Going Deco at the Walker Tower

 

Custom Art Deco Friezes by SuperStrata top off the newly completed Walker Tower Lobby.

Left: Exterior of the Walker Tower.  Right: Custom, modernized Art Deco friezes by SuperStrata top off the newly completed Walker Tower Lobby designed by Jarvis Studios.

 

Called the “architect of the century” by the New York Times early on in his career, the legendary architect Ralph Walker completed his Art Deco masterpiece, lower Manhattan’s Walker Tower, in 1929. With the Walker Tower and his other Art Deco skyscrapers he sought to humanize skyscrapers through both design and ornamentation.

Originally designed for the New York Telephone Company, today the Walker Tower has been converted into luxury residences with quite a pedigree . Walker’s original deco vision was painstakingly preserved during it’s conversion from office headquarters. This restored architectural masterpiece soars above its neighboring buildings, providing views of Manhattan that rival the beauty of the meticulously designed interior.

As part of that restoration SuperStrata was brought in to create the custom, hand-cast Art Deco inspired plaster panels that top the sleek, black marble lined lobby designed by Jarvis Studios. From design to fabrication and installation, creating the Walker Tower lobby friezes was an artistic pleasure at every stage.

 

 

Custom, handmade plaster friezes by SuperStrata provide Deco adornment in the Walker Tower lobby.

Custom, handmade plaster friezes by SuperStrata provide Deco adornment in the Walker Tower lobby.

 

Deco flourishes - white custom plaster friezes by SuperStrata in the Walker Tower Lobby.

Deco flourishes – white custom plaster friezes by SuperStrata in the Walker Tower Lobby.

 

White plaster friezes designed by SuperStrata for the Walker Tower Lobby top lush, black stone walls.

White cast plaster friezes designed by SuperStrata for the Walker Tower Lobby top lush, black stone walls.

 

Custom plaster friezes by SuperStrata integrated into the Art Deco concept in the Walker Tower Lobby.

Contemporary, custom plaster friezes by SuperStrata integrated into the Art Deco concept in the Walker Tower Lobby.

 

SuperStrata Walker Tower Frieze

Cast plaster friezes by SuperStrata about to be installed in the Walker Tower Lobby.

 

Mirrored Mystique

As we begin designing our own line of customizable mirrored tiles and panels, naturally we’ve been obsessing over mirrors in interiors. Although we haven’t seen anything like what we are cooking up in the studio, we have been drooling over some stellar examples of interiors with antique mirrored walls by some of our favorite designers. Whether the real old deal or newly minted, antique mirrored tiles add not only undeniable glamour, but also a touch of nostalgia and romance to the equation. Coupled with the fact that mirrored walls bring light, depth and visual variation to a space, it’s no wonder that this classic decor tactic has made a big come back.

Dining Room designed by Studio William Hefner antique mirrored wall

An antiqued mirror wall becomes an architectural detail and the perfect frame for both credenza and chandelier in this elegant dining room designed by Studio William Hefner. via Houzz

Christina Murphy Interiors antique mirror panels

Antiqued Mirror Panels are inlaid to striking effect by Christina Murphy Interiors. via La Dolce Vita Blog

Antiqued mirror tiles are the perfect sleek complement to an ornate antique chest. Photo via

Antiqued mirror tiles are the perfect sleek complement to an ornate chest. Coupled with the gold, graphic wallpaper it’s downright refreshing. We’d love to know the designer! Photo via SS Photos

The ever talented Benjamin Dhong added glamour and visual pop with kitchen cabinets faced in heavily antiqued mirror. Photo via La Dolce Vita Blog

The ever talented Benjamin Dhong added glamour and visual pop with kitchen cabinets faced in heavily antiqued mirror. Photo via La Dolce Vita Blog

Another Benjamin Dhong stunner. The designer tore out cabinets in living room of this San Francisco Row HOuse and added a lillte "relahxed elegance" by way  of built in banquette and antiqued mirrored wall. Photo via House Beautiful

Another Benjamin Dhong stunner. The designer tore out cabinets in the living room of this San Francisco Row House and added a little “relaxed elegance” by way of built in banquette and antiqued mirrored wall. Photo via House Beautiful

This vignette is grounded in symmetry and saved by asymmetry. From the different height objects to the organic and unpredictable pattern of the antiqued mirror tiles, tho is one example we couldn't leave out. However, it's also one of those annoying on-line finds where we couldn't find the original source or designer. If you know, we'd love to hear from you so that we might give them credit where credit is due! Photo via Haus Design Blog

