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Marc Maison - Resurrecting History

Visiting Marc and Daisy Maison's showroom on a visit to Paris is a must.  Bordering on the hard to believe; Marc and Daisy salvage whole chateaus destined for the wrecking ball and reconstruct them in their huge showroom at the Porte de Clignancourt market in Paris (they also have a showroom on the Seine.)

Walking into their shop is walking into an elegant time machine.  In addition to spectacular period pieces and architectural salvage, full room installations have been restored and re-created from chateaus, hotels, and unique buildings  (I had to work  hard to keep my mouth from dropping open..)

The photos below show the rehabilitation and salvage of a winter garden from Bordeaux moved to downtown Dublin

before (in Bordeaux)

in progress (in Dublin)



Below is a current offering:  a full herbalist's shop salvaged from Colmar France in the Alsace region (dated 1842.) currently at the showroom in Porte de Clignacourt.  The small drawers contained medicinal herbs. Each has the name of the herb written both in inlaid marquetry and on a small white plates.

Detail of curved drawers

Herb drawers showing marquetry and labels

Curved facia band detail

Column base detail

Wall finish and drawer details

Plan ahead for a visit to Marc Maison since their showroom at Porte de Clignacourt (housing the large interior installations) is is by appointment only. Their other showroom (on the Seine) is called Galerie Marc Maison at: 7, Quai Voltaire 75007 Paris and open 2 - 7 Tuesdays through Saturdays.  

Source:  MarcMaison

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Chair Sale: Vintage Tubax

The Euro has fallen of late, victim to Europe's own brand of debt crisis. But what might seem like a bad situation is actually quite beneficial to people who shop on FarFetchers. Many of our dealers are in Europe and when the Euro drops so do all the prices and even shipping becomes cheaper.

That is something like a 7% drop in only a few weeks. The currency exchange we use is also quite a bit cheaper than most banks, which keeps our costs as low as can be for US shoppers.

At the same time a large number of vintage Tubax chairs has come on the market at Le Grenier in North France. They are a quality dealer who are know for their superior restoration. So we are celebrating the windfall by offering them at our cost.  

Tubax is a well know European manufacturer who pioneered and specialize in the use of metal tube construction. They've worked with many well known designers over the years including Willy van der Meeren. 

Notice that there are no exposed bolts or rivets. No plugged or open ends. The tube closure is smooth and fits the chair form. Also notice the wooden part is formed to the body for comfort. These are certainly several cuts above the ordinary.

Arnaud at Le Grenier has stripped them and restored them to beautiful vintage condition. It is rare to have so many of these in one batch so if you need a few or many, drop us a line at are only 150 € per chair and the exchange rate make that a bargain. We can't predict the euro's fluctuations so act quickly to take advantage. 

150 €

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Organic and Sustainable

I thought it would be fun to go far afield today; to Thailand and contemporary furniture design. To Onyx builders of sinuous organic designs made from, well... weeds.

If you've ever been on the Chao Phraya (pronounced chow preeyah'), the river that runs through Bangkok and all the way inland to Chaing Mai, you may remember the water hyacinth that chokes the river in places. It certainly grows like the weed it is. The Thais have tried various things to curb its growth and it's a major nuisance as far away as Florida where is was introduced by well meaning visitors. 

Onyx realized that if it grows, there is probably a use for it. And if it grows fast, its probably economical to use. So they designed a whole line of furniture to use the hyacinth as well as other fast growing sustainable crops like bamboo and rattan.

But I didn't know any of that until the designs caught my eye. See if you like what they have dreamt up.

The Mobius, a new take on a love seat design. You can get one in rattan with water hyacinth or

rattan alone.

Or maybe something a little more practical

like the Oxbow sinuous sofa

Or a comfy lounge chair

All of these were designed by the Belgium born Gaëtan Van de Wyer. The basic idea of forming a frame of rattan and clothing it in water hyacinth allows Onyx to create flowing organic shapes that traditional construction would not allow. 

No matter what you think of thier designs, you have to think the technique and materials hold a lot of promise.

Onyx, laihui-plh

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Fireplace Confidential

The center of the home for many centuries has been the hearth. It's the place most family gatherings took place and was expected to set the right scene. 

This one is a Jacobean revival piece made in the late 19th century. Jacobean architecture followed Elizabethan being named for King James I. It was the second wave of renaissance style to develop in Britain. This one is from a large villa in Bishops Avenue, Highgate London. In the 19th century this would have seen big families and probably heard news from all across the empire.

