Ideology

In other words, what makes us tick

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Raven Vanguard is the artistically wicked and creatively unhinged 21st Century resurrection and evolution of design unbound from the shackles of present-day similarity and predictability. We confidently exist in a world of our own making, vibrantly alive, radically badass, and beholding to no one. Choosing to create a world around us devoid of what-ifs, where bravery triumphs, and where art, design, and thought are not commodities; it is a world in which we unapologetically fly high, but without self-indulgence, inspiring exploration, always trying to reach and touch the sky.

We steadfastly believe that being radical and revolutionary still matters greatly to many people; we know it does to our Clients. With equal regard for design concepts, precedents, characteristics, and visionary works conceived from the 15th Century through World War II, and beyond, we are recontextualizing and revitalizing the freethinking exuberance, illimitable opulence, and sense-awakening beauty of art and interior design’s bygone days. 

As creators, we sincerely appreciate and realize that there is often more than one truth in any given set of circumstances and that subtlety and nuance, time and again, shape and shade many variations of these perceptible, but often inconspicuous truths. Although never driven by ego alone, we are confidently self-assured and mindful of our innate ability to discern and see through those obscure or ambiguous differences and dissimilarities. By combining omniscient and learned perspectives with deep-seated attributes of being too self-motivated and independently resourceful to bother following trends, Raven Vanguard is entirely unafraid of going wholly off-script or veering off-course by letting our intuition, instincts, fearlessness, and artistry guide us in creating something extraordinary and lasting for our clients. 

While most of our contemporaries continue to move away from design on the cutting-edge by taking refuge in the safety and commonality of the center, Raven Vanguard forges ahead fearlessly, pushing the outer boundaries of dissimilarity by creating strikingly beautiful and singular works on the fringes. Although we pay homage to the craft, artistry, and traditions of yesteryear, we do so in a way that rethinks, challenges, and pushes the past boldly forward by delivering new ways of seeing and experiencing elegance, beauty, sophistication, style, and comfort.

We believe it is time for a paradigm shift in design, an aesthetic remove from conventionality, playing it safe, and the commonplace rulebook. We promise a new culture of creativity and the return to sensual beauty in its most seductive, paradoxical, edgy, erotic, sinister, and impenetrable forms. Raven Vanguard is not a proponent of one-dimensional thinking, nor do we condone the cheapening, merchandising, mass production, and marketing of art and interior design, the overvaluing of ordinary, conforming to the mundane, or this worrisome notion that less is somehow more. 

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Our design concepts are not stylistically tethered to any single point of reference or origin, and our sources of inspiration have no boundaries extending well beyond the fields of architecture and interior design seamlessly crossing over several artistic disciplines into fashion, dance, theater, film, literature, and music. Artists and innovators inspire us with their genius, imagination, vision, creativity, irreverence, and their willingness to take on the risk of massive failure rather than settling for merely being average. We choose to innovate by expertly navigating and exploring the storied crossroads of history, architectural significance, functional and aesthetic design, and luxury.

We scrutinize histories of art, culture, architecture, design, space utilization, furniture and furniture making, decoration, and urbanism, to bring you an aesthetic that is uniquely ours – authenticity, beauty, and romance, but with prescribed doses of darkness, irreverence, and an aberrant edge. We aim to be equal parts artist, dreamer, historian, engineer, inventor, conjurer, eccentric, choreographer, instigator of mayhem, and mad scientist. Raven Vanguard purposely imagines beauty as a Möbius strip of amazing possibilities filtered through a dark, mysterious, and oblique artistic lens.

One of the unique hallmarks of our aesthetic is the harmonious coexistence of elaborateness, contrast, contradiction and finding beauty in opposition. We believe an interior space cannot genuinely reveal its true light without reciprocating elements of darkness and shadow. We also believe that what is happening in the margins and background of our designed spaces is of equal importance to what is going on in the center and foreground.

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Amidst an expanding sameness in a world increasingly hostile to difference, we proudly, and unapologetically, stand as creative nonconformists. Our work and embodied philosophy, although never fully subscribing to any one stylistic genre, embrace, and are often an amalgam of many characteristics of various boundary-pushing design philosophies and styles. We meticulously incorporate the following periods and styles into our work: Elizabethan, Georgian, Gothic, Baroque, Rococo, Victorian, High Victorian Gothic, Ecclesiastic, Gothic Revival, Beaux-Arts, French Second Empire, Italianate, Richardsonian Romanesque, Eastlake, Aesthetic Movement, La Belle Époque, Art Nouveau, French Bohemian, German and Austrian Expressionism, Art Deco, Eclectic, Machine Age, Bauhaus, French Provincial, Imperial Chinese, Moroccan, high concept Minimalism (think Danish Modernism), and the Experimental/Avant-Garde. 

