Thank goodness for social media! Tony Victoria produced this cabinet years ago at our old 55th street location for Howard Slatkin. Collaborating with Mr. Slatkin was one of the all-too rare projects when no level of detail was too small to be considered. Truly a great and challenging professional experience. Neither Tony or I have ever seen it in-situ, but perusing Instagram recently we stumbled upon it in Mr. Slatkin's feed!
We recently took our first dabble into the world of 3D printing. If you are not familiar with 3D printing, imagine your printer at work not only going back and forth as it prints out lines of text, but also "printing" layers upon previous layers making the text 3D. This is why 3D printing is also called "additive manufacturing." So you could theoretically print any 3D object from an electronic file. Needless to say we've been watching the space excitedly because, not only could it significantly cut down on materials waste, but also any of our designs could be printed by whomever has the right file, anywhere in the world...in theory.
Perhaps fortunately, the reality of 3D printing is not up to that scale yet. Most printers simply aren't big enough to print a chair, for example, and the costs to do so compared to current fabrication convention would be prohibitive. However, it is very useful, and fun, for small scale pieces, parts and prototypes.
Inspired by a vintage bar-tool, we designed one electronically with a ice pick, mallet, and bottle opener with a patterned grip. Once the file was complete and the design was ready, we uploaded it to Shapeways. Shapeways is basically a 3D printing outsource firm - we don't have our own 3D printer, so we upload a file on their website, they immediately tell us if the file is printable as well as the costs to do so in various materials. We chose to print our prototype in both a grey finished steel and a hardened plastic. Then, Shapeways shipped them both to us in about 1 - 2 weeks.
Having the full scale prototype was extremely useful - right away I could see the handle was too long, the gauge of the bottle opener neck too thick and the grip pattern not as detailed as I expected. The plastic one was the same except that we left the handle with no grip pattern. We did this because we could carve the plastic the old fashioned way. So the next step could be hand-carving the plastic 3D printed prototype and then "lost wax" casting the hand-carved/3D printed prototype. And in fact one of the materials offered for printing was castable wax in the event you are ready to skip the hand-carving step.
Currently, this seems to be the way 3D printing will be the most useful to a design firm like us: printing prototypes that we can then cast. The fact that we could in fact print certain items in castable wax was slightly mind-blowing. So metal parts and hardware, frames and more will now be much easier to customize on a project by project basis. But for production pieces, both because of the time required to print and the cost, 3D printing is not there yet it seems. Also, I am not sure how useful it will be for printing small scale prototypes of custom pieces for clients - I'm not entirely convinced how useful today's client would find a miniature, single material, version of their project and they certainly won't be thrilled by the added time they require. Prototypes may be useful for production pieces as we develop them, however full-scale prototypes seem like they will remain more useful. But we will see - it is fun and invigorating to have another tool for the design process. And like most tools, a year or 10 from now, we'll probably be using it in a number of different ways.
Most importantly - the prototype works!
The forthcoming sale, Property from the Collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon at Sotheby's, promises to be a rare event for anyone interested in the decorative or fine arts, or simply fine living. Sales like this do not happen very often anymore: the sheer breadth of Mrs. Mellon's collection ranges from Rothko paints to garden tools. Her collection of porcelains could have a sale in their own right and includes multiple lots of Meissen, Chelsea (a rare red anchor period asparagus tureen lot 483) and at least 4 lots from the rare Longton Hall factory (including two even rarer melon form pieces, lot 388 and lot 443) and many others. The Interiors sale alone will take 5 separate sale sessions at Sotheby's spread over 3 days, with separate sale dates for the "Masterworks" and another for "Jewels and Objects of Vertu."
The other aspect of this sale (sales) which makes it so unique, is that it is a complete "collection" from a collector of a previous era. This very private person, and artist in her own right, assembled such a broad and yet specific range of high quality pieces. Vegetable-form porcelains, garden tools, rare books, fine art, baskets and so on. I may be wrong, but this type of collector does not exist any longer, or they are at least a critically endangered species.
