Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

Comtemporary and Classic

MONIKA APPONYI VON EICHEL talks about design trends


Monika Apponyi von Eichel

Monika Apponyi von Eichel got tired of trying to find just the right small pieces of furniture she likes, such as consoles, coffee tables, lamps, nigh-tables, commodes and sideboards. As a result, she launched her own collection, ARTABA, in collaboration with her Swiss partner, Susanne von Meiss, three years ago. In London and Zurich, now she is planning to bring the collection to Washington in 2006. The pieces are handmade in Italy and finished in spectacular gold and aluminum leaf with a very elegant "linen" texture in various colors: stone, chocolate, green, red, black and white. Since her recent marriage to Washingtonian Henry von Eichel, she has divided her time between London and the United States. She is looking forward to bringing her expertise and experience from "Old Europe" to this exciting city. To view these exquisite pieces, visit the website at www.artaba.com.




I love the great variety of architectural heritage that defines Washington, the elegant proportions, generosity of space and beautiful light. Georgetown is so very English, but yet more varied and whimsical than London. I love the grandeur of Capitol Hill, the logic of the street layout, the friendliness of the people. When I rebuilt our new house with my husband in Georgetown I was pleased to discover a wealth of talented craftsmen.

In Europe and Georgetown, luxury is back with a capital L! There is a definite return to color, luxurious finishes, and fabrics and layered textures -the mantra being: comfort, comfort, comfort. People are tired of minimalist houses in white, beige and stone with chunky masculine furniture. They want express their individuality and put their feet up without disturbing the one lily stiffly propped in the sleek vase on the coffee table.

Antiques are coming out of hibernation, that is, if the clients were smart enough to have kept them when 1980's modern was the must-have. I look for the sleekness of the '30s, with supreme finishes in lacquer, brass and ebony. The simplicity of Biedermeier or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, the grandeur of 18th century French and Italian pieces that are all finding their way back into interiors. However now they are being mixed with well-designed contemporary furniture. Compared to the '80s, when interiors were also luxurious -but plush and over-decorated with lots of fringes and ruffled lampshades- everything is more pared down today. "Less is more," but with total emphasis on quality, the highest standard of workmanship and attention to detail.



Houses must offer us a refuge from our hectic lives and envelop us like a soft, fur blanket. Anything is possible in Washington: contemporary or classic, or a combination of both, but the key is comfort and functionality.

When approaching a new project, I first focus on understanding my clients: what they like, what does their home mean to them, how do they conduct their lives, what makes them tick, feel comfortable, what do they want to achieve? Then I look at the bones of the house. Like a face, without good bone-structure, make-up will be difficult. I check the spaces, flow of rooms, position and proportions of doors, available storage space and natural light. If something does not work, I will suggest altering it. As an interior architect and designer, I get involved in all aspects of a renovation: detailed planning, drawings, supervision and of course, decoration and furnishing.

I like it when houses are logical, well organized, and have beautifully detailed closets, luxurious bathrooms (sometimes even with fabric on the walls) and lots of different sources of light. Dimmers are a must. I use mirrors and lacquered surfaces to reflect light and tactile fabrics such as linens, silks and velvets with layered textures. Colors and strong focal points, including interesting pieces of furniture and art, are vital. I love the smell of polished furniture and lavender in linen cupboards and the highest quality of workmanship. What I avoid is pretentious, uncomfortable and impractical interiors. I hate things that are fake, like bad, glitzy copies of antique furniture, synthetics, stark overhead lighting and shabby, messy, unloved houses.

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