Patrick J. Hamilton: In the House of Smoke, Sand, and Fog

December 4, 2012

There are a few color names I always fall prey to. Fig. Zinc. Slate. Aubergine. Dusk. Stone. Charcoal. Fog. I love these names, whether attached to textile, product or paint can.

Bedroom by Nitzan Design. Photo by Claudia Hehr

The colors are typically what you’d envision: complex, deep, moody but not muddy. With earthy roots, they still fit the city sophisticate, and add depth to a décor scheme, warming up modernism and giving an aged, New Orleans-inspired grace and patina to traditional interiors.

Now, especially smoke. If it has smoke in the name, I’ll post, Pin, purchase or like it. And it seems, suddenly, there’s lots to like.

A bronze serving tray with smoke decanter and tumblers, part of Nitzan Designs home collection. Photo courtesy of Nitzan Design

Aubergine vases by Nitzan Designs. Photo courtesy of Nitzan Design

Nitzan Tagansky of Nitzan Design, the design firm with a sleek architectural bent, is the latest to bring smoke to the table. Their brand new home collection uses global craftsmen, age-old craft and material (bronze, brass, glass), with form stripped down to its sexiest basics. Their new home collection (launching January 2013) evokes, then out-swanks, the heyday of Calvin Klein chic. Notable, the Niraj serving tray (above, top) in bronze, with Smoke glass decanter and cylindrical tumblers, the trio of vases in Aubergine (above), the modern “Menora,†and the Ansha brass bowls (below).

A modern menorah. Photo courtesy of Nitzan Design

Brass bowls. Photo courtesy of Nitzan Design.

That sense of calm and a sultry, eternal dusk seems to have fallen over all of their new line, and those colors I love have been a signature of the design firm working all over the globe, (most recently in Jerusalem) from their Manhattan home base.

The perfect shade of gray?

Their work, for tabletop, homeowner or developer has an angular, tailored vibe, and even their inspiration shot for their packaging speaks to me, since I’ve often said one of my favorite colors is “Weimaraner.†(I imagine marching a dog on a leash up to the paint-mixing counter for a direct match.) Speaking of paint, I’d love to see Nitzan Design team up with a paint maker to create their own architectural palette.

Custom fireplace surround, Bridgehampton, N.Y., by Nitzan Design. Photo courtesy of Nitzan Design

These colors and shapes seem to perfectly embody the firm’s design philosophy: “The idea is to create an environment that is calm…to create a warm-modern aesthetic that is timeless and avoids trend–a restrained luxury…comfortable to live in, and ultimately beautiful to look at.†Indeed.

A dusky Lucite end table by White-Webb. Photo courtesy of White-Webb.

Also reimagining global inspiration through a smoke screen of sorts are Matthew White and Frank Webb, the gentlemen of White-Webb, the interior design team whose Clearly Classic Collection for Donghia takes on a duskier hue, in the latest iteration of their highly usable pull-up Lucite tables inspired by mosque, minarets, Morocco and Moors. Says Matthew White, “We love how this sultry smoke color, shown here on the Tangiers table, creates a very warm, modern vibe.†Applying this dusting of dusk to these tables makes the exotic, well, exotic-er, casting and catching the light and pairing perfectly with Indian hammered white metal. “We feel this particular color is very sexy,†says Matthew. And who can argue?

Holly Hunt Stilt Lounge chair. Photo courtesy of Holly Hunt

Great Plains “Take Direction,†in Smoke. Photo courtesy of Holly Hunt

Moody maven Holly Hunt has long used smoky tones to create and inspire suave, cocktail party-ready spaces, and the color makes frequent appearance in her Great Plains collection, a hardworking and almost fool-proofedly elegant range of textiles, like “Take Direction,†in Smoke.. “Smoke†morphs through a blue-to-taupe interpretation in Holly’s hands, proving that pinning down this color to just one hue is like trying to capture smoke itself.

Ochre’s Eclipse lights.

Ochre has also been furnishing homes in Smoke and fog, with a rain-washed and moody palette that befits the company’s UK roots. Their Eclipse lights use horsehair and horn to set the mood, catching just enough reflection in the burnished materials so they glow and never glare.

Crate & Barrel’s Fog wine glass. Photo courtesy of Crate & Barrel

And the Fog is rolling in, too at all kinds of pricepoints. Crate & Barrel’s Fog collection of glassware (wine, highball and double old-fashioned) gives you a lot of look for less. I’d press these into service for a late-night fondue party for twenty or better yet, just two, and I’d add these to last year’s list of “ski lodge mod” items pulled together over at my blog AskPatrick and for my friends at Bubble & Squeak.

Donald Sultan’s smoke rings. Photo courtesy of Donald Sultan

Smoke, of a more literal nature, also seems to offer décor and design inspiration. I’m planning on pitching the suite of Donald Sultan’s Smoke Rings, which I first spotted years ago in a Kips Bay room dedicated to vices, to a cigar-smoking client here in Manhattan.

A sartorial iteration, courtesy of Hermes. Photo courtesy of Hermes

And while I’m not sure I could pull it off, the Hermes “Fumée†printed cashmere shirt takes Donald Sultan off the walls, onto the runway and into a swanky holiday party.

All these looks help create a refreshed sense of 80s glam that works perfectly with on-trend brasses and gold-toned metals. I can imagine a chic New Year’s Eve party built around all these pieces, handsome host (maybe Nitzan or Matthew) in Hermes shirt, in a fireside glow. Yes, please.

Why Smoke, why now? Maybe it’s all those scenes from Mad Men, where blue-white curls of cigarette smoke waft across impeccable charcoal suits. Maybe it’s the smoke clearing around Daniel Craig in Skyfall, with Adele’s own smoky tones in the background. Maybe it’s the longer, deeper shadows and winter nights just around the corner, where complex and smoky interior palettes seem to be made for chic evenings and faux fur throws, with a scatter of city lights and stars captured in the glint of flirty eye and dirty martini.

Hermes Hourglass. Photo courtesy of Hermes.

And lastly, I throw a little sand in the mix… the Hermes “Les temps devant soi†Murano glass hourglass on a calfskin base, high on my Hope-I-was-Nice-Enough Christmas covet list. May time always pass so elegantly. Cheers, and the best to you in the new year!

Patrick J. Hamilton

Patrick J. Hamilton is an interior designer, stylist and stager living in New York City. He’s appeared on HGTV’s “Small Space, Big Style†and “Rate My Space.†He blogs at

For more on this chic and simple color scheme, check out our “Smoke, Sand and Fog” board on Pinterest!

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