Vintage Fare: Finding Treasures at the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Antiques and Garden Fair
I always look forward to the Chicago Botanic Garden’s annual Antiques and Garden Fair. Each spring vendors, aficionados and exhibitors bring thousands of unique classical and contemporary garden furnishings to crowd halls and fill tents at the Botanic Garden. In addition to the landscape designs that I collaborate on at Hoerr Schaudt, I am also an architect and licensed interior designer, so this event is a definite must-see for me. This time around I picked a few favorite things to share with you which I think work great at the intersection between interior and landscape design.
FABULOUS FAUX BOIS
Faux Bois (from the French for false wood) refers to the artistic imitation of wood or wood grains in various media. This plant stand is an excellent example of vintage faux bois crafted from textured and contoured concrete, embellished with crazed geometric tiles.
I think this piece would look great near the entrance to a bungalow or other Arts and Crafts inspired home, planted with dwarf plumbago, its blue blooms and emergent burgundy foliage articulating the colors of the tile glaze.
Alternatively, if used for interior decor planted with herbs and placed under a breakfast nook window, this planter could literally add great taste to your home year-round.
RATTAN WITH A TWIST
These next two pieces grabbed my attention for their exuberant expression of structure and form by way of the material used to make them.
The console table on the left uses reeds assembled concentrically to achieve a sculptural quality. The sheath table, pictured in the middle and right images, uses reeds bundled and bound together much like gathered wheat, creating a side table which embodies the harvest. While these two objects are more ‘of’ the garden rather than for ‘in’ the garden, they would figure beautifully in a 3-season porch – perhaps both within the same room. Their natural golden tones would be dynamic against an otherwise neutral palette; these would be your standout sculptural elements – functional art with a twist.
A POLISHED LOOK WITH POLISHED STEEL
There were a lot of polished steel objects showing at this year’s Fair. I think this French patio table and chair ensemble from the early 20th century is a beautiful alternative to wrought iron.
With delicate lines of heart-shaped backs and scroll details, this grouping has the strength of steel drawn with the supple look of a softer metal such as pewter – possessing both beauty and brawn to not only withstand the elements but also stand out in your garden. I think this set would be great for candlelit dining on the lawn under a canopy of leaves and stars or on a small stone terrace tucked amidst flowering ornamental trees and beds of ivy for an enchantingly woodsy eating experience.
A ROOM WITH A VIEW
At first glance, this large Palladian-esque mirror circa 1890 (also in polished steel) would make a bold statement in any room. With a closer look, I realized the central panel was hinged so that this mirror could also function as a window.
Historically, mirrors were used outdoors in the landscape as a means to create an infinite view from within an otherwise finite space. They were popularized when used in Victorian-era garden design. This object, placed on a privacy screen wall enclosing a small outdoor room or roof terrace, would initially create a sense of mystery by blurring the boundaries of the space. If one came closer to find the operable pane, the myth would return to reality with a glimpse to the outside world beyond through a carefully place portal.
This piece would immensely expand the beauty of even the smallest of gardens and offer a bit of fun for the curiosity seeker. Surrounded with flowering vines such as clematis or wisteria, this mirror would bring and air of wonderment and surprise al fresco.
Have you found any vintage garden treasures lately? Post a comment below and tell us about your find!