Botticelli Reimagined

For this week’s art fix we visited the V&A’s hotly anticipated ‘Botticelli Reimagined’ exhibition. The V&A has triumphantly succeeded in affirming Botticelli’s enduring impact on artists and designers throughout the years.

While he is undeniably considered one of the greatest artists of all time, the V&A reminds us that his work was largely forgotten for 300 years before we rediscovered it in the 19th Century. Since then he has informed the work and imagery of artists to come.

What makes this exhibition so remarkable initially, is its sheer quantity of work, from painting to fashion to film and photography to sculpture and tapestry - it’s got it all! There are some truly breathtaking works like Rosetti's La Ghirlandata, pictured below left. Rosetti even owned work by Botticelli, one of which is featured in this exhibition, a true testament of his love of the Renaissance master.

While we loved seeing the traditional works on dimply, one of the highlights for us was seeing the contemporary piece and how Botticelli’s Venus has been utilised and subverted in contemporary art. The photograph in the centre below uses pieces of trash and junk, remoulding it into Botticelli's iconic composition. The beauty of the images lies in Botticelli's Venus icon to survive amongst its mishmashed context - an interesting metaphor for its endurance in contemporary culture.

Inspired by Anwar Shemza

Walking around the Tate Britain last week we were struck by a wonderful Spotlight Display by Anwar Shemza.

Shemza moved to London from Lahore in 1956. In London he abandoned his illustrative and figurative approach that had brought him acclaim in Pakistan, he had achieved widespread recognition in Pakistan but was unrecognised in London

During his time at the Slade, a lecturer described Islamic art as purely functional and it was from that point that Shemza started his own, new style of compositions which combined calligraphy, Islamic architectural features and elements of Western abstraction. His Western influences came from artists such as Paul Klee and we loved the way he blended this abstraction with Islamic artistic traditions.

At Devas Designs we draw inspiration from many sources from sights we see on our travels to natural forms to works of art and antiques. Shemza's work reminded us of carpet designs we had seen. You don't need to own an artwork to introduce its influence into your home, if a well known work inspires you, you can draw on its colour scheme, textures and patterns to inform the look and feel of your interior.

Jennifer Manners creates beautiful modern rugs from bespoke designs. Each rug is hand made in Nepal and India by artisans who have been working in the textile industry for generations. Their previous patterns evoke middle eastern designs with a contemporary take.

Jan Kath also creates incredible designs using high quality materials such as Tibetan highland wool, Chinese silk, cashmere and nettle fibres. His rugs are also handwoven in Nepal by skilled artisans using a high density knotting technique to create wonderful textures that vary with each design. He sees his rugs as artworks in themselves, their texture and colourings have a beautiful painterly quality, they would be sure to stand out in a contemporary interior.

Hilma af Klint: Painting the Unseen at The Serpentine Gallery

This weekend we visited an extraordinary exhibition at The Serpentine Gallery of a Swedish artist called Hilma af Klint. Who’s Hilma af Klint I hear you ask? … If you have heard of Hilma af Klint I am guessing it was only recently. While this exhibition has attracted a huge amount of press, prior to this show she was virtually unknown in the UK.

Being a woman, producing pioneering and unconventional artwork such as this, is probably the greatest reason for af Klint's exception from history. In some sense she was lucky to have grown up in Sweden, a country that allowed women to train as artists well before the rest of Europe and as a result, she studied at The Royal Academy of Arts in Stockholm between 1882-1887. She began her career by painting landscapes and portraits and gained some recognition at that time. It was her protestant upbringing and studies of Theosophy however that was the pivotal inspiration for her abstract works - this was also the first religious group in Europe to accept women in senior positions which must have empowered af Klint herself. Between 1906-07 she created her most revolutionary paintings which derived from automatic drawings she produced during seances - some encompass swirling abstract patterns, others follow geometric structured diagrams.

She painted the work below in 1907, years before Kandinsky or Mondrian or Malevich had ventured into abstraction. Looking into her colourful swirls, bold splatters and geometric shapes painted in the early 1900s it is undeniable that af Klint is a true pioneer of abstraction. 

Hilma af Klint was certainly a complex and creative character, drawing on spiritual experiences and unconscious thoughts. While her work and history remain a little mysterious there is no denying that she was a truly remarkable woman, painting abstract works well before the likes of Kandinsky and Malevich. This is an unmissable exhibition and an important step in making sure that she gains recognition - open until May 15th 2016 - see it to believe it.

Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse at The Royal Academy of Arts

‘Painting The Modern Garden’ at The Royal Academy of Arts is undoubtedly one of London’s most stunning exhibitions of 2016. We visited last week and were truly taken aback by the beauty of the paintings on display. While Monet is at the centre of this exhibition, there are works by Renoir, Cezanne, Pissarro, Van Gogh, Matisse and Klimt to name a few. The exhibition promises to help you see ‘the garden in art with fresh eyes’ and its doesn’t disappoint.

Interestingly the natural garden subject seems to have enabled many of these avant-garde artists to work with a greater freedom than before, freeing their palettes and their brushstrokes. Throughout he exhibition you are greeted with Monet’s stunning gardens until ending in a grand finale; Monet’s great pastel coloured waterlily paintings.

The exhibition opens with a beautiful comparison - Monet's 'The Artist's Garden in Argenteuil' (pictured below left) is placed beside Renoir's painting of Monet painting in the very garden in Argenteuil (pictured below right). This sets the tone for the exhibition, an affirmative statement about the impact Monet had on his fellow impressionists and hints that he influenced not only the garden subject matter but the act of painting en plein air.  

There are some beautiful works by a less famous name, Spanish artist Santiago Rusinol. His paintings are more structured than the Impressionist works on display and convey spectacular modelling of light, like this work below which evokes the brilliant glow of sunset. 

We thought it would be lovely to also share with you some images of Monet's garden in Giverny. These are the gardens Monet spent nearly forty years in his house in Giverny, a period many argue were his most creative. In 1883 he and his family rented the house with its 2 acre land and by 1890 he had saved enough to buy it and the surrounding land. As an avid gardener himself, Monet worked alongside his gardeners and created precise designs and layouts for his garden's planting, resulting in a stunning display. Over time he built up the land, eventually buying a water meadow which he plated up with water lilies. These became the subject of his best known works and the water meadow is now one the garden's most popular features. 

William Morris Gallery

Last weekend we visited the beautiful William Morris Gallery in London. William Morris is perhaps the best known proponent of the British Arts and Crafts Movement. His contribution is particularly marked with the revival of traditional textile arts.

Alongside his textile design, he was also a poet, novelist and social activist. The Arts and Crafts Movement developed in the 19th Century as a result of artists concerns over industrialisation. The Movement placed value on materials and design, advocating art reform.

The gallery is situated in a Grade II listed Georgian house, itself a lovely building. The Walthamstow house was William Morris’s family home between 1848-1856 - he would have been only six when he moved in. Walthamstow was at that time a country village and many have suggested that Morris was later influenced by his time spent there, surrounded by natural forms. Going against industrialisation, Morris’s designs are rooted in nature, drawing inspiration directly from natural forms including flowers, leaves and branches.


For Interior Designers, the Arts and Crafts Movement can be particularly influential as its designs featured throughout household items from wallpaper to furniture and the architecture itself.

Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture at Tate Modern

This week we visited the must-see new exhibition at Tate Modern, ‘Alexander Calder: Performing Sculpture’. It’s a truly beautiful and poetic exhibition showcasing Calder’s stunning kinetic sculptures.

Calder initially trained as an engineer before moving to Paris in the 1920s to start his artistic career. It was during his engineering education that he became fascinated with kinetics, physics and the nature of materials. In Paris he experimented with kinetic sculptures that brought to life the avant-garde interest in movement. His kinetic works blended movement with sculpture and in 1931 he invented the ‘mobile’ - Duchamp coined the term, having used it to describe Calder’s new sculptures. The poetry and beauty of his sculptures lay in their ability to move of their accord, simply catching the air in the space they hang.


We love pinning inspirational photos on Pinterest and Tate’s Pinterest board is always packed with great images. Their recent board ‘Art, Architecture and the Home’ show artworks in interiors, we liked this image below of Peggy Guggenheim alongside a Calder mobile - https://uk.pinterest.com/tategallery/art-architecture-and-the-home/

We also discovered this image of an Alexander Calder mobile in Georgia O’Keeffe’s house in Abiquiu, New Mexico. The blend of rustic design with the fluidity of his mobile is a perfect balance.

