Getting Classics Down in Black and White

By Rose Gilbert

February 3, 2014 5 min read

Q: I want my wife to decorate our bedroom in black and white. Our house is a mix of very contemporary and some traditional pieces, mostly inherited things my wife wants to keep. She likes contemporary stuff best, too, but is giving me flack about the black-white bedroom idea. Am I just weird?

A: If you are weird, you're in good company — not just good but highly creative company. No less a talent than Jacques Garcia, the Paris-based uber-designer, orchestrated the black-and-white bedroom in the photo we show here.

Dramatic, clean and cool in every sense of the word, it's proof-positive that opposites are attractive, indeed. Maybe not for everyone, mind you. There are traditionalists who might think they couldn't sleep a wink in such crisp, contemporary surroundings.

But look again: This contemporary scene is based in timeless traditional design ideas — to wit, the wings on the bed head and side chair, the rows of nail studs and the X-legged benches that have been around since the Greeks. Even the bedside lamps are refined versions of antique candlesticks.

No surprise that the furniture was designed for Baker (, the renowned company founded in l890 in the United States. And no surprise either that Baker furniture has long been appreciated abroad, too. We saw the collection in Paris last week when Baker introduced the new Garcia designs during Maison & Objet (, the huge and trendy home design spectacular that's held twice a year outside Paris.

Far from the concrete halls of the sprawling trade show, Baker invited editors and others to what looked like a private mansion high above the Rue de Faubourg Saint-Honore, known as one of the most fashionable streets in the world. Garcia — tall,

handsome and tres French — was there, beaming over the Champagne glasses (an added plus: He'd skipped the earlier introduction in homey little High Point, N.C.).

The Baker event was just one reason trend seekers made the trek to Paris in wet, chilly January. There was Lladro (, the Spanish porcelain masters once known for El Greco-esque, oversentimental figurines. At M&O, Lladro showed off lighting fixtures to die for: "crystal" chandeliers dripping multicolor porcelain pendants that could have illuminated the Mad Hatter's tea party table.

Meanwhile, the ne plus ultra crystal artists at Lalique ( offered a new take on traditional vases by avant-garde architect Zaha Hadid, whose dazzling design ideas — and amorphous buildings — defy gravity and stupefy the imagination.

Ditto a table lamp collection from Moissonnier (, which featured a bright purple lampshade and a fluff of feathers that looked like English women's "fascinator" hats on parade at the last Royal wedding.

Brights were everywhere: Desio ( ) plunked high-yellow cushions onto purple-and-green plaid "Maxy" armchairs; Emanuel Ungaro Paris ( wrapped bright orange (or jade or blue) faux snakeskin around the orange velvet cushions in his new swivel chairs; a company called 222 Edition Design showed furniture as bright as all outdoors: loops of steel epoxy-painted in hues sure to add brilliance to any country terrace or city patio.

In fact, getting out/getting away was the overriding mantra of the January Maison & Objet show, subtitled "Elsewhere." More about that next week.

(SET CAPTION) A cutting-edge bedroom owes its contemporary oomph to classic traditional design ideas. Photo: Baker Furniture.

Rose Bennett Gilbert is the co-author of "Manhattan Style" and six other books on interior design. To find out more about Rose Bennett Gilbert and read features by Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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