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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

NOTICE: John Stefanidis Fabric Collection

John Stefanidis Brands Ltd is pleased to confirm that the John Stefanidis fabric collection has been sold to Tissus d’Helene, one of the best fabric showrooms in London

From 1st August, 2012 ownership the following designs will pass to: Tissus d’Helene, 421 Design Centre East, Chelsea Harbour, London SW10 0XF.  

Contact:  Helen Cormack.  Tel: 020 7352 9977.  E: W:


Abigail                                                  Emma                                                                   Lucy
Alexandrine                                        Esrajim Stripe Narrow                                    Mahal                   
Bamboo                                                 Fanfare (Foibles II)                                            Paulina
Baskets (Foibles V)                             Fishbones (Fish)                                                 Pelargonium
Bells (Foibles III)                                 Floral                                                                     Promenade (Stripe – Foibles)
Bokhara                                    Flowers                                                                 Puccini
Butnair                                                 Forest                                                                    Rain      
Butterflies                                            Fossil                                                                      Rice
Checks                                                   Gonfaloniere                                                       Scritch Scratch 
Chinese Clouds                                   Herringbone                                                        Shades
Chinese Clouds Small                       Hong Kong Netherton (Netherton)              Shanghai
Claudia                                                 Jaisilmir                                                              Spitalfields
Cosima                                                  Jennie                                                                   Tibet
Delft                                                       Josephine                                                             Udaiphur            
Diamonds                                             Kuba (Art Negre I)                                            Yin Yang
Eliane                                                    Ladakh                                                                  Zanzibar (Art Negre II)

Please note that design Carnival will be discontinued from the current range and available by special order only from John Stefanidis Brands Ltd.

We are working to make the transition of the range to the new owner as smooth as possible for both our rep. showrooms and customers.  Enquiries, sampling requests and orders placed after 1st August, 2012 should be addressed to Tissus d’Helene.

Monday, 30 July 2012

CULTURE: The Victoria & Albert Museum

The V&A in London had become a sad and dingy place filled with treasures.  It is now all any museum should be and the Mediaeval and Rennaissance galleries are glorious...

...and no visit is complete without a seeing Tipu Sahib and 'Tippoo's Tiger', who used to lie meeting his maker on a stone floor but is now contained by glass [these galleries are unfortunately substandard compared to later installations]

The Man-Tyger-Organ: A mechanical toy

Concealed in the bodywork is a mechanical pipe-organ with several parts, all operated simultaneously by a crank-handle emerging from the tiger's shoulder. Inside the tiger and the man are weighted bellows with pipes attached. Turning the handle pumps the bellows and controls the air-flow to simulate the growls of the tiger and cries of the victim. The cries are varied by the approach of the hand towards the mouth and away, as the left arm - the only moving part - is raised and lowered.
Another pair of bellows, linked to the same handle, supplies wind for a miniature organ of 18 pipes built into the tiger, with stops under the tail. Its structure is like that of European mechanical organs, but adapted for hand operation by a set of ivory button keys reached through a flap in the animal's side. The mechanism has been repaired several times and altered from its original state. It is now too fragile to be operated regularly.

Tipu (Tipu Sahib to his European contemporaries) was Sultan of Mysore in South India from 1782-99. The painted wooden casing of his tiger is unmistakably Indian, but there are indications that the mechanism came from a European hand. A French source seems likely, as many French artisans were employed in the Sultan's workshops under Citizen Tipu's unofficial alliance with the Revolutionary government. Other Indian potentates also collected musical automata, which were fashionable at the time; what makes this one so interesting is its uniquely personal significance for the owner

Thursday, 26 July 2012

ARCHITECTURE: China Central Television Headquarters

Rem Koolhaas' monumental, inventive tour-de-force, which I saw in the making in Beijing,  is now complete and ready for occupation. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

DESIGN: Balance by John Stefanidis

The corners of rooms count as do well balanced and harmoniously arranged walls, using objects in pairs OR NOT.

Below left: A wall in my Hall - SYMMETRY: a Teddy Millington-Drake abstract painting, two Chinese baby pens [yes,  babies once took the place of umbrellas and sticks]; a high Baroque English stool painted cream and highlighted in dark brown and upholstered in John Stefanidis Flowers fabric from the Japanese Collection.
Below right: A wall in my bedroom - ASYMMETRY: Note the Garouste & Bonetti metal cupboard and the Asian mix of Tatami matting, woven ikat, basketweave, a Pacific shell, Indonesian batik  on walls and chair---different countries share an aesthetic language.

Above: In a guest bedroom in the Mid-West, USA: red walls, a group of Millington-Drake watercolours; the bed hanging is covered in John Stefanidis Bokhara fabric and the same flower motif made to fit the John Stefanidis Getty chairs. Note the small red stool for people who are too short to climb into bed.

Below: A glimpse into a sitting room: the palest of pink walls [a dash of carmine in white emulsion], a pink batik covers a table, Schiaparelli pink sofas and cushions; a vibrant pink bougainvillea in a brown ceramic pot.