We were lucky to every now and then work for Mrs. Mellon through her various decorators over years. Besides lot 337 which is a set of 3 of the original version of the etageres we designed and created initially for Billy Baldwin, below is a low bookcase and chair model we made for Mrs. Mellon, including their reference sketches from our design archive. If you have a chance to visit the sale exhibition, it begins on November 15 for the Interiors portion.
Earlier this year, we were thrilled when Harry Heissmann used our prototype Portal Sconce in the inaugural Designer Showhouse of New York supported by NYC&G. We first got to know Harry when he was working with the one and only Albert Hadley. As you can see in the photos below (courtesy of NYC&G and Harry Heissmann), his style delicately pushes the boundaries of interior design, which is only one of the reasons we enjoy working with him so much - thank you Harry!
To view all the rooms of the Designer Showhouse of NY, please click here.
Well, two of our Louis XIV Style hurricanes were there anyway... It was very exciting when Michael Smith Inc. contacted us about supplying a pair of our large hurricanes for their Obama White House project. But, being 2 relatively small pieces of such a enormous project, we never thought we'd actually get to see them in situ or being used at all for that matter. But then the internet happened - thank you!
We were very excited to to be featured in Veranda's Encyclopedia of Style in their September 2014 issue! Besides their very kind words, Veranda highlighted Victoria & Son's Sunburst Wall Scone twice. This was the very first time Victoria & Son has ever been in Veranda - thank you!
Earlier in 2014 we were very excited to introduce the Portal Sconce. The sconce was inspired by a new and creative mirrored glass technique we discovered several years ago. The effect of this glass stayed with us but we were not sure how to best use it. Finally, the idea for a low-profile wall sconce with clean lines evolved and took form. But it had been so long our craftsman had to re-develop the technique! Without going into too much detail, the process involves firing glass to get a 3D effect. However too little time/too low a temperature will not yield the effect and too much time/too high a temperature will simply leave you with puddles of glass. After some trial and error, we landed on the correct result. Below are some images from the process - thank you for having a look!
We introduced our New Barroux Chair at the recent Architectural Home Design Show in New York City. It is a model that has been a family favorite for many years because of how supremely comfortable it is. Perhaps more well known as a Maison Jansen model, the design in fact predates that eponymous firm. My grandfather attributed the model to Paris' Maison Barroux and some of the very first ones we made still had levers under each arm. These were part of the original design and controlled ratchets which allowed the back to recline so far as to nearly become a day bed.
We thought our model would lend itself perfectly to being updated so a new generation could appreciate it.
The first thing we did was to elongate the legs and raise the seat height. The original frame is quite low, even allowing for the down cushion. Raising the height we believe will make it more user-friendly in public, social settings.
The next, and perhaps most obvious change, was the upholstery. We were influenced by contemporary upholstered chairs by designers like the Bouroullec Brothers and Robert Stadler. What inspired us specifically was a quilted or tufted technique applied continuously from seat to back - eliminating the visual seam between the these two parts of the chair. But, while we applied deep tufts over the seat and back of the New Barroux, but we kept one of the construction features that made the original so comfortable - springs in both the seat and the back. The result, we believe, is chair that lends itself to both modern and traditional settings and one that is not only comfortable to sit in, but easy to get in and out of.
We recently completed an etagere version of our Cole Porter model and had an occasion to use the original finial for this client’s project. As a model that has been made many times now, by many different hands, we thought this small detail might be intriguing. When Frederick originally made the etageres for Billy Baldwin, we used a short, domed finial with radiating gadrooning. We used these for all the etageres made in our shop at the time. However, as the model became more widely made, we ceased making the etageres around the mid-1960′s and, frankly, forgot about the finial model.
When Tony started producing the re-edited coffee table versions of the model in 2000, there was still no need for a finial on a coffee table. But around 2009, as John Archer Abbott started putting together his exhibition “Baltimore’s Billy Baldwin” at John Hopkins (http://www.museums.jhu.edu/evergreen.php?section=exhibitions&exhibition=baldwin), he contacted Tony about anything we might be able to loan to exhibit. Sure enough, we found the finial models (2 sizes) and sent them down for the exhibit along with some archival photos.
Needless to say we were thrilled our client agreed to use this original detail for their etagere and to see the model used again after a 50 year hiatus!