Posts tagged ‘Design Focus’

Folklore and Fantasy

I’ve always loved fairy tales and was fortunate enough to have discovered the wonderfully strange and surprising adult world of the true Brothers Grimm while still fairly young, thanks to a collection of books passed down from my great-grandmother. Those stories lead me in turn to Greek, Roman, Norse and Irish myths and mangled pronunciations aside, I could still tell you many of those stories today.

But I had never before heard of the Kalevala, the ancient Finnish origin story cycle until I read about Marimekko’s Spring 2009 introductions. While there is awhole wonderful collection of new fabrics, my favorites are those by Sanna Annukka, who was inspired by the interlocking stories of Väinämöminen, the shamanistic hero of the Kalevala, whose adventures (and misadventures) gave shape to both the Finnish landscape and its peoples character.

 

Kanteleen kutsu

Kanteleen kutsu

 

Kanteleen kutsu (Call of the kantele) show the enchanted forest animals who have gathered to hear Väinämöminen play music on the kantele, the instrument he created from the jawbone of a giant pike. In addition to the fabric, Marimekko has developed an entire series of products—mugs, tea towels, potholders, etc.—featuring many of the individual animals from Kanteleen kutsu.

Even Väinämöminen himself was so moved by the music he played on his new instrument that he cried Onnen helmet (Pearls of happiness) giant tears that flowed into the sea and changed into precious gems. 

Several of the stories focus on various character’s interactions with the Taikamylly (Magic mill), which, instead of churning out grain, produces tools, coins, jewels, and more.

Kaleva is the Land of Heroes and Ihmemaa (Wonderland) illustrates that magical realm including Lake Alue where, hidden in the depths, a whitefish has swallowed fire fallen from the skies above.

 

Onnen helmet (Pearls of happiness), Taikamylly (Magic mill) and Ihmemaa (Wonderland)

Onnen helmet (Pearls of happiness), Taikamylly (Magic mill) and Ihmemaa (Wonderland)

 

You can see more Marimekko’s Spring 2009 collection here.

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14 January 2009 at 9:47 am Leave a comment

IMM Cologne 2009 Trend Preview

In September I was fortunate enough to see the unveiling of IMM Cologne’s 2009 trends at a special presentation in Barcelona. Four of the five trend board members were present and provided a very interesting take on the entire trend development process.

The 2009 trend board consists of Eero Koivisto, a Stockholm-based architect with Claesson Koivisto Rune, and a veteran of the process, having participated in three previous trend panels. The other returnee was American designer Stephen Burks, founder of Readymade Projects. Both Stephen and Eero were much more comfortable speaking about “trends” than either first-time panelists Arik Levy and Giulio Ridolfo. The final member of the 2009 trend team was British design journalist Markus Fairs, who was unable to make the live preview but was on record as being “suspicious of the notion of trends.”

This wariness concerning “trend” was also expressed by Ridolfo and most particularly by Levy. “My worst nightmare is that some designer somewhere takes what we’ve organized here and uses it literally,” said Levy, “developing a product based on exactly these materials and these colors because that’s what is ‘on trend’.

Levy went on to say that the actual process and development was very intense, collaborative, and at times, contentious. Burks agreed but noted, “It’s interesting, having finished up our part of the process months ago, to see the result in print and recognize how certain ideas have become more evident and noticeable just in that time.”

As the longest serving trend board member Koivisto emphasized that approach of the board was very “pluralistic. What we attempt to do is show no one perspective or point of view, but many points of view. The goal of these trends is not to dictate, but to provide a context.” And he continued: ‘I can say, having been involved now for four years, that these trends have proven to be accurate…that looks, materials and concepts we discussed in previous years have become factors in the design market.”

From the discussion among the board members and when responding to audience questions at the presentation, the core of these trends seems to be the simultaneous urge to experiment contrasted with the desire to preserve the best of the past.

So, here are quick summaries of the 2009 themes:

Extra Much
The design expression of extreme ideas as opposed to minimalism, not just in terms of embellishments and detailing, but on how technology influences both the design process and the possible end results.

