Canoe Room

Canoe Room

“It’s the same today as it ever was. He who seeks beauty will find it.” Bill Cunningham

We have had this very fine Kerala canoe for some time, but had been waiting to build a room around it. It seemed to require the right carpet. When a few weeks ago we acquired a handsome Turkish kilim, we began searching our inventory for furniture which could finally provide good company for the elegant vessel. A sleek 1940’s French desk seemed too angular; a walnut slab table we tried was handsome but a bit too moored. It seemed clear a few light chairs would work best. The Joshua Reynolds portrait contributed a historical tension–was the subject’s gaze benevolent or paternalistic? We enjoy the frisson.

Kerala canoe, early 20th century Turkish kilim, biomorphic sculpture by Elisa D’Arrigo, portrait of William Yonge attributed to Sir Joshua Reynolds.

One of the 20 chairs we tried, a beauty designed by Otto Wagner. Not quite right here, though.

These were infinitely better: Gambacorta chairs by Giovanni Offredi.

The longer we considered the canoe, the more we felt it needed sculptural companions, preferably objects which echoed its elegant spirals and shared its inky darkness. We thought right away of our neighbor Rebecca Welz, who for a couple of years has been welding what she calls Steel Nets. They bring to mind dormant vines, industrial flotsam, or something pulled from the innards of a sunken ship. We knocked on her door and she generously lent us five of her pieces. And we remembered Elisa D’Arrigo’s biomorphic sculpture, which we can best describe as a thing about to hatch, but which provided ballast in an empty corner.

There was something missing still. I had picked up a bouquet of wild garlic flowers at the farmers’ market that morning.

The sun was beginning to set, and the light was extraordinary. We decided to start shooting.

The wild Allium in the marble planter were all wrong, but the light was perfect. That’s the Manhattan skyline through our windows.

We returned the next day with a few pots of blooming sedum in our arms. The morning light was austere and clarifying. We switched out the plants, moved the Corbusier chair a foot back, made a few other minor adjustments, and suddenly we couldn’t point to the painting, the sculptures, the chairs or the canoe or the rug or the planter as separate objects in the same room. They had been assembled to make something new and whole, something to live in.

Blooming sedum in marble planter. Rebecca Welz Steel Nets, Corbusier Grand Confort LC3 chair.

We knew it was right because we wanted to enter it, and not to leave. We wanted to sit a while and wait, as for an old friend or a sympathetic stranger. For a moment, we had all the time in the world.

PS: We’re a little behind. All of the objects which appear in these photographs are for sale, and we are working on product pages for each of them. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions…Thanks for visiting.