On the subject of artists’s home we were intrigued to find these images of Alexander Calder’s own living room. Having seen his mobiles in a white walled gallery space, it was quite the contrast seeing images of them amongst his colourful furnishings and belongings.

The Fabric of India at The V&A

‘The Fabric of India’ is a stunning exhibition currently on at the V&A in London. It is the first major exhibition to focus on the skills, craft and workmanship of Indian textiles from the 3rd to 21st century.

We take inspiration from crafts, traditions and trends from all over the world so this exhibition was of course unmissable for us. Textiles can provide interior designers with a huge source of inspiration; their colours, textures, design and pattern can all inform the basis of an interior’s look and feel.

The exhibition is both a historical journey and a celebration of an ancient craft being vibrantly kept alive today. As you enter the exhibition, you are first taught about the fundamentals of Indian textile production including dying and colouring techniques of silk, cotton and wool.

It is fascinating to discover how the natural plant based dyes can produce such rich colouring that has stood the test of time - many of the pieces on display are centuries old. These dyes come from a range of natural sources including turmeric (yellow), lac beetle secretions (earthy red), indigo plants (blue) and chay root bark (red).

There is a section dedicated to political textiles, as co-curator Divia Patel said “Fabric was also very tied up with the resistance movement. It was a key symbol of power and protest”. Gandhi's Swadeshi movement, for example, encouraged handmade fabric production as a way of rejecting foreign goods. 

Alongside historic items are contemporary pieces, like this women’s ‘Ajrak’ jacket below which was designed by Rajesh Pratap Singh in 2010.

There is also this extraordinary “moveable palace”, pictured below, which was Tipu Sultan’s (the Indian ruler of Mysore) 18th century tent.

The exhibition is on until January 10th 2016 so catch it while you can!

Scottish Art at Sotheby's

You might have noticed how much we love attending auctions and sales in London. As well as antiques, we collect works of art for our clients. Some pieces are for their existing collections and some help us to tie together an interior through colours, theme and genre. We think it’s important to keep updated with trends in the market, particularly if you are starting what might become an investment collection.

This month Sotheby’s launched a dedicated Scottish art sale. ‘Highlights of Scottish Art’ features eighty works by Scottish artists from the 19th and 20th centuries, including photography.

The work of renowned Scottish colourist Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell is headlining the auction. His works for sale included this piece ‘The Cheval Glass’ from his much loved Reflections series. We love this series particularly as each work shows a subject in an elegant and stylish interior. Each subject stands before a mirror and their reflection completes the portrait.

Estimate: £250,000-350,000

Lot Sold: £269,000

This work, also by Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell is beautifully vibrant. It depicts Florian’s Cafe in Venice and was strongly influenced by French impressionist painters like Cezanne. Cadell’s loose brushstrokes and free handling of paint give this painting a wonderful sense of energy. A work like this could perfectly enliven an interior and look dashing in a room with a neutral colour scheme.

Estimate: £400,000-600,000

There were also some charming works for sale by Samuel John Peploe who experimented with manipulating colour and form. He loved using strong colours and even used gesso to prime his canvas so that his colours were as vibrant as he could get them. 

Estimate: £350,000-450,000 - Lot Sold: £485,000

Estimate: £250,000-350,000 - Lot Sold: £305,000

William Russell Flint is particularly known for his watercolours, so this work really stood out for us. He trained as a lithographer and was a prolific book illustrator. We loved the blue, green and grey tones of this watercolour, it would lovely in a classic interior of a similar colour scheme. This work has a romantic and wistful atmosphere that is beautify elegant, a sense of stillness pervades. A work with a subtle atmosphere and tone like this can perfectly blend into an interior, bringing a splash of colour and elegance without detracting from interior design and existing architectural details.

Estimate: £6,000-8,000

Lot Sold: £10,625

The Frick Collection // New York

As well as exploring New York’s incredible contemporary galleries, we visited The Frick Collection. The Frick is known for its outstanding collection of works of art from the Renaissance to the 19th century and includes artists such as Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Degas, Turner and El Greco. The museum also has a charming garden to relax in and was a serene environment to enjoy the collection.

Here are some of our favourite works of art on display at The Frick Collection ...