This vignette is grounded in symmetry and saved by asymmetry. From the different types of objects to the organic and unpredictable pattern of the antiqued mirror tiles, this is one example we couldn’t leave out. We aren’t sure of the original source or designer. If you know, we’d love to hear from you, so that we might give them credit where credit is due! Photo via Haus Design Blog

A brilliant mirrored mix by designer Todd Alexander Romano in his own Manhattan home. Photo via Elle Decor

A brilliant mirrored mix by designer Todd Alexander Romano in his own Manhattan home. Photo via Elle Decor

The man has glamour down! Antique mercury glass mirror panels set the stage for a sophisticated seating area in Interior Designer Todd Alexander Romano's NYC apartment. Photo via Elle Decor

The man has glamour down! Antique mercury glass mirror panels also set the stage for this sophisticated seating area in Interior Designer Todd Alexander Romano’s NYC apartment. Photo via Elle Decor

Who doesn't love the classic tropical, couture feel of Lyford Cay Club? Tom Scheerer designed a classic, that's for sure. The hearth is enveloped in antique glass tiles that only add to the overall island mystique. Photo via TomScheerer.com

Who doesn’t love the now storied tropical couture feel of Lyford Cay Club? Tom Scheerer designed a classic, that’s for sure. The hearth is enveloped in antique glass tiles that only add to the overall island mystique. Photo via TomScheerer.com

The green patina and unusually small tile size of the mirrors make this little number a standout. If anyone has the details - designer and product - we'd love to know. Photo via Panda's House

The green patina and unusually small tile size of the mirrors make this little number a standout. If anyone has the details – designer and product – we’d love to know. Photo via Panda’s House

Second to last, but certainly not least! This Veere Grenney dining room is a well crafted treasure.  The solid bones of this grand 19th century London home received the royal treatment from the designer. The antiqued mirror tiles lining hearth soar to a glorious fifteen feet. Photo via Veranda

Second to last, but certainly not least! This Veere Grenney dining room is a well crafted treasure. The solid bones of this grand 19th century London home received the royal treatment from the designer. The antiqued mirror tiles lining the hearth soar to a glorious fifteen feet. Photo via Veranda

Custom mirrors along with custom just about everything else adorn the living room of Veere Grenney's London "discovery". We're thrilled we discovered it, too! Photo via Veranda

Custom mirror panels along with custom just about everything else adorn the living room of Interior Designer Veere Grenney’s London “discovery”. We’re thrilled we discovered it, too! Photo via Veranda

The Round Up

Last week we launched #WallPinWednesday to great success! It was thrilling to see all of the fabulous contributions that fellow interior design lovers made to the collaborative inspiration board and to be a part of the conversations that ensued! Thank you to all who contributed everything from tile, lacquer, paint, color, to wallpaper, and of course, inspired interior design.

As promised, here is a round-up of some highlights from last week’s Wall Pin Wednesday. There are too many to share all of them here, even though we’d love to! To see the all of the images, CLICK HERE.

Historic meets modern in Valencia Hotel

From Barbara Segal aka @NoirBlancDesign via the Pursuitist a Valencia hotel “fusing historical legacy and modern design” that is beyond exquisite. Fragments of ancient walls, gothic arches, and 19th century palace remains are all integrated into its design. Read the entire post here. It’s worth it, we promise.

Simply awe inspiring, as it’s meant to be. This cathedral glows in walls of cobalt blue stained glass. If anyone knows where this is, we’d love to know! Submitted by Feia Construction, LLC for #WallPinWednesday

Hampton Designer Showhouse 2012 Robert Passal via Quintessence

Our contribution was the master bedroom by the very talented designer Robert Passal in the 2012 Hampton Designer Showhouse via Quintessence blog (please see Q’s post for more on this truly fabulous space.) The luscious wall finish was inspired by the colors of a bouquet and executed by artist Tracy Hines.

Graphic wallpaper in interior by Kelly Carter

The graphic wallpaper sets the stage in this interior by Kelley Carter in Lonny Magazine May 2012. Photography by Patrick Cline. via Customized Walls for #WallPinWednesday.

This pink on pink interior may be too much for some, but you can’t deny its power! The wildly glamorous, intensely colorful G Hotel in Galway was designed by Philip Treacy. via Interior Designer Sarah Sarna for Wall Pin Wednesday.

