A quilt can work in a contemporary room

DESIGN LINE

January 01, 1995|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

The more I see of traditional American quilts, the more I regard them as the equal of any world-class design. The beauty and timelessness of 18th- and 19th-century originals may not be fully matched by reproductions, but I'm also very impressed by the skill of many contemporary quilt-makers.

I'm a bit late in coming to this realization. A number of connoisseurs have long appreciated the fine artistry of American quilts. But many of my fellow designers still look upon quilts merely as colorful bed covers or interesting folk art.

My purpose here is not to argue against this classification. I do have to say, however, that the makers of classic quilts were not only practiced with a needle but were also first-rate artists. I view quilts as appropriate accessories in the most sophisticated contemporary interior as well as in the most rudimentary log cabin. In fact, the boldness of its colors and the intricacy of its pattern may make the quilt particularly suitable to high-style contemporary settings.

Quilts create a comfortable and cozy look when thrown across a well-made and brightly colored sofa. And they add a great deal of decorative interest to a room when hung on a stretcher and placed on a wall.

Oh, yes, a quilt also makes a fine bed cover.

As the photo suggests, the accompanying furniture does not need to be country-style. When used as part of a bed ensemble, a quilt also doesn't have to be the only pattern in a room.

The photo shows, too, how a small geometric design can be used successfully in combination with the bolder and larger-scale pattern of a quilt. It all hangs together most effectively when the color of the mini-pattern on the sheets, wallpaper orcurtains is in the same sharp contrast as found in the quilt.

But I don't want to overstate my case or give a misleading impression. Not every quilt deserves to be displayed as a decorative textile. If an antique, it must be in relatively good condition. If a reproduction, it has to have been based on a truly memorable original. The same can be said, of course, about any work of art. What's important is to appraise quilts with the same serious scrutiny as other respected forms of visual expression.

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