To explain the meaning behind The Janus House, let me start with giving you a bit of background on its namesake, the Roman god Janus. To the ancient Romans, Janus was the god of transitions, which included beginnings, endings, doorways and passages. The image of Janus, looking both forward and backward, was often found over doorways. The standard tome on mythology, Bulfinch’s Mythology, includes the following definition of the god. “Janus was the porter of heaven. He opens the year, the first month being named after him. He is the guardian deity of gates, on which account he is commonly represented with two heads, because every door looks two ways. His temples at Rome were numerous.”
Photo credit: Wikipedia
So what does this have to do with art and design? To put it simply, this symbolism encompasses our design philosophy: that every well-designed space is both forward and backward looking, incorporating both old and new in order to create a truly timeless space. It’s a Louis XVI bergère paired with a Lucite footstool. It’s a contemporary abstract painting hung over an antique English chest. It’s this entire apartment by interior designer Christopher Noto featured in the May 2016 issue of Elle Decor.
Photo Credit: Björn Wallander
This juxtaposition in interior design has been expressed by many of the world’s most talented interior designers. The first time it really grabbed my attention was the September 2007 cover of Veranda featuring a stunning California home designed by Renea Abbott. The iconic cover showcased a Louis XVI gilt chaise, with pristine white cotton upholstery, including tiny dressmaker details on the overstuffed ottoman cushion. The chaise is positioned in front of an exposed herringbone brick fireplace with an exquisite Louis XIII limestone mantle. Above the mantle hangs a Cy Twombly lithograph in a traditional gilt frame, flanked by two antique sconces. The remaining details of the room are soft, clean and natural – a perfect backdrop for a perfect juxtaposition of styles, eras and cultures.
Photo credit: Roger Davies
Why do these seemingly disparate pieces work so well together? Why are the hurried, frenetic movements by the artist so thoroughly complimented by the quiet elegance of the antique elements around it? In 2007 I didn’t know the answer to these questions, but I was instantly intrigued to learn more. Over the past several years, I have seen numerous examples of this delicate mix of new and old, perfect and flawed, modern and antique.
Consider this explanation from Decorating Master Class: The Cullman & Kravis Way, by acclaimed design firm Cullman & Kravis: “Twentieth-century paintings serve as an exciting counterpart to 18th- and 19th– century antiques, a look we like to call ‘young traditional.’ The art refreshes the antiques, while the traditional pieces give the art a warm and layered backdrop.”
The Janus House exists to bring a little of this yin to your yang. Our gallery of curated modern art is expertly framed and ready to hang in your space. We would love to see your idea of #thejanushouse. Tag us in your photos @thejanushouse on Instagram.