If you follow our President Brownlee Currey on Instagram, you have noticed he was recently traveling through Asia, dispatching from the field exciting photographs that capture the essence the region as he sources new products for Currey & Company, a few of which we’re including here. In the months to come, you’ll see Japonisme and Chinoiserie, which so quickly struck a chord as an “exotic style” during the 1860s when it first came on the scene in Paris and London, become more pronounced in our product line with our new one-of-a-kind decorative objects sourced from the Far East.
“The west is by most standards a young culture, America especially so,” Brownlee says of traveling to Asia. “The roots of most Asian cultures, though, are hundreds, and in China’s case, thousands of years old. To come face-to-face with that ancient culture in our increasingly modern world is a treasure. It is an especial pleasure though to travel with our Chinese team and watch our younger team members discover alongside us the depth, history and nuance of their own home.”
The loveliness of Brownlee’s images and his sentiment brought to mind Edmund de Waal’s book The Hare with the Amber Eyes because the author takes readers with him as he explores the distinctive aesthetic that is a hallmark of the artisans in Japan. His story moves through the “bones of the journey” he takes when he inherits a collection of netsuke, 264 small sculptural objects that have been in his family for generations. His calm narrative tells readers he is in search of what it is about Japan that produces “such intensity and zeal in artists.”
There is such a quiet dignity to the way the story is written and to the story itself, it is definitely worth a read if you haven’t come across it. Through de Waal’s experiences, you’ll have a taste of what Brownlee sees when he is traveling through Asia to find new wares that will add great personality to our product-line. You can expect more diversity in the vessels and decorative objects as he meets a wider array of artisans who create their expressive works with such care.
A Decade of Dignity
Speaking of great care, during Dallas Market, we will be celebrating with the visionaries who founded Dwell with Dignity as they mark ten years of transforming lives through design. We are a sponsor of the celebration that will take place on Saturday, June 22, from 3 to 5 pm, in our showroom in the Interior Home + Design Center, Suite 1D228, within Dallas Market Center. This is such a worthwhile program, as the organization partners with other social services agencies to work with families struggling to attain economic independence and self-sufficiency. They create inspiring home interiors that are achieved through the labor of dedicated volunteers and the generosity of donors; they work with interior designers and members of the trade to furnish the families’ homes so that those who would not be able to afford even the basic necessities move into a home that is not only fully furnished, but decorated with an uplifting sense of style.
This includes all furniture, art, bedding and kitchen supplies. There is food in the pantry when a family moves in and the first night’s meal awaits them as they take that crucial step of homeownership, which they previously thought would be beyond their means. If you’re in Dallas, come celebrate the vision behind this effort with us. We’ll have other happenings going on in our showroom, and we will be showing off our newest products from June 19ththrough the 25thso be sure to stop in and say hello.
Alluring Decorative Accessories from Asia
If you visited us in High Point in April, you will have seen our new collection of one-of-a-kind decorative objects we sourced from Asia, which are mentioned above. We will be sharing news about additional pieces as we grow closer to October and we will be crafting posts about the artistry behind these products so check back here each month. We’ll be exploring the long history of porcelain and why it is so special; how gilding is performed and its long history in the decorative arts; the importance of forging; and other processes that make handcrafted pieces so special. De Waal’s narrative is such a good fit for this post because he understands the value of handcraft from an artisans point of view, as he began creating his own clay pottery when he was a child and has remained devoted to the art form throughout his life.
During the two years he was living in Japan, he spent time combing through the archives that contain the writings of Yanagi Söetsu, a Japanese philosopher and the founder of the mingei (folk craft) movement, so he could learn more about his process. De Waal shares Söetsu’s theory as to why some objects—pots, baskets, cloth made by unknown craftsmen—are so beautiful. “In his view, they expressed unconscious beauty because they had been made in such numbers that the craftsman had been liberated from his ego.” Each time Brownlee and our design team travel through Asia, sourcing new products and learning about time-honored techniques, they recognize this selflessness in so many makers.
If you would like to see de Waal’s beautiful work in person, there is a temporary installation of his sculptures being shown at The Frick Collection through November 17th. The site-specific works are made of porcelain, steel, gold, marble and glass, and are displayed in the museum’s main galleries alongside works from the permanent collection. These installations of porcelain vessels housed in minimal structures constitute his first exhibition in the United States.