Art in Clay

Heather Levine's sale on One Kings Lane spoke to me and reminded me of another whose work I admired.  Heather, working in Limoges clay, transforms the matter into objects that play with light and form and texture.  The beauty is in the positive and negative spaces.  Some objects functional, others purely decorative, all organic in nature.

 I saw Michele Quan's installation at Canyon Ranch some months back.  Michelle is one half of the jeweler duo Me & Ro (when you got it, you got it).  I fell in love with the hand painted ceramic bells and baubles strung on thick hemp rope.  All I want to do is place these in a New Jersey beach home, but they would be just as comfortable in the Western or Eastern hemisphere.  The handmade nature of the wallhangings and bells makes me long for the sounds of nature .  Lyrics, poetry, etchings and Buddist teachings give melody to these mobiles.

The colored tassels and feathers are fun and fanciful.  Hung artfully on their specially made wood hooks elevates them to installation status, don't you think?

I can practically hear the melody now.

Good Bye Joe Nye

Stephanie Diani for NYT

I was so sad to hear the news that the design world had lost another great voice, Joe Nye.  He will be remembered for his joyful approach to traditional design.  His attention to detail, quick wit, and "life is