Saturday, June 27, 2009

Favourite Things: John Derian

EmpireLady could not have said it better!
If EmpireLady were to have to make a list of her top ten favourite artisans,
John Derian would certainly be in that list.

EmpireLady was astounded by Mr Derian's work on first seeing it some years ago, the initial reaction being a sense of relief, as she had earlier formed the impression that she had been aesthetically marooned in the Antipodes in an Art scene that was moving, at that time, in a very different direction. (Apologies to the Australians) but then again, any Australians reading this will probably recall being aesthetically brutalised by their fellow countrymen at some point.

EmpireLady seems to have assumed that everybody spends hours in Museums and that it is preferable to have a museum at home too, it is inevitable that she finds Mr Derian's work intoxicating to the extent that with a twitch of anglocentric narcissism, she feels immediately compelled to re-categorise Mr Derian as British. This, of course is a compliment but along with being impossible it is also rather unfair. America, and for that matter Australia, have so much to offer intellectually, aesthetically and creatively. As an antidote she creates a mental list of the many appeals of the New World and shares some of them here. Begrudgingly she includes Mr Derian in the American list, despite feeling compelled to check his biography... just in case ....

Henry David Thoreau, Walden.... a first rate, hard copy C19th blog!

KWID, which EmpireLady seems to admire despite not actually being a fan, could be nothing other than American, over stated but revealing a passion for an almost primal use of materials, bone, turtle shells, rain forest hardwoods, leather, stone; motifs of disembodied stylized heads and buddhist hands. EmpireLady's response (being a product of a culture that has elevated understatement to an art form) is to sense the restless rustling of the New World behind the aesthetic scheme; to be reminded of tobacco and sugar; of exploitation and indifference and an overwhelming desire to please. EmpireLady perceives no cultural inconsistency between the Playboy shots of Wearstler (formerly Gallagher) that abound on the net and the work executed through KWID. This is a glamour that does not depend upon subtlety for its impact and for that reason it is fascinating and intoxicating in a very American way. Almost romantic from afar.

With reference to the above, EmpireLady advises that when one is photographed without ones clothes, one should consider wearing a triple strand of pearls, that point being illustrated with great verve by the Duchess of Argyll, the subject of an earlier post

Babe Payley, Truman Capote deserving of lots of posts

Paul Pincus, EmpireLady is a fan

New York in general

Paris Hilton imagined through Andy Warhol's dead eyes, it is such a pity that he did not live to see her .... what a match it might have been.

It would be possible to go on and on and on but perhaps the most reassuring thing to do is to post the images received from the last two New York Gift Fairs, the work of an intriguing American, Mr Derian, whose work you should go out and buy straight away:


decoupage platters and trays

Dromedary Loveseat in Libeco Linen at centre

Cove Sofa and Fritillaria Chair

Field Bench in Libeco linen

Cove Sofa in Libeco oyster linen

decoupage platters

all images courtesy of John Derian


The Dilettante said...

I must say I have been thoroughly told off by my two Australian children who find my anglocentricity intolerable. I have had to gently explain that I can not be anything other than what I am. I have however been ordered to put a note on the record that I am not actually racist!

balsamfir said...

As an American, who decided against becoming an expat 20 years ago, I think you miss a cultural detail about us. The reason so many of the US bloggers are looking overseas at cultural details is that there is so much overwhelming sameness here, particularly newness. See the Skirted Roundtable discussion on trends for example. It's part of American popular culture to tear down old things, even today I see lovely older homes destroyed to build new larger but flimsier ones. The magazines reflect more of the actual culture, and a small group of blogger is actually a counterculture looking for roots of our own heritage through the old country perhaps. Finally, I know many Americans are nervous and difficult travelers, but there are many others who are not, but you won't have noticed them. The same is true for everyone in varying degrees.

The Dilettante said...

Thank you for your comment Balsamfir, I have been reliably informed that I have been so horrid that I don't actually deserve any comments on my post at all, in view of this I am very pleased to have one.
I am very aware that there is a strong element of counter culture within the the US blogging fraternity but as an outsider to American culture I am fascinated by the subtlety and texture that persists within American society. I am bemused as to why this is so under-represented in popular culture. There is a very similar situation in Australia where popular culture places an enormous pressure for conformity. In a young country like Australia, cultural insecurity has led to an even more focused set of mainstream ideals to the extent that some of the most creative individuals that I know are excluded from the market because their work is perceived as a commercial risk It is this for this reason that I am very conscious of promoting artisans in my own field.
It may seem strange to you as an American, but to me as a foreign observer, the intricacies and subtleties that defiantly exist within American culture are fascinating, surprising and sometimes inexplicable.

As to my comment about Americans and travel, it was extremely naughty of me to say it and I know that I shall be in trouble. It was meant in good humour, I was not able to resist the temptation to say it. I have met lovely Americans on their own turf and on mine and believe me, I have taken note of some rather lovely ones (look there's some British charm for you!) You see, you will just have to content with being perceived as rather exotic.

home before dark said...

I think America will always feel insecure in the world of nations because we are so relatively new and because we are, indeed, a melting pot of countries and races.

I, too dislike the rush to beige and sameness. Today's Peak of Chic blog had a nice post on our colorful past.

I grimace at the Ugly American image we have left all over the world. Many, many Americans are not like that as Balsamfir pointed out. I would agree with you that Britain has done a much more elegant job transferring its style around the world. I understand that India has a great deal to say about that very subject.

The Dilettante said...

Thanks for your comment home-before-dark.

I have been musing on the subject today and I think that there are good and bad travelers in all nations. For instance British soccer fans have not improved the image of the Brit abroad!

On Sunday I watched television, enthralled by a documentary about the New York workshops that make Steinway Pianos. I think that an American should feel very proud of something like this.

As an outsider, it appears that there has been a loss of confidence in the American self image over recent years perhaps due to economics and some difficult foreign policy issues. At times like this I think that the arts assume an even greater role in helping to define people as who they really are in the most positive and uplifting way and in a way that is not necessarily dictated by income and material assets, it s a state of mind. This is one of the essential points made by the Aesthete.

The blogs are probably an excellent example of this principle, essentially they are not about what a person owns or can do or can buy, the design blogs are about what we think and feel about our environment. The fact that some blogs are now challenging the print media in terms of readership is a fascinating phenomenon, arguably it represents a de-coupling of economic and aesthetic concerns and of course what are beginning to notice is the type of lifestyle that we really value instead of what is on offer in the immediate marketplace.
kind regards!

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