Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

All About Yves

Christiane Lemieux of DwellStudio

Posted by Christiane Lemieux of DwellStudio | View all posts by Christiane Lemieux of DwellStudio
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DwellStudio was founded by Christiane Lemieux in 1999 in an effort to bring modern textile design to the world of home. The company quickly established itself as a leader and innovator in the bedding market – and expanded to a fuller offering of home furnishings products, including table, baby, and junior. What follows is the 2nd guest post by Christiane regarding the inspiration of DwellStudio’s new Spring Collection. Take it away Christiane!

I often wonder whenever I see a beautiful work of art – be it a painting by Matisse or a dress by Marni – about the inspiration for the piece. What was the designer, writer, painter or anyone for that matter thinking when they took the leap to create something new? So for my latest guest post, I thought I’d share our inspiration for DwellStudio’s 2009 Abstractions Collection – one of our most exciting ones yet.

It all started in Paris. (Confession: this is a little self-serving as I’m partially French – well, French Canadian, same DNA – and therefore partial to all things “Francais,” from baguettes to triple crème Brie to Balmain dresses. Sadly, I somehow missed out on that elusive skinny gene they all seem to get…why can’t I shed my last ten pounds of baby weight by drinking red wine?) In January 2008, I headed to the “City of Lights” with two designers from my team, Bingka and Rachel, for our annual shopping/inspiration trip and pilgrimage to Clingancourt – the most mind-blowing flea market. But from the moment we arrived, our week in Paris was all about Yves – St. Laurent, of course. His spirit seemed to be floating through the streets, and as soon as we found ourselves in front of his store on the Rive Gauche, we knew we’d found the inspiration for our 2009 collection.

Yves St. Laurent Storefront – Paris.

Yves Saint Laurent storefrontDress on display at Yves St. Laurent.

Of all of St. Laurent’s many talents, I am perhaps most awed – and envious –  by his ability to combine styles, textures and techniques. In my opinion, he was a “Master of the Mix.” The bold colors, exquisite handiwork and influence of fine art in the label’s current collection made us stop in our tracks: It looked fresh. The designs were dynamic and very hip, while also being timeless. Bingka, Rachel and I agreed that we’d tired of the computer-generated prints that were everywhere in the States. The evidence of the artist’s hand and eclectic soul in St. Laurent’s Rive Gauche store made us think: Who is better at capturing style’s elusive “je ne sais quoi” than the French?

We found ourselves debating this question over dinner at Relais de L’Entrecôte (where we enjoyed the world’s best Steak Frites with secret green sauce). Our conclusion: St. Laurent fundamentally understood that pretty is just pretty; however, when you mix pretty with another element that throws off the balance in the right way, you have style. Or, as Vanity Fair recently wrote,

“Yves did with couture exactly what Marie-Laure did with décor: breaking the rules by putting together things that have nothing to do with one another.”

This quintessentially French mix was on display in every area of his life, including his apartment, some of which was designed by Jacques Grange (check out Grange’s own apartment here. So French – the perfect mix with nothing overdone).

Yves Saint Laurent sitting in his 1930\'s Paris house, designed by Madame Cuttoli.Yves Saint Laurent sitting in his 1930’s Paris house, designed by Madame Cuttoli.

There, as in his collections, St. Laurent perfectly mixed old and new, pretty and primitive, to create layers of style and meaning. And that is exactly what we’ve striven for with our new Abstractions line. When mixed with our current designs, these new, graphic patterns create an unbalanced tension that transforms an old room into something both fresh and timeless.

MatisseMatisse Painting.

St. Laurent also had impeccable taste in art – the Matisse painting above served as a source of inspiration for us, long before we knew it came from St. Laurent’s and Pierre Berge’s own collection. (Spooky right – am I being haunted by Yves?) Its amazing cut shapes – beautiful, graphic, pure and colorful – are still incredibly relevant. Coincidentally, this painting – along with the rest of the collection – is being auctioned off in Paris by Christie’s from February 23rd to the 25th.

Christie’s Auction House: I had to buy the auction catalog to study what moved “the man,” as well as to drool over all the gorgeous art. Take a peek. By the way, “our” Matisse is going for $5-7 million. Oh la la!

InspirationFrom left to right: Mondrian Day Dress of 1965, Boy Leading a Horse by Pabo Picasso, Miuccia Prada.

Years before Marc Jacobs was collaborating with Richard Prince and Takashi Murakami, St. Laurent was incorporating his love of fine art into his collections. Case in point, the revolutionary Mondrian Day Dress of 1965, re-introduced for St. Laurent’s Retrospective last year. (See above left for picture.)

Inspired by St. Laurent’s Matisse, we returned to New York and looked toward another brilliant Abstractionist for inspiration: Pablo Picasso – a Spaniard who spent his formative years in France, and understood the idea of “the mix” perfectly. One need only to stroll through the MoMA to see how Pablo’s style progressed from his Blue Period to Les Demoiselles D’Avignon, a masterpiece influenced by primitive art that rocked the world.

My desk: a mental blender of all our design influences.

Finally, we mixed in a little Miuccia Prada, the modern day “Mistress of the Mix”. The pitch-perfect vintage Prada pictured above, with its combination of hand-drawn geometric shapes playing off graphic floral, inspired our own DwellStudio combination of Collage and Chinoiserie patterns:
DwellStudio Collage and Chinoiserie.

Lastly, for our Abstractions line we added in some Cy Twombly, Mark Rothko and Marni (as always) and – voila – our new collection was born.

I hope you’ll love the result as much as we do. Bold and graphic on their own, when our new Abstractions pieces are combined with Chinoiserie, Hedgerow or any of  our other current designs, the mix can be easily achieved in your own home. I really hope they would have made the incomparable Yves proud.

– Christiane, DwellStudio

About Christiane Lemieux of DwellStudio

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  1. kitpollard says:

    February 16th, 2009 at 10:15 am (#)

    I love this post. It’s so cool to read about the inspiration for the collection…and I am more than a little jealous of that trip to Paris!

  2. Housewears says:

    February 17th, 2009 at 8:51 pm (#)

    Hi Christiane,
    Your pieces are gorgeous…and the ‘Yves’ discussion is timely.I’m just back from Toronto’s Interior Design Show last week, interviewed some Television designers, and Designer
    Tommy Smythe of ‘Design Inc.’ and ‘Sarah’s House’ told me one of his favourite colours right now is ‘Yves St.Laurent green’…..

    p.s. Marche aux Puces truly is amazing, I enjoyed Paul Bert the most.


  3. Dana says:

    March 19th, 2009 at 11:49 pm (#)


    Excellent post!

    Love your work and your style. Your collection is stunning. I basically love black and white designs.Each design is simple but yet eye catching. Love them all.

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