Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Gold Standard

Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed by the New York Times about some of my favorite shopping spots in New York City. It was hard to narrow it down so I choose instead to focus on something I have in my own home, the color Gold. I love the warmth of this color and these shops all have amazing items that I love.

You can read more of the story here at this New York Times link.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Story Behind "The End Of History"

I recently had the pleasure of officially meeting Stephen Saunders. He owns "The End of History", a unique antique glass and ceramic shop based in New York City. I admire that he is keeping an art alive through his passion. Here is a little about the story behind the boutique and how it got its name.

Antiques are in Stephen Saunders blood. He comes from a family of antique dealers in England. Mr. Saunders credits this as to what drives his "collections obsession". From the time he was a very small child he was taken to estate sales and local auction houses. When he was 8 years old he joined the Boy Scouts because they had the best rummage sale in his home town! By the age of 13 he was selling antiques found on the Isle of Wight to relatives in London who owned a shop near the Portabello Road antique market.

What started as a fascination with Chinese & Japanese porcelain from the 18th & 19th century turned into a rediscovery of the beauty of mid 20th century Scandinavian studio ceramics, themselves inspired by the royal collections of Sweden & Denmark of Asian ceramics, and the amazing work that came out of Italy in the 1950s and 60s, Murano glass and gold.

The name of the shop is taken from The End of History and the Last Man a 1992 book by Francis Fukuyama, expanding on his 1989 essay "The End of History?", published in the international affairs journal The National Interest. The title of the shop, for Mr. Saunders, also means the end of a period when the dollar was king and American department stores were full of Scandinavian and Italian design. It was also a nod to the upcoming millennium, as he opened a shop full of 20th century design at the very end of the century in 1997.

Today, "The End of History" celebrates 13 years in business. Their merchandise can be seen in amazing homes, TV shows like Mad Men (one of my favorites), movies like Sex in the City and in many publications. I am inspired by the history represented by this collection of glass. The wonder I feel walking into his shop in New York City, I hope, can inspire generations to come.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Passion for Print

While shopping for a soon to be published New York Times story I was inspired by other artisans who, like me, truly follow their passions. The next few blog entries I'll introduce you to some of the people behind the names of some amazing stores. My holiday wish is to inspire others with these brief biography's as they have inspired me.

Luke Ives Pontifell owns Thornwillow Press. They are known for their fine handmade books and printing. In addition, Thornwillow designs and manufactures paper for some of the finest purveyors of stationary like Crane's and Cartier. They also have their own lines of cards which draw from the rich traditions of classical engraving and letterpress printing.

They just opened up a boutique of curiosities and library gallery in the NYC St. Regis Hotel. How Mr. Pontifell came to create Thornwillow Press is a story of following one's passion. This is a very short version of the amazing history behind Thronwillow and its passionate creator.

Mr. Pontifell was born in New York City, but a lot of his time was spent upstate at his parents 18th century home surrounded by Thornwillow trees. The home was full of antiques and a collection of beautiful books. He grew up fascinated with the idea that ideas and thoughts from the past will carry far into the future long after we are gone. When he was 15-years-old he took a course in letter press. It ignited his passion for typography and the written word. He was inspired to make functional beautiful objects that will last. Every year during college he printed one book. In his senior year of college his passion turned into a business. Luke and his family are now celebrating 25 years of fine printing, paper making and binding for clients such as Louis Auchincloss, Walter Cronkite, Helmut Kohl, Barrack Obama, John Updike among many others.

Thornwillow Press now is entirely based in the United States. In 2004 he set up workshops in a complex of 19th Century factory buildings he purchased in Newburgh, New York to consolidate these operations. There his team of artisans is dedicated to practicing and perpetuating the crafts of traditional hand engraving and letterpress printing, decorative paper making, gilding, leather bookbinding and fine press publishing. The work of Thornwillow is diverse, but united in its commitment to the presentation and preservation of the written word. Luke firmly believes the idea of how something is made is in the soul of the object. You can feel that when you pick up any of his products.

Some of my personal favorite's of his, for this holiday season, are the letter press, gold place cards, they are wonderful for entertaining. Next time you are in New York City stop by the St. Regis and say hello and get more of the inside story behind this amazing home made brand.