Out of Africa


Ann Trzebinski takes her inspiration from the African earth that she was raised upon.  Her connection to the land and people of Kenya inspire her extraordinary designs and soothe her deeply rooted spirit.   Handmade, original, high end sophisticated "art" made from the finest raw materials and much attention to detail are parts of the Anna Trzebinski lifestyle brand.  It all began 20 years ago with 200 pashminas.

      The Yoruba tribe of Nigeria hand beads the exquisite chairs, each unique and sold in pairs.

I was thrilled to discover this wonder treasure trove in Aspen recently and then came to find out Anna is featured in Departures Magazine this month.  Aspen is a perfect location to set up shop.  The well traveled or sophisticated consumers, many international, traveling thru this small town want something unique!  Everything has become so global, so homogenized, it was thrilling to see such unique, authentic pieces that you just can't find anywhere else (except maybe Nairobi)

It's funny,  I saw Ralph Lauren in some of Anna's pieces.  When researching this post, I read an article that said, at her camp, Lemarti's Camp, on the banks of the Ewaso river, over lunch with Ralph Lauren, he actually said to Anna, "You are the authentic me of Africa."  Ralph's words rang in her ears.  With that she opened her first store in Aspen.  Madison Ave is next (perhaps by the Ralph Lauren store?)

Her eclectic, beautifully curated store full of tribal art steeped in African tradition and history rests comfortably with the most magnificent leather, supple suede and python jackets, throws, pashminas adorned with feathers, horn and bone accessories, beaded accessories, exquisite shoes, luscious bags, and handmade furniture.

Animal skulls, indigenous to those drying naturally in the hot African sun are cast in silver or bronze

 I was fascinated by the cocktail tables!  They are created with a shadow box like center and can be filled with any number of interesting items.  While I was in the store I saw ostrich eggs, moths, and butterflies.  They will consider custom work.  The ancient wood that encompasses them comes from shipwrecked arabic sailing boats called dhows are marked, gnarled, and have a perfect patina!


Anna mostly employs single mothers, having been one herself  (after her first husband died) and understanding the hardship.  It takes years to train employees at this high level of a luxury brand that carries with it integrity and soul; like it is hand stitched into the fabric of each piece.

It's a family affair ~ Anna's daughter Lana inlays stones and sea glass in the jewelry, and her son Stas, a sculptor,  created pieces exploring how we, as a race, need to think about the connectedness we face to the world around us.

Everything Anna does is imbued with respect for and a love of tribal customs and traditions.  She married a Samburu tribesman (her second husband), Loyaban Lemarti.
Anna said, "I honestly believe what we have here are not just things, but something with a true heart." The love that goes into these pieces certainly shows.

* ph: Peter Beard

New and Noteworthy at AD Home Show


The Architectural Digest Show, the premiere U.S. luxury design fair, is one of my favorite shows. While in the past it has been heavy on kitchen and bath products (more on that later), I was thrilled to see more floor space devoted to other great designers and manufacturers, especially those in the MADE division.  It is a juried show within a show featuring objects and furnishings from around the world, much of which can be customized during the show.  New are the cash and carry booths.  Sometimes it's nice to walk away with a little something, something!

Bellocq Tea Atelier brought their artisanal blends to the show in a stunning display reminiscent of their shop in Brooklyn.  The founders said, "Discovering and sharing the world of tea has been a delicious, and decidedly modern adventure."

LAFCO stands for Luxury Article and Fragrance Company.  They aspire to bring authentic traditions together with exceptionally made products into a modern world.  Their scents always make me happy and bring back memories of places I have visited.

I love a good backstory and Kerber's Farm has got it.  Nick Voulgaris, after renovating a yacht and writing a book about it, then saved a local farm from impending developers.  He was determined to save a local landmark and began making homemade provisions fresh from the farm.

I was thrilled to learn Japanese made Rikumo is based in Philly!  Owners Kaz and Yuka Morihata share the authentic craftsmanship and beauty of the Japanese aesthetic that we find in their home goods.

Rikumo carries products that have binchotan charcoal or Sumi in them.  This charcoal has a very beneficial detoxifying property.  It helps pull out impurities or acts as an antibacterial agent.  Interesting!

Speaking of backstories ~ I always stop for furniture made from gnarled wood, and this credenza was no exception!  Daniel Oates of dbo Home explained the beauty of the ambrosia wood piece was created by the ambrosia beetle that only lives for a month in May.  It creates unique patterns in the fallen wood.  Each piece has a story to tell.

Jung Lee has quickly become one of my favorite stores in NY for that pièce de résistance object that puts your table over the top!  She has a beautiful eye, and her reputation for creating fabulous fetes has her traveling the world.

Zachary A. , touted as the lightest cement like furniture on the market ~

Spin Ceramics' emotion bud vases caught my eye.  They are just so friggin cute!  This company, originally out of China with a new store in Soho, is often copied but never imitated.  It's all about the porcelain from Jingdezhen (the birthplace of porcelain).  Innovative design infused with traditions from the past make their pieces unique and extraordinary.

