Where Is Design Going?

A 3-D printed house that left a chalky taste in the back of your throat. Adorable animals transformed as if by a wizard’s wand into lamps and tableware. Chairs and sofas as chubby and pale as marshmallows.

These were some of the irresistible objects on display at last month’s International Furniture Fair in Milan, the world’s pre-eminent showcase of contemporary design. People visit “to have a vision of the future,” said Claudio Luti, the fair’s president. Here are 12 things that revealed where design is now and where it may be heading.

1. Breaking Up With Plastic

As the so-called sea of plastic grows not just in the ocean but in consumers’ minds, some plastic objects are being reinvented in wood. Kartell, the Italian plastic furniture company, unveiled a seating prototype called Woody, which rendered familiar Philippe Starck-designed silhouettes in thin shells of ash and striped rosewood. But the company has not completely repudiated its heritage — the chairs legs are still plastic.

2. The ’80s, Now and Forever

Will the decade of big hair and tiny portions ever go away? Standing out among the 80s retreads was Four Wheels, a coffee table designed by William Sawaya of Milan that paid affectionate tribute to Gae Aulenti’s 1980 classic: a low slab of glass on four functioning wheels. Mr. Sawaya created a cheeky update from a folded sheet of brushed steel with round, flat feet going nowhere. The piece is part of his continued experiments in what he calls “soft origami.” Available in August, with enameled or plain “wheels”; $3,800 to $4,200.

3. The ’80s (Part 2)

Ferruccio Laviani, the youngest member of Italy’s Memphis Group, never abandoned the gleeful decorative style of the decade. Now he’s smack in the mainstream, an original delightfully bobbing among revivalists. His Dolly cabinet for Emmemobili is trimmed in stained oak and studded with brass to evoke saddles, leather jackets or maybe even the trunk your father took to college. About $21,700.

4. A Dodo Here, a Leopard There

“We have to make things that will not be thrown away, that people love,” said Marcel Wanders, a founder of Moooi, a Dutch design company. Exhibit A is Moooi and Arte’s Extinct Animals wallpaper collection, inspired by 10 bygone creatures like the calligraphy bird and the blushing sloth. The 11th paper, the Menagerie of Extinct Animals, is digitally printed with the whole departed zoo. Available in October.

5. Frankenstein Chair

Design companies are resurrecting pieces from their morgue. Cassina, for instance, is reissuing Taliesin 1, an angular chair designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1949 for Taliesin West, the architect’s winter home and school in Scottsdale, Ariz. Produced between 1986 and 1990 without much success, the chair returns in a slightly modified version approved by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. The chairs are available in cherry or oak veneer from $4,100; a limited edition upholstered in hide, is $5,500.

6. Furniture Mythmaker

Ini Archibong, a Nigerian-American designer living in Switzerland, introduced his Below the Heavens collection for the British company . The Circe lounge chair, shown with the designer at Rossana Orlandi’s gallery, exemplifies the fat white pillowy seating found throughout the fair (from $4,094). His oblong ceramic Eos table, with an asymmetrical galvanized steel tray top, has the jolly silhouette of a penguin (from $5,248). And his Gaea pendant lamp is pure jewelry (from $13,878).

5. Clinking Not Recommended

La DoubleJ, the fashion and housewares brand of J. J. Martin, introduced a fanciful tableware collection called Housewives. The Tippetto glass goblets are based on vintage designs and handmade by Salviati glassmakers in Murano, Italy. The elaborate shapes and jewel colors are typical for the pattern-happy Ms. Martin. From left: Zig Zag, Sun, Ring Pendant, Turquoise, Dragon and Rose. Available May 28; $4,900 each.

8. ‘Nude Ceramics’

NLXL, a Dutch company that produces trompe l’oeil wallpaper, heeded a call for more neutrality with a subdued collection called Monochrome. For the Hexa Ceramics wall covering, Studio Roderick Vos in the Netherlands molded, fired and photographed three-dimensional unglazed stoneware, giving the illusion of tile. “We call it ‘nude ceramics,’” Mr. Vos said. Starts at $299 for 47 square feet.

9. Scandinavian Cozy

Now that hygge is a global aspiration, a Danish brand called Warm Nordic is here to help. It is reissuing the Bloom table lamp, a 1950s classic by Svend Aage Holm-Sorensen, with a swan-neck stem and a bonnet-like shade. It will be available in the United States by fall for $719.

10. Add Rubber Ducky

What’s sleek, round and the color of a strawberry? Would you believe a bathtub? Also a sink and a mirror? India Mahdavi based her bathroom fixtures on approachable curves and edible hues. The Mahdavi Bath Collectionalso comes in blueberry and pistachio. “Design needs to lift our spirits in the very difficult world we’re living in,” said Rossella Bisazza, the director of communications at Bisazza, the Italian tile company that is manufacturing the line. From $1,225 at bisazza.it.

11. Is it a Sofa or Table?

“What if a carpet becomes three-dimensional and blurs the line of seating, dining, walls, decoration and floor covering?” That was the question posed by Lyndon Neri, of the design duo, Neri & Hu, who created a modular seating concept called Lan, including a sofa with a vertical textile-draped frame reminiscent of a weaving loom. Available in September through Gan, a Spanish textile brand.

12. Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Thread

For her new textile collection, Bethan Laura Wood, above, toured the New Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City (“this great Brutalist spaceship,” she called it) and studied the play of light through the stained glass windows. The Mono Mania Mexico collection, created by Limonta for the Italian design company Moroso, also embraces the polychromatic splendor of Otomi embroidery from the south of Mexico. Prices vary.

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The ‘Kanye West of Furniture’ Is Now Nesting in the ’Burbs

Mr. Moss was a bit slow to cotton to the extent of Mr. West’s fame. “I thought he was very sweet,” he said. Elton John was another regular, though Mr. Moss’s only interaction with that pop star came late in the store’s long, bucketing run, when Mr. John suggested he carry the iron gates made by Bob Dylan, a suggestion Mr. Moss did not follow through on. “We didn’t really sell gates,” Mr. Getchell said.

