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Silver Screen Scenes (3)

The Royal Tenebaums directed by Wes Anderson and co-written by Owen Wilson follows the lives of three gifted siblings who experience great success in youth, and even greater disappointment and failure after their eccentric father leaves them in their adolescent years. An ironic, sardonic, and absurdist sense of humor pervades the film.

The house used in the film is located near Sugar Hill in the Hamilton Heights section of Harlem in Manhattan, New York City. The address is 336 Convent Avenue. If you want to visit, you can take the A, B, C, or D to the 145th Street stop or the 1 to the 145th Street stop. This is a private residence so do not camp out or re-enact scenes. Wes Anderson explains, “Though we never call it New York in the film, I was looking for a certain feeling of living in New York, not the real New York, more a New York of the imagination”. Although the exteriors were largely shot in New York, Wes Anderson intentionally avoided virtually all shots of skyscrapers or other distinctive New York landmarks.

The sense of the formalized, fairy tale city is reflected in the screenplay by the faux-New York neighborhoods, unmarked gypsy cabs and various simulated landmarks: Archer Avenue, Mockingbird Heights, Public Archives, the 375th Street, the Irving Island Ferry, 22nd Avenue Express, and Green line Bus (none of which ACTUALLY exist on the isle of Manhattan). Thank you to Mooviees for Production Notes!

Here is a photo of the house:

“It was apparent that the house was one of the characters in the movie,” notes production designer David Wasco.

The african and tribally inspired room of Margot Tenebabum is filled with mock Baule (Baoule) Masks. The Baule People are from the Ivory Coast of Africa. The mask on the lower left hand side of the above image is a type of Baule mask is known as a Goli mask. It is used in dances during harvest festivals, in processions to honor distinguished visitors, and at the funerals of important figures. The circular face represents the life-giving force of the sun and the horns symbolise the great power of the buffalo. Directly above Margot and to her right is a type of mask known as a Dan mask. These are used for protection and as a conduit for communication in the spirit world. If you want to explore what the other shapes of the masks mean, visit HERE.

ALSO, can we talk about that wallpaper? The pattern dates to 1940’s when Chef Gino Circiello decided to open “Gino’s” – an Italian restaurant at 780 Lexington Avenue in New York and he was looking for a decorating theme for his new eatery. According to The New York Times, “Mr. Circiello was a hunter without the means to pay for an African safari, but he reasoned that he could at least afford zebras on his wallpaper.” The restaurant closed in 2010 but will always be remembered for its contributions to the design world – the Franco Scalamandre wallpaper!

Eric Anderson, the director’s brother and a gifted artist and illustrator, was another important contributor to the film. He painted all of Richie’s artwork, including seventeen portraits of Margot, which hang in the family ballroom.

Craving Margot Tenebaum look-alike illustrations? Go HERE or HERE or HERE or HERE

Native American Chief Paintings are clearly by George Catlin. Buy some posters HERE. Also, I secretly love the idea of decorating with a full-size medical skeleton. Skulls have been really in lately (as paperweights, and as small repetitive prints), but lets take this a step further and do all 206 bones. 

The paintings in Eli’s apartment are by Mexican artist Miguel Calderón. The images were part of the artist’s 1998 exhibit “Aggressively Mediocre/Mentally Challenged/Fantasy Island (circle one)”, though they were not actually painted by him. Calderón took photographs of his friends posed on motorcycles and, after deciding the photographs were not realistic, hired a portrait painter to reproduce them on canvas.I actually have a print in my guest room that has a very similar oeuvre by an artist who also works in the ideals of Hispanic culture and the Chicano movement.  Interesting that each Tenenbaum child seems entrenched in a culture that is not his/her own. 

The board game closet, complete with mouse. 

Vintage magazine, vintage board games, vintage lamps, and delicate teacups. 

Clearly this burnt red ochre is echoed throughout the film – in the stained glass, in clothing, in the lamplight. Also, a vintage damask couch is ALWAYS a wonderful addition. 

HOW DO I LIVE IN A QUIRKY FAMILY MANSION?

Shop by the Numbers: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7a/ 7b / 8 /

P.S. A big thank you to THIS site for all screen captures of the movie.

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American Pi(Day)

First of all, happy Pi day. Pi day occurs on March 14th (3.14) and celebrates both math and dessert. Seriously, we need more holidays like this. I had a friend in high school who was able to recite Pi up to its 100th decimal point. It was actually, weirdly, relaxing to hear (almost hypnotic).

