Ralph Lauren Revisited
By Karen Parr-Moody

"I would call it Ralph Lauren meets Austin Powers!" says interior designer and folk artist Jason Parker Counce of this month's Front Collaboration Booth at GasLamp. The look is a mix of "colorful glam" that Counce concocted just in the nick of time for this dreary January. "I always want to brighten the world on cold, dark or rainy days," Counce said. "It turned out to be a lot of fun as I was pulling it together."

The booth features everything from a retro bamboo bar, which Counce says "sets the party theme," to artwork that jumps off the grey walls with abstract brushstrokes (including the largest one done by Todd Greene as part of his Paw-Paw Sermon series). And it is all topped off with vintage accent chairs done in fruity colors of lime, nectarine and lemon.

One of the central pieces of this tableau is the Chesterfield sofa trimmed with tasseled fringe (photo, left; $1,200). "The large and lush aubergine velvet sofa makes me want to sit, relax and have a martini!" Counce says. However, for some the Chesterfield doesn't conjure up images of modsters or hippies of the mid-century,but rather of nattily attired gentlemen sipping brandy in some Victorian-era library. That is because the Victorian era saw the sofa as a key piece of furniture for men. A funny bit of trivia: The buttons were reportedly developed to make the Chesterfield more uncomfortable for the many people who often waited to see rich men of standing on various types of business. The buttons were added in hopes of discourage them from staying. Regardless, the sumptuous tufting on this aubergine sofa is perfectly comfy and will certainly encourage someone to cozy up on it for the cold months ahead.

In the photo, right, a wonderful Art Deco lamp with a panther motif is paired with a Japanese Ningyo doll (lamp, $85; geisha girl, $125; both in Booth B-110). The tradition of such doll making dates to the the 11th-century Heian Period, but this one is a more recent doll that most likely dates to the middle of the last century. She wears a glamorous silk kimono and obi and a "split peach" hairstyle; these cultural markers identify her as a geisha. During World War II, such dolls found a ready market with military men, who brought them back to their native countries as souvenirs of time spent in the Far East.



The bamboo tiki bar, left, is another blast from the past. After World War I, travel became more affordable. Soon, taking a vacation in the tropics or the South Seas was de rigor for those who wanted to be in style. In the U.S., bars with South Seas island themes started popping up. The first such bar was Don the Beachcomber Restaurant in Hollywood, California. Opened in 1933, it eventually assimilated authentic tiki and tropical island artifacts into its décor , distinguishing it from other beach-themed bars. In addition to diving masks, spears and carved idols, the classic bamboo bar and bamboo barstools were a hit. The tiki bar's popularity lasted for about thirty years, declining after the Fifties. Today, a tiki bar is a perfect retro item for bringing home a laid-back, tropical ambiance.







While pastels were the popular colors for fashion and home during the 1950s and early 1960s, by the late part of the '60s brights became the trend. Since it was a point of rule-breaking, politically and socially, the colors were also intense: Tones such as hot pink, Day-Glo orange and acid green made statements in home décor. A deep red-orange also became popular, including the beautiful Tiger Lily tone listed in Kohler's collection of accent colors. The ceramic Asian statuettes in the photo, right, would have been right at home during the heady color scheme of the late '60s ($50, S-104). The Lee Marshall pottery dish, $12, also fits into this wonderful vignette, which is topped off perfectly with the abstract painting by a local artist ($195; S-104).

Counce never fails to pull a decorating rabbit out of the hat with his uniquely creative Front Collaboration Booth. This is a wonderful spot for taking in whatever the latest decorating ideas may be and to get a sense of how they might come together for an integrated look in one's home.

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