«Please Do Not Touch» by Murray Moss and Franklin Getchell.

In the early ’90s, purchase of contemporary art began to eclipse all other forms of conspicuous consumption. If, as Mr. Moss said, “collecting is the only socially commendable form of greed” — the quotation is from Eugene Schwartz, the adman and art collector — Mr. Moss would endeavor to rub shoulders, as he put it, “with Art and the Art Audience.”

For their part, furniture designers — from the Netherlands and elsewhere — were behaving like comp-lit majors, embedding their work with ideas about society, craft and politics. A chair was no longer just a chair. Mr. Moss’s other idea about his store was that it was theater, and everything that happened there was a performance. In the early days, Moss staffers worked under assumed names — mostly with stripper overtones, like the guy who called himself Tommy Diamonds.

When Mr. Moss threw a Tupperware party and convinced that company to make a suite of containers in black, the objective was not so much to sell plastic tubs — though the party broke sales records for the company, Mr. Moss said — but to perform, as he’ll tell you, “a unique distribution system.”

When Mr. Moss met the Dutch designer Maarten Baas, who was setting fire to furniture with a blowtorch, he proposed that Mr. Baas try taking a torch to design classics — furniture by Charles and Ray Eames, or Ettore Sottsass, or Tejo Remy, another Dutch designer, whose most famous piece was a pile of drawers strapped together with a leather belt — for a collaboration called “Where There’s Smoke…”

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Puttin’ on the Ritz (Auction)

PARIS — Ernest Hemingway would have been amused.

A 10-foot leather sofa that had once graced the Hemingway Bar, the watering hole at the Ritz in Paris where he and F. Scott Fitzgerald drank, was speeding on wheels across the concrete floor of a cavernous unheated warehouse outside of Paris. The interior designer Vincent Darré, dressed in A.P.C. black trousers, an Eglé Bespoke custom-made blazer, a Ralph Lauren shirt and a Charvet tie, was along for the ride.

“Da, da, da, da,” he caroled, as a French television crew filmed him. “It’s the Hemingway couch. Let me through!”

On April 12, the Ritz Hotel Paris will auction off a part of its 120-year history. Hospitality (and Hemingway) lovers from around the world will have the chance to bid on furniture, carpets, drapes, artwork, antiques, china, glassware, sculptures and odds and ends, all rendered part of history when the hotel underwent a four-year, $400 million renovation before reopening in 2016.

The event will be masterminded by Artcurial, which has made something of a specialty out of disposing of memorabilia from such grand institutions, having previously orchestrated auctions of goods from the Hôtel de Crillon (sales totaled 6.6 million euros) and the Plaza Athénée (1.4 million euros, double what was expected).

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When a 21st-Century Family Moves Into a 12th-Century Castle

AS A CHILD in Bologna, the curator Alice Stori Liechtenstein was enchanted by a scene in Luchino Visconti’s 1963 film, “The Leopard,” in which the young nobleman Tancredi is asked how many rooms are in his family’s castle. “No one knows, not even Uncle,” he responds. “He says a palace in which one knows every room isn’t worth living in.” Twenty years later, in the early aughts, she posed the same question to her future husband, Alfred Liechtenstein, when they first visited his ancestral home, Schloss Hollenegg, in the east Austrian hills. “I don’t think I’ve been in them all,” he replied, even though he had inherited the castle, which has been in his family for nearly two centuries, when he was 26. (There are 52 rooms total, for the record.)

Alfred, now 45, always knew Schloss Hollenegg was a magical place — like Disneyland, only real — with its Renaissance-style courtyard built by Abel von Hollenegg and renovated in 1550, its magnificent ballroom painted by Philipp Carl Laubmann in 1750 and its Baroque chapel open to local residents on Sundays. Portraits of his ancestors line the hallways, and a fresco of a family tree stretching back about 30 generations covers the library’s vaulted ceiling. For Alfred, who grew up near the palace, Hollenegg was inexorably linked to his family; not to care for it as an adult would have been an unthinkable breach of duty.

But his 39-year-old wife, as she says, “fought against this place for 11 years.” Before they relocated to the rural castle in 2014, her life was unquestionably metropolitan; after attending boarding school in England and university in Milan, she began creating exhibitions for the city’s annual Furniture Fair, eventually counting as clients the Milanese studio Atelier Biagetti, the online retailer Yoox and La Triennale di Milano. When she met Alfred, she was in graduate school in Barcelona, renting a one-bedroom apartment. “Living in a castle in the countryside was not the plan,” she says, so the couple compromised by moving to Graz, 50 minutes from Hollenegg, which has an international airport. At first, she thought the castle would be a weekend getaway, but trying to manage her career throughout Europe, three young children and two homes quickly became untenable; and so, after a decade or so in Graz, the castle became the family’s main residence.

Slide Show

Time’s Arrow

CreditSimon Watson

Like many very large old houses — and especially the hundreds of privately owned, inhabitable castles in Austria — Schloss Hollenegg was in a state of neglect; it hadn’t been modernized since Alfred’s grandmother died in 1974. The couple had to install proper bathrooms (previously, there were old toilets hidden behind screens in the hallways) and build an internal staircase. (The only access to the third-floor bedrooms was through the outdoor arcades.) Today, the family inhabits less than half of the 21,500-square-foot property, and apart from the early 18th-century Chinese wallpaper and the 18th-century kachelofen (German wood-burning clay stoves), the private quarters are contemporarily quotidian: the kids’ rooms scattered with plastic toys; there’s a projector mounted in the living room for movie nights; and the simple kitchen crowded with stainless steel appliances is smallish by American standards. But many of the largely unused spaces, from the staterooms with their 17th-century silk-covered walls, to the sumptuous “green room” with its original coffered ceiling, lack heat or electricity, which helps preserve their finishes in near-perfect condition. Despite the fact that the castle hadn’t been fully occupied since 1991, when Alfred’s grandfather died, all of its rooms require constant upkeep, even the uninhabited ones: There is silver to be polished, plaster to be patched, floors to be waxed. A significant portion of the income Alfred derives from his family’s timber business — the grounds are thicketed with larches and spruces — goes toward property maintenance.

