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Nightstands & Coffee Tables: The World at Home

By Melanie Moffett
In Bayou Pages
Apr 27th, 2016

reviews by Michael DeVault

When Dallas designer Michelle Nussbaumer invited BayouLife editor Maré Brennan into her haute design boutique Ceylon et Cie last month, the resulting photographs and peripatetic narrative Nussbaumer weaves around the globe stunned many of us into dreams of Magellanesque adventures. Who wouldn’t want to spend a holiday in Marrakech among objets d’art that traveled across the continent on the back of a camel? Of course we want to visit a Turkish bazaar and buy the dining room rug from the weaver’s brother.

For as long as there have been humans, there have been travelers. And for as long as there have been travelers, there have been collectors and traders. The evidence of humanity’s capacity to trade in foreign goods stretches back to the earliest human sites on the planet. Perhaps the supreme joy of travel, though, is that moment when, at last, we unlock our door, step inside, and drop our treasure-laden carry-on on the foyer floor.

The concept of home begins and ends with travel. So this month, we’ll take a journey through the world of decorative arts, beginning with that Wanderlust Nussbaumer instilled, making our way around with The New Bohemians before settling back in with Bill Bryson At Home.

Wanderlust: Interiors that Bring the World Home
by Michelle Nussbaumer

The verb “curate” means to select and organize a group of items. Coincidentally, the same word as a noun is the position held by one who assists a priest or other religious leader. When it comes to Michelle Nussbaumer, who is often described as a curator of global design, the more worshipful usage might just be apropos. Enter as evidence Wanderlust: Interiors that Bring the World Home (September, 2016), Nussbaumer’s forthcoming coffee table tome chronicling her World Design travels and work.

In stunning pictures, the book documents Nussbaumer’s impressive career of traveling the world, selecting fine décor items, and serving myriad clients across the planet. Each photo underscores her eye for bringing a certain worldbeat feel into design. Whether it’s a specimen of fine African textile or a statement piece from Asia, Nussbaumer’s eye provides the visual stimulus to make this interior design book both inspiring and entertaining.

You’ll have to wait a bit, but it’s available for pre-order at all major booksellers. We’ve seen Ceylon et Cie, and we know Nussbaumer. So it’ll be worth the wait.

The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes
by Justina Blakeney

They’re hip, they’re cultured and they’re traveled. They live their lives like intercultural exchange ambassadors, and their homes are the kind of eclectic hodgepodge of color and artifact that Hollywood cinematographers dream of. They grow their food and make soap, all before heading off to a long day’s work as hedge fund analysts, computer programmers and accountants. These are the New Bohemians, and they have the life you want.

Such is the thesis of Justina Blakeney’s The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes (November, 2015), the masterful narrative cast by the famed L.A. designer, who recounts her personal tales of interior design in dorm rooms at Berkley and apartments in Tuscany and takes the reader on a literary journey inside those delightfully overwrought spaces we envy. Equally eye candy and instruction manual, The New Bohemians gives readers tips and tricks and shows them in action in stunning full color photos.

Blakeney’s design acumen aside, The New Bohemians is a great read for any lover of that perfectly cluttered corner, the artfully jumbled shelf, or that formal dining table with the legs sawed off. Leave it to Blakeney and her subjects to suggest a half-dozen alternative uses for that box of sarongs you brought back from your honeymoon.

At Home: A Short History of Private Life
by Bill Bryson

Whether we’re traveling to Tibet or Target, we eventually–we hope–end up at the same place: home. This concept of a private space where we live our private lives has led to a curious series of design innovations in housing, from indoor plumbing to the parlor. The origins of these personal spaces are the loam in which master storyteller Bill Bryson grows At Home: A Short History of Private Life (October, 2011).

American-expatriate-cum-adopted-Englishman Bryson sets off on his journey using only his home, a charming Victorian vicarage in rural England. Leading readers through each room, Bryson calls on his nearly infinite knowledge of all things to tell the unique, quirky, and sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing stories behind those everyday objects we take for granted.

For fans of Bryson, At Home is a great addition to the bibliography. For those who’ve never read him, At Home is a great first step inside what may well be the most inquisitive mind on the planet.