Giovanni Bellini is the most famous of the Bellini family of Venetian Renaissance painters. He revolutionised Venetian painting through his coloristic and sensuous style. This work below, St Francis in the Desert (c. 1476-78) shows St Francis receiving the stigmata. We loved the landscape which is painted with stunning detail and includes animals, birds, plants and objects like skulls.  

We couldn't help but be drawn to some of the more British works of art on display such as this portrait of Thomas Cromwell by Hans Holbein. German artist Holbein spent long periods in England where he painted the nobility of the Tudor Court.

This terracotta sculpture by Jean-Antoine Houdon also caught our eye. It represents Diana the Huntress and its life size-scale is incredible. Houdon called on classical sources such as the Apollo Belvedere which inspired her long limbed, elegant pose.

There were also some outstanding works by Titian on display. Titian is an artist who has always captivated us for his rich hues and alluring subjects. He is widely regarded as the greatest painter of 16th century Venice and when you face his paintings you can see why. The depiction of soft flesh and textures of fur is painted with extraordinary detail.

The Whitney // New York

During our trip to New York we also visited the Whitney Museum of American Art. The Whitney focuses on American art from the 20th and 21st centuries. It was founded by sculptor and collector Gertrude Whitney, who wanted to promote the work of American avant-garde artists she felt were going unrecognised. After the Met Museum declined her gift of 700 works of art for their collection, she opened her own gallery in 1929.

It was a great year to visit the Whitney - in April it finally opened its new doors after the five year construction of a new gallery in the Meatpacking District.

The new building was remarkable to see, it has been designed by architect Renzo Piano, known for his many prizes and museum constructions. While he has been criticised for his imposing structures, we were struck by the boldness and bravery of his design.

We were most intrigued by the Whitney's permanent collection which ranges from 1912 to the mid 60s and traces the development of American Modernism. Unsurprisingly, the collection is dominated by Abstract Expressionism.

Among the works on display by Edward Hopper was this study for his iconic painting 'Nighthawks'.

We also like this charcoal drawing by Georgia O'Keeffe (left). Her abstract work was inspired by organic forms from nature like flowers and trees. There is a beautiful fluidity in the rhythmic spirals in this drawing. Willem de Kooning's paintings were also beautifully vibrant, such as this work called 'Door to the River' (right) which uses giant strokes of pink and yellow.

As well as a fantastic permanent collection, there was a retrospective of Frank Stella which we caught. The exhibition showcased works from the 1950s to the present day with over 120 works of art including paintings, sculptures and drawings. Stella is a key figure in American Modernism, inspiring minimal, abstract and colour fields artists so it felt pertinent to see his work in New York. We were also attracted by his bold colour schemes, works of art like this can enliven modern and minimal interiors. 

'Picasso Sculpture' at MoMA New York

You might have seen from our Twitter photos that we spent last week in New York, exploring the city and in particular its extraordinary art galleries. New York during the Autumn is a beautiful place, its colours and culture are truly inspiring.

For those of you who have been, it will be no surprise that one of our highlights was visiting MoMA. We were lucky enough to catch MoMA’s exhibition of Picasso’s sculptures. It’s been highly anticipated as there hasn’t been an exhibition of this scale of Picasso’s sculptural works since 1967.

 

Throughout his influential career, sculpture was a medium Picasso returned to time and again. He approached sculpture in an excitedly experimental way which we love. He blended both traditional and unconventional materials and methods, much like his paintings.

The exhibition itself had over one hundred works on display, complimented by photographs and works on paper which was a lovely story telling device.

Picasso’s ‘Still Life with Guitar’ (1912) really grabbed our attention. It has been formed in true Cubist style, with multiple angles modelled from cardboard.

It was fascinating to see an artist whose career is triumphed though works on canvas with such a vast collection of sculptural works. We also enjoyed seeing how his sculpture informed his painted works and vice versa. 

Autumn at Paisnel Gallery

This week we visited Paisnel Gallery in St James's to view their Autumn collection. Paisnel Gallery specialises in 20th century art, with particular attention given to Post War art and the work of the St Ives group. 

Among the paintings on display was this wonderful work by John Piper. Piper is one of Britain most celebrated war artists and was famed for his paintings and prints. The British landscape is a setting he returns to time and again and this work entitled ‘Portholland, Cornwall’ is a classic example of this. His paintings of British towns have in many ways become archives of these British sites. We were particularly intrigued in this work for its mixture of both figurative and abstract styles.

