WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PIECE IN YOUR HOME?
Robert talks about his "Prefacto" chair by Pierre Guariche, in which he loves to relax. Its timeless design, simple yet very precise, along with his comfort and functionality, make it a special piece to live with.
"PREFACTO" CHAIR BY PIERRE GUARICHE
Pierre Guariche graduated from the Ecole National des Arts Décoratifs in 1949 where he was taught by Marcel Gascoin, who later hired him to work in his studio. His creation attracted quick interest from editors like Galerie MAI or Charles Bernard, and it was through him that he acquired the license of suspension springs called “Free Span”, from which he produced a limited series of furniture in the 1950’s. In 1951, Charles Bernard sold his company to Airborne, with which Guariche wanted to collaborate with. His first series with Airborne was not less than a complete proposition to furnish an entire dwelling: the “Prefacto” series. Made from a standard element and material - a metal tube associated with wood, generally solid beech - the series allowed to develop diverse types of pieces to furnish the different rooms of a home, like this eponymous “Prefacto” chair. Guariche thus closely links interior architecture and furnishings by "furniture objects" which are all animated by the same spirit. The series’ success, due to a mixture of rationality, elegance and inventiveness, will last about a decade.
WISHLIST & Q&A
We asked Robert to select 5 pieces from our available collection that would be included in his wishlist. In a Q&A, we talked about his selection, his inspirations and the historical significance of the pieces.
Was it easy to select amongst the hundreds of pieces?
R.S. : Yes. I love almost everything you have, I have been a client of the gallery since Hugues started and it’s always been one of my top five sources for amazing things.
Do you think your choices were influenced by the current situation?
R.S. : No. I chose what I like. The times may affect that in some way but the pandemic only affirmed my values and beliefs, so I don’t know that my choices would have been much different a year ago. It’s just hard to choose when I like so many things.
Can you tell us a little bit about each piece and why they made the cut? Let’s start by the pieces by Jacques Adnet, the bench and the pair of chairs.
R.S. : I have loved this bench since the first time Nathalie and Hugues showed it to me. It’s just so me. I would own it if I had a place to use it.
Regarding the chairs, I love to use wooden framed vintage chairs mixed with comfortable custom designed upholstered furniture. These are just a little different than others and I am always a sucker for Adnet.
>> An icon of French Modernism, Jacques Adnet believed in the functional aspect of furniture combined with geometrical simplicity. A graduate of the prestigious Ecole des Arts Decoratifs of Paris, the designer was inspired by pre-classical styles and was well acquainted with traditional furniture. Until 1928, Jacques lived and worked hand in hand with his twin brother Jean at the Studio La Maitrise, the decorative arts arm of the famous Parisian department store Printemps, where they met the Art Déco designer Maurice Dufrenes. When they parted ways, Jacques was appointed director of La Compagnie des Arts Francais. From then, Adnet took the opportunity to emphasize his modernist streak, renewing his form repertoire from one decade to an other, and started to mix leather and metal with more noble materials (mostly solid wood), like in both of these pieces. The armchairs, which were found in wood and leather and wood and caning, were originally designed for a Parisian café in 1956. The bench, originally a luggage bench, does not have an exact provenance, nonetheless is most likely from one of the numerous commissions he received in the 1950’s - some of them were very prestigious, such as the decoration of the private apartments of the President at the Elysée Palace or the meeting room of the UNESCO headquarters in Paris.
What about the colorful ceramic by Georges Jouve?
R.S. : This is just simply stunning! A really gorgeous piece by the ceramics master.
>> Georges Jouve is known as one of the most important ceramists of the 20th century. He succeeded in modernizing the art of pottery by developing unique techniques motivated by his individual style of sensual and sometimes ironic creations that illustrate a subtle combination of rigor, savoir-faire and imagination. A graduate from the prestigious Ecole Boulle, Jouve was captured by the Germans during the Second World War, escaped from a camp and took refuge at his step parents home in Dieulefit in South of France, where he learnt from the local potter's traditions. Jouve’s works were at the forefront of French ceramic artistry in the immediate post-war period. Much of his early output was figurative, adopting animal or human shapes, but his most soaring examples from the 1950s and 60s bend toward abstraction. Enhanced by red, yellow, black or white glazes, familiar forms adopted exaggerated proportions and a playful come-hither, like in this pot. Their sophistication and refined beauty is attributed to glazes that compliment, rather than compete with, his asymmetrical ceramic forms.
