Recent Post -  Patmos Garden From the Archives Desert Island Discs

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

FABRICS: Victoria

My fabric Victoria - from the John Stefanidis archive - inspired by a document in the V&A ... Bold old-fashioned bravura!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012


Japanese screens are beautiful, decorative and should be on the floor, not hung on a wall... a dining room in Dorset, England shows this to great effect.  The oak table and chairs are a John Stefanidis design.

In a Paris apartment [below] I used a stunning 8 panelled Coromandel screen instead of curtains. In front sits a Chinese table and, left and right, Art deco chairs which can be easily whipped away and replaced with light folding chairs, a cloth thrown over the table awaits luncheon guests.  On the far right, is an 18th century Chinese lacquer commode.  The screen can be closed to let in daylight.  None of this dates, I am proud to say, except for the spot lights in the ceiling!   

Monday, 24 September 2012


Bronzes spanning 5000 years from Asia, Africa and Europe - Ancient Greek, Roman, Etruscan, Medieval Renaissance and works by Rodin, Picasso, Jasper Johns, Henry Moore and Louise Bourgeois.  Admirably curated, beautifully lit.  

The most extraordinary bronzes of the highest quality, we are unlikely to ever see the like again - DO NOT MISS...until December 9

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


18th Century North Italian ladies in masks - instructive
and fun!
I am often asked what influences my work – the answer ranges from Alberti to Corbusier, Titian to Twombly – what an annoying question.
Nevertheless, the sale at Christies of the contents of Villa di Azzate [Ca'mera, Varese] vividly reminded me how influenced I was in my Milanese years by the great Italian antiquarian and taste-maker Sandro Orsi who possessed a splendid and discriminating eye. Museum Curator and Scholar of Italian Renaissance Art, John Pope-Hennessy was taken to the house by the erudite art historian Alvar Gonzalez-Palacios and, on leaving, whispered ‘I have never seen such an example of poetical taste’.

18th Century North Italian carved models of hounds 

French 18th Century engravings

Placed on a North Italian 17th Century walnut serpentine sideboard: Chinese Blanc-de-Chine [19th Century],
 a creche model of a camel [19th Century], a North Italian lion [18th Century].
In the background a Piedmontese Chinoiserie wallpaper [18th Century]  

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

ART: Goya The Nude Maja

Unposed nude pictures should be prohibited! 
      Unlike Goya's The Nude Maja
[The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, nude photos, topless photos  French closer magazine, topless photos

Monday, 17 September 2012


I think American with bar culture...and cocktails such as Dry Martinis [see Mad Men on TV!], Mint Juleps, Bloody Marys and Bullshots -- ALL FAVOURITES OF MINE -- YUMMY!  Mandatory to arrange a bar, or any areas where drinks are made and served, practically and decoratively.
A corner of a drinks cabinet at my Dorset cowsheds,
 a refrigerator is underneath and a sink lies to the left [not shown in photograph]

Thursday, 13 September 2012


The Ligurian coast of Italy is surprisingly unspoilt despite the Italian word 'Rapallizasione' having entered the language because of massive overbuild in Rapallo.  Saint Margherita Ligure has kept its old-fashioned bourgeois charm - it has the best gourmet speciality grocery and wine store imaginable!  Seghezzo in Via Cavour - it has a small bar and smiling staff.
Portofino, the most civilised and prettiest of ports

Going south, are the dramatic and beautiful Cinque Terre [five ports].  Before them is Chiaviri [see below]. 

An 'osteria con cucina' since 1907, Luchin 
delicious, authentic local food

Between Chiavari and Rapallo is Seteria di Zoagli - fabrics handwoven on original looms, wonderful silks and brocades.  Their speciality is 'veluto liscio' - the very best plain silk velvet, very dense and of extraordinary quality, and only they weave 'veluto giardino' [garden velvet-polychrome], an 18th century design in seven colours. 

