Nailhead trim. A timeless added detail and enduring element of furniture design that spans interior design. Dating back to the period of 1560-1643 with the arrival of what it referred to as French Country furniture era during the reign of Louis XIII in 17th Century France, nailhead trim on furnishings endures to appeal. Beyond a visual appreciation of the studded design of the nailhead and its embellishment to classically styled furniture, a nod to the past will certainly only broaden historical appreciation for a classic element that remains a constant in interior design today.
Historically, the use of decorative nailheads served as not just decorative form but in function in furniture making. Beyond a mere decorative trim, nailheads were used to hide areas where the upholstery was tacked into the wood frame of the furniture object. Who knew? Form and function. Nailheads would thus aid in holding the upholstery in place attractively. Decorative concealment in craftsmanship, indeed. Since the 15th and 16th centuries trims such as gimp(braided trim) would be used by the upholsterer in conjunction with decorative nailheads traditionally made of brass or copper. 17th century France used nailhead trim on the ornately carved wooden seating with period upholstery coverings such as brocade, velvet, tapestries and leather. A studded pattern of design that has never faded from the world of interior design…
The French Os de Mouton chair is the most well known design from the 17th century. The French word “Mouton” refers to sheep. Thus the shape of the chair legs suggests that they resemble the legs of a lamb. It is interesting to note that the arrival of this chair marked the beginning of upholstered backs and seats using nail head trim.
Beyond the French link to this hidden design of form and function in craftsmanship, designing with nailhead was favored with old Dutch, Spanish and English furnishings. During the 1800’s famed English furniture designer William Morris and the American designers Stickley Brothers during the 1900’s would also favor this medieval-style nailhead trimming with leather and Baroque tapestry. Designs from the past always inspire design through the decades. As with the nailhead trim, classics always endure. Although the use of nailhead trim is commonly linked use with leather-upholstered sofas, chairs and ottomans, the trim has since studded the world of interior design with modern yet timeless appeal. Both classic and modern takes on this timeless trim are certain to inspire…
Consider the patterned distinction of nailhead trim. Patterns in nailheads have gone far in decorating our interior spaces in the decades that have followed since the 15th century. With timeless appeal the decoration of nailhead trim will certainly remain an embellishment in interior design. Timeless style with modern inspirations within the interior, indeed. Accentuating lines of design with sophistication, the nailhead trim design will endure to add visual interest and distinction to the surfaces of our interiors that it embellishes. Onward in enduring classic design.
Perhaps as our attention is drawn out to the world beyond our windows, the consideration of a distinctive and tailored adornment that frames the window and the viewis worthy of consideration….
“Lambrequins” and “Pelmets”. The “Lambrequin” I am referencing is an upholstered piece of decorative drapery hung over the top of a window that it surrounds and is a type of “Pelmet” with elongated sides . A“Pelmet” is described as a decorative board above the curtain that is slightly padded and upholstered. Of interest, the word “Lambrequin” itself is termed as “a short piece of decorative drapery hung over the top of a door or window or draped from a shelf or mantelpiece” or “a piece of cloth covering the back of a medieval knight’s helmet, represented in heraldry as the mantling”. Who knew? Yet again, it is the upholstered “Lambrequin” I draw my attention to…
The history of the “Pelmet” and “Lambrequins” began in the 15th century. The art of fabric as decoration for the bed, paired with richly decorated with trims of fringes and tassels, would eventually grace windows that they were applied upon. Who knew? The French originating word “Lambrequin” is a traditional style of window dressing that is also known and referred to as a “Valance”. Elaborate variations of the “Valance” included ornate overhang swags and draped treatments that hung from a wooden “Cornice”(the uppermost section of moldings along the top of a wall). Variations of window decorating, for certain. Yet it is the fabric upholstered structure or tailored form that graces the window that my focus is upon. Alas, the art of drapery paired with the skill of the upholsterer has evolved and has endured. Structured window dressing of distinctive style, indeed.
