CEYLON ET CIE
Michelle Nussbaumer’s Ceylon et Cie is layered with European antiques, tribal headdresses, Murano glass chandeliers and all of Nussbaumer’s personal collections.
BY MARÉ BRENNAN | PHOTOGRAPHY | BY MARTIN G MEYERS
Wanderlust is defined as the irresistibly strong desire to travel or wander. And wanderlust and the quest for intriguing objects is what drives Michelle Nussbaumer, the dynamic designer behind so many covetable interiors that have been featured in literally every top home and garden magazine and the owner of Dallas Design District’s incredible shopping experience, Ceylon et Cie. Currently the designer is finalizing a coffee table tome of her fabulous residential interiors which is slated for release this fall through Rizzoli. Readers will travel with Michelle throughout the bazaars and markets of Africa, China, India, Morocco, Turkey, Paris, Switzerland, Mexico and more on the hunt for the objects that bring each project to life.
Nussbaumer, a native Texan with a flair for designing spaces that set a dramatic tone and a beauty that would make you swear she was a Miss Texas, came by her theatricality honestly. Gavin Smith, one of Nussbaumer’s long time friends, describes her as the perfect combination of Elizabeth Taylor and Zsa Zsa Gabor, glamorous and worldly, beautiful and whip smart. “She may have been from a small town in Texas but she is the most intrepid and savvy traveler I know,” he allows. While studying drama at SMU, as luck would have it, Michelle was required to take a course in set design and a star was born. “I fell in love with it,” says Nussbaumer.
Nature and travel among different cultures are the designer’s biggest inspirations for her design projects as well as her store. “I love finding less obvious color combinations and nature is the best source for that,” explains Nussbaumer, who is known for her signature style that layers unconventional color palettes, exquisite textiles and well-curated antiques and fine art. “I’d be hard pressed to find a color I don’t like, but I think red would have to be my favorite. Any color of red. It’s such a statement color and so passionate,” she adds as she fills an antique cache pot with vermillion-hued tulips and cantaloupe-colored English roses. “Color takes courage and faith to use. It can be daunting. I find in the South, people are more attracted to color. We love flowers, don’t we?” Nussbaumer adds, “I love a touch of black in every room. It’s like eyeliner and adds sophistication.”
In the early 1980s, a newly-married Nussbaumer and her Swiss-born, film producer husband Bernard, moved to Rome. “I was decorating our home there, and everything was so reasonable. Well, I overbought,” she sighs and smiles, “and soon I started selling to my friends.” From Italy, the Nussbaumers relocated to Los Angeles then back to Dallas where they have spent the last 24 years with their four children and a menagerie of rescued animals. All the while the designer amassed a list of impressive commissions and cemented her place among the top designers in the world, continually featured in Architectural Digest, Veranda and Elle Décor, among others. In addition to her interiors, Nussbaumer is responsible for a lust-worthy collection of jewelry, including earrings, necklaces and bangle bracelets of hand-cast bronze dipped in 24 carat gold and studded with precious and semi-precious stones. The complete line, which also includes boxes and vessels, is available through Nussbaumer’s store.
When the resourceful Nussbaumer couldn’t find the fabrics or furnishings she needed for a job, she was able to produce her own line of textiles of her own design, inspired by exotic locales in brilliant colorways and a 32-piece line of furniture, including “the perfect side table and headboard” to suit her clients’ interiors. Her US-produced fabrics and custom furnishings are also available through Ceylon et Cie. Even Nussbaumer’s flare-side Ford work truck gets the Ceylon et Cie treatment with a vinyl wrap of her signature Red Ikat fabric on the outside and custom kilim upholstered seats.
For those in the know, Nussbaumer was one of the first designers to embrace One Kings Lane, an Internet design resource known for its top designer curated Tastemaker Tag Sales, and helped them launch the site in Dallas. It’s just one way the designer says of “tracking down items for your home” as One Kings Lane and 1st Dibs are great resources. Her own website, ceylonetcie.com, is scheduled to be shoppable online by August.
Ceylon et Cie is a dreamy amalgam of the what makes Nussbaumer tick. At least one of her beloved Great Danes is with her at the store at all times. Not unlike a Tony Duquette interior, the store is layered with European antiques, tribal headdresses, Murano glass chandeliers and all of Nussbaumer’s personal collections of home furnishings, textiles, jewelry and home decor. Nussbaumer, inspired by her home in San Miguel de Allende, has recently released a blue and white china in her design, which she calls “Mexican Delft,” which is available at the store. Beautifully crafted vignettes of bold, colorfilled layers feature Nussbaumer’s prowess as the ultimate curator on display. “I love the hunt for these objects and to see them have a new life is thrilling,” she says.
To visit Ceylon et Cie is like condensing a trip around the world into a two hour treasure hunt. Allow yourself plenty of time to savor what’s in store and enjoy.
Ceylon et Cie is located at 1319 Dragon Street in the Dallas Design District and is open Monday-Friday from 9 to 5. Closed Saturday andSunday. www.ceylonetcie Michelle Nussbaumer’s upcoming book, Wanderlust, is scheduled for release in September 2016 from Rizzoli.