The Pink Agendist

by E.B. de Mas, reachable at:

Tag: design

Another Blog: An Extraordinary Commode | An Eye on Art

If you’re interested in art, antiques and the history surrounding them, I’ve decided to create a little corner where I’ll be writing about them regularly. I know most people who follow me here are more interested in politics/activism/current events. There I’ll be writing about my ‘real work‘. This will include pictures, things I find, see, buy and sell. A whole range of beautiful things for the home. I’ve just finished my first post on a Louis XVth commode that’s returning to France after having disappeared in the revolutionary sales. The link is below in case anyone is interested :)

An Extraordinary Commode | An Eye on Art.

Real Style: Maison Jansen

Maison Jansen was a French interior decoration office founded in the late 19th century by Jean-Henri Jansen. It’s considered the first global design firm, serving clients all over the world. They decorated the White House for Jackie Kennedy, they did the drawings for the Shah’s great pavilions etc… I’ve been semi-obsessed with their work for years, particularly the furniture they made. The quality is just extraordinary. If you’ve followed me long enough, you might remember when I had the unbelievable stroke of luck of finding a Jansen table in a JUNK SHOP. These pieces are rare enough that you might see a half a dozen go through the major auction houses in a year- so finding one that’s a ‘bargain’ is like winning a mini-lottery.

jansentableThe top and the bottom shelf are single pieces, but each leg and each foot are cast individually (in solid brass). A bit like Ikea furniture, but for rich people (and I’m pretty sure all furniture was delivered already put together :) ) I’d love to, one day, once we’ve finally sold and are settled in France, to produce Jansen style furniture on a small scale. Maison Baguès still makes certain things in the same style, but a much more limited selection.

Now have a look at some of their more interesting creations. Notice how they incorporate classical themes and actual antiques into some of their pieces. The tray tables, for example, have 19th century cloisonné tops and custom made brass/ormolu legs. The sofas pictured last have medallions made from antique tapestry…




And the new US ambassador to Spain is… G-A-Y!!! And his partner, Michael S. Smith , is my (design) H-E-R-O!!!

I almost forgot to mention that the new US ambassador to Spain is former HBO exec. James Costos. Apparently they’re already in Madrid and the locals are holding their breaths to see if they make the couple’s guest list. I imagine I should start preparing myself for next summer as anyone who’s anyone in this part of the world ends up in Sotogrande for the season- which means they’ll probably come down and displace me as the official Gay of the area. I shan’t complain because their success is well deserved. Here’s a shot of their bedroom in NY. No, I didn’t spend a wild night there during my 20′s (or maybe I did, who knows, I can’t remember most of my 20′s), it’s from Architectural Digest.


and if you want to see the rest click below:

Michael S. Smith Renovates His Manhattan Penthouse : Architectural Digest.

From an LGBT perspective- this is MAJOR. I don’t know how many out ambassadors there are living with their partners in embassies, but this is the first one I’ve heard of…

Do you want to be my next-door neighbour? Villa Safari in Sotogrande


The last of the neighbours’ children went off to university this year, so they’ve decided to sell and downsize. The house is big (791m2=8514 sq. feet) and the design is based on a Kenyan lodge they love. The garden is interesting, the interiors are in a rustic style and they’ve kept it simple. The price is 2.5 million euros (US$3,344,961).

You’d get to be right next door to me, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be friendly :)


The Sotogrande House by Ricardo Legorreta

This is the Legorreta house, it’s two streets up from us. As everyone saw it going up a few years ago, opinions were divided. I didn’t love it at first, but now it’s grown on me. I mean, it’s still not a place where I’d want to live as it doesn’t suit our lifestyle. I need a closed off kitchen since I don’t like being watched when I’m cooking and I like having a place that has lots of private corners so people can do their own thing without interference. Apart from the fact that if anyone saw what I look like in the morning I’d have to kill myself, or kill them. The house below is arranged around a central courtyard, so in a way it’s a modern interpretation of classical Spanish (and Mudéjar) architecture. That means that wherever you are, you can be seen by other people in the house. That being said, it’s still a magnificent house to visit and works beautifully for people who like this modern, integrated way of living.


