Monday, December 11, 2006

Touching and horn

For the second column of Touching On... , I want to write about something that I've been seeing everywhere I look these days: creamy, pearly, warm neutrals, with stripes and variegations directly from or inspired by the textures of shell and horn.

The interesting thing about this look is the unusual combination of "cold" and "hot" in one surface: the glossy, hard, "cold," look of shell warms up from subtle veins of fiery colors-- caramel, walnut, even hints of rose. Not clear yet whether this is an autumnal, winter trend, or whether the spring will continue with its own versions of the materials. But I'm loving it and hope this one sticks around for a while! (For the source of top image, look here)

{Click image to enlarge}
Clockwise, from top right: (1) shell tray, $24, from Jayson Home and Garden; (2) seashell wall tile, $35/sq foot, from Maestro Mosaics via cribcandy; (3) William and Mary Metro chair, $585, from Context Furniture; (4) Silk comforters from Eileen Fisher, $438; (5) thrown ceramic cups from James and Tilla Waters, featured at the Origins crafts fair '06.

Lovely horn servers, $78 from 2kh

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Anonymous Jonathan Hayes said...

One of my favourite possessions is a candleholder by the New York City jeweler and designer Ted Muehling (who, for me, possesses God-like design genius). It's an incredibly delicate thing, a slender tripod made of two willowy struts of blackened bronze, one of which holds a tall candle, the other of which holds a disc of polished horn. As the candle burns, the horn acts as a diffuser, filtering the light softly; the illuminated horn is absolutely stunning, like a strange moon seen from a distant planet.

It really is a joy forever. I wish Muehling showed his work online - I hate struggling to describe the things he makes, because their perfection is in the simplicity of their form, and they can only be properly understood when seen.

3:16 AM  
Blogger Phoebe said...

allusions to keats? and a discussion of polished horn? i think i've died and gone to heaven!

i'll look up ted muehling-- the horn disc sounds very simple and beautiful.

xx p

8:39 AM  
Anonymous Jonathan Hayes said...

You really should see his jewelry - extremely simple forms extracted from nature- the essence of a seed, the essence of a shell, the essence of a branch, rendered in silver, or blackened bronze or gold. His sense of proportion is just devastating; I mean, there's something about a Ted Muehling earring that achieves everything I want from design - formal purity, balance, material integrity and proportion. There are so few things that are perfect, but his drop earrings, from the pearl earrings to the semiprecious stones shaped into a ovoid form, to the simple shapes in metal (the Gnat, the Melon), they really are just that: perfect.

I must say that while dating me is pretty much a thankless task, I do think that the jewelry gifts I give go a little way towards making up the balance!

You can usually see one or two of his things up on eBay at any given moment.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous Jonathan Hayes said...

Actually, some of his work in porcelain for Nymphenburg in Germany is available through Moss - the branch candle holders, the eggs and the coral vases are particularly lovely.

I don't doubt that you'll recognize some of the work.

3:28 AM  
Blogger Phoebe said...

j, thanks for the link! WOW. will definitely keep an eye on Muehling.... xxp

12:43 PM  
Blogger Heather Moore said...

Here in South Africa, there's a ghastly glut of animal product gift items like horn salad servers,mostly catering to the tourist trade, but these have managed to penetrate my prejudices. I love the allusion to a cloven hoof in the horn server on the left. Very evocative.

2:48 AM  

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