By Carol Tisch August 1, 2010

From the whimsical to the sublime, design this year focuses on painterly prints, sculptural form and a purity of color and material that elevates everything—even shoes and chandeliers—into lifestyle works of art. Whether classic or avant-garde, art now defines the way we want to look and live.

Murano to Manhattan

Venerable glass maker Barovier & Toso creates modern works of art using centuries-old techniques developed even before Venetian glass blowers relocated to the mystical island of Murano. Designed in 2009 by Alessandro Piva, the Manhattan pendant fixture has chrome-plated steel cornices suspended in space, providing frames for bubbles of multicolored blown glass that seemingly float in the air. Manhattan (price on request) contrasts ancient glass making techniques with state-of-the-art low-energy halogen spotlights built into its chrome base. Light Up Your Life, 1620 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 330-0442.


Rococo Redux

The profusion of scrolls and foliage that adorned early 18th-century French Rococo mirrors is fast-forwarded to the new millennium by porcelain artists at Lladró using glazed and matte finishes and gold and silver luster. The new Rococo Mirrors Collection (from $1,900) replaces decorative elements of this era of opulence with voluminous motifs in intensely colored porcelain over lacquered wooden frames. Six frames are offered in six contemporary colors for a total of 36 mirrors that will each be available in a limited edition of 300. Order at Ashley Avery's Collectables, 3501 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 366-3444.

Local collectors have tripped the light fantastic in everything from Degas to Andy Warhol.

Art Walk

Made by ICON, a California company formed 10 years ago to showcase museum-quality art on shoes, this fancy footwear at Reason’s comes in images from Renaissance masters to the avant-garde. In the past decade, local collectors have tripped the light fantastic in everything from Degas’ ballerinas to Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s soup cans. Reason’s carries shoes and leather accessories in the latest editions, including Celestial, a contemporary representation of the traditional Ukiyo-e style by Japanese artist Haruyo Morita (golf shoe $285). Reason’s Shoes, 57 S. Boulevard of Presidents, St. Armands Circle,

Art Underfoot

“An area rug is a personal work of art for your home,” says Gail Emmott, custom rug designer at Rugs As Art. When a client couldn’t find a Gabbeh tribal rug from Iran in a hallway runner, Emmott obliged with a carpet woven by Tibetan weavers in Nepal. The customer’s colors were custom matched in hand-dyed high mountain wool, then woven into a runner as beautiful as the traditional Gabbeh nomadic motifs. Hand-knotted custom rugs start at $65 a foot; gun-tufted or needlepoint rugs start at $55. Rugs As Art, 6650 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 921-1900.

Moore uses the process of lost wax casting for bronze sculpting.

Season of Sculpture?

Outdoor decorating reaches new heights of chic with this intriguing abstract piece by retired Sarasota architect and now sculptor Sandy Friedman ($1,800). Crafted of powder-coated steel and customizable in a choice of colors, Friedman’s works as well as those of another local sculptor, John Dehn, are just a few of the treasures at Sarasota Collection’s unique backyard store, where Pam and Marcus Anast display stylish outdoor furniture, decorative pots, lighting and more in-room vignettes. Sarasota Collection Home Store, 622 Central Ave., Sarasota (941) 955-8313.

Dream Catcher

This “dream realization device” by Scott J. Moore is just one of the works by students and alums of Ringling College of Art and Design at the school’s new gallery-boutique called madeby. Moore graduated from Ringling in 2000 and opened Castings and Sculpture Services in Sarasota in 2008. He uses the process of lost wax casting for bronze sculptures like this American Dream Catcher ($16,675), a limited-edition piece that comes with operating instructions, a “passion reservoir” and hand-operated tuning spindle that he says helps the device accept your positive energies. madeby, 734 Central Ave., Sarasota (941) 822-0422.

Couture designers are creating a buzz with art-inspired prints for fabrics.

