces allegedly for sale is a 1923 portrait of Marina’s grandmother, Picasso’s first wife, Olga Khokhlova. Titled Portrait de femme (Olga), it is thought to be worth $60 million. Dating from 1905 through 1965, the works being offered are also thought to include Maternité (1921), valued at about $54 million, and Femme a la Mandoline (Mademoiselle Leonie assie) 1911, worth roughly $60 million.

 

Pablo Picasso and Olga, a Russian Ballerina C.1915

Pablo Picasso and Olga, a Russian Ballerina C.1915

The artist’s granddaughter was perhaps testing the waters for a potential sale when she presented a suite of his drawings and ceramics at a non-selling exhibition at Sotheby’s Paris last spring. The auction house will not be involved this time around, however, as Marina has opted to sell the works directly, personally meeting in Geneva with interested parties.

Also for sale is “La Californie,” the Cannes villa Marina inherited from her grandfather, who lived there with his second wife, Jacqueline Roque. In recent years, the villa has become a museum and gallery dedicated to Picasso. In 2013, Marina presented “Picasso: Nudity Set Free,” mostly made up of pieces from her personal collection, at the home.

 

The Californie, Picasso's villa in Cannes, France will also be sold.

The Californie, Picasso’s villa in Cannes, France will also be sold.

 

Picasso's second wife Jacqueline Roque.

Picasso’s second wife Jacqueline Roque.

Though Marina has certainly benefited from her grandfather’s career as an adult, she has readily condemned the artist, who she alleges neglected her family when she was a child living on the brink of poverty. In 2001, she published Picasso: My Grandfather, which claimed that the painter “drove everyone who got near him to despair and engulfed them,” and that her inheritance was “given without love.” Marina’s brother committed suicide, allegedly after Roque barred him from attending Picasso’s funeral.

According to a friend of Marina’s the upcoming sale “is about letting go of the past.”

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC

Visit our website.

Who is Christian Liaigre?

It wasn’t until researching a piece that we’d bought on our last trip to France that I discovered who Christian Liaigre was. Neither did I realize how important he’s considered in the design world today.

Not only is Christian Liaigre is credited with redefining modernism and pioneering the use of dark wood, leather sofas and the luxurious cream, brown and grey palette integral to today’s stylish interiors but the Financial Times described him as the most important – and the most copied – designer of our time.

 

French superstar designer Christian Liaigre

French superstar designer Christian Liaigre

Christian Liaigre is a modern-day Midas; everything he touches becomes fabulous. Among others, he’s responsible for the interior of the uber-trendy Mercer Hotel in New York, the refit of Selfridges department store in London, offices for Valentino Couture in Paris; and Hakkasan, London’s Chinese restaurant of the moment. He has also designed private residences for such notables as Calvin Klein, Karl Lagerfeld, Rupert Murdoch and Bryan Adams.

 

A London private residence designed by Christian Liaigre

A London private residence designed by Christian Liaigre

How good is his furniture you may ask? So good he has been described as Europe’s most renowned industrial architect of this century. Like his interiors, Liaigre’s furniture is simple, sophisticated and luxuriously inviting. Credited with being the first designer to introduce African wenge wood into interiors, Liaigre is fond of blending African wood with traditional timber such as English oak to create his minimal furniture.

 

The Christian Liaigre Sofa/Daybed C.1988 created out of African Wenge wood arrived to our store in our last container without us knowing who it was made by. I discovered it purely by accident.

The Christian Liaigre Sofa/Daybed C.1988 created out of African Wenge wood arrived to our store in our last container. I discovered it purely by accident at a warehouse in the west of France. I had no idea who designed it, but bought it purely on instinct.

Christian Liaigre incorporates the culture of a place into his designs. For example, in a modernist retreat on the Galician coast belonging to Spanish fashion designer Adolfo Dominguez, Liaigre designed sliding screens in the woven willow used by local fishermen to make nets. A strong believer in feng shui, he strives to create an atmosphere of meditative serenity and consequently his services are in demand in Asia.

 

Buddakan Restaurant in New York City designed by Christian Liaigre

Buddakan Restaurant in New York City designed by Christian Liaigre

Christian Liaigre was born in La Rochelle, France, in 1943, studied at the Paris Academy of Fine and Decorative Arts and taught drawing at the Academy Charpentier. After spending 10 years as a horse breeder he opened a studio in 1987, focusing on interior architecture and furniture design. His first project to win acclaim was the refurbishment of the Hotel Montalembert in Paris in 1988.