There is, after all, 900 years of history to maintain. The first records of the castle begin in 1163, but the structure is a palimpsest of a near-millennium of architectural trends: The worn limestone of the Renaissance-style stairway dates from 1577 and the bedrooms, with their Flemish tapestries and four-poster beds, from the late 18th century. The couple tried to restore the house with as many historically correct materials as they could — lime plaster to repair the delicate ceiling details, reclaimed wood to mend damaged parquet — but decided that any new additions would be unapologetically modern: their way of adding their names to the house’s lineage and writing themselves, and their era, onto its walls. Upon entering the residence, you’re struck with the first of these contributions, a trippy wallpapered and mirrored elevator by the German designer Markus Benesch, who covered the walls and floors with a disorienting pattern of Op Art Dalmatian spots. “It was a bit of shock the first time I saw it,” Alfred says.


House Tour | Schloss Hollenegg

Fifteen things we love in the Liechtenstein family’s 12th-century castle.

By BERTRAND LE PLUARD on Publish Date March 21, 2018. Photo by Bertrand Le Pluard. Watch in Times Video »

DESPITE THESE NEVER-ENDING renovations, Alice never quite felt she possessed the castle; something about it always frustrated her attempts to make it as much hers as her husband’s. Then, in 2015 (around the time she reoriented her freelance business from exhibition design to personal curatorial projects), she decided that instead of the house merely being her dependent, it would become her partner. First, she conceived a showcase in Graz, inviting 23 designers whose work straddled art and design, including, among others, the Scottish designer Dean Brown and Peter Mabeo from Gaborone, Botswana, whose furniture fuses African craftsmanship with European influences. After being “surprised when nearly everyone said yes,” she says, Alice had a more ambitious idea: If Hollenegg was far from the world of contemporary design, why not bring that world to Hollenegg? In 2016, she asked Brown, along with the Viennese studio Mischer’Traxler, known for conceptual pieces that blend handicraft with technology, and the Italian duo Dossofiorito, whose work often includes plants, to be her first designers-in-residence. They each spent a few weeks living at the castle, collaborating with Alice to create a site-specific work that would remain in Hollenegg’s permanent collection, residing alongside the centuries-old furnishings. Brown installed a multidimensional étagère in a passageway overlooking one of the two courtyards to showcase various treasures collected over the years, such as an urn by Hilda Hellstrom and a collection of vases by Studio Furthermore. Dossofiorito created glass vases inspired by antique ceramics to hold bulbs, an homage to Alfred’s grandmother, Princess Ludmilla, who loved gardening.


On the Cover: Schloss Hollenegg is featured in T’s March 25 Design issue. Here, a guest bedroom. Credit Simon Watson

Alice now chooses a few residents annually; with these designers, she is alternately nurturing and stern, encouraging them to draw on the history of the Schloss, to “explore all the rooms and open all the drawers,” but not to get so lost that they don’t finish their projects. Last fall, the Viennese design studio BreadedEscalope encountered in their wanderings the 19th-century diaries of Alfred’s ancestor Heinrich Liechtenstein, an adventurer who hunted buffalo with U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant and brought back redwood saplings from California, which now tower over the castle’s walls. Alice let them cut down one of the trees to carve into a table and pair of stools.

The residents’ pieces debut each May at a group show installed throughout Hollenegg, along with items from about 20 other visiting international designers whom Alice invites to present work. Last year’s exhibition was titled “Morphosis,” referencing gradual but important adaptations that often go unnoticed. The opening night drew guests from Europe and the Middle East who danced to music played by a D.J. from Ibiza, injecting youth and life into rooms that are normally shuttered and silent. Alice opened the castle to the public for the following month, attracting curious locals who had lived in Hollenegg’s shadow their whole lives yet had never seen its interiors. This year’s theme is “Legacy,” prompting designers to explore the personal and collective importance of heritage, which has captivated Alice since hosting Hollenegg’s first show, “Slow,” three years ago. Then as now, inspired by the pace of her more remote life, she wanted to re-examine the negative connotations that slowness has taken on in a culture that values the technological, the futuristic and the fast above all else. Indeed, now that Alice has embraced her countryside castle, she’s developed a broader sense of family and community, but also of time itself. “When you live in the city it’s all about me: my apartment, my job,” she says. “Now, I see life on a larger scale — it’s not about the next generation, but the next three generations. The trees Alfred plants today will be cut by our grandchildren.”

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Design Report: Three Venerated Design Companies Look Back to Move Forward


The textile giant Maharam, born from a Lower East Side pushcart at the turn of the 20th century, has long pursued collaborations with contemporary industrial designers, including Berlin-based Hella Jongerius and Munich’s Konstantin Grcic. But perhaps its most fertile relationship in recent years has been with the Dutch husband-and-wife team of Stefan Scholten and Carole Baijings, both in their mid-40s, whose eponymous Amsterdam studio has designed fabrics for Maharam that speak to their love of soft yet bright colors, such as azure blue and cotton-candy pink, as well as grid-based patterns.