Watercolor Mural in Living Room

A washy, muted watercolor mural featured in the post 5 Resurrected Old-World Interior Design Trends was submitted from Lisa League aka @agirlandamac for #WallPinWednesday. (Originally featured on House To Home > Mural by Surface View | Photograph by Emma Lee)

Awe inpisiring tile in Casa da Música in Sala Barroca

I think the Portuguese tile in the Casa da Música in Sala Barroca speaks for itself! Re-pinned from Lee Nicholson aka @FilmoreClark for #WallPinWednesday. Via http://fomosveromundo.wordpress.com

Contrasting tile

In a Northern California Home by Michelle Kaufmann Studio a bath features contrasting silver and green tile enclave topped off with a perfect soaking tub. Photo by John Swain. Submitted by Mark Johnson FAIA for #WallPinWednesday

We look forward to seeing you all tomorrow for another #WallPinWednedsay!

Music For Your Eyes: Fluted Walls

A few years ago we were installing a plaster wall finish for an interior design project by the venerable Jeffrey Bilhuber and fell in love with another wall- a fluted plaster stunner. It was the first time we had seen a fluted plaster wall, columns sure, but on a flat wall in a contemporary setting, never. We saw that flat, previously nondescript walls become architectural design statements when fluted. Tactilely inviting, optically captivating, and a bit mysterious, at a distance fluted walls could be mistaken for stripes, their trendy, two dimensional cousin, but fluted walls have a visual depth, a play of light and shadow, and a historical reference all their own.

We’ve always wondered when the idea of fluting walls would take off. And then, an eclectic, colorful New York apartment designed by Miles Redd featured recently in House Beautiful caught our eyes. Miles Redd’s designs often are eye catching, but the living room caused a double take; it has a beautifully applied plaster fluted wall treatment running right up the walls and over the ceiling. That got us to thinking- how many other designers are now using this ancient architectural element as a wall treatment? We couldn’t find many, but thought we’d share what we did find, along with a few casual shots we took of that Bilhuber project years ago…

Fluted Plaster Wall Treatment in an apartment designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber

The first fluted plaster wall finish we’d ever seen in a New York living room designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber. Photo by SuperStrata.

A fluted plaster wall finish designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber.

Up close and personal, the unfinished plaster brings a subtle texture. The texture and depth of the finish is further enhanced as the light plays off the ridges of the fluting. Photo by SuperStrata.

Bespoke fluted plaster wall and ceiling finish in a living room by designer Miles Redd.

The living room by Miles Redd that sent us on our quest for fluting! The walls and ceiling received a continuous surface finish created by applying plaster to the walls and fluting it while still wet with specially made tools. Photo by James Merrell via House Beautiful.

Miles Redd designed living room with fluted walls in New York.

The light, ruffled aqua drapes lend a delicate air to this sitting area designed by Miles Redd. Notice the fluted wall treatment does not continue over the ceiling, but rather meets it in a soft caress. Photo by James Merrell via House Beautiful.

A fluted reading corner by Miles Redd. Photo by James Merrell via House Beautiful.

Perfect fluting adds texture and movement to a hallway ceiling by Miles Redd.

The fluting on the ceiling, seen here reflected in the mirrored wall, adds texture and movement. Interior design by Miles Redd. Photo by James Merrell via House Beautiful.

Fluted walnut paneling in an interior designed by Fox-Nahem

We love this warm and sensual fluted walnut paneling in an interior designed by Fox-Nahem. Photo by Elizabeth Felicella via Fox-Nahem.

Fluted walnut paneling in an interior designed by Fox-Nahem

Photo by Elizabeth Felicella via Fox-Nahem.

Fluted walnut paneling in an interior designed by Fox-Nahem

Photo by Elizabeth Felicella via Fox-Nahem.

Bespoke fluted walls by the Luczak Brothers for Jean-Louis Deniot

A Chicago dining room by Parisian designer Jean-Louis Deniot with fantastic plaster fluted walls by the Luczak Brothers. Can’t you just see these walls perfectly juxtaposed with minimal and mid-century design as well? Photo by Miguel Flores-Vianna via Architectural Digest.

A fluted half wall in a home designed by McAlpine Tankersley

This elegant, rustic room by McAlpine Tankersly gets the traditional gone modern treatment in the form of a fluted half wall. Photo via Limestone and Boxwoods.

Art-deco era interior with Fluted walls.

Maybe not such a new idea? An illustration of an Art-Deco era grand “stair hall” designed by Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann with a fluted wall on the ground level. Image via Bradbury & Bradbury.

Venetian Plaster: Those In The Know Don’t Faux

High Sheen Polished Authentic White Venetian Plaster Wall Finish

Custom Authentic Polished Venetian Plaster by SuperStrata for Nicole Fuller Interiors.

In the last few decades the polished Italian limestone plaster as luminous as a pearl has come to be known as Venetian Plaster. Driving its immense popularity is its undeniable beauty, but behind the accent walls there is a storm brewing.