 

The Hotel Montalembert in Paris.

The Hotel Montalembert in Paris.

In Christian Liaigres’ spaces, you won’t see clashing colors and patterns, or 60s and 70s influences that have recently become so popular. You surely won’t spot the lamps, tables and accessories that seem to be ubiquitous from one magazine feature spread to another.

 

The interior of this 220' Yacht was designed by Christian Liaigre and won the shipbuilders award in 2012.

The interior of this 220′ Yacht was designed by Christian Liaigre and won the shipbuilders award in 2012.

 

The award winning yachts' interior by Christian Liaigre

The award winning yachts’ interior by Christian Liaigre

You will see furnishings made of the highest quality materials and fabrics, many custom-created for each project. Embossed leathers. Velours, silks and linens. Exquisite woods and surfaces. Doorknobs so beautiful they rival works of art. His rooms at first overwhelm with the strength of a singular, consistent vision – then the details slowly reveal themselves, like good, aged wine.Just enough decorative flourishes are thrown in to provide a thrilling surprise around every corner. That surprise could be a jewel-tone accent that glows against the mostly neutral palette. Or a singular swath of exquisite velvet. Perhaps a sparkling, curvy chandelier that plays off the dominant masculine shapes.

 

The iconic style setter Lee Radziwill (Sister of Jacqueline Kennedy) is pictured here in her apartment seated on an early Christian Liaigre sofa. Note the use of antiques and modern in this elegant living space.

The iconic style setter Princess Lee Radziwill (younger sister of the late Jacqueline Kennedy) is pictured here in her apartment seated on an early Christian Liaigre sofa. Note the use of antiques and modern in this elegant living space.

Color is used sparingly, but to great effect. Everything comes together in perfect harmony in Liaigre’s world. And it’s a world that anyone would love to inhabit. Liaigre came to the attention of the design world in the late 80s. His 2004 book, Maison – Christian Liaigre, covered eight design projects, but didn’t include a bio or photo of the designer himself. “CL has been called one of the most influential designers alive today.”Ornamentation, sparkle, and curves are used deftly. They play off of the restraint of clean lines, color, and pattern. The result is a rich, singular statement.

 

A Liaigre fireplace with gilded mirror and Louis XV bergeres

A Liaigre fireplace with gilded mirror and Louis XV bergeres

Thanks for reading.

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver
V4M2R8

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For the Love of French Antiques

In the last edition of Country House magazine, a young family in the Southern USA travelled to France and absolutely loved what they saw. So much so that they re-did their entire home embracing the sophistication and romantic feel of France. From the kitchen to the bathrooms the designer helped them create their vision using touches of French glamor that may surprise you.

Did you ever think French Louis XV Bronze and Crystal sconces with a Louis XV Chandeleir could work in a kitchen? They do, and beautifully too. Just scroll down to photograph number 5 and see for yourself.

 

In the Master bedroom, this family chose two Louis XV canapes or sofas to create a warm and elegant feeling.

In the Master bedroom, this family chose two Louis XV canapes or sofas to create a warm and elegant feeling.

 

A Louis XVI Wingback chair always gives charm to any room.

A Louis XVI Wingback chair always gives charm to any room.

 

French antiques abound in this photograph from the Louis XV desk to the Bergeres in the Living Room.

French antiques abound in this photograph from the Louis XV desk to the slip covered loveseats in the Living Room.

 

Gorgeous caned Louis XV Sofa looks fabulous in a hallway.

Gorgeous caned Louis XV Sofa looks fabulous in a hallway.

 

A Louis XVI Firesurround can be easily made and installed by local artisans at the fraction of the price than we can buy the actual ones in France. We've had them in from time to time.

A Louis XVI Firesurround can be easily made and installed by local artisans at the fraction of the price than we can buy the actual ones in France. We’ve had antique firesurrounds in on occasion when we can find them.

 

Note the French crystal chandelier and sconces. The owners declined to use anything reproduction in the house. They wanted everything made in France and either vintage or antique. 'An antique has so much more appeal in the construction and quality, and I know it will last forever and a day" says the owner of this wonderful house.

Note the French crystal chandelier and sconces. The owners declined to use anything reproduction in the house. They wanted everything made in France and either vintage or antique. “I looked at reproductions” says the owner of this wonderful house “but they just didn’t have the same detail or patina as the real thing” We couldn’t agree more. Note the Louis XVI Cane backed chairs.

 

The owners had this wonderful French Louis XVI hallstand repainted and distressed.

