This year, The Salon Art + Design in New York features an installation by Amy Lau, marking the first time ever that an interior designer has created a room for the fair. Titled “The New Nouveau,” Lau’s meticulously curated space honors the lasting influence of Art Nouveau, with bespoke moldings, antique Tiffany glass, custom furniture, rare vintage pieces and hand-painted opalescent wall panels by Calico Studio.
Art Nouveau, a style that synthesized the fine and decorative arts, reached the height of its popularity between 1890 and 1910. “Art Nouveau speaks to us now because of the high level of craftsmanship and the inspiration drawn from the natural world,” says Lau. People crave natural forms and, at the same time, they desire the bespoke, the rare, the handcrafted.
“I came up with the idea of an Art Nouveau installation and proposed the idea to Sanford Smith, founder and director of the Salon, although the fair does not normally show the work of interior designers,” Lau says. “Because of my background” — Lau holds a master’s degree from Sotheby’s Institute of Art, cofounded Design Miami and was director of the Lin-Weinberg Gallery — “Smith was interested and asked for more specifics. All the installations at the show are carefully vetted. During the vetting process, the idea shifted and changed a bit. Originally the room was going to be more antique and vintage – work from the 1940s, ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Then I realized that there was so much contemporary work that fit the concept. Once I had heavy hitters, such as David Wiseman, on board, the room started to fall into place.”
Here, we take a closer look at the pieces Lau chose for the space.
1. Sofa: The organic curve of the Crysalis sofa anchors one end of the room. The frame, which was handcrafted by Philippe Hetier, is French walnut. “The wood and the teardrop legs both refer to the Art Nouveau period,” says Lau.
2. Chair: Germans Ermičs creates his ombre glass chairs by fusing many different layers of glass. He experiments with materials and with our perceptions of space. “This is our homage to Tiffany,” Lau says. “Like Tiffany, Ermičs works in glass – especially colored glass – and they both are on the edge, working with the new technology of their times.”
3. Coffee Table: Brenda Houston crafted this coffee table using two slices of agate from Uruguay. “It’s our Art Nouveau color palette — blush, lavender, cream and gray,” says Lau. She notes that this split-open rock is not just unusual for its size, but it also contains pockets of amethyst, citrine and rose quartz.
4. Chairs: Upholstered in pale pink Dedar velvet, these Leon Rosen for Pace swivel chairs date from the 1970s. “I like to think the swivel is like an Art Nouveau swirl,” says Lau. The hand-painted velvet cushions are by Calico Studio.
5. Fireplace surround: “I wanted something site-specific for the space,” Lau says. She had commissioned furniture from Michael Coffey in the past and wanted the opportunity to display his interior work. The hand-carved Mozambique wood fireplace surround stands almost eight feet tall, and it features sinuous Art Nouveau-style curves.
6. Fireplace screen: David Wiseman’s bronze and porcelain Collage fireplace screen mixes geometric motifs with naturalistic flowering branches. Like the work of his Art Nouveau forbearers, his creations encompass the fine and the decorative arts.