Luxury Defined looks at a unique virtual collaboration between Dallas luxury brokerage ULTERRE and high-end online marketplace 1st Dibs to create a digital staging of decorative pieces and bespoke home furnishings in an upscale Dallas residence.
The Brendan Bass Design Team
The team at 1stDibs challenged local Dallas interior décor firm Brendan Bass with this design task. The showroom conveys a modernist provincial aesthetic that is found throughout their line of curated one-of-a-kind decorative accents, upholstery, and transitional lighting. Brendan Bass Showroom also designs and stages unusual home furnishings in collaboration with a network of local artisans.
The Brendan Bass brand focuses on the authentic and organic, searching the world for novel architectural pieces. The company also distinguishes itself from the conventional designer showroom with its Vision and Design line of furniture handcrafted locally in wood, steel, or zinc.
“The combination of rough elements in the architecture as well as the interior design is an aesthetic that we are drawn to,” says the Brendan Bass design firm’s mission statement. “Our showroom supports an authentic lifestyle and ‘transitional aesthetic.’ which is defined by geometric designs executed in authentic materials. Artistry, in tandem with innate history of our finds, creates a story of furniture that will span generations.
Our aesthetic is ‘transitional’ in that the materials used are reclaimed or repurposed, giving the geometric silhouette a softer, less contemporary personality. It’s not traditional, nor contemporary but a bridge between the two, drawing elements from both.”
Dallas-based brokerage ULTERRE selected a luxury condominium in The Tower Residences at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, a Regency-style building designed by Robert A. M. Stern Architects, as the canvas for this virtual interior design consultation.
The Design Team’s Overview
While the Brendan Bass brand is most comfortable in a space with clean lines, neutral colors, and organic textures, the pieces chosen for this project mold the space to a more sophisticated modern palette. The Brendan Bass team’s products are texture motivated. However, having a canvas with strong texture is not a distraction to the pieces they bring in. Their designers have done beautiful projects in which the interior walls are stone and the ceiling 15 feet high. The combination of rough elements in the architecture as well as the interior design is an aesthetic that the Brendan Bass team is drawn to.
Redesign vs. Re-accessorizing
The Brendan Bass team would categorize this project as redesigning. They believe that you can dramatically transform a space by adding new furnishings. In this space, lighting was also added to further transform the two rooms. Le Monde is Brendan Bass Showroom’s self-curated line of one-of-a-kind products. This line represents many design styles, and the team at Brendan Bass feels that the pieces can transition into almost any space.
RENG, the artisanal collection designed by the Brendan Bass team in Texas and manufactured in Italy, features pendant lights, table lamps, and sconces from four unique categories of craft, forged steel, unpolished crystal, decorative glass and ceramic. Vision and Design is the Brendan Bass brand’s custom furniture line, and then the showroom also represents Lee Industries and Verellen Upholstery.
Each of the pieces presented in this redesign are offered at 1stDibs, a luxury online marketplace offering antique and contemporary furniture, home decor, fine jewelry, watches, art, and fashion curated from 600 cities around the globe.
The Virtual Design Project
There are two aspects of the space where the traditional element is “baked into” the design: Short of a major structural renovation, the carved marble Regency hearth and the Ionic columns are here to stay. Those columns reminded one designer of a classic theater proscenium: comedy and tragedy—the theme for the room design. But those elements that can go are replaced by striking visual accents that maintain the transitional style’s tension between traditional and modern elements.
For starters, the conventional ceiling fan in place here is a traditional element of Southern living. As such, its lines and functionality are almost invisible in the context of the space and add nothing to the room’s visual appeal. In contrast, the RENG, Buki II, Rustic Modern Brass and Steel Suspension Light from Brendan Bass’s RENG line, has a strong geometric shape that casts light evenly throughout the room. That contrast of white and black in the light plays off the black and white carpet below.
Ironically, the Isamu Noguchi-designed glass table and its elegant, tripod base might be the most traditional design element in the room. Introduced in 1947 by Herman Miller company, the Noguchi epitomized the optimism and excitement of mid-century modernist design. After 70 years of mass-market ubiquity, however, the Brendan Bass team might call it “transitional vernacular,” a modernism that seems old-fashioned in 2021. In its place, Brendan Bass offers the Live Edge Stone Slice Top Coffee Table with Steel Base. A bold, thousand-year-old slab of petrified wood, polished to perfection; at rest on the clean black base: the contrast is apparent.
The Vintage Shaggy Black and White Rug’s contrast matches the other black and white products in the room, including the coffee table and the RENG, Sheru, Gloss White Glazed Ceramic with Stylized Shell Design Lamp. The lamp’s soft rolling body complements the white sofa and the black and white coffee table and rug. The rough, textured frame of the Vintage French Trumeau Style Mirror, Circa 1950, Lille, is ingenious. Stripped of its Regency ornamentation in the bare top panel, it underscores the transitional nature of the object itself. The metals of the table bases, lights, and mirrors create a beautiful contrast of the white and airiness of the upholstery.
The Table Top Replica Yap Stone accessory further echoes the Ionic columns dividing the dining and living rooms. The South Asian Decorated Shell Stack accessory fits perfectly into the design theme with its white text on a smooth black base.
The Regency chandelier, while an elegant exemplar of its kind, nevertheless overwhelms its space. Contrast it with the three-tiered rings of this RENG, Anelli, Modernist Suspension 3-Ring LED Light, which elongate, filling the dining room with light—black and white Os that cleverly play off the black and white Xs of the ceiling fan blades.
Mixed materials of wood and metal highlight the Oak with Dime Edge, Bombay Finish and Steel Base with Ebony Patina dining table, with the curved legs of the table harmonizing the detailed molding on the columns dividing the dining room from the living room. The austere lines of the Leather and Steel Sling Dining Chairs continue the transitional style’s use of mixed materials. With their black leather on a black steel frame, the chairs look stylish, contemporary, and are supremely comfortable—which, after all, is the crowning achievement of transitional style.