The owners had this wonderful French Louis XVI hallstand repainted and distressed.

If you’d like some information on how to refinish or repaint your antiques please don’t hesitate to ask. We know everyone in the business whose excellent at what they do and would be happy to refer.

See you soon,

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive
Vancouver, BC

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Choose Vancouver’s Best Antique Store for your next visit.

Furniture of the King Louis XV Period

Undoubtedly the greatest of all periods for French furniture, the King Louis XV period was one of extraordinary creativity, influenced by the royal mistresses: Madame de Pompadour, Madame du Barry, and other ladies and courtesans of the time. Grand suites were replaced by smaller more intimate rooms. Furnished with unfailing attentiveness to elegance, refinement, comfort and well being, curved lines and asymmetry became the rule. Furniture became practical and readily transportable without losing any of its elegance. Foreign masters came to Paris to work at the Court: Bernard van Risen Burgh or B.V.R.B., Vandercruse known as Lacroix whose stamp was P.V.L.C.

 

A stamped epoque Louis XV Cabinet created by master ebeniste Bernard Van Risenburgh.

A stamped epoque Louis XV Cabinet created by master ebeniste Bernard Van Risenburgh.

The French furniture style we call Louis XV flourished during the period of 1730-1775. If the Louis XIV furniture style was designed with the glorification of the Sun King in mind and all in massive, masculine, square form, the Louis XV furniture style is the complete opposite. Designed for the comfort and glorification of beautiful women, it has a romantic, sensuous and feminine look. A flowing abstraction of unbroken curves is the guiding principle of the Louis XV furniture style; the legs are curved, the back is curved and the seat is curved. Even the Louis XV architecture also adheres to this principle. It abhorred straight lines. In typical Louis XV architecture everything is curved – the ceiling, the panel-designs on the walls, the panel designs in the doors and even the corners of a room are curved.

As Louis XV was not old enough to become king when his great-grandfather died, a régent ruled France in the interim. This transitional phase between Louis XIV and Louis XV style is named accordingly. Through Régence style is outside the scope of this blog, it’s important to note how this style holds elements of both Louis XIV and Louis XV style.

 

Rococo painter Francois Boucher typified the look of the Rococo period and it's love of beautiful women.

Rococo painter Francois Boucher typified the look of the Rococo period and it’s love of beautiful women.

 

Madame Marguerite Bergeret was the wife and sister of two of the eighteenth century's most ardent art patrons. Her brother, the Abbé Jean Claude de Saint-Non traveled to Italy with Hubert Robert and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Her husband, Jacques Onésime Bergeret, a wealthy financier, became a celebrated connoisseur and collector. Painted by Francois Boucher C.1761

Madame Marguerite Bergeret was the wife and sister of two of the eighteenth century’s most ardent art patrons. Her brother, the Abbé Jean Claude de Saint-Non traveled to Italy with Hubert Robert and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. Her husband, Jacques Onésime Bergeret, a wealthy financier, became a celebrated connoisseur and collector. Painted by Francois Boucher C.1761

There were no straight lines anywhere in these designs. Everything was curved from the legs, and backs of chairs to the seats themselves. The look became so popular that the designs were reproduced for hundreds of years and the look is still popular even today. Wherever elegance and refinement is required you can count on the classic look of the Louis XV style to fullfill the need.

There were three very distinctive styles of furniture during the time of King Louis XV. The Regence style dated from 1715 – 1723
The Rococo style which started around 1720 – 1760. The the pure Louis XV style which was a less exaggerated look than the Rococo started around 1750.

 

Louis XV as a child

Louis XV as a child

Following the death of Louis XIV, his 5 year old great grandson (and heir to the throne) became Louis XV. Since he was too young to take the throne, his uncle Philippe, the Duke of Orleans, was appointed as Regent. The transition between the monarchs became known as the French Regency. Offended by the spectacle of Versailles during the Sun King’s reign, the Duke moved the royal court to Paris, where courtiers lived in less extravagant hotel particuliers or private residences.

 

The Duc D' Orleans. Phillipe II

The Duc D’ Orleans. Phillipe II

 

In French contexts, an hôtel particulier is a townhouse of a grand sort. (In mediaeval English, hôtel was rendered as "inn", the townhouse of a nobleman, now surviving only as used in Inns of Court. Particulier meant "personal" or "private"). Whereas an ordinary maison (house) was built as part of a row, sharing party walls with the houses on either side and directly fronting on a street, an hôtel particulier was often free-standing, and by the 18th century it would always be located entre cour et jardin, between the entrance court, the cour d'honneur, and the garden behind. There are hôtels particuliers in many large cities, such as Paris, Bordeaux, Albi, Aix en Provence, Avignon, Caen, Lyon, Montpellier, Nancy, Rouen, Rennes, Toulouse and Troyes.

