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The Tree’s the Thing
For his show “Big Woods,” opening at Cristina Grajales Gallery in New York on Jan. 27, the Brooklyn-based designer Aaron Poritz went back to the source. “I wanted to go for walks in the woods, find trees and envision pieces that fit within the shapes of them,” he says. “The tree is the starting point. I find that romantic.” The seven pieces he created for the show represent a stylistic departure for Poritz, who is best known for his masterfully crafted wooden furniture. “This was about exploring and being inspired by abstractions of the human form.” Two years in the making, “Big Woods” is a curvaceous collection that includes a vanity, desk, bar, coffee table and floor lamp. Many of the pieces were made from hemlocks from his father’s land in Massachusetts, others from a massive, 180-year-old fallen oak found in Connecticut. “Big Woods” is on view from Jan. 27 through May 26 at Cristina Grajales Gallery, cristinagrajales.com.
Founded in 2020 by Emily Morrison, after a formative trip to Turkey in 2019, the New Orleans-based fashion and lifestyle brand Elysian aims to combine centuries-old artisan techniques with a modern bohemian flair. While the line has mostly focused on textiles, offering everything from vibrantly patterned silk caftans to hand-woven pillow covers and blankets made and sourced from such far-flung places as Istanbul and Kashmir, their recently launched tabletop collection marks Elysian’s first foray into ceramics. Coming in four soft shades of blush, sage, tangerine and cornflower, the dinner plates, dessert plates and bowls — sold either individually or as a set — are hand-painted in Kütahya, Turkey, by a female artisan from her in-home workshop. The design is a playful take on a traditional Turkish ikat with a blooming dahlia, a favorite flower of Morrison’s, placed in the center. Paired with any of Elysian’s cotton-silk napkins, which are made in Uzbekistan by a family of weavers and depict a Central Asian motif of ram’s horns (believed to have protective powers), these dishes make for a sunny tablescape even in these dreary months. From $60, elysianbyem.com. Bespoke orders can be placed through Elysian’s website, or at their brick and mortar location at 3701 Magazine Street, New Orleans, La., 70115.
Fruits of an Egyptian Idyll
“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” It’s a saying the Marrakesh- and Paris-based French designer and illustrator Louis Barthélemy lives by — and one he believes is particularly apt for life in Egypt, a country he fell in love with several years ago, and in which he found himself marooned in the spring of 2020. This turned out to be a blessing. Holed up in Siwa, an ancient oasis west of Cairo, Barthélemy was gifted five uninterrupted months to dream up a capsule collection for the furniture and fabric designer Pierre Frey. “I was surrounded by nature: lakes, mountains, palm groves,” the 33-year-old designer, who has worked for Dior and Gucci, recalls. “So I drew trees, fish, birds, animals. It was something optimistic and joyful at a time when everything felt a bit off.” The resulting collection of panoramic and repeat wallpapers, embroidered linen textiles and made-to-order rugs that are crafted in Nepal translates ancient Egyptian frescoes for contemporary interiors in Barthélemy’s whimsical style, and launches on January 20. pierrefrey.com.
Font of Inspiration
That a punctuation mark can be a key design influence makes perfect sense in the universe of the Italian-made accessories line Pisani et al. “We were inspired by the literal text,” says creative director Mariza Scotch of the late 15th-century humanist treatise “De Aetna” by Pietro Bembo, which was published as a typeset book that introduced a graceful new typeface (forerunner of today’s Bembo font) as well as a curious oval-shaped period that serves as the basic form of the brand’s chain bracelets and lacquered treasure boxes. Scotch, who, along with co-founder Daniela Pisani, spent decades developing relationships with suppliers and artisans to create accessories for 10 Corso Como, Devi Kroll, Mark Cross and Ferragamo, ultimately tired of “the categorizations that fuel the industry,” and decided instead to design Pisani et al’s satchels, wallets and scarves from the angle of their own esoteric interests: Sicilian ceramics, Renaissance tarot cards, archival silk. “Fashion is fueled by temporality; something will be in and then out,” she says. “What we are doing is the exact opposite of that.” From $40, pisanietal.com.
Face oils are getting a Gallic spin from makers representing storied family businesses. Olivier Midy, the namesake brand of the great-grandson of François Midy, founder of Paris’s oldest pharmacy in the 18th century, channels that ancestral knowledge in its Éclat Midy Face Oil, which improves elasticity and calms inflammation via a 24-ingredient blend that includes sea buckthorn, evening primrose and rooibos extract. The husband and wife team behind Maison/Made, Carolina Prioglio and Adrien de Bontin, began their skin-care journey after inheriting a family farm in Burgundy that dates to 1152 and provides most of the active ingredients in their Extrait de Maison Biodynamic Rejuvenating Face Oil, such as elderberry, raspberry and lemon balm extract. And the Parisian brand Amalthea’s Huile de Prune is cold pressed in the south of France and high in vitamin E — perfect for dry skin in winter months just like these.
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