Step Into The Eclectic, Colorful World Of Peggy Cooper Cafritz

The late Peggy Cooper Cafritz was many things — a lawyer, an author, an activist — but most of all, she was a collector. The patron and advocate for contemporary African and African-American art, who passed away in February, leaves behind one of the largest private collections in the country, an assortment reflective of both her political convictions and bold personal style.

 

Dubbed the Binary Art Table, this piece is a melange of motherboard, chips, LED screens, and hard drives rammed together in a dense cluster to create something new. Seen at Lady Gaga’s ‘ArtRave’ in 2013, the designer Benjamin Rollins Caldwell was selected to feature his work and included this masterpiece coffee table in ‘The Binary Room’.

 

Cafritz was born in 1947 into one of the most prosperous black families in Mobile, Alabama. Segregation led the family north, where she attended boarding school and, later, George Washington University. It was in college that Cafritz co-founded a summer program that evolved into the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, created to nurture minority artists.

 

The law school grad went on to work as a programming executive and documentary producer in the 1970s, winning both Emmy and Peabody Awards for her work. During the following decades, she chaired the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and later served as the President of the Board of Education in D.C.

By 2009, over 300 pieces of art populated the Regency-style mansion Peggy owned in the tony D.C. neighborhood of Kent with former husband and real estate developer, Conrad Cafritz. The gabled estate, filled to the brim with English antiques and works from the likes of Jacob Lawrence, Kara Walker, and Kehinde Wiley, became a hub for people as well as things. Activists, politicians, artists, and friends, including Bill Clinton, Gloria Steinem, and Quincy Jones, were frequent guests to the saloniste’s famed parties and events.

Composed of beautiful grape-shaped baubles, this cluster lamp was made by master Syrian artisans from recycled glass bottles. It can be used as a unique table lamp or pendant light in a modern décor.

Not unlike a work of modern sculpture, this fauteuil cadre chair by French artist Ducatteau has a geometric seat made of sheet metal covered in cherry red lacquer. Its inverted pyramidal base of patinated steel adds to the urbane look that suits an art gallery as easily as a contemporary home.

 

In 2010, a fire destroyed the house and collection — worth millions — in the largest residential fire the city’s seen to date. When she moved into a $3.25 million dollar industrial duplex in Dupont Circle, Cafritz told The New York Times, “I wasn’t going to reconstruct what was, but to look at everything anew.” The decidedly modern space was a sure departure from her last home, but the patron continued to collect with the same voracity as before.

Herman Miller offers the world’s largest selection of authentic modern furniture, lighting, and home accessories from iconic designers past and present. Designed by Verner Panton, this iconic ‘S’ chair is made from one piece of injected molded plastic with a cantilevered base. Its glossy black finish elevates any modern décor.

 

 

Created in the style of legendary American designer George Nakashima, these stunning spindle back chairs were built with handsome walnut frames. Their clean lines and material warmth look stunning in any modern décor. Sold in a set of two.

 

With an art collection as robust, colorful, and eclectic as hers, it’s no surprise that the décor followed suit. Cafritz enlisted friend and interior designer Paul Siskin to curate her larger-than-life tastes. As she told O Magazine, “It’s all about an eye party. Which is governed by my gut. By, what do I love? What do I think is amusing? What do I think is beautiful? I’ve never bought anything because it matches something else. Never!”

B&B Italia is a consistent presence in the international design scene and known for its high-end contemporary furniture collections. Designed by Jeffrey Bernett, this ‘Metropolitan’ swivel armchair has a steel frame covered in dark gray upholstery and a base made of polished aluminum. Ideal for a modern office.

 

An eye party it is. The sprawling space is a maximalist’s dream, layered with pieces from all periods and styles. A B&B Italia swivel chair mingles with traditional Nepalese rugs and multicolored dhurries, while a Triennale-style floor lamp sidles up next to a sofa from Restoration Hardware.

There were no rules to Cafritz’s aesthetic, which is what makes it so utterly compelling. Such a singular personality has crafted an equally singular collection, which we are both proud and honored to bring to Viyet.

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