In French contexts, an hôtel particulier is a townhouse of a grand sort. (In mediaeval English, hôtel was rendered as “inn”, the townhouse of a nobleman, now surviving only as used in Inns of Court. Particulier meant “personal” or “private”). Whereas an ordinary maison (house) was built as part of a row, sharing party walls with the houses on either side and directly fronting on a street, an hôtel particulier was often free-standing, and by the 18th century it would always be located entre cour et jardin, between the entrance court, the cour d’honneur, and the garden behind. There are hôtels particuliers in many large cities, such as Paris, Bordeaux, Albi, Aix en Provence, Avignon, Caen, Lyon, Montpellier, Nancy, Rouen, Rennes, Toulouse and Troyes.

It was in this period that the apartment came into being. An apartment of this time, although lavish by today’s standards, would have been a much more intimate setting than the fortress and cathedral like homes of the prior periods. The smaller scale of these homes introduced an era of lighter, more graceful furniture. Asymmetrical curved lines replaced symmetrical straight lines and simple wood veneer replaced extravagant marquetry.

By 1730, France was the most powerful kingdom in Europe. As France grew accustomed to its wealth, a fantasy style was produced in keeping with its achievements, aspirations, and prestige. Furniture design emphasized and aggrandized the interior decoration of paneled walls that were integrated into the large architectural setting.

 

The typical Louis XV/ Rococo style of a French residence.

The typical Louis XV/Rococo style of a French apartment.

Flowers were the favorite motif usde in decoration of marquetry, in carvings and on wall panels. Overall, bright colors were used, a change from the more somber colors of the Louis XIV.

Cabriole legs are shared from Louis XIV style, but other constrained elements of Louis XIV were discarded, like stretchers and symmetry of lines. Curves were more accentuated, and design elements were no longer held in by the design borders of the piece.

Flowing curves are found throughout Régence furniture. The “bombé” style commode was developed with plump sides and a convex curved front. Perhaps one of the most important characteristics of the period was the introduction of the cabriole leg. This carved ‘S’ shaped leg was used in armoires, bookcases, desks, sofas, and chairs.

 

The Regence period 'bombe commode' was introduced during the Louis XV period. This design has laster well into our modern day world and copied even today.

The Regence period ‘bombe commode’ was introduced during the Louis XV period. This design has laster well into our modern day world and copied even today.

An important furniture maker of the time, Charles Cressent, trained as a cabinetmaker and sculptor, was ideally qualified to create the soaring grandeur of the Louis XV period. He used the commode as a sensual style to draw design away from the conservative elements of the Louis XIV style.

 

A Charles Cressent (1685 - 1768) Commode from the Rococo period - Louis XV

A Charles Cressent (1685 – 1768) Commode from the Rococo period

Out of the Régence there was to develop the most imaginative style of all, known as Rocaille, or Rococo, which differs essentially from baroque in its lightness and avoidance of symmetry. Rocaille, with its indulgence in caprice and fancy, was extensively employed by French craftsmen from around 1720 to 1755-60.

 

The Rococo design was elaborate and exagerated with swags, floral motifs and more - Louis XV

The Rococo design was elaborate and exagerated with swags, floral motifs and more – Louis XV

Imagination is the basis of this decorative style, in which rocks and shells, with flowers and foliage, provide the dominant theme. Contrast and asymmetry are its essential features. From around 1730 the movement was expanded and accelerated by the work of such ornamentists as Gilles Marie Oppenord and Jules Aurèle Meissonnier, who were among the principal designers of these more extravagant forms. Fervent in his devotion to the rocaille is such a craftsman as Gaudreaux, who was one of the leading ébénistes in the employ of the Crown at this period.

 

Commode designed by Antoine Gaudreau in the Rococo period - Louis XV

Commode designed by Antoine Gaudreau in the Rococo period – Louis XV

In the perfected or pure Louis XV style, dating from about 1750, the rocaille was subdued and simplifed, as the early harshness and agitation of its sinuous curves yielded to a more ample and tranquil rhythm. Freed from the exaggerations of the rocaille, the perfected Louis XV style featured a more moderate use of curved lines and less fanciful ornament. Craftsen working in this pure Louis XV style have given us perfect examples of French furniture at its finest. The most well-known ébéniste of the time is Oeben, whose apprentice was Riesener, perhaps the greatest craftsman working in the later Louis XVI style. Other famous names are Baumhauer, Lacroix, Dubois, Saunier, Leleu and B.V.R.B.

