Bulletin Board – April/May 2015

Delight in white: Vietri’s Forma “Cloud” dishware is made of Italian stoneware in Veneto, Italy. Its shape is organic, unique, and striking. Read on for more Italian beauty.

A Little Italy

Charmed and Magnifico

The Cognoscenti’s Guide to Florence, $15.95, Barnes & Noble stores and amazon.com

It seems all things Italian are showing up on the homescape. Favorite new items Italiano include designer Louise Fili and guide Lise Apatoff’s pocket-size companion book, The Cognoscenti’s Guide to Florence (Princeton Architectural Press), which is filled with vibrant photos. Designers and homeowners looking to add a certain Euro charm to their homes will find inspiration in pages overflowing with everything from colorful glass to hand-painted pottery to restoration paints. The book zooms in on the many family businesses that have flourished for generations. Closer to home, our décor-rovers spotted Deruta-style dinnerware exclusively from Sur La Table and handcrafted in Italy. Another favorite is the new Vietri dishware lines — Bellezza Spring, Bellezza Bloom, Sara’s Bouquet and the ultra-durable Forma, in particular — at The Italian Dish in Birmingham. With its hand-thrown aesthetic and variations of color, Forma celebrates the perfection of handcrafted imperfection. “People want to bring handmade, heritage-inspired products into their home,”
says Heather Kileff Hutchins of Vietri. “There’s been a resurgence in knowing where things come from. Each piece is a work of art that sets it apart from mass-production and predictable design.”

Left: Vietri’s Forma “Leaf,” “Surf,” and “Cloud” dinnerware, $32 to $179/per piece, The Italian Dish, Birmingham, theitaliandish.com

Right: Colorful earthenware inspired by Italy’s Umbrian region, $260/16 pieces, Sur La Table, metro Detroit area stores, surlatable.com

Contemporary Italian

Troy-based Realstone Systems introduced Hive tiles, a super contemporary line made mostly of recycled stone material and created by renowned Italian stone artisan Giovanni Barbieri. Deep-relief patterns and repeated hexagons blend to create an intriguing pattern. Realstone Systems, Troy, realstonesystems.com.


MSU Puts spotlight on Tradition

A recent stroll through the Michigan State University Museum revealed a treasure-trove of artistic finds, including a large collection of vintage chocolate molds (Easter bunnies included) and bits and pieces of the museum’s vast collection of Folk art (the museum has been home to the Michigan Traditional Arts Program since the early 1980s). “We have a great program where master artists receive grants to work with an apprentice to teach anything from egg-painting to fiddling to quilting,” says curator Marsha MacDowell. “The idea is to perpetuate those art forms. There’s art with a ‘big A,’ but there’s art in so many other areas, like quilting (the museum has a good-size collection of quilts as well as a digital database of 60,000 quilts, including 10,000 from Michigan).” The hand-painted Easter eggs (pisanki) shown in the photo at right were created by Rev. Czeslaw M. Krysa through the master artists program, and the museum recently acquired for their collection some painted eggs by artist Kepka Belton, who received a National Heritage Award and lives in Midland. To see traditional art forms aplenty, mark your calendars for The Great Lakes Folk Festival, Aug. 7-9 in East Lansing. On Sept. 27, “The world’s first exhibition of Chinese quilts will open at the museum,” MacDowell says. museum.msu.edu.

Interested in learning the traditional art of egg decorating? The Polish Art Center in Hamtramck often runs workshops. Visit polartcenter.com for more information.

A Natural Setting

Frank Lloyd Wright Monographs Housed at Lawrence Tech

Wright Here: The Affleck House, a Frank Llloyd Wright-designed home in Bloomfield Hills, is preserved by LTU for academic use and study

With an assist from alumnus and adjunct professor Ben Tiseo, Lawrence Technological University (LTU) in Southfield has received a set of 12 rare monographs by renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

When prominent Detroit-area engineer and architect Clifford Holforty died last July, he left an extensive collection of architecture books. His family decided the books should be donated to Michigan schools and libraries in his memory. While cataloging and supervising the books’ documentation, Holforty’s son-in-law, Grand Rapids architect Ralph W. Moxley, discovered a set of rare Frank Lloyd Wright monographs.

Individual cardboard boxes protected the 12 volumes, and many appeared to have never been opened. “After researching the monographs, we found they were quite rare and valuable,” Moxley says. “We determined that the 12 volumes should be donated to a Michigan architecture school.”