This is a Louis XVI style insert piece. It also was made in the late 19th century with a nice floral motif. It comes from a home in France where it may have heard talk of the Franco-Prussian War or the formation of the Third Republic, or maybe even about the new French concession in Shanghai.

This is a really unusual fireplace screen. It folds open like a fan to protect the carpet from sparks. It comes from France where all things oriental held great fascination. I just think it's clever.

And here are the panels from the room it may have come from - we are imagining here so why not? This room is now at one of our favorite shops in the North of France, Nord-Ouest Antiquities.

Another nice cast iron piece with incredible detail work. Cast iron never looked so good. This is from a London home of the late 19th century. The 19th century the railroad was transforming London so I fancy this one in the home of a rail baron.

A large Regency Statuary style white marble arched surround in the Rococo manner, with scrolled Cabriole jambs. And what Regency  fireplace would be complete without Cabriole jambs? This one comes from about 1840 when the British Raj in India was in foment (but then it was always fomenting). 

This one comes from the incomparable collection of Marc Maison in the Paris Flea Market. No need for me to imagine its history, that sozzled smirk on the carved monk's head should send your imagination off on its own...

Sources:  Marc Maison; Westland London; LasscoNord Ouest Antiquities


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From Factory to Home

We've been involved with repurposing objects for a long time. The designers of Jielde lamps, and Multipl chairs never imagined that they would grace the best interior designs of today. Still I'm sometimes surprised by objects that show up from European factories. What could have possessed their manufacturers to make them so gorgeous?

This one came to us from a dealer who took August off to visit sources in France. What a find.

We've all seen this design in wood. But how do you mill this crown molding and these details from steel?

Obviously it can be done but what great pride of workmanship it took to even think about it. And it produced something that would tempt you to mortgage the kids.

It is not cheap at $9950 but I can't help but think it would bring twice that in New York. It'll sell fast I bet.

Other times we're amazed by how nice a piece looks when a dealer uses bits to make something new. This table was made from a cast iron machine base and a sheet metal top. They look made for each other. Surround it with some nice Singer or Multipl chairs and you'd have a stunner of a dining set.

Complete with a bronze tag of authenticity and patented at that...

James Mackie & Sons was once one of the largest employers in Belfast. It specialized in textile factory machinery and the family gave the company to its employees in 1970 to be run as a workman's cooperative.

It sure is a lot of fun finding this stuff. 

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Tents, Teepees and a Treehouse

There is an excitement about camps, tents, and treehouses - especially in the Summer. It brings back the long days of Summer play that have never left me as an adult and I'm not alone.

Below is one of six tented cottages and part of Campi a Kanzi (which means “camp of the hidden treasure.)  The lucky guests that stay here have great views of Mt Kilimanjaro and the Chyulu Hills.

Fantastic treehouses by Takashi Kobayashi. The "birdsnest" tree house was built for a Nescafe’ commercial. It is 12’ high and 9' in diameter and is reached by a spiral staircase.

The artist shown in his most comfortable position

Stupendous pergola style tent from Raj out of California.

try some treats in this tiny teepee

Paperbark Camp in New South Wales

An eco bungalow at chumbe island coral park.  Photo by Guido Cozzi

This great treehouse by Baumraum was crafted between an alder and an oak tree


The perfect bar at Cabo.  Raj tents.

Oops, I seem to have lost my credits list. Bear with me while I get it restored. You'll want to know who took these great photos.

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Travel in Style

It seems like every day we hear of one dealer or another closing up for some vacation time. In Europe they are justly famous for taking August off. Why fight it, we thought, why not post about vacationing in style. 

Some of the best designs grow out of strict constraints—the travel trailer is about as small a space as you would want to live in but look at what people have done with that tiny space.

Here's an amazing Airstream written about in Design*Sponge. The reflections inside give the small trailer an openness that seems to expand as you enter. Don't forget to invest in a stowable buffer through, you'll want to keep the reflections bright.

But if you hanker for a cozy vacation abode but don't want to invest in the towing and camping part of the adventure the Huettenpalast hotel in Berlin may have the room for you. The Huettenpalast has refurbished camping trailers and even a few tiny cottages for use in larger suites as the sleeping area. Here is one room (via decor8)

This type of travel in style has been around for a long time. The Romani people of Europe have long been known for their amazing "Gypsy Caravans". They are highly sought after by collectors and decorators with some space to fill. 