Of course, fashionable interiors continually evolve. Perhaps these attention demanding formations that were once associated with overly layered interiors of heavier appeal have taken center stage once again with the visual tailored appeal they offer in modern interiors. As with fashion, modifications to the classic window adornment bring the “Pelmet” and “Lambrequin” into a world that is styled less formally yet offers and holds an enduring tailored appeal. The elegantly tailored “Lambrequin” or “Pelmet” provide a decorative appeal to dressing the window. The formal and uncluttered and traditional appeal paired with a modern spin is striking within modern and classic interiors of today. An interior design element placed upon a window that visually enhances not only the window, but certainly gives distinction to the room it towers over…
Consider the embellishment of window dressing with these “crowns” that layer above the window. Alas, the classic form over a bed is certainly an option, as well! Yet for the window, perhaps the adornment of the distinctive “Lambrequin” or “Pelmet” adds an unexpected, modern panache to our current interiors. Traditional and classic, “Lambrequins” and “Pelmets” continue to hold timeless appeal. Perhaps with modern simplicity they will continue to evolve and endure as an element of interior style. Tailored style with personal, stylistic choices that abound. Appreciation of a classic element, either way. Window adornment of distinctive, tailored style, indeed.
The rich texture of velvet. A luxurious fabric and symbol of luxury throughout time, for certain…
The term “Velvet” refers to the “weave and pile made of silk thread”. Velvet is described as “A type of woven, tufted fabric in which the cut threads are evenly distributed, with a short dense pile, giving it a distinctive feel”. Velvet is also known as a “warp-pile fabric” which means that is has “one set of filling yarns and two sets of warp yarns. The second set of warp yarns can be cut or uncut”. And then of course, a more elaborate description: “Velvet is a warp-pile fabric, meaning that is woven with one set of weft (horizontal) fibres and two sets of warp (vertical) fibres, the second set of which are evenly cut to create the distinctive soft pile. Velvets are woven on a special loom that weaves two layers of fabric, one above the other, that are connected by the extra set of warp threads; the warp threads are then cut to produce two sheets of fabric that are wound up on separate rolls.” Complicated yet interesting. The glory of a fabric and the craft of weaving it. Of note, the word “Velvety” is used as an adjective to mean “smooth like velvet”. Smooth, indeed.
Of course, understanding the history of a fabric certainly adds to an appreciation of a textile… Traditional silk fiber velvet denotes the utmost luxury in a fabric layered within the history of textiles. History states that the Egyptians used a technique with looped pile similar to the one that is utilized in velvet production. Who knew? Throughout the centuries from the Medieval era through the Renaissance and beyond, the appeal of velvet has never faded. Of interest, it was during the Renaissance that the luxurious fabrics of velvet were made of silk and precious metal threads. Thus velvet was perhaps among the most valuable items owned by the individuals who layered in these rich fabrics as well as the churches that were adorned with palatial velvet within their enclosed spaces. Alas, it was the upper classes, royalty and nobility, who owned garments and layerings of plush velvet. In fact, in 1399 King Richard II of England declared in his will that his body should be clothed in “velveto”. Royal luxury defined.
History finds that between 1400-1600 European artistic velvets were woven by weavers of the Italian peninsula (including Lucca, Genoa, Florence and Venice) as well as Spain. Spain is said to excelled at weaving patterned velvet textiles. Of note, Venice, Florence and Genoa are stated to have traditionally been recognized as the Italian centers of high-quality velvet production. During the mid 15th century, Milan’s silk industry was also recognized with its importance in the production of velvet. The art of velvet weaving would eventually pass to the artistic hands of Flemish weavers. In fact, during the 16th century Bruges attained a reputation for velvets equal to the works of the great Italian cities. The world of textiles expands, indeed. With the allure and demand for this woven textile of extravagant and grand design, it was the seaports of Venice and Genoa which would provide availability abroad in both Western and European markets. Merchants are said to have searched for the most brilliant shades dyed with the highest reliable dyes available (which would not fade with time or with light exposure). Oh, the lure of the rich colors produced of this luxurious fabric! And of the perennial favorites of that time? Crimson red, bright green and ‘sapphire’ blue. Timeless, indeed.
