Friday, November 25, 2011

Now at Prize: Nathan Falter Pottery

"My pots investigate the sculptural nature of objects and the desire for useful ware." - Nathan Falter

Nathan Falter's current work takes inspiration from the beginning of the industrial revolution--a time when things were mass produced but not fully mechanized. It was a moment when man was just beginning to master machine. His pieces embody the quirky nature of discovery and reflect a desire to revisit the past.

Falter prefers to work as immediately as possible in small groups, six to a dozen pieces at a time. Most pieces are wheel thrown, altered, and assembled. He uses a limited palette of very sensitive glazes and fires often in a small gas-fueled kiln. His work cycle is chaotic, but it allows for the whole making process to be seen as a moment, a moment where the piece reveals itself.

Raised in southern Missouri, Nathan Falter earned a B.F.A. in ceramics from Missouri State University in 1995, and an M.F.A. in ceramics and sculpture from the University of Delaware in 1998. In addition to creating pieces for exhibitions and commission work, he teaches as an adjunct professor at Missouri State University. In 1998, he co-founded a community clay center with his wife, Jennifer Falter.

Come visit Nathan and watch a live demonstration at Prize on Saturday, December 10.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Prize Goes To Washington DC

In partnership with Peruvian Connection, Prize will make its east coast debut on Saturday, November 19. Best known for intrigue, power, scandal, our nation's capitol has it all. Located just steps from historic Ford's Theatre at 950 F Street NW, Peruvian Connection is located in the heart of the newly energized Penn Quarter.

With a backdrop of exposed brick and reclaimed wood the amazing selection of wearable art comes to life alongside hand selected antiques and objects de arte.

Come by, have a seat and take it all in...we hope to see you soon.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Head & Shoulders Above the Rest.....

The shear thought of hanging a dead animal above the fireplace mantel has sent shivers through the spine of many a decorator, let alone tested the battle of wills between couples. It was deemed the tacky accoutrement of a man’s den and at some point banished to the garage and attic. Perhaps it was the constant stare of an inanimate object or the subtle reminder that the animal was plucked from its habitat in the wild. Whatever side of the fence you are on there is more to it than meets the proverbial eye.

Historically the hunt for animals was by necessity in order to generate food for the table. No part of the animal was left to waste as fat was used for heating oil and furs and hides were turned into garments and rugs. Over time, hunting became a sport and was controlled in the selective hunt of game animals. This should not be confused with poaching which is the illegal practice of trapping and harming animals. This story would end here it that were even the case.

In fact, works of taxidermy are actually quite useful as they are displayed in museums and educational institutions for purposes of teaching and instruction. However, they are showing up again with pride in beautiful homes, luxury hotels and highly rated restaurants as focal points to been seen and admired.

The practice of taxidermy is a skilled craft that requires the artistic talent of carpenters, woodworkers and tanners. While animals are preserved in their most natural state, some parts are fabricated. Eyes are often made from glass and some of the soft tissue from wax and epoxy. One of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited to study this art was the celebrated Deyrolle in Paris which housed a vast collection of animals, insects and natural curiosities. Cabinets held birds and butterflies and salons were lined with full body mounts of peacocks, zebras and even giraffe. A very sad thing happened in 2008 when a fire ripped through the establishment eliminating more than ninety percent of the collection.

Back stateside, if you ever find yourself in Washington DC you should make plans to visit the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institute. It houses the third largest collection of birds In North America. Here in the US, it is common place to find the likes of mounted pheasants , red fox and deer. However, more exotic mounts are highly treasured like African game animals including impala, gazelle, water buffalo and kudu.n Zebra rugs are especially hard to come by and usually demand a high price tag.

Taking beauty to function, I recently had a female client who bought a half dozen small German roe buck antlers that she has mounted in her bathroom to hold her collection of jewelry – very creative.

For those looking for an alternative to real game animals, they are showing up in “herds.” I am pretty smitten with a recent discovery for my son’s room. I found a set of paper mache trophies of a zebra, tiger and gazelle that are made by artists in Haiti. They are hand constructed and made of all recycled parts which supports global sustainability efforts. Also, a recent search on listed over 200 trophy mounts with material options that ranged from carved basswood to felt and wool.

Even the Queen of England boasts a collection of mounted trophies in her countryside estates. Yes, a little something for everyone.