You also selected the set of 6 “S11B” chairs by Pierre Chapo, what drove this choice?
R.S. : Just always love these chairs. A perennial Robert Stilin favorite
>> Designed in 1966, the S11 chair stemmed from the desire to create a novel piece using a pioneering technique, the “48×72” assembly. The S11 applies some of the technical elements of the S10, such as the binding and the stretched leather pieces that ensure the structure’s solidity.
Finally you selected this unique coffee table by Anne Barrès, very textural and somewhat different in the style than the other pieces. Why did you choose such a piece?
R.S. : I just love the mix of metal and stone. Such great textures. And a useable table that is also a sculpture.
>> > Sculptor Anne Barrès has always had a special relationship with the soil. Clay, sandstone, porcelain or industrial brick, she declines her passion for this material, whose plasticity never ceases to amaze her, in forms always renewed. She is not a ceramicist; she does not mind the technique, she relentlessly explores the possibilities of the subject to make it tell a story she invented with the tips of her fingers. She plays, not without some malice, with appearances. By using the extreme ductility of the mud, she suggests soft, sensual forms that seem ready to sag or deflate, but all of this is actually woven, constructed, stable, and solid. Her works are solidly seated, thought and constructed as small architectures. This piece, coming from her “Arrachements” series is a perfect example of her mastership. Her “Arrachements” pieces highlight the opposition between the hard and aggressive iron and the soft earth before being frozen by cooking. Anne Barrès imagines the sinking of all kinds of scrap metal in soft soil then the tearing of these elements which, by lifting, tear the earth, creating reliefs captured instantly by cooking, sequences of movements that the imagination can continue or interrupt.
What qualities did you look for when the selecting the pieces?
R.S. : Quality. Shape. Form. Function. Material and texture. But function is the most important.
In your opinion, do you think eclecticism is important to realize a successful grouping?
R.S. : Yes. It’s a hallmark of my work and practice. I have been doing it since day one as a designer.
If you could keep one of these pieces for your current house, which one would it be? Why?
R.S. : For sure, the Adnet bench, which I would use as a coffee table. It’s functional. The wood and patina are fabulous, and the details of the design are unique and have energy to them that is very alive. It’s a piece I viscerally want to live with.
What / Who inspires you (inside or outside the design world) ?
R.S. : Michelle Obama. Travels. Paris. Milan. Capri. Places I see for the first time. Places I go back to. One always sees new things. Art. Landscapes. The oceans and the seas. Everything I see inspires me.
First piece of design that impacted you?
R.S. : It could be so many things… but the earliest thing I can think of is the Swiss army knife. I noticed it was more than just a pocket knife. It was a small object as well. But at that time, I had no idea what that meant.
Your design motto?
R.S. : Keep it real. If you aren’t going to be able to enjoy it, don’t do it.
Robert Stilin is known for effortlessly combining crisp, clean architecture with custom upholstery, antique and vintage furniture and modern and contemporary art to create casually elegant homes that are warm, comfortable and very livable. With over 25 years of experience running his own design firm, the New York and Hamptons based designer has built a solid reputation as a highly versatile interior designer whose classically modern work is custom tailored to the needs of each client and project.
Robert has been featured in Elle Décor, House Beautiful, W, House + Garden, Food & Wine, Hamptons Cottages & Gardens, Hamptons, Hamptons Style, Palm Beach Cottages and Gardens, Traditional Home, AD España, Beach, New York Spaces, espAces Contemporains, as well as design books, Hamptons Havens, Design in the Hamptons, The Big Book of the Hamptons, and Dealer’s Choice: At Home with Purveyor’s of Antiques and Vintage Furnishings. Robert designed the 2009 House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year at Rockefeller Center. He was the Design Director for the 2005 Hamptons Cottages & Gardens Idea House in Bridgehampton and has also participated in the House and Garden Hampton Designer Showhouse, The French Designer Showhouse, The Traditional Home Built for Woman Showhouse and The Palm Beach Red Cross Designer Show House. Robert was named to Architectural Digest’s Top 100 designers in 2016, 2018, 2019 and 2020. He was also named one of Elle Décor’s top 25 A-List Designer’s in 2010, and each year subsequently. He participated in the 2011 and 2017 Kips Bay Show House and Hampton Designer Show House. Robert is an avid collector and serves on the Director’s Council at the Whitney Museum of American Art.