Designing Harmonious Modern

Stephen Sills Manhattan penthouse

This design style, the natural language of the international designer, appears seamlessly elegant and costly, feels comfortable, yet catches your breath. Each piece is chosen for its compliment to the whole space. You know it’s right when you see it, but to complete a room takes effort and skill.

Jean-Michel Frank smoking room circa 1938
Jean-Michel Frank smoking room circa 1938 courtesy Phillips.com

The New Harmonious Modern style clips back onto the masters of design, such as Jean Michel Frank, while creating rooms with the spirit of 2020. Furniture styles created by Frank in the 20’s and 30’s, complete departures at the time, remain the standard to this day, like the square arm sofa and lounge chair designed for Hermes in 1924 and recently relaunched.

Jean-Louis Deniot interior
Jean-Louis Deniot interior courtesy Architectural Digest

Our first feature room uses two authentic lounge chairs covered in parchment from Frank’s atelier. They are softened by a blue velvet sofa, perfect for its scale and colour. I can really breathe in the presence of paintings that invoke clouds. This modern painting with pasto in rich gold is a brilliant way to lighten elaborate wall panels! Agate slices on stands and wired crystal table lamps confirm the importance of mineral specimens in design. A custom carpet that reflects the shapes of the coffered ceiling is a brilliant device that must be such a pleasure to experience in the space. Room by Jean Louis Deniot, Paris.

Stephen Sills Manhattan Penthouse
Stephen Sills Manhattan Penthouse photo courtesy Stephensills.com

Here is another original piece from Jean-Michel Frank’s atelier, a daybed, whose presence sets the tone for a more relaxed but no less exciting space by designer Stephen Sills. The colour is in the drapes and the wood tones are brought into relationship with the white upholstery by washing raw wood with white paint, another of Frank’s signature techniques. The wall has moulding trim set in vertical bands below a crown that reminds me of Pompeii. The square open benches in the lead photo of Sills suite are JM Frank pieces.

Tristan Auer bedroom
Tristan Auer bedroom photo courtesy Architectural Digest

Tristan Auer, whose work in the Hotel De Crillon rooms appears in my Brutalism article, designed this bedroom. The shape of his headboard owes a debt to square folding screens that wraps Frank’s sofas. The black-and-white-plus-a-colour scheme is such an important trend that it will be the focus of an upcoming post. Sculpture, a notable feature in harmoniously designed rooms, appears as art, as lighting and furniture. Those who know my work will be reminded of the large-scale photographs of classical sculpture that were a feature of my Yorkville design store.

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Cristine Coelho living room
Cristine Coelho living room photo courtesy Salon.ru

Lastly, this room by Russian designer Cristine Coelho pulls together a number of notable details: wall mouldings, pendants replacing pot lights, full floor-to-ceiling draperies in rhythmic columns, small drinks tables and table clusters, the focus on lounge chairs. Here, too, the black and white scheme is punctuated with strong colour. These directions and moods are offered as a springboard to exploration. Knee-jerk design formulas, suitable for an automaton not a human, like every small condo’s kitchen island and the rubber-stamp corner-sofas that they practically require are Formula Designs that appear just when everyone was allowing their creativity to blossom. Living in the same space as everyone else down to the smallest robotic detail squelches creativity.

Rebel, Diva! Pause meditatively on your velvet lounge between appointments, dreaming of personal and social reinventions. “Beauty in uniqueness” is our banner! Because, in the words of Goethe “Beauty is Truth Lovingly Veiled.”

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