It is rare that one sees a behind-the-scenes look into the “why’s” and “how’s” a unique piece of furniture or art is created. Where did the idea begin, what inspired the creation, and what was the reaction to the finished product? But today this is exactly what you will get to glimpse. Jim Evinczik, a truly talented artist in his own right, opened the window to his mind for us to get a peek at the chaos and brilliance that goes into his amazing work as a true artisan at Villa Designs.
I am inspired by beautiful art, furniture and interiors of grand homes. I’m self-taught with the exception of a few seminars, and in retrospect this has been the best way, but also the most difficult. There are only a few people in the world that, like me, create with ornament for the interior and in other varied applications.
I’m fueled by classicism, whether it be baroque or the grayed earth of contemporary minimalism. I sway from one to the other, always striving for the perfect proportion, the perfect color and for it to evolve from the environment. What I design and create is always seasoned by the masters.
In the past 25 years I have worked in seven states, designing and creating architectural detail in very high end homes and even a private ballroom. Historical projects have included The Hermitage, Green Pastures and the restoration of painted detail by Aaron Douglass at Cravath Hall, Fisk University. I was also involved with the complete transformation of a 1930′s Theater in Memphis into a convention center.
New construction projects have included designing all the interior molding details, mantels and color schemes, designing and building furniture pieces, and creating custom art for traditional and contemporary inspired homes. I have also worked on the design and manufacture of oversized frames and mirrors with ornament and gilding. Murals and custom art along with faux finishes and wood-graining have been my mainstay for quite some time. Custom rugs, light fixtures, dining room tables and reproducing antique consoles were the next to be added to my repoitore and now I have added the service of repairing marble, terra cotta, concrete, limestone statuary and urns.
For a number of years I have been restoring antiques for several antique dealers as well as others, and have learned how to create and conserve the delicate patinas found on frames and furniture from past centuries. My goal is to organize a school in my studio to teach the design and application of ornament in all its forms and finishes to preserve this skill from dying out.
I hope you enjoy my blog as I discuss using ornament in the creation of furniture and how the process of design works.
From Inspiration to Solution
Imagine being asked to create a piece of furniture for the foyer of a stately cut limestone clad home in the best real estate area in Nashville.
The one requirement was that it needed to knock your socks off. Well, did I need some inspiration!
Inspiration was easy, history had provided thousands of masterpieces to choose from. But there was to be only one resulting solution, so I needed to narrow it down. How? We love our favorite things and at that time, a famous Paris designer Daniel Marot (1661-1752) topped my list with knock-out pieces. He was associated with much of the architecture, interior design, furniture, mirrors, gueridons, chimney-pieces, brackets, receptacles for porcelain, girandoles, wall panels, plaster ceilings, state beds and garden parterres for Hampton court and other notable projects. The so-called “William and Mary” style gained much of its robust vigor from Marot’s designs.
So the search was on–tempered by the grand exterior of the home, marble floors, 12 foot ceilings and 20’ by 50’ space, it needed to be large and bold. I found pictures of three things that caught my eye.
A mirror design by Daniel Marot
an antique venetian commode
and an oval ornamented liner on a frame, housing a painting by Tiepolo that I found in a Memphis Art Museum.
But could they somehow be pulled together into the needed solution?
After laying out my basic perimeter of limitations, I developed a 10’ mirror with an oval liner and a beefed up commode under it. Next, it was necessary to invent the construction procedure, a materials list, find the right pieces of ornament that would fit and create the right sense of design, and a scale drawing of every detail as it would appear as a finished product. A scale drawing is an absolute must, and if it looks good on paper then it would look good as a completed project. During the long hours of pondering over all of this, I stumbled upon the exact centerpiece that was in Marot’s drawing, a woman’s face with a crown! It was then hand made for me from a 300 year old hand carved wood mould. Now I’m on fire!
The scale drawing, along with the proposed color devolvement and gilt detail was presented to and warmly approved by the client and designer. Next came ordering and buying all the materials. Over 180 pieces of ornament and 80 feet of compo were used to overlay the wood components.
Silk fabric with embroidered honeybees for lining the two glove drawers was located and installed in the newly made drawers
Now the biggest challenge was carving the legs. I had never built anything with legs before. So research was definitely staring me in the face.
Coming up with the answers I needed, now construction was upon me. After all the wood components were assembled, now the ornamentation was begun by steaming each piece of Compo and carefully bonding it to the wood base. According to one source, Compo was invented in Italy in the 1300’s and the first western application was at the Versailles Palace.
Next came pointing, priming, sealing, and all the finishes to make it look as it was 100 years old. After a few weeks of creative application the “baby” was born and ready for delivery
The mirror was installed in the frame at the home and it was now all complete.
In it’s interior space, it was “one”, it reigned with dignity, it commanded respect.
The clients and interior designer radiated the glow of a job well done.
Now leaving it in it’s space, I feel a gloom of depression sweep over me, I will really miss my creation as it was part of me. But I know I will be visiting the home again, as there are more projects awaiting me.
Would you like to view some others?
We most certainly would, Jim! You are a true artisan and we are awed by your skill and expertise. For more information about Jim, please read below:
Jim Evinczik / Villa Designs
6607 Hwy 41-A Pleasant View, Tn. 37146
(All pictures and captions courtesy of Villa Designs)
Nashville Interior Design