Posts tagged ‘Design Focus’

Style Definitions

So somewhere in the blogosphere I came across a link to a style definition quiz and it turned out to be a fine way to spend a sticky summer afternoon. My problem is I don’t have one “style” I like, but many different looks, and I’m in a constant struggle between the “mom” in me who wants everything spic, span and in order and the “boho soul” who enjoys the visual adventure of found treasures, piles of books, etc.

So, on my first go-around with the style quiz, I was dubbed a “Home-Coming Queen” with the following general definition:

“Nothing – budgets included – stops you from putting your all into creating a dream home. Your look is quintessentially feminine: cool, pretty colours; layered patterns and textures; and flawless attention to every detail. You like to spend every spare moment on home improvements and making your fantasy become reality. Your home is as pretty as a chocolate box and almost good enough to eat.”

And here’s one of the key photos I choose in the process, a modern classic living room by Fox Nahem Design. I definitely love it, but it’s not totally me.


Fox Nahem Design

Fox Nahem Design

So I went in search of other photos that perhaps represent other other facets of my style and this is what I came up with.


Bedroom from an older copy of Marie Claire Maison

Bedroom from an older copy of Marie Claire Maison



By designer Matthew Smyth

By designer Matthew Smyth


From Inside Out magazine, date unknown

From Inside Out magazine, date unknown




A luminous bedroom by Lucinda Symons

A luminous bedroom by Lucinda Symons

All of these bedrooms speak to me, each appealing to a slightly different aspect of my style personality. I went back and took the test a second time and ended up with a different result…I might just drop by on a regular basis!

Take the test and let us know your results.

6 August 2008 at 9:07 am 2 comments

Swedish Flower Power

It may be that the Dries Van Noten engineered floral collection for Spring 2008 has influenced a floral revival of sorts. Celia Birtwell has a small collection at Express, Liberty prints are still climbing the fashion charts…could we be looking at a full-on Laura Ashley revival anytime soon?


Dries van Noten Spring 08 rtw collectio

Dries van Noten Spring 08 rtw collectio

The floral theme has successfully “branched out” into many of the newly released textile and wallpaper collections, pushing aside the many seasons of stripes, dots and damasks that have dominated for quite a while. In mid-September Sandberg will be launching Gloria, a collection of nine patterns that features four very striking florals. Here’s a sneak peek at these new wallpapers.


Gloria, above is a blossoming vine pattern available either as a full-color print,
as shown, or a tone-on-tone outline.


Boris is a stylized floral that borrows a bit from Arts & Crafts
and a bit from the ’70s in seemingly equal measur



Francis is a striking single-color leaf pattern that feels ever-so-slightly retro.



Definitely a statement wallpaper, Heidi fills the space with multi-colored blossoms. 


29 July 2008 at 4:16 pm Leave a comment

Mario, oh Mario!

When I first became involved in the interior design business, waaaaay back in the ’80s, the first decorator whose name and look I became familiar with was Mario Buatta. Back then, you couldn’t open a magazine without seeing at least one of Buatta’s lavishly embellished and chintz swathed rooms. Paige Rense, the long-time editor-in-chief of Architectural Digest says of Buatta: “He was the ’80s alpha decorator. He was warm and democratic…teasing billionaires and making his clients feel comfortable…”

Buatta has had his own design business for 45 years and the 72-year-old decorator shows no signs of slowing down. Although his signature look, an Americanized “English Country House” feel inspired by Colefax & Fowler, has swung in and out of fashion, Buatta has always had his devotees. Even in the modern/minimalist ’90s Buatta worked 5-6 days a week on the homes of Billy Joel, Mariah Carey, and dozens of other less recognizable but equally enthralled clients.

Last year, 34 years after doing his first room at the Kips Bay Showcase House; he was back with yet another elegantly pretty and welcoming installation. Perhaps some may find his look a bit over the top; a bit to grandmama-y and traditional, but at a time when maximalist designers like Kelly Wearstler, Jamie Drake, Miles Redd and others garner accolades, it’s worth studying one of the living, working masters of the form. And, just like his mentor and inspiration, John Fowler, Mario Buatta loves a well-dressed window! Enjoy!

One of Buatta’s most recent projects is a two-bedroom Fifth Ave. apartment for Patricia Altschul, an apartment that had previously belonged to Sister Parish. “Though the Parish provenance was a draw, they couldn’t sell the apartment, and I understood why,” Altschul recalls. “In the 15 years since she’d lived here, the place had become dirty, dingy, disgusting. The structure was sound, but the windows, electric, air-conditioning, kitchen and bath all had to be redone. I thought twice about buying it…”

“But when you let Mario have his head, unleash his quirkiness, fabulous things happen.”


Altschul Living Room

Altschul Living Room

And here…


Altschul bathroom. Both photos by Scott Francis, originally published in Architectural Digest, February 2008.

Altschul bathroom. Both photos by Scott Francis, originally published in Architectural Digest, February 2008.

And how about some of these highlights from Buatta’s Kips Bay Showcase houses over the years.


