|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.)
Biltmore’s third annual flower carpet covers more than a fourth of an acre and took over a year to plan.
This year’s inspiration for the tapestry came from Mr. George Vanderbilt’s stained glass window collection, which was created in the 1880s by artist and interior designer John La Farge. Each year, Travis Murray leads the Biltmore gardening crew, who use over 100,000 plants to create this garden art.
For Biltmore’s first flower carpet, the team used plants of a certain height to create an even flow. The next year saw a diversity of heights and textures to pop specific elements in the design. Using this concept, this year the team used varying textures and heights to replicate the three-dimensional elements of La Farge’s windows.
The carpet’s color palette mimics the jewel-tones of the windows in glowing shades of red, orange, blue, yellow and gray. Travis’ execution of the flower carpet captures the sparkling qualities known as a hallmark of La Farge’s work.
The windows that inspired the floral masterpiece are also on display in Biltmore’s newest guest venue, Antler Hill Village.
The public can enjoy the flower carpet during day visits, or purchase a ticket for Flower Carpet Evenings now until September 12th. During the evenings, we can watch the sun setting over the tapestry, while enjoying live jazz. Picnic options, wine, beer and other beverages are all available for purchase. Get information on visiting Biltmore.
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.