Monthly Archives: March 2016

Inviting You to Experience More

Cynthia Rowley on DBC16 Stage

Cynthia Rowley interviewed by Anna Brockway of Chairish during the Design Bloggers Conference in Atlanta earlier this month. Image © Melissa Sheets.

“Experience more” sounds like a simple directive but how many of us take the time to savor what is happening in the moment? I consider it a blessing that, as a writer, I live my life with a heightened perception and I feel quite lucky to have the opportunity to create sponsored content for a company that exhibits a similar creative awareness.

Currey & Company: Experience More

I’m speaking of Currey & Company, a busy brand lately given the sponsorships of events like Adam Japko’s Design Bloggers Conference earlier this month; the new product releases coming next month; and an expansion of its High Point showroom that’s simultaneous taking place with the creation of a new space in Las Vegas. The High Point project will be completed by the next market, which takes place from April 15th through the 20th. I’ll highlight the #DBC16 sponsorship first because it is an undertaking that segues seamlessly with the “experience more” theme of this post.

Currey & Company stage set at Design Bloggers Conf

The Currey & Company furniture helped presenters and keynoters relax as they wowed the crowd with their knowledge and their stories. Image © Melissa Sheets.

Currey & Company provided the handsome midcentury modern furniture and luxurious orchids gracing the stage, which served as a backdrop for a lineup of remarkable speakers. Among my personal favorites were Cynthia Rowley, whom I interviewed during High Point Market last fall, and India Hicks, who spoke about her life and her evolving brand India Hicks Style. I also had the great fortune to present two pre-conference workshops, a humbling but rewarding experience as I discussed tips on how to make writing sing.

The Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

The Basilica of St. Francis as seen from its connected piazza looking toward the entrance to the lower church; image courtesy WikiMedia.

As to the new product releases, I’m happy to be the first to introduce to you these beautiful new products that will appear during Spring Market. Once I delve into the literary slant of this post, you’ll see how these introductions have soulful similarities to the architectural attributes of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi (shown above) that one of my literary idols covered as a travel writer.

Shannon Koszyk's Temple Mirror for Currey and Company

The Temple mirror in The Shannon Koszyk Collection, a new release in spring 2016 in all its Gothic glory.

Notice how the first product above—Shannon Koszyk’s Temple mirror, echoes the storied Italian Gothic architectural details dotting the stately façade of the Basilica, particularly the shapes of the openings that frame windows, doors and recesses.

These other new debuts have equally striking likenesses:

Currey and Company's Sava rug in Stone

The Sava rug in Stone, a new release by Currey & Company for Spring 2016.

The intricate patterning of the Sava rug in Stone reflects the same elemental hues of the sunbaked exterior of the Basilica and the motifs blanketing the interiors of the lower chapel.

Currey and Company's large Nador Mirror

The Large version of the Nador Mirror, a Spring 2016 release by Currey & Company.

The large Nador Mirror has a wood trim stained in a dark mahogany finish, the shape of which could have sprung directly from the motifs that frame such picturesque frescoes within the Basilica.

Currey and Company's Vinton chair

The Vinton chair made of wrought iron in a gilt bronze finish has a muslin cushion. New this spring from Currey & Company.

The seemingly random geometrics of the back of the sexy Vinton chair epitomize as artful a composition as the bricks enveloping the Basilica and its adjacent convent—even the passage of centuries not able to compromise the beauty of these building blocks.

Currey and Company's Nador folding screen

The Nador folding screen, a Spring-2016 release by Currey & Company.

The beautiful patterning that makes the Nador folding screen so lovely to observe is as dexterous in its movement as the scrollwork climbing along the vaulted ceilings of the Basilica.

Currey and Company's large Charisma Lantern

The large version of the Charisma Lantern, a new product by Currey & Company.

The Charisma Lantern made of wrought iron with a French Black finish could be just as at home in the nave as it would be in the favorite room of your home.

Currey and Company's Nador console table

The Nador console table, one of Currey & Company’s new products for Spring 2016.

The Nador console table with its glass top and its dark mahogany finish crosses between past and future—as great design does, melding the time-honored and the contemporary seamlessly.

John Singer Sargent's portrait of Henry James

I came across this sketch of Henry James by John Singer Sargent when combing through Edith Wharton’s papers at the Beinecke Library at Yale University. Image © Saxon Henry.

And now to the literary adventure I’m pairing with these products, which features Henry James. I’m not presenting him today as you likely know him—the writer of the great novel from which blockbuster films are made, such as The Wings of the Dove. I’m going to dip into his legacy as a travel writer instead, which I’ve known about since I came across two volumes titled Collected Travel Writings a few years ago. Published by the Library of America, one volume covers The Continent and the other features his essays about travels in Great Britain and America.

Cover of The Century Magazine by Louis John Rhead (American, born England, 1857–1926, the lithograph dating from 1894. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Cover of The Century Magazine by Louis John Rhead (American, born England, 1857–1926, the lithograph dating from 1894. Image courtesy The Metropolitan Museum of Art; the artwork purchased through The Lauder Foundation, Evelyn H. and Leonard A. Lauder Fund Gift, in 1985.

