January 22, 2018

Shanghai Tang

When I had the Financial Times delivered on Saturday mornings, one of the things I loved reading was Sir David Tang’s Agony Uncle column. It was snarky, funny, intelligent and insightful. I also knew Sir David from his late, lamented shop, an outpost of which was in New York, called Shanghai Tang. It, along with Takashmaya, were two places I always visited in NYC.image

Sadly, Sir David died at age 63 last summer, and next week, Christie’s in London is auctioning off his possessions. Although there are fewer than 300 lots, their diversity represents Sir David’s broad world view and creativity, shown in his shops and restaurants. He was a well-known collector, and this auction features everything from artworks by Tracey Emin and Noel Coward, to fine china, furniture, and gorgeous pieces from Sir David’s quirky wardrobe.

Here are a few of my favourites.

Who doesn’t want an 87 inch leather Chesterfield sofa? image

Or this George, III Mahogany Exercise Chair. Apparently the cushions are spring, so maybe you bounce?image

Cartier silver-gilt pill box with Prince of Wales Feathersimage

Nothing says Victorian excess like a silver egg timer by Garrard.image

Lots and lots of luggage in one lot. Starting bid is just $1300!image

Wonderful picture frames.image

Diagonal Cartier watch. image

Tracey Emin piece on a linen napkin. Not a big fan of hers, but I actually like this one.image

Set of 20 silvered Louis XV chairs with green velvet. LOVE these!image

Sketch of David Bowie by Adrian George for the Sunday Timesimage

Partial set of china decorated with a gilt 'LZ' monogram for Luftschiff Zeppelinimage

You can view the entire catalogue here, and there are loads of fun things on offer!

January 18, 2018

Once Upon A Midnight…

In Baltimore, we love our adopted son, Edgar Allan Poe, who lived here on and off, and died in Baltimore under mysterious circumstances. Originally, it was thought he died of alcoholism, but the annual Historic Clinico-patholigical Conference (which I attend!), strongly suggested that it was actually rabies, probably from the bite of a diseased rat, that killed Poe. Read about it here.image

Although The Raven is Poe’s most well-known work, there are so many more that. The beautiful poem, Annabelle Lee. The truly scary Tell-Tale Heart. In 1877, one of my ancestors, Eugene Lemoine Didier (otherwise known as Euledie) wrote the first biography of Poe, and for several decades, the family owned a copy of Tamerlane, Poe’s first book of poetry, 50 copies of which were printed when he was 17 years old. (click image for link to the entire book)image

The tiny house on Amity Street in Baltimore where Poe lived, still stands. In fact, I just took a picture of it the other day, and sadly realized that they’re building a massive apartment block directly across the street which will completely overshadow the house. image

Poe was born on January 19, 1809 in Boston, and his birth is celebrated in Baltimore. For seven decades, a mysterious figure left a bottle of cognac and three roses as an homage to the writer’s birth. In 2010, the Toaster did not show up and a long tradition ended. As you visit Poe’s grave now, you frequently see roses and pennies laid on the stone as a remembrance.

I have several paintings of Poe’s house by my late cousin, Marie Tiffany, and love that she always painted a female figure or a small black cat into her pictures. I love knowing how little the house has changed over the centuries, and how visitors still come to pay their respects to Poe.image

Oh, the Ravens are our football team and the mascots are Edgar and Allan. image

Happy Birthday, Mr. Poe.

January 10, 2018

A Dozen Years

When I returned from the UK a dozen years ago (!), I was working for a friend’s father on a short-term contract, renting a small row-house and trying to figure out what was next.image I needed a little structure in my life, and thought that by writing something each day, researching a topic, and taking photographs, I would be using my time productively. image

Then, as now, I wrote about completely random things – art, architecture, interiors, my life, my dog, food, books, and much more.image Certain themes arose again and again, some continued and some dropped away. (You can check the labels links on the side-bar to see these.) image

I have always tried to present the best parts of life in Baltimore, which doesn’t always get the best press. imageIt’s a beautiful city, in parts, and even in the parts that aren’t filled with big old houses with gorgeous gardens, I can almost always find an interesting building or something at piques my curiousity. image

I hope that you enjoy following along as much as I enjoy sharing my life and my interests with you.image

As always, thank you for reading Pigtown*Design!

January 3, 2018

Hello, 2018!

Please excuse the lack of Christmas and New Years greetings from me, and for my usual round up of the year’s favorites. The flu/cough combination has come down hard on me and many of my friends, and I spent the week between Christmas and New Years flat on my back, with Figue acting as my nursemaid. I must say that she makes an excellent warming pad. image

As you might imagine, my holidays were pretty dreary, but they were bracketed by fun meals with good friends, so that was good.

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When I was looking through my Instagram feed, three images in the past few weeks indicated to me that yes, I do indeed have a “type” that I like – in fireplaces! image



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A little project I am playing with is hunting up some of the early 1900’s public schools in Baltimore. There was a concerted effort to use quality architects for these buildings, and when I found a gorgeous building designed by the architects of my offices, I had to see if there were others. It’s been fun visiting sections of the city where I’ve never been before.

Aside from the completely inappropriate doors, this looks like an English country schoool. Love the copper cupola, too.image

Another set of bad doors, and a good cupola with copper lattice. image

I am really glad they are renovating this instead of tearing it down. image

Here’s another section of it, with Romanesque arches and griffons adorning the walls. image

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I like to have a yearly project, and I think I am going to continue the 2017 project of exploring my hometown. I got hold of the Maryland Inventory of Historic Properties and have been working my way through all 5,000 listed properties in Baltimore City alone! I whittled down the list to about 2100 buildings, and will be looking for them over the next year. I hope you will come along with me!image

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Finally, and better late than never, one of my favourite Christmas carols is “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” and as I was leaving a party on Christmas eve, these dark and quiet city streets brought the song’s words to mind. image

Happy New Year, too!