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 Diamond Baratta’s Artisanal Decorating

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PostSubject: Diamond Baratta’s Artisanal Decorating   Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:52 pm


  • For
    the staircase in William Diamond’s Long Island house, Diamond Baratta
    Design worked with Jan Jurta of Country Braid House in Tilton, New
    Hampshire to make a traditional braided rug modern by way of graphic
    black and white stripes. Photographs courtesy of Diamond Baratta
  • Jurta
    also worked with Diamond Baratta on the braided parts of this rug,
    which also incorporates hooked-rug medallions that depict farm scenes.
  • Paul
    Flammang, a cabinetmaker in Old Saybrook, Conn., made the
    lighthouse-shaped newel post for this house on Cape Cod; it includes
    brass railings and an interior light.
  • Diamond
    Baratta entrusted the Hawaiian-inspired pattern for the upholstery on
    this antique bench to Erin Wilson, a Brooklyn quilter and textile
    artist, who rendered it in hand-stitched appliqué.
  • For
    Anthony Baratta’s apartment in Miami Beach, the designers came up with a
    headboard based on George Nelson’s Marshmallow sofa, and Kenneth
    DeAngelis, of the New York upholsterer Guido DeAngelis Inc., translated
    it expertly.




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Diamond Baratta Design, the New York firm known for its chic, knowledgeable, sometimes irreverent decorating and its bold use of color,
is also famous for putting a contemporary spin on traditional crafts
like cabinetmaking, quilting, rug braiding, and upholstery. William
Diamond and Anthony Baratta, the firm’s principals, have built lasting
relationships with established artisans, and they’re always on the
lookout for talented newcomers, but they challenge all their
collaborators to push their work in new directions.
For more than two decades, the designers have been working with Jan and Wayne Jurta of Country Braid House
in Tilton, N. H., a maker of braided rugs that was founded in 1968 by
Wayne’s parents, Marion and George Jurta. While traditional braided rugs
tend toward a fairly subdued color palette, Country Braid House has
made bold rugs for Diamond Baratta, like the modern, graphic
black-and-white-striped stair runner, shown here, for Diamond’s house on
Long Island, or richly colored, large-scale rugs that combine braided
and hooked sections (the latter are made elsewhere), a technique that
Jan Jurta said had its origins in Shaker design. “Bill and Tony really
took the technique and ran with it, bringing it into the 21st century,”
she added, referring to Baratta’s use of pictorial hooked-rug medallions
that depict things like farm scenes and blue-and-white Delft motifs.
The designers returned the compliment by saying that Jurta “never says
no to a new concept.”
The cabinetmaker Paul Flammang is another longtime collaborator. From
his workshop in Old Saybrook, Conn., Flammang, a seventh-generation
woodworker who presses his family (including one daughter who is doctor
and another who is a post-doctoral student at Harvard) into service on
big jobs, has produced fanciful things for Diamond Baratta’s projects,
like a newel post in the shape of a lighthouse (with tiny brass railings
and an interior light) for a Cape Cod residence, or a 9-foot-tall media
cabinet, inspired by New York cast-iron architecture, for Baratta’s
Manhattan apartment. Rather than present him with finished blueprints,
Flammang said, the designers start with a sketch, allowing him a fair
amount of input into the finished product. “They have such respect for
tradespeople,” he continued. “You don’t feel like you’re working for
them; you feel like you’re working with them.”
Quilting is another craft on which Diamond Baratta has put a very
contemporary stamp, devising bold patterns for upholstery and even wall
coverings. Erin Wilson, a
dancer-turned-quilter and textile artist who is based in Brooklyn, is
one of the designers’ newer collaborators; she introduced herself to
them “in a good old cold call,” she recalled. Diamond and Baratta admire
“the intricacy of her needlework and her ability to create patterns of
complex curved hand-appliqués,” as in the pale blue and white
Hawaiian-inspired pattern on an antique bench in a Connecticut house.
It’s extremely time-consuming work, but Wilson, whose own work tends to
be abstract, relishes the opportunity to get re-acquainted with
traditional quilt-making techniques, especially when given Diamond
Baratta’s modern twists. “If you take away the notion of something being
old-timey,” she said, “it becomes just a graphic design.”
Rightly insisting that “a decorator is only as good as his
upholsterer,” Diamond and Baratta are big fans of Kenneth DeAngelis, the
owner of Guido DeAngelis Inc., the New York company named for his
father, who founded it in 1954. The designers admire De Angelis for
realizing “our crazy ideas,” like the headboard in Baratta’s Miami Beach
apartment. Inspired by a mid-20th century furniture classic — George
Nelson’s Marshmallow sofa — the headboard consists of five rows of
upholstered circular pieces that seem to hover effortlessly on the wall.
(In fact, they are bolted together in back.) It isn’t DeAngelis’s
usual fare, but then little of his work with Diamond Baratta is. The
designers come up with special shapes and legs, custom trimmings, and
deconstruct patterned fabrics in ways complex enough to stump even the
most seasoned upholsterer. But his biggest challenge, De Angelis said,
presented itself when — at Diamond’s suggestion— Baratta decided to turn
two Victorian sofas into a bed (one for the headboard, one for the
footboard) for his New York apartment. De Angelis had to figure out how
to join the sofas in a way that looked seamless. So early one Saturday
morning, he assembled his team in the shop, and they devised side rails
that looked like the sofas’ (soon to be unneeded) front rails. The
finished product is one of Diamond Baratta’s more spectacular designs.
But as DeAngelis said, “They’re original, that’s for sure.”
Paul Flammang: 23 Shepard St, Old Saybrook, Conn., (860) 767-7786. Guido DeAngelis Inc.: 312 E 95th Street, (212) 348-8225.
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