One of his most famous Kips Bay installations is this fabulous blue bedroom from 1987.

One of his most famous Kips Bay installations is this fabulous blue bedroom from 1987.



This is his “homage to dogs” sitting room at the 2006 Kips Bay Showcase House.

This is his “homage to dogs” sitting room at the 2006 Kips Bay Showcase House.

And I’ll leave you with some additional classic Mario Buatta rooms.


A Houston bedroom

A Houston bedroom



Love the dramatic contrast between the dark, glossy walls and the light, feminine furnishings.

Love the dramatic contrast between the dark, glossy walls and the light, feminine furnishings.



Not all of Buatta’s rooms are chintz everywhere.

Not all of Buatta’s rooms are chintz everywhere.

For each major project Mario creates these fold-down room plans, to scale, sketching out all the elements and attaching swatches, paint samples, tassels, etc. for reference.

14 July 2008 at 11:24 am Leave a comment

Capturing the Ephemeral

Deb and I recently spoke at NeoCon 2008. Our topic was “Master Class: Lessons from the Design Greats.” We covered Elsie de Wolfe, Dorothy Drapery, Sister Parish, John Fowler, Albert Hadley, Billy Baldwin, David Hicks and there were many more we would have like to included, had time permitted: Michael Taylor, Frances Elkins, Tony Duquette, Syrie Maugham, and the list goes on…

It was fascinating researching all these designers, each of whom we knew something about, but there were so many surprises and inter-connections and similar patterns to how they developed their business; we’re seriously thinking of turning our presentation into a book. But the one thing that stymied us in our research was the lack of images, especially from those designer/decorators working at the beginning of the 20th c. Unlike architecture or sculpture or other fine arts, the art of interior design is especially ephemeral, with classic works “revised”, “updated”, “freshened” or otherwise modified based on changing tastes, changes in owner or changes in life circumstances. 

Which brings us to today’s design focus (not on a Friday, but I cut out early over the holiday weekend!) Jeremiah Goodman carries on a European tradition by artists such as Alexandre Serebriakoff and Mario Praz, both of whom painted portraits of illustrious interiors; famed for either their own sake or their owner’s sake! Goodman, age 85, was born the son of a butcher in Niagra Falls, NY, and got his start illustrating advertising and promotional materials for Lord & Taylor after the Second World War.

Not only did he have artistic talents, he had  the ability to make acquaintances easily and soon was on friendly terms John Gielgud, Richard Rodgers, Elsa Peretti, Alex Liberman and others. Within the space of a few years he was sketching Tony Duquette’s living room (before the fire), Gianni Angnelli’s office, Billy Baldwin’s centennial installtion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Betsy Bloomingdale’s salon and thousands of other rooms that are lost to history.

Powerhouse Books published a monograph on Goodman last year titled Jeremiah: A Romantic Vision that collects over 100 of these iconic interiors. It’s well worth the price at Amazon, as it’s too new to find second hand yet. Oh! and Jeremiah was also the illustrator of choice for covers of Interior Design magazine from 1952-1967…so starting looking for vintage copies of those!


“Diana Vreeland, Living Room” aka Garden in Hell by Jeremiah Goodman

Apartment foyer of Baron Jay de Leval, Mexico City, 1978





Apartment foyer of Baron Jay de Leval, Mexico City, 1978[/wp_caption] 



Living Room of Cecil Beaton, Redditch House, Broadchalice, Wiltshire, England, 2005

Living Room of Cecil Beaton, Redditch House, Broadchalice, Wiltshire, England, 2005



Living Room of Elsa Schiaparelli, Paris, 2002

Living Room of Elsa Schiaparelli, Paris, 2002


For more on Jeremiah Goodman, check out these posts on The Peak of Chic and Interior Design.

6 July 2008 at 4:20 pm Leave a comment

Unbridaled–The Marriage of Tradition & Avant Garde

In January during Paris Fashion Week, Swarovski showed a line of one-off bridal designs including dresses and veils, cake toppers and floral displays, linens, stationery and a wide range of other accessories…everything the new bride might need to start her married life in glittering, glamorous high style.

I saw digital prints of some of the products at the January M&O shows, but have been waiting and waiting and waiting since then for the limited edition book to arrive. And when it did….oooh la la!

Of course, I’m a little marriage focused right now anyway, in the process of design invitations and announcements for several friends and family members who all happen to be getting married this fall, but even so, so of the pieces in this book are absolutely amazing. 

For more background take a look at this page. Otherwise, let me know what you think of the photos below.

Bustier with Flowers

Bustier by Rossella Tarabini for Anna Molinari; flowers by
Double Pensée; photography Metz & Racine, from Unbridaled
by Swarovski 

Crystal VeilHeadpiece by Alberto Rodriguez; hairpieces by Barney Cheng;
tiaras by Bijous Neumann & Wenzel; photography by Metz
& Racine; from Unbridaled by Swarovski.

Crystal shoes & sofaSofa by Squint; shoes by Jonathan Kelsey; photography by
Emilie Erbin; from Unbridaled by Swarovski.

