Monday, 2 February 2009

Portfolio: Casa Uriarte

I've been making some changes at Casa Uriarte. It's a 3-bed corner house in Palermo Soho which I decorated in 2007 and is rented out a holiday home. Additions include the decorative print on the wall (around the Borges quote) and a collage of turquoise tiles with yellow accents around the bar area.

Icon: BKF or Butterfly Chair

A collaborative design from Antonio Bonet, Juan Kurchan and Jorge Ferroni-Hardoy (Grupo Austral), the BKF/butterfly chair/Hardoy Sling is one of the most imitated of Argentine product designs. The chair consists of a folding frame and a large sling hung from the frame's highest points. It's portable, light, and surprisingly comfortable.

Launched in 1939 by Grupo Austral, it was snapped up by Knoll through which it caught the attention of the international design community and enjoyed huge commercial success. A rash of inferior copies prompted Knoll to sue for copyright infringement, a legal battle which they lost. Subsequently they dropped the chair from production in 1951. The chair has lived on in imitation form and can be found in many forms in Buenos Aires and beyond.

Iconic buildings: Harrods

A grand belle epoque building on Calle Florida, sadly disused and empty for over a decade due to an ongoing legal battle with Mohammed Al Fayed's company.

In 1916 Harrods opened it's first and only foreign branch in Buenos Aires. Argentine was enjoying it's hey-day and the rich and elite of BA society and Harrods was a place to be seen and keep up with the latest fashions from Europe. In its opening year, La Nacion newspaper said of it: "Harrods is the highest expression of elegance and quality, the best in what really counts".

In the late 1940s Harrods Buenos Aires became independent from the London branch, but continued trading under Harrods. In 1997 a British court issued an injunction to restrain the Buenos Aires store from trading under the Harrods name.

Despite talk of a reopening, the 10,000sqm, seven floor building remains empty and is used for film shoots and events.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Buy: Living in Argentina (coffee table book)

I love Taschen's new coffee table book, 'Living in Argentina'. Showcasing a diverse range of styles of architecture and interior design, from traditional country farms to art deco landmarks and modern minmalist homes.

Favouring the big local names (Alan Faena, Francis Mallman, Laura Orcoyen, Victoria Ocampo, German Martiitegui...) hasn't compromised the content but gives a good feel for the spectrum of Argentine design.

I particularly liked (in order of appearance in the book):

Eclectic collection of modernista ceramic tiles around the claw foot bathtub at Francis Mallman's Puerto Madero home.

Fresco in gold and grey on the walls of Ricardo Cinalli's home. I couldn't live in that room, but I like the concept and how OTT it is.

Also at Cinalli's, the montage of old rectangular mirros pieced together in jigsaw fashion.

The colours at Nadine Zlotonoga's house in Palermo Soho. She shares my love of turquoise and fushia.

I'm inspired to visit Museo Xul Soler, and decades later love his use of colour, wooden furniture and antique textiles. I must also visit Villa Ocampo, the home of legendary Victoria Ocampo.

The simplicity of Alicia Goni's country pad.

Las Calandrias, not because I would ever choose to decorate a place like this, but because it reminds me of so many family homes and estancias that I love in this country.

La Esperanza. Perhaps my favourite of the lot. Bright colours faded with time, fabulous woven rugs from the north of Argentina, nostalgic touches (the old weighing scales, tins, oversized porcelain sinks), rustic charm but perfectly put together.

Living in Argentina
Taschen, Dr. Angelika (ED)
Labougle, Ricardo
Hardcover, 26 x 30.2 cm (10.2 x 11.9 in.), 200 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8365-0844-5

Available in Buenos Aires from: El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Boutique del Libros, & Eterna Cadencia.