Note from the writer: No animals were harmed in the production of this article.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"Sign" Me Up!

2' x 3' Large Scale French Postcards -$150 each (four options available)

Recently, a customer took notice that artwork lining the walls of my shop were not exactly traditional paintings of scenic landscapes or moody subjects striking a pose. Instead, there seemed to be a theme of peculiar yet eye-pleasing subjects that ranged from old advertising shingles to transportation signs of previous decades.

It appears I have a thing for the unusual when it comes to collecting. I like the quirky and the often long forgotten relics of our past that once served a more utilitarian purpose. In their time, they would not have been considered art. But fast forward decades and centuries and they become a fun installation and witty way to complement your design style.

Antique Glass Sherwood Paint Sign From Australia - $695

Advertising is an art form in of itself. From written copy to compelling imagery, it is a call for consumers to engage with and ultimately buy a product. Even long before Madison Avenue and the agencies that created snappy jingles and campaigns, there were forms of advertising that existed in the way of trade signs and door shingles that would announce the business and its proprietor. Often carved from wood and painted by hand, these signs weathered the elements and have beauty that goes with age. I’m always on the hunt for them and double-sided signs are a major trophy.

As advertising advanced over the years, so did typography – the arrangement of font type and point size by graphic designers, art directors and typesetters. One vivid example is the often seen “Keep Calm And Carry On” sign that was produced by the British government in 1939 as World War II began. It can now be purchased in a plethora of colors and would be a fun addition to the room of my 4-year-old daughter, who at times, can be a bit dramatic about life.

Vintage roller skating sign - $395; French Botanical - $495

Classroom nostalgia
Equally desirable to antique advertising are vintage teaching aids that were used in classrooms as early as the 1900’s. From anatomical charts to illustrations of the galaxy and its planets, they were rich in both color and graphic quality. And because their scale was often large, they are bold works of art for any room. I recently scored a pair of antique charts from Germany that depicts marine life and amphibious subjects like frogs. They are perfectly suited to the room of my son, “the little tadpole.”

NYC Subway Rolls - sold; Other rolls available

Mass transit and easy access to travel in the 20th century created the need for signage and lots of it. Signs were often colorful with large font type in order to communicate direction to drivers and passengers. They would advise travelers where to go and keep order for the masses that were moving about.

One popular trend turning up recently in restaurants and homes are the use of long destination rolls as wall art. These graphic black-and-white signs would announce stops to passengers on subways and buses. They are a funky nod to the past and I have one at the end of a long hallway in my home. Now, if only to find one for the entry that cautions “Slow Down, Speed Zone Ahead.”

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Not So Close To The Sea Shore....

I am 1,324 miles from the Hamptons, a four-hour flight to Malibu and half a world away from the south of France. But these are the places that consume the mind of this landlocked Midwesterner who is longing for azure waters, soft white sand and bleached homes that have been perfectly kissed by the sun.

So as I find myself in the thick of summer, I want to translate my interiors to a coastal vibe that allows me to escape to a destination that is not so far away. Some designers swear off using beach or nautical themes in homes that, well, aren’t on the water. And while I tend to agree that authenticity should play a central role in design, a bit of the outdoors can certainly be fun to bring indoors for the season. Short of throwing sand on the floors, give it try.

I love the beauty of items that the ocean delivers from the deep. Placing sea fans, coral and driftwood in crusty antique garden urns and vintage silver loving cups makes for instant impact. I also arrange old sea glass balls that escaped from fishermen’s nets into old wood trencher bowls. I recently turned a pair of weathered wooden buoys into lamps. I find that using these simple installations can create visual interest without trying to pretend my home is 50 feet from the shore.

I recently found a fantastic vintage locker shelf unit complete with baskets — it is fashionably filled with towels, books, art supplies and host sundries that need a place to call home. This is where form and function meet in earnest, and to a Type A personality like me, that’s pretty swell.

I have a large collection of boat oars and constantly find a new way to install and display these in the store. For this season, I have placed a dozen of them — paddle side up — in a large, white Nantucket basket. It’s as if they were just hanging out in the boathouse waiting for the rowing team. Another fun display is to suspend them from the ceiling or place them in pairs on a large wall for instant artwork. I have also used them over windows to hang sailcloth panels.

