Thursday, July 22, 2004

Maybe there's a future in mixing past, present

Thursday July 22, 2004

Maybe there's a future in mixing past, present

By Steven Barrie-Anthony

A room full of antiques has "a sameness, a heaviness about it. It offers no relief -- there is opulence everywhere," says antiques dealer and furniture designer Richard Shapiro. So last May, Shapiro debuted Richard Shapiro Studiolo ( -- his new collection of linear, minimalist, modern furniture, designed to temper the weight and lavishness of baroque or Italian antiques.

Say you own this 18th century Florentine sofa, made of tooled red leather. Add additional antique elements, and you're headed for sensory overload, Shapiro says. Instead, using pieces from his own line as examples, Shapiro recommends: flanking the couch with Moderne gilded-iron etageres ($9,500 each), fronting it with a green Art Deco table ($3,840) and completing the look with two Venetian slipper chairs ($3,600 each).

When decorating, Shapiro says, the key is to continually mix antique elements with modern touches. Notice, for instance, the juxtaposition of a 15th century French gothic head atop the Art Deco table with a Hans-Christian Schink print on the wall behind it.

Coexistence of curvaceous antiques with edgy modern flourishes brings out the best in both aesthetics, Shapiro says, and sets up a tension that is striking.

Richard Shapiro Antiques and Works of Art, 8905 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles; (310) 275-6700.

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