Take that Winnebago!

Ah, I can hardly wait to get on the road.

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Summer Collections

To bring your own personality to a space sometimes you have to fill in the blanks. If you're like us you get excited sorting through flea markets for something that catches the eye, even if it's not a collectable we like collections for their own sake. Here are some things we found this week that will remind you of Summer and might give you some ideas of your own.

Reminds me of finding a patch of shade in the lawn when friends come over

Summer is the time for weddings, here is a French 'ancien globe de mariée verre' or 'old wedding globe' 

Texture and color can sometimes be found in fragments, these are incomplete wooden horses with a few miles left in them.

More texture and color from the hand of the artist

How about this collection of vintage oxygen tanks, in case you play a little too hard. I know it's a stretch...

To keep your thoughts healthy and fresh how about some herbalist canisters?

Thanks to Factory 20, Le Grenier, and Nord-Ouest.

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Factory Lighting: Not Just For Work Anymore

I'm seeing a lot of great examples of industrial pendant lights this week. Manufacturers like Holophane started with factory lights and made such elegant ones they now have a line designed for the home. Here are some examples:

These have a metal enamel shell with a glass inner reflector.

These are not Holophane but are nice examples of factory lights.

Here are some more Holophanes. Holophane is known for making lights that shine down like a flood but also up to reflect off the ceiling. These are an example of the top of their line and worthy of any home.

Another Holophane with a minimalist appeal. 

I love these for their massive heat sink. They've been rewired for house current so the sink is not necessary anymore but certainly give a space that factory look.

Photos courtesy of Le Grenier and FarFetchers.

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Great Stuff This Week

this adjustable swing arm lamp is sturdy and stunning. (New York)

detail of a great old clock. Fabert & Raoult (france)



papier mache' pensive pig (France)

a simple and elegant textile factory scale (France)

Art Atypique cabinet made from mixed metal (no description) UK

Art Atypique table with BIG rivets (UK)

lion painting from Art Atypique (UK)

Sources:  Ghislane Antiques, Art Atypique, Nord Ouest Antiquitites, Fabert and Raoult, Le Grenier

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Steampunk Design

Steampunk in design relates to the a mixture of anachronistic technologies like steam and computers. Think Victorian + High Tech. This style has been used in movies like Brazil or the Golden Compass and recently has come to be associated with the likes of phenom clothiers Allsaints Spitalfields—especially their interior designs.

Terry Gilliam's ​Brazil​ featured magnifiers over computer screens, pnuematic tubes instead of email, and many other Steampunk touches.

I love Tim Girvin's description of Allsaint's interiors—"conceptually a kind of Dickensian factory space with the ragged, distressed character of gothic punk equipage" but incomplete without an iPad.

You find Steampunk showing up more and more in curious reclaimed objects where a new use is made of outmoded technologies, like oil lamps wired for electricity or a calculator with old mechanical adding machine keys. Is it kitchy, playful art, or a joke? It certainly is at the edge of design but I think the answer will depend on the artist. 

Which brings us to Bill Morelan. Bill was an academician for much of his life (he actually has a PhD and was a school principal), but came to his senses eventually and moved to the Ozarks to take up designing from reclaimed objects. He has a flare for interesting juxtapositions—like taking an old blow torch, wiring it to support an Edison-style bulb, and adding an iron ratchet gear switch.

He does some more straightforward restoration work too as his Areovap lamp shows.

Steampunk can be a little over-the-top but Bill knows that simple is sometimes best. This lamp features a reproduction Edison Squirrel Cage bulb (rated at 3000 hours) and a nice Art Deco base. 

Bill operates the BilMor Studios where you can see some of his other work. We'll be keeping our eye on him.



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Hunting For Birds

My friend Annette sent me this. I guess she thought I might have "2.5-5 million US Dollars" burning a hole in my pocket. It's a good thing the auction was back in May or I might have splurged (hah). Still they are quite remarkable.


To quote C, "the only known matching pair of gold and enamel singing bird pistols... Among the most valuable and important works of art remaining in private hands, the value and ingenuity of these pistols are beyond description and must be seen and heard to be truly appreciated."

See the original Christie's post here.

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Discoveries This Week: Some New Sources

A great vintage haberdasher's cabinet is hard to find.  Check out this beautiful example just found in the UK (it is actually made in three separate pieces) from Dudley and company Total dimensions 100" wide x 78.5" high x 20" deep.  

