South Florida homeowners are bringing the world home
By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub
A black-lacquer Chinese chest with mother-of-pearl inlay. An antique carved teak wall from Thailand. African masks. Sepia-toned photographs
from colonial India.
Welcome to Global Design, a compilation of world influences that give a home sophistication and the appearance of a life well traveled. The style has been depicted in House Beautiful, Elle Décor and on houzz.com, the popular decorating Website.
The trend has been growing in South Florida as designers are finding more sources for the unique pieces – ranging from statues from Thailand to rugs from Morocco. This concept isn’t new. The British have been mixing cultures for centuries, especially during the colonial period when they brought back items from their travels.
SHOW HOUSE DESIGN
Jennifer Garrigues, a British-born designer with offices in Palm Beach, London and New York, has showcased the look at several Red Cross Designers’ Show Houses in West Palm Beach.
“It is like getting a lot of different people together so you have a fun mix of interesting talk at a dinner party,” she says. “It is the same thing with furniture. The pieces bring in their own character, history and essence. A home with all American, British or Moroccan furnishings is not as interesting as pieces from around the world.”
Garrigues’ Global design for the 2012 Red Cross Designers’ Show House in West Palm Beach started with cream upholstery. Silk pillows, a bench and ottoman with silk fabrics from India provided color accents. The focal point was a mother-of-pearl chest from Syria. The coffee table, which is new, is reminiscent of Russian architecture’s dome-shaped spires. The area rugs were from Morocco.
“A bland room is terribly boring,” she says. It is like sitting next to a boring person at dinner. All the pieces bring a different energy into the room.”
Typically, Garrigues says her clients have traditional upholstery; she adds the global exotic touches.
“You can grow with it,” she says. “It can evolve. We bring in things they would be afraid to do and wouldn’t think of doing. That’s why clients hire me.”
ADVICE FOR COLLECTORS
Cecil Hayes has a reputation for adding exotic details. The Coconut Creek-based designer has done work for celebrity clients including actors Wesley Snipes and Samuel L. Jackson, football player Ty Law and hip-hop artist/producer Timbaland.
One of her most elegant designs was for a collector who bought an oceanfront penthouse in Boca Raton. He flew Hayes up to his home in Pittsburgh to see his collections of different cultures and periods.
“The house was so big and open and you didn’t get to enjoy the pieces,” Hayes says. “Three old Roman statutes were sitting on top of a console. I enclosed them in a niche in the Boca residence. The collectible should be more than just a piece sitting on a console.”
Hayes says she designed a console for the foyer to pick up on the drama of an architectural piece he had in his collection. A 5 foot 6 inch gold Buddha from Thailand is one of the first objects visitors see when they leave the foyer. Hayes thought it was important to make it stand alone.
Another client, who is an art collector, asked Hayes to incorporate some of her treasures she collected in her Boca Raton home. A beautiful hand-carved screen from Indonesia became a headboard. The rest of the look came together with a carved wood table of Portuguese design, a basket, pillows and throw of woven straw from Africa.
BRINGING HOME TREASURES
Eloise Kubli, a Plantation designer, says she has always strived for a global mix but the look has become more prevalent in the past 15 years.
“My clients are wealthy people who come back with treasures and are understanding what they are seeing. They are starting to travel again and getting away from normal places like Venice and Rome and are going to Asia and Africa.”
A good example of her mix is the guesthouse she designed for clients in Hawks Landing in Plantation.
Inspiration came from the Moorish architecture of Seville and Andalusia. The fabrics and three-dimensional art over the sofa have Moorish motifs. The ceiling fixture is Moroccan and the statues on the console are Chinese.
“I think you have to use these pieces in an artists’ way so it doesn’t look like you have thrown everything together,” she says.
A DESIGN EVOLUTION
Frances Herrera, with offices in Fort Lauderdale and New York, says she has seen the trend evolve over the past five years as global-inspired items become more accessible and available beyond designer showrooms. Retailers such as Marshall’s, Home Goods, Z Gallerie and Pier 1 Imports are sources as well as Jalan Jalan in the Miami Design District.
“Clients are drawn to this look because it feels rich, sophisticated and worldly,” she says. “It shows you are open minded, a risk taker and adventurous. These objects from around the world are very personalized and almost curated. It creates a collected look based on your life experiences.”
Herrera designed a living room in Fort Lauderdale’s Victoria Park for an Israeli couple who are world travelers. The wife bought the large statute in the corner in Africa. The pouf ottoman and the design on the throw are Moroccan. The mirror above the console is French.
She designed a sophisticated room in New York for an American wife and Indian husband, who are world travelers. The metal drum table is Indian, the carved lamp is Thai, the bench and painting are Chinese and the rug is from Nepal.
“It is a very tailored home that has beautiful objects,” she says. “It didn’t feel like a bazaar or over cluttered. The design is well edited and pulled together.”
Jennifer Garrigues, 308 Peruvian Ave., Palm Beach, 561-659-7085, jennifergarrigues.com.
Cecil’s Designers Unlimited, 6601 Lyons Road #C-4, Coconut Creek, 954-570-5843, cecilhayes.com.
Frances Herrera Interior Design, 350 SE Second St., Fort Lauderdale, 866-605-8111, francesherrera.com.
Collective Construction & Design, 102 NW 100th Ave., Plantation, 954-733-8282, collectiveconst-design.com.