Spanish Summers

This is our 13th summer in this house. It’s gotten prettier over the years, but if we’re staying, I think it’s time for some changes to freshen things up. The outdoor furniture is looking a bit tired. The modern chairs I got for the pergola last year don’t really work. I don’t know why I thought they would. I’ve got my eye on these:

ironchairsAnd if all goes well, maybe a few of these sofas and chairs



Casa Alba, Nancy Wilson, Amy & Me

We went out to dinner last night with a friend and her dog, Amy. Amy has a broken paw, were it not for the cast you wouldn’t notice. She jumps, runs and has a fantastic attitude. I wasn’t in the mood to iron, so I wore crumpled white linen and medium blue trousers. It’s wonderful to get to this point in life when one can say/think I don’t look good, and that’s okay. I spent my teens and most of my 20′s crippled by self-image issues. Hating the way I looked. Spending an inordinate amount of time trying to make myself look better. That seems to be over, for the most part.

13june2013Amy also wore blue and white


ca08I’ve been helping put together a website in French for Casa Alba. That’s the gorgeous house (mansion, really) that I’m going to help show on French channel 5 in July (we’re filming next Thursday). I still don’t know what I’m going to wear. We’re halfway there, but I’ve still got tons to translate. I’ve loaned my website (for my house),, as the web space since it’s an easy address for people to remember. Particularly because the houses are in Sotogrande. If you have any suggestions of what other information should be on the website, feel free to share. I haven’t finished uploading the pictures… so no need to suggest more pictures. Mike did a cute little sketch of the façade for it.

There’s a new commercial on British TV with a fantastic song that I’d never heard before: How Glad I Am by Nancy Wilson. It should really be one of our Gay Anthems. Have a listen:

Yes, but no, but yes, but no. In which one seems prone to thinking no but saying yes.

The television adventure returns for round two. After being granted a reprieve I wanted to be helpful (that’s sort of a chronic disease for me), so I thought I’d offer up my friend’s house to be on the show. It’s a multi (many-many-multi) million euro home and she’s exceptionally charming and talented, so really, she’s the one who should’ve been on television in the first place. The producers saw the pictures and loved it. My friend said yes to them. Suddenly I get a call today and I’m getting roped in to be on the program with her showing the house because I speak better French… And for some absurd reason I said yes.

So in the event you pick up French Channel 5, you may have the misfortune to see me, and even worse, hear me, in July. Before then, have a glimpse at her rather glorious home, and in the event you want to be my neighbour, and one-up me by living in a house that’s double the size of mine, and have a heated indoor pool (apart from the outdoor one), and have between 10 and 20 million euro to spend on a house (I’m not giving the exact price because it seems crass), drop me a line and I’ll help you arrange it :)

The Glory of Encaustic Tiles


19th Century French Encaustic Tiles

The more houses we look at in France, the more I love these tiles. It’s an easy way to make a big statement. They can really transform a bland space into something very special. Unfortunately I wasn’t brave enough to use them here in larger rooms, but we have them in some of the bathrooms. Next house I’ll go for something more dramatic somewhere. I’ve been trying to get a client to put them in her kitchen, but she’s not yet convinced. They’re heavy and thick and made of cement. The pattern isn’t the result of glazing but of different colours of clay. There are printed versions that are cheaper and also have a similar effect. Modern designs are also available.

In one of our guest bathrooms they look like this:

In related news I recently found an interesting fellow designer on wordpress. You should have a look at his work. His name is Orlando Soria. I love his sort of very American approach to design. Everything looks very sleek and new. I’m used to dealing with art and antiques and clients who more or less want their homes worked around things they already own. Except, obviously, for that project I’ve been posting about recently. The one I’m still not entirely comfortable with, precisely because I’m not used to this style. He’s also quite good looking, but I swear that didn’t influence my opinion.

Dinner for Six

The weather is lovely today. We’re having people over for dinner. Best of all, I’m only making the starter! The main course is a leg of lamb which someone came to start preparing at noon, then they come back at 5 to put it in the oven :) I know that probably sounds horribly lazy- but I just didn’t have the energy to do it all myself. There are some people who host all the time and do it without help- I have no idea how they manage. Ironing napkins, polishing cutlery, flower arrangements. All of that takes half a day, then the cooking time on top. Exhausting. We’re going to sit outside, by the pool. More of the irises are opening, they look absolutely stunning.

Sunday Lunch & A Roundup

We were invited out to lunch yesterday. Then we all ended up back at the house for coffee. Then that turned into cheese and wine as the afternoon progressed, then that turned into an improvised dinner. Mike says I’m like a pushy drug-dealer, but for parties instead of drugs- c’mon, just have one more drink. After I get the ball rolling down the hill, it’s very hard to stop :) At the end of the evening I was distributing paracetamol and milk-thistle. That’s my anti-hangover cocktail, always works for me.