 

Secrétaire à cylindre à rideau, estampille de Jean-François Oeben, maître en 1761, vers 1760: Inv. CAM 191 © Les Arts Décoratifs

Secrétaire à cylindre à rideau, stamped by Jean-François Oeben, master ebeniste in 1761

 

A French Louis XV Bureau Plat is evidence to the less exaggerated look of the Rococo period.

A French Louis XV Bureau Plat is evidence to the less exaggerated look of the Rococo period.

The art of lodging people comfortably and privately, heretofore unknown, became of primary importance in the eighteenth century. The rooms were reduced to a more reasonable size, while the furniture became smaller, perfectly adapted to the human needs and, above all, more comfortable. Thanks to the improvement in mechanical devices, combination pieces came more and more into use. Multiple-function furniture, such as tables that could be transformed by complicated locking devices into toilet, writing, reading and sewing tables, is a notable feature.

In chair design, each member seems to flow or melt into one another without any feeling of separation. The molded chair frames are often enhanced with rich floral, foliage and shell carvings. The most typical Louis XV chair is the bergère, a wide, low, and deep armchair.

 

The typical French Bergere chair is popular and a timeless classic in today's modern interiors. Comfortable and elegant the original design was produced during the Louis XV period around 1750.

The typical French Bergere chair is popular and a timeless classic in today’s modern interiors. Comfortable and elegant the original design was produced during the Louis XV period around 1750.

Canapés developed into a variety of types. One form, often called a marquise, is merely an enlarged armchair. The majority of canapés were made to accommodate three persons. In high fashion was the basket-shaped canapé, called canapé corbeille. The daybed was also given a variety of novel forms. Of these, the duchesse, distinguished by its gondola-shaped back, is most typical. In terms of beds, the lit à colonnes disappered. The shapes in high fashion were the lit à la duchess and the lit à la polonaise.

 

The 'Lit Polonaise' was introduced during the pure Louis XV style. Shown here is a Lit Polonaise dated around 1750.

The ‘Lit Polonaise’ was introduced during the pure Louis XV style. Shown here is a Lit Polonaise dated around 1750.

Tables, which became simpler and lighter, have one characteristic in common, that is, cabriole legs. Medium-sized and small tables reveal all those brilliant and versatile qualities which marked the achievements of Parisian craftsmen of the golden age. Of infinite variety and with a legion to names, these elegant tables began to multiply from around 1750 onward. For the bedroom there were tables such as the vide-poche (pocket-emptier), the serre-bijoux (jewel-box tables) and chevets (bedside tables). For the boudoirs and the salons, there were small tables à ouvrages or work tables, called tricoteuses or chiffonnières.

 

The Louis XV 'chevet' or nightstand was introduced during the period starting 1750. The french produced vintage tables are very popular in modern day homes.

The Louis XV ‘chevet’ or nightstand was introduced during the period starting 1750. The french produced vintage tables are very popular in modern day homes.

In writing furniture the ébénistes embodied with extraordinary felicity the temper and taste of France. The simplest kind of Louis XV writing table is the large bureau plat. But the crowning glory was the bureau à cylindre introduced around the middle of the century and probably created by Oeben. Side by side with these large masculine bureaux, the craftsmen produced a variety of bureaux of the utmost refinement, with delicate marquetry and bronzes, for feminine use, such as the bonheur du jour. The tall and upright secrétaire with a drop front (abattant) and interior fitted with drawers was introduced around 1750.

 

The French Secretaire Abattant (from our own Antique Warehouse) style Louis XV was introduced in 1750.

The French Secretaire Abattant (sold recently at our own Antique Warehouse) style Louis XV was introduced in 1750.

At the same time, a greatly increased variety of native and exotic woods were available to craftsmen. Thanks to this wide range of woods, pictorial marquetry began to flourish. It was most often in the form of floral decoration, but sometimes trophies, landscapes and realistic representations of domestic utensils. The enthusiasm for oriental lacquer inspired the ébénistes to adapt it to the decoration of furniture, by incorporating either imported panels or European copies into a bronze framework. The eighteenth century is the golden age for furniture mounted in chased and gilded bronze.

From the middle of the eighteenth century, the craftsmen stamped their furniture – or at least were supposed to do so – under the marble top of commodes, on the underframing of chairs and tables or some similar place which would not mar the appearance.