Clockwise from top left: an antique darning sampler that inspired their designs for Maharam’s upcoming fabric range; a mug from Maharam’s first foray into housewares; dishware from the collection.CreditCourtesy of Scholten & Baijings

Now, the couple and Maharam are uniting to introduce a line of housewares and accessories created in collaboration with several Japanese craftsmen. There is a stackable wooden stool manufactured by Karimoku New Standard, its seat upholstered in a variety of Maharam fabrics (three of them by Scholten & Baijings) and a five-piece collection of colorful, geometric porcelain dishware produced by the Japanese ceramics company 1616 / Arita Japan. “Connecting Maharam with the level of work you find in Japan was incredibly satisfying,” Scholten says.

Yet even as Maharam makes its first foray into housewares, the brand isn’t neglecting its roots. Mary Murphy, the company’s top design executive, recently introduced Scholten & Baijings to a bygone craft from Holland that was unfamiliar to them: composition paper-size patchwork darning samplers made by young girls in the 18th and 19th centuries, each featuring a dozen or so colorful, complicated stitch patterns originally intended to mend clothes. Scholten & Baijings, always ready to embrace a new idea (however old), reinterpreted these embroidered motifs for Maharam’s latest textile range, to be released in July, elevating the homespun look with Mondrian-like flair.


For the 15 years that Tom Helme and his business partner Martin Ephson owned Farrow & Ball, the British paint manufacturer known for its moody shades — and names — including Savage Ground (a stonewashed yellow) and Smoked Trout (a red-tinged taupe), Helme constantly worked in the one-dimensional paradigm of wall color. “I was ready for a new challenge,” he says now, more than a decade after selling that company in 2006.

The pair’s latest venture, a fabric line called Fermoie, has allowed him to establish a more well-rounded Weltanschauung. Rich not merely in color, but in pattern and texture, the collection’s Anglophilic brio is instantly recognizable; it feels witty but never twee. Unlike other textile makers who saturate cotton and linen with pigment, Fermoie dyes only the surface of the twill — “just kissing the top,” says 62-year-old Helme, who was once a decorating adviser to the United Kingdom’s National Trust — lending it a subtle depth. The seven-year-old company’s newest fabrics, which are also sold as cushions and lampshades, come in jewel shades of amethyst and tourmaline, with small ikat patterns or vivid splatters.

From left: Carskiey, Helme’s Scottish estate, is decorated using Fermoie fabric and lampshades; two new textiles.CreditCourtesy of Fermoie (2); Joshua Scott

Helme found inspiration in the extensive renovation of his home, Carskiey Estate, a 13-bedroom 1908 Scottish manor house on 7,500 acres — complete with a rambling herd of Aberdeen Angus — on the Kintyre peninsula’s southeastern tip. He splits his time between the new Fermoie showroom on Pimlico Road in London, the company’s manufacturing plant in Wiltshire and this wild backdrop, where he often researches and sketches in a capacious library with views of the moors. “Carskiey is an amazing place to work,” he says. “Your mind is so free.”


When the furniture designer and interior architect Christian Liaigre opened his Paris studio in the late 1980s, he renounced the opulent embellishment that distinguished that era’s interiors in favor of a polished, angular minimalism that still resonates today. His apartments and houses for Calvin Klein, Karl Lagerfeld and Larry Gagosian introduced a new visual vocabulary to interior design: Jacquard valances and chintz were replaced by squared-off white armchairs and low, dark wenge tables.

Clockwise from bottom left: Meyer’s 2017 Hestia lounge chair; a dramatic staircase she created for a client in Munich; an interior design project in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture; the Nagoya desk, in leather and oak, designed by Meyer.CreditProduct shots: Nicolas Héron (2). Interiors: Mark Seelen (2)

Now 73, he has finally left the company, naming his longtime protégée, 45-year-old Frauke Meyer, the company’s creative director. (His wife, Déborah Comte-Liaigre, remains as artistic director of the company’s interior design service.) Meyer worked with Liaigre for 18 years and is committed to maintaining his streamlined aesthetic while lending a “different eye.” The furniture and lighting may become “a little more feminine and related to fashion,” she says, “maybe a bit more playful.” This approach will announce itself first in her design for the company’s new international flagship in Paris’s Eighth Arrondissement: She intends to make the commercial space in the store more homelike, contextualizing the lush yet understated furniture with flea-market finds such as feather sculptures and contemporary art. As she says, “I want people to realize that Liaigre can also be poetic in its simplicity.”

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The ‘Weird Al Yankovic of Drag’ Gets an Extreme Home Makeover

Evoking retro-futurism and midcentury Acapulco, the home is a chic counterbalance to the tastelessness of, say, Ms. Beat’s spoof of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s 1992 hit “Baby Got Back,” which she rewrote as “Baby Got Front.” The anatomically frank music video has racked up more than a million views on YouTube — “She’s the Weird Al Yankovic of drag,” said the nightclub promoter Mario Diaz, a friend — and, while dirty, may be the least potentially offensive song in Ms. Beat’s very naughty repertoire.

The music parodies, which one critic called “smartly vulgar,” are not for everyone. And not everyone could live in the surroundings that Ms. Beat — the alter ego of Kent Fuher, who first brought his drag character to life at a poetry night at Café Largo on Fairfax Avenue in the late 1980s — now calls home. But those who share Ms. Beat’s artistic sensibilities appreciate what she has accomplished.


The “Carrie”-themed guest bedroom. Credit Graham Walzer for The New York Times

The house, said Ms. Beat’s thrifting buddy Muffy Bolding, a writer whose credits include the film “Gingerdead Man 2: Passion of the Crust,” “is an expression of who she is and it’s a part of her art, and she loves nothing more than to bring people in to see her masterpiece.”

Ms. Beat’s housewarming, on a Monday night in January, drew a crowd that included the drag luminaries Bianca Del Rio and Alaska 5000, the actors Kate Flannery (“The Office”) and Selene Luna (“Coco”), and the transgender activists Andrea James and Calpernia Addams.