To give you a better sense of our design aesthetic, and to exemplify our vision of beauty, imagine if you will, a stylistic and richly layered palette mixing elements of the rule-breaking High Renaissance Vanguard with the harmonious blend of architectural styles and ornamentation found in Prague, Budapest, and Barcelona, together with the profoundly idiosyncratic work of the European avant-garde, and the new wave urban modernism of post-World War I London and Paris. And, as our finishing touch to this mélange, we add in the completely unbridled interwar eroticism, kinkiness, decadence, and melancholy of Weimar Berlin. Very much like the unconstrained attitude of otherness that imbues our work, this most extravagant sextet of European cities placed a high value on the individuality of expression, fearless creativity, chasing beauty, the interfusion of history and modernity, breathtaking adornment, and the making of art for art’s sake.

To provide our Clients with radically original perspectives, we freely challenge traditional, outmoded, and uninspired concepts, often borrowing ideas from and being influenced by, other remarkably talented individuals outside of our industry whose creativity and ingenuity are jaw-droppingly imaginative beyond words. 

For example, turning a voyeuristic eye to the world of fashion’s beau monde, we find inspiration in aspects of the extraordinarily rebellious and provocative work and otherworldly spectacle created by iconic couturiers like Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Margaine-Lacroix, Coco Chanel, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Yohji Yamamoto, Alexander McQueen, Gareth Pugh, Vivienne Westwood, Rei Kawakubo, Jum Nakao, Stevie Stewart, and Leigh Bowery.

Inside the outer fringes of the fashion world, we share many aesthetic similarities with artistic directors like Simon Costin and Joseph Bennett, feminist emancipation movement fashion styles of the 1920s like the flapper, la garconne, modan gāru and Neue Frau and the more recent Lolita fashion subculture of Japan. We were thunderstruck and exhilarated by the hypnotically compelling costumes created by Gabriella Pescucci and Uliva Pizzetti for the dark, and tastefully wicked, but genuinely enlightened, television drama, Penny Dreadful. We have also been deeply moved by the creativity, artistry, and subdued beauty on display in Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. The work of production designers Julie Berghoff and Elisabeth Williams and costume designer Ane Crabtree continues to astound us with each new episode.

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We often look to the peripheries of dance and its many subcultures for creative influence and new ways to explore movement. The redefining, intensely personal, and beautifully chaotic works of artists like Merce Cunningham and Michael Clark inspire us in the way that they broke from the formalism of dance, all the while respecting dance’s technical rigors and classical integrity. Cunningham and Clark, multimedia pioneers, introduced atypical elements of style, vice, grace, spatial arrangement, fashion, music, culture, performing and visual arts, stage design and lighting to the discipline of dance. It should come as no surprise that Cunningham and Clark share a common thread in David Bowie.

In other respects, our design sense is profoundly influenced by our stage and screen inclinations. For instance, our aesthetic for both glamour and femininity takes cues from those ineffable femme fatales of impeccable style and grace who loomed large over the silent film era like Clara Bow, Marlene Dietrich, Louise Brooks, and Greta Garbo, and from those kickass cabaret showgirls like the Parisian Flirt of the Folies Bergere and Moulin Rouge, the Ziegfeld Girl of the Ziegfeld Follies and various Girlkultur burlesque productions on display in Berlin’s cabarets and erotic revue houses.

We believe a designer must simultaneously and skillfully balance elements of light, darkness, shade, and shadow to be successful. Unfortunately, however, at all times since the advent of artificial light, humankind has grappled with a misguided and irresistible temptation to turn night into day by altogether eradicating darkness. 

When it comes to applying lighting design to architectural spaces, the very act of lighting up an interior space is, in itself, an art form. The where, when, how and why of artificial lighting must not only meet the practical requirements of the occupants and users of the space but, more importantly, their perceptual and psychological needs as well.

Raven Vanguard’s viewpoint regarding the interplay of light, shadow, silhouettes, and darkness differs in many respects from traditional North American thinking and is more attuned to time-honored Eastern and European philosophies. We can think of no better modern example of this give-and-take between light and shadow than Japanese architect Tadao Ando’s Church of the Light, part of the Ibaraki Kasugaoka Church located in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture, Japan.

