ANOTHER LOVE AFFAIR: KELVIN AND PHILIP LAVERNE

Since the beginning of time…okay , since I have been in the interior design business…which often seems like the beginning of time to me… I have been madly in love with the work of Philip and Kelvin Laverne. Subsequently, I have been purchasing pieces designed by them for my clients, knowing not only how beautiful the furniture is, but also what a great investment it is. I have yet to see one of their signature tables and not go ga-ga over it.

 

Time for some background history on this father and son team…

Philip and Kelvin Laverne created one of a kind, and limited edition pieces, often re-interpreting classical chinoiserie designs, as well as Egyptian, Greek and Etruscan illustrations. They had a highly unusual manner for producing their signature finish on the metals they used, which involved burying the metal furniture in the ground encased in a secret “brew” of Asian soil and chemicals. Obviously, you have to do what you have to do as an artisan to achieve the perfect end result!

Kelvin, the son, started working with his father in 1960 after extensive studies in art history, metal sculpturing and furniture design. They opened a studio on Wooster Street in New York City…Soho pioneers!…where they created their masterpieces of patinated bronze, pewter and silver. At one time they had a store on East 57th Street in Manhattan, and were for some time represented by Baker Furniture and exhibited at various galleries.

The majority of their furnishings and sculptures were produced mid-century through the 80’s. They display the perfect combination of art and design…a stated goal of the designers…and definitely work fabulously in contemporary or traditional interiors. My first encounter with their work was at Wooster Gallery in Soho , NYC, owned by Ralph Beatrice. He was the “go to person” for a piece of Laverne furniture. His passion for their talents and furnishings was deep, and I spent many an afternoon at his wonderful shop discovering another Laverne “jewel”, one of which resides rather happily in my living room!

The prices were quite reasonable in those days. Recently I read that a table by the Lavernes went for auction at Rago Auction for $57,000! And according to Kelvin, who is still alive, most of the one-of-a-kind pieces have not even entered the market yet. So keep your eyes out for anything made by this highly creative and respected team, and if your pocketbook allows, scoop it up instantly!!!

Ciao, ciao ’til next time!