Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How They Decorated (P Gaye Tapp) and Why Blogging still Matters

Soon to be released (April 11, 2017) is "How They Decorated", a fascinating book by P. Gaye Tapp with forward by Charlotte Moss and published by Rizzoli.  I've been eagerly awaiting this book both because the subject is endlessly fascinating and because over the years I've become friends with Tapp through our blogs; You may know her better as Little Augury.
I've been studying my preview copy of the book and have been totally engrossed by these fascinating women who were each famous for their (many) style(s) which were well documented throughout the 20th century. Split into 4 sections the book categorizes these style setters (NOT trendsetters) by "The Fashionably Chic", "The Unconventional Eye", "In the Grand Manner", and "Legacy Style".  One of my favorite parts of the book is that they are covered not only by never-before-seen photographs but also charming sketches by Jimmie Henslee, Christian Berard, and Jeremiah Goodman which give the FEEL of a space more than a photograph ever can.
I (and Gaye) say these women were STYLE setters and not TREND setters because they marched to the beat of their own drummer.  They didn't follow trends, they set them.  Big difference; there is very little to be said of a trendsetter but so much to learn from a stylesetter.
So often lately I hear 'blogging is dead' and 'who cares about blogs'. I believe this may in part be a backlash to their popularity 10 years ago and also because so many blogs were created, following the TREND, that had no substance and nothing to say. Every business website one visits has a 'blog' section and those are indeed incredibly dull; they have nothing to say. However blogs still MATTER because they are written for the most part (at least the good ones) by people who are passionate;  Interested enough to put their thoughts and research out into the online universe, generally for free, because they're passionate about their subject.  Whether it be architecture, travel, history, style, or interior design;  Passion, Knowledge and Interest transcend trends. When bloggers cover a subject it's a 21st century technique of passing content - magazines for our century!  I have learned so much about the history of 20th century design through Gaye's blog and her book is a distillation of her many years of research on the topic. I bet if asked she could write another 10 volumes on stylish women (and I would eagerly await each tome)!
Anyone reading this blog, or Gaye's, will love 'How They Decorated' and should definitely include it in their reference library. Also be sure to follow her blog as she passionately covers the history of design. I learn something new from her every posting and now through her book!
Images Copyright from How They Decorated: Inspiration from Great Women of the Twentieth Century by P. Gaye Tapp, Rizzoli NY 2017

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Schonbrunn; Another post another Palace.

Since I mentioned it in my last post on Vienna's Belvedere I thought I should write next about Schonbrunn Palace. Sick of palaces yet? I saw so many on my trip that there is so much to share!
 A rare image of me, ArchitectDesign, as it was the only picture I have that includes the front entry court.  Yes I can play typical tourist and get my picture taken in front of the Eiffel Tower, haha!  I'm blinking, which is one of many reasons I never have my picture taken or post them on my blog. Back to architecture....
A mansion has been on these grounds since before the 15th century as there is a fresh spring (hence the name Schon Brunn or "beautiful spring" in German) but the present building could finally be termed palace when it was added onto by the widow of Ferdinand II, Eleonora Gonzaga, and finished in 1643.
The large grounds just outside of Imperial Vienna made this the perfect summer estate for the Habsburgs.
The present palace owes its' baroque interiors to Empress Maria Theresa, known to most of us as the mother of Marie Antoinette, who remodeled the palace from 1740 until 1750 after receiving it as a wedding gift. The exterior was later renovated by Francis II to the Neoclassical facade we see today.
Since 1918, at the downfall of the Habsburg monarchy, the palace and grounds have been open to the public.
Interior photos of the palace are not allowed so you'll have to find those online (check the official website here) but while waiting in line for my tour I did snap this shot of the lovely lanterns; notice the gilded crown integrated onto the top of the fixture.
Much like at the Belvedere, the emphasis again is not on the lovely (if someone bland) palace but on the gardens.
This private fenced garden on the west of the palace (#5 on the map above) was used by the family as their private yard and where the royal children would go out to play.
These lovely trellised pavilions set into the garden are lovely spots to sit.
It doesn't get better than this.
Right behind the palace is the most famous part of Schonbrunn, the Gloriette, perched high on a hill overlooking the palace and the suburb in which it sits.
I believe I've mentioned before that without fail, the best things I'm traveling to see are under renovation. Never travel with me! For that reason see above lovely photograph of the Gloriette high above the Neptune fountain from wikipedia.
Scaffolding companies should pay me to go on vacation - I would keep them in business.
The Gloriette originally was an imperial banquet hall and now houses one of the many cafes found around the Schonbrunn grounds.
The hard thing to capture in my snapshots is the grand scale of everything. It's a LONG walk from the palace and up the 200 foot tall hill to the Gloriette.
The large grounds provide a lot of different things to see; fountains, pavilions, and even a full zoo!
All of the building fit with the palace in a soft yellow stucco with red clay tile roofs.
Don't miss the "Roman Ruins" (#12 on the map above) designed in 1778.
The orangery now houses a world famous marionette theater.
While this was the one day of our trip without much rain the weather still wasn't very cooperative but we still enjoyed our visit to Schonbrunn.
Much like Paris's Versailles (to which is it often compared), Schonbrunn is a short metro ride outside of central Vienna and well worth the time and effort and kept in immaculate shape.
Visit Schonbrunn's website HERE.