Already from the beginning of rocaille there was an undercurrent of protest in certain circles against asymmetry and the lavish use of sinuous curves, for it was felt they did not express the finer artistic instincts of the French, which were always inclined to moderation and restraint. Finally owing to the discoveries at Herculaneum and Pompeii, which resulted in an overwhelming enthusiasm for the antique, an evolution began around 1755-60, leading from the Louis XV style to the neo-classical Louis XVI style, which was established before the accession of that king in 1774.

Louis XV pieces grew smaller and less formal. Makers of Louis XV pieces discovered marketing to women, and pieces created for their size, work, and lifestyle became very popular.

Singerie (motif of a gathering of monkeys), Chinoiserie (scenes that imitated Chinese art), Rocaille (motif of a shell or irregular pattern of a rock garden) were all natural elements that were incorporated. These motifs signaled a natural and relaxed impression of the world, but were also depicting these ideas in more elaborate and expensive materials.

 

A period Louis XV Chinoiserie commode.

A period Louis XV Chinoiserie commode.

Pictorial decoration characterized by extravagantly swirling scrolls and whorls, casually strewn shell, flower motifs, and asymmetrical composition were significant elements of design. The rejection of the classical world and the asymmetry of growing flowers reflected an upper-class culture that felt completely in control, and perhaps represented concentrated wealth in the hands of few as the world had never seen. The ruling class in France at this time was confident of its rule over the church, the French people, a growing world empire, and even nature itself.

It was this unfettered exuberance that made this furniture the most elaborate of the Louis styles. However, this style helped create social unrest among French people, laying the way for more conservative design style developed during Louis XVI.

In one of my upcoming blogs we will study the elegant look of the Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI period.

Until then!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, B.C.

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca

Today is Epiphany

Today is Epiphany!  What is Epiphany you ask?  It’s a holy Christian holiday that’s mainly celebrated in Europe. I write about this because last year we were in Europe during this holiday.

Epiphany, also known as “Three Kings Day” and “Twelfth Day,” is a Christian holiday commemorated on January 6. It falls on the twelfth day after Christmas, and for some denominations signals the conclusion of the twelve days of the Christmas season. Though many different cultural and denominational customs are practiced, in general, the feast celebrates the manifestation of God in the form of human flesh through Jesus Christ, his Son.

Epiphany - Vancouver Antiques
The word epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation” and is commonly linked in Western Christianity with the visit of the wise men (Magi) to the Christ child. Through the Magi, Christ revealed himself to the gentiles. In Eastern Christianity, Epiphany puts emphasis on the baptism of Jesus by John, with Christ revealing himself to the world as God’s own Son. Likewise, on Epiphany some denominations commemorate Jesus’ miracle of turning water into wine, signifying the manifestation of Christ’s divinity as well.

In France, it is on 6 January that the Wise Men figurines in the nativity scene are placed around baby Jesus; in the lead up to this date, they were either hidden or being gradually moved closer and closer to the stable. French people also celebrate the Epiphany by eating the “galette des rois” (Kings’ cake) ceremoniously!

 

The Galette des Rois is usually accompanied by a crown.

The Galette des Rois is usually accompanied by a crown that’s worn by a child in the family who finds the surprise in the cake.

Since the 14th century, people in France eat the galette des Rois once a year. According to the tradition, the cake must be divided so that each guests gets a slice, plus an extra one called the part du Bon Dieu/Vierge/Pauvre (Good Lord/Virgin/Poor) which is reserved for any unexpected stranger.

The cake is typically bought in a boulangerie, and is made of pâte feuilletée (puff pastry), frangipane (filling made from or flavored like almonds) or brioche (sweet bun). A fève (charm) in a shape of a figurine is hidden in the cake.

When kids are present, one of them (generally the youngest), must go under the table and directs whoever is serving to whom each slice should be given. The lucky one who gets the figurine becomes the king or the queen of the day, and he/she is given a golden or silver couronne (crown).

 

Three German children dressed up like the three wise men.

Three German children dressed up like the three wise men.

PS. You can order a Galette des Roi right here in Vancouver at French Made Baking on Kingsway! I’ve got one ordered in pistachio, almond and raspberry. Whomever finds the ‘feve’ gets to wear the crown tonite.

I can’t wait!

Mark LaFleur
The Antique Warehouse
226 SW Marine Drive,
Vancouver, BC
V5X2R4

http://www.antiquewarehouse.ca