The tempest on the horizon of the design world could very well end the rein of Venetian Plaster as a “timeless” and “classic” wall treatment; the proliferation of badly done fakes by untrained “professionals” and “certified” painting contractors could render this once legendary finish a mere trend. In fact, many so-called “Venetian Plasters” that are installed today are the equivalent of buying Louis Vuitton bags on Canal St: they aren’t real; they aren’t natural; they aren’t quality; and they look like plastic!

True Venetian Plaster and its resplendent aesthetic qualities can only be accomplished with real limestone plaster and great artisanal technique. Authentic Venetian Plaster is made of slaked lime, marble dust, and water. As the plaster cures, it reabsorbs carbon dioxide from the air and returns to a stone state, strong and radiant with the depth of color and translucence of the natural stone that it is comprised of, limestone and marble.

modernCustom authentic, polished yellow Venetian Plaster walls in a mezzanine.

Custom authentic, polished Venetian Plaster walls with little color mottling in a modern mezzanine rivals lacquer for the title of queen of sheen. With the added bonus of being eco-friendly, the all natural plaster finish wins the crown every time. Interior design by Nicole Fuller Interiors. Walls by SuperStrata.

Now you can buy a can of something labeled “Venetian Plaster” at Home Depot, but what is in the can is not Venetian Plaster. The proliferation of these canned imposters full of ethylene glycol, vinyl acetates, acrylics, and resins have turned these so-called Venetian Plasters into a cheap and shoddy commodity, chemically incapable of the depth of color, the play with light, and the longevity that the real thing naturally boasts.

Venetian Plaster in Master Bath lends tranquility and a spa-like quality.

A true Venetian Plaster in a soothing natural tone lends tranquility and a spa-like quality to this master bath. Interior Design by Nicole Fuller Interiors. Wall Finish by SuperStrata.

Authentic Limestone Plaster by SuperStrata in a Master Bath

As pretty as a pearl, a classic wall treatment when paired with non-traditional fixtures and contemporary art make this bath stylish, luxurious, and grounded. Interior Design by Nicole Fuller Interiors. Walls by SuperStrata.

Venetian Plaster in an Upatate New York Home

The high shine qualities of the Venetian Plaster wall finish are topped by a ceiling aglow with Marmorino plaster  with Mica flakes. Interior Design by Nicole Fuller Interiors. Walls and Ceiling Treatments by SuperStrata.

When installed as it was meant to be, with real materials, expertise, and craftsmanship, authentic Venetian Plaster is absolutely gorgeous, but when applied by untrained labor and contractors, the result is often inferior. This is doubly so when inauthentic and second-rate materials are employed to save on labor and cost. The old motto “you get what you pay for” is alive and well in the wall finishing business. Add the environmental benefits of using authentic limestone plasters to the equation, and the real thing always comes out on top.

Benefits of real Limestone Plaster:

  • Authentic limestone plasters are natural & GREEN
  • Mold resistant– less allergens
  • Natural temperature regulator
  • Low VOCs– no harmful vapors or chemicals
  • Made of plentiful natural resources
  • Truly time tested- Used for thousands of years
  • Highly customizable
  • Capable of innovative visual effects and patterns
  • Aesthetically superior to synthetics

Walls Surround Us

Walls are shelter. Walls are privacy. Walls keep things in and keep things out. We are surrounded by them, and when we are lucky, kept safe and warm by them. Walls are ubiquitous yet sometimes they are cursorily styled, not as an afterthought, but almost as a non-thought, something to merely hang a picture on. Other times they are works of art themselves, outstanding jewels that are perfectly suited to their environments.  This blog is dedicated to those outstanding walls that surround us.

Chronicling our obsession, Walls Surround You profiles all things wall: plaster finishes, paint, design, tile, wallpaper, and of course, the fabulous producers, designers, architects, and decorators that create them. We will feature guest blog posts mixed in with our original content, projects, commentary, book reviews, and trend spotting. We are so excited to have you join us on our journey and to share our passion for the walls that surround us!

Without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Wharton Esherick's stair encased in worn plaster walls in his home in PA from Handcrafted Modern by Leslie Williamson

Wharton Esherton’s uniquely artistic home.  Photo by Leslie Williamson from the book Handcrafted Modern

A rough hewn plaster wall, resplendent with history supports a split spiral staircase from the 1939 World’s fair in artist Wharton Esherton’s home and studio in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. There has been a surge of worn walls lately in the blogasphere, but this one in combination with the warmth of the idiosyncratic staircase and large wooden beam with a chair on top, is one of the most earnest we’ve seen. From a wonderful book that we recommend for design (and wall) inspiration, Handcrafted Modern: At Home With Mid-Century Designers by Leslie Williamson.

