Thursday, February 18, 2010
Who’s who at Jean-Marc Fray French Antiques? Allow us to officially introduce the people who help us run the show at the gallery in Austin and who’s behind our website…
Jean-Marc and Cynthia Fray
Jean-Marc is a French native from Nice, where the Mediterranean sea, the local art and architecture served as constant sources of inspiration for his artistic heart. With a gift for languages (he speaks four fluently) and a passion for history, he pursued a degree in the Business of Tourism and promptly landed a job with French cruise line Croisieres Paquet. For ten years he traveled the world, based out of Paris and Lyon, where he lived with his American wife, Cynthia. Weekends were spent scouring the local flea markets and auction houses for antiques, a family passion, which he restored himself and accumulated in increasing abundance for his home and that of his parents. Business opportunity, family and a burning desire for working with art and antiques brought Jean-Marc to Austin, TX in 1995 where he started his French antiques business from scratch. Fifteen years later, he’s still at it with a passion. In the rare moments when he’s not buying, selling, restoring or just thinking about antiques, he’s most likely hanging out with his daughters, painting, or on the petanque field with unflappable focus.
Cynthia is a native Texan, born in Dallas, but raised in the Pacific Northwest. While studying Business and French at the University of Washington she developed a passion for all things French including a Frenchman by the name of Jean-Marc Fray, whom she met during a study abroad program in the south of France. Upon graduating, she moved to France where she married and lived with Jean-Marc, working in advertising for an agency in Paris then later for Apple Computer France. They moved to Austin, TX with their eldest daughter Leslie in 1995 to open their French antiques business with family nearby. When she’s not at work or keeping up with their now two daughters (Juliette arrived in ’97), she can most often be found in the kitchen, satisfying another fervent passion: cooking.
Jean-Noel was born and raised in beautiful Nice, France near the sea. After earning his Baccalaureat with a concentration in literature, art history and languages (fluent Italian and English) he followed his dream to live and study in Paris where he enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux Arts Paris La Seine, in the district of St. Germain. There he pursued a degree in Architecture where his love for art, drawing and design would blossom and flourish. During his studies, he often accompanied his brother, Jean-Marc Fray, to the antique markets and auctions when Jean-Marc was in France on buying trips. He mastered the art of furniture restoration under his brother’s eye and developed the family passion for antiques. When he returned to Nice five years later, he continued working for Jean-Marc and managed his operations in France. Jean-Noel moved to Austin in 2009 to join the business full-time. His keen sense of design aesthetic and knowledge of antiques are constantly at work in the gallery, where he designs and creates living spaces with furniture, lighting and art like a true artist. When he’s not at work, chances are you’ll find him running around Town Lake or, if he’s in France, soaking up the sun on the beaches of the Cote d’Azur.
Friday, February 12, 2010
by Lauren Stewart-Ebert
Receiving a new shipment from France is pretty much my favorite time at the gallery. We’re so busy bringing in pieces, taking pictures, putting them up on the site… it can get a little crazy!
But the very best of all… the Murano chandeliers! No matter how many times I see them do it, I am always amazed to watch Jean-Noel and Jean-Marc assemble these intricate glass chandeliers.
A table of Murano leaves and branches is intimidating. Knowing that every single piece was hand blown to be placed just so on the chandelier is mind boggling…
To think, all these little (very breakable) pieces traveled over the ocean all the way from Venice, Italy, to be put together right before my eyes! I have to say, Jean-Noel is fearless climbing that twelve foot ladder and placing piece after piece of hand blown glass in place…
While Jean-Noel was placing that chandelier, Jean-Marc was busy hanging leaf after leaf on this contemporary Murano piece…
Looking at the finished product it’s easy to be wowed. Watching these Murano glass chandeliers come together little by little makes me have a greater respect for the beauty of the chandelier… and also for Jean-Marc and Jean-Noel’s willingness to balance on a twelve foot ladder with one-of-a-kind pieces of Italian glass!!
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Louis XIV: 1640-1715
Louis XIV, also known as “The Sun King”, had the longest reign of any European monarch. His focus on opulence and splendor was imposed upon France. The Palace at Versailles is a lasting example of his love of the arts and luxury.
Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, France.
King Louis XIV bed in the Palace of Versaille, France.
The Queen’s bed in the Palace of Versaille, France.
French court furniture was built for grandeur rather than comfort and only the king was allowed to sit in an armchair. Stools and benches were covered in velvet, silk, damask, and gold brocade. Chairs and settees were just as elaborate.
Louis XIV style.
Furniture introduced in this period includes the writing table or desk and finely detailed chests, which became one of the most important furniture types of the 18th century. The finest materials were used and the furniture is characterized by intricate marquetry, elaborate carving, gilding, inlaying, lacquer, gold leaf decorations of scalloped shells, lions’ heads, dolphins, laurels and, of course, the sun and its rays.
Louis XIV chest.
Louis XIV period desk.
Louis XIV Boulle style travailleuse.
Louis XIV ormolue.
There was an increasing fascination with the Far East and all things Asian. French craftsmen copied the style and added flourishes of their own. This was the beginning of “chinoiserie”.
Louis XIV period armoire.
Louis XIV cabinet in “chinoiserie”.
The “Os de Mouton” chair is the one of the most significant pieces of the era. As the name implies, this chair had curved legs shaped like those of a lamb.
Os de mouton base.
Friday, February 05, 2010
Introducing: Meredith McBrearty
Meredith McBrearty started her own design business after 7 years of experience in the field. An Austin newcomer, Meredith has completed homes in California, Virginia, and Texas. Her design approach yields fresh, studied, and timeless residential interiors.
Shop Talk: Five Minutes With Meredith McBrearty
How would you define your approach to interior design?
I think it is important to listen to your client – how they live, what they love, where they’ve been, and make it come to life in their home. My goal is to make a home reflect the owner by creating a cohesive interior that is interesting and comfortable. I love to present clients with colored renderings – this really brings the ideas to life and helps the client visualize what might otherwise be hard to imagine. It’s also important to study the project – the scale, the relationship of one piece to another, and how it will look when it all comes together.
What would you say has made the greatest influence on you as a designer?
I was fortunate to work for Solis Betancourt in Washington, DC for 6 years. From these extremely talented men I was exposed to both traditional interiors in Washington and New York, and contemporary homes in Puerto Rico and South Florida. I learned the importance of approaching a project as a whole, incorporating a great collection of art, and making lasting relationships with clients. The broad range of experience I received under their watch has greatly influenced me as a designer.
What do you think is the key to a successful designer/client relationship?
Be accessible, be professional, and enjoy the process. The design process should be fun and exciting for everyone involved!
Where do you go/what do you do for inspiration?
I am constantly reading design books and magazines. I shop very, very frequently – at thrift stores, on web sites, and wonderful antique shops like Jean-Marc Fray! The day you quit learning, evolving, or changing is the day you should quit design.
What do you do when you are not designing?
I probably think about my job more than most, but I am fortunate to love what I do. When I am not working I like to exercise, travel, and hang with my husband and friends. I enjoy trying new restaurants. (I’m not so much the cook!)
Meredith McBrearty’s Designer Picks from Jean-Marc Fray French Antiques:
For more information about Meredith McBrearty:
Meredith Leach McBrearty