“When you see Jackie’s house, you realize how deep her attention to detail goes,” said Alaska 5000, a recording artist who won the second season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars in 2016. “Who has a party and plans what’s going to be on every single TV monitor? She keeps it like a showroom.”

With a wall-size mural that looks like the Arizona flag (Ms. Beat lived in Scottsdale as a child) rendered in hippie-era appliance colors, and a Paul Evans-inspired bedroom set by Pueblo by Lane Furniture, which Ms. Beat found for $2,300 on Craigslist, the master suite looks as if a great cinematic dame like Helen Lawson of “Valley of the Dolls” just slipped out to the balcony for a cig.

One of Ms. Beat’s guest bedrooms, where Ms. Vine was staying during her “Golden Girlz” run, is a homage to the 1976 Brian De Palma horror film, “Carrie,” with nearly 100 framed pieces of memorabilia, and a bedspread that supersizes a photo of the movie’s stars, Piper Laurie and Sissy Spacek, in a familial embrace. Beneath a skull lamp on a bedside table, there is a small framed photo of the late Ms. Arthur (Ms. Beat refers to her as her “spirit animal”), the vestige of a “Golden Girls”-themed room that she had in her former home in Highland Park.

The kitchen features vintage cookie jars, two large graphic framed fruit prints and cabinetry lacquered in bright peacock blue. “I love matchy matchy,” Ms. Beat said, so the appliances and the flatware are that color, too, contrasting with a new set of dishes in Howard Johnson orange.

The first-floor bathroom is inspired by the “Planet of the Apes” movies, which featured Brutalist architecture in their production design. A shower curtain reproduces an illustrated movie poster from the 1968 original with a shirtless Charlton Heston displaying his signature brand of hypermasculine anguish.

“‘Planet of the Apes’ is very anti-glamour,” Señor Amor said. “The question became, how does that all fit into the home of someone who loves all things beautiful and refined?”


The “Planet of the Apes”-themed guest bathroom. Credit Graham Walzer for The New York Times

If there is any design regret in the new Chez Beat, it’s the square-seated toilet chosen for the upstairs master bathroom (hidden by a sculptural midcentury modern room divider). It looks really cool, but it’s not very comfortable, several who have experienced it have said.

In any room, Ms. Beat is an admitted control freak.

“If you pick up a knickknack and admire it, she comes up behind you to make sure it’s put back in exactly the same place,” Ms. Bolding said. “I’m surprised she doesn’t pull out a ruler.”

“One of my favorite things to do to drive her crazy is move a tchotchke,” Mr. Diaz said. (Ms. Beat is relaxed enough, though, to live with two dogs: Chihuahua mixes named Miss Toni Home Perm and Darlin’.)

“I didn’t want the place to look like the Madonna Inn,” Ms. Beat said, referring to the wackadoodle themed-room hotel in San Luis Obispo, Calif. But she put any concerns about resale value out of her head. “I would never tone down what I do to get more work, so I’d never tone down my personal style to sell the place in the future,” she said. “This home is not for other people. This place is for me.”

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By Design: The Women Responsible for the Look of Your Next All-day Cafe


Anna Polonsky (left) and Amy Morris, who run the branding and interior design firm the MP Shift, at De Maria, a restaurant they designed in downtown New York. Credit Rich Gilligan

ON A FALL afternoon at De Maria, a year-old restaurant in New York’s NoLIta neighborhood, the flat city light pours in from a wall of windows onto square tables covered in worn pistachio-green and navy leather. Diners can sit on squat wooden chairs, a tan-leather banquette or felt-topped stools at the bar, which is lit by orblike pendants and backed by a Bauhaus-via-Brazil geometric tile mural. They might order a chai latte, which arrives in a stoneware mug made by Brooklyn’s Workaday Handmade, or a cured-salmon and coconut grain bowl, off seasonal menus that are available from early in the morning until late at night.

Beyond the virtuous food, the space itself is somehow salubrious, as if solely by being here you are improving your life. Along with places like Kismet in Los Angeles, June’s All Day in Austin and Res Ipsa in Philadelphia, De Maria is part of a new class of American restaurants — or rather, “all-day cafes” — that combine highly specific, instantly recognizable décor with visually pleasing riffs on health-store classics like flaxseed banana bread and acai. These new cafes, all of which owe a debt to New York’s abstemious Dimes, which opened in Chinatown in 2013, present amiable aesthetic experiences that feel ready-made for Instagram: Many of these rooms share the same natural light, blond wood chairs and copper details that have come to evoke a kind of Scandinavian-inflected, aspirational millennial apartment, which the cafes themselves tend to resemble.

De Maria’s interior, in particular, is the work of the MP Shift, a Chinatown-based design and branding studio that, since its founding three years ago, has created variations on this look for several New York City restaurants and is now expanding throughout the country — as well as to Paris, London and Sydney. The studio was established by Amy Morris and Anna Polonsky (the M and P of the name, plus shift as in “late”), who met a decade ago through mutual friends, when Morris was a marketing consultant and Polonsky was a managing partner at a culinary events company. The young chefs and restaurateurs they encountered in those jobs were often interested in developing independent projects but lacked the proper guidance, so the two women decided to build an agency that consolidated graphics, interiors and brand-direction.

If it’s well established that we eat with our eyes, then the MP Shift is selling a related truth: In our digital age, a restaurant’s interior must be as satiating as its food. Officially, Morris and Polonsky have little to do with what’s on a client’s menu (aside from its logo, typefaces and layout), but they have tended to partner with chefs who prefer serving things like cerulean spirulina smoothies and magenta-hued radicchio salads that feel intended for future snapshots. The plating, too, reflects an understanding of what appeals to these restaurants’ intended psychographic: It’s heavy on swooshes of creamy sauces and bright, clashing layers of tropical fruits or local vegetables in flattened, de Kooning-esque compositions, often rendered atop wide, shallow clay plates and bowls. The MP Shift doesn’t tell the kitchen staff how to assemble their ingredients, but they don’t need to; chefs these days must think as much like designers as they do cooks — indeed, their success depends upon it.


