Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Painted Ladies: Fine art photographer inspires amateur painter

Les Copines, Alive;
 Les Copines photographs are by Cheryl Maeder. Courtesy of Maeder Photography

When the 2014 annual holiday potluck chez Maeder rolled around, I was in a quandary over what treasures to bring the hostess and fellow dinner guests: Judith and Karen. The task of shopping was daunting; the idea of making something exciting. But what to make? I breezed through several options before figuring it out in the shower. The best ideas always come in the shower.
Les Copines, Undines by Cheryl Maeder.
Les Copines Undines Revisited is in the works.

I decided to create paintings based on Les Copines, a series of fine art beach photographs, shot by photographer/designer Cheryl Maeder, starring me, Judith and Karen. Maeder requested that we be her beach babe muses. The experience was between us... our Maederized portraits for all the world to see. 

(Top) Les Copines,Grace by Cheryl Maeder and Grace Revisited in a place of prominence in Maeder's guest bath.

"My photographs are paintings I create with a camera"
- Cheryl Maeder
These simple magnetic frames are a HomeGoods score.
One thing I love about making a gift for someone is that during the  entire creative process, I am binge watching the Walking Dead thinking about that person and sending positive energy their way.

My interpretation of Cloud Nine 1 resides in the guest room.
Maeder got an extra painting. She was, after all, potluck hostess. Cloud Nine 1 has always had my heart. Go to her website to see the original photographic inspiration.

Monday, November 17, 2014

An Amazing Day of Design in South Florida

(l to r) Moderator Betty Cortina Weiss (Editor in Chief, Indulge), Allison Paladino, Laura Kirar, and Windsor Smith. I nabbed this shot from Allison Paladino's Twitter.
Laura and I at the after-party at Baker Furniture where launched her 3rd furniture collection.
While those who live in NYC may be invited often to awesome events orchestrated by celebrated marketing firms, the South Florida design calendar, North of Miami, is comparatively light. Last week, however, DCOTA hosted its Fall Event. The offerings were pletiful; showrooms touted special guests and the keynote presentation boasted a lively panel of stand-out designing women: Laura Kirar, Allison Paladino and Windsor Smith. Of course, I had a front row seat.

Smith in a flirty lace pump
Cortina-Weiss and Kirar toe to toe (almost)
In addition to soaking up the fashion, there were plenty of good sound bytes to digest. Here's my take-away:(quotes are verbatim OR very very close to it.)

The technology consensus: There is a good and bad side to clients in the palm of our hands all the time.
How has technology changed what you do?
WS: It has manufactured time. enabled me to be a working mom. I can look for product, get to product and order on line.
AP: Lets me get quick answers. Saves time.
LK:  Technology certainly speeds up the design process. It has changed manufacturing too – digital printing, laser cutting. As a creator, it has changed things for me. We have our clients in the palm of our hands – that’s good and bad.

How does social media and sites like Houzz affect you?
LK: It provides exposure and expands my community, and lets me have a dialogue with people I’d never have a dialogue with.
WS: It raises the bar as clients have more access to good design. Great product used to be protected, but now anyone can see it, and so we have to reinvent how we work.
AP: Sites like Houzz and Pinterest give me faster entree into my client’s head.

How are millennials changing design?
WS: This industry was designed long ago. Now, there is an increased need for transparency. We are selling our talent and services; job goes way beyond buying a piece of furniture.

How is the designer the client’s advocate?
WS: Being a designer is an awesome responsibility. IT's more that just pretty rooms,. Design is for everyone that is going to live in a space.
LK: Our role is important and difficult. We are creating the foundation for someone's life and how it unfolds.

How does being a woman impact your career?
LK: I never thought of that. We are in an industry that is so accepting of everyone, so I don't see myself as a woman. I just see myself as an artist.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually, emotionally...that informs your work?
AP: Getting away. Unplugging. Playing outdoors. Feeling16 again.
LK: Travel. If I don’t travel I get something akin to writers block. I love the challenge and wonder of new cultures.
WS: Extraordinary visual partnerships. Light and its power.

Describe your childhood bedrooms?

LK: French Provincial: white, gingham, lavender. Later on, I covered the walls with poetry and graffiti.
AP: Baby blue and white with daisy wallpaper on walls and ceiling. To this day, I don't like papered ceilings.
WS: Celery green and pale yellow –straight out of the Sears catalogue. I was desperate for color.

What is the most important thing to get right in the design process?
WS: Scale.
LK: Doorways...make sure they are big enough.
AP: Measurements...we take all the measurements ourselves.