Fabric covered wall with matching settee. Interior Design by Vessper Wilde.

Fabric covered wall with matching settee. Interior Design by Nicole Fuller Interiors. Photo via Nicole Fuller Interiors.

We had to include this entryway turned interior landscape by the former design duo Vessper Wilde. The settee is upholstered to blend into the fabric-covered wall almost seamlessly, creating the most glamorous camouflage we’ve ever seen. The oh so glam vignette is symmetrically flanked by hanging beaded glass light fixtures and walls of iridescent abalone shell tile. As a counterpoint, the soft, shag rug warms things up; plus, it’s the perfect contrast for the outcropping of black glass occasional tables that reflect the pattern of the fabric.

Custom, handmade plaster panels depicting a tree motif by SuperStrata flank cherry paneled walls.

Forest motif custom handmade plaster panels line the top of wood paneled walls.  Photo ©SuperStrata

It is not everyday we get to stretch our legs and work on a project like this one. Sketched, hand-carved,  and then cast by SuperStrata artisans, the detailed, custom plaster panels that abut the solid cherry wood walls were designed to bring the surrounding outdoors inside.  Exposed beams, wood mantel, inviting furniture, antique church pew: together all of the elements create a comfortably elegant gathering spot.

Detail of custom plaster panel atop wood paneled walls in upstate New York.

Detail of custom plaster panel with trees in upstate New York. Photo ©SuperStrata

Photo ©Jonas Everets

This photo was taken on vacation years ago in Mexico. We’ve long forgotten what town it was in, but we’ve never forgotten this work of traditional Mexican artistry. Unfortunately, we can’t give you too much detail, but we can share its visual splendor with you. We’re imagining the geometric rosette design as a painted contemporary wall treatment.

Lime paint wall finish and Marmorino plaster walls by Christian Liaigre in Alta Gracia Spain

Lime wash and Marmorino. Interior Design  by Christian Liaigre in Alta Gracia, Spain. Photo from Liaigre by Christian Liaigre, Thomas Luntz, Jean-Philippe Piter and Eric Morin

We love Liaigre! What’s not to love? He is so gifted, and we definitely appreciate his talent with walls. Not only two-toned, these walls are two-textured. Buffeting a warm toned limestone and marble dust plaster finish, Marmorino, or “little marble” in Italian, with a cool white lime paint in all of its gritty, brushy beauty is a textural feast for the eyes. Featuring this project and many more with walls that will make you swoon, Liaigre by Christian Liaigre is another must read for interior design devotees.

Detail of the brushy texture in the lime paint finish of a project by Christian Liaigre in Alta Gracia Spain. Photo by Jean-Philippe Piter

Detail of the brush strokes in an eco-friendly lime paint finish by famed Interior Designer Christian Liaigre in Alta Gracia Spain. Photo by Jean-Philippe Piter

Bausman window display by Interior Designer Oliver Furth honoring The Fountainhead

Bausman window display by Interior Designer Oliver Furth. Photo via Oliver Furth

Los Angeles Interior Designer Oliver Furth created this interior, actually a window display, for Bausman’s LA showroom, in honor of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead. We’ve included it in our inaugural post for its brilliant use of old blueprints as wall coverings. Given the subject and the context, the blueprints make for a smart show, but in combination with the oversized sexy, organic shaped desk, colorfully contrasting chair, stark black and white art work, and a light fixture mobile composed of architectural photographs, we think it’s downright outstanding. Now, where to find enough blueprints do our own offices…

Venetian Plaster in a high shine yellow warms a mezzanine hallway

One of our Venetian Plasters in a high shine yellow warms a mezzanine hallway. Interior Design by Vessper Wilde. Photo © SuperStrata

Not your average Venetian Plaster, this fresh, custom yellow finish was executed without the mottling that many Venetian Plasters have; perfectly smooth, it has all the sheen and double the glory. It reminds us of that other high shine treatment, lacquer. However, unlike lacquer,  an authentic limestone plaster wall treatment is eco-friendly, which makes us love it even more.

Dune Cast concrete tile by Stephen Lindsay

Dune, seen here in cast concrete, is a shaped tile by Stephen Lindsay. Photo via UrbanProduct

Dune, by Stephen Lindsay, is a contemporary shaped tile available in wood, concrete, and plaster. Abutting a bright white traditional wainscoting, the contrast of the organic inspired tiles is striking.  We are currently obsessed with tile designs that have a modulated surface, but we won’t get on our soap box yet, we have plenty of time for that!

Speaking of time, choosing the images for our inaugural post was daunting- there is so much we wanted to share with you! In the end, all are outstanding examples of their individual styles. We’d love to know what you think!

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