Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What do you collect?

Three weeks off between quarters at school can give a gal quite a bit of time to shop Half Price Books and glean through the isles upon isles of adventures waiting to be read.  Such is the case with my most recent reading discovery:  Bringing Home the Birkin  by Michael Tonello.

In this luscious summer reading, Tonello decides to move to Spain in search of a new life and a new beginning.  In the course of finding himself. he realizes that there is a huge market for reselling scarves from Hermes.  After earning a reputation as a Hermes scarf dealer, Michael hits it big time by stumbling into reselling those trendy (and extremely rare) Birkin bags.

Here the author is pictured in his Birkin buying secret weapon uniform which consists of:  a Prada suit, Hermes shirt, Hermes vest, Jil Sander tie, Hermes cashmere socks. Giorgio Armani shoes, Hermes chaind’ancre bracelet, Ralph Lauren  watch, and so goes the list. 

Now you may be asking yourself, “why does a man need to have a secret weapon outfit on to buy a ladies handbag?”  The answer is simple:  it’s a Birkin!  The market for these bags is insane to say the least.  These Birkin bags are the ultimate status symbol in a world that craves bigger and better.

Named after the actress Jane Birkin and designed exclusively by Hermes, the demand far outpaces the supply ---- on purpose.  Worn exclusively by the uber rich and famous, it easily carries a price tag of $10,000 per bag and takes over 48 hours to make.  There are lots of rumors flying around about the bag being only available to those on the waiting list but there are ones readily found by resellers on ebay and by local entrepreneurs such as Tonello.
Victoria “Spice” Beckham is rumored to own over 100 of these exclusive bags -- shown here in pink.

So, what is fueling this fascination/obsession with Birkin bags?  This concept fascinated me as I read the book.  I mean, I enjoy a beautiful well-crafted bag just like all the other ladies in the world but really --- a $10,000 purse?  What’s the biggie?

Then it hit me, I have stuff that I am obsessed with that is not fashion related.  Take for instance my one time insistence on white pitchers.  Tall white pitchers, small white pitchers - whatever the shape and size, I found white pitchers a simple pleasure.  The second example would be my taste in wine.  Silver Oak cabernet is the elixir of the gods as far as I’m concerned.  I can’t always afford Silver Oak but do enjoy partaking on special occasions through out the year.

Another example is a friend whose grandfather is an avid book collector.  While at a party a few weeks ago, this friend was telling me that their grandfather collects so many books that he’s often caught sneaking into the house with his literary contraband hidden from his wife, after agreeing to stop purchasing any at all!  Or there is my precious friend Angel who has collected nativity scenes from around the world in her travels.  Every Christmas brings out the travel stories of her adventurous life as she recants the where and who of each nativity set. So, since my mind always wanders back to the decorating realm...I began to wonder how would I store/display all those books, Birkins and bottles of wine.
Although very understates, this bookshelf offers a supreme example of book storage.
As a designer, I will run into many people who will collect things.  Collections are only beneficial from a design standpoint if you are able to highlight them in a way that provides a cohesive organization to the pieces involved. Displayed correctly, some collections can provide a conversation but given improper status there are those that can be overwhelming. 

That being said, here are some tips on using collectibles in your design:

Unified Theme – Collections look best when they are have similar theme.  Either the subject, form, material or color are similar.  Consider painting several frames a similar color…

I love this hallway that was featured in Elle Décor Magazine.

     Find the Right Spot – Consider your collections and figure out what might work best for it.  Do you have a bookshelf that you could utilize?  A blank wall in your home?  Would the collection of baseball bats look best in the living room or an office?  Of course the bundt pans and pitchers might go best in the kitchen…

Group them together – Using the nearest display item (bookshelf, wall, or coffee table)  consider grouping collectible together through color sorting.  For example, all the red books on one shelf and all the black books on another shelf.  When in doubt, odd numbers look best to the eye.  Don’t forget to edit!  Take a fresh look after coming back to a project to see is it is overwhelming.  If you find your own space overwhelming, chances are your guests will also.

Found individually throughout a house, one might think that you are a cannibal.  However, grouped together on individual shelves all on one wall of this apartment therapy blog, this collection pops

     Quality beats Quantity – Remember the advice that your grandmother gave you when you chose your husband and pass that on to your knick knack buying....quality not quantity counts. Concentrate on buying fewer pieces of higher quality.  They are beautiful on their own and even more so together.  A good piece can stand by itself just as easily.

     Blue glass as unified high quality theme grouped together from Elle Décor Magazine.

     Know their story – If someone were to see your collectibles, what would you tell them?  Does each piece have a story or is it just some random piece you grabbed somewhere in Mexico?  Your display should allow you to relive the great joy that you experienced purchasing it and at the same time provide a connection point for you and your guest.

     A quick peek inside my home featuring my simple and elegant pitcher collection above my kitchen cabinets. My personal favorite is the squatty one second from the left that I purchased with my hubbie in our first kid-free getaway to Scottsdale, Arizona.
     Another resource for your collections, is this fantastic blog Apartment Therapy and the topic:“Flicker Finds: 10 Best Collectibles Display Ideas”. 

     This unique and completely personal collection of Pez dispensers immediately caught my eye -- unique and colorful!

     Whether your passion is Birkin, books, Silver Oak, nativity scenes, Hummels, door knobs, baseball cards, shot glasses, cookie jars or Life Magazines -- -why not think of a unique, simple interesting way to showcase your treasures?  Displaying them not only allows you to share your heart with your house visitors but also to bring a taste of your own creativity to the home.  My conclusion?  We all have things/indulgences that we allow ourselves to dabble in no matter our income or our age.  Why not make the best of it on show for all to enjoy?



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