Catching Up with Stan Topol

St Regis - Stan Topol 2 - Living Room

Award-winning Atlanta-based designer Stan Topol is a fixture at AmericasMart Altlanta, whether he’s scouring Market for new finds or creating a Market Vignette.

Topol once again put his timeless style on display for us in the vignette installation in the Building 1 Lobby, so we asked him to reflect on the foundations of his creative impulse and how he builds a space from scratch.

AmericasMart: Your mantra is “Timeless Design.” How do you begin to create “Timeless Design” in an empty room? Is it one particular item that begins to set things in motion?

Stan Topol: When I see an empty room, I really don’t think about “timeless” or any other design feature. I look at my client and see how they will use this room that we create. It’s more about them, and how I can lead them into a comfortable situation that they are proud of today and will be for the next decade or longer.

AM: There are so many different ways to approach color, as many people seek out unique accents or bold feature walls. Are there certain timeless colors that you feel work in nearly every setting?

577_estroff  /  stan topol _paper cityST: My approach to color is quite simple. I look at my client, check their wardrobe and build our color palette from that. In fact, one day I will tell you a story about Joseph Braswell (the former head of Parsons Interior Design) and his gracious explanation of a Dining Room he did for a lady once who lived on Park Avenue.

AM: Is there a classic structure to building around the key furniture piece in a room? How nontraditional should one go? Can you abandon the settee or bedroom chair for something else? Or even swap the coffee table in a larger living room for, say, several end tables?

ST: A great furniture plan or layout should be able to be translated into either a traditional furnishing plan, a contemporary one or a transitional one. When I taught school, I insisted that a plan has to allow a lady to walk through her room without bumping a chair or a table. How you treat a room is really up to a decorator and their client… That’s why we personally hand draw each person’s room. A plan doesn’t determine the style or the trends that may be current. Remember: Current trends are just that.

AM: When it comes to acquiring art for a client’s space, does their taste dictate the selection, or do you let your vision of the room guide you?

ST: ART. Now we are into my world. I am quite serious about this subject. Our background is art history, and I am proud of that. Knowing the various periods of fine art from the earliest days to the 20th century is vital as one directs or suggests a direction to their client. In fact, one of my favorite moments was with a client in New York City looking for fine art. He saw me wandering away from the presentation and found me almost shaking from delight when I saw a certain painting. He told the dealer he would take that piece before I even rejoined the group. A Franz Kline painting can still do this to me…as can a few others.

Topol_Lutgert_artist_Jules_Olitski

Painting by Jules Olitski

AM: When you’ve completed a room, what about it usually expresses timelessness to you?

ST: Regarding the term “timeless”: Marvelous interiors can and do last a lifetime. The trendy moments we see come and go, but quality, comfort, and simple styles never go out of style because having style means you don’t have to be “stylish.”

AM: Of course, we always like to have our experts impart a bit of their wisdom to the new shoppers at AmericasMart. What key thought should they contemplate as they begin their experience here at the Market?

ST: AmericasMart offers to me and every other decorator or designer a world of choices. You could fly to NYC and go through three or four buildings to find everything that they have in Atlanta in one location.  Come on… Is that really a choice, or do you just want to have dinner at Cipriani’s?

Take a moment during as you enter or exit Market this week to appreciate Stan Topol’s timeless design on display in the Building 1 Lobby. And if you run into him during Market before we do, make sure you ask about that Joseph Braswell story. And while you’re at it, extend an invitation to Cipriani for a drink and discussion of the latest Whitney exhibit during a future visit to New York. Just for kicks.

As a teenager, the Mississippi-born Topol took flight to New York where he became assistant to legendary interior decorator Billy Baldwin. After returning to Atlanta to open his eponymous firm, Topol went on to Chair the Interior Design program at the Art Institute of Atlanta as well. His client list stacks as high as the number of design magazines that have featured his work and includes the Lutgert Companies in Naples, FL, the St. Regis Hotel, and a longstanding relationship with Atlanta’s most famous European export, Sir Elton John.

Stan Topol and Associates is based in Atlanta, GA. For more information visit www.StanTopol.com or call (404) 885-9889. 

Naturally Beautiful

How a love of antiques transforms lifestyle design
By Brooke & Steve Giannetti

Portrait of mid 40's caucasian male-female couple in stone archway looking into dining area of home.