At left, the velvet-clad seating area at Brooklyn’s Golda. At right, the cafe’s custom oak-and-tile bar, with a white planter by Chen Chen & Kai Williams. Credit Heidi’s Bridge Photo

Golda’s acai yogurt bowl with lavender honey, oats, grains, fresh and dried fruits, hazelnuts and bee pollen. Credit East Studio

What the MP Shift does do is help ensure that this all-day fare remains visually appealing no matter the hour, while also providing a growing community of urban freelancers a sort of idealized living-room-as-office, allowing a public space to masquerade as a private one. “In the morning, everyone is on their laptop here; people are spending more time in restaurants as their third space,” Morris says of De Maria, referencing a concept by the urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, who argued in 1989’s “The Great Good Place” that communities thrive in social spaces beyond homes and offices. These days, she says, “You’re asking for a restaurant to be more than just food.”

RESTAURANTS, OF COURSE, have always been about more than just the food, whether it was New York’s Four Seasons, designed in the International Style by Philip Johnson and William Pahlmann in 1958, or the organic austerity of the French Laundry, opened in Napa County in 1978, which for decades has defined a particular indoor-outdoor Northern Californian reverie. Meals worth traveling for are usually complemented by service and décor that’s meant to soothe, excite or even dazzle in person. But now that every diner has a camera in her handbag, restaurateurs have been forced to acknowledge that what they’re creating is not just a place where people consume meals but an aspirational space that, for many who experience it, exists only online. So even casual cafes — the sort that the MP Shift often designs — have to be stunning and distinctive enough to woo potential diners.

Morris and Polonsky’s projects often reflect the idea that these places become most enticing when filled with the same global, minimalist details (imported tiles, Alvar Aalto stools, oak tables) that appeal when encountered on social media, whether in pictures of other restaurants, or even of homes or hotels. “They asked me to open a Pinterest account,” says Gonzalo Goût, the co-owner of Verde, an erstwhile salad counter in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, who hired the MP Shift in 2016. All of Verde’s ingredients came from the farmer’s market, so Goût used his virtual mood board to create a look that “conveyed that sense of the natural,” he says. Following this exercise, Morris and Polonsky built a dramatic counter of triangular slices of green and pink marble, which also adorned the facade as terrazzo. The final touch was the logo, with the restaurant’s name rendered in a fat, cheery pink-and-green sans serif.


The arch in De Maria’s dining room is flanked by Cedar & Moss brass lighting. Credit Rich Gilligan Photo

At left, duck breast with charred eggplant jam and rutabaga at New York’s Ferris, for which the MP Shift designed the visual identity. At right, De Maria’s dining room features paintings by the Brooklyn-based duo Dylan Dylan on a wall of wooden slats. Credit From left: Noah Fecks; Rich Gilligan

As Morris and Polonsky’s portfolio grows, new clients increasingly reach out because they want to replicate a detail that they’ve seen only in photographs. In Houston, Kelly Barnhart will soon open Vibrant, an all-day cafe serving “adaptogenic potions” and grain salads out of a former laundromat. She was impressed with De Maria after seeing the space in a magazine, and brought the MP Shift on as consultants last spring. Working with Lake Flato, a local architecture firm, Barnhart plans to install long, leather-clad L-shaped banquettes, vintage Tobias Scarpa lamps and drawings by the New York artist Karin Haas, whose work abstracts patterns she finds in nature.

The room’s look will probably feel familiar: comforting, even. But having become known for an identifiable style over the past few years, Morris and Polonsky are now at pains to escape its tyranny. Back at De Maria, Polonsky points out a geometrically patterned wall inspired by kintsugi (the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with thin threads of lacquer mixed with precious metals) that they created by filling cracks within the restaurant’s vintage subway tiles. Potential clients constantly request this motif, but Morris and Polonsky aren’t interested in replicating it. Likewise, they avoid Prouvé chairs and parti-colored Max Lamb marble. “It’s so easy for our clients to say, ‘We should do a pink place with midcentury chairs,’ ” Morris says. “But we don’t want them to fall into that trend. We don’t want them to say, ‘Let’s put avocado toast on the menu.’ ”

Instead, one of the MP Shift’s new European clients is adopting a primary-colored palette that seems inspired, in part, by another recent internet phenomenon: the resurgence of the designer Ettore Sottsass and his Memphis Group. At the forthcoming Parisian cafe Echo, the menus and logo will feature Crayola red, blue and yellow that suggest mid-80s Los Angeles. Morris and Polonsky predict Europe’s next trend-driven restaurant interiors might include angular Serge Mouille sconces and chrome seating, Formica counters and linoleum floors; in this context, these mundane American surfaces would likely feel modern. Though soon enough they, too, will be retired, making way for a new aesthetic to serve a new generation of diners who need to rest their phone on a lambent tabletop, order a hemp-milk cortado and, perhaps, post a photo or two.

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How Low Will Market for Antiques Actually Go?

Even New York’s prestigious Winter Antiques Show has changed its rules. Founded in 1955, the show once required that exhibited pieces be at least 100 years old. In 2009, the organizers and dealer committee changed the cutoff date to 1969 to include midcentury objects. In 2016, they removed the date restriction entirely, paving the way for contemporary design.


“Sun and Moon,” a bronze and horse hair sculpture by the artist Erin Sullivan hangs above John Procario’s “Freeform Luminaire II” and next to Amy Cushing’s “Incandescent” at the Todd Merrill Studio. Credit Stefania Curto for The New York Times

“By expanding the datelines we were registering changes in the antiques world,” said Michael Diaz-Griffith, the fair’s associate executive director. “We’re just allowing it to happen instead of being so rule-bound that we create an artificial zone where those market shifts, and shifts in taste, can’t be seen.”

