Thursday, September 25, 2014


Wanderlust was a gift that grafted itself to my back and pushed me as far as it could from as early as I can remember. When I was too young to do anything but listen to my mom read it was always the books about faraway places that followed into my dreams long after my mother's voice had drawn her finger over the books final words. When I was old enough to remember events it was the recollection of the backend of a Chevy station wagon during the two weeks vacation my dad took every summer to visit the fantasy world of Wisconsin Dells or the big city magic of Chicago. When I was finally old enough to drive myself around I'd explore the roads of Dane County as far as a tank of gas would take me. Route fourteen was a road I knew well. It led to exotic locales like Mt. Horeb, Mineral Point and Taliesin. As many times as I may have driven that road I never saw an exit sign for Paoli, a spit of town fifteen miles southwest of Madison. Established in 1846 the community thrived as a saw and gristmill for a period of time between 1860 and the turn of the new century. After the railroad bypassed Paoli and the mill era went into decline so did Paoli. What it left was an architectural treasure ripe for a cultural renaissance as a thriving artists colony and tourist destination. There are now exit signs with the letters P-a-o-l-i  and an arrow pointing out the road connecting route fourteen to Paoli.
It still remains a small community, a strip of a few blocks starting where the road crosses the Sugar River and ending at the town square.
The band shell still stands in the town square across the street from
St. Williams Catholic Parish. In between are the refurbished architectural gems that make Paoli an exit worth taking.
One of the old hotels that housed visitors in the late 1800's is now the Paoli House Gallery holding a collection of gifts and artwork.
On the other side of the street is Cluck the Chicken Store, an emporium for everything you'd need to raise some urban chickens.
If what you want is a rooster in your backyard this is the place to find one along with a harem of hens and some of the best lookin' coops even Robert Stern would be proud of.
Behind Cluck is a building looking as if it still needs a bit of repair. There isn't much signage and it seems to be open only by chance but if your luck is working in overdrive and Dana happens to be inside it is worth the trip off the beaten path to stop for a visit. Dana is a picker extraodinaire. His eye is excellent for vintage, quirky and antique. We loaded our store with finds we purchased here.
It's where we found the Amish barbed wire ball that now sits sentry in our front yard.
Closer to the Sugar River and higher up on a slight hill is beautiful red school house. The first room of the school house was built in 1854.
No longer a school it is a now a shop and cafe much more elegant than you would think of a former schoolhouse. It is set up for high tea and sprinkled with antiques and fine accessories.
Across the street in a very undistinguished building is the Creamery Cafe and Artisan Gallery. The gallery is one of the largest in southern Wisconsin representing over one hundred artists.
An exhibit of Don Kauss' assemblages called Reliquary was installed in the vault of what must have been a bank or a butcher's refrigeration unit at one time.
The pieces are macabre using bits of dead wild life and found objects welded together transforming them into three dimensional wall hangings and sculptures transfixing and holding your interest in the same way the Witch of the West beguiles and hypnotizes.
The key group of buildings are clustered around the old mill. On the street is the fairytale Cheese shop. Its irregular shaped stone facade and wood shingle roof make it appear as if it were the home of Goldie Locks' three bears.
Up from there is the Secret Garden filled with plants, ceramic pots and unique hammocks.
Above the Cheese Shop are the Paoli Mill Shops. Another tiny house holds the Paoli Bread and Brat Haus where you can purchase ice cream in a cone or dish and I'd assume a brat as well although I've never had one.
The queen shop housed in the old mill is the Cottage Goddess
filled with vintage and antique finds stuffed into niches
and hanging from hooks attached to old painted doors.
Cluttered on tables are bits and pieces of childhoods long gone by.
The work of new textile artists are draped over vintage mannequins
and signs from the circus litter the floor.
The most intriguing part of the shop is the Goddess herself. Filled with stories and constant chatter she makes you feel like you've been best friends for years when in fact you'd only met. Within minutes I was revealing parts of myself I wouldn't be sharing with anyone but my closest friends. I left feeling as if we had shared secrets only best buds would have told each other in the highest of confidences.
Get your butt to Paoli where beauty, antiquity, and art exist. The therapy apparently comes free of charge.

