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TRENDS

The past is alive in 2008

January 03, 2008|David A. Keeps | Times Staff Writer

LOOK at the top design trends for the coming year, and it's clear that the past will shape our future. The Hollywood Regency craze has evolved, creating a hunger for antiques and cleverly updated pieces that pay homage to French neoclassicism and all-American tradition. A counterpoint to all this ornamentation? There's a separate move toward minimalism, including chinoiserie that's more Mod than Ming. And as for bringing the natural world home: We're not out of the woods yet.

1. Enchanted forest

The look: Think of it as a tongue-in-cheek riff on the wood-grain prints, antler accessories and trophy heads that popped up in shelter magazines so often last year. After several seasons of realistic carvings and castings, designers are beginning to tweak woodland fantasy motifs, presenting flora and fauna in an almost-surreal way that's more Lewis Carroll than Field & Stream. "Acorns and owls are the new deer and daisies," says Brooke Hodge, curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. Cartoon-influenced mass-market accessories aimed at the young at heart may resemble kitschy midcentury knickknacks, but unexpected materials and colors -- such as the glossy black plastic garden gnome table by Philippe Starck -- give these pieces the sheen of 21st century cool.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, January 08, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 28 words Type of Material: Correction
Furniture design: A Jan. 3 Home section article predicting design trends for the coming year said Thos. Moser is based in Vermont. The firm is based in Maine.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday, January 10, 2008 Home Edition Home Part F Page 5 Features Desk 1 inches; 26 words Type of Material: Correction
Furniture company: A Jan. 3 story predicting design trends for the coming year said Thos. Moser was based in Vermont. The firm is based in Maine.

Why it's hot: "It probably has to do with ecology and going green, because the emphasis is now on stylized forms from nature rather than dead animals," Hodge says, "although I'm sure Damien Hirst's crystal skull encouraged people to take common objects and make them more opulent." Bottom line: In California's indoor-outdoor design culture, people crave natural elements, and even the most cutesy critters can be rendered as modern objects.

The pieces: Looks this bold should shine on their own as accents. Upper right: Kathy Taslitz's Old Leaf table ($14,500) is available by custom order from www.ktaslitz.com. At right: Illustrator Tim Biskup's Gama-Go mushroom character pillow ($27) is from Yolk in Silver Lake, (323) 660-4315, yolk-la.com. The yellow ceramic squirrel nut dish ($32), squirrel lamp ($36) with green shade ($12), and orange fawn coin bank ($18) are from Urban Outfitters, www.urbanoutfitters.com. The new black version of Attila from Starck's Gnomes series ($374) is at Kartell in Los Angeles, (310) 271-0178, www.kartell.com. The Hear No Evil ceramic planter by DF Casa ($180) is perched on bisque porcelain logs by KleinReid ($320); both are from Show in Los Feliz, (323) 644-1960, www.showlifestyle.com.

2. French neoclassic

The look: Look for more 20th century reproductions of early 19th century French furniture, a period defined by Napoleon Bonaparte's earlier military campaigns in Italy and Egypt. The neoclassicists of that era embraced the architectural details, decorative flourishes and mythological iconography of ancient cultures as a new design vocabulary -- one that was famously revived in the mid-1900s by the Parisian design firm Maison Jansen. The look is unabashedly old money, and unlike its Los Angeles-bred counterpart, Hollywood Regency, French neoclassic style relies on restraint -- muted finishes and a strong sense of architectural delineation. Jansen furniture is notable for its use of fluted columns, leather paneling, marble surfaces and steel-legged furniture with brass sabots.

Why it's hot: Some credit goes to Acanthus Press, which last fall published James Archer Abbot's "Jansen Furniture," the sequel to his 2006 tome, "Jansen," stoking the fever for French neoclassicism. "It represents the classic end of the market," says Richard Wright, owner of the 20th century auction house Wright in Chicago. "And it is not inexpensive, but it's much more refined and done with a better sense of taste than Hollywood Regency." Suitable for a drawing room or a man's study, the look has long been fashionable but hardly hip. With the renewed interest in ornamentation, the appeal is growing. Williams-Sonoma Home is offering furniture and lamps with a Jansen profile, and L.A. designer Kelly Wearstler's recent collection of decorative accessories for Bergdorf Goodman features classic marble busts and urns.

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