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The Pavonia Room and the Art of Design
Since 1977, the San Francisco Decorator Showcase has taken over some of the city’s most prestigious addresses and redesigned them to benefit the San Francisco University High School’s financial aid program. Celebrating its 35th anniversary, this year’s Decorator Showcase sets up residence at 2020 Jackson Street from April 28–May 28, 2012.
Using Frederic Leighton’s iconic Aesthetic portrait Pavonia (1858–59) as a starting point, Geoffrey de Sousa, principal of Geoffrey De Sousa Interior Design and co-founder of De Sousa Hughes Design Showroom, will create an interior space he calls the Pavonia Room. A gentleman’s study informed by the Aesthetic Movement, this space is directly inspired by The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900, currently on view at the Legion of Honor. We caught up with De Sousa at the special exhibition, where we talked about his inspiration.
One of the first pieces we encountered as we moved through the crowded gallery was John Everett Millais’s Esther. De Sousa was immediately drawn to the painting, explaining, “We’re using draperies of this exact color in the Pavonia Room.”
When creating design schemes, De Sousa primarily commissions furniture to be made by local craftsman. For the Pavonia Room, however, De Sousa told us, “We’re using a 1930s wing chair with an elaborate outer fabric that contrasts with a simpler interior fabric choice.” The Aesthetic version of this technique can be seen in this stunning Lawrence Alma-Tadema armchair.
According to De Sousa, cultivating the craftsmanship and beauty that defined the Aesthetic style can be difficult from a business perspective. Creating beautiful objects from scratch increases a price tag and takes longer to produce, but using local artisans also mitigates shipping costs and undermines environmental impact, not to mention provides much needed support to skilled artists and craftsmen.
One such craftsman, John Pomp, will be creating blown-glass light fixtures for the Pavonia Room. Inspired by Harmony in Yellow and Gold, the epic cabinet created by Edward William Goodwin and James McNeill Whistler, Pomp’s lights will glow harmoniously through hand-blown golden glass.
Drawing from The Cult of Beauty, De Sousa respectfully references history while thoughtfully updating it with clever and surprising juxtapositions. In true Aesthetic fashion, Geoffrey De Sousa will not only design the Pavonia Room, he will curate it.
In two weeks, Geoffrey De Sousa himself will serve as our guest blogger, taking us into 2020 Jackson Street where the Pavonia Room will be transformed into his vision of Aestheticism in the 21st century.
Are you a member of the Fine Arts Museums? Show your membership card to receive $5 off admission for one to the Decorator Showcase.
Not a museum member? Purchase a ticket to the Decorator Showcase and receive $4 off admission to The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860–1900 on view at the Legion of Honor through June 17!