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Tiffany treasures on the auction block from the Garden Museum, Japan

The Garden Museum in Japan was one of the premier museums of Tiffany kit in the world. Concerned after the awful tsunami of March 2011, its owner decided to close the private institution and sell its contents through Michaan Auctions and Sotheby’s.  I know Tiffany lamps, jewelry and silver, but this sale opened my eyes at an array of less traditional and beautiful things they produced 100 years ago.  Follow me…


Tiffany Studios made glass for lamps and windows, so it’s not a far stretch to imagine clients clamoring for vases and decorative objects for their homes.  This tiny glass vase (above) has that amazing Tiffany iridescence – a technique that the workmen kept secret to keep themselves employed! – and it bubbles and swirls in a mix of shades and colors.  I don’t quite understand the complex process of making it, but I do know that it’s a keeper!



While not the most useful of objects in today’s computer age, an inkstand used to be a staple on every desk.  Here Tiffany combines the brilliance of favrile glass with their renowned silver.  Such a great example of art nouveau style – I love the beading on the collar of the silver and those big silver swirls.  I have seen people use these inkwells for paper weights on a desk or for a few precious rings on a dresser, so it’s about using your imagination when repurposing an object.



This one I just couldn’t resist:  called a lava ewer, I think we can all see why.  The thick layers of “lava” oozing down the ewer against that textured surface are divine!  I have a feeling this was never used.  I wouldn’t dream of serving iced tea or lemonade from this – no one would want to pass it around the table!



The final piece is a small tea screen (made to place on the tea table to shield the tea takers from the heat of the spirit lamp warming the tea kettle – how civilized).  It takes the windows for which the firm was known, and remakes it in a smaller, more intimate scale.  Can’t you just picture the light coming through and catching the varying shades of glass to dazzling effect?  I also think the subject is so charming.  The emerald green parakeets all clustered over the goldfish swimming in their own little world!

I guess the important thing to take away for this, is not to assume you know everything about your favorite design firm – they just might surprise you after all!


image credits: Michaan Auctions, San Francisco


PS: Thank you for stopping by and reading my feature today.  I love what I do as an interior designer and art advisor, and it’s my hope that through these blog posts I’m enriching and heightening your aesthetic sensibility towards art, design and fabulous interiors in some way ~ Richard Rabel (a.k.a. the modern sybarite)

Florence von Pelet

Florence is a senior editor at Modenus.com. Aside from her natural passion for interiors, kitchens and baths Florence also leads the way on Modenus’ BlogTours around the world so please follow her on Twitter to get the latest information and inspiration about design trends from around the world.


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