And I also learned that:

Allison Paladino's mother was a designer. For a long time, Allison tried to sublimate the designer gene, but eventually succumbed to her "calling." "We are so lucky to do what we do," she now says. "Everyday is different." Allison has had a furniture line with EJ Victor for 12 years and has recently launched an art/photography collection with Wendover. She finds that humor goes a long way in her client relationships. Her favorite flower is a tulip and if she could have coffee with anyone, she'd do it with Adam Levine.

Laura Kirar and her husband bought a property in the Yucatan. It wasn't necessarily planned, but one might say it was fate. They have patiently restored the 17th century Moorish building. It has been a slow process and has taught her new methods of construction. "It's like learning a new language," she says. Laura has never been a pink girl, prefers tile over wood, and is a spin fanatic. Her favorite place to travel is "anywhere I haven't been to yet." She has developed lines with Baker, Arteriors, Duralee, and more

Windsor Smith believes that design should support the family and she is sensitive to how couples communicate in shared spaces. While she will always advocate for separate water closets, shared dressing rooms and baths seem to promote better relations. Windsor started her design business by buying and selling architectural elements to architects and designers and now she's helping tons of clients, such as Gwyneth Paltrow, attain their prime personal spaces. Windsor launched a line with Century Furniture last spring and would like to plan a trip to Russia.

 Furniture designed by Laura Kirar for Baker (top), Windsor Smith for Century (middle) and Allison Paladino for EJ Victor (bottom). Console shot from  EJ Victor.
When the panel was over, the masses adjourned to Baker for prosecco, Century for lunch, and Judith Norman (which represents EJ Victor) for excellent cappuccino and dessert.

I made time for others too:
Elizabeth Hamilton and Peter Fasano sit in chairs upholstered in her "Persia"  fabric, at the John Rosselli showroom, DCOTA.
Hillevi by Peter Fasano
Peter Fasano and Elizabeth Hamilton, married textile artists who produce their own respective lines in the Berkshires. Way back when, we used one of Peter's first hand-screened wallpapers in a Country Living House of the Year project. He totally remembered it.

Avodica Ash stuns us with Italian woven silk velvet ombre, Shock Wave.
Iconic Leopard was first produced in the 70s.
Avodica Ash, archivist at Schumacher for the last 20 years, who passionately described how the venerable fabric and wallcovering house, is celebrating its 125th anniversary, buy reintroducing antique and vintage patterns in newer relevant colorways and construction. Two of my faves: "Iconic Leopard" and "Shock Wave." (also, very good chocolate chip cookies.)

I also went into Kravet and fell in love.

And that, was my day of design.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

In-Room Hotel Coffee: Never Enough Creamer

one creamer isn't enough
I'm traveling a lot these days and staying at enough hotels, that I finally feel compelled to take my gripe from a single tweet to a short blog. My basic complaint is: I am completely frustrated by the inadequate in-room coffee set up in most hotels. It just doesn't add up.

This morning I woke up at the Hotel Indigo in Midtown, Atlanta but I could easily be at any establishment (except for the JW Marriott in Buckhead which provides guests with liquid creamer cups).  I just made my first cup of coffee, and my long-term frustration was re-ignited.  This is what I mean by "doesn't add up":

1. Two  mugs. One dark roast. One decaf roast. If I had a roommate here at the Hotel Indigo in Atlanta we'd be fighting over who gets the caffeine.
This represents a good morning coffee color

2. Two packs of condiments, each with one packet of non-dairy creamer and sugar. One creamer never sufficiently lightens the first cup of coffee so I have to rip open the second condiment package and use that creamer, leaving my imaginary roommate with a black cup of decaf. Not fair.

All it takes is for the company that makes these chintzy condiment packages to up the ante, and double up on creamer and sugar.  Does anyone else encounter this coffee issue when they travel?
Phew, now that I've written this blog and griped out loud, I will venture to the lobby and out the door for my 2nd cup at a little cafe around the corner that brews Starbucks. And I will lighten it with rich flowing half and half just to my liking.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Oh, the Places You'll Sit: SWIVEL CHAIRS

Playing Goldilocks at market. Here with Luke at American Leather.
Fall 2014 Furniture Market marked my return to High Point after a long hiatus. This time, I was with the Parlore team, and curious chair hopper that I am, sat in every chair that piqued my fancy.  I have a thing for chairs and I call it "goldilocksing."

Alminum frames Regina Andrews' Barca Lounge Chair swivel/ottoman not shown.
Channel Chair chic at every turn from Interlude Home.
While I helped myself to dining chairs, plush down sectionals, and sleek leather chesterfields, this market I was particularly obsessed with swivel chairs

Interior Designer Lisa Sherry of Lisa Sherry Interieurs has two prominent high-back vintage Halo swivel chairs in her sun-room.
Swivel chairs make sense. They provide graceful access to life happening all around us, and offer a revolving point of view. 
Plus they are lots of fun for kids.
I sat and spun a lot.

