If you’re from the South or visit the region often, you’ve probably been to Biltmore Estate. I love to visit any time of year, but going during Christmas is truly magical. It gets me all excited for the holidays like I’m a kid again.
What family traditions get you in the holiday spirit?
|The name Louis Comfort Tiffany may not be part of your everyday conversation, but there’s definitely a chance you’re familiar with his family’s store. Hint: They’re famous for little robin’s egg blue boxes. Well, Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848 – 1933), the heir of the Tiffany & Co. fortune, is famous for much more than engagement rings. Does this lamp look familiar? “Oh! Of course!” someone might say. “Those used to hang above the tables at Ruby Tuesday!” Well, sort of. Tiffany lamps are often imitated, like this dragonfly pendant lamp which is a replica, but they’re never truly duplicated. We’ve all seen some sort of knock off at a home decor store. But they cannot compare to the absolute pleasure of viewing 45 original Tiffany stained glass lamps up close at the Tiffany at Biltmore exhibit housed in the legendary Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. Trust me. I did, and it’s design-geek heaven. Tiffany is celebrated as one of the preeminent designers of decorative glass. The exhibit at Biltmore showcases his designs in a dimly lit room allowing their translucent glass to light the way through the halls. It’s truly magnificent to view all of the colors and motifs up close and personal.
Biltmore Estate is the perfect venue for this exhibit. The Vanderbilt family built Biltmore House at the height of the Art Nouveau movement, of which Louis C. Tiffany was a highly revered central figure. Art Nouveau celebrated the natural world and captured it in art, architecture and design. Lamps featuring Tiffany’s favorite natural muses — dragonflies and lilies — reflect his appreciation for the natural world. It is those designs that are most popular.
However, Tiffany also found inspiration in some creatures of the organic world that you wouldn’t expect. My visit to the Biltmore exhibit marked the first time I had ever seen (or heard of) a Tiffany lamp with a design influenced by the form a spider and spider web. (Be sure to keep an eye out for it when you take the tour.)
Mother Nature played a very nasty April Fools Day joke on the Northeast yesterday with a classic winter storm. Not. Funny.
Photo: The Biltmore Company
What I want is colorful tulips, azaleas, and peonies like these at the Biltmore Estate’s Festival of Flowers. If you’re in North Carolina, or are planning to be, do me a favor and say hello to the flowers from a cold Northeasterner. The festival is running from today until May 15.
One last little bit of triva: the gardens at the Biltmore Estate were originally designed Frederick Law Olmstead, the designer of NYC’s own Central Park.
Fans of Biltmore Estate can now take home a piece of the great chateau’s opulence and history. Biltmore For Your Home is the exclusive line of products ranging from Biltmore-inspired hardwood flooring to handmade accessories. You can even buy garage doors reminiscent of the carriage doors seen on the estate.
This week, you have the chance to win artwork featuring furniture used in the Vanderbilts’ home. This Dining Chair print is a historically accurate portrayal of the Biltmore’s seating, while the simplicity and colors give it a modern touch.
For a chance to win, answer this week’s question before 12/11c, Monday, August 9.
This week’s question: Which architectural style fits you best? Old World like the Biltmore? Or sleek like the HGTV Urban Oasis apartment at the W in New York?
Click for official rules.