Below: Plants and flowers make for happiness and remember that Mme. de Pompadour's rooms at Versailles - now so formal to our eyes - were brimful with flowers and plants: 

Below: Balance and views through whenever possible: A London guest bedroom in an 18th century house.

Below: A corner of the sitting room seen through door above: Note balance and proportion, the large pleated silk shade is the right size and 'accents' the mirror on the wall,  flowers in a John Stefanidis silver pot; a silk cushion embroidered with tiny gold and red  buttons from Rajasthan.

Friday, 20 July 2012

ART: Sensuality

Scuola Grande dei Carmini, Venezia

Giambattista Tiepolo
Fortezza e Giustizia

Thursday, 19 July 2012

OPERA: Matilde di Shabran by Rossini

Whenever I listen to this opera, it puts me in good humour...

With Annick Massis and Juan Diego Flores, conducted by Riccardo Frizza [2004].

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

DESIGN: A house on the Bosphorus, Istanbul - designed by John Stefanidis

Further images from a project in Istanbul as featured in the January issue of 
The World of Interiors 
[see my post of December 5, 2011]

Photos: Fritz von der Schulenburg 
courtesy of The Interior Archive

Monday, 16 July 2012

CURIOSITY: 'Ruin Room' at the The Church of the Santissima Trinità dei Monti, Rome

On my next visit to Rome, I am determined to get into the closed order of nuns who in their convent have the 'Ruin Room' at Sta Trinità dei Monti, painted in trompe l'oeil by Charles-Louis Clérisseau c.1760 imitating a Roman temple which had become the residence of a Christian hermit - ref: In Ruins by Christopher Woodward, published by Pantheon Books.

Thursday, 12 July 2012


The Gazebo, Berkshire
Paternoster vents, London
I at last got to see this exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum - until September 30, 2012.  Ground breaking designs, Thomas Heatherwick is a genius of invention [see my entry of January 12, 2012 ]... but why give such an extraordinary exhibition so little space?   Everything looks jumbled and overcrowded - it needed rooms 3 to 4 times the size - PITY!

London Bus

Longchamp Store, New York
Spun - Can a rotationally symmetrical form make a comfortable chair?

Old Airport Road Park, Abu Dhabi
Can you make a park out of a desert instead of placing a European garden on top of it? 

Photographs from: Thomas Heatherwick Making,  published by Thames & Hudson

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


Among the men and women the multitude,

I perceive one picking me out by secret and divine signs,
Acknowledging none else, not parent, wife, husband, brother, child,
any nearer than I am,
Some are baffled, but that one is not--that one knows me.

Ah lover and perfect equal,
I meant that you should discover me so by faint indirections,
And I when I meet you mean to discover you by the like in you.
A radical in his time, he was the first American poet to achieve an international reputation.  

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

BOOKS: The World my Wilderness by Rose Macaulay

Everything about this book is dated......and no wonder as it was published in 1950 [longer than the Queen has reigned!]  Fascinating writing  about the blitzed bomb sites of London and the human heart.  I shall pursue and buy more of her books.

Monday, 9 July 2012

FABRICS: Esrajim Stripe

Stripes never go in or out of fashion, they are endlessly chic and versatile and can be used to enhance any scheme or as a feature on their own. Esrajim Stripe is a simple two-colour millipede stripe that has endless possibilities as a lining, walling or blinds.

Available in 4 colours:
Red/Blue,  Candy/Lime, Blue/Charcoal, Aqua/Cocoa

GARDENS: The Apennine Colossus by Giambologna in the gardens of Villa di Pratolino,

A Tuscan marvel!

After walking though woods in filtered sunlight, and arbours of emerald and sage green, an enormous giant appears suddenly, built in 'rustic style' by Giambologna - no less.  It is a very great and pleasurable surprise - the only surviving feature of a garden full of marvels, jokes and fun.  Made in the 1580's, a present of Francesco I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and Bianca Capello his Venetian mistress with whom he was in love and later married after the death of his wife, Joanna of Austria.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

DRAMA: The Killing

I AM NOT A FAN OF DETECTIVE STORIES and so a disc set of The Killing - a present sent by an American friend - has sat unwatched until recently.  The Danish TV series - now famous - deserves its reputation. IT IS THRILLING and so well acted and filmed 'real time', day by day.

Monday, 2 July 2012

ARCHITECTURE: The Albert Memorial, London

A symbol of High Victorian architecture designed in Gothic Revival style by Sir George Gilbert Scott [1872], the Albert Memorial in London's Kensington Gardens, opposite the Royal Albert Hall.  The gold and black railings are not gothic but inspired by neo-classicism.

Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas are sculptural groups at  four corners of the memorial.  The group with the most 'brio' is Africa, sculpted by John Foley [below left].  High Victorian it may be, but also high kitsch if compared to Bernini at Piazza Navona in Rome [below right] .