It’s been a week or so since I wrote about our last BlogTourNYC adventure so I thought I’d throw another one at you, and this is a good one! On our third full day in New York for BlogTour, we visited with acclaimed interior designer Bunny Williams and her husband/business partner/antiques dealer, John Rosselli at their Upper East Side store, Treillage, which was tucked away, nestled on a quiet side street between 1st and York – 418 East 75th Street, to be exact.
As I walked through the front door, the store and everything around seemed so familiar to me, but I wasn’t exactly sure why. Was it perhaps the warm, filtered, lilac-hued sunlight shining through the skylights above that was so inviting? Who knows, but it was a good, warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Soon after I arrived, Bunny Williams and John Rosselli walked through the door, and made it a point to personally welcome each and every one of us, making us all feel right at home.
Bunny Williams and John Rosselli
Treillage was a treasure trove of unusual antique finds from all around the world. In the rear of the store was a beautiful indoor/outdoor garden space – a botanical retreat of some sorts and an inviting space with an enviable assortment of blue and white ginger jars and decorative garden accessories.
Every inch of the floor, walls, and ceiling above was merchandised to perfection – lovely blue and white china and ginger jars throughout with paintings on the wall in an array of cheerful, contrasting colors to bring the space to life.
A colorful selection of casual dishware could be found lining the open shelves. They were all so pretty – I was tempted to mix and match them for a more eclectic mix!
And of course there were several of Bunny’s books sprinkled throughout the shop, all styled with different fresh cut flowers and baubles for the home.
Advice from Bunny
We all gathered round while Bunny talked about how she and John travel the world to find unique things for the shop – no agenda, they just go out and shop and see what they’ll find. Definitely my kind of shopping – the best finds are the ones that I stumble upon when I least expect it. Everything they find gets sent back to New York in a container, and what they have room for goes into Treillage, and some of the “loot” remains in storage until items are sold and more real estate is freed up in the store.
She then went on to talk about her extensive selections of licensed products for the home including home furnishings- Bunny Williams Home, a mirror line for Mirror Image, a rug line for Dash and Albert, and an outdoor furniture line for Century Furniture.
Then came the tough questions. When asked what would be the best advice to give someone starting out in the business, Bunny cited a few things, but the most important – go to museums to train your eye, and if at all possible, take a drawing class. I can attest to the importance of both training the eye and taking drawing class and/or sketching by hand regularly.
A few years back while taking design historian Judith Gura‘s Historical Styles class at NYSID (New York School of Interior Design), one of the final assignments was to gather photographs of chairs and case goods from the Italian Renaissance through the American Empire period, and compile a book of tracings from each design period. At the time, I wondered what was the purpose of the assignment. It was time consuming and I didn’t know what I was going to get out of it, but I did it – begrudgingly. Not until later did I realize that in the meticulous drawing and tracing of each piece of furniture, I was learning about the proportion, detail, and design intricacies of each time period. While putting these details down on paper, I was committing them to memory. The best way to train the eye is to look at the best and study the best, which is why I strongly suggest taking a trip to the museum to see and study the finest specimens available. Here are some of my tracings from my Historical Styles book. Looking back, I have no idea how I had the patience to actually complete the assignment!
My Historical Styles Tracings
Before I started art school, I have to admit I was one of “those” people who didn’t really know how to draw, but what they say is true – the more you practice, the better you get. An assignment in my NYSID drawing class – sketch, sketch, and SKETCH. Sketch as much as possible – you don’t have to spend hours and hours perfecting each detail. 3 minute sketches/doodles is all it takes, said my drawing instructor, and right he was. For the entire semester, I was required to draw a series of 3 minute doodles every day- any where, anything. I would go to the Met and sketch everything in site – nude figures, Greek black and red figure pottery, Corinthian columns, random people. Then at home I would sketch my family sleeping (the only time any one of my boys would sit still for 3 minutes), random objects around the home, pieces of furniture, anything that looked interesting. The more you sketch, the more proficient you become because you train your eye to see and in a sense, the items you’ve drawn in the past are embedded in your memory, making it that much easier to recall the next time around. I have to admit that I haven’t had the time to sketch like I used to, and I have gotten a bit rusty, but I know that if I were to whip out a pencil and paper and keep at it for an extended period of time, the easier it would get. And here’s a sampling of those 3 minute doodles:
My 3 Minute Sketches
All in all, our visit with Bunny Williams and John Rosselli at Treillage was an inspirational one, thanks to Tina Ramchandani and Sarah Sarna of Franklin Eighth who arranged for all the magic to happen. As a parting shot, our group photo with the woman herself, Bunny Williams. Thanks for treating us to a wonderful afternoon! If you’re ever in New York, make sure to stop by Treillage for a visit – you won’t be disappointed!