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.