Tommy Smythe's love for obelisks
STYLE AT HOME: What is it about obelisks that you love?
TOMMY SMYTHE: Obelisks are ancient symbolic objects – ubiquitous and important architectural monuments in many societies, from ancient Egypt to modern day. Obelisks are stately, elegant and beautiful, and I’m drawn to their sculptural quality and height. They make for a very stunning collection.
S@H: Where do you display your obelisks?
TS: They’re great on fireplace mantels, consoles or entrance hall tables –
anywhere you want to explore the idea of having a dramatic vertical
object. Obelisks are a striking design element, but they’re also something
you never tire of, because they’re such a classic ancient symbol.
S@H: Where is the best place to shop for them?
TS: The great thing about obelisks is that they’re available in all kinds of
materials and in all kinds of places. I’ve purchased them at garage sales,
antiques shops and flea markets. When I’m decorating and accessorizing,
I’m drawn to objects that have a history to them, and each obelisk you
find will have a story attached to it. You can often bring them home
as a memento from a trip. A Carrara marble obelisk from Carrara, Italy,
for example, makes a lovely souvenir that’s quite chic! S@H: Do you need to display them in pairs?
TS: No, you don’t. I’ve seen magnificent collections of single obelisks
in different materials and heights displayed en masse, and I’m drawn to their sculptural quality and height. They make for a very stunning collection.
S@H: They’re also popular for gardens.
TS: Yes. At the heart of it, obelisks are ornaments. They have a simple, classic form. So as far as purely decorative objects go – those that don’t really function but just exist for their beauty and sculptural merit – the obelisk is it.
S@H: Would you say there’s an obelisk out there for everyone?
TS: There’s definitely an obelisk for the pauper and one for the prince, but I tend to find those in the middle. Some will be purchased for a lot of money at an auction and others will be found for $1.50 at a local garage sale. That’s the joy of collecting them! I found my favourite pair of obelisks in a little antiques store while on vacation in Palm Beach, and I bought them at an incredible bargain because someone had taught me that they were relevant and worth something. Wherever you may be, chances are there’s an obelisk waiting to be found!