Antiques tell a story, and we believe every home should have its own narrative that embraces history and collections from the past.

We’re known for our “Patina Style” which is our design philosophy based on our belief in the beauty of worn natural finishes. Patina style was born from the combination of Steve’s passion for industrial and architectural antiques and my love of Belgian linens and delicate antiques. In our own homes and the ones we designed for our clients, we found these pieces allowed us to live in beautiful spaces without worrying about each nick or imperfection.

Why do we love designing with antiques? Every antique brings its own personal story to a room. Each worn edge, every mellowed piece of brass is the result of daily experiences the antique has with the people who live with it. When I walk into a room that’s decorated with antiques, I feel their personalities fill the space. Unlike new furniture, each antique is unique. No two pieces have the exact same wear or signs of age. Using antiques ensures that each space is unlike any other, and the combination allows the singular personality of the homeowner to shine through.

Ageless Treasures

When we go on buying trips, we look for pieces with specific characteristics rather than provenance. During our search for antiques, we look for those natural materials that age wonderfully over time… a chesterfield sofa that is still upholstered in the original aged leather, an unfinished wood farm table whose top is dented from the many family meals, copper pots so tarnished that you can almost smell the minestrone soup simmering in it many years ago.

We work with clients of all ages, and we find millennials have been brought up in a time of mass production, yet they are becoming more aware of craftsmanship and the value of pieces with authenticity. Even some of the modern houses Steve designs that are full of contemporary art are always enhanced by antiques.

Artistic Serenity 

Overall, we strive to create serene spaces. This desire is behind our love of antique Swedish pieces. Their pale painted finishes in neutral grays and blues provide a calm color palette to our life. Swedish antiques also have a combination of rustic and refined detailing that allows us to design spaces that are both elegant and comfortable.

We also find ourselves drawn to furniture pieces that embrace the artists and craftspeople who made or used them… the sketch made before the drawing, the wood hat molds from a millinery, or the draper’s table from a cloth merchant. These utilitarian objects add another layer to the story of a room.

Accessible Design 

As a designing couple (Steve as architect, Brooke as designer), we transformed our Los Angeles office into a retail space, which gave us the opportunity to create a store that mixed the antiques we love with our custom furniture. We began to design our own upholstered pieces specifically to complement well-designed antiques. We’re always drawn to furniture pieces that have classical proportions; we use the same classical proportions and human scale.

We cover our pieces using only natural materials that only get better with use. Our linen slipcovers get softer and more comfortable. Our leathers get more comfortable and more complex as time goes by, and our velvets are more beautiful with every crush. It’s part of the beauty of treasured, worn objects.

Steve Giannetti is a renowned architect who specializes in the unique combination of classical and modern architecture. Since founding the firm in 1994, he has designed homes around the world for clients in nearly every architectural style. Steve is now working on homes in California, France, Connecticut and Nashville. Brooke Giannetti runs the company’s interior design studio and is the author of the design blog, Velvet and Linen. She and Steve are the Authors of the books Patina Style (2011), and Patina Farm (2016). The firm’s work has been published in Veranda, The New York Times, Santa Barbara Magazine, C Magazine, and Good Housekeeping, as well as several other publications. Together they own the store Giannetti Home, located in Los Angeles, Calif., which also functions as their studio. They live on Patina Farm with their three children, mini goats, dogs, Sicilian donkeys, chickens, and Hector, the house bunny.

Find ANTIQUES at The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market July 13-16, 2017.

Discovering New Treasures

In Building 1, Floors 3-6 offer a world of possibility.

At AmericasMart, it’s all about discovering those special, distinctive items that set a boutique apart from its competitors. And the best way to discover such treasures is to leave no stone unturned while shopping the Market. Floors 3-6 offer options beyond what some buyers realize, providing lots more to discover while working Market.

“Generally speaking, when you expand the path you’re traveling, you’re going to find things your competition is not finding,” says Rachel Fasciani, director of Public Relations and Marketing for Momeni. “If you’re going beyond your regular pattern, you will be able to find new and different showrooms. Those elements of surprise can really make your market.”

Welcome Options 

At Momeni, colorful coir mats, part of the Novogratz licensed collection, are among the products with appeal to both a gift retailer and a home furnishings boutique. “A rainbow doormat, especially for the summertime…it’s such an easy, quick, fun and happy sell,” says Fasciani.

