“Do anything, but let it produce joy.” – Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Wishing everyone a relaxing, joy-filled weekend! Above, more images from last weekend’s trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden.
all images via the aesthete and the dilettante
Just when we thought Spring would never arrive in Chicago, it dropped in for a surprise visit yesterday afternoon. The Chicago Botanic Garden, one of our favorite places to explore during any season, is bursting with buds and flowers right now. I took these photos on a path winding through the Japanese Garden just as the sky shifted from overcast to this glorious blue.
Michael Smith, one of America’s premier interior designers (and the one chosen by First Lady and President Obama to redecorate the White House family quarters), gave a fantastic lecture on Friday at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Antiques and Garden Fair. I’ve been a huge admirer of Smith’s work, particularly his ability to layer textures, ages, and cultures seamlessly throughout his interiors as well as his extraordinary attention to detail, but given his success and his rolodex of beyond A-list clients, I had preconceived notions of him taking himself a bit too seriously. Right? Wouldn’t you think? I couldn’t have been more wrong, and feel comfortable saying that everyone in the room fell in love with him and secretly wished he was their best friend, present company included. Not only is Smith thoroughly knowledgeable about art, history, and architecture (which I expected) and wickedly funny (which I did not expect), he is also disarmingly genuine.
A big part of Smith’s lecture revolved around the upcoming April 23-24th Christie’s sale of a breathtaking Palladian villa he designed on the largest privately held piece of California coastline (click here to view the auction catalogue). He also documented this phenomenal home in the above book Building Beauty (click here to pre-order, available May 7th). Smith spent half a decade working on this house, searching the globe for treasures both humble and grand to fill the vast space. Upon completion, his clients inhabited the home for a short time until someone knocked on their door and offered them 70 million dollars, which they accepted. Thus the Christie’s sale. If you have the time, you really should look through the catalogue. Sure, there are exceptional pieces with exceptional auction estimates to match (including a to-die-for Helen Frankenthaler) but there are also several lovely objets d’art estimated at less than $1000. They may not sell for less than $1000, but a girl can dream.
After his talk, my friend Cynthia McCullough (who happens to be a brilliant designer in her own right) and I walked around and took in the booths of antique dealers from the U.S. and Europe. We almost lost our minds when we spied a vintage leather trunk trimmed in brass, painted one of my favorite colors, with the most outrageously perfect patina I have ever seen. I debated for less than a minute, knowing if I went home without it that I’d regret it for the rest of my life. It has taken up residence in the living room, adjacent to my antique Chippendale chairs that we had upholstered serendipitously in Michael Smith’s Grace fabric in Willow a few years ago.
The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Antiques and Garden Fair begins today, and if you are in the area, I highly recommend checking it out. Vendors from the United States and Europe bring their best antique and contemporary garden and interior design wares, and the floral displays are spectacular. Last year, I found an amazing antique English wrought iron and marble garden table (now an end table in my living room – see below) and I discovered Molly Flavin’s incredible floral designs (see here).
Today at 11AM world renowned interior designer David Easton (he designed the wallpaper in my dressing room – see here) is giving a lecture, “A Design Journey of Past, Present and Future” and he will be signing his new book, Timeless Elegance: The Houses of David Easton. Another can’t miss lecture is David Howard’s “My Gardening Life,” taking place at 11AM on Saturday morning. He will discuss his four decades of gardening in England, most notably for the Queen and Prince Charles.
The Antiques and Garden Fair is Friday-Sunday, April 20-22nd, from 10AM-5PM each day. Located in Glencoe, Illinois.
Image 1 via chicagobotanic.org