I have been immersed in Sue Roe’s book In Montmartre this summer learning about the birth of modern art in intense detail. I always thought I understood the basics influences and philosophies, but the author brings the era to life with the passionate personalities and eccentric characters that shaped this defining time in art history. The ardent competition between Picasso, Matisse, Derain, Modigliani and other artists searching for innovative ways of expression, the influence of African sculpture, the patronage of the Stein family and the community they fostered are beyond fascinating.
I was delighted to see the new introductions from Bungalow 5 capture the essence of these influences with their furnishings, art and accessories. Bugalow 5 does a wonderful job explaining the influence behind each piece and they have added several pieces that will work in any interior. I have selected several of my favorites below along with other pieces that highlight the colors and complement the lines in the artwork.The Hearst silk painting is a cubist composition of triangles and other geometries in prismatic blues, grays, greens, charcoals, pinks and golds. Paintings like these sought to modernize art by remixing 400 years of three-point perspective. The dense, energetic, three-dimensional results represented the world as they saw it. Each unique image is a great design solution that captures the spirit of fine art in beautiful hand painted silk.African aesthetics were a powerful influence on jazz, Cubism, Surrealism, Modernism and Lost Generation artists who wanted to move beyond western representations. Cocteau Tables are made of solid mahogany to capture the spirit of Paris between the wars. They feature graphic zig-zag legs, pretty bronze-finish solid brass stretchers, all-over hand-gouged texture and rich color.
The Safira Lamp is a modified Yaolingzun or “Mallet-Shaped” vase that originated in the Ming Dynasty. Our version has a long, elegant neck with a slim, rolled collar atop the flared base. Available in light blue or white porcelain with antique gold leaf base and finial.The monumentality and mystery of Cycladic sculpture like our Delos Head inspired generations of artists like Picasso, Modigliani, Brancusi and Cezanne who admired the ancient style’s sophisticated abstractions. Great as bookends or decorative objects at home or office.The Avignon silk painting is one of those beautiful 1940s French experiments into the optical effects of color. Rectilinear planes of houses at dusk flatten into watery blue, gray, charcoal, rose and soft yellow. This abstracted vision of Avignon, France reflects in mirror image on the Rhone river’s flowing surface. Each hand painted image is a great design solution, which captures the spirit of top-level art in beautiful, décor-friendly materials.
The elegant, medium scale Kaylin Lamp has a classic amphora shape and horizontal banding for texture. Artisanal Chinese porcelain delivers luminous color, updated styling and a modern spirit to a traditional form. The base and finial are gold leafed. Shade sold separately.The Bouquet Collection is a curvy, deco-inspired design that appeals those who want polished, decorated rooms. The romantic, serpentine front profile is finished with lacquered grasscloth that resembles the look and texture of a painted strié finish.The Felix statue is inspired by Alberto Giacometti’s 1951 “Cat” sculpture which arose from a memory of his brother Diego’s pet moving, “just like a ray of light”. Giacometti’s most important works consist of rigidly frontal, radically simplified forms. The emaciation and anonymity were recognized as metaphors for the human condition in post-war Europe. Great at home, office or sophisticated kid’s menagerie.Castelli silk paintings are sophisticated, large-scale calligraphy that capture the spirit of blue chip art in beautiful, hand painted colorways. Each gestural, graffiti-inspired painting bridges antiquity, traditional notions of European beauty and post war American painting.
The Union depicts two standing figures that merge into one. This statue emerges from the visual language of Henry Moore and generations of post WWI artists who sought to make sculpture that was relevant to the times. Great as decorative object at home or office.
The Janak, large 4-door cabinet is a super-glamorous, high-style design that bridges Bauhaus principles and mid-century styling to create a craft intensive version of Hollywood Regency. The design features colored, textured grasscloth sheathing and a shaped top with two central doors that emerge to break the long surface with pretty dimension and matched, diamond patterned nail heads.
The smoky, Silhouette figure might have been seen in Paris during the spring of 1911 at the first Cubism exhibition in the Salon des Indépendants. We see an alert standing figure that explodes three-point perspective into abstract planes.This unique image captures modernisms inventive spirit in beautiful, hand painted shades of griege on silk canvas. Calm. Strong. Fashionable.
The Karl Collection appeals to lovers of texture, contrast and a refined ancient-modern vibe. Skilled craftsmen carve planks of solid mahogany into legs with a tiered shingle detail that displays maximum grain. Each leg has a sawtooth profile edge that narrows toward the top from a wider base. An artisan-made antique glass mirror top complements the design’s warm, natural appeal.
The Marseilles French sailors are realized in beautiful hand painted cobalt blue and crimson red on silk canvas. They interact in a flattened cubist style, which emphasizes bold color and graphic lines that maintain the effect of a third dimension. Each dynamic image is a great design solution, which captures the spirit of blue chip art in beautiful, décor-friendly materials. Vivre a la Jazz!The Demi Statue of an interwoven circle captures the energy of Lost Generation modernism, which sought to make sculpture relevant to its times. Our design is similar to small studies by sculptors like Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore or Constantin Brâncusi that show the artist’s hand on every surface. Great as bookends or decorative objects at home or office.
Lane Mirrors in beveled antique mirror with copper cabochons are a fashionable take on Egyptian Revival styling. The exuberant mirror-on-mirror ziggurat shape has gem-like cuts with intricate faceting that suggest wings that might have surrounded the inspiration jewelry. Available in two sizes.
