Interior designer Sara Story, who will be curating vignettes for the New York exhibition of Sotheby's Decorative Arts Week this October, has an appreciation for good design – no matter the era. "All kinds of people, including fashion designers and artists, look back in history to see how they can take references and bring them into their contemporary vision," she says. "You have to know history to move forward." It's that attitude she believes people should borrow when putting together their own homes. "I like creating a juxtapostion between ornate and minimal, saturation and austere, old and new. A contemporary interior can have classic influences – think pairing a beautiful Neoclassical desk with an Eames chair. It gives your space a sense of depth and character you don't see if everything is modern." With that spirit in mind, we asked Story to browse the catalogue of our upcoming auction Collections: European Decorative Arts and pick her top timeless pieces.
A GERMAN NEOCLASSICAL BRASS AND ORMOLU-MOUNTED PART-EBONIZED MAHOGANY LIBRARY TABLE. ESTIMATE $30,000-50,000.
“The brass detailing on this wooden library table is fantastic. I like having mixed materials that are a bit unexpected – they really make a piece stand out. To play that up I would put a table like this in a more contemporary room with concrete floors or white plaster walls.”
A VENETIAN BAROQUE STYLE ETCHED GLASS AND BLUE GLASS MIRROR. ESTIMATE $6,000-9,000.
“Some contemporary artists are taking old Venetian glass and designing great chandeliers right now. It’s such a vibrant and beautiful material. This Venetian mirror is definitely an eye-catcher that would work well just about anywhere, like in a home entryway.”
AN AGRA CARPET, NORTHWEST INDIA. ESTIMATE $25,000-35,000.
“I think rugs are a nice way to add colour and warmth to a minimal space. Obviously this rug is a historical piece, but it’s also timeless and relevant. I would pair it with more neutral furniture in a pale gray or blue, though antique rugs don’t necessarily have to match the interior. They can often stand alone.”
A FRENCH ART DECO CUT AND FROSTED GLASS CHANDELIER. ESTIMATE $3,000-5,000.
“Lighting is one of my favorite aspects of interior design. It’s a wonderful opportunity to bring ambience to a room. This French Art Deco chandelier would create an incredible atmosphere.”
AN IMPORTANT LARGE CHINESE PORCELAIN ASSEMBLED FIVE PIECE GARNITURE QING DYNASTY. ESTIMATE $80,000-120,000.
“I really love porcelain and mixing Asian pieces, like laquerware or ceramics, into my interiors. The aesthetic is so amazing and I feel like there’s been a real surge of it in interior design lately. The palette of these porcelain pieces is really beautiful. They would look lovely anywhere in the home, whether it’s on a long raw oak console, a white pedestal or a bookshelf.”