Take Ten with Charlotte Moss


October marks the 37th year of The San Francisco Fall Art & Antiques Show held at the Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture. The theme this year is "The Sun, The Moon & The Stars: Celestial Imagery in Art, Antiques & Design." At the Grand Entry Hall, four Designer Vignettes set the tone of the show. Among the celestial-themed vignettes, Charlotte Moss will create "The Sun." The New York-based designer also participates in the antique show's Lecture Series. Joining English designer Nina Campbell and moderated by  Suzanne Tucker, they will discuss, “The Test of Time: Design Doyennes Dish on Decorating and Expound of Entertaining.

Coupar caught up with Charlotte to query the designer, author, lecturer, and philanthropist on her thoughts about antiques, design, and life.

What was your inspiration behind The Sun vignette at the SFFAAS?

CM: My inspiration came from the drawings of Antonio Basoli (1774-1848) set designer, decorator, and painter from Bologna. The artists at de Gournay embraced the atmosphere I envisioned, a melding of Basoli’s languorous draping and the Italian landscape I find so alluring.  

Can you give us a word picture of your vision?

CM: In the distance, the sun bears down on the hills of Tuscany warming the cypress trees and umbrella pines that define the Italian landscape. Terracotta rooftops are baking while summer breezes carry the distinctive perfume of these evergreens to the loggia of a villa nearby. Curtains move almost imperceptibly as if they are consciously trying not to disturb the scene.  The gentle metronome -like trickle of the fountain cools the air and provides music for the visitor who has settled in for an afternoon nap.

How do you incorporate antiques and art in your interiors?

CM: I had antiques in my room as a teenager and I have always been drawn to objects with a history. Using antiques in my work was an organic process. There is no substitute for a beautiful patina and what it can do to a room. I look for anchor pieces for rooms that speak to what the client envisions, add instant history, and have a way to elevating everything else. As with antiques, I prefer always to have a mix. A Roman bust with Twombly or Grecian urns with Kline, one large Modern canvas or a gallery wall of watercolors and drawings, personal choices make a room successful.

What is your favorite antique or piece of art in your own home?

CM: I have been buying and collecting for a long time. My collection of paintings of interiors would be high on the list. I have shopped all over the world and sometimes it is the memory of that moment of purchase that is equally important.

What is one item you could never live without

CM: I could never live without my books. My library is integral to my daily life. My scrapbooks that have documented my travel, family photos, and events, they remind me of so many great times and places, I love revisiting them all.

Favorite place in the world to travel?

CM: Every place offers something different. I loved Africa, the rawness of the landscape, the animals and the knowledge and enthusiasm of our guides. In India, the people, the colors, the temples, architecture, crafts. I can’t wait to return. Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, is a trip in the planning.

What is your favorite leisure activity?

CM: At our house in Long Island near the beach I kayak, but never enough. I read a LOT, so time for that is very important to me. Currently, I am collecting material for my collage work which is a great source of pleasure and satisfaction.

What is your favorite restaurant when you visit San Francisco?

CM: I love to have dinner at Kokkari Kokkari Estiatorio, lunch at Roka Akor.....family traditions.

As a Design Doyenne, what do you see as the future of the industry?

CM: I can’t predict the future but one thing is clear, technology will play a big part. That’s a topic on its own. At the same time, we will continue to appreciate, seek and collect beautiful handcrafted artisanal objects, We need ‘high tech high touch’ for the balance in our life. I think like any business, we will adapt how we function based on the lifestyles of our clients.  How they eat, sleep, and play is changing rapidly and rooms have to be designed to accommodate those changes. In the end, people are people and they will still want their creature comforts...a comfortable chair for reading, good lighting, a cozy bed. We will continue to do what we do with an eyeball on the future so we can anticipate peoples needs.

Describe yourself in 1 word.

CM: Curious.