Moxley mentioned his find to Tiseo, who suggested the monographs be donated to LTU because the university owns the Affleck House, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home in Bloomfield Hills. The home was donated to LTU in 1978 by the Affleck family and is being preserved for academic use and study.

See the monographs at the LTU Library, on the lower level of the Buell Management Building. ltu.edu.

Finishing Touch

Chalk this Up to Ingenuity

The richness and character of an aged patina can now easily be achieved with Valspar’s new Chalky Finish Paint, above in Chalky Ultra Matte Trousseau Blue. The first of its kind that’s tintable, with a choice of 40 colors, it’s a simple way to refinish/upcycle furniture and accessories. Whether acquired from an antiques dealer, estate auction, or inheritance, pieces treated with the Chalky Finish can be sanded and then layered with a compatible Valspar wax that adds an authentic vintage appearance that will last for generations. Velvety to the touch and with a matte finish, Chalky Finish Paint can be applied to nearly any surface — even metals and hardware! lowes.com, valsparpaint.com/chalkypaint.

Out of the Blue

Classics Still Going Strong

The 240-year-old Royal Copenhagen company is still rolling out plate designs, both old and new. Its very first dinner pattern, created in 1775, was the Blue Fluted Plain, with its timeless chrysanthemum design. Today, it’s joined by the Blue Fluted Half Lace, Blue Elements, Blue Fluted Mega, Blue Fluted Full Lace, and the Princess. Renowned for hand-painted beauty, the porcelain products feature immaculate design. Collectors like to mix and match the pretty blue-and-white patterns for their spring tables. The League Shop, Grosse Pointe, theleaagueshop.com; Wright’s Gift & Lamp Shop, Grosse Pointe Farms; Plate Lady, Livonia; Neiman Marcus, Troy, nm.com; Slade’s West Bloomfield, sladesgifts.com; and Swede Anne’s Butik, Clarkston.

From Left to Right: Blue Fluted Mega, Blue Fluted Plain, Princess

Spring into the Lovely June & December

New Shop Caters to Home Goods Market

Find the freshness of spring at your fingertips when you visit june & december, an online specialty store launched by Troy residents Katie and Nick Forte.

After having two children and finding themselves ready for a new career that would allow them more time at their own family table, Nick (former general manager of the renowned Forte Belanger Catering) and wife Katie (previously an ad agency art director) combined their talents to create june & december — named after their children’s birth months.

“We wanted to present things that we enjoy designing and using ourselves: paper, textile, and gift products that are manufactured in America and Michigan, from quality-made materials,” Nick explains. “We love designs with clean lines.” Their delightful linen, hand-screened tea towels; soy-inked, Michigan-milled stationery; geometric, reversible pillow covers (see this issue’s Furnishings section); treat bags; art prints; wooden Michigan stamps; and more are all designed by Katie. “I love contrast — a plain design with the right color — and creating harmony between rustic and refined,” Katie says. Although the shop is online only, the website lists “stockists,” such as Leon and Lulu in Clawson, The Dancing Eye in Northville, Love and Buttercream in Royal Oak, and a few others. The couple not only provides distinctive and caringly crafted home and gift goods, but they have created an “e-joyable” Web-world haven, a world where sun-kissed linen seems to dance in the new spring breeze. junedecember.com.  — Honey Murray

Iconic Design

Longtime Artist Wins Award

Ruth Adler Schnee was named the 2015 Kresge Eminent Artist. Schnee, a groundbreaking textile artist, has for many years (since the post-World II era!) brought colorful, abstract works and designs into residences, businesses, and civic spaces.

From living rooms, fitting rooms, and hospital rooms to museums, showrooms, and skyscrapers, her textiles appear in the most intimate and the most iconic settings. At 91, she continues to work most of the year from her studio in Southfield. The award, which includes a $50,000 prize, recognizes professional achievements, contributions to metropolitan Detroit’s cultural community, and dedication to Detroit and its residents.

Schnee worked on the General Motors Technical Center in Warren (with architect Eero Saarinen in 1950-55), the World Trade Center (with Minoru Yamasaki in 1970-77), and the update of Albert Kahn’s Ford Rotunda in Dearborn (1952-53). Her Detroit shop was one of the first in the nation to sell modern home fabrics and furnishings to the public. She still designs custom fabrics for KnollTextiles, where she holds a 20-year contract, and Anzea Textiles, an upholstery company. The designer’s textiles are in the collections of The Henry Ford, the Art Institute of Chicago, Cranbrook Art Museum, and the Detroit Institute of Arts, among other institutions. kresge.org.