Musee D’Orsay Wall Divider

This room divider is just another example of how the Art Nouveau Movement succeeded in turning even relatively mundane necessities into objects of art. The front of the divider has been decorated with a lovely painting. While the painting could easily stand alone as a work of art (sorry about the glare–you can’t quite see how lovely a piece it is), the artist has chosen to give it another purpose, in addition to its beauty.

As you can see, even the back of the divider is stunning!

Every once and a while I am truly astounded by some of the beautiful works of art that have been created with the purpose of both serving and entertaining. When I saw this room divider, it really inspired me to believe that it is truly possible to find ways decorative objects that do more than simply serve a purpose. There has to be a way of making household objects both useful and uplifting!

Decorative Arts at the Musee D’Orsay

As I continue chronicling my visit to Paris earlier this month, I thought I’d take a moment to revisit the Musee D’Orsay and tell you a bit about their great collection of decorative arts.

I guess you can tell I’ve swallowed William Morris’ philosophy hook, line and sinker because whenever I get to a museum, I instantly make a beeline for whatever decorative arts are on display. Of course I still love paintings and sculpture, but I’ve developed a special place in my heart for beautiful (and useful!) household objects.

The Musee D’Orsay is a paradise for anyone who loves Art Nouveau style. They have several rooms at the Musee D’Orsay entirely devoted to Art Nouveau art objects. My favourite was the room pictured below, which was a recreation of a sort of “Haute Art Nouveau” living space. It’s breathtakingly beautiful. The nature-inspired designs are so fluid that the walls feel like they are alive. It’s incredible how the intricate, delicate carvings and the stunning grain of the wood combine to create such a spectacular effect.

I’m in love with the built-in shelves!

I really loved this vase and table and the carvings on the wall behind. Doesn’t the entire room look like it came from the “Rivendell” set from Lord of the Rings? (by the way, if you aren’t familiar with Art Nouveau, but you’re familiar with the Peter Jackson film version of Lord of the Rings, the set for Rivendell was inspired by Art Nouveau style).

Craftsman Magazine

In yesterday’s post I mentioned the work of Gustavus Stickley, founder of Stickley furniture and the legendary Arts and Crafts periodical The Craftsman. As an addendum, if you are interested in reading more about the Arts and Crafts movement (and Craftsman design in particular), take a moment to browse through some vintage issues of The Craftsman magazine. The University of Wisconsin’s Library of Decorative Arts has made this great resource available free online for anyone interested in learning more about the movement. All issues from between 1901 and 1916 are available through the site.

This link was sent to my by Brad from over at Tree Frog Furniture. Brad makes beautiful reproduction Arts and Crafts furniture and his blog chronicles the creative process along with photos of his work. His craftsmanship and creativity are evident in the beautiful (and useful) work he produces.

Stickley Furniture

I was doing a bit of browsing this morning and ran aross the most amazing furniture company: Stickley. Stickley furniture has been in business for around 100 years and still continues to produce beautiful work.

The company begain in 1901, when Gustavus Stickley founded an Arts and Crafts journal called The Craftsman. The periodical expounded the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement, but it had a uniquely American flair. In 1903, several years after starting the magazine, Stickley founded the Craftsman Home Builders Club, which was devoted to “organic architecture.” Some of Stickley’s primary architectural principles were that:

    • A house ought to be constructed in harmony with its landscape, with special attention paid to selecting local materials.
    • An open floor plan would encourage family interaction and eliminate unnecessary barriers.
    • Built-in bookcases and benches were practical and ensured that the house would not be completely reliant on furniture from outside.
    • Artificial light should be kept to a minimum, so large groupings of windows were necessary to bring in light (thank you Wikipedia!).

Gustavus Stickley’s brothers, Leopold and John George Stickley followed their brother in the business of crafting Mission style furniture in the 1920s with the introduction of the popular “Cherry Valley Collection.” Although Alfred Audi purchased the company in 1974, the Audi family has tried to remain true to the legacy of the Stickleys.

I strongly recommend a visit to the Stickley website. They have a really neat virtual room planner where you can create your ideal Arts and Crafts inspired space! Their Mission, Edinburgh, 21st Century(don’t let the name fool you), Pasadena Bungalow and English Oak lines of furniture are all inspired by Arts and Crafts designs. They also sell beautiful handmade Persian rugs, including William Morris inspired Hammersmith designs! (I would contact them first before ordering them, though…I would want to know more about the labour conditions under which they’re produced).

I’m sure most of their products are too expensive anyway, but it’s certainly fun to look! The other nice thing about Stickley is that their products are sold all over the world (so much for local business, but it’s hard to find good solid wood furniture in Canada, so I was really excited that they have a store that sells their products in Calgary–McArthur Furniture).

The piece I have pictured above is the “Roycraft Little Journeys Table” from the Mission collection and it comes in oak and cherry.