Secondly, AND I AM PUSHING SEGUES HERE, lets talk about American Pie. To me this song, and this ideal, represents a bric-a-brac of American culture. The song encompasses one man’s love of music in America that spans Bob Dylan (Minnesota), Buddy Holly (Texas), Janis Joplin (Texas and California) , Elvis Presley (Mississippi and Tennessee), and Carly Simon (New York). The song also mentions the changing American landscape during the death of the Kennedy’s. To me, this song commemorates America in a way that is not kitschy and uber-patriotic – it is totally genuine.


Based in Chicago, Illinois, the LGBT-owned furniture company 900Blok also celebrates the topography of America. I love the idea of designing in a patriotic way that isn’t the literal “Stars and Stripes”,  “American Flag Colors”,”Western”, schlocky and humdrum decor. 900Blok’s first collection called “50 States” aims to bring the shapes of midcentury design to the shapes of The United States. The shapes of the states are familiar, we have always seen them on maps on our elementary school walls, we see the shapes of the states on the news, the cutout is ubiquitous. Yet, we have not seen the shapes as tables. This design allows me to think of each area as an aesthetically pleasing form – rather than a political entity. I currently live in New York – but what an amazing way to remember where I grew up and commemorate their importance – Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

California Here We Come. Look at those solid oak legs and that lacquered tabletop finish! Image courtesy of 900Blok, HERE.

These nesting tables allow states to touch that otherwise wouldn’t. Ever wanted Ohio to touch Nevada (not the states seen above)? DONE. Image courtesy of 900Blok, HERE.

Chicago! Also can we talk about the Wayne Thiebaud coffee table book? This is probably a necessity in every home, in fact I might need to write a post merely about his cake icing and frosty pastel colors. Image courtesy of 900Blok, HERE.

‘Oh, the farmer and the cowman should be friends’, Ron Arad 2009, Corten and mirror-polished stainless steel , 5.5m wide, 3.5 m high, 40cm deep , Courtesy Ron Arad Associates and Timothy Taylor Gallery, London, © Ron Arad, 2009

The United States of Logos. Look at each state’s different branding, calligraphy, and colors! Found HERE.

United Steaks of America. I think this would be a killer print in someone’s kitchen. Image Courtesy of the artist, Dominic Episcopo.

Both of the above images courtesy of dirtsastudio on Etsy! Grab yourself a chalkboard state! Chart your travels, mark your favorite spots, or just learn some geography with a chalkboard map of the United States.

q.a. DESIGN has a circus-striped and colorful take on the U.S. I love the contrasting colors in the prints. The shop is filled with maps from various states, with a simple heart over the state capitol (or your favorite city of choice). A person’s home can features the states in which she has spent most of his/her lifetime. 

I could not help the pun of using Wisconsin as a Cheese Board. However, any state can be found in this design shop! A.Heirloom Design Shop, HERE.

Shop by the Numbers: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 (no longer available but if you Google Map Decoupage, DIY stuff comes up) / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 

What state are you?

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Navajo Nation

According to the official government of the Navajo People, ” The Navajo Nation extends into the states of Utah , Arizona and New Mexico , covering over 27,000 square miles of unparalleled beauty. Diné Bikéyah, or Navajoland, is larger than 10 of the 50 states in America…Today, the Navajo Nation is striving to sustain a viable economy for an ever increasing population that now surpasses 250,000.” The Navajo Peoples have their own language, referred to as Navajo or Navaho, and whose native name is Diné bizaad. 

Navajo Art encompasses several well known forms – woven blankets, turquoise jewelry, navajo patterned items, and ceramics. Because of impostors, any item produced after 1935 that is marketed using terms such as “Indian,” “Native American” or “Alaska Native” must be made by a member of a State or federally-recognized tribe or acertified Indian artisan. Navajo People’s oral tales tell us they learned to weave from Spider Woman and that the first loom was of sky and earth cords, with weaving tools of sunlight, lightning, white shell, and crystal.

It is said that Navajo Rugs and Textiles  mirror the social and economic history of Navajo people. Navajo women wove their experiences and life lessons into the pieces they created, thus each pattern is said to be wholly unique and personal. Weavings were used to create shoulder robes, hair ties, belts, dresses, and blankets. Personal adornment and jewelry found in the southwestern area consisting of Arizona and New Mexico is thought to date back to the first half of the 1st millennium AD and was mostly seen in  bracelets made from a shells, simple stones, and fibers. Silver did not become available through trade, or an important status symbol, until the 1800’s.

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