On hot summer days I like to retreat inside to the comforts of cushy furniture with cool fabrics. One of my favorite spaces is our family room, which is filled with white slipcovered furniture and arranged on an over-scaled sisal rug. I will officially go on the record and say that not only is this a timeless look, it gets the wear-and-tear of my three active children, who are often in possession of chocolate chip cookies. The effect of washing them over time makes them all the more appealing. Toss some bold, striped accent pillows in place and grab a book — nothing is more refreshing than that after a day in the sun.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

Best wishes for a safe and happy Independence Day everyone!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

This Land Was Made For You & Me

Words: Steve Rogers
Photo: Roy Inman
Kansas City Star: 5/15/11

Baseball, apple pie and Route 66 — it doesn’t get much more American than that. Many songs have so aptly penned the beauty of our native land in words and verse. Our rich heritage, our treasured freedom, the vast topography from west to east and the melting pot that makes us one nation.

So it got me thinking about those things that are unique and influential within the American landscape. From the signs that beckoned travelers to the carnival games that lined the midway at the state fair. A handmade soap box derby car, ice cream from the local drug store soda fountain or weekend camping at the lake — these are the things that made my childhood, and bring a smile to my face as I associate them with the past.

There are many things that can fall into the classification of Americana, often with patriotism and nostalgia playing defining roles. The latter seems to be cropping up in recent finds I’ve made for the store in addition to design playing out in the homes of my clients. We all like to identify and connect to our past (think Facebook). Here are some elements of Americana that can play center stage right in your own home.

Remember when “vacation” was an overnight at the Holiday Inn or sleeping bags in the Grand Canyon? I bet there are a few of you with a stash of ashtrays or hand towels monogrammed with the Ramada crest (you know who you are). Remember that flashing neon “vacancy” sign? Wouldn’t that look terrific over a fireplace mantle to perk the room up a bit?

Although I’m not quite 40, I did make many trips to Palace Drug Store in my hometown for a cherry cola (three cherries, please). I can still picture the old apothecary bottles that lined the store shelves, holding the various compounds within reach of the drug store pharmacist. Today I use these bottles for an artful arrangement on bookshelves and in the bathroom for all the small catchalls.

“Wizard of Oz” is part of my earliest memories. I spent countless summer days tucked into a sumptuous velvet theater seat for an afternoon matinee. I recently hauled some away for a client’s home theater. Next up are classic movie posters to line the wall. Popcorn, anyone?

Well, I can officially kick myself for never taking shop class. I am always on the hunt for great wood boxes, carvings and crude furniture that is best defined as outsider art. If you were an American boy growing up in the ’50s or ’60s, there is a good chance you made your share of it.

There is something magical about the transition of summer to autumn and the opportunity to visit the local fair. Funnel cakes, ring toss and balloon-dart throw are within reach of every fairgoer. As a test of my skills, I knocked down countless punk dolls and shot many crossbows only to haul away a new treasure. These relics are turning up as great touches in home d├ęcor and are especially fun in a kid’s room.

So whether you grew up rural or urban, humble or affluent, chances are you have experienced a little bit of Americana. Woody Guthrie put it best: “This land is your land, this land is my land, this land was made for you and me.”

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Designer Playlist: Spring Edition

I am fascinated by the precepts of design: what has influenced whom and how it developed a consumer trend for how we collect, decorate and live. Ralph Lauren in particular comes to mind. He has a take on the American lifestyle that is as romantic coastal life as it is up-town Manhattan penthouse. His images can evoke charm, sophistication, ruggedness all captured in an aesthetic you can take to the bank.

How about Rachel Ashwell? She is the one who brought us “Shabby Chic,” the trend in cottage living. Oh, and then there is Axel Vervoordt – we can thank him for his washed-out, colorless but pleasing interiors that are currently all the rage.

Each of these designers has created his or her own formidable “play list” that is their signature style and brand. So it had me thinking about the choices I’ve been making in the design and appointment of my own home. It’s also the driving influence for what I select for my shop. So here are a few songs from my own personal play list, several that are inspired by the warmer weather just around the corner.

“Walk This Way”: I live in world of hard-wood surfaces and nothing warms them up and creates a finishing touch quite like rugs. Cotton with color and pattern will soon stretch out for the season.

“Light at the End of This Tunnel”: I don’t skimp on lamps, sconces or chandeliers and candlelight is the ultimate. Outdoor lanterns flickering in the spring breeze, nothing beats that.