Getting my swivel on at CR Laine.
...and at Euro style
Nailheads at every turn at Gabby.

Slipcovered swivel chair chez Cisco Brothers.
The sculptural black leather Nico Swivel at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.
Bar stool twist a la Charleston Forge.
In Design Legacy's reclaimed tarp-patched "oef" swivel.
Blue dominates Tony Wais's pattern-happy chairs this market.
Swivel sisters: Doubling up w/ Parlore CEO Stacey Osiecke at  American Leather.
The Chandler at Chaddock.
Other members of the Parlore team do the twist.

Amy Flurry takes turns at City Collection.
Li does it at Lee...
...and Marie McGrath-Brown follows suit at Gabby.

One good turn deserves another.
#goldilocksing #SwivelSwank #ParloreTwist

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

First Taste: Real Estate Staging in NYC

In sync: (left) Familiar with Cheryl Eisen's color preferences, I chose my work clothes accordingly. (right) Loved that my teal pedi coordinated with Robin Mayer's accent color.
As the consummate mixer of business and pleasure, I planned a few extraordinary work days during my 18-day "vacation" up north. Three of those days were spent navigating the fascinating world of New York real estate staging. After spending so much time on my butt writing in front of a computer, it was great to be haul furniture, make artful compositions, and get back on set.

Fresh flowers for IMGNYC's freshly staged 502 Park Avenue, Penthouse 24.
I worked in condos on the Upper West Side, the U.N. Plaza, and ritzy Park Ave, priced from just about a mill to many, many times over.  Though this extremely part-time gig was by no means real immersion into the rigorous and demanding industry, I did experience a true taste and some typical nuances of the job such as dodging surly superintendents, tipping doormen, bending parking rules, contorting to fit into tiny elevators, and carrying over-sized furniture up however many flights of stairs. Frank would have said, "If you can stage it here, you can stage it anywhere!"


Would you live here? If you would and can, contact Michelle Griffith at Trump Int'l Realty.
On Monday Cheryl Eisen of IMGNYC hired me to style a photo shoot at Trump Park Avenue (above and below). This 1929 former hotel was renovated over a decade ago, and my assignment took place in a sprawling light-infused 5-bedroom 7.5 bath penthouse. I worked with photographer Evan Joseph to capture Eisen's posh transformation. Also on hand, a few friendly talented peeps from Eisen's IMGNYC (Interior Marketing Group) staff, a few sweet summer interns, and Inez, a fastidious house cleaner who was on hand to polish chrome and de-smudge mirrors like it was nobody's biz. Eisen's spaces are basically spic-n-span, exquisitely composed, and 98% camera ready. I wore white jeans and they were still crisp and white when I left.

IMGNYC's Eisen and Evan Joseph discuss.
The Master Bedroom's inner sanctum makes me think of "Dangerous Liaisons." 
Eisen lifts the media room spirit with juicy fashion-forward color.
IMGNYC-ers: James and the girls (l. to r) Tracy, Mallory and Jessica.

When the work is done, it's party time.


Seems like old times. Robin Mayer and I back together on set.
The week prior was a reunion of sorts, as I got to work alongside Robin Mayer (above), stylist and designer extraordinaire, who back in the 90's, took me under her wing at Country Living. Mayer was my mentor in the magazine biz and is still a great friend, and frequently works with Richard Johnson of Halstead as well as other NYC real estate pros. She needed an assistant to set up two one-bedroom condos (below) and I was happy to help. We unpacked boxes of props, directed furniture handlers to place the heavy stuff, ran to HomeGoods for extra pillows, scored a hall rug at Urban Outfitters, and borrowed real art from someone's personal collection.

Props: Vintage Clooney makes me happy.
The U.N. Plaza and East River are just out the window of this 1927 building at 865 UN Plaza, Apt. 5a.
Orange, gray and lots of linen make a summery bed. 
A cozy but efficient pre-war Upper West Side eat-in kitchen.
Loved the tile in Upper West Side apartment.
*         *         *
Th U.N. deli just a few steps from 865 U.N. Plaza
This was a great first taste of NYC staging, and I could not have worked with better gals (I cannot write "gals" without feeling like I am channeling my friend Ted). While I don't think I could do this hands-on work for my livelihood day in and day out, as a curious person who loves meeting people, has a voyeuristic spirit, helpful nature, and passion for design, and loves glimpsing home spaces,  this part-time adventure suits me.  And as a freelancer, being hired always is great. (Thank you!)

Also, though I normally don't do lunch, Robin Mayer turned me on to a great deli by the U.N. (probably called United Nations Deli) that is pretty cheap and has an awesome BLT. Now I'm turning you onto it!.
Also a first great taste: The BLT at the UN deli