In my quest for sleek, spare minimalism, I never thought I'd become a fan of infusing my décor with a touch of whimsy. Quirky, cutesy, ironic — these were words I never associated with stylish design. But lately, I'm all about adding a punch of unexpected humor to liven up my pad. Inspired by my recent stay at the very whimsical Mondrian South Beach, I've selected a few items that can add a similar charm to your home. What do you think — hot, or just plain hokey?
There are many ways to add a touch of whimsy to your décor, and my favorite is when a classic, baroque design is reinterpreted in an unexpected style, proportion or with a modern twist. At the Mondrian South Beach, designer Marcel Wanders has done just this by reimagining the scale of every object and piece of furniture to make you feel like a tiny visitor in Sleeping Beauty's ultra-chic dollhouse.
To bring this type of frivolous whimsy into your home, only one or two key pieces are all you need to liven things up. Here are my top picks:
Spanish porcelain house LLadro has a reputation for teaming up with emerging, cutting-edge designers. In 2005, they appointed the eccentric Jaime Hayon as the brand's Artistic Advisor, and in 2008 The Fantasy Collection was released, showcasing his over-the-top reinterpretations of classics. This piece, "Lover II," can be purchased at the Lladro online boutique for $850.
For useable and whimsical porcelain, these "Versailles" serving and decorative pieces from The Future Perfect are patterned after antique originals but with unexpected pops of neon; currently reduced and starting at $140.
The Louis XV Goes to Sparta armchair designed by Maurizio Galante appears as a honed marble classic at first glance. But on closer inspection, it's soft polyurethane foam core and photographic print silk cover are a comforting surprise. Available for TBD price in the Spring.
We have previously highlighted wallpaper that reinterprets old-world designs into modern styles. Remember Timorous Beastie's London toile wallpaper that replaced quaint countryside scenes with renderings of dangerous inner city life? Timorous designs several papers that reveal unexpected images upon closer inspection, such as Devil Damask; appearing as subtle, refined damask on first glance; but keep looking and it's devilish side appears. $250 per roll.
My Brother's Frame is an ornate resin frame for your most prized 4" x 6" image. Mine displays a picture of my beloved pup Hoffman in full regality. Available in white, black, gray and electric blue at YLiving; $280.
The Showtime Multi-Leg Cabinet reimagines the trusty sideboard into a futuristic artpiece, using high-gloss laquer and legs in several styles and shapes. This unit is customizable in both color, size and leg options at Unica Home.
Rich and Brenna Neely transform neglected books into iPod and iPhone charging stations. Resting unassumingly on your bedside table, with a power cord secretly draped out the back, it appears as your latest literary undertaking, but only you know its true power. They offer many new and vintage varieties, and will even accept custom orders. Choose something to really impress your house guests, like War and Peace, or keep it fun like this hot pink Alice in Wonderland edition. They even offer a charger tucked into the Steve Jobs biography. Yep, they went there. Prices start at $42.
Moooi's Smoke Chandelier pendant combines the beauty of an ornately carved chandelier with the unexpected character of burnt wood and a few missing pieces; $1204.
The King Floor Lamp is named after its namesake chess piece and certainly adds a royal punctuation to any space. Made in Portugal by De La Espada, the 63" tall King is available in walnut, oak or lacquered beech at Hive Modern; $1715 and up.
Robert Austin Gonzalez's Grace collection of furniture is composed of unique pieces, made one at a time from the wood of fallen trees. I love the turned, mismatched legs on this table. Coffee tables begin around $5000.
(Images: Mondrian South Beach and My Brother's Frame: Chad Schroer; others as linked above.)