Monday, November 7, 2011

Swedish Style For Real

Have you ever opened the pages of a magazine, or newspaper and have someone from your past jump out at you? Downtown New York in the 1980's spawned a group of artists, dancers, writers, actors, musicians, filmmakers, photographers, restauranteurs, foodies, drag queens, and interesting personalities that to me then were just the wonderful friendly people I knew (and worked with), that hung out in bars, showed up at parties and gallery openings, and went to the downtown clubs.

The large Noguchi lantern caught my eye HERE - Love the plaster detail on the ceiling, the greige, the swan in the window sill. the drawing on the wall,  and the whole feeling of natural northern light at its best

At the time we already were famous in our minds, playing in bands, making little movies and photographs, hanging art in ratty lofts and storefronts, ditto for doing dance and performance pieces and poetry readings. We hung out all night drinking and talking. We had day jobs, but we lived for the night, even if we worked a night shift, it often ended early enough to still hit the clubs and the late night restaurants.

None of us were on a fast track with any plan for the future. We weren't "branding" ourselves. We didn't have web pages or blogs. We didn't have Facebook or Twitter. Our immediate concerns were how to pay the rent, and what to do with our love lives, and planning the creative projects we earned day job money to produce.

Where you'll find me every Sunday morning - HERE

Early Sunday mornings I'm ensconced in bed with coffee, CBS Sunday Morning, Alberto asleep next to me (ditto for Cholo and Kitty Kitty Bang), and my favorite part of Sundays, The New York Times. This week is extra special because the extra magazine dedicated to style is there, this one devoted to interior design.

A beautiful editorial called True North piques my interest. Very greige, very sophisticated and layered, very European. Under the title, the tag line says Stockholm artist. Ah, I think, a more modern Swedish interior. mixing in antiques and art just the way I like it. After flipping though and looking at the pictures, I hunker down to read the text, and BAM! the names Mats Gustafson and Ted Muehling jump out at me!

A collection of Scandinavian Modernist vases adorn the fireplace that has a stunning metallic finish - I love the collection of candlesticks on the table - they were designed by Ted Muehling - the simplicity of the blossom in the vase is perfect

OMG two names from my past from that glittering time in New York, though at the time it was more like glitter and glam rock for some of us. Mats was dating a friend of mine, so I saw the two of them pretty often. Ted Muehling was breaking out as an artist/jeweler via the legendary Soho shop called Artwear. All of the downtown girls loved his stuff, and I purchased a pair of his pine cone earrings then.

The foyer holds a simple 19th century bench with a painting done by Mats' great-uncle Birger Ljungquist - All the wood work and trim in the apartment was painted with oil base paint in order to bring out the detail

Mats made a drawing for me for my birthday in 1984, a portrait of me! At the time I loved it, and it was one of several portraits, or photographs I had of myself done by various artists. I was an artists model a decade earlier in art school, and it was not unusual to be gifted with something from an artist I posed for.

Another view of the foyer reveals more antique furniture juxtaposed with another fabulous Noguchi lantern - Many of the antiques are family pieces - Mats says "Rather than get new old things, I'd reuse these. There's more of a connection".

I have carried the Mats drawing with me all these years. It is in fact,  my favorite portrait. At one time when I could not afford it, I had it framed at a fancy Upper East frame shop, and that frame still holds the drawing today.

If anyone knows me they know I wear the Ted Muehling pine cone earrings everyday. They are my signature jewels so to speak. A couple of years ago I lost one, and I was upset. A very dear friend (thank you Jessica) noticed I wasn't wearing the earrings, and when I told her I lost one, she contacted Muehling in New York and had another one made to match the remaining one, and gave it to me for Christmas.

Mats uses this room off the living room as his studio - I would love to open those drawers and see all his beautiful work

The tiny pine cone earring is a signature piece for Ted, and no matter where I am in the world, someone always recognizes the earrings and the designer, and compliments them.

The view from the studio window and a collection of Swedish glass - I love the light - In fact, even though the apartment has been renovated and modernized, there is no built-in or recessed lighting -  Mats and Ted prefer the glow of lamps and candles (me too!)

Looking at the beautiful images of the Stockholm home of Mats and Ted, made 30 years melt away. I always feel so proud when I see the success of that unique 1980's arty group. It truly was (and still is) a remarkable gathering of glitterati.

The kitchen got a complete update, that combines the old and new beautifully - The table and chairs are antique, and the original windows were kept - I love the taxidermy black bird in the niche

The fantastic old apartment building Mats and Ted live in when they are in Sweden - Talk about Swedish style - It reminds  me of of the Dakota on the Upper West Side in Manhattan

One of my first blog posts was about Mats HERE.
Apparently the avatar I use caused some comments. Funny how that stuff used to matter.

A photo I took this morning in the New Orleans version of natural light - The drawing by Mats Gustafson sits on an antique Swedish demi-lune table, and Kitty Kitty Bang Bang sits on the back of the couch

Portrait of Valorie Hart The Visual Vamp by Mats Gustafson

Look closer - I taped one of my Ted Muehling earrings on it!

Ted Muehling silver pine cone earrings - I wear a pair like these everyday

I would love to get another pair - I LOVE these Ted Muehling earrings in black!

The best thing about the apartment of Mats Gustafson is that the Swedish style is genuine. First, it's in Sweden. Second the pieces are real family pieces, mixed in with the modern things Mats and Ted have acquired in their lifetime.  And third (though I appreciate it), it's not  Gustavian.

Swedish style has hit an unfortunate note of popularity here in the USA, producing too many manufactured rooms done by shopper/decorators using fake "antiques" (and calling them expensive reproductions does not elevate them much), stuck in the Gustavian era. It has taken something fresh and original and reduced it to the ranks of the overkilled Tuscan style of the 1990's. When will we learn that joyful restraint and authenticity (and I mean authenticity as being true to who you are) make for rooms that truly are beautiful and interesting.

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  1. Love this post. Such great style.

  2. Lovely, Valorie....simply lovely.

  3. I love the view from the window. It is like a painting. Very refreshing!

  4. What a great story! Thanks for sharing that. Your Sundays sound just like mine - CBS Sunday Morning + NY Times. It doesn't get better than that! Oh and that cover of the magazine killed me this weekend too. I have it taped to my wall. :)

  5. What an interesting life you have led, Valorie!

  6. That kitchen table is to die for. Great post.

  7. Hi,

    Thank you for your nice article on the visual vamp blog spot.
    I like for your good writing.