Machinist's cabinet from 1940 with an aged wood top, seven drawers and casters with "petrified" wood top.  The great marine blue color is original (origin: France) 


"petrified" wood top detail:  this may be a translation glitch but it is definitely aged....

Based on the Roadster seat club sofa from the '30's.  This is a custom reproduction and available in chocolate, cognac,  black and red. Length: 79 inches (location: France)

Rare and beautiful '70's Gallus industrial dental cabinet.  Black opal top, tripod legs with a swiveling base and the drawers swivel out. (France)

antique wool bobbin display (France)

Vintage 50's postal sorting bin from France (but you can put anything you want in it...)

Hard to find set of 6 Singer "Eiffel" workshop chairs from the 50's (France)

Adjustable backs and seats

1930's original Brandt projector light on tripod 63" tall (in France) this is the real deal

Sources:  Elemental, NordOuest Antiquities, Les Nouveaux Brocanteurs


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Vintage Architectural

If you like vintage and reclaimed furniture you know how versatile they can be. People often are resistant to using architectural salvage because they can require more forethought than simply deciding where to put a chair. But the reward can be quite striking and in many cases the forethought is minimal. 

Architectural salvage comes in all forms; it can be a finial used as a decorative piece, a fireplace mantel, a piece of stained glass framed for hanging, or it can require a lot of planning like using the wall panels from an old estate. The salvage can come in the form of rustic pieces like weathered exterior trim or more refined items like whole hand carved ceilings.

Take a look at some of our favorites and see if they don't spark some ideas. 

Here are some hand carved exterior columns salvaged for their incredible detail and patina.

The fireplace has always been the centerpiece of the vintage home and you can see the effort put into their decoration in surrounds like this stone one from the North of France.

The king of estate salvage in Europe is Marc Maison. He can be counted on to salvage entire rooms intact from high end estates but also has more accessible pieces like beautiful examples of stained glass and fireplace surrounds. Marc even has a scale model of the Eiffel Tower made by Eiffel years before the project began—it was declared a national treasure of France so don't ask the price.

How about this nice gothic door set? Perfect for that man-cave!

If that is a little too primitive how about a nice paneled room?

Not to worry he has something that will not require a second mortgage just to ship. How about this stained glass art? A neo-renaissance portrait from the 19th century. 

Or something a little more modern from the 1950s.

We just got back from a trip to Andalucia, the part of Spain most deeply influenced by the Moors. The mix of Islamic and European architecture was quite interesting and unique. Here is an example of the Moorish influence which survived the 'reconquista' until now. This door was made in the 19th century. The 'horseshoe arch' of the lower left panel was actually taken from the pre-Moorish Visigoth inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula but became a key signature of the Moors. 

Marc has an extensive collection of notable fireplace surrounds too.

These pieces come in so many styles and are so versatile. They really are something that deserves a new life, so the next time you are trying to make a room distinctive think about architectural salvage.

Sources: Marc Maison

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Time for a Picnic

one of my biggest regrets was not buying a vintage folding picnic set I found at the Paris fleamarket one summer. it was an innocuous green metal case, which popped open into a table, benches, and a complete picnic set!  It was so amazing that I have been dreaming about it ever since.  

below is leather cased vintage picnic set by Barrett & Sons circa 1900.  There are no shortage of flasks in this one so there's room for aperitif, digestif, as well as you lunch beverage (U.K.)

the same set in closed position

vintage tea set from the UK (presented by a collector of military items.)  sold very quickly


Motor picnic case for Lady Churchill (1950's) Available. Unites States

little red picnic basket 50 years old (France) sold

if your Rolls Royce boot is empty how about this picnic set designed specifically for Rolls Royce as part of their bespoke program.  don't ask the price....

not for sale but cute.  designed for Harrods 1050's

this is a screaming deal; just supply your own dishes ($200 at FarFetchers).  United States

vintage basket made for Harrod's of London by Coracle 1950  UK.

rare mahogany "metamorphic" table from London circa 1920. it's not a picnic table but it can do everything else plus convert to a gaming table (other photos available)  If you have $35k burning a hole in your pocket, this could be yours.  (United States)

all the goodies

ready to play cards

another cute basket made for Harrod's by Coracle 1950's UK.

Sources:  elitechoice; trouvais;applecroft;bentleyslondon;rau antiques

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