The Incredible Egg

A work of art as well as a functional piece of furniture, the Egg (1958) by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen remains one of the most admired and coveted examples of Danish mid-century design. Available locally through Home Resource in solid fabrics and leather (from $1,534), the Ego-Egg shown here is one of 50 unique patchwork Eggs created by Danish artist Tal R to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic chair. Still a symbol of sophisticated urbanism, the Egg was perfected in Jacobsen’s garage, where he sculpted its shape in cast plaster. The Fritz Hansen line is available exclusively at Home Resource, 741 Central Ave., Sarasota (941) 366-6690.

The Printed Word

Couture designers are creating a buzz with custom prints for fabrics they commission for everything from Oscar gowns to sportswear. Names like Helmut Lang, Valentino and Akris are using digital prints from photographs and scans of famous watercolors and oil paintings, even abstract art and illustrations. Swiss couture house Akris garnered headlines for designer Albert Kriemler’s silk georgette dresses with pixilated photos of gardens reminiscent of Impressionist paintings, including images of Monet’s Giverny. Now the company’s Akris Punto line at Saks Fifth Avenue extends the look to this stunning inkjet-printed tunic for fall 2010 ($795). Saks Fifth Avenue, 3501 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 364-5300.

sarasota platinum 2010 | 2011

Each piece bears Wanders’ tongue-in-cheek signature, a self-portrait with clown nose.


Dutch design legend Marcel Wanders is as multifaceted as his new crystal collection for Baccarat, a whimsical tribute to the study of wine. A self-professed “hedonist of wines,” Wanders worked with an oenologist to perfect a series of Burgundy, Bordeaux and champagne glasses, as well as two carafes and a decanter of blown Baccarat crystal. Each piece bears his tongue-in-cheek signature, a self-portrait with clown nose, shown here as a crystal stopper for the Woods of Euphoria Red Decanter, beautifully contemporary but evocative of Dutch Golden Age style ($1,500). 

Sculptural Leather

Designer Barbara May uses her fine arts background to formulate the colors and forms of her exclusive line of b. may bags. The minimalist handbags and totes are handmade to order from natural and exotic skins—May’s favorite is python—in her Petoskey, Mich., studio. May’s designs combine beauty and versatility; silhouettes remain simple so as not to distract from the natural (or embellished) beauty of the skins. From over-the-shoulder bucket messengers to ample totes and little strappy pouches, these bags are a long-running hit with Sarasota’s arts-oriented fashionistas ($950 for the one shown). The Met Fashion House Day Spa & Salon, 35 S. Boulevard of Presidents, Sarasota (941) 388-1772.

Diamond in the Rough

Self-taught goldsmith Todd Reed loves the perfect geometry of uncut, unpolished raw diamonds. The internationally renowned artist says his work began as a way to question notions of beauty, perfection and perceived value. “Rough diamonds are a toned-down look of luxury—a secret, guilt-free pleasure,” says Gail Ross of Tilden Ross, who admires Reed’s use of recycled gold, environmentally friendly components and processes and insistence on antique and ethical sources for diamonds. This bracelet (price on request) is part of an exclusive collection of Todd Reed Jewelry at Tilden Ross Jewelers, 410 St. Armands Circle, Sarasota (941) 388-3338.

Rough diamonds are a toned-down look of luxury—a secret, guilt-free pleasure.

Modern Mosaics

Not far from Ravenna, the fifth-century center of late Roman mosaic art, a company based in Reggio Emilia, Italy, has re-energized the craft with unabashed creative freedom. The new Vetrina glass tiles from Mosaico+  use the Pantone color system for 72 glossy colors and 32 opaque matte hues that (with the help of CAD software and digital printing technology) can be the medium for 21st-century custom murals. “Street Glasses” from the new Popster series is one of eight awesome 94.5-inch graffiti art panels of glass mosaic tiles that come on mesh-mounted 12-inch-square sheets, each numbered for easy installation ($7,750). Available through architects and designers,
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