The writing in them requires a bit of patience because it springs from an earlier time—the essays crafted between 1861 and 1900—but the observations recorded by this man illustrate he was certainly a being who embraced the declaration “experience more” with gusto.

One of the illustrations Joseph Pennell created for James’s collected essays titled “Italian Hours,” this one of Perugia.

One of the illustrations Joseph Pennell created for James’s collected essays titled “Italian Hours,” this one of Perugia. Image courtesy WikiMedia.

These slipcovered volumes include illustrations by Joseph Pennell, who created original works of art for many of these collected essays first published in magazines such as The Century. The Continent holds three sections titled“A Little Tour of France,” “Italian Hours,” and “Other Travels.” I came across his descriptions of the Basilica in the “Italian Hours” section in an essay titled “A Chain of Cities.”

St Francis of Assisi Basilica with cloudy sky

The Basilica of St. Francis, as seen from the valley below; image courtesy WikiMedia and Roberto Ferrari.

The author looks back to a trip from Rome to Florence that didn’t leave him enough time to visit Narni, Spoleto, Assisi, Perugia, Cortona and Arezzo as he begins the chapter. “I turned away with the impatient vow and the fond vision of how I would take the journey again and pause to my heart’s content,” he wrote. We find him doing just this as he begins his tour of the sprawling church, so historically significant that Pope Gregory IX was present for the laying of its first stone on July 17, 1228—the day after St. Francis was canonized.

Side Entrance to Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

The side entrance to the lower Basilica; image courtesy WikiMedia and Georges Jansoone.

He checks into the same hotel where the esteemed Karl Baedeker, who produced his famous travel guides at the time, had stayed when it was newly opened and describes the setting beyond the window: “This view embraces the whole wide reach of Umbria, which becomes as twilight deepens a purple counterfeit of the misty sea.”

 

He’s enamored with the sensations the architecture evokes, noting, “This twofold temple of St. Francis is one of the very sacred places of Italy, and it would be hard to breathe anywhere an air more heavy with holiness”—a point that is made in the video above. He explains this is the case particularly if you happen to arrive after a visit to Rome where “everything ecclesiastical is, in aspect, so very much of this world—so florid, so elegant…”

The lower chapel of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

The interior of the lower church of the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi with its murals by Giotto and Lorenzetti.

He particularly celebrates the site of the cathedral and congratulates its long-deceased makers: “they were brave builders who laid the foundation-stones. The thing rises straight from a steep mountain-side and plunges forward on its great substructure of arches.”

Cimabue's "Maestà with St. Francis"

“Maestà with St. Francis,” by Cimabue; image courtesy WikiMedia and Starlight.

He calls the lower church a gorgeous cavern with a penetrating chill enhanced by the splendidly somber and subterranean atmosphere. “The tone of the place is a triumph of mystery, the richest harmony of lurking shadows and dusky corners, all relieved by scattered images and scintillations.”

Giotto fresco in Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

St Francis preaches in the presence of Pope Honorius III, a fresco in the Basilica of St. Francis by Giotto; image courtesy WikiMedia.

The images he references are frescoes by Giotto and his artistic contemporaries during medieval times. In closing, James singles out four that are painted on the ceiling above the altar of the lower chapel to illustrate how completely the artist was “in proportion to his means, a genius supremely expressive.”

A Giotto fresco at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi featuring Isaac and Esau

“Isaac rejects Esau” by Giotto, one of the murals he painted in the Basilica of St. Francis; image courtesy WikiMedia.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief Jamesian jaunt to one of Italy’s architectural gems, a World Heritage site since 2000.

Courtyard of Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi

The courtyard of the friary on the grounds of the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi; image courtesy WikiMedia and Georges Jansoone.

Currey & Company Expands Its High Point Showroom

If you are attending High Point market next month, you’ll be able to see the new products I highlighted above in person. They’ll be artistically displayed within the newly expanded showroom, the setting designed by Currey & Company’s talented creative team. Those of you who have made it a favorite destination in the past need make no adjustments to your party compass: the manufacturer will be in the same location as they have been. You can look for a repeat of the fabulous programming and fare you have found there in the past but with a tad more elbowroom.

Currey and Company expands High Point Showroom

The plans on the page are morphing into something special in High Point as this entry goes live!

How much more? The former showroom will grow by 4,400 square feet to a roomy 16,000-square-foot space when the construction is done. Talk about experiencing more!

Currey and Company expands High Point Showroom in 2016

Don’t doubt that this work-in-progress will be a thing of beauty by the time Market opens on April 15th.

“All of us at Currey & Company are thrilled to be able to offer our customers a new experience at the upcoming High Point market,” remarks CEO Brownlee Currey. “While we don’t think everything needs to change, we are delighted to have the space to allow our customers and our product a little more breathing room. The added space and renovations should allow us to let the product speak for itself, while making our customers comfortable.”

 Currey and Company expands High Point Showroom

Brownlee’s dog Uno is getting a head start on the celebrations as the new Currey & Company showroom takes shape. Happy National Dog Day, Uno!

I’ll be there to see how Cecil Adams and his team have designed the space so that it makes us want to own every treasure in it, so I hope you will say hello if our paths cross.

Saxon Henry also blogs on The Diary of an Improvateur.