One exhibitor to take advantage of that change is Jason Jacques Gallery, which was once known primarily as a dealer of late 19th and early 20th century European ceramics but is increasingly focused on contemporary design.

At the 2018 Winter Antiques Show in January, its presentation included a pair of black plywood benches sprouting moose antlers by the fashion designer Rick Owens (about $5,500) and a new seven-foot-tall Rococo-inspired porcelain wall piece resembling a medallion by Katsuyo Aoki and Shinichiro Kitaura ($250,000).

The medallion “was probably one of the most Instagrammed pieces in the entire fair,” said the gallery’s director Jason T. Busch, noting that he expects contemporary design to become an even larger part of his business in the coming years. “We’re going to always have work from our historic program, but I think it will be integrated within the contemporary.”

The online antiques marketplace 1stdibs (to whose magazine this reporter occasionally contributes) has also been looking to capitalize on the trend. It began a contemporary category in November 2016. One year later, contemporary design represented 15 percent of the company’s furniture sales, and the offering had expanded to include about 30,000 products by more than 500 artisans and small manufacturers.

“It’s our fastest growing category,” said Cristina Miller, the company’s chief commercial officer.


The Jason Jacques Gallery booth at the 2018 Winter Antiques Show in Manhattan. Credit Jason Jacques Gallery

Indeed, a recent survey 1stdibs commissioned found that professional interior designers used about 65 percent contemporary products in their projects last year, and only 35 percent vintage.

The Declining Value of Antiques

Compared with the heyday of antiques collecting, prices for average pieces are now “80 percent off,” said Colin Stair, the owner of Stair Galleries auction house in Hudson, N.Y. “Your typical Georgian 18th century furniture, chests of drawers, tripod tables, Pembroke tables,” he noted, can all be had for a fraction of what they cost 15 to 20 years ago.

In 2002, Mr. Stair sold a set of eight George III-style carved mahogany chairs for $8,000; in 2016, he sold a similar set of eight chairs for $350.

In 2003, he dispatched a Regency breakfront bookcase for $9,500; in 2016, the sales price of an equivalent piece had plummeted to $1,300.

There are exceptions. Some designers and homeowners still mix antiques with contemporary furniture to create eclectic interiors, and particularly stylish pieces can bring high prices. Dealers of Asian antiques, like Betsy Nathan, the owner of Chicago-based Pagoda Red, report strong sales to overseas buyers (“We’re shipping back to Asia now,” she said. “In a million years, I never would have imagined it.”) Some passionate collectors also are willing to pay for pure historical value.

Mr. Stair’s highlights from the past year include a George I cut-gesso and giltwood table that sold for $31,000 and a Louis XVI mahogany desk that sold for $13,000.


George III style carved mahogany side chairs. Left, sold for $8,000 in 2002. Right, sold for $350 in 2016. Credit Stair Galleries

But antiques that move for more than $10,000 in his auction house are rare, he noted, and the market for midcentury modern furniture without a recognizable name attached – popular just a few years ago – is also flagging.

“It’s just as fickle,” he said. “Unless it’s special, has a name brand or is sexy, it’ll die just as hard as a piece of brown Georgian furniture.”

Changing Tastes

Dealers, auctioneers and designers point to a number of reasons for the declining interest in antiques and rapid rise of contemporary design. More homes have open-concept, casual living spaces rather than formal dining rooms and studies, which reduces the need for stately mahogany dining tables, chairs and cabinets.

“In these big rooms, a contemporary piece becomes a piece of sculpture,” said Christine Van Deusen, a New York designer who recently commissioned numerous custom creations from Maison Gerard, Cristina Grajales Gallery and Iliad for a client’s duplex penthouse on the Upper East Side. “Vintage and antiques are finite, but creativity is infinite, so I can do things that I could not do if I were only looking for things that were in existence.”

Midpriced retailers like Restoration Hardware, West Elm and CB2 make it easy to buy tasteful furniture on the cheap, with little hunting required.

And a new generation of homeowners may be rebelling against the preferences of their elders.

“The 40-something crowd isn’t looking to put a highboy in their house,” said Ethan Merrill, the third-generation president of Merrill’s auctioneers and appraisers near Burlington, Vt. (and Todd Merrill’s brother). “They relate more to pop culture, fashion-oriented materials and rock ‘n’ roll.”


Regency mahogany breakfront bookcases. Left, sold for $9,500 in 2003. Right, sold for $1,300 in 2016. Credit Stair Galleries

For many people today, “an English antique represents something that is kind of sad and tired,” said Thad Hayes, a New York interior designer who has recently been emptying antiques-filled homes and designing new rooms with contemporary pieces for wealthy clients both young and old.

Contemporary design, he said, “represents something that’s a lot more optimistic and positive.”

A Search for the Exceptional

Big auction houses like Christie’s have adapted to the new market by being choosier about the pieces they accept for sale, and selling less.

“There’s no denying that there’s been, in the last 10 to 15 years, something of a sea change in taste and collecting habits,” said William Strafford, a senior international specialist in European furniture and decorative arts at Christie’s in New York. “We are wanting to move away from too much volume and to give the pieces we do offer a very strong, stylistic identity, or the breathing space to be seen as collectors’ items.”

Although the overall market for antiques is shrinking, said Mr. Strafford, activity at the very top remains strong, as ultrawealthy buyers acquire the finest museum-grade pieces, regardless of category, period or origin.

“With the explosion of international wealth, and the reach of the internet, we’re able to reach buyers with extraordinary spending capacity,” said Mr. Strafford. “We can often sell quite traditional decorative arts to these new emerging markets such as the Middle East and the Far East, most particularly China.”


