En prendre de la graine

Recently, a huge fall source book arrived from Restoration Hardware. When I say huge, I mean 615 pages! Flipping through, I was struck by two things – the commitment to handcrafted quality and the French influence.  When I typed “French” as a search term on their website, there were no less than 254 matches! I must admit to the sin of lust over several items. As for the handcrafted quality that I referred to, look no further than their story on designer Timothy Oulton, whose line uses reclaimed wood to fashion faithful reproductions and relevant reinterpretations of antiques. I love the idea of reusing wood in a world where deforestation is a major issue. The pieces are pricey; the totally gorgeous Palladian Salvaged Pine Library Triple Bookcase does cost $10,995, but Oulton explained that a piece can spend 60 days in the hands of the carpenters, not to mention all the steps that come before and after. I was struck by his comment “Whatever we do, it has to be BOP – best on planet.” If that doesn’t embody the idea behind Veuve Cliquot’s maxim “one quality, the finest,” I can’t imagine what does.

Today’s expression, en prendre de la graine (ohn prendruh duh lah grehn) means to follow something as an example, usually an event or a person (the way my mother encouraged me in vain to play the piano for hours like a certain Ann that we knew). I picked this expression because the word graine reminded me of grain, as in the grain in a piece of beautiful wood, but it actually means ‘seed.’ So the literal meaning is “to take from the seed.” Tim Oulton takes the seed of his ideas from antiques, adapts them to modern homes, and reinvents them in reclaimed wood – all of the finest quality. That’s an example worth following – much more interesting than playing more scales.

About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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