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

COMMENT: The Bank of England

From The Economist, September 1st, 2012...I hope we get a good Governor of the Bank of England...the post has been advertised!  Let us hope that the Governor's Parlour survives.
Below: Images of work done by John Stefanidis 
for The Bank of England 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

TRAVEL: Patmos, Greece

             HIGH SUMMER

I have just come back from my island sanctuary.  Patmos is arguably one of the most beautiful islands in Greece.  There have been many changes in the last decades, some for the better, some for the worst.   Sadly, there are fewer and fewer fish in the sea, fewer and fewer sea urchins and other serious ecological problems such as inefficient sewage plants.  Luckily, a summer resident is the impressively distinguished Marine Biologist and Conservationist Giuseppe Notalbartolo di Sciara.  He says about the island “…the coastal eco-system has collapsed, biodiversity levels have dropped tremendously.”  This highly-acclaimed scientist is making local residents aware of the problems.  He has organised meetings with the island’s fishermen, educates school children and talks to islanders who have become alarmed.  He has founded a site on Facebook ‘Patmos Habitats’.

Another enterprising attempt is the preservation, restoration and promotion of footpaths.  There is already an established movement on other islands 'Monopatia Politismon' -  Paths of Culture.   Paths are cleared, stones replaced and ancient routes discreetly numbered.

Another blight on poor Greece are diseased pines that are dying fast and can only be treated with soap and water – how do you treat millions of trees in this way?

Poor Greece at the mercy of ECB [European Central Bank].  German elections next year and, in the USA, Presidential election in November – Ahime!
My dovecot and view to the Chapel of Prophet Elijah

Monday, 10 September 2012

POETRY: Catching Life by the Throat

Rudyard Kipling has been stereotyped--demonised?--as an arch colonialist.  He believed in the British Empire, but only an author of great sensitivity with a deep understanding of India and its people, could have written 'Kim'.   In Catching Life by the Throat, one of Josephine Hart's notable anthologies of poetry readings......... in her preamble to Kipling she says, 'he was a passionate child of Empire, a fact as central to his life as Jean-Paul Sartre's Communism was to his... Unlike other passionate believers in a political world Kipling exposed the fault lines in the system, ruthlessly.'   Kipling also regularly expressed his contempt for the 'flannelled fools at the wickets of the muddied oafs at the goals'.

In this admirable collection, there are Kipling's epitaphs of the war [1914-1918]. Her are four of them:

We were together since the War began.
He was my servant-and the better man.

This man in his own country prayed we know not to what Powers
We pray Them to reward him for his bravery in ours.

On the first hour of my first day
In the front trench I fell.
(Children in boxes at play
Stand up to watch it well.

If any question why we died,
Tell them, because our fathers lied.

Friday, 7 September 2012


Do not neglect the tops of fireplaces - must they be stacked with invitations? Assume you are popular...
John Stefanidis silver pots with peonies and roses on an 18th century fireplace in Cheyne Walk, London, SW1.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

POETRY: Lord Byron

Excerpts from Don Juan:

Don José and the Donna Inez led
For some time and unhappy sort of life,
Wishing each other, not divorced, but dead;
They lived respectably as man and wife,
Their conduct was exceedingly well-bred,
And gave no outward signs of inward strife,
Until at length the smother'd fire broke out,
And put the business past all kind of doubt.

Alfonso was the name of Julia's lord,
A man well looking for his years, and who
Was neither much beloved, not yet abhorr'd;
They lived together as most people do,
Suffering each other's foibles by accord,
And not exactly either one or two
Yet he was jealous, though he did not show it,
For jealousy dislikes the world to know it.

Juan she saw, and as a pretty child,
Caress'd him often, such a thing might be
Quite innocently done, and harmless styled,
When she had twenty years, and thirteen he;
But I am not so sure I should have smiled
When he was sixteen, Julia twenty-three,
These few short years make wondrous alterations,
Particularly amongst sun-burnt nations.  

Monday, 3 September 2012

DESIGN: Inspiration for COLOUR

Clockwise: A chapel frescoe by Filippino Lippi [XV Century] in the Basilica di S. Maria Minerva, Rome; A postcard from a friend who supports, most successfully, a school in Swaziland with the Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba by Claude Lorrain [1640]   Yayoi Kusama: Once the Abominable War is over, Happiness Fills our Hearts