George III mahogany and parcel-gilt mirrors. The one on the left sold for $3,300 in 2002, and the one on the right for $1,800 in 2014. Credit Stair Galleries

To create a rarefied context for high-ticket objects, Christie’s has developed a new type of sale, which it calls the Exceptional Sale. “It’s a very small, really curated sale that tends to be about 30 or 40 lots, and it’s the best of the best of the decorative arts,” said Mr. Strafford.

Last April, one of Christie’s Exceptional Sales set the auction record for English walnut furniture when it sold an immaculate circa 1730 George II bureau cabinet for $967,500 (including the buyer’s premium) that previously belonged to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Such blockbuster sales seem to do little to prop up antiques that don’t come from the Met or weren’t owned by celebrity collectors.

The End or a Trend?

Will other 18th and 19th century furniture pieces ever return to fashion? Many designers say that antiques will rise again but, after nearly two decades of decline, few are willing to predict when.

“The pendulum is going to swing just like it does in politics,” said Mr. Hayes. “It always does. But I don’t see it coming anytime soon.”

Jamie Drake, the New York interior designer, also views the current dismissal of antiques as a trend, “just as color trends have moved from neutrals to vibrants, back to neutrals, back to vibrants,” he said.

In his own home, most of the furniture and art is contemporary and modern, “but I do still have some antiques,” he said.

A home without them, he added, “would be like a sentence without punctuation.”

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Telling a Story Through Tiles

One daring personalization through glass can be found in the Manhattan apartment of Babak Hakakian, a partner in Ddc, the high-end contemporary furniture company. Mr. Hakakian hired Mr. Chen to design the loft space, and together they covered the walls of a powder room in bright red glass — “Massimo Vignelli red,” as Mr. Hakakian called it.

Mr. Hakakian selected glass from the venerable Italian company Bisazza because, he said, it’s harder to achieve real true colors with stone tile, and because he knew the firm’s high-end, artisanal tile would wow guests.

The project wasn’t cheap. Though Mr. Hakakian received a trade discount, the glass tile he used costs $84 a square foot, far more than the $5 to $15 price of more basic stone tile. (Bisazza’s glass mosaics, meanwhile, can cost from $20 to $550 a square foot, before installation). But describing the effect, Mr. Hakakian said: “It’s all the things red is — it’s energizing, vital, fun, lively. It’s really sexy.”

A representative of New Ravenna said homeowners who use the company’s tiles can expect to spend from $300 to more than $1,000 a square foot for a patterned installation, depending on the intricacy of the design and the specific tiles selected. As one might expect, 24-karat gold glass will send a budget skyward.

Glass mosaics certainly have the power to stun, especially after two decades of shelter magazine spreads of spare, midcentury modern interiors. To walk into Bisazza’s Manhattan showroom is to feel like a visually starved person being treated to a banquet. There are kaleidoscopic mosaics of Renaissance-esque floral bouquets, geometric patterns, the giant face of young Napoleon Bonaparte.


A powder room in the New York City apartment of Babak Hakakian, by Eran Chen. Credit Frank Oudeman

Piero Bisazza, the chief executive, said the 62-year-old company has never wavered in its love of color and pattern. “You do not change your identity because fashion goes one direction or another,” he said. “We enjoy decoration, there’s no denying it.”

Nevertheless, he is finding that fashion is coming to them. “Flower power is very, very strong,” Mr. Bisazza said when asked about his most popular designs. “The pendulum is swinging back to rich — not opulent — but rich interiors.”

Annie Elliott, an interior designer in Washington, has been trying for years to get clients to embrace glass tiles for more than an accent strip in a bathroom or kitchen. It’s an investment not only of money, but also of structure and permanence, she said, and many homeowners are concerned about resale value or a design choice they’ll later regret.

“I understand it is a commitment,” Ms. Elliott said. “But when a client is bold enough to use glass on a whole wall, the effect is stunning, stunning.”

Ms. Elliott followed her own advice. Inspired by Gracie, the firm known for hand-painted chinoiserie wallpaper, she commissioned an artist to create a reverse-painted glass backsplash that is 8 feet wide, runs the length of her kitchen wall and replicates the look and fine detail of Audubon bird illustrations. The art glass, made up of three sections, gives her backsplash wall depth and brightness of color.

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My Space: A Tour of a Design Dealer’s Small Apartment in Chelsea

Patrick Parrish

AGE 52

OCCUPATION Owner, Patrick Parrish gallery; author of “The Hunt: Navigating the Worlds of Art and Design” (Powerhouse Books)


A school bus made by the German toy company Playmobil sits in the living room. Credit Andrew White for The New York Times

LOCATION Chelsea, Manhattan

HIS FAVORITE ROOM For nearly two decades, this 450-square-foot, rent-stabilized apartment was Mr. Parrish’s bachelor pad. Now he’s married, and the living area is where he hangs out with his 2-year-old son, Clyde. And soon the apartment will be a memory: The growing family is moving to a bigger place in Brooklyn.

There must be a lot of history for you here.

I moved in here because a friend of mine told me, “I know an apartment that would be perfect for you. It’s a one-bedroom, and it’s less than two blocks from the flea market.” Because I was going to the flea market every Saturday and Sunday. I would get there between 4 and 4:30 a.m., rain or shine. I was picking and selling to other dealers.


An art piece made of metal from the 1930s or 1940s in the style of Calder (and possibly an original Calder). Credit Andrew White for The New York Times

Was it sad to see those flea-market lots become apartment towers?

Yeah, it was. In the beginning, there were eight places where you could buy stuff. Now there’s one — and there’s no one there. I’m up with Clyde. We could go to the flea market, but I just can’t do it. I just burned out.


An ottoman made by Doug Johnston. Credit Andrew White for The New York Times

What’s your weekend routine with Clyde?

This is his command post, this Doug Johnston ottoman. We sit on the sofa and we read. It’s kind of Clyde’s world.

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