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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

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


Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

DwellStudio’s American Thanksgiving

Christiane Lemieux of DwellStudio

Posted by Christiane Lemieux of DwellStudio | View all posts by Christiane Lemieux of DwellStudio

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 a guest post by Christiane regarding her new found Thanksgiving traditions. Take it away Christiane…

Christian Lemieux of DwellStudio
DwellStudio’s Christiane LemieuxAmerican Thanksgiving is new to me. I’m Canadian (we do have a Thanksgiving of our own—in a different month, with a whole different history) and I’ve always used Thanksgiving as an excuse to take a nice long weekend, nothing more. This year is different, though; I’ve got two little Americans at home. It might not be my tradition, but it’s going to be theirs. Welcome to my first American Thanksgiving.

I decided to do some research (apologies in advance if any of this is inaccurate!). The general consensus is that the first Thanksgiving took place in 1621, on a day the Puritans had set aside to celebrate their first harvest, and to mark their first year in the new world. The Puritans broke bread with their neighbors – depending on who you ask, the Wampanoag or Iriquois tribes. I already feel more connected to this holiday; I’ve got Mohawk Indian blood on my dad’s side.

All I knew about the Puritans (or Pilgrims, whatever you want to call them) was their big black hats. But forget all the complicated political issues of colonization; these people left their homes in search of a better life. Isn’t that what we call the American dream? And this year, of all years, there’s a renewed optimism in the air, an excitement about what it means to be American. I’m ready to celebrate that.

But within reason. Our philosophy at DwellStudio (and my philosophy in life) is to keep things simple. I’ve got two kids and a full-time job; there’s no way I’m going to make a papier-mache cornucopia.

Since I didn’t grow up with all the trappings of an American Thanksgiving, I felt free to create my own tradition. On this holiday, the meal itself will be the center of attention, so you don’t need to do much in the way of decorating. The rich cranberry red, the warm orange of pumpkin and sweet potatoes, the perfect honey brown of a crisp turkey — it’s already a gorgeous color palette.

With that in mind, I decided on a simple, monochromatic backdrop; I plan to use our Sketch place mats and runners —  the subtle, graphic black and white are the ideal starting point for any table setting. To warm things up, I’ll add some vintage brass flatware, and serving bowls with a beautiful gold interior. Remember, dinner is the center of attention, so I’ll use a monochromatic centerpiece: a grouping of white vases and vessels I have around the house, plus some gourds, spray painted white.

DwellStudio Table Place SettingDwellStudio Place Setting with Sketch place mats, Sketch runners, a fine glass of noir and a tasty dinner roll.

DwellStudio Place Setting
A centerpiece of white spray painted gourds adds an air of modern sophistication while not detracting from the main event – dinner!

Of course, I’ll loosen things up a bit for the kids’ table; after all, if the kids are restless, the adults won’t get to enjoy the impeccably-set table or the lovingly-prepared meal. It is a holiday, after all, so I’ll pull out all the stops, making dinner for the little ones an interactive experience. I will use all our DwellStudio kids’ favorites (a puppet re-purposed as a place card holder, a fun kit unfurled and used as a place mat) and plenty of crayons and toys to keep little hands busy.

DwellStudio kids place setting

To me, the results will feel special and festive, a nod to tradition but in keeping with the way we live now. It’s the perfect modern Thanksgiving — and I can’t wait to celebrate this way for years to come. Happy Yankee Thankee, from DwellStudio.