Some people think I’m a furniture fanatic, but I’m really a seeker. I’m always looking for those timeless designs that can be brought back to life and to last a few more years. I love seeing beautiful examples of good design placed into a new environment. It brings soul to a home. The right piece can give a space its spirit.
I’m very passionate about furniture and decorative arts. I have an appreciation for the craftsmanship, the wood, and the way materials come together. When I see an example of good simple design, I like to embrace it. Then I find it a home. I think good pieces need to be in the right place. They deserve it.
I am drawn to teams of people with the ambition to revive the beauty of something that has gone through many years of use, through changing environments, affected by History. The people I work with see the beauty behind time. They enjoy seeing something that has been brought back to its original concept. The best interior designers, architects and decorators all have a vision of what they want to create, where they want to place things and how ideas should be presented. The results can give the object a stage on which it can perform, where it fits well into its environment. They give it a place to begin its next life.
Growing up in Venezuela in the 1970s and 1980s, I was exposed to the European influences in Latin America. When it came to architecture, culture, fashion and contemporary art, Venezuela was way ahead of its time. It was inspirational. During my education at the University Central de Venezuela, I was surrounded by the art and architecture of the great artists, architects and designers of the 1950s and 1960s. Indoors, outdoors and all around me, Venezuelan culture embraced that legacy. I carry it with me today and project it into my professional life. I always want to be surrounded by the art and design of the times.
Here in New York, I was very fortunate to meet Karl Kemp and to be his protégé. Salon Art + Design He was my mentor for more that 20 years. Karl provided my very first exposure to the finest collection of period furniture, antiques and decorative arts in the world: The Winter Antiques Show. As our business grew to embrace the aesthetics of more contemporary exhibitions like Salon Art + Design, Karl and I saw how the best of the best, the old and the new, can compliment each other.
Throughout my career, I have had the good fortune to be surrounded by amazing collections of Central European and Neoclassical antiques, rare examples of Empire, Biedermeier, even Russian and Italian 19th Century pieces. My certification as an antiques appraiser gave me the opportunity to hunt for and acquire pieces from all over Europe, exploring international flea markets and antique fairs. That was the golden age for antique dealers. Visiting all those places, I could examine pieces and learn to recognize period styles, exotic woods and materials, unique construction practices and craftsmanship from different countries and cultures. My degree is in Political Science, so I have always been drawn to the connections among cultures, politics and ways of living. Furniture was a fascinating way to see how social, cultural and political influences were expressed through design. Each period of design reflects it politics, and each piece can be viewed as a cultural statement.
The business environment of that time was also very exciting. The demand for authentic high-end period pieces, antiques and decorative art gave me the opportunity to be trained to recognize the best of the best. Previews and auctions at houses like Doyle, Christies and Sotheby’s all helped expand my knowledge. Talking with the specialists and writing my notes kept me on my game when bidding started. That’s how Karl and I built such an amazing collection for Karl Kemp Antiques. It was very competitive, but also a lot of fun.
Everything changes and evolves—architecture, design trends, tastes. But we too are changing. I am part of the new wave of what designers are creating, what they’re looking for now. I’m helping them realize their design ideas for all kinds of new environments. The professionals in our field want to provide their clients with pieces that are unique, but also something special to define a space. We can draw from period furniture or the contemporary works of today’s artist-craftsmen. For some clients, we create architecturally-inspired custom furniture made to their specifications. There are so many possibilities today for combining materials, techniques and craftsmanship to create something new and unique. We can help a designer translate their ideas for furniture into something completely original.
We’ve brought together a team of craftsmen, builders and makers to create these new collections of beautiful things. But making something special and unique takes coordination. When we collaborate with clients, everyone works together to realize their vision. The process should move like clockwork as we take an idea from concept through material choices, drawings and prototypes. We know how to produce something beautiful and original for the next generation, but we have to trust each other’s instincts. In the end, it comes down to having a good working relationship.