Arranging Vignettes and Toconoma

“Home is the opportunity for the cultivation of a way of life.” Manly P Hall.

“The artistic element in the home is the symbol of the refinement and attainment of the owners.” Hall goes on to say that “the creation of beauty in the home is the highly personal expression of the inhabitants.”

An ideal opportunity to exercise the cultivation of beauty involves setting aside an area in which to display a grouping of pieces. Changing the display frequently is a self-guided workshop for establishing one’s own style.

Shells by the bath
Such a vignette could reflect the advancement of nature’s seasons, a current favourite colour, an item connected to a memory that can be lovingly combined with flowers of the same mood. This is a reason to take a favourite art object out of the cupboard, group it into an arrangement, enjoy it for a time in a prominent place, and return it to tissue.
The “Tokonoma” comes from Japanese culture. It is an area in the home set aside for the creation of beautiful transitory arrangements. This short video shows 13 masterful tokonomas by Edoardo Rossi. It is an inspirational study in creating perfect balance.

Here are settings from around town for encouragement. The desk display at Hollace Cluny design store on Davenport Road in Toronto is an example of contemporary harmony, see lead image at the top of the page.

Alison’s mantle
Alison chose the perfect shade of orchids to compliment the soft blue-grays of her living room and grouped shells to complete the mantle top vignette.  Arranging shells is a particular skill of Alison’s, shown in the bathtub corner photographed above.
Terrace table top
Spring, summer and fall open a new decorating opportunity as outdoor spaces become part of residential life. The smallest balcony, fully designed, extends the adjacent indoor room with an attractive view.
Stone fountain and planters
Carmela has brought the outdoors into her living room with a stone fountain and planters, generously filling them with indoor plants which she changes with the season. The setting brings the room to life in a uniquely elegant form.
Byron and Wordsworth
We have a perfect example of maximalism at Byron’s, where art covers every inch of every wall and frequent guests are welcomed by an enthusiastic white dog.
Coffee Table Maximalism
The books that fill his coffee table have stories attached. Those and the quirky objets d’art are different on every visit, a transitory array under Calder-style mobiles.
Chinese jars on commode
Sara groups blue Chinese porcelain jars on the marble top of a Louis XVI style commode under a blue Jackson Pollack style work-on-paper. Every visit, I can’t help but comment on how much I enjoy it.

Children will not want to be left out. They’ll have fun creating displays on their dresser tops! Kitchen counters gain atmosphere though quickly aligning bottles of olive oil, potted herbs or produce with pewter salt-and-peppers, for instance. By making small displays where the endless opportunities present themselves, you will exercise the senses for balance and proportion, which will gradually work back into your state of well being. How divine!

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  • Always so beautiful and informative…the art of Tokonoma..simple and lovely. The shell arrangements are always so interesting and take’s one on a journey to the sea…Byron’s stunning, art-filled home is extraordinary and elevates one’’s Being…thank you, Lois.

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