A collection can be a powerful thing. By definition, it’s a grouping, gathering, or assemblage of things. Too little of something, and it becomes incidental. Too much and it teeters on hoarding. And that balance is just half of the equation. How we live with the things we acquire -- the art of display – is where the rub lies. Gorgeous but livable? Yes, it’s possible. Let’s turn to three masters for inspiration.
Take this interior by British decorator David Mlinaric in which he bunched a massive group of antler trophies in an entryway. The result is part graphic sculpture, part impromptu hat rack, and a nod to the rustic setting of the Italian villa in which they’re housed. Mlinaric –whose clients range from rock royalty (Mick Jagger) to heirs of banking dynasties (Lord Rothschild) --knows a thing or two about drama. It’s a statement, for sure, but the sheer bountifulness of the antlers is what gives this room its oomph, not to mention a touch of modernity.
Likewise, in the iconic interior of Gravenwexel Castle near Antwerp, Axel Vervoordt showcased a traditional collection of Chinese export porcelain to show-stopping effect. Keeping in line with the rococo style of the setting, he mounted each vase on an individual scrolled bracket. And while the pieces are classic, set against an all-white monochromatic background they feel refreshingly new. This of course, is from the man who singlehandedly made stripped-down Belgian style a household name. It’s an innovative way to display not only blue-and-white vases, but really anything. And the collection, threaded throughout the room, makes a strong case for voluminous groupings.
Digging deeper into the past, Skogaholm Manor in Sweden --a pristine house museum dating from the 18th-century—is a perfect example of Swedish Rococo style. The interiors, though ornate, manage to still feel airy and pared-down. (You can see where Vervoordt gets his inspiration.) And though it dates back over 200 years, there are some charming decorating tricks to be gleaned. The china room with its racks and racks of hand-painted porcelain plates seems more of an art gallery than maid’s room. Details like the painted wood racks that house the collection, are stenciled with a sweet floral motif that rivals even the highly coveted and collectible Swedish furniture in the room. It gives new meaning to the idea of a plate wall.
But whether porcelain or hunting trophy, all three of these examples have a common denominator – the force of their respective quantities. Living large never looked so good.