Plain Jane or Fancy Pants?

I’m a rather plain girl in the sense of THINGS. Function beats form any day as far as I’m concerned (this, of course, excludes a previous post concerning my unhealthy affinity for shoes), ensuring that I will never be counted amongst the infamous and (for unknown reasons) publicised “Gold Diggers” of the world, which is surely a very real concern for any young woman of the 21st century. It took me ages to switch over to the “smart” phone, which only lasted about a year; as soon as it was possible I reverted back to a “dumb” phone – as long as it calls, texts, does math (because I can’t), and has Snake, I’m happy.

 

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Sharp corners, pointy feet: my own personal death trap.
Writing desk attributed to André-Charles Boulle, c. 1715.
Bérain marquetry of copper on ebony base.

So when choosing a mirror for the foyer I’m much more likely to choose a plain frame with a large reflection as opposed to a smaller glass with cherubs and whatnot on it. I’d much rather look at my face, or see if there’s someone creeping up behind me, than any fancy embellishments (I said I wasn’t a Gold Digger; I didn’t say I wasn’t mildly vain).

 

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Naiad, 1756.
Soft porcelaine and gilt bronze, 26 cm.
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Furthermore, the cracks and crevices of these fancy objects are a right pain in the butt for dusting – even if you have a maid, which I don’t, I’m guessing your more ornate pieces wouldn’t pass the white glove test. And let the klutzes amongst us not forget the imminent danger of clawed feet and the sharp edges of candlestick holders. I have a permanent bruise from a decorative dresser with sharp corners which is still in my childhood home; even though I knew it was there and never moved in all the years I lived there, the corner and my thigh carried on some sort of strange and masochistic affair to which I was only privy to the pain.

 

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This room makes me feel rather claustrophobic. The desk is really nice though.
Roll-top secrétarie for Louis XV’s inner study in Versailles by Jean-François Oeben and Jean-Henri Riesener, 1760-1769.
Bronze, marquetry of a variety of fine woods, Sèvres porcelain, 147.3 x 192.5 x 105 cm.
Palace of Versailles.

Head over to the Met for the Plain or Fancy: Restraint and Exuberance in Decorative Arts through 18 August and fantasise about fancy furniture and decorations. Come home relived that you aren’t the one that has to clean any of it, or stub your precious toes in the middle of the night. If you are looking for decoration tips from the fancier side, get your hands on Decorative Art by Albert Jaquemart – but don’t say that I didn’t warn you. Sound off below! Are you a Plain Jane or a Fancy Pants?

-Le Lorrain Andrews