The Red and Black is painted in Russian avant-garde style, which comes from a time of utopian experiments in art and politics. Here we have a figure that completely breaks with the traditions of western academic painting. This new aesthetic is abstracted to its modern, dramatic essentials. High-contrast red, black and cream capture the spirit of great art. Get your manifesto on.
Like its namesake country, the Malta dining table is a cosmopolitan mix of Spanish, English and African influences. This rhythmic design in solid mahogany and mahogany veneers features very decorative, downward-facing crenellated and pegged stretchers. The lyre-shaped legs have interesting, inward-facing rounded corbeil feet that repeat in reverse where they meet the simplest tabletop.
The Quartet silk image depicts a period in early cubism when the art of its time exploded the boundaries of easel painting. This modern image in graphic black, white, cream and pale blue celebrates the energy of African art in Paris between the wars. Interlocking, all-over figures capture the spirit of great art in beautiful, hand painting on silk canvas.The Bomeo Collection is hand carved of cape-lilac mahogany. Details like architectural reveals, sender legs and geometrically textured carved fronts give it the spirit and lightness of Italian mid-century designs from Gio Ponti and others.
Like its namesake, the solid mahogany Zanzibar Side Table is a spicy mix of textured global influences. This dynamic design displays hand carved planes of positive and negative space ornamented by a pattern of vertical chisel scoops. The architectural vibe is grounded by a circular top and bottom with matching vertical chiseled edges. Totally totemic.
The Ernst Lamp is inspired by a1930s classic from the Giacometti brothers for Jean-Michel Frank. Available in matte white or black resin that is a convincing substitute for the original plaster. Shade purchased separately.
Please feel free to contact the studio if you are interested in any of these items. For more of my design inspiration, please be sure to follow along on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and subscribe to Bespoke Banter. Thanks for reading and please come back again!
When I first moved to Charlotte, I was fortunate to land an internship at Circa Interiors & Antiques. Little did I know that this design firm would become such an important start to my career and that I would always be proud to be a part of the extended Circa family. Each designer I have worked for has had their own style…from how they create to how they interact with their clients and employees. Cindy Smith taught me so many invaluable lessons about running a business from the originality of the design process to always making the clients feel heard, understood and valued. She has been someone I have always looked up to and I was thrilled to interview her about what makes her “tick” and her creative process. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did!
I spent a summer in France and it changed my perspective on life. We lived in farmhouse and my French family took great care to make the most simple moments special. Great care and attention was paid to every detail from setting the table to preparing the meal, from how a napkin was folded to how flowers were arranged. It has stayed with me and inspired my lifestyle.
My mother was very influential to my aesthetic. She was a consummate hostess…she always had an open door policy and made everyone feel welcome. She also made everything beautiful, no matter how simple it was.
Forty six years ago I moved to Charlotte as a young bride and taught school. I started taking antique classes from local legend Ruth Scott and went to auctions and flea markets on the weekends. I began selling objects out of my home when my children were little. When we outgrew that, Circa was created with with two friends. We sold upholstery and antiques out of a small bungalow. When our doors opened, we sold out of everything right away! We were very fortunate with our timing….Charlotte was growing and everyone was ready for a new look and items from abroad. My mother had warned me, “Honey, what are you going to do if this is successful”
I create a blank slate in my mind and try to think of what I envision the final interior to be. It is more about the mood than the actual pieces at first. In my downtime, I scour old historical design and architecture books and always try to incorporate vintage textiles to give a room a little bit of soul.
Working on the upcoming Catbird furniture collection. I had been seeing voids in the marketplace for pieces that could truly inspire a room. Everything is machine produced and created for mass appeal. I had been yearning for a new challenge and struggling with what I wanted the collection to be. My dear friend Bobby McAlpine encouraged me to “Open my mind to the universe and stop putting on the brakes.” I took a weekend to reflect and the idea finally came to me to do a collaborative collection with people I admire. All of the creators are members of my tribe!
When I was first getting started, I was hired to do a house for a client who was on a three month trip around the world. They had an unlimited budget, but it all had to be complete upon their return.
We have a great group of designers and we are always looking for ways to enhance our business. We are looking forward to creating more great interior design projects, upcoming special events, and the launch of Catbird in March.
For being a good mother, grandmother and an honest, caring employer and designer. for being more interested in the relationships than in the bottom line.
Travel, read, expose your senses, know the market inside and out, be passionate about your work. It is a tough business and you have to love it!
Rose Tarlow for her clear voice, Bunny Williams for her kindest and versatility, Bobby McAlpine for his originality and support, and John Saladino for his unique modern perspective on design.
I love working with clients who have their own sense of style, who know what they want and like, are educated and have clear needs.
Travel and buying for Circa. You have to be little bit “touched” to get up at 4 in the morning in the freezing cold French countryside for the thrill of the hunt!
Being at Lake Martin mopping floors with six laughing grandchildren underfoot
Tabletop everything! Glass, textiles, Victorian coconut bowls lined in silver
An indescribable shade of green only found in nature
It is all about the details! Highlighting doors with dark colors, custom nailhead designs, unusual finishing details on drapery and upholstery. I am always looking at things to see how I can tweak them and make them a little bit different.
Be sure to check out the Circa design blog for upcoming events in Charlotte and Birmingham as well as the launch of their upcoming Catbird Collection!