Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Behind the Scenes at our One King's Lane Photo-shoot

We are gearing up for our very first collaboration with One King's Lane.  We still have a lot of work to do, but we took these clips during our marathon photo-shoot.  Hope you enjoy the preview!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Thoughts for 2012

As my father and I prepare for 2012, I keep coming back to one primary concern: Europe.
My concern is not so much about whether or not specific countries default on their debt, the EU finds a way to muddle through somehow, or even if the currency falls apart.  My main concern is about lending and the crisis’s effects on confidence and spending. Unfortunately, uncertainty about the various possible outcomes have already had an impact in this area – European banking institutions have reportedly been shoring up their balance sheets by repatriating assets and curtailing lending and there are also reports US institutions are curtailing their daily overnight lending to those same European banks.

If this condition persists and credit becomes less and less available, it will work its way through the European and US economies down to the level of small firms’ and individuals’ sources of credit.  The prospects are similar to 2008, when central banks increased funding to banks to help them weather the mortgage crisis: that increased credit did not continue much further past the banks’ balance sheets.  Our experience was that the impact of this on our industry seemed to be felt about a year or 2 later, in late 2009 and 2010, which, besides natural lags, was I think probably due to the lead times associated with most projects.

So, our concern is: the longer the uncertainty of any resolution to the European crisis persists, we will have a continued general reduction in the availability of credit.  And I believe this uncertainty will translate into reduced economic activity, in a broad sense.  However, within our industry, recent activity seems to give reason for some optimism.  Our experience is that this activity has been centered around the higher end spectrum – either truly style defining pieces or commissioned pieces that address a clients exact needs. In both cases, pricing has been essential to reinforce the value proposition of a piece or project to the client.

Here is what it boils down to in our in house discussions:
  • We expect the euro to lose value against the dollar for at least the 1st half of 2012
  • We are watching for borrowing costs to start increasing in the US sometime near the middle of the year.
  • To insulate against any potential slowdown, we suggest modeling budgets around flat and/or lower revenue expectations for 2012.
  • Cutting costs associated with high cost/potential client marketing – in other words cutting expensive marketing efforts with limited potential client exposure in favor of efforts that enhance our web presence.
  • Pricing pieces and projects to reinforce the value represented by a piece to clients will remain key.
  • We believe we are only seeing the beginning of a new-ish trend focusing on the unique character of a piece. We believe that clients will be increasingly sensitive to owning items unique to them or to a very limited number of people. Items that set them apart from their peers and define their home or taste.
Happy Holidays and best wishes to you and yours for 2012!
Freddy & Tony

Friday, October 28, 2011

A new format

As you may have seen on our homepage, we have started something new: we have created our first online look-book.  The idea behind this is to create a format highlighting our one-of-a-kind pieces in settings that reinforce the unique character of each piece.  We wanted it to be something more pleasing to the eye than a simple catalog.  So the plan is to periodically produce brief books of our unique items, either antique or our own designs, in equally as unique settings.

We hope you enjoy our first effort at it!

FPV Holiday 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

The same, but different...

We recently re-discovered a custom pair of our model R644 end tables and it got me thinking it might be fun to see how we have adapted the model over the years. Fortunately, we have images of some the various ways we have made this model for clients.

This black and white image below is of the original my grandfather made in the 1950’s with a Rouge Royale marble slab top over a single drawer with 2 drawer fronts and a partially enclosed shelf.

This is the same model but in a natural mahogany finish without its marble top or any of its hardware.
Here is one of the pair that we now have available. This smaller pair was probably made by us sometime in the late 1980’s. The marble is Rojo Alacante.
I really love the scale of this other pair of smaller versions of the table, particularly for a bed side. The marble slabs are Carrara.
Finally here is a larger scale version of the table. You can see the model size on the left in the image below. Because the client in this case wanted a particularly deep drawer, we had to eliminate the partially enclosed shelf altogether. There is still only one drawer, but with 3 drawer fronts. Why such a deep drawer? To house the client’s gun box. This also presented some challenges to be sure the drawer could support the weight when it was pulled out. But we have no images to illustrate that. The top is a painted faux marble.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

F.P. Victoria + Son Trade Tips: Pichon a Uzes

Above is a short video of Tony discussing Pichon pottery. Pichon à Uzes is a family owned factory founded in 1802 in the town of Uzes. The firm is still in business under Chirstophe Pichon, more information is available here:http://www.ceramique-pichon.com/ . In the video, Tony shares some examples of Pichon’s work from his own private collection as well as 2 pieces from our current inventory (http://www.fpvictoria.com/store/index.php/catalogsearch/result/?q=pichon&x=0&y=0)

What drew us to this potter was their wonderful mixed earth ceramics and use of color. Similar to the more well-known Apt ware (http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O256569/bowl-and-cover/), which is only about 100miles or so from Uzes in the south of France, Pichon combined different types of clay to create a “marbleized” look to the finished piece. Below is an example we owned previously of various cream, brown and red earths from about 1930.

It must be noted that this is fundamentally different from a marbleized or crystallized effect achieved through using different colored glazes. While no less beautiful, in that process colored glazes are applied to an existing, already fired, body of a single earth ceramic – similar to the idea of “painting” on a blank canvas. This is opposed to mixed earth ceramics, like from Pichon and Apt, in which the ceramic itself is made up of different types of earth. When you consider that each of the earths has a unique firing temperature, and the difficulty involved in successfully firing a whole piece, it is remarkable. An easy way to tell whether or not a ceramic is mixed earth is to examine any two sides of one section: if it is mixed earth, the interior and the exterior will both show the different earths, versus only the decorative glazing on the outside.

Pichon à Uzes is truly adept in their use of earths in their ceramics. While some earths, such as greens, whites, browns, and yellows, are more commonly found in mixed earth pottery, Pichon was able add blues and reds. Below is a wonderful example from about 1900.

Here is what we love about Pichon à Uzes:

  • A family owned firm with a long history
  • A less well known firm with remarkable products to discover
  • A technically challenging product to produce that reflects the skill involved in its making.
  • A beautiful result!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

An Old Holiday Card...

We had quite an exciting discovery last weekend - Tony found this old holiday card from Elsie de Wolfe to my grandfather, Frederick Victoria! It seems to be from 1950, and shows a super-imposed bust of Lady Mendl between her two dogs, all of which is supper-imposed on a, rather nice, marble mantel piece. Moreover, it confirms Elsie de Wolfe as a pioneer since she appears to have started photoshopping before the program even existed!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

FP Victoria on Park Opening

Here are some photos from the opening evening at our pop-up installation at The Silver Peacock last week. The pop-up is a collaboration between FPV and The Silver Peacock, so most of the furniture you see is ours, while most of the objects and linens are from The Silver Peacock. With all the pieces we brought in and the abundance of items already there, the whole effort could have easily fallen into chaos. But we were very fortunate to have the talented Christopher Boshears's eye to style and edit the space so harmoniously - not an easy task!

We promise to post more images, and perhaps a video, of the space itself soon! In the meantime, please come by and visit it for yourself if you are in town. The Silver Peacock is located at 1110 Park Avenue, between 89th & 90th streets, 212.426.2610.

Charlie Akwa of The Silver Peacock, Christopher Boshears, Mary-Katherine Ryan, Todd Stein

Alex Papachristidis

Tony Victoria and Mary-Jane Pool, former editor-in-chief of House & Garden

Robert Kaner, James Andrew and Susan Victoria
Maureen Footer
Christopher Boshears
Freddy Victoria, Dennis Rolland, and Tony Victoria
Tony Victoria and Mel Dwork