Fluent French

Bryn Mawr

Walter Durham, 1934

A 1930s Georgian house was expanded and reimagined as a fitting backdrop for an exemplary collection of French Art Deco furniture and art. After many years of building an important collection of Americana, our clients prepared for a radical change to herald a new phase in their lives with a transformation exploding with creative energy. We reworked the architectural ornament into expressive Art Deco detailing both sinuous and geometric, with elegant plaster moldings in forms ranging from sweeping swagged fabric to crisp vertical fluting. We were given free rein to explore the intersection of unexpected surfaces and precious objects. In some rooms, we created evocative plaster wall finishes with a craqueleur surface revealing an underlying wood grain pattern. In other rooms, matte and gloss surfaces intermingle to catch light in a novel way.

We celebrated the beauty of the luxurious woods and inlay materials of the period, answering the aesthetic by surrounding everything in shimmering palettes of violet, cocoa, amber, celadon, and silver. Walls lined with handmade paper, macassar ebony, and textured silk complement the collection and maximize its impact. Our in-depth research of the period led us to original documents by some of the greatest designers of the time, such as Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann and Ivan da Silva Bruhns, whose designs and color palettes provided the inspiration for textiles and area rugs custom made in France. Special attention was paid to period upholstery techniques and were executed by skilled museum conservators. The result is a dynamic blend of elegant modernism in a graceful house of classical proportions.

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Our in-depth research of the period led us to original documents by some of the greatest designers of the time, such as Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann and Ivan da Silva Bruhns, whose designs and color palettes provided the inspiration for textiles and area rugs custom made in France.