Rodin Museum

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I spent this past long holiday weekend in lovely Philadelphia and while there visited the Rodin Museum.Designed in 1929 by one of my favorite architects, Paul Cret (Here and Here), the museum and garden were built to house the largest collection of Rodin's work outside of Paris, collected by Jules Mastbaum.

Located right on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the heart of Philly's City Beautiful movement area, this beaux arts neo-classical styled building graces a lovely green plot and garners quite a lot of attention with Rodin's famous "The Thinker" standing guard!

A replica of the ruined facade of the old Chateau D'Issy graces the front of the garden, providing a gateway into the museum. Rodin had installed the chateau's facade in his own garden in Meudon, France.Inside the courtyard, gravel paving, fragrant lavendar and shade trees seperate you from the busy parkway outside. Shallow steps gracefully bring you up to the recessed entry through Doric columns.

While no longer the main entrance to the museum, Rodin's "Gates of Hell" -originally designed for the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris - still stand outside despite being his most important work of art. Rodin worked on this doorway, which incorporates more than 100 separate figures, from 1880 until his death in 1917.

The movement in this piece was really incredible and lifelike.

One of his most famous sculptures was actually a study for this gateway, The Thinker (1880-1882).

Cret included a number of his own sculpted designs such as these bronze lion heads on the entry doors flanking Rodin's gates.

This was a period in Cret's career where he was transitioning from the Neoclassical design favored by the Beaux Arts into a more streamlined, Art deco style seen in these light fixtures below.

No one did it like Cret in my opinion! Following a discussion with a friend, no great building has a forgotten 'back side'. For example, above is the 'back' of the Rodin museum; better than most front facades, wouldn't you say?The Rodin museum is currently at the end of an intensive restoration but will be open to the public in the spring of 2012. Until then, the gardens are still open for viewing.
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Stone houses of Greenwich

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I spent a day in Greenwich, Connecticut a few weeks ago (more on that later) and I wanted to share with you some of the amazing houses that I saw driving around.

Many of the houses were built of stone and redolent of English country houses, a look I love, and is suited to the posh greenness of Greenwich.Even the walls surrounding many of the estates ( not mere houses, surely) are also built of stone, whether finished and dressed or rubble walls. Perhaps my favorite use though was on this Victorian house in the village with intermixed painted wood shingles and rubble stone.
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A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of touring the Scalamandre townhouse in New York with Steven Stolman, the new president of the company. Meg from Pigtown Design also recently visited the townhouse so I thought I would add my experience as well!As an architect, I was admittedly a bit out of my league with the technical discussions of the fabric they were showing, but I could of course appreciate their beauty and history. Scalamandre was kind enough to pull some items from their archives for me which appealed to my inner design history geek!One of my favorites was the Boris Kroll designed scheme for Scalamandre from 1973 for the Continental Airlines premier 747 jet service to Honolulu. Imagine flying in such a chic and brightly colored plane on your way to paradise! The colors, seen in the photograph above, ranged from hot pink in first class to serene blue in coach. The fabric samples are attached to a floorplan of the plane itself.With much of their work focusing on historical restoration and recreation, Scalamandre had worked on the Metropolitan opera house renovation and recreated the stage curtains which have this immense gold trim at the base and lush red velvet, seen in the archival box behind. The challenge here was to recreate the original curtain but to meet all of the required codes regarding fire safety. Steven mentioned the seats were all upholstered in costly mohair as wool is a fire retardant.
One of my favorite fabrics from the archives was this charming Auntie Mame'esque chinoiserie print designed by the founder's wife, Flora Scalamandre, in the 1950s - I hope they bring this back!While known primarily for their prints and traditional fabrics, such as this great one on a sofa in the DC showroom, Steven vows to bring the company into the 21st century while leaving their whole legacy intact. His dream is that nothing will be 'out of print' and you can order any of the great fabrics from the companies history.Recent advances in digital technology make this dream possible and the company has developed ways of using the technology that meet or surpass the techniques of the past.

So many new gorgeous prints!

I loved this fern print - very Martha Stewart, don't you think?

This cheerful preppy fabric is meant for outdoors but Steven said that a lot of designers have actually been using this inside. This new ikat pattern is actually complexly woven with a raised, textured design. Another fabric from their new line is "muse ornamentale" which is an updated look at a traditional design. It reminded me so much of the tropically inspired grand fabrics at Vizcaya, which had Scalamandre in on its' restoration!Of course, what would Scalamandre be without their animal prints (we all know their iconic zebra!)

In their new collection is a metallic giraffe print that is beautiful on both sides!

Their classic leopard silk velvet is still available (and is one of their most popular despite the high price tag!)

A new addition and sure to be equally as popular is a tiger printed velvet in either a mottled green or hot pink!

And of course, Scalamandre's iconic zebra print is available in many colorways and as fabric, wallpaper or even umbrellas! I hope you enjoyed the tour as much as I did! Many thanks to Scalamandre and new friend Steven Stolman (who is also a CMU alum I found out!).
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