Hogs to market along Main Street
Black River Falls, WI. 1853
Charles Van Schaick, photographer
Property of the Wisconsin State Historical Society

Saturday, September 20, 2014



Wednesday night the gate keepers stood outside the doors at Mitchell Gold/Bob Williams' Lafayette flagship store with their clipboards in hand checking off names against their list of invitees. Our sales rep grabbed my arm as I approached the desk and pulled me past the list checkers and through the crowds right to the bar. It seems you are nothing in New York if you don' t have a drink in your hand. The showroom was packed with industry notables elbow to elbow.
The event was co-sponsored by New York Spaces magazine honoring their top fifty New York designers.
We had several projects featured in their pages in previous editions under past editors. I had to complain to Barbara that we weren't included on the list of fifty.
After bumping into several friends and colleagues, losing Barbara and then finding her again, I somehow managed to squeeze my way with Barbara's guidance up to Mitchell and Bob where we somehow landed on the topic of Wisconsin politics.
I roamed the two floors of their gorgeous showroom looking at some of the new fall collection that wasn't covered by the sitting crowd.
It's always worth a look at the new pieces they add to their collection each season. It was a great party. When I left the heat was on, the crowd was sweating and the networking was still turned to high.

Thursday, the sign-in tables were in place in the lobby at 200 Lex. A line of receptionists sat each holding a tablet where they scanned bar codes on preprinted invitations. Another long line of limos and luxury cars were parked out front on Lexington Avenue running from 33rd Street to 32nd. Inside most of the showrooms were cleaned and polished, new merchandise highlighted on the floor labeled new and next, champagne and hors d'oeuvres plated on tropical leaves and spilling from woven baskets. I started out on the twelfth floor and popped into two of my favorite showrooms.
Dennis Miller is always spot on  with a clean sophistication I know I can always bring a client to.
Dennis is always the gracious host never tiring of showing what's new what's next.
Across the hall Profiles was showing off its new stable of work.
Color was a big statement at the showroom for this fall in a showroom that traditionally had a more somber appeal. It really tickled my design funny bone in a very good way.
Jim Druckman, the CEO of NYDC, was on hand as he always is graciously shaking everyone's hand and greeting the crowd that numbered in the thousands.
I stuck my head in at 1stdibs where Celery Kimble had curated a sampling of antiques from the collection. It is always worth the trip to amble through the aisles of 1stdibs if only to look at the history stored in all its niches
NYDC is a constantly changing entity. Each time you walk the sixteen floors you are bound to find a new jewel you hadn't seen before.
Aerin was a new find for me and now competition for my accessory stable of places I need to check out.
The big parties were directly across from each other in the showrooms of the New Traditionalists and Desiron.
The New Traditionalists looked more like a pop-up club than a showroom with Turkish lounges, candy bars,
a black jack table and bars that would make any nightclub proud.
This was definitely a millennium crowd. I wish I could show more of their product line but the dark lighting and a crowd so thick you there were sections of the showroom that took more than a shoehorn to wedge your way through your arms plastered to your sides and unable to hold a camera in any way that would make taking a photo a possibility.
Desiron was a little less glitzy but just as crowded with clinking glass and celebrants biting down on hollowed out cucumber circles filled with caviar.
I finally got to meet Toni Sikes, CEO of CODAworx, a Madison based company dedicated to providing a forum for artists and design professionals to interface and connect with the industry at large. Fate seemed to throw us together at a chance focus meeting back in Madison. Their presence at What's Next, What's New was a karmic opportunity for me to meet up with them.
At the event Toni had partnered with Cindy Allen and Interior Design magazine and Ilene Shaw of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair to create the CODAworx awards recognizing the best architectural, interior and public space projects featuring commissioned artwork.
Here Toni is pictured with Cindy Allen and David Rockefeller Jr, one of the esteemed jurors for the awards.
They were all present at the grand opening of the new Lapere showroom. Champagne toasts were once again hoisted into the air in recognition of the showroom and the awards.
Not to be outdone the McGuire showroom along with Veranda magazine held an after party for those who couldn't get enough with all the parties that had been going on since two in the afternoon.
The McGuire showroom is fortunately located on ground level making the crawl to the outside the shortest possible exit from the revelry of What's New, What's Next.
As you can see from the focus factor on this photo of my friend Elaine Griffin it was time for me to leave but I'll be back on Monday for my turn behind the desk in the Access to Design office. On Monday I can go back and actually take some time to take a closer look at the what is new throughout 200 Lex.


Studio 54
Tod Papageorge, photographer
Represented by Galerie Thomas Zander, Koln, Germany