I recently had the pleasure of spending a day with one of my personal design icons, interior designer and antiques dealer Edie van Breems. Edie and her business partner Rhonda Eleish are the founders of Eleish Van Breems and the authors of three of my favorite design books, Swedish Interiors, Swedish Country Interiors, and Reflections on Swedish Interiors.
Edie spent the morning talking with me about her work and how Eleish Van Breems has evolved and grown since she and Rhonda began working together in 1998. Childhood friends, they followed different paths after school, but working together was always on the horizon and when the right moment presented itself, they seized it. A mutual interest in design, a shared heritage with family connections in Sweden, and an affinity for the look and lifestyle made Scandinavia their focus.
Edie gave me a tour of her beautiful house, part of which functions as a showroom for antiques and as the office for her interior design business.
Long known for their selection of fine Scandinavian antiques and home accessories, Eleish Van Breems is now importing a range of beautiful Swedish reproductions. The furniture is crafted in Sweden and includes pieces in a variety of styles from different historical periods. The pair have recently collaborated with Farrow and Ball to offer finishes from F&B's incomparable line of paints. The partnership came about as Edie and Rhonda searched for a manufacturer of high-quality paint whose colors were consistently true to samples.
A basic tenant of Swedish life is maintaining a balance with nature and these pieces are produced with a focus on sustainability and using environmentally friendly materials. Painted by a talented team of artisans in Connecticut, the finishes are rich and durable. Edie showed me a few new arrivals and recent finish samples.
After enjoying an exquisite lunch prepared by Edie in her light-filled kitchen, I pulled out my dog-eared copies of all three of the Eleish Van Breems books and, in true design geek fashion, made Edie sign each one. She was very good natured about it.
This Ӧstermalm chair is painted a deep aubergine - a non-traditional finish color that offers a modern interpretation of historic Scandinavian design and shows how the pieces can work in contemporary interiors of any style.
From there we went to Lilian August in Norwalk, Connecticut where Eleish Van Breems has an in-store boutique showcasing a selection of their Swedish and Scandinavian antiques and decorative accessories.
At the end of the day Rhoda met us for a cup of tea, and she and Edie talked about the inception of Eleish Van Breems and how, from the beginning, educating the buyer was a priority. A client took home not just a piece of antique furniture, but knowledge of Swedish history, regional styles and folk culture, of stylistic decoration, traditional color palettes and the minerals used to create them. The combination of soulful antiques in the light, uncluttered, elegant Scandinavian aesthetic they championed was irresistible. Rhonda explained that the Swedish principle of functionality in furniture design is why the pieces remain relevant in contemporary interiors.
Today, Eleish Van Breems continues to inspire, demonstrating how the tenants of Swedish style can be interpreted to suit anyone's personal taste. Edie and Rhonda are such a dynamic pair, and clearly so passionate about what they do, it is easy to see why Eleish Van Breems has met with such success and created a devoted following.