“Wide Open Spaces”: Spring is around the corner and yard work too. Home is where the heart is and I can say the same for the garden.

“White Noise”: Food just looks better when served on simple white dishware. English Ironstone, it’s a classic.

“You’re So Vain”: Mirrors reflect light and open up a room. Sure you can see yourself, too.

“I’ll Be There For You”: The open arms of a worn leather club chair – enough said.

“Table for 12”: I’ve never met a farm table I didn’t love. The bigger the better. Long benches comfortably accommodate the crowd.

“Hold Me, Hold Me”: Baskets, crates trunks and anything else that can catch the clutter of my life.

“Imagine”: This is my personal dedication to you…just think of all the possibilities!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Spring at Peruvian Connection + Prize....

We have literally turned our store on its head as we have been busy resetting for our spring collection. Here are some behind the scenes "snaps" as we are putting things together.

I'm also off to Round Top, TX next week for my twice-annual pilgrimage and will continue to fill the shop with terrific, one-of-a-kind antiques and accessories. Come visit us soon:

Peruvian Connection + Prize
4725 Wyandotte
Kansas City, MO 64112

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Form Meets Function....

Form meets function in my home-office solution, which features vintage organizers and bins and a large antique farm table with enough work surface to accommodate the entire family. (Photo: Roy Inman)

OK, call it a resolution. I’m just a tad overwhelmed by stuff, so the new year seems a fitting time for organization. There are stores dedicated to it, publications with a sole focus on it and people who make it their job to help us manage it better.

While the creative intersection of organization and design can seem challenging, it’s actually an opportunity to blend the two into a statement-making environment. When I buy antiques and vintage goods for my shop, it’s not always for the provenance or value of the items, but rather sometimes for the utilitarian purposes they can serve. I determine how to enlist these goods as foot soldiers in the war on clutter.

Coats, shoes and book bags are always like stray animals around my house. There are lots of them, and they never seem to have a place to call their own. Because we are in an older home, closet space is minimal, so we’ve had to get creative without sacrificing on style. Our dilemma was solved when we recently located a sturdy, 19th-century English bamboo hall tree that was roomy enough to accommodate our family of five. It sits right off our entry-way as a reminder to put things in their place.

Another great solution is using old dressing-room lockers to stand in as extra capacity for bulky dry goods. These are common finds at antique markets or such sites as eBay and Etsy. With a little sanding and paint, they are fun yet practical closet-space extensions.

The sight of desk clutter just brings me to my knees. No matter how many desk and drawer organizers we used, things seemed to just continue piling up. It’s as if no one realized the desk had any drawers. So I purchased a large antique French farm table and made it the new location of our home office.

I used antique glassware, metal bins and wire baskets to organize the small objects. With all the necessary accoutrements within sight and reach, we had both plenty of workspace and a stylishly organized solution. We even applied magnetic and chalkboard paint to the facing wall to keep shopping lists and important dates handy. It’s also a place to hang special artwork.

I’m starting to think our kitchen has more inventory than Williams-Sonoma as we find ourselves wading in gadgets and service pieces. It’s the one room that works overtime in our home, so things must have their place. I’m a big fan of open shelving, where things are both accessible and visible. It’s important to arrange them for function, but it also means they become display pieces, and it can be tricky to pull this off without looking cluttered.

We started by discarding unsightly plastic ware and purchased nice but inexpensive glasses, dishes and cutlery at chain retailers and at antique shops that would be within reach. They don’t always match, but that’s the charm of collecting and editing. Baskets, overhead pot racks and counter caddies are also great sentinels.

And don’t neglect the pantry or refrigerator, because there are organizing tools that help keep tabs on what you have so you don’t let things spoil or expire before you’ve had a chance to use them. I resolve to live a little better this year by keeping both things and perspective in their place.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I've Been Away....

So you can see that I've been away for a bit...all intentional, really. So I wish I could tell you that I've just been reclining with a good read and surrounded by some wonderful artwork. Nope, I've been working on a new store concept, preparing to relaunch the Prize brand online and doing some serious antique buying.

Just wanted to check in and let you know that some good things are just worth the wait...

Home of the American painter John Dowd in Provincetown for Elle Decor. Carlos Mota stylist. Photo by William Waldron.