Monday, September 20, 2010

Jewelry for the Home

Picture 314.pngStark with shapes and textures straight from nature, a piece by British designer Alexander Lamont is like jewelry for the home.

From his workshops in Bangkok, Lamont works in a rare range of exquisite materials applied to earthly offerings. The result is heavenly.

Lamont spins straw into literal gold. Ordinary fodder becomes sublime–dried gourds are resuscitated into bronze vessels…The hypnotic grooves of a falcon’s claw trapped in lost wax creates an unforgettable pewter table lamp…Palm seed pods are cast and gilded creating glorious organic candleholders…

Picture 315.pngAnd how can you overlook Lamont’s iconic hand-hammered bowls with shimmering 24 karat gold-leaf interiors? Pure gold leaf draws light, whether lit from within, or filled with water and flowers or simply standing, completely empty.

The unassuming eggshell inspires the strong sculptural texture of these bronze hammered bowls. Their juxtaposition of heavy bronze with the thinnest eggshell appearance won Lamont recognition from UNESCO with their Award of Excellence in Handicrafts for preserving traditional craftsmanship while creating innovative, contemporary design.

These objects are elegant, sculptural, unexpected and always powerfully tactile. Lamont’s understanding of materials and craft methods complement the design work, and vice versa, provoking age-old thoughts of nature influencing art, and art influencing nature.

Picture 313.pngLamont brings the fragility of nature indoors with these lasting interpretations that function ideally as interior elements.

The vulnerable beauty of life is captured and reincarnated in rare and exotic materials sourced from Southeast Asia, Europe, India and China.
The rich mix of materials–from porcelain, parchment and pewter–to stunning shagreen–possess an understated elegance and rich crafts traditions.

Shagreen was a decorative and durable surface for Japanese armour, and used as an accent in 18th century British accessories, and most famously, a luxurious surface for French Art Deco furniture.

In 2000 Jean Perfettini, author of the only books on shagreen and master of restoration for the Musee des arts Decoratifs, Paris, trained the Lamont team in Bangkok.

Created from polished stingray skins, shagreen is one of the most sophisticated and beautiful surfaces in the world.

The tiny natural enamel beads on the skins create stunning decorative elements in Lamont’s limited edition pieces, which include accent tables and lampshades of unrivaled beauty. Both must be seen and touched to be believed.

Lamont selects, prepares and inlays the skins by hand in his workshop in Bangkok.

Says Lamont, “I spent my Saturdays and holidays working in my father’s warehouse. I would break open the wooden crates and unwrap newspapers in different languages to find papier-mache eggs from Kashmir, teak animal boxes from Thailand, thorn carvings from Nigeria. The experience was very tactile and the best training in the quality of craft. A beautiful handmade object will cry out ‘please touch me.’ Many of these materials change over time—the lacquer brightens, the gold darkens. It’s this voice and the quiet life of objects–the soul–that we are searching for in our designs.”

Alexander Lamont’s creations are now available at Gump’s San Francisco.

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