Sunday, April 28, 2013


Two things happened this past week to inspire this week's post: one was client inspired and the other was media driven. 
Hokkaido, Japan, 2002
Michael Kenna, Photographer
Represented by  Robert Mann Gallery, NYC

Having a client who is all about serenity is a pleasure as long as the client is serene as well. This client has fulfilled that blend of having a soothing design aesthetic stretching our awareness of element and detail and at the same time allowing us the opportunity to begin designing a space that has energy and interest within that soothing envelope. For this we needed to combine both eastern Zen and western sophistication into one cohesive mix. We're at the beginning of the design phase so I thought I'd share some of our inspiration

Once again our friends at House Beautiful have decided to include us as contributors to their color tip section. This month the issue centered around tranquility, They let us be the lead quote along with a picture of one of our designs, a design wrapped around the word: tranquil. 

Untitled #147, 2003
Masatomo Kuriya , photographer
Represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery, NYC

Saturday, April 20, 2013


One of our current projects has forced us to search out some spectacular and unusual lighting. It's a more challenging task than you'd think. Lighting can span an enormous gap when you start playing the high-low game. There were many beautiful pieces, like this piece by Donghia, that made our jaws drop and then drop again when we asked for the price. So I thought I'd show some of the most interesting pieces we found and let you guess about their high or low value.
I loved the color and playfulness of this glass and metal chandelier. It comes from the Avram Rusu Studio. It's the type of fixture that needs a specific home but it I'd love to design a room around this piece. Anyone out there with a mid-century home that needs some sprucing up, I think I've found a chandelier to inspire you.
The Dione Chandelier by Elk Lighting is a favorite transitional piece of mine. The proportions are right on and it has just the right amount of drama. It comes in several finishes and the shade is sold separately. I love the polished nickel and the price for shade and fixture is under $600. It's a great focal point for a transitionally inspired room with enough drama to make it appear much more expensive than its price tag .
These LED fixtures represent a high-low look at the mini light category. Mooi lighting has come out with these incredible globes. They represent the low end where low can hover around the $2000 to $6000 range.
At Domus Design Collection we found these unbelievably beautiful cubes of light dripping with crystal icicles that reflected and intensified the lighting effect. Designed by Jan Pauwels for Universe these lights hit the higher end of this lighting category soaring into the over $20,000 category. All I can say is it's a lot of fun having the opportunity to look at lighting that falls in this category knowing that you're not just window shopping. I'm pushing for two.
This lighting fixture by Ochre is one of my favorites. It's a springtime rain shower of hand-forged brass fittings with magical glass globes. The designers at Ochre will configure the drops in almost any combination you can think of.
If you want a wall of light, they can do that. If you want a multi-leveled circular tornado of light or a single droplet, they can do it. Unfortunately, it would take a very special client to find a home for one of these fixtures; their price resides in the clouds wherefore they come.
On the low end of the financial ladder are these sky lanterns. Who cannot be moved by a night sky lit by a sea of floating lanterns? Even if the light lasts for only a few minutes of fleeting beauty your heart can't help but melt a little at the sight of hundreds of floating fire balloons slowly rising to the heavens.
Another way of lighting a space without having to take out a loan is with these string lights by Ballard Design. A fifty-foot string costs just under a hundred dollars. String them overhead and it's like taking a trip to an outdoor trattoria in a Tuscan hill town. Screw in the amber glowing bulbs and bring out the Brunello de Montelcino.
I couldn't do a post on lighting without including our very special friends Paul and Marcia at Zia-Priven. Their lamps, chandeliers and sconces are among the most beautiful in the industry. They are also one of the few designers whose work doesn't get pigeonholed into a stylistic category. Their work is at times is transitional and at other times contemporary. Even the traditional fits into their wheelhouse. One of the most novel and show-stopping pieces is their Troy chandelier made out of ping-pong balls. It's tradition with a huge sense of humor.
The fixture we finally settled on is a handmade fixture by Lou Blass. Lou called this his Angular Momentum piece. It's made from textured steel welded together in a chaotic mess of arms and bulbs. Our piece measured seven feet long by three feet wide and three feet high. Using silver bottomed lamps the fixture was a perfect fit for our client's needs.

Bathesda Fountain, 2004
Lynn Saville, photographe
Represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery

Friday, April 12, 2013


Watching the trends in fashion is a sure way of seeing the future looks in the interior design industry. This may not be a complete truism but it's not too far fetched to say that what shows up on the runway is soon to follow in the homes and offices of the design world.
It's not that the interior design field doesn't get to wear the mantle of trend leader at times, it's more due to the fact of how much time it takes to make a garment as opposed to how much time it takes to create an interior environment.
Color blocking has been running down the runway for the past year and showing up on celebrities at all the award shows.
That's why now it's time for it to show up in the pages of the shelter magazines. The whole look of color may have been a reaction to a more positive look from the economy, it could be responding to the termination of political indecision on the presidential front, or it could just be that spring has sprung and with spring there's always an infusion of color
I tend to look at color blocking in two different ways. The more general way is to see massive blocks of color used in stark contrast to one another usually without the interference of pattern.
This way color becomes the message, pure color where the combination of color creates the dynamic, the conflict and the interest.
This is where color blocking reinforces an already existing shape.
It draws attention to shapes that might have gotten lost in less dynamic use of color.
It's a throw back to the 1930's and the work of Mondrian where blocks of primary color were surrounded by deep black lines.
More recently on the catwalks during Mercedes Benz fashion week designers were using color blocking to create shape where shapes didn't exist before.
This seems to reference the work of Frank Stella where color transforms shape to  curves where squares had been and squares where circles had existed.
This is the more recent trend I'm seeing in the interior design arena. Interior and furniture designers are using color to create shape and interest where there wasn't any form before. Walls are being broken up and divided in places that didn't have division before color came in.
Rugs take on a shape that wasn't perceived until color took control creating a pattern you couldn't see before.
A floor has a different sense of space with waves of color that are now almost seen as steps up to the reception desk.
Even the exterior of this building now has a playfulness it wouldn't otherwise have without the color blocking on its fa├žade.
It's spring. It's been a long winter. It's time for some color blocking to brighten up  the world.

Frida Kahlo, 1939
Nickolas Muray, photographer
Represented by Fahey/Klein Gallery, Los Angeles

Sunday, April 7, 2013


The scent of spring flowers, jasmine, lilies, hyacinths would fill your olfactory senses the minute you opened the doors at the corner of 34th and Broadway.
Macy's has been potting the first floor of the world's biggest department store with exotic plants since 1953. It has only been since the last couple of years that the show has been moved outside to temporary structure covered in canvas with a snaking rope line that made me feel as if I should have my id out, my shoes off and my computer placed in a separate bin.
This year's theme was "The Painted Garden",
a tour through southern Asia on back of tattooed elephant.
The colors are as hot as Indian spices.
The smells are as sweet as rose tea.
Take a tour of the raja's silken tent,
the turbaned trinket vendor's stall
and the amazing display of flowers.
The best part was at the exit door where a man in red Macy's jacket handed out ten dollar gift certificates to those who braved the line. Baby bought a brand new pair of shoes.

Tiger Paint for the Onam Harvest Festival
Credit: Reuters