Saturday, February 23, 2013


My guess is this title might get me a few more hits than normal. Sex always sells
For me there's a fine line between sex and romance and an even finer line between titillation and quiver that aspect of desire that makes your body shake. Trying to define those differences in the city that doesn't sleep is a very personal and subjective task.
This whole idea began as I was trying to find a short cut between a job on Lafayette and our office on Varrick. I was zigzagging through Soho at mach speed when I saw a crowd milling around cameras at the ready. They had gathered around a small shop called Agent Provocateur. Let me tell you it wasn't the name that drew the crowd's attention. Perhaps the name on its own might titillate your fingers to do a tap dance over your keyboard hitting the search button but it was what was going on in the front window that was creating that quiver effect. This lingerie shop was pushing the envelope on eye candid and desire.
I've seen other shops where the tableaux of real models try to trick you into thinking they're made of plaster and resin. Their immobility keeps them asexual even in the skimpiest of costumes.
I've walked through the Red Light District in Amsterdam where the ladies of the night light themselves up in dolled up windows layered in brocade their faces painted like circus clowns. Amsterdam was far scarier than being either titillating or quivering.
Although Agent Provocateur got the blood running to places on the male anatomy that only Mae West could get away with referencing and if you're old enough to know what I'm talking about you can explain it your grandkids.
The model wasn't holding anything back. She had more come hither gestures and fanny gyrations than Miss Piggy at a green frog convention.
For those on the other side of the fence there's Abercrombie & Fitch's flagship shop on Fifth Avenue. The magnificent staircase of painted fantasies of ivy league athletes done by Mark Beard makes a boy's knees start to buckle as he walk up those stairs one tread at a time.
Mark is a master of perspective and an incredible chronicler of the male physique.
Of course A&F has made a fortune of glorifying the male form stationing six-pack abs at the gateway to their castles of apparel.
Sometimes I'll buy a t-shirt just so I can walk out with an A&F bag.

The Women of the Red Light District of Storyville, New Orleans 1912
E.J. Bellocq, photographer
Represented by Julie Saul Gallery, NYC

Thursday, February 14, 2013


This one is getting in just under the wire. Valentine's day has always had me flummoxed. I definitely have a romantic side. I'll cry at chic flicks, heck I'll cry at a Folgers commercial. I'm not afraid to say I love you. I demand romance in a bedroom design, but I have a hard time wrapping my head around pink.
It may have come from my stay in California between undergraduate and graduate work that took me back to the Midwest. There was something about the profusion of pink in that Southern California architecture that reminded me of Pepto-Bismol and that would get my stomach churning.
So for today I'm going to try and get over my aversion of pink and embraces the holiday with a succession of images where pink has done the almost impossible of making me appreciate it or at least made me laugh. You can be the judge.
In design one of my favorite ways to swallow a gulp of pink is to pair it with a complimentary color. It tends to take the sweetness out.
Grey is also a way of butching up pink pulling it out of glitzy and giving it a more sophisticated appeal
Pink also seems to work better when you bring it into a vintage mid-century concept
And then there are those uses of pink that can't help make you gasp
or just make you smile.
So in honor of the day, here's to pink

Flying Colours, Part of MAC Cosemtics Campaign
Cindy Sherman, Photographer
Represented by Gagosian Gallery, NYC

Friday, February 8, 2013


I've been running around the city trying to discover enough Moroccan poofs and rugs to create the illusion of Marrakesh in a tiny breakout room for a company that pushes the envelop on bizarre ways to stimulate creativity in its design team. I can't say that it hasn't been fun but it's been frustrating at the same time. The fun part coming from getting the opportunity to be giddy with color, wild with pattern and pushing my own imagination with suspended Moroccan screens, sparkling bangles on curtains and over-dyed Persian rugs. The frustration comes with trying to find the artifacts of a fad that isn't really in fashion anymore. I've taken two trips across the Hudson: one to Jersey City and the other to Hoboken in search of Moroccan treasures. What I found were warehouses filled with twenty-year-old props used and used again at theme parties from misdirected bar mitzvahs and bachelor parties where the honorees left stains I don't even want to speculate on all over vinyl ottomans and polyester divans.
I finally had to turn to Martha for advice. This is no lie. If you google Moroccan furniture you get an old article for Martha Stewart Living where she, well one of her minions, raves about a Moroccan importer who had set up tent in the dunes of Chelsea Market. In frustration I decided to stay on the east side of the Hudson and brave a windy walk to Ninth Avenue and Chelsea Market. I had totally forgotten how much fun the market is. It's over-the-top industrial chic is exposed throughout the snaking hallways where the scale of real life is abandoned to chains as thick as your arm and faucets only someone the size of Shriek could manage to use.
Theatricality dances throughout with a major feature being a huge stream of running water lit in dramatic red lights.
Then there is a central archway made of a million tiny lights creeping like a gigantic spider web around an antique clock. There are so many lights your eyes can't fully take them in as you walk through the arch. They become a blur of white streaks the way an image on film appears when the camera moves too fast and solid forms become translucent as they rush across the screen.
The Market is the former Nabisco Baking Company. The first structures were built in the 1890's as a consortium of a dozen baking companies. The company and its buildings grew into a complex of over 22 buildings and more than 2 million square feet by the late 1950's. By the early 70's the way of baking had changed from a vertical process to a horizontal one better suited to the long one story buildings cropping up in the outlying areas of New York and New Jersey. In the 1990's the building was bought out by the investor Irwin Cohen and a syndicate of buyers who turned the building into office space for a new wave of technology companies.
This is when the ground floor was converted into a sea of new bakeries, food purveyors and local merchants selling very unique goods.
Locals go here for the staples of life from chacuteries to fresh flowers for the table.
Tourists have also found out about the market and come to walk the halls stopping to smell the herbs at the Epicure Emporium
or warm up with cup of Joe while a cold February wind blows outside.
There so many wonderful places in New York that you can forget about some of them but the joy of rediscovery can be very sweet, especially at one of Chelsea Markets pastry shops.

Vesuvio Bakery, 160 Prince St, NYC
Frank H. Jump, photographer along with thousands others