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Belvedere, or Mr. Belvedere to you.

Just outside of the Ringstrasse in Vienna, Austria, is arguably the most famous palace in Austria, the Belvedere. This complex was also one of the first art galleries open to the public in Europe since 1776 based on Enlightened Absolutism.
The complex is so impressive Sophia Coppola used it in her movie, Marie Antoinette, as a stand in for Antoinette's childhood home, more properly Schonbrunn. I also visited Schonbrunn on my trip and can attest that the Belvedere, while smaller, is a much more beautiful palace.
Sitting high above the historic center of Vienna the view has not changed much since the 18th century when Canaletto captured it in the above painting (1758) - compare my photograph with the painting; a few more trees and thats all.
The main event of the palaces however is not the architecture but the baroque gardens. Dominique Girard, who had worked earlier at Versailles, designed the gardens here with flowing fountains and intensely planted beds which are now unfortunately grassed over.
On the uphill side of the palace, oddly facing away from town, is the front entrance with a lovely glassed in porte cochere.
Work began in 1712 under architect Johann Lukas von Hildebrandt as the country residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy. While the surrounding area was countryside at the purchase of the property in 1697 it was surrounded by development only a few years later and the Prince was forced to buy more land in order to preserve his city views.
Rather than my snapshots taken on such a gloomy day (my entire 4 day trip to Vienna was rainy!) I thought I'd share more professional photography from Wikipedia. Above is the entrance facade.
The lower Belvedere remained a royal residence for much longer than the upper Belvedere, becoming home to a host of discarded Royals fleeing the French revolution including Marie Antoinette's daughter, Marie Therese.  Below is the lower Belvedere seen from the terraced gardens.
The Lower Belvedere also became a public museum in 1811 when it was used to house the Imperial Collection from Ambras Castle when the Habsburg's lost Tyrol to Bavaria.
And another better image on a lovelier day from Wikipedia.
The baroque gates into the complex are impressive.
Public entrance into the park is through a lovely wing of the lower Belvedere seen below.
As this is now a busy residential part of the city many people use the park to walk their dogs or jog.
Of course all royal residences had connections to a Catholic church. Seen below is the backend of the cloisters of Maria Heimsuchung and the Salesianerinnenkirche (say that 3 times fast).
Not a bad little church at which to say your prayers.
The church boasts a famous organ by Elias Hossler and a lovely baroque facade by Italian architect Donato Felice D'Allio.
Even on a cloudy day the gardens were delightful, particularly the fountains and statuary.
Click on the photo in order to view these larger.
This is however a working art museum so modern sculptures have been inserted into the landscape as well.
Badly damaged during WWII both palaces and the gardens have been expertly reconstructed.
This part of the upper Belvedere housed a lovely restaurant which I recommend!
The restaurant faces out towards a highly stylized apple orchard with lovely teahouse.
I had to share the sign below which caught my eye....I suppose as a meeting point for groups but it was a bit odd and took me ages to figure out what it meant. Of course the many 'stay off the lawn' signs send a mixed signal with this meeting point.
The Belvedere was one of my favorite spots in Vienna and I hope you take the time to visit someday! More information here.