Extra Much IMM 2009

Extra Much IMM 2009

The color palette for Extra Much is built around a vibrant peacock blue/green. A sunny yellow and orange add punch, while softer tones of cream, apricot and pale cocoa add depth and richness while a deep and a slightly paler purple bring a note of complexity.

New materials from other industries are adapted for home product use, while familiar materials like aluminum and Plexiglas are re-examined in the light of innovative new processing techniques.

Near and Far
A contemporary approach to design that values both the industrial and the artisanal, while always trying to stay clear of any “colonial attitude”, an attempt to balance both micro- and macro-production.

Near and Far IMM Cologne 2009

Near and Far IMM Cologne 2009

The color palette for Near and Far is very muted: A collection of warm and cool greys, with just the barest hint of pink, green and blue to lighten things up.

Seagrass, bamboo, felt and other natural materials are key, while synthetics are woven or shaped into natural-seeming structures–honeycombs, knits and more

Teepee Culture
The name for this trend created quite a bit of confusion for the mostly non-U.S. audience in Barcelona, with the board fielding several questions about Indian tribes, native American spirituality, etc. The title could have just as easily been Tent Culture, but that just doesn’t sound as nice! The core idea here is about paring down to the themes, values and experiences that matter; removing the clutter of over-design to focus on life.

Teepee Culture IMM Cologne 2009

Teepee Culture IMM Cologne 2009

For a natural/neutral theme, the color palette for Teepee Culture is rich and robust, based around a warm red. Khaki, army green, a true purple and a soft greyed blue round out the palette.

The main material for Teepee Culture is paper—shredded, recycled and in any other way processed, it represents the responsible re-use of resources.

Re-Run Time
This theme takes a bit of Teepee Culture, some aspects of Neat and Far and even something from Extra Much, but then combines it all for a different outlook. Re-Run Time is a rather Zen approach to design—contemplative, wanting to fully understand both the individual component and its role in the wider world.

Re-Run Time IMM Cologne 2009

Re-Run Time IMM Cologne 2009

The main color is a classic, neutral beige supplemented by a two deep burgundies—one a bit warm and one a bit cool—along with a blackened green and very dark navy. A shell-pink, winter white and silvery-grey add a touch of lightness.

The materials for Re-Run Time are rich in memory and inherent detail such as leather, suede and horsehair, silks & woolens, waxed woods and variegated stones.

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5 December 2008 at 2:14 pm Leave a comment

Squint!

I’ve been spending several weeks this summer helping clean out an old family house in Chicago. Four generations of Schultz’s have lived there and there is pleeeenty of stuff to sort through, categorize, clean and acquire. My favorite finds so far, in addition to the treasure trove of vintage souvenir scarves collected by an aunt, are several pairs of vintage eyeglasses. I finally made it to the optometrist’s this week to see how much my eyes have changed in three years (not at all, yeah!) and to see how much getting prescription lenses in some of these will cost me. 

All of this is just a roundabout explanation for how and why I picked this week’s design focus subject. Squint, a favorite of Deb and mine’s since we first discovered it three years ago, is a custom upholstery and design firm based in London. Launched in 2005 by artist Lisa Whatmough, who was originally looking for a way to put to use her collection of antique and vintage textiles, she burst onto the scene with brilliant patchwork upholstery on classic furniture pieces.

 

The York sofa by Squint

The York sofa by Squint

 

The Vienna chaise by Squint

The Vienna chaise by Squint

She soon added lighting and accessories and as demand for her pieces grew, she had to abandon the vintage pieces/vintage fabric combinations, although those types of items are available by special order. She now designs her own patterns and furniture blanks, although a custom mix-and-match option is available. Take a closer look at Squint!

A small custom cabinet by Squint.

A small custom cabinet by Squint.

 

 

A silk and velvet mirror by Squint

A silk and velvet mirror by Squint

Gives the term “patchwork” a whole new meaning, doesn’t it?

10 August 2008 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

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

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

Boris

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

 

Francis

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

 

Heidi

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

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