28 June 2008 at 4:54 am Leave a comment

Design Focus Friday: French Chic

I recently received some preview images of a new book by French interior designer and decorative arts historian Florence de Dampierre, titled French Chic: The Art of Decorating Houses, scheduled for publication October 2008 by Rizzoli.

It’s as nice a piece of eye candy as you could want on a sultry summer Friday in the city, but it also includes a fair amount of French decorative history, quick lessons on core design principles and makes a case that stylish, comfortable contemporary living has in roots in the court of Louis XIV.

A couple of added bonuses include a series of delicious-sounding menus accompanied by mouth-watering photographs, and a fairly extensive resource guide at the back.

Take a sneak peek at some of the spreads and let me know what you think.

Note: all images© Photography by Tim Street-Porter, Florence de Dampierre French Chic by Florence de Dampierre, Rizzoli New York, 2008.

French Chic Salon


French Chic Kitchen


French Chic Library

20 June 2008 at 2:43 pm Leave a comment

Friday Design Focus #3: Folly Cove Designers

I was a huge reader as a kid. Do you remember those reading challenges libraries used to have in the summer (I don’t know they still may)…I would just devour books! So I was really fascinated to discover that one of my favorite author/illustrators from those (too long ago) summers also headed up a design collective. Virginia Lee Burton whose works include Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and, my all-time favorite, The Little House, started the Folly Cove Designers, where she and several other talented women created lively wood-block prints in the spirit of Liberty or William Morris.

The Little House

The looks soon drew enough attention that they were retailed in Lord & Taylor and a deal was struck with F. Schumacher (I wonder if they still have the screens!)

Low Low Tide by Virginia Lee Burton

Although the collective disbanded after Burton’s death in 1968, their works is part of the permanent collections of both the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester. Even better, the children of several of the Folly Cove Designers have launched Folly Cove Designers II where 17 of the original blockprint designs are now offered for sale.

Queen Ann\'s Lace by Mary MaletskosHow fantastic is that? Take a look at the Folly Cove Designers II website. I had a hard time deciding what patterns I wanted to show on this post, because I really loved them all!  (Photos courtesy of Folly Cove Designers II)

(Photos courtesy of Folly Cove Designers II)

2 May 2008 at 4:26 pm Leave a comment

Design Focus Friday #2

So the biggest, baddest design show around just wrapped up earlier this week, the Milan Furniture Fair. Unfortunately the current state of the dollar made it prohibitively expensive to go to Italy this year, but we have our ways of getting information!

Because of the scope of the fair it’s impossible to cover in one post, so I’m going to settle on what, to date, is my favorite item from an amazingly strong new collection at Moroso. Following up on last year’s successful Charpoy collection the design team of Doshi Levien introduced a new seating group called “My Beautiful Backside.” 

My Beautiful Backside by Doshi Levien for Moroso

Inspired by the cushioned seating arrangements found in India, the pieces have no set back but, according to the Doshi Levien website feature, “a composition of floating cushions in celebratory colors and shapes.” Made of English suiting wool and felt, the back cushions are detailed with silver or gold foil stripes. 

It’s interesting because I’ve just come across several references in design articles lately about the difficulties in furnishing loft spaces and living areas with floor to ceiling windows, etc. This is a line that looks to have addressed that issue in a very lovely, stylish manner.

For more photos of My Beautiful Backside, head to Dezeen.

For lots more photos of Milan hightlights, check out the galleries at DesignBoom


25 April 2008 at 2:25 pm Leave a comment

Design Focus Friday #1

While the emphasis of this blog is about business, it is, after all, about design business, so I’m starting an “official policy” of posting about design on Friday’s, to start the weekends off with a little eye candy.

Double Vision: 1930s Design at Winterthur is the current exhibition at this unique American estate and museum. Visitors are given a set of 3D glasses with which to view a series of stereographic images (think ViewMasters) taken of the private and public rooms of the home in both 1935 and 1938. The images, originally shot in B&W and then each carefully handpainted, show how Henry Francis du Pont reflected the changing seasonal landscape in Winterthur’s rooms, as rugs, draperies, and upholstery covers were rotated in and out of use. They also provide a time-capsule view of how du Pont used his ever-growing collection of American antiques and architectural elements in a contemporary manner.

Double Vision runs through May 18, 2008. Chic It Up, a two-day conference on design in the 1930s will serve as a wrap-up to the exhibition. If you live in or are traveling to the SouthEast this spring, it sounds like a wonderful event. Check the Winterthur website for a complete list of speakers and times for the final weekend.  

Winterthur Chinese Parlor

Guests would gather in the Chinese Parlor for pre-dinner drinks and post-dinner card games. Named for its hand-painted chinoiserie wallpaper, du Pont insisted that all flowers in the room must complement the colors of the paper. (Photo: Winterthur Archives)

Winterthur Enclosed Porch

The loggia, with its overscale checkerboard flooring and faux bamboo painted iron chairs and settees, provided a welcoming refuge no matter what the weather. (Photo: Winterthur Archives)

18 April 2008 at 11:34 am Leave a comment

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