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Date published: September 09 2017

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When bringing antiques into your home, you continue the era's legacy

The word ‘antique’ often gets thrown around as a descriptor for one’s style preference but for designer Melea Markell, antiques represent a lifestyle.

A passion that started during her childhood, the appreciation for antiques was paved for Markell by her mother, who instilled values of enjoying the present by honouring the past. ‘I grew up in a home where my mother taught me gracious living: to sincerely appreciate beauty in fine art,’ explained Markell. ‘She always said, ‘the things we love truly make us who we are.’

Known for her feminine interpretation of French antiques, Melea often travels to Paris to find originals, especially pieces from the Louis XVI and regency periods. Dubbed ‘The Golden Age,’ Louis XIV established the newiconic look of French neoclassic design with traditional carved motifs and heavily gilded silhouettes. The Régence period, which was set in between XIV and XV, sought to lessen the bulkiness of the heavy flourishes and overly ornate designs by considering more about function over form. ‘What I love most about the Régence era is its shift
towards smaller scale furniture that was a result of smaller living quarters compared to the period before,’ says Markell.

‘Think lighter and curved lines that are more feminine - the definition of grace and charm in my book.’ Carrying over the style from Régence, Louis XV and XVI incorporated both painted and lacquered finishes, diversifying the range of colour palettes beyond the traditional gold. Refined iterations of foliage, florals, birds, ribbon decoration and pediments made their way onto furniture accompanied by over scaled chandeliers dripping in crystals and gold. Most easily identified through rounded silhouettes and slender cabriole legs, the Louis XVI era was the pinnacle of fine art and heralded a new movement of resplendent design.

In addition to her favourite areas and markets in Paris - Les Puces de Saint Ouen, Village Suisse, Marché Biron, Marché Paul Bert - she frequents various botanical gardens such as Bois De Boulogne and flower markets on Place Louis Lépine to draw on inspiration for product development. ‘You can immerse yourself when you step into an antique shop; it’s not just museums that offer an educational experience. A lot of people go antique shopping because its trendy without fully understanding the craftsmanship and the lifestyle that originated from these works of art. Antiques represent living art - when you bring one into your home, you continue that era’s legacy and breathe new life into an otherwise forgotten place.’

Melea Markell’s aesthetic represents a renaissance of French living through the incorporation of that era’s antiques. By merging The Old World with the new, Markell creates a hybrid that both encapsulates the charm of 15th-Century Versailles and exudes modern femininity to appeal to broader tastes. ‘From all my travels to antique shops in Paris and throughout France, I’ve realised that the real beauty in antiques lies in the details, which is often forsaken for the mass appeal of super minimalist and contemporary styles,’ explains Markell.

Author: Melea Markell

Company: Melea Markell

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