John Copnall's 'White Painting' caught our eye for its simple colour scheme. The work is mixed media and collage with overlaid and painted sections. His use of hessian, canvas and plaster was inspired by the work of Antoni Tapies. We like the materiality of the work, which, combined with a subtle colour scheme gives a wonderful texture.

We have written about Howard Hodgkin's work before, his sense of energy really inspires us. This work, 'Put Out More Flags', immediately captured out attention for its colour, movement and energy. Characteristically, it is a hand coloured etching and the layering of colours is fluid and balanced. Although his prints were intricately hand crafted, he retains a sense of spontaneity which we love. A work like this could really enliven an interior and look splendid in a modern space.

The White Show at Flow Gallery

London is thriving with independent galleries showcasing the latest emerging and contemporary artists, one of our favourites in Flow Gallery in Notting Hill.

Flow Gallery currently has a beautiful little exhibition called ‘The White Show’ which showcases contemporary ceramics, glassware and jewellery that all work with the colour white.

Matthias Kaiser’s work tries to reveal his material process. He is interested in alchemical transformations of earth into stone and enjoys the diverse and accidental textures his ceramics build up while he works on them.

These charming miniature white pots are by Yuta Segawa. Segawa’s Japanese heritage is a primary inspiration and we love the simplicity and sense of playfulness in these works.

Do you enjoy visiting London's independent galleries? Let us know which galleries you get inspiration from in the comments section below.

Newport Street Gallery

This week we visited Damien Hirst's new gallery, Newport Street Gallery, which opened this month. The building is impressive in itself, 37,000 sq ft and has been designed by Caruso St John architects who recently worked on Tate Britain's revamp. The building was once a series of scenery painting workshops and retain an airy, warehouse feeling.

Rather than exhibiting Hirst's own work, the gallery will focus on six month exhibitions of one artist each time from Hirst's own collection. The gallery has opened with an exhibition of British abstract artist John Hoyland.

While the exhibition has been heavily criticised with reporters uninspired by Hoyland's work, we felt otherwise. The canvasses are vast, vibrant and pack a punch. We are often inspired by abstract works of art as their colours can be used as inspiration for an interior's colour scheme.

Abstract works like this can enliven a contemporary and minimal interior adding a splash of colour and character. Their boldness captivated us.



This month at the Courtauld Gallery

One of our favourite galleries to visit in London is the Courtauld Gallery. Situated in Somerset House, it is a real gem with a remarkable collection that includes paintings, drawings and sculptures from Medieval to modern times. Its 18th Century setting and intimate size provide the perfect setting to enjoy its collection.

While known for its impressive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, the Courtauld Gallery also has a fantastic series of special exhibitions. This month we saw two wonderful exhibitions at the Courtauld from British artists Bridget Riley and Peter Lanyon.

‘Soaring Flight’, which opened this week, is a stunning exhibition of paintings by Peter Lanyon. Despite his untimely and early death, Lanyon was one of Britain most important post-war painters forming his own style of landscape painting that merged abstraction and constructivism.

We are often drawn to abstract paintings that can provide us with the inspiration for a colour palette while enlivening a room.

There’s also an eye opening display of Bridget Riley’s work alongside her great inspiration, Georges Seurat.

They are undoubtedly united by their focus on optical art and interest in the science of colour, but this exhibition shines a light on how influential Seurat was on Riley’s career. Among the works on display are her copies and versions of Seurat’s pointillist landscapes.

For us it’s also fascinating to see the old and new displayed together, we loved the pairing of Riley’s iconic 60s works with Seurat’s 19th Century paintings. In terms of mixing old and new in interior design projects, Devas Designs have always enjoyed incorporating and blending traditional pieces with modern styles. The best thing about incorporating classic, antique pieces and works of art into a modern interior is that they can become timeless if chosen well.

London Design Festival 2015

We’ve loved seeing design installations popping up across London over the past week for this year’s London Design Festival. Its mission to pronounce London as the design capital is clear and compelling and with so many hundreds of young and established designers proving their talent, we’re close to a win! There are some fantastic and dynamic events taking place until the end of the month, so we’ve picked some of our must-see spots to make it easier for you.

