We are so excited to be hosting Ella Benton of Vivian Estelle Designs this Thursday at The Mill with her beautiful antique Mora Clocks. Having spent several years exploring overseas, both Ella and these Mora clocks, are full of wonderful stories. Stop by The Mill : Design + Home Thursday, November 9th from 5-7 pm to share a cocktail with Ella and admire the timeless beauty of these gorgeous Swedish antiques.
Can't wait until Thursday? Neither can we. Get the inside scoop below.
Image Source: Pinterest
The Mill: Ok Ella, for starters. What IS a Mora clock?
Ella: I saw my first Mora clock in a dusty little antique shop in Paris, France. I actually thought it must be a French piece because of its beautiful curving lines and decorative painting. But when I inquired about it, I was told it was a Swedish "Mora" clock. The word Mora means mother in Sweden. This began my love affair with these unique clocks and their amazing story.
The Mill: Mora clocks carry such a vibrant and rich history that make them such a remarkable piece for the home. In your opinion, what is it about these clocks that makes them so special?
Ella: I call these “the little clocks that saved a village” because as legend has it, there was a tiny village in Sweden that had fallen on hard times and the people were literally starving. One night they called for a town meeting to try and decide what they could do to survive the winter. As they talked they realized that they had several families that were very good woodworkers, and other families that were painters by trade, and still others who knew how to build clock workings. They decided to pool their talents and create the first “Mora” clock together. This one of a kind piece of art sold immediately and this began a cottage industry for the village that lasted over 100 years.
The Mill: We know that you lived in Germany for a couple of years before moving to Columbus, MS. Our wanderlust souls have to know ... What did you love most about living in Europe?
Ella: I know this answer might seem rather predictable.. But I loved all the exotic travel! Even when I boarded the plane to start our adventure overseas I never imagined the places I would get to see and the close proximity of all the countries to each other. It was only about 40 minutes to the French border from our little German village, and we would often just hop in the car after church on a Sunday and drive over to France for an afternoon of antique shopping and wine tasting. You could fly to most countries from Germany for under $100.00. It was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and we took full advantage of it.
The Mill: We are all about lifestyle and design. What are some of the greatest design inspirations you took from your time overseas?
Ella: When I used to look at pictures of Europe, I think I didn’t fully believe that it would be so incredibly beautiful in person. But it is... from the iconic architecture of the massive stone churches and city buildings, to the quaint flower boxes hanging off the front of the little cottages in the villages. It is like stepping back in time and walking through a fairy tale. I have tried to return to the states and recreate these tiny snapshots of beauty in my own home through scattering my collected art and treasured antique pieces into my everyday life.
The Mill: Each Mora is unique and so is each home they end up in. What are some characteristics you look for in a client that assists in pairing the perfect Mora clock to their home?
Ella: I think that these clocks are like people. They come in all shapes and sizes and beautiful colors, some are very tall and stately while others are petite and delicate. No two are alike and each one is special and unique. I think the “love match” between clock and owner is a very personal one, and just like an original work of art these clocks will speak to you. I think that a Mora clock would be equally at home in an urban modern loft or a very traditional house. They are graceful chameleons of great design and their feminine style is both limitless and timeless.
The Mill: Your Mora clocks are fresh off the port. Given that Vivian Estelle Designs is a relatively new business you have created here in Columbus, what sort of responses have you received so far?
Ella: I have been overjoyed to discover so many other people here in Columbus and the surrounding areas that are excited about incorporating Swedish style into their design like I am. I have already been accepted into several antique shows in the upcoming months, and I am currently making plans to have these clocks showcased during the Spring pilgrimage in Columbus.
The Mill: How would you describe your personal style and what inspires your design?
Ella: I have always loved vintage and antique things, things with a story and a past. I think objects from history carry with them the memories and provenance of the people who first loved them. I think a room or an outfit is more exciting with a mix of old and new. I think the real magic of designing a great outfit or a killer room lies in the juxtaposition between these two elements. A new black designer dress with a pair of gold vintage Chanel earrings, an incredible old Mora clock layered in front of a modern wallpaper, an elaborate crystal chandelier over a timeworn farmhouse table. These are the types of images that inspire me.
The Mill : What is your mantra when it comes to design and styling, whether it being in the home or your personal clothing style?
Ella: One of my favorite interior designers of all time was Mrs. Dorothy Draper herself, and I’d have to answer this question using a famous quote from her, “ I believe in doing the thing you feel is right. If it looks right, it is right.” I often apply this sage wisdom to both my interior design choices and my personal clothing style.
The Mill: What are you goals for the future with Mora clocks?
Ella: I think that elements of the 18th century Swedish Gustavian style are still finding their way into our decorating magazines and books almost 200 years later, and have been said to be the most beautiful interior design period throughout time. I am so happy at the response so far to bringing these amazing pieces of history to Columbus. I hope to begin this next chapter of my life here in Mississippi by sharing my love of Swedish design and these Mora clocks.