Fasciani says at the July Market, holiday doormats will be in the spotlight, just in time for fourth-quarter planning. And indoor/outdoor rugs, which combine ontrend patterns with exceptional durability, are another versatile option for smaller retailers.

While Oriental Weavers’ core customers are furniture stores, the company has a cadre of boutique clients and welcomes more. Angie Shook, director of Marketing and Public Relations, says one point of differentiation with the company is that it focuses exclusively on rugs, rather than also offering textiles, pillows and other accessories. “We do one thing, and we do it well,” she says.

According to Shook, some boutique retailers focus on more high-end offerings than many furniture stores might choose, but these independent shops are eager to snap up products that fit with today’s trends. Smaller retailers often order 5×8 rugs due to space constrains, but offer larger sizes for order.

“In our showroom, gift shop owners will get to see how our fashionable home accessories actually look and work within the overall décor of a room.” Tiffany Yaraghi

As with Momeni, Oriental Weavers also has a strong business in indoor/outdoor rugs. “The great thing about these rugs is that you can use them in high-traffic areas like your kitchen or mudroom, as well as in the dining room or in outdoor covered sitting areas,” says Shook. “You can take the outdoors in, or the indoors out.”

Lifestyle Shopping

But it’s not just area rugs to be found on these floors… even in the showrooms of brands better known for their floorcoverings. Safavieh is one of several area rug manufacturers offering a complete home furnishings brand, carrying accent pillows, throws, garden stools, wall art and more.

“In our showroom, gift shop owners will get to see how our fashionable home accessories actually look and work within the overall décor of a room,” says Tiffany Yaraghi, director of home textiles for Safavieh. “Our designers create marvelous lifestyle settings, in which our accessories play an important part in accenting the overall look and feel of a room.” Yaraghi says that as her company’s product assortment has evolved to include more and more home accessories, she’s seen more traffic from retailers who are interested in these items, including gift shops and boutiques.

For retailers looking for interesting artwork, METcolors is a refreshing option whether they carry art or accessories to complement furniture and rugs. “We offer original paintings by top contemporary American artists, original engravings from the 16th through 19th centuries, exclusive high-end reproduction wall décor from American and European artists, and more,” says Shirin Asghari, president. The company also offers cork boards, oversized tapestries, pillows and lampshades.

Gift retailers can benefit from METcolors’ ability to customize products and their offerings of original artwork at wholesale prices. During Market, the showroom also has artist signings, product giveaways, and even daily chef-created meals.

Servicing the Complete Retailer

Showrooms tenants of these floors are quick to assure smaller retailers that they’ll be given attention and consideration, no matter how small their business.

“We built our business on small brick-and-mortar retailers, and we still very much cater to that group,” says Fasciani. “Some showrooms can seem intimidating to, but we are the polar opposite of that. We want you to come in, see our product, and have the experience of the Momeni brand.”

Yaraghi says one of the strengths of the Safavieh brand is that all of the company’s product lines work well together, while still exhibiting their own unique qualities. This makes it easy to create vignettes that tie in area rugs, furniture, and gift items. “Gift shop owners can always be assured of seeing high-end products at price-points that reach a broad base of consumers, that we always have a large inventory of every item, and that our shipping and service is fast and efficient.”

For More Information: METcolors,metcolors.com, 405.606.7878; Momeni, momeni.com, 201.549.7220; Oriental Weavers, owrugs.com, 706.277.9666 and Safavieh, safavieh.com, 866.422.9070

Inside the HeART of Design

Ever wonder how you can incorporate art into your interiors?

We recently spoke with Robert Leleux, creator of the Southern Style Now Festival and moderator for AmericasMart’s upcoming July Market panel, The HeART of Design: The Indispensable Role of Art in Interiors, for the inside scoop on all things art and design.

 Q: What’s happening in the world of art and design right now?

 A: It’s often the best place to begin designing an interior. Many designers I know begin with art and family heirlooms and things that are absolutely distinct and personal and irreplaceable to an individual, to their home, and then you go forward from there.

Q: How does one incorporate art into a room design?

 A: Once you have the art, then you can incorporate the design tricks. You can use it as a launching pad for all of the setting decisions you make in a room. You can pick upholstery based on the colors of the painting. For example, if it’s a botanical painting, you can try to mirror the botanicals in the fabrics that you choose.