In appreciation of a craft it is important to note that the craft and production of velvet was a highly competitive industry which is said to have often resulted in espionage. Again, who knew? The quality and coveted “secrets” of the dyeing process were carefully guarded. In fact, the highest skilled weavers are said to have often been prohibited from leaving their native cities for the fear of sharing their knowledge and expertise with rival manufacturers. Imagine! Of course, imitations would abound, regardless. With the evolution of time, history would find the Industrial Revolution as being credited with the availability for all to experience the luxury that for centuries was beyond their reach. A royal fabric of history available for the masses…
“The silk craft is a very noble art, worthy of being plied by any true gentleman. It is a craft that exalts the rich and helps the poor; and great skills are needed to ply it since it involves and infinitude of operations; no one is to be found who is capable of doing on his own the many tasks that it involves”
-Unknown 16th century Renaissance writer
The sumptuous and rich fabric of Velvet can be made with the traditional silk threads, natural fibers or synthetic fibers. The types of velvet are “Cut Velvet” (the most common type with a plan weave and a cut pile), “Crushed Velvet” (Pressing the fabric or mechanically twisting the fabric when wet), “Devore” (A process that dissolves part of the velvet leaving sheer areas of fabric), “Embossed” (A metal roller heat-stamps fabric to create a pattern) “Hammered” (A dappled and somewhat crushed lustrous effect), “Panne`” (like crushed, forcing the pile in a single direction by applying heavy pressure),“Plain” (commonly made of cotton), “Silk” (Shiny, soft and most expensive form), “Velveteen” (imitation velvet and weft-pile fabric with a shorter pile made either of cotton or cotton and silk) and “Velour” (Cotton fabric with a deep pile and heavier weight commonly used in upholstery and draperies). Alas, perhaps the velour fabric is the textile which drapes our world today.
However we layer our world with this fabric that denotes the velvet texture is a delight to immerse ourselves within and surround our spaces with. Luxurious textile delight, for certain…
Consider layering your interior spaces in the soft, deep, rich colors or muted delight in plush velvet. A rich fabric once reserved for royalty and the elite world that could attain it, the layering of our interior spaces in visual, textural luxury is achievable for all. No longer reserved for the Winter season, the allure of velvet has gained a year-round appeal. An appreciation is at hand either way for the visual delight of the texture and color of velvet. Interior indulgence in textile richness, indeed…
“There is no excuse for doing anything which is not strikingly beautiful”- William Morris
William Morris (1834-1896) was an English artist, a craftsman of broad skills of artistic mediums and a pioneer of designs. Morris is also described as a prolific writer of poetry, fiction, essays and translations of ancient and medieval texts. That said, Morris created a legacy all his own.
And of his diverse creative skills that produced a range of decorative art including textiles, furniture, stained glass windows, book design, wallcoverings and tapestries? It is the embellishment of the interior walls with distinctive botanical wonder and the adorning of the interior with lush textiles and fabrics of botanical delight that beckons my attention. In appreciation of his distinctive botanical patterns, it is evident that Morris valued rich, depth of color paired with abundant, free-form and diverse details. Artistry of nature within the Victorian era.
Aside from Victorian influences, it is believed that his appreciation and admiration of Medievalism inspired his work. In addition, devoted to the preservation of architecture, ancient buildings and the natural world, it is not surprising with his botanical focus and craftsmanship that Morris would not be pleased with the lower quality of mass production of Industrialism, which resulted in pollution and its effects on the natural world. Certainly, Morris was committed to create an impact in the interior world. Craftsmanship paired with beauty at its best.
Born in Walthamstow, England, Morris would later earn a degree from Exeter College in Oxford in 1852. Morris’s education is said to have provided him with a lifelong friendship with a fellow student and aspiring artist Edward Burne-Jones. Morris and Burne-Jones are said to have been influenced by the pre-Raphaelite movement, the poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson and the essays of John Ruskin. Of interest, it is Ruskin who is credited with the “Rejection of the industrial manufacture of decorative arts and architecture in favor of a return to hand-crafted, affordable art where artisans are elevated to fine artists”. Perhaps a longterm inspiration to Morris?
