Shopping With Ellie Cullman
By RIMA SUQI
Published: December 31, 2013
In the society of fake wood, there are many classes. Materials doctored to have the look of wood grain may be as humble as plastic laminate or as luxurious as silk — in which case the counterfeiting is more likely to be described as “faux bois.”
“I was first introduced to it in Chinese porcelain: some pieces are as early as 18th century,” said Ellie Cullman of the New York design firm Cullman & Kravis. Today she installs faux-bois furniture, wallpaper, textiles and carpets in many of her interiors and has used decorative painting techniques to create faux-bois staircases, doors and mantels.
On a recent shopping trip, Ms. Cullman surveyed the many faux-bois options at Treillage on the Upper East Side. Regarding a hand-sculpted steel-and-concrete bench by Michael Fogg, she suggested using it in a mudroom, because “it’s a great perch for putting on or taking off boots and sneakers.” A side table by Mr. Fogg “would work really well in a rustic or industrial setting,” she said. “I’d especially like to see it in a downtown loft as a way of bringing the outside in, adding softness and an organic quality to what otherwise may be a stark setting.”
At the lighter end of the materials scale, Ms. Cullman admired a handsome melamine charger, also at Treillage. “I would get a bunch of these and use them for buffets,” she said.
Online, she found wood-grain bath towels at Macy’s, an unexpectedly whimsical item at a gratifyingly low price ($6 to $18). “Especially when you consider that most bathrooms are stark white tile,” she said, “it makes a good contrast.” On Neiman Marcus’s website she found other novelties in Caspari’s faux-bois cocktail napkins and guest towels. “Having seen these,” she asked, “don’t plain monogrammed cocktail napkins and guest towels seem incredibly boring?”
A version of this article appears in print on January 2, 2014, on page D4 of the New York edition with the headline: Try Knocking on These.
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