Inspired by antiques: Roycroft arts and crafts andirons
June 10, 2009 | As a decorator I can tell you that fireplace accessories are usually a bit of an afterthought, but the exceptional andirons at right could serve as inspiration for an entire room. Made at the turn of the last century by Roycroft, the arts and crafts workshop founded by Elbert Hubbard in East Aurora, New York, this pair comes up for auction on Saturday June 13 at Rago in Lambertville, New Jersey. They exemplify the fluid decorative style found within that design movement, however, at first glance, the andirons’ graceful filigrees remind me less of the organic prints of William Morris, whom Hubbard idolized, but rather of Gilbert Poillerat, the French furniture designer whose wrought iron masterpieces epitomize my idea of 1930s luxe. Swirls, spirals, curlicues—whatever you like to call them—are popular motifs in today’s design market. All together the following items might make a dizzying ensemble, but a swirling gesture here and there never hurt anyone! Let’s go for a twirl:
"Pauline" wallpaper by Studio Printworks, price on request, available to the trade at Hinson and Company Designer Nancy Burges' homage to Mme de Rothschild is full of feathers and French curves. Might the style doyenne have used this paper in her own dressing room?
San Miguel dining table, $4,200, at Mecox Gardens
I love the contrast of this table's intricate metal trestle and hefty wooden top. Another Spanish-inspired piece, it flaunts exposed craftsmanship, much like our andirons.
"Liam" rug, price on request, at Madeline Weinrib
A single Madeline Weinrib Tibetan carpet can take months to produce, a dedication that the Roycrofters would certainly admire. Here the swirls show Moorish influence, but are no less exuberant than our inspirational andirons.
Casa Mila Bed, $1,698-1,898, at Anthropologie
The bohemian retailer's wrought iron bed gives a nod to the Spanish baroque style, but the side-by-side hearts lend a sweet and soft touch to the rigid material.
Calligraphy Scrolls Rubber Stamp, $7.50, at Paper Source
If letter writing is a dying art, then calligraphy is positively Paleolithic. This rubber stamp would look brilliant on any standard paper stock, emulating the fine art of flourishes without the penmanship training.
Medium Chelsea Linear chandelier, $1,008-$1,050, at Circa Lighting
English, French or Spanish? Whatever the stylistic origin of this traditional double-lantern fixture, I could see one over a breakfast table to foil an all-white kitchen. Though restrained, the extra flourishes are nonetheless a dramatic detail.
"Brio" fabric by Dedar, price on request, available to the trade at Jerry Pair
This striking flocked fabric takes a postmodern approach to the andirons' curling whimsy with it's seemingly endless repeat. An oblong throw pillow would sacrifice some of the impact, but might be less headache-inducing!
If you're looking for more arts and crafts inspiration, a trip to East Aurora, might do the trick. Visitors can experience the Roycrofters' legacy first hand by touring the Elbert Hubbard Roycroft Museum, and spending the night at the Roycroft Inn, a boutique hotel and restaurant with landmark status that was refurbished from the very same accommodations that Hubbard established for his own guests. If you've already been, tell us what you think!