Creative fireworks occur when two brilliant talents come together with complementary skill sets. George Sellers and Bradley Clifford partnered in 2014 to create Areté Collection, a line of furnishings, lighting and accessories inspired by nature and interpreted in a unique modern fashion. I visited their Dallas studio last month to get a behind the scenes glimpse of the masters at work.
Areté is a Greek word meaning virtue or moral excellence, but it is also something more than cannot be captured in words. It transcends the mundane and possesses a sense of the Divine. Each piece in the Areté Collection embodies this ideal. The intricate detail and whimsy of each motif is interpreted in either plaster or bronze and elevated to the sublime.
George Sellers is the quintessential Renaissance man…sculptor, artist, illustrator, and pianist. He is a classically trained sculptor who studied at Studio Arts Centers International in Florence after college. His work is influenced by 15th century Italian architecture and the work of Italian sculptor Donatello, who mastered capturing emotion in a sculpted form. In a recent Paper City article, Sellers elaborates on his work, “My eye is drawn to Renaissance decoration and Rococo, and I do love clean and modern, too. I exist between those; it’s all in the middle. I also love silly carving, like acanthus leaves, and am always drawn to figurative embellishment, the crazier the better.” He is celebrated for “infusing high profile spaces (Van Cleef & Arpels, Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York) with imagination, wit and a touch of the fantastical.”
With more than 20 years of experience as a retailer, designer, shop owner, tastemaker, and marketing guru, Bradley Clifford is a perfect complement to George’s artistic talent. They met via Instagram when Bradley had taken an image of an architectural fragment he wanted to be reinterpreted into a lamp base. When he threw the request out into cyberspace, George answered and the two creative minds began to discuss their career paths. A few months later, the Areté Collection was born, already receiving much fanfare from Architectural Digest, Paper City, and Luxe Magazine (just to name a few.)
The compass rose is a key motif in the collection. All items are carved in clay, cast in sustainable resin before being cast in plaster or bronze. Plaster works are then finished in either gilt, silver, black or left in their original white.
Mystical creatures such as elephants, beetles, tortoises, and serpents are reimagined as bookends, mirror motifs, lamps bases and wall sculptures.
This sculptural console adorned Beth Webb’s striking dining room for Atlanta Home & Lifestyle’s Holiday House in December. The gilded interior with white exterior was the perfect marriage of form and function.
Faux bois is the artistic imitation of wood or wood grain used in anything from furnishing to fabric and wall coverings. Originally created during the Renaissance with trompe l’oeil, it was first executed with concrete and metal and used for garden ornament. Areté Collection’s interpretation of faux bois is clean, sleek and contemporary made in plaster. Lamps, side tables and consoles are first constructed in hand forged iron and then wrapped in plaster to achieve the faux bois look.
In Paper City, nephew and chief fabricator Ely Sellers explains his uncle’s creativity, “His ideas fly out of his head so fast, you have to be ready to catch them. I never went to college and was working at a restaurant. He said, ‘Hey, you can live with me and work with me.’ I jumped on it. It’s a slow climb, and I’m still growing. But I’ve always believed in him.” The two collaborate on all projects, including an upcoming furniture collection for Neiman Marcus; a zoo-full of plaster animals, available at Grange Hall in Dallas; and a 4-foot-tall spider for Bergdorf’s Christmas window, the fourth that they’ve done. “It will be covered in one-eighth-inch-long quartz crystals,” says Ely, “so it looks hairy.”
The 2014 Atlanta Holiday House opened this week with great fanfare. Sponsored by Atlanta Home and Lifestyles, the Moonlight & Mistletoe preview party had admirers swooning over the glorious spaces created by the area’s top interior designers. I always love going back to my hometown to not only see what Atlanta’s finest are creating, but also see design colleagues that gather to support one another. Participating in a show house is a tremendous investment for the designers of their time, talent and resources. It allows them to fully realize their creative vision and be their own “dream” client. In many cases for this showhouse, each room felt like an organic extension of the personality who designed it.
Located on Habersham Road,the showhouse is inspired by the 1890s-1920s English Arts and Crafts style of Sir Edwin Lutyens. Harrison Design Associates designed the 7,000 square foot house and it was built by Sheehan Built Homes. The residence conveys a strong connection to its heavily canopied landscape—fitting for the Home for the Holidays beneficiary, the Southeastern Horticultural Society.
Elegant, sophisticated and striking…Beth Webb’s dining room seemed to be an extension of this lovely designer. It is a symphony of black and white set under a stunning ceiling resembling the tracery in stained glass. The dark walls provide a perfect backdrop for graphic art and plaster works from the recently debuted Arete Collection. The dapper Bradley Clifford is seen below next to their sculptural console table with the interior lined in shattered gold leaf.
The table setting echoes the contrasting palette.
The kitchen is just as glamorous as the rest of the house. Designed by Mark Williams and Niki Papadoplos, the kitchen posessed an understated luxe in its materials and finishes…from the nickel strapping on the hood to the etched globes hanging above the island. The cabinetry is by Bell Kitchen & Bath Studios.
Warm, glamorous and original defined Susan Ferrier’s space. Every single detail from the cocktail tablescape (seen below) to the mink muff the designer carried that evening was perfectly selected and executed. The custom designed furniture including an a white hide upholstered table and the curvy silhouettes on the upholstery were beyond brilliant.
The gentleman’s study designed by Danielle Rollins and Bill Ingram is inviting, chic and festive…perfectly a propos for this dashing design duo. There are many spaces in the home where I could have lingered all night and this was certainly one of them! Again, dark walls provided a glamorous backdrop for colorful abstract art, rich Ralph Lauren tartans, tiger silk velvet, and gilded and polished wood accents.
I was delighted to see the artwork of talented artist Matthew Moore featured in the space. Known for his incredible flowers and botanicals, this abstract painting by him showed another side of his range as an artist.
Whimsical, creative and fun-loving come to mind when describing the covered outdoor terrace by Parker Kennedy Living. Their study of blue and white accented with pops of color made a space typically used during the spring and summer like the perfect place for holiday entertaining.
Check back tomorrow for a preview of the second floor which is just as an amazing as the first. If you are in the Atlanta area, the showhouse is a must-see…Pictures do not do it justice and this is just a small selection of all of the incredible details!
Wednesdays – Saturdays, 11am-5pm
Sundays – 1pm-5pm
November 19 – December 7
Wednesdays through Sundays.
Closed Mondays, Tuesdays and Thanksgiving Day.
2865 Habersham Road NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30305
Please park at ADAC (Atlanta Decorative Arts Center)
351 Peachtree Hills Avenue NE, Atlanta, Georgia 30305
Parking has been generously donated by ADAC and complimentary Santa’s Shuttles will run continuously from the main entrance of ADAC during showhouse hours. On many days, Santa’s Shuttles will be staffed with volunteer elves, who will be on hand to give guests an overview of the house and ensure that check-in is as smooth as possible.
Tickets are $25 and may be purchased online or at the door
Liz Williams Interiors; McAlpine Booth & Ferrier; Amy Morris Interiors; Parker Kennedy Living; Mark Williams Design Associates; Flynnsideout; Beth Webb Interiors; Bill Ingram and Danielle Rollins; SmithBoyd Interiors; B.D. Jeffries; Carter Kay Interiors; Margaret Kirkland Interiors; Barbara Heath; Cloth & Kind; Boxwoods Garden & Gifts
Please contact the studio if you are interested in any of our design services.