First up is designjunction  from furniture to lighting to product design, designjunction is packed with inspiring designs. Staged in Victoria House and the old St Martins college building in Holborn, the designjunction flagship had a hugely dynamic range of exhibitors showcasing cutting-edge brands, new labels and design pop-ups.

If you’re a Londoner reading this, you’ve probably already seen you twitter feed clogged up with photos of Charles Petillon’s Heartbeat installation in the Victorian and iconic Covent Garden Market. Petillon has created a 54 metre stretch of white balloons with gently pulsating white lights to evoke a heartbeat. They appear almost cloudily and beautifully poetic.

Speaking of the work Petillon said: “The balloon invasions I create are metaphors. Their goal is to change the way in which we see the things we live alongside each day without really noticing them. With Heartbeat I wanted to represent the Market Building as the beating heart of this area – connecting its past with the present day to allow visitors to re-examine its role at the heart of London’s life.” The installation is completely free to walk around and up until September 27th.

Somerset House is also taking part this year, hosting a series of exhibitions and talks. Among them, one of our favourites is their 10 Designers in the West Wing exhibition. They’ve teamed up with the London Design Festival organisers to showcase 10 leading international designers including Nendo, Faye Toogood and Ross Lovegrove.

We particularly enjoyed Faye Toogood’s display of English drawing rooms, redrafted as charcoal sketches on translucent plastic sheets that line the walls. She creates an atmospheric space to relax in.

There’s also a focus on new digital technology, with Tino Schaedler of Optimist Design joining with United Realities to take us on a journey in exploring both physical and virtual spaces and their connections. Free and open until September 27th, more info here.

Another of our favourite’s to visit in Decorex. Held in the stunning and historic Syon Park, its surroundings are suitably luxurious. Inside is a wealth of design and craft, with over 400 exhibitors, both emerging and established, showcasing their finest pieces.

Have you had a chance to explore design in the capital? Let us know which pieces you’ve seen and what’s been inspiring you.

Colours of the Mediterranean

This week's blog comes from Palma de Mallorca and is inspired by the art of Joan Miro and his love of mediterranean colours. Born in Barcelona, artist Joan Miro settled in Mallorca in 1956. His magnificent studio was designed by his friend and collaborator Josep Luis Sert. It was in Mallorca that Miro found a place where he could create in peace and freedom. For over 25 years he produced some of his most vibrant works of art from this studio.

Miro worked with a limited palette of unblended colours, favouring reds, blues, yellows, greens and black. His colouring is bold and expressive and gave inspiration to a generation of colour field painters - we often take inspiration from works of art and Miro's colours provide a beautiful but bold balance which can perfectly translate into an interior's colour scheme. His semi-abstract forms also provide a charming playfulness relating as they do to natural elements of life including the sun, the stars, birds, fish, the sea and the human form.

Take a look below at Miro's Danseuse Dancers (1969) paired with Farrow & Ball's Blue Ground and St Giles Blue. A work of art with pure colours like this provides inspiration for a seaside home and could beautifully reflect its natural surroundings. Alternatively, these soft blues would look lovely in a children's bedroom to create a subtle but fresh feeling.

In the central image below Miro has painted a signature red wall in an otherwise white interior in which to create a simple display of his Spanish dolls. Farrow & Ball's Radicchio and Red Earth paint colours echo this earthy theme.

Milo's colours often reflect the tiles, houses and traditional craft works of Mallorca, like this tiled advertising wall piece below right. Farrow & Ball's Dayroom Yellow perfectly reflects the atmosphere of Miro's painting below left, Bird Against The Horizon (1976), and could bring some Mediterranean sunshine into your home.

If you find yourself in Mallorca, make sure you visit Miro's studio and home which has a beautiful permanent exhibition of Miro's work.

You can find out more on Fundacio Pilar i Joan Miro a Mallorca here

De Gournay at the Met

Our friends at de Gournay have just told us about their involvement at this year’s Met Gala. For those of you less familiar with their work, de Gournay specialise in hand painted wallpaper, fabrics, furniture and porcelain.

