7 Questions for Parvez Taj

Parvez Taj’s work may explore complex themes of culture and society, but this artist’s sprawling canvases have the power to electrify any space with their beauty. Taj’s use of unconventional media — from water-based paints to ultraviolet inks, printed on aluminum, bamboo, acrylic, and canvas — makes his pieces a fresh take on contemporary art. We talked to the artist about his newest work, and what’s coming next:

What’s the inspiration for the works in this sale? Bicoastal living — think Venice Beach, CA, and downtown NYC.

We definitely see that. What are your favorites? I like the reinterpreted California State Flag — I replaced the bear with a surfer and printed the piece on natural pine wood. I also like the image called “RX Surf,” which shows a surfer about to hit the waves, overlaid with a typical doctor’s prescription pad — meaning the surf is the prescription needed. It’s printed directly on aluminum, which has a iridescent shimmer as the light is reflected. And I love the piece called “Midtown,” which shows the Manhattan skyline — layered with blue acrylic paints, then splattered with white ink — to give the effect of a cold, snowy day in NYC.

Those of us who just lived through the NYC winter may not buy that last one. But we’ll take all the rest. So, what makes your work stand out, technically? An interesting mix of materials — aluminum, cork, wood, canvas and mirror.

How does the selection in your sale exemplify your style, artistically? They’re both urban and nature scenes, reinterpreted through a modern lens.

In contrast, are there any ways in which they break with your style/take it in a new direction? I strive to make each collection different from the previous, using different paints, layers and photos.

When you help curate these sales for Gilt, do you picture the customer(s)? What does he/she “look” like to you? Fortunately I am the target demographic for the Gilt customer. I curate/create these events for myself and peers.

What can we expect from you in the near future? Tell us something good…. As a hobby, I have started to do a lot of 3D printing — skulls being my focus.  I’m working with a projection team from Budapest, which deconstructs a 3D model of my art and projects it on the skull in intervals.  It’s super cool and close to my heart. But it’ll be a bit until I can bring it to market — and even then, I’m not sure what market that would be.


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Layered Rugs: How to Master the Perfect Mix


Add color, texture, and visual interest to a room by trying the layered-rugs trend. It might sound complicated to pull off, but just like with putting together an outfit, mastering the right mix isn’t hard… it just requires following a few general guidelines. Here are some tips for success:

Don’t get too close. Pairing beige, with another beige that’s just one shade off, will make for a muddy, wishy-washy look that works against the whole concept of layering. If you’re going tone on tone, make sure the tones are off by at least two shades. (Otherwise it’ll mimic the unfortunate jumpsuit-ish effect of wearing a beige sweater and khaki chinos the same exact color.)

Blend patterns with care. Pattern on pattern is fine; in fact, we encourage it… but when blending patterns, check to make sure that the colors of the two rugs either contrast well or complement each other nicely. Pattern mixing is already giving the eye quite a bit to take in; clashing colors will take it too far.

Mix textures. When mixing, avoid the same texture. Put a shaggy pile over a flat-woven wool, or a honeycomb weave under a criss-cross jute. Just like in fashion, mixing textures creates visual interest… and and an instant “I-hired-my-designer-to-do-it” look.

Work in contrasts. For a dramatic look, go with a contrast: steel gray layered on cobalt, yellow against charcoal gray, or purple and blue. Just make sure to stay within the same general color family, i.e., watch for mixing whites with creamy or icy tones, or neons with primaries.

Mind the gap. If you’re going to layer rugs, don’t do it bashfully … leaving 1 inch of space between rugs isn’t really revealing much at all. Have at least 6 inches of space on every side to show off the bottom layer.

Shop our layered rugs sale on Gilt, starting Sat. March 29, at noon.

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We’re Addicted To These Images

If you’re not a Dutch burgher who can sign up an artist to paint your self-portrait or a Medici duke equipped to order up a Madonna-and-child painting, don’t worry — you can still have bespoke art: Art Addiction’s pieces are composed of photographs or digital images commissioned by the company and then, upon your order, created to your specifications.

“That’s what makes us unique — customization,” says Tino Grana, the company’s owner, based in NYC. The images are printed on the back of an acrylic panel (which is much lighter than glass) and attached to an invisible frame. Mounted with the included Z-bar hanger, “it looks like it’s glass floating on the wall,” he notes. “In person they take on a different life because they reflect light — they almost look back-lit.”

The company began doing custom framing, purchasing images from sources for work with interior designers and the hospitality industry. “People came in and wanted a photo in a specific color, so I decided to start making it myself,” he says. Now the group does large-scale projects for designers, high-end stores, and upscale hotels.

These works are like snapshots from your fantasy life, or a deep dive into nature, gazing into the face of a flower. Want the perfect anniversary gift? You can’t top a photo of the Lover’s Bridge in Paris, festooned with locks. Or add edge to your loft with an abstract graffiti pattern overlaid on a stack of newspaper. Or perhaps, go back to nature, and grace an entire wall with a panel of 16 photos of tree branches. “It creates a big, dramatic piece for people who have the room,” says Grana. (We’re making room.)

Shop our Art Addiction sale starting Monday, Mar. 24, at noon.

- Maria Ricapito

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7 Questions for Padma Lakshmi

We’ve been inspired by Padma Lakshmi for quite some time — as a host and judge of the wildly successful Top Chef, she combines intelligence, humor, and plenty of knowledge of all things food. And all those qualities are in play in The Padma Collection — her first line of dinnerware, distinguished by the vibrancy, depth, and cultural awareness that define her as a person. We talked to Lakshmi about her inspirations behind the line … and what’s coming next.

How do you describe the collection? I hope that people find the line elegant yet specific — and different from anything else that’s out there. Our florals are meant to be fresh and organic without looking too dated or staid. Our Minakari pieces are a nod to Eastern silversmith carving patterns without being too literal. The glassware is classic and translucent but really feels like a jewel in your hand. We wanted all our pieces to feel like rare treasures found in faraway places but, at the same time, work seamlessly with the decor that’s already a part of your home.

Describe your design aesthetic at home. It’s pretty much the same as our collection! I actually use all those plates and glasses every day as well as for special occasions like Thanksgiving. I also collect French and Italian chandeliers from the Belle Epoque period as well as bagues from the ‘20s. If I had to find a term, and I’m cringing as I say this, I guess it would be an eclectic mix of Euro-Asian pieces.

What’s your table at home like? My table changes with every meal. Sometimes it has my child’s crayons scattered among the soup bowls and nacho platters while other times, I break out all the antique silver pieces I have collected with only white, gold and silver wedding bone china from Tiffany & Co. Other occasions, it’s as colorful as a Turkish bazaar with rose petals strewn over table linens from Sicily.

How has your experience in the food world, particularly on Top Chef, informed your design? Only in that I want serving and dinnerware that can showcase a variety of dishes. Finding the shapes and colors that work best to highlight and compliment the food without upstaging it is important. But it’s a pretty clinical environment at work, and the only time the dish comes into question is when it does the food a disservice. So in a way I guess, it hasn’t given an idea about what to do, as much as what NOT to do!

What’s your biggest table-design pet peeve? I don’t like when the floral arrangements are so big and tailored that I can’t see the person across from me. I also don’t like when it’s too perfectly set. It makes me nervous, like I’m going to spill my red wine all over and ruin everything.

What do you have coming next? I want to add some more serving pieces, and also more of our spun Turkish glass. I would love to do bakeware, and also glass dinner service. We also have some placemats and tablecloths in the pipeline. Linens are another great place to be really creative.

Finally, what’s the most critical element of a perfect table? The people dining at it.

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