This month’s “Designer Spotlight” technically highlights a favorite American architect, Gil Schafer. But it is Schafer’s intentional vision for interiors throughout his architectural work that continuously draws us to his projects. His robust approach to design looks far beyond the structural and architectural elements of his work, and his prioritization of history and time resonate with our work at Fireside Antiques. As he says in his book, his work “looks traditional but lives contemporary” as he creates “a cohesiveness that shortchanges neither history nor modernity.” In a similar capacity, we at Fireside Antiques uphold the belief that fine, historic antiques belong in modern, everyday life.
“Though I am first, foremost, and forever an architect, increasingly decoration has become an important component of my tool kit,” states Schafer in his latest book. “Thinking about these things- learning the language- has also meant that, on those occasions when my firm is asked to undertake the decoration of a house as well as the architecture, I can more effectively wear both hats.”
“We believe that design requires collaboration no matter work,” Schafer said at the Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville this year about his teamwork efforts with interior designers . “Even though architects don’t have the best reputation for collaboration with decorators. That comes from our training: the brilliance of our singular idea and defender to its death.”
Some of the greatest American interiors have resulted in the collaboration between architect Gil Schafer his design-centric rolodex of colleagues. As an importer of fine European antiques, we think it is important to recognize the impactful style that has been iconized here in our own backyard. Schafer is very much a part of that today. His exquisite book showcases his most notable projects with interiors by his own firm but also favorites such as Rita Konig, David Netto, and Miles Redd, who designed the interiors of Schafer’s own country home in the Hudson River Valley. A Place to Call Home is unique in that it is written by an architect but prioritizes interior design equally. In the book, Schafer’s love of antique furniture is prevalent, especially in his own Manhattan residence featured in the book.
Schafer’s approach to architecture is devoted to history, presence, and restoration. His use of historic architecture, for example a use of arched doorways in a period-specific structure, resonates with the same respect (even idolatry) of history that we curate in our own showroom of antiques. He states that his formula is “party architectural and concrete, but also emotional and intuitive”. The design elements (or “Details That Matter”) that he routinely uses to create a sense of presence and history are interior moldings, fireplaces, staircases, hardware, doors and windows.
“The [project] reminded me how important a role architecture plays in balancing past and present: if thoughtfully deployed, the two languages can coexist within the same home in a way that is at once more or less undetectable and at the same time mutually enriching,” Schafer states in this latest book. His work truly exemplifies the prioritization of past and history, creating the perfect environment for the modern use of antiques in daily life.
- Interior Moldings: Schafer believes that interior moldings– paneling, door casings, trim work, and more– “give a residence its defining character within and without.” He begins by defining what the character of the house will look like upon completion and makes sure that all details fit within that formula.
- Doors and Windows: Schafer and his firm place a great deal of value on these two elements that link the style of a home between the interior and exterior. He believes that a “front door of a house is, first and foremost, its public face” and require intentional design. Much work is put into maximizing natural light through doors and windows.
- Hardware: “When it comes to setting a mood or converying a message about a house’s character, hardware remains critically important.” Schafer believes that it is worth the high value investment for quality and period-specific hardware. Residences continually interact with hardware; it is a “sensory experience” within the home.
- Fireplaces: This focal point of a home should be designed in a manner that respects and upholds the surrounding architecture. We are huge fans of this architectural element here at Fireside Antiques and love to source antique stone mantles and surrounds in Europe!
- Stairways: Schafer utilizes all four of the basic characteristics of the stairway– the balusters, the stringer bracket, the handrail, and the newel posts. “Though relatively simple, these elements can be broadly interpreted, and they remain essential to establishing and expressing the personality of a house,” Schafer writes in A Place to Call Home. His stairs reinforce his “design message”.
Antiques are meant to be incorporated into everyday modern life, and an unconventional use of a piece brings even more interest to a home. This concept is seen extensively throughout Schafer’s collaborative work with many of our favorite interior designers.
Gil Schafer’s latest book, A Place to Call Home (Rizzoli, 2017), is available for sale at Fireside Antiques along with a vast curation of books on design and interiors. Please call 225-752-9565 to reserve a copy or visit us in store to view our selection of library favorites.