Tuesday, October 13, 2009

DC Show House Adventure (with serendipity!)

I love going to the show house at the D.C. Design Center, and there's a group of friends who like to come along. So I planned an outing for us for today, thinking a weekday would be nice and quiet, and we could enjoy the displays in relative peace.

However, fate had some other plans!

It turns out that today was one of the lectures of the Design Center's "The Business of Design" fall series. And the lecture hall is right smack in the middle of the hallway to the show house, and preregistration is necessary for the lectures. Oh dear. After I got us all signed in (my three friends wore badges proclaiming them my "clients"), we went downstairs, where I told the chic young lady at the sign-in desk that I had no idea there was a lecture, and would it be okay if we just scooted past to the show house? Of course, she said, but you're certainly welcome to sit and enjoy the lecture, too.

Oh, boy!!

The topic was "Timeless Textiles -- An Evolution of Style", presented by Pierre Frey, grandson of the founder of Parisian textile mogul Pierre Frey. He presented a lot of historical information about fabric styles and methods of production, but the real stars of the show were the historical "documents" (i.e. fabric samples) he brought from their Paris Archives. There was one that dated back to Louis XIV, and another from Napoleon I. It was fascinating to hear about how some of these fabrics are being used as inspiration for new lines.

After the lecture, we did go through the show house, which wasn't nearly as dramatic as in previous years, but there were a few interesting highlights. I apologize in advance for the crappy pictures; my camera really doesn't do well in low light and flash was just washing out all the colors.

This picture really doesn't do this piece justice; you can't see the details. It's just a large fabric motif, framed, but the great part is the embellishment. The center pieces are embellished with glued-on Swarovska crystals in the same hot pink as the border, and there's also a line of antique brass nail heads lining the middle piece. You can just make them out in the picture.

Everyone thought this was a marble table, but it's faux-painted wood. I loved the gold Greek Key detail! I wish I could do faux marble finishes.

This was another very cool effect. See the lights shining on the gold counter? They're not spotlights from above; the counter is lit from the underside, and the lights diffuse through the semi-opaque material. It looked like a golden alabaster. There were two cabinets like this.

Again, the picture doesn't really do this justice. These were simple circular cushions, not attached to the chairs in any way (which really made them impractical). What I really liked about them was the fringe trim, which was made of ball-link chain (like you see on key rings).

Another instance of a "repurposed" material. The legs for this coffee table were just four simple C-clamps.

I loved the leading edge on these drapery panels, but was puzzled as to how they got the ruffled look from a straight border print. Then I turned around and saw the bed.

The fabricator had very carefully cut out the circular motifs, sewed them end-to-end, and used them as a leading edge on the drapery panels. Brilliant!!

Once we were through the show house, we went upstairs to the Hines & Co. showroom (where Pierre Frey fabrics are carried) for the luncheon. There was a large assortment of finger foods, all of them delicious, and we got to sit on decadently overstuffed furniture and chat.

Me, Carole, Sue and Malca

We also got "goody bags" at the lecture, and in each one was  a package of paper plates with Pierre Frey designs on them, plus a piece of chocolate.

All in all, it was a lovely surprise to be able to attend the lecture, and I'm planning on going back to the Design Center in November for another one in the series.


  1. Your experience qualifies as serendipity, Welmoed. You certainly had good karma that day!

  2. Oh Welmoed, what a great post! And you got to hear about French textile history from Pierre Frey's grandson and see some examples!

  3. Hmmm... I'm going to have to remember that circle pattern becomes circular ruffle with border print trick! Very clever indeed!


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