Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Beautiful Butterfly Bounty: Schumacher and Lulu DK

F. Schumacher & Company is perhaps the most revered textile business in America.  Established in New York in 1889 by immigrant Frederic Schumacher, it remains a family-owned and run business even after almost 125 years.  While Thibaut originally focused on wallpaper production, Schumacher first imported fine fabrics, trimmings and rugs from Europe.  In 1895, they started manufacturing their own fabrics, then wallpapers, and carpets.  Over the years, Schumacher has acquired other important, traditional companies including Greeff and Decorator’s Walk and built an amazing library of textile designs.  Needless to say, they include some of the most enchanting butterfly motifs.

Leafy Arbor, seen here in parchment… a warm, almost tea-stained palette, literally envelopes you in its garden trellis.
Leafy Arbor in parchment
Consider papering a sun room or family room.  Add stone or ceramic tile floors, plump sofas, a little leather and The Elizabeth Lucas Company’s canvas-gauze-burlap pillows.
Butterfly 2 pillows by The Elizabeth Lucas Company
Very comfortable living that’s wonderfully pretty without being too feminine!  Leafy Arbor is available in three other, slightly clearer, icier colors.

Shadow Vine wallpaper is more contemporary, and perhaps, more magical with silhouettes of ferns, trailing autumn clematis, and of course, butterflies.
Shadow Vine in chartreuse
It comes in four colors, including chartreuse, and would be stunning in your foyer lit with a pair of vintage, French sconces from Le Breton Interieurs in San Francisco.
Detail of Shadow Vine

Fabulous brass sconces from Le Breton Interieurs
Highlight the rather citrusy green and brassy yellow with an Aesthetica Mosaic by Christopher Marley.
Aesthetica Mosaic

The not-so-little Goliath Birdwing
His studio, called Pheromone, collects butterflies, moths, beetles, bees, wasps, flies and damselflies from around the globe and then creates these mesmerizing collages.  Your foyer would celebrate the strange and wonderful beauty of insects and make you happy everyday!

The 1960s classic Birds and Butterflies, available in wallpaper or cotton chintz, originated from Decorator’s Walk and is now a mainstay of Schumacher’s collection.
Birds and Butterflies
I appreciate its quirky duality.  It seems at once brilliantly bold and whimsically old-fashioned.  To be honest, Birds and Butterflies really commands a room, but here are a few accessories that can hold their own with the confident pattern.

Imagine Birds and Butterflies in a breakfast room with black and white ticking and Caskata’s lovely Butterfly dinnerware.
Or use it to upholster a large screen in a guest bedroom.  Add linen euro shams from Design Legacy.
Butterflies for Brains, a sculpture from Global Views, would look perfect flanked by wing chairs in Birds and Butterflies.
And last, but hardly least, the tiny, handmade Butterfly Mosaic chandelier, from New York-based Canopy Designs, echoes the textile’s bright blues and golds with just a bit more sparkle and glamour.
Since 1925, Schumacher has collaborated closely with important designers, architects and institutions to develop special collections.  Lulu DK’s sprightly Butterfly was created for Schumacher’s children’s line of fabrics, but it could easily enliven any grown-up room.
Butterfly by Lulu DK for Schumacher
Think about floor-to-ceiling draperies or a skirted side table in the colorful poplin.  Increase sophistication with Carson and Company’s chocolate Bettylou lamp or frame their Mackenzie silk charmeuse scarf for a dramatic focal point.
Carson and Company's chocolate-y Bettylou lamp...
and sunshine-y Mackenzie scarf.
In so many ways, Lulu deKwiatkowski reminds me of butterflies and their remarkable dichotomy of fragility and vitality.  Lulu grew up in a wealthy and artistic family and must have been influenced by her cosmopolitan parents and stylish grandmother.  But she was also allowed time to play and explore nature.  She studied fine arts at Parsons School of Design and decorative painting in Paris but still regularly finds inspiration in everyday scenes and objects from her travels throughout the world.  And I think it is this openness to ideas, this true joie de vivre that makes her such a terrific artist.

In addition to her work with Schumacher, she has designed bed linens for Matouk, furniture for Elite Leather and china for Neiman-Marcus.  Lulu’s Byzantine and Petals dinnerware patterns are based on her fanciful watercolor paintings.
and Petals...

would be perfect with the Cracked Glass Butterfly napkin ring from Dransfield and Ross.
And I think her original endeavor – her signature collection of hand-printed fabrics – is still her most appealing.  The aptly-named Dreamers comes in 4 gorgeous color combinations.  In crystal, it goes perfectly with Benjamin Moore’s Silvery Blue, like the small butterfly native to western America, and a duo of vintage lamps from Dragonette Limited in Los Angeles.
Dreamers in crystal
Silvery Blue 1647
Beautifully hand-painted butterfly lamps from Dragonette
Detail of vintage lamp
Dreamers in kelly green is equally charming, especially when matched with The Natural Light’s simple Garden Gourd table lamp.  So very pretty… in the very best sense!
Dreamers in kelly green
Garden Gourd from The Natural Light
And you know, there’s nothing wrong with pretty.  We need sweetness in our lives.  And we need butterflies… for pollination and plant control and for what they represent and inspire.

So, plant a butterfly garden.  The National Museum of Natural History’s Butterfly Habitat Garden, between the Museum and 9th Street, provides a lot of great ideas for what can grow in a harsh environment and relatively small space.  The Bristow Butterfly Garden, part of the Botanical Garden in Norfolk, Virginia, is significantly larger at 2 acres.  But the goal is the same: to support butterflies and moths in all stages of life.

Even if you don’t have a garden of your own, you can get up close and personal with butterflies by participating in a butterfly count.  The official counts are wrapping up here in Central Virginia, but you can always organize a count of your own in a neighborhood park or open space.  Check with your local Audubon Society or state Department of Conservation for guidance.

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