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The Francis Files

Take Five: January Design Inspiration

JANUARY 5, 2023 - Written by Kevin O'Gara

A try-on moment while shopping this winter

1. Monir Farmanfarmaian at the High Museum

The Iranian artist Monir Farmanfarmaian has a captivating show at the High Museum "A Mirror Garden" that covers her work both across the variety of mediums the artist has explored. From her signature mirrored mosaics, incorporating ancient Persian architectural motifs, to her intricate collages created while exiled from her country during the Iranian Revolution, I found Farmanfarmaian's work to be incredibly inspiring. A common thread in her work is the application of pattern-making, from the mosaics to even a rug design in the exhibit, I was amazed at the translation of these motifs across so many mediums, all incorporating local artisan handicraft work.

2. The Castello di Reschio in Umbria, Italy

I've been told Umbria is the locals-only alternative to the popular Tuscany region of Italy, and this grand estate-turned-hotel is a dream destination in my book. Inspired by Old-World glamour, this shot of the Palm Court is especially inviting, with the combination of some of my favorite elements – velvet, tufting, greenhouse windows, and enormous live palms. Set on almost 4,000 acres, this boutique retreat includes rooms spread across nine farmhouses, set amongst Umbria's rolling hills.

3. Graphic Quilts from Gee's Bend, Alabama

The iconic quilts from Gee's Bend were an incredible revelation for the founder of the Souls Grown Deep foundation, who brought these artisans to the art world. The quilts have been exhibited in major museums and galleries around the world, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and have been the subject of numerous articles and critical reviews. In addition, the quilts of Gee's Bend have been recognized for their cultural and historical significance, as they offer a unique perspective on the lives and experiences of African American women in the rural South.

4. Inside Beaulieu in Newport, Rhode Island

One of my favorite shots from the inside of Beaulieu in Newport, which sold earlier this year off-market in a landmark sale for Rhode Island. As one of the oldest mansions on historic Bellevue Avenue it housed Astor’s and Vanderbilt’s before its latest caretaker and inspiring hostess Ruth Buchanan . The house was decorated in the 60’s and remained exactly the same for over 50 years, after all, if you do it right the first time you won’t have to do it again.

5. The House Beautiful 'Whole Home' Showhouse

Got to peek inside the stunning  Whole Home Atlanta last month with Frontgate, who provided all the beautiful outdoor furniture for this incredible renovation in Buckhead. Loved all the details in this house – from the lacquered doors to the cathedral window.


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