It was a beautiful day, very bright sky, so I wore light colours. I did a terrible job at ironing my shirt, which I only realized when I took this picture, hence the stern look:


French cuffs have to be very properly ironed, or they look stupid. The Spanish irises I planted a few months back are starting to flower. They’re stunning, I should have planted many more:



Saturday I got a picture of the place I’m working on. The living room needs more colour, which I’ve been saying all along. The coral needs to be echoed throughout the room- but other than that I think it looks lovely.



And they’re up!!!

The trees are up. The props have to stay on for a few months, but they’re not horribly offensive. Apparently the new fronds will eventually (naturally) break the string that’s tying them together up top. I’m pleased!




It’s annoying when other people are right.


I love your gazebo but if it were mine I think I’d build a second retaining wall around the first using local stone and then I’d fill it with those white flowing plants you mentioned – to tie the gazebo to the plants and the plants to the ‘natural’ surroundings.

In my business you need to have a filter- one that zones out what’s merely opinion and only lets through ideas that are well reasoned. Needless to say, when something didn’t cross my mind, but crossed someone else’s- I’m annoyed. Anyway, the local stone thing is too complicated because of the sprinklers and electricity that allows for light in the pergola- but yesterday we planted the whole thing with Stephanotis (Madagascan Jasmine). It does incredibly well in this part of Spain. Still deciding if I should plant something between them to cover up the brickwork that forms the base of the pergola. Or perhaps grow moss on the bricks (yoghurt method is quick and easy). Here’s how it looks with the ‘just planted’ jasmine. There’s one for each pillar.


Saint Laurent & The Majorelle Garden


YSL’s House in Marrakech

I’m trying to come up with a plan for the gardens. Since we’re on the edge of a forest, surrounded by hundred year old trees we never felt the need to have anything but lawn and a couple of details here or there- but I think we can do better. Create something very special and interesting. The obvious choice, since we have a Moresque style house would be to go down the Majorelle/Saint Laurent path. But our place isn’t Majorelle blue and I’m too freakishly controlling to be surrounded by that laid back style. Plus, I bought those white chairs for the pergola and I have to find a way to make them fit in.


whiteplantersSo, I’ve decided to take the white thing further. I’ve bought a ton of huge white planters which I’ll dot around the landscape. They’ll be filled with Iris Reticulata and Peacock Orchids (acidanthera bicolor). I think it’ll give the place a slightly more contemporary feel without being annoyingly minimalistic. That plant on the pergola will hopefully, one day, eventually, cover the whole thing. Its flowers are white with a burgundy centre- same colours as the acidanthera, but a very different shape. I don’t want to ruin the ‘clean’ view we get from the terraces- hopefully this will add some interest without looking fiddly.


A lovely gift or two

Cousins arrived last night. We ate, we drank- ’til late. I got a stunning pair of 19th century plates with our family crest on them. I also got a hardback copy of Les Ligneaux. Our mutual cousin, the baroness’, fictionalized account of the family’s last summer at Migneaux before the death of her grand-mother (my great-great grandmother). The house once belonged to Marie Louise O’Murphy (mistress of Louis XV)- it was later bought by our family. Now it’s been turned into apartments. I’m going to hang the plates in the dining room.


To Millionaire Or Not To Millionaire- The Aesthete’s Conundrum

Okay, millionaire is understating it. There’s talk of a job, perhaps a huge job at a giant house for someone who really doesn’t have to worry about their bills. My bones are saying, no, no, no. Absolutely not. Not my style. Not my thing. My head is saying it might be all we need to get back there. To have a bit more security. No offer has materialized as of yet, so I may be panicking entirely unnecessarily- but I tend to do that. If push comes to shove, and something comes of it, I think I’m doing it. We’d be a team of people and I’d only have to work with the only person in the team who I can stand (like?). I need to practice staying very quiet and controlling my patronizing/condescending tone. Sunglasses tend to be sufficient in hiding the eye-rolls. I’m a bit wary of team-work. I’m of a nervous disposition so I end up taking control and ‘appropriating’ everyone else’s job. Que será, será.

This week I bought a mid 19th century mirror from Cristina, one of my favourite dealers in Madrid. It’s nearly 2 metres tall. It’s going to be delivered tomorrow and I’ll hang it somewhere just to see what it looks like in the house. Then I’ll take some pictures and you can see what it looks like in the house. It’s really not a time to be buying things for myself, so I will sell it on, but for a little while it’s mine. MINE! MINE, I say!


“T’wis” the day before Christmas

and all through the house, is a mess.