In 1856, Morris began working for one of England’s leading Gothic revival architects in Oxford. During this time, Morris embarked upon another lifelong friendship with pre-Raphaelite painter, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. It was Rosetti who would bring the striking and beautiful artist’s model into the focus of Morris. The beautiful Jane Burden. In 1859 William and Jane were married. History hints that their happiness would not continue although they remained married until Morris’s death. Of note, a long affair is stated to have swirled between Rossetti and Burden. A love triangle, indeed. Yet at the beginning of their marriage it is thought that in the joy of decorating of their own home in Kent, England, inspired the beginnings of the focus on the interior that William Morris would bestow upon the world of interior design…..
In 1861, the decorative arts firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co. was established. Morris, Rossetti, Burne-Jones, Ford Maddox Brown, Philip Webb, Charles Faulkner and Peter Marshall as partners. The firm would undertake carving, stained glass, metal work, chintzes, printed fabrics and carpets. Of interest, the initial intent was for the decoration of churches. Who knew? In time, the firm would expand to include a myriad of craftsman skills, such as murals, furniture, glass wares, cloth, paper wall hangings, embroideries, jewelry, silk damasks, tapestries and tiles. A wide array of skilled arts, for certain. In 1874 Morris would become principal owner and design director of the firm and in 1875 the company name became “Morris and Co.”. A history of design that has endured.
And of his timeless wallpaper designs? Morris’s pattern work is unique from the machine produced wallpaper of the period. Creative uniqueness, for certain. The “flat” patterns of his botanical designs are considered opposite of the three-dimensional quality, excessive floral and precision of the wallpaper designs of the mid-Victorian interiors. It is said that “Many of Morris’s designs utilize the flowing, meandering lines, the idea of which stems from the meandering of the River Thames and all of its tributaries. In Morris’s work these lines become the stems of plants, flowers and foliage that wander through his repetitive designs”. Beautifully stated in regards to his flowing artistry of botanical wonder. Perhaps while relishing life within his own English garden of his beloved country house at Kelmscott Manor, observing plant nature and the delights of the natural world, his attentions would shift his energy and focus to designing botanical wallpaper and textiles. Perhaps it can be linked to his own words: “My work is the embodiment of dreams in one form or another”. That said, wherever his inspiration in originating his art form of the natural world, his patterns certainly emulate the natural world and remain timeless and iconic statements within the interior. Works of art to be appreciated, for certain…
“The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life”- William Morris
Considered a genius pattern designer, the work of William Morris has an enduring appeal beyond the Arts and Crafts Revival of the 20th and 21st centuries. Unlike other English decorative artisans of the time who are credited with art of more formal, perhaps rigid and symmetrical style, Morris’s “Visual poetry and passion for the natural world” would become and iconic, stylized classic within interior design. Bold and patterned botanical bliss of which he colored and infused interiors with. Timeless.
Perhaps it can be said that Morris altered the way the home was viewed. The inner world. Perhaps Morris even altered the way the world was viewed. Either way, his botanicals of nature’s beauty expressed in definitive fashion endure. Lasting emblems that continue to endure in appreciation in the world of interior design. Beyond what is shared here, the world or William Morris and his originality, quality, craftsmanship and mastery of techniques expressed through his wide range of artistic mediums is vast. Merely an appreciation presented here, consider the sensory delight of the natural world of William Morris. For certain, the creative character and legend of William Morris as a designer lives onward. The patterns of botanical bliss will forever create a statement. One of enduring appreciation, indeed…
“If there is a reason for keeping the wall very quiet, choose a pattern that works all over without pronounced lines…Put very succinctly, architectural effect depends upon a nice balance of horizontal, vertical and oblique. No rules can say how much of each; so nothing can really take the place of feeling and good judgement.”- William Morris
“No pattern should be without some sort of meaning”- William Morris
“If I were asked to say what is at once the most important production of art and the thing most to be longed for, I should answer, a beautiful house.”-William Morris
and lastly, my personal favorite…
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”- William Morris