Q: Why is this panel important?

A: Designers have a passion for art and are always engaged in the topic of who the next great artists are and what they can learn from trends and art to apply in the interiors that they create. I think it’s a very relevant topic and one that should be popular.

The panel is great. Amanda Talley’s work is so distinct to New Orleans that you can’t see a beautiful house without seeing one of her paintings in it. Susan Hable is such a talent: a textile designer, a fine artist, and a furniture designer. And then William McLure is an incredibly prolific painter whose work you’re going to see more and more. I’m amazed to which the work of Southern artists drives the national art conversations.

Q: What’s a tip for someone just beginning?

A: Educating yourself about art helps to make a beautiful home. Don’t just look at great magazines like House Beautiful or Architectural Digest, go to museums and that will educate the eye. Not just in terms of the art that you’re attracted to, but it will develop your aesthetic sensibility in decorating your home.

Q: How do you know if the investment is worth it?

 A: Buy art that you love and it will always be worth it to you. Having a lot of friends that grew up in the New York of Warhol and Basquiat, the works of those artists were really affordable at the time, so you just never know. And the fact that you never know should liberate you. You should feel free to explore and buy things that you think are edgy and that appeal to you, because who knows if you’ll win the lottery and your investment will multiple in value. I think that’s the attitude to go into it with.

Make sure to save the date for The HeART of Design: The Indispensable Role of Art in Interiors featuring Robert Leleux, William McLure, Susan Hable and Amanda Talley on Thursday, July 13, in Building 3, Floor 2, Main Stage.

For a list of all upcoming July Market seminars, visit AmericasMart.com/Events.

Your ANTIQUES Buying List

The AmericasMart ANTIQUES collection showcases an extraordinary range of authentic fine furnishings and classic, one-of-a-kind home accents. With tens of thousands of square feet of fascinating product, it’s important to approach this collection with a plan to source the unique items that will complete your projects and stores.

To help you in your planning, we’ve compiled a list of 10 must-have antique and vintage items.

Furniture  

PRO TIP: Make yesterday’s chair totally today with a fun textile.  

Mirror

PRO TIP: If the glass isn’t as shiny as it used to be, consider changing it out or using the mirror as a decorative piece instead of a functional mirror. 

Art

PRO TIP: Take time to learn about the artist so you can educate your customers about their new piece. 

Rugs 

PRO TIP: Some antique rugs are still functional, while others need to be treated as a decorative item. Get the dealer recommendation before you commit. 

Found Object 

PRO TIP: The more “out there” the better. Found objects are an opportunity to add something truly unique to a project.  

 Decorative Object

PRO TIP: Ask the dealer how to prove authenticity. Collectors will want to know that they have the real deal. 

Tabletop, Glassware and Serveware    

PRO TIP: Can’t find a matching set? Mix and match for a fun, eclectic vibe. 

Architectural Elements 

PRO TIP: Add charm to a newer home with antique elements like fireplaces. 

Books or Magazines  

PRO TIP: Look for titles that are relevant to your area. 

Lighting 

PRO TIP: Ask about the wiring. If it hasn’t been updated, you’ll need to rewire it before it can be installed in a project. 

Find the best of the best by shopping the ANTIQUES collection early and often. ANTIQUES opens at 9 a.m. on Thursday, July 13, 2017. For more information visit www.AmericasMart.com/attend/antiques.

Photos include pieces represented by Sandy Luther Antiques and ArchitecturalsMaria’s AntiquesLucky Fish Gallery,  Vintage Persian RugsVermilion DesignsM Fowler AntiquesHuff Harrington HomeThe Lamp Shoppe  and The Side Door.

Dads Are Rad

1. Zuo Modern 2. BoBo Intriguing Objects, LLC 3. Travelon/225 Unlimited, Inc. 4. Deborah Rhodes 5. Thomaspaul/Aesthetic Movement 6. Iron & Glory/Karen Alweil Studio 7. Midwest-CBK 8. Rinse Bath & Body 9. Phillips Collection 10. Pendulux 11. DEMDACO 12. Wild & Wolf. 13. Be Home, Inc.14. Alicia Adams Alpaca 15. Sea Stones

Shop an array of Men’s Gifts at The Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market®, July 11 – 18, 2017. Select showrooms are open year-round.