Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Chinoiserie 2012 - Eclectic Mix & Color & a Question

Everyone has loved the February 2012 cover of Veranda with its eclectic and colorful mix of a formal neoclassical console table, Chagall art, chairs covered in ikat, gilded Louis sconces, a cherry objet d'art, and of course, the Chinoiserie element, the pair of blue and white Chinese porcelain vases. Just below is a closeup shot. Intestingly, I was able to find a photo of the same space from the portfolio of the interior designers from before the Veranda photo shoot that is shown at bottom.

The original console table has been changed, which was too high for the chairs and out of scale. The too heavy magnolia branches in the Chinese vases were switched out for the more delicate and more colorful pink cherry blossoms. The Chagalls have been rearranged and a new one has appeared. The cherries are also a new addition.

I personally think the original space was uninspired and it was the photo shoot that created a knockout space for these interior designers. I wonder how many other rooms published in shelter magazines we we would feel the same way about if we saw them before the photo shoot?  How many of the interior designer rooms we have fallen in love with are more a product of the staging for the photo shoot than the talent of the interior designer? I have seen a myriad of examples of this phenomenon from going through the online portfolios of interior designers. In this example, one can't say either that the designer was deferring to the wishes of the client because this is the home of the interior designer herself. Thoughts on this? Don't you prefer the after version as well?


  1. I certainly agree with you...the photo shoot image is far more pleasing than the original. My only thought is that, perhaps the designer was making do with the original console until the perfect one could be found. That's certainly the case in every room in my house...

  2. You are right on. The photo room is much better. I am in love with the blue and white vases and the gilt table with marble top. The space is gorgeous to begin with.
    I bet they don't have a dog or cat or child in the house.

  3. I like the old console better--but not with the chairs.

    I also think the photo shoot looks better because of the pink lettering on the cover--it looks amazing with the Chagalls and the Ikat!

  4. I like the styled version better, too, but in looking at the two pictures, we're comparing apples & oranges. Or, in this case, cherries.

    Not every choice a designer makes can be based on pure aesthetics, the way a stylist's can be. So, rather than just being a temporary placeholder waiting for that spectacular mahogany pier table to arrive, maybe that gilt console is an inherited piece that will be in that spot forever. Maybe the other is a rented prop. It's hard to say. And while the designer's magnolia leaves don't have the airy quality of the stylist's cherry blossoms, they also don't cost as much. One arrangement lasts for months, the other is shot in a few days. Form-follows-function applies to the choice of flowers, too.

    It's easy to create an outstanding vignette if you can start out with a room that's good looking to begin with, you can rent major pieces by the day and the whole thing only has to last a few hours. So maybe the the question isn't whether a talented stylist can improve on a designer's pre-existing work, but whether the stylist could create the same elegant effect from scratch, if this were an actual room that had to be furnished for the long haul, with purchased (not rented or borrowed) pieces. That's a whole nother thing.

    What surprised me when Natalie Warady (then of O at Home) and her crew showed up in Chicago to shoot my former apartment was how little they brought with them: a few roses & a single linen tea towel. No loaned furniture, no throw pillows in the newest colors, no borrowed art to replace what was hanging on my walls. They didn't even move anything. I didn't really know what to expect but what I wasn't expecting was to see my apartment in print--looking just the way it did in real life. Sometimes, art really does follow life. Mostly, though, I figure the perfectly-staged vignettes in magazines are as ephemeral as mayflies: here today, gone tomorrow. Either way, though, I gotta admit they're pretty. This one cerainly is.

  5. I guess it's like getting your hair and makeup done before publicity may not look perfectly styled every day, but go the extra step for an image that will be captured for print. Your question is excellent- there is such a marked difference between the much of what we see in print is the stylist and how much is the designer?

  6. I agree that the cover shot is far superior. I don't think anyone would want to sit in one of those beautiful chairs, while placed so close to, and far beneath, the table top. Also, I would prefer empty vases to ones filled with dense foliage. The cherry blossoms, on the other hand, are splendid. I don't think the cover shot needed the cherry sculpture, but it adds a wonderful bit of humor and homage to the blossoms.