Decorative arts of the 21 st century : through the filter of Maria Wettergren

I have just come back with renewed energy and inspiration  from the PAD fair at the Tuileries Gardens in Paris . PAD stands for Paris Art and Design .

The beautiful stands display modern furniture that in the last 25 years I have coveted , lusted for , bought and eventually also sold off to make place for newer lesser known or more unusual pieces . If you have the time you must visit PAD asap.

When I moved to Paris from Los Angeles in 1992 I was very inspired by the furniture that you could find at the popular public auction house called Drouot .          I would set off every lunchtime with my cheese sandwich and walk around each and every room , looking for , learning about and admiring the stunning lamps by  Serge Mouille, the original Flos lamp editions, chairs  desks and side tables by Charlotte Perriand and Prouvé , bright armchairs by Pierre Paulin and eclectic metal pieces by Mathieu Mategot that were hiding between the loads of anonymous junk ……I was a total French interior design philistine and little did I know at the time that these were already the huge decorative arts players of the early and mid 20 th century  even though the sophisticated Parisian interiors I had been in were more often than not filled with African sculptures inspired by the Primitivism movement (1900-1930 ) and museum quality Chinoiserie (mid to late 17 th century to mid 18 th century and back mid 20 th century )

I asked myself why don’t people use and buy these more modern objects ?    I guess it all takes time to sink in and become a little more mainstream . When I lived in Italy between 1983 and 1989 I had already been blown away by how some classic interiors  mixed very modern 20 th century designers with their heirloom pieces , like seeing a black leather Zanotta  La Onda  sofa in the middle of a rustic living room in  the Chianti.

Living in Los Angeles for a few years before that it was all about discovering Mission architecture and interiors and Arts and Crafts furniture.

I had just learnt how to drive so I spent many days going around downtown LA and the auction houses as well as to the huge swap markets that are held every sunday of the month. I had a second-hand Volkswagen convertible which I would fill up with the most beautiful pieces at very reasonable prices since Arts and Crafts furniture was not something that the West Coast rich wanted in their homes , YET.

LA is where I learnt about and looked for American designers such as Stickley and Molesworth , and collected many Bauer pieces which I still use today. You can read about it here.

When I moved back to Paris and into a big but weird flat that was to become my home and office , I  had furnish the office part of it very quickly so as to be able to operate from it and make it elegant and functional to receive clients . I brought a very small container of furniture and kitchenware from LA but the rest I had to find locally. It was so much fun and opened my eyes as to how different the taste for decorating was at the time between France and the USA. It is not like this anymore, with the internet I feel that you can no longer tell the difference between a flat in Soho or a bungalow in Ibiza. There is a general globalization of people’s tastes and aesthetics that feels quite flat and predictable.

I must say that all the above-mentioned French furniture was not really in demand at the time , except for some visionary galleries such as Jousse Seguin who sold it at reasonable prices. You could pick up a large Mouille floor lamp , pair it with sturdy 40’s table and a couple of bright orange Paulin armchairs and that was all you needed.  I ended up investing in these pieces , not only because they looked so fresh and pop after the dark , sturdy seriousness of the Arts and Crafts pieces I had lived with in LA , but also because I realized that prices had started to shoot up very fast.  But the time I left Paris 10 years later I was able to sell off some of those at a very good price instead of just putting them into storage.

Because of the explosion of the internet and the popular and non-elitist interest in interior decorating as well as the use of social media such as Pinterest and Instagram to share visuals , it is now hard to find an interior that does not have a Prouvé or Perriand piece or a modern edition of those because that is what people relate to when thinking of setting up a “modern “space .  Lets say that even though I still love these designers I would never buy their pieces again .

I would get my main pieces such as sofas and tables from architect and interior designer India Mahdavi whose use of color and textures always inspires and surprises me . India’s contemporary designs are made for confort and well-being and add a touch of sensuality as well.  And then I would add other one-off pieces to the mix.

For the past 10 years I have been searching for and inspired by unique pieces by lesser-known contemporary designers everywhere in the world . If I had a new place to decorate these are the artists I would buy or invest in , not as a means of placing money but as a way of being inspired and moved by something that you can actually use on an everyday basis and that remains unique.

Apart from Florence Lopez who is proposing this vision with her eclectic and unique selection of modern and contemporary furniture , there are two galleries who I have been following and whose bold choices I am crazy about.

One is Cristina Grajales in New York whom I will write about soon , and the other is Maria Wettergren who I discovered through Florence Lopez in Paris a few years ago.

Maria’s gallery specializes in contemporary Danish design through a new generation of Scandinavian innovators.  Maria is interested in the “interdisciplinary approach that mixes design, art, architecture and handcraft ” and ” the dialog between the traditional know-how and the use of new technologies”

Indeed !

Her approach takes you beyond the functional and intellectual love for decorative arts , to the visceral need to be surprised and moved by pieces that comply to other parameters…..in some it is the subtle humor and sensuality, in others the daunting proportions and choice of materials  or is it the unfamiliar treated in a simple and functional way ?   Whatever it is I always feel the need to touch those pieces because there is something very manual and approachable to them.

I am going to call this Arts and Crafts meets the 21 st century .  This is where my heart and head are at now.


Here is an overview of Maria’s stand today at PAD




And here are some of my choices….and again , it was very difficult to edit down but If I had a new living space to decorate these are the pieces I would go for.


Meadow.  Fiber optics installation by Astrid Krogh.

Meadow . Fiber optic installation by Astrid Krogh



Blue . Fiber optics tapestry by Astrid Krogh.






Growth chair in cast bronze by Mathias Bengtsson



Cellular chair in silver on epoxy by Mathias Bengtsson 






Side tables and pendant  lamp  by Rasmus Fenhann






Chest of drawers by Jakob Jeorgensen




Oak sculptures by Eske Rex




Mirrod wall lamp by Tino Salli 



Dream sculpture in Murano glass by Ilkka Suppanen



Circular glass sculptures by Tora Urup




Grid by Boris Berlin and Paul Christiansen

All photographs copyright Fashionsphinx.com and Maria Wettergren Gallery


And here is an update of Maria’s stands at  The Salon: Art+Design in New York and  Design Miami Fair in Florida where she presented a selection of pieces from her artists  Mathias Bengtsson, Astrid Krogh, Grethe Soerensen, Eske Rex, Tora Urup, Rasmus Fenhann, Jakob Joergensen and Gjertrud Hals

Maria Wettergren Salon Art & Design ny:2014


maria wettergren salon Art and design NY

Photo credit The Salon N.Y


and from Design Miami

maria wettergren Design Miami dec 2014


maria wettergren Design Miami dec 2014:2

Photo Credit James Harris


6 responses to “Decorative arts of the 21 st century : through the filter of Maria Wettergren”

  1. Gail edward says:

    Thanks for sharing this Blog.. I was searching something like this and I also found an expert furniture services holders For the excellent furniture services visit here http://bit.ly/1OC8yWY

  2. Yasmin says:

    I was just reading this again…. drooling! No había visto tu mensaje! xoxo

  3. yasmin says:

    gorgeous pieces. I love the Chest of Drawers especially!

  4. Maca says:

    Love! Like all your writing…. Great great
    Please share more! X


Florence Lopez’s winter den