Thursday, March 29, 2012

Talented People We Love: Thomas Messel

Last week, on Thursday, Thomas Messel spoke at the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach.  He was introducing his new book about Oliver Messel, which we will be carrying in our store, Leta Austin Foster Boutique.  Then on Saturday, I met with him in the office, as I am commissioning him to do some pieces of furniture for a job I have undertaken.


I have used Thomas on two other jobs, and he is so amazing.  His talent is unbelievable: he has amazing designing skills and the craftsmanship of his atelier is truly beyond belief.  He has made chandeliers for me and wall sconces, too, of wood carved and gessoed so that it looks like branches of coral encrusted with shells. We used this in a sun room, where we then embroidered the edges of the curtains and cornices with white coral branches (on blue linen) to go with our lighting.  It was beautiful.

He also made for us a pair of Chinoiserie-decorated chests with etageres on top to hold a client's collection of English porcelain.  True to his design sensibilities, he made the chests English (in the early French manner of Chippendale and Hepplewhite).  

So what did we do while he was here?  Well, after working on the designs we wanted, we started talking--first about cottages--how the word was always used in England, then how it got changed when the great American barons of the 1880's built their huge mansions in Maine (called cottages) and from there to wooden shingling and patterns thereof, with Thomas and myself poring over pictures in my computer of mid-Victorian churches in Maine and the shingling patterns used on them. We talked and hours passed, and both of us realized the time had flown away

Anyway, here is Thomas Messel's own webpage, so you can judge for yourself how amazingly talented he is--I just wish you could have been here for the perusal of his four portfolios he had with him.



  1. Hi ! What lovely work!

    I had that identical chandelier (with the bird in the middle) in our house in Pasadena!!!

    Penelope Bianchi

  2. Leta,

    Thanks so much for sharing your amazing knowledge.


  3. You guys have great taste! Thomas really is amazing. XOXOX LETA