The dining table has stacks of plates and serving platters that have just been cleaned

The silver was polished yesterday

Napkins are in their designated cloisonné rings

Champagne will be served on arrival, by the fireplace

Self-service from the seafood-buffet

-then we sit at the table

The centerpiece has just been delivered. I can’t take credit for it, it was done by Sabine (my amazing interior designer friend) and sent over as a gift. It’s about 2 feet in diameter, just huge and low and wonderful.



One of our guests called yesterday to announce they had a rather spectacular gift for us. I found the sound of that a bit frightening, ominous? They’re all going to Morocco for the New Year and Tuscany next summer- it better not be tickets or stays for any of that because I’ve already said I don’t want to go. And I hope it doesn’t make my gifts look bad. I’ve gone for an entirely unconsidered selection of pashminas, scarves and some amusingly bright jewelry (some in coral and some in turquoise) from a Greek jeweller. I didn’t know what to get for the film director guy that’s coming, so I have to ashamedly admit he’s getting a box of chocolate. I’m rather impressed he’s coming even though I’ve been unkind/snarky to him a couple of times-

My hair has been cut and tonight we’re off to dinner at a glorious penthouse in the marina. Small group and I believe we’re having lamb. I mustn’t go overboard drinking because I need all my faculties for tomorrow.

What? A life before ‘me’? Is foie-gras a vegetable?

We went to lunch up in the hills today at Venta Garcia. It’s in the Michelin guide, although with no stars attached to it. I thought the food was lovely in a simple, country, sort of way. It reminded me that Mike’s old house (the one pre-me which is also up there) has gone on the market. It used to look like this when he sold it:



It wasn’t my style, but I’ll admit it was pure charm. Full of colour and personality. The new owners seem to have beaten the life out of it. As I looked through the pictures I noticed there wasn’t a single antique or a piece of art that says something. Perhaps that’s why this time around Sotheby’s isn’t handling the sale. According to the video, the new owners want 2.1M. for it. Personally, I think that’s too much- although it is a lot of land and the views are quite spectacular. I have the impression Mike much prefers the place we’ve created together, and there’s really no comparison on the pre-me art collection to the post me art collection :D if I may say so myself :D

Sometimes I find it funny/shocking that he had a life that didn’t include me. Before me. It seems absurd or ridiculous; Or absurd and ridiculous.

I worked a lot today (post-lunch) and questioned myself on whether I should or shouldn’t correct a client on her spelling and pronunciation of Lutyens. I decided  not to mention it and just keep writing the correct form in the hope she’ll notice (even though it annoys me tremendously). I sold a rather nice set of French silver yesterday, which is great because I’ve just bought a collection of over 100 pieces of French silver. Does that make me sound like Judas’ richer nephew? I was given a bloc of foie-gras last week. I know it’s bad and cruel and all that- but it’s so delicious. I’ve been eating it privately, with tomato marmalade. I know that doesn’t quite fit in with my goal of becoming more vegetarian- unless we start calling foie gras a vegetable- which seems like an interesting option to me.

The four poster is in place. I’m done-ish

I finished painting the ‘Georgian’ chest. The four poster bed is in place in the guest room. We both thought the bed looked a bit spindly, so I gilt the lily, as usual. A Chinese embroidery, tassels et al. It’s got a bit more personality now. It’s not great but it’s just a guest room, so it doesn’t have to look better than this (I tell myself in an effort to forgive my laziness). I love the curtains. We found a bolt of art-deco bridal dress fabric ages ago and bought the whole thing. Now it’s curtains.

WORK, Work, work

It’s 11 pm and I’ve just sent out an invoice for a set of two armchairs and four side chairs. ecruarmchairs

I almost never work with new items. I have tremendous difficulty understanding the logic of people who purchase new things. Period furniture has a reasonably stable market value. Good quality new furniture is expensive and re-sale values are erratic at best. In any event there we are. I’ve done it. It’s a very architecturally modern house and the designer wants me to add some gravitas. She says that when I place something it looks like it has always been there. That’s not so hard with antiques. We’ll see how it goes with new furniture. The living room is in shades of blue. I have an amazing (huge) late 19th century Japanese embroidery that would certainly add some flair to the room. I’m going to show it to her tomorrow to see what she thinks. Three of our rugs may also be going to this same project, which is great. My hope is that apart from our reserve/investments we always begin the year with enough money in our current account to pay all the bills for that year.  We’re not quite there yet, but depending on how this project goes, we might get there just in time :)

Meanwhile, we’re re-doing the largest of our guest rooms. The most frequent guest of that room has sent over a stunning Italian four poster bed because that’s what she prefers to sleep in. As these things go, when you add a very good piece of furniture, other things can look shabby- so I spent the morning moving things around and decided to sand and paint the Georgian chest of drawers (late 19th century, not actually Georgian). Pictures of the finished project shall follow- eventually…

Le château de Bellevue détruit au lieu d’être rénové ! –

Le château de Bellevue détruit au lieu d’être rénové ! –

Side Note: There’s never been a day when we were building or reforming when one of us wasn’t on site.

