Thursday, February 10, 2011

Axel Vervoordt's farmhouse in Verbier, Switzerland

When it comes to snow I’m a lover, not a hater. The weather we’ve had in New York this winter has kept a smile on my face for months. I look forward to forecasts calling for a foot of snow or even better, make it two! Given that, it’s no wonder I was taken by photos in the February issue of British House & Garden of Axel Vervoordt’s striking home in the Swiss Alps.

Axel Vervoordt, based in Antwerp, Belgium, is respected the world over as an antiquarian and interior designer. He began collecting antiques as a teenager with money loaned to him by his father, a sophisticated man with sophisticated friends, all of whom influenced Axel from an early age. His well-honed eye is drawn to objects from all cultures, continents, and time periods. It’s the mix he is after, as well as authenticity.

It is his desire for the authentic and real that clearly guided him while designing this traditional farmhouse. There is a Japanese term, wabi-sabi, that plays a large role in how Vervoordt selects materials and objects. This ancient philosophy is very interesting…and not easily defined. I found an excellent explanation of it here; a small portion of it reads as follows:

Pared down to its barest essence, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in nature, of accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. It’s simple, slow, and uncluttered – and it reveres authenticity above all. Wabi-sabi is flea markets, not warehouse stores; aged wood, not Pergo; rice paper, not glass. It celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind.

I spend my days working at an interior decorating firm where we create beautiful, fancy interiors (think silk velvet, gilt, and custom everything). I love the graciousness and history of this type of decorating; fancy has its place and I think city living should be more refined, whether your style is modern or traditional. However, if I had a place in the country, this would be more my cup of tea: pared-down, rustic, and functional. Wabi-sabi, I guess…but never knew!

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