Curves ahead.
I am enamored with the graceful lines of Martha Sturdy's wall sculptures.  They are nothing if not conversation pieces,

and these curled or ribbon wooden pieces by Kino Guérin are deceivingly difficult to create, but WOW!

Designing a home that is more like a journey than a destination~ The Citizenry curates things, gathers artists from far off places, and gives back to help tell a story.

Honestly, I wanted everything in Erin Sullivan's booth.  Everything!  The objects are earthy, spiritual, textural, and sculptural .

Carolyn Cartwright (no website) creates artisanal lighting.  Contemporary forms infused with the ancient Murano techniques.  They are really beautiful.

Ceramics meets graffiti in RS Ceramics street art garden stools.

The Lacquer Company has collaborated with top taste makers which makes it a stand out.  Plus, we love anything lacquer right now!

I am a sucker for cool lighting, and these kinds of design shows are the best place to see innovative and unique designs.  I came into this booth for Calico's marbleized wall paper and stayed for the explanation about Brendan Ravenhill studio's lighting.  This particular aluminum shade ~ The Grain Pendant, is formed over a wooden mold (displayed on the pedestal) that has been sandblasted to raise the wooden grain.  During the metal spinning process, the pattern is impressed into the finished product.

Ultralight metals and LED lights make David D'Imperio's suspension fixtures, suspended mid air, look like they are floating, but make their presence felt.

Voutsa, a fun wallpaper company with a bold voice produces custom patterns for paper, pillows, and accessories. 

 I am looking forward to seeing more from them and many others in Miami.  Mason & Objet, a French design show is traveling to Miami in May.  It was in Singapore this month.  It is the first time the show has or will be traveling out of France.  I can't wait to see what's in store!

* Cocobolo ceramics art & design

Art Elevated

About 8,000 feet above sea level, in the Rocky Mountains, blessed by Buddhist monks, in a special little valley that I call my happy place, Aspen, Colorado, is a new sight to behold.  An art museum that is as much about the building site as it is about the art.  The Pritzker prize winning architect Shigeru Ban was a gutsy choice to design this small museum that has deep pockets, a philanthropic cadre of world class art connoisseurs and assorted interested parties with strong views; all the while still keeping a sense of the small town feel, because he is known mostly as an architect of temporary disaster relief shelters.

The building is described as "ugly-beautiful."  A boutique museum with no permanent collection, keeps it "light on its feet" with the ability to reinvent itself anew.  It is a three story glass cube encased in recyclable treated paper lattice, that when entered is supposed to mimic the experience of skiing.

You go up to the top of a stairs (mountain), enjoy the view ~

 (to the left is the outer staircase, to the right the inner staircase)

The grand staircase is divided into 2 parallel parts, one on the outside, one on the inside.  This in- between space is called "engawa"in Japanese.  The ability to see those going in the opposite direction or almost anywhere within the walls of the museum creates an active and alive environment.

The ski slope view is charming and a highlight of the restaurant and roof garden.

Then you go down the stairs (mountain) ~  You did get a sense of expansiveness; much more so being on the inside looking out as opposed to being on the outside looking in.

The Tom Freidman's "Green Rock" hanging above the reception desk reminds us that what hangs over our heads can be ignored or consume us.  I will have to remember this visual for my life coaching practice!

When I visited, the street floor gallery featured Mexican artist, Gabriel Kuri.  His works examine the banality of everyday items taken for granted, then discarded.  The residue of daily life, elevated in size and proportion, the things we take for granted asking, "What is our role in everyday consumption and waste?"

Among other things, Mr Kuri's receipts; some tapestry, some sculpture, as well as collages and photography make his installation compelling

My friend told me that teenagers in town (after one too many) take to climbing the trellis or outdoor cage as some call it.  A big no no that comes with a hefty fine!  So funny ~ there are pictures of people attempting the climb and bets are taken on how high one can reach before getting caught.

It's a far cry from what the original art museum looked like!  Originally a hydro-electrical plant, just out of the main part of town, that had a grassroots approach.  Many say this environment is more in keeping with the character of the town; on land that allows for sculpture and outdoor events.

I understand both points of view: the need to modernize and bring forward thinking international artists to this small upscale town, and a cultured, philanthropic crowd but personally, the placement of the museum and the look in relation to what is around it feel awkward, forced.  I think if it was a little further away on land that enhances it, it would set a better tone.  It lacks the charm of the setting of the old location down a wandering path by a stream.  To me, that's the Aspen of old, the Aspen I love, and the Aspen I miss, because over the many years I have been coming here the quaint mom and pop stores are being replaced by the likes of top designer outposts from Madison Ave.  I guess you can't stop change, or progress, or greed.

Sometimes starchitecture is not better architecture, or keep it in context.  What do you think?

* ph:Shigeru Ban