A Very Attractive Vintage Silver Drinks Tray Table

This is going into the Sabine Medina online shop too. I-LOVE-IT! The tortoise-shell lacquer is stunning.

Have You Missed Me Desperately?

Sorry comments have gone unanswered lately… There’s a general strike today but I honestly cannot afford to participate- besides, I work from home so I doubt my working will be noticed :D

It’s been a rather busy few days. I was asked to start/manage an online shop for Sabine Medina Interior Design. It’s slightly different to what I normally do as she wants a very specific style (more rustic than me) and the focus is more on the style than the rarity. I suppose I’d call it decorative antiques. Popular 19th century chairs rather than signed 18th century Louis XV chairs. She also wants items that are priced within reach of the average person. I like the idea and Sabine is an amazing designer. She’s done things like the clubhouse at Valderrama Golf-Course and hotels and some really stunning homes. It’ll take very little time out of my week as it blends into my regular work and I admire her work so I’ve accepted the challenge. I’ve contacted a few people and I’ve started trying to put the whole thing together. You can see it here. In the next few days I’ll be adding tableware because she particularly likes my table settings and asked me to include a section of flatware/crystal/porcelain similar to  what I use at home. I have a passion for old Christofle, so I’ll be including a good few sets by them. They’ve got the largest and heaviest cutlery on the market and the older sets are absolutely amazing in detail and quality.

I’ve also been asked for a polychrome secretaire in light colours for a study. So I’m hunting. It’s a rather plain study, so it really needs something showy.

They want something like this, but that has a pull-out desk fitting.

Fascinating Documentary About a Delicious Monstrosity; Das Geheimnis des Hauses Mantin

“Maison Mantin was commissioned by Louis Mantin, a wealthy man from Moulins, who wanted to showcase his art and antiques collection. It was designed by a noted local architect, René-Justin Moreau (April 28, 1858 – September 18, 1924), in collaboration with his father, Jean-Bélizaire Moreau (1828–1899), also an architect, and built in 1893.

Mantin bequeathed the mansion to the town of Moulins in his will, written before his death in 1905. The will stated that the house be kept intact, so as to show to visitors in 100 years “a specimen of a bourgeois home of the nineteenth century”.

Consequently, the house was kept shuttered for over a century, with all its original contents, and fell into disrepair. After extensive restoration, it was opened as a museum, and a showcase for the eclectic taste of its former owner.”

Casa de Indianos

The architecture is deliciously hideous. The interiors, however, house a superb collection. All four parts of the documentary are available here. It’s in German (spoken slowly and clearly), but just seeing the images is worthwhile. They show some interesting befores and afters and the house through time. Spain also has a strain of delicious monstrosities. They come in the form of Casas de Indianos. ‘Indianos’ were Spaniards who emigrated to Latin America and then returned to Spain after becoming wealthy.

A while back I saw one such monstrosity that I fell in love with. It’s known as the Palace of O Corgo (aka Pazo de Adai). It was built by General Tella during the dictatorship in a mishmash of absurd styles and happened to be owned by a fellow art/antiques dealer who also used the house as a showroom. It’s still on the market and for a very reasonable price considering the size and materials. Nothing but the best for the general. Granite pillars, parquet de Versailles, carved wood decoration on the ceilings… Unfortunately (as I constantly whine about), Mike insists that even the house we’re in now is too big for us, so not much of a chance of getting him to agree to one of these. Plus, he hates the architecture.

The weather forecast says it’s going to rain heavily on Friday. Meanwhile the sky is blue and the temperature is 20º C.


Sorry, I don’t have a wide angle lens.

In the hopes that my new internet friend/almost neighbour, RoughSeasIntheMed, doesn’t follow through with her threat of posing as a buyer to come see the house… here are more pictures. The first picture is from google maps. We’re the big arrow and the little arrow is Villa Trianon, which used to be our guest house until we started transforming it into a full blown house which we sold in April to a nice couple from Gib. The house has been three different colours. Now it’s a very light cream (as in picture 2). It’s hard to photograph and my new camera doesn’t have a wide angle lens, but the penultimate picture shows most of the building.