Claud Cecil Gurney founded the design house in 1986 after searching for wallpapers for his own home, inspired by Chinese artisans and painters he set about opening his own studio in China. De Gournay still create designs that are inspired by 18th Century Chinoiserie hand painted designs and now work from four studios across China.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Asian Art department is celebrating its hundredth anniversary with the major exhibition ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’, which also dictated this year’s Met Gala theme. It is the largest exhibition in the Costume Institute’s history, with 16 galleries taking a look at how China has inspired Western fashion designers and how traditional symbols have been re-appropriated. As well as fashion, there are exquisite pieces of porcelain, paintings, calligraphy and costumes.

Alongside several the exquisite garments, de Gournay’s wallpaper sits behind as a backdrop. This work merges perfectly with this theme of how Western design houses have been heavily inspired by Chinese traditions. 

For the Met Gala they also produced stunning details that really helped to produce the Chinoiserie look and feel of the event. They designed and hand painted details including the stage curtain, beautiful tablecloths and even a 40 foot feature wall.

Inspired by Works of Art - Agnes Martin and Sonia Delaunay at Tate

We’ve been struck by two recent exhibitions at Tate Modern this month – Agnes Martin and Sonia Delaunay. While their work is clearly aesthetically different, they are united in their focus on colour, tone and pattern.

At Devas Designs we love visiting exhibitions and seeing works of art which can provide us with inspiration for interior deigns. If you’re really struck by a work of art because of its colours scheme, tone and hue, this can form that starting point for dictating your interior.

Agnes Martin’s work sits within a tuning point between Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism. While living in Lower Manhattan she met the bright young artists of the 60s like Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly and Robert Rauschenberg – they inspired her to start incorporating found objects to create assemblages.

She eventually turned to a more minimal approach, often using grid-like structures. We were struck by her subtly striped paintings, from a distance some appear almost monochrome but when viewed closer become alternating stripes of pastel tones. These muted tones are also very on trend – Tate has even created their own Pinterest board with interiors that follow an Agnes Martin inspired colour schemes!

Take a look here

Sonia Delaunay is well known for her exploration of dynamic contrasting colours and compositions, pioneering the movement ‘Simultaneism’ with her husband Robert Delaunay.

Delaunay was a key figure in the avant-garde movement in Paris and as well as fine art, she produced dresses, scarves, umbrellas, hats, shoes and swimming costumes. She also created some iconic and stunning carpet designs, seen below. Her focus on colour and harmony makes her a perfect artist for inspiration, whether you’re looking for a new bold colour scheme or to add splashes of colour into your interior, her confident colours would certainly stand out.

Her and Robert were influence by the strong colours of Fauvist artists and they tried to use these colours in their own work, with a greater focus on rhythm.

Take a look at Tate’s Pinterest to see more Delaunay inspired fashion, patterns and colour schemes. Click here to have a look. 

Every Object Tells A Story ... Part I

Last week we visited the incredible exhibition in Fitzroy Square 'Every Object Tells A Story'. The exhibition showcases art dealer Oliver Hoare’s wonderfully eclectic and unique  ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’, with 250 personally chosen objects that span across 5,000 years. Truly unique, this exhibition certainly explores and proves its title’s statement; ‘Every Object Tells a Story’.

Every object on display has its own history, tales, aesthetic symbolism and secrets … so it was a tricky choice to pick our favourites, but we wanted to share some of the items that truly stood out for us. In fact we had so many favourite pieces we've split them into two blog posts!

This stone piece from Western Asia, 3rd millennium BC represents the mythical ‘Hero’ figure. It is astounding in its implications, linking to the earliest questionings of human beings of the purpose of existence. The figure relates to the old Babylonian tablets that bear the Epic of Gilgamesh, the hero-king of Urak.

As with all of the pieces, this Gandhara grey schist head of the Buddha has a personal history for Oliver. During his time at Christie’s in the late 60s, Oliver cleared shipments through customs for Oxus owner David Lindhal making sure they were genuinely antique. He was stunned when he saw this 3rd Century AD work from Afghanistan. It reflects the Indian embodiment of spiritual beauty and shows the influence of ancient Greek ideals of beauty on Ghandara art.

This was one of the most powerfully totemic pieces from the exhibition; the ‘Mirror of the Soul’ from Iran around 12-13th Century. Although it originated in China, this type mirror became increasingly familiar in Iran from the 12th Century as well as in Iranian literature. It was used as a mystical symbol of the soul, an allegory for its polished possibilities to be enlightened by spiritual practices.