As designers, we have always been mesmerized by the allure of sunset, twilight, the dusk of night, moonlight, candlelight, and lamplight because they are the leading characters in the romantic and asymmetrical theater of shadows. Long ago, we realized that wraithlike shadow-play and dim half-light could be tactfully used to elevate mood, create ambiance, and simulate texture and depth, enhancing the inherent beauty and theatricality of our interiors. 

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We believe there is a fine line, one that is often massively overstepped, between a delicately lit space and one that is awash in too much light. Within our interior spaces, soft, scattered light is free to flit and flicker through the margins of darkness creating an all-enveloping ambiance, an inconspicuous radiance, and just the right amount of tension-and-release. In stark contrast, North American designers, instead of making any attempt to embrace the sublime, hypnotic, and restorative powers of darkness, are overly-fixated on manipulating it to the point of extinction. 

We never depend entirely on artificial light to reveal those enchanting qualities of our interior spaces that are best perceived in diffused or filtered light, candlelight, or in the sparkle and glow of shimmering darkness. For these reasons, we are always searching for new and captivating ways to explore, choreograph, and reveal the mysterious and haunting beauty so often concealed, shrouded, or unnoticeable within corners, negative spaces and shadows. There is a remarkable, yet potentially fragile, dark elegance that undeniably exists within shadowy recesses. For this reason, unlike most designers, we strive to preserve and accentuate the spectral purity and electrifying charm of darkness rather than making any attempt to do away with it all together through the application of penetrating bright light. 

The founders of Raven Vanguard have a particular fondness for music, literature, film and other temporal forms of artistic expression. We believe every residence should have a room, or rooms, specially tailored to these particular art forms. Domestic spaces that were purpose-designed for literature and music began to appear in private residences in both France and Italy during the latter half of the Sixteenth Century. However, it wasn’t until the late 1700s that private dwellings were frequently designed to include rooms for music, reading and the display of artwork.

Unfortunately, nowadays these meditative spaces are often ignored by architects, designers, and homeowners because they are predisposed to a mindset that these places no longer serve a beneficial function in our 21st Century lifestyles. If a meditative space is permitted to exist at all within the confines of contemporary design, it comes to us only in the form of bamboo, the smell of burning incense, new age muzak, and yoga mats. Nevertheless, if you believe as we do in the continued importance of truly atmospheric spaces for music, literary, or other artistic pursuits, please take the time to review our dedicated webpage found here.

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At Raven Vanguard, we also believe in forging creative partnerships with other like-minded artists, artisans, craftspeople, architects, designers, master builders, specialty manufacturers, suppliers, audio specialists, and art and antique dealers who not only share our artistic vision, but who are also interested in working alongside us, hand-in-hand, to bring our design concepts and our clients’ projects to successful completion. We prefer to work in the company of others who exhibit a certain je ne sais quoi whose ingenuity and skills we know well and, who like us, aspire to the highest levels of artistry and craftsmanship in applying their trade.

There are many design types we purposely do not incorporate into our work because these particular approaches do not fall within our overall aesthetic. Although we appreciate other design styles offered by many immensely talented architects and designers, the following categories are not usually reflected in our work: Shabby Chic, Nautical, 21st Century Americanized Boho, Farmhouse, American Colonial, Spanish Revival, Coastal, Southwestern, Tuscan, Country, Rustic, Tropical, Ski Lodge, Shaker, or Mediterranean. However, if someone happens to be interested in a totally over the top, gothic or Duncan Phyfe take on a funhouse mirror distortion of a Bavarian hunting lodge to display their St. Hubertus Red Stag Hunting Trophy, then Raven Vanguard would most certainly be your designer.

We believe every finished space should enhance your life, provide sanctuary, exhibit elegance, and exceptional artistry, inspire awe and envy, elicit particular moods, bring peace of mind, and ensure timeless and unsurpassed value for each of our clients.

Admittedly, our artistic vision and creative work are not for every person, project, establishment, or for every budget. The upscale design movements and characteristics favored by our clientele, reflect their fondness for breathtaking elaborateness, scale, texture, and composition. However, in every luxury project, it is this high degree of elaborateness and increased need for precise and handcrafted detail that necessarily adds layers of time, complexity, and oversight, and thus significant cost, to both design and construction budgets. Accepting this reality, the pragmatic long-range view in luxury design must be one of sound investment in the maximization of actual value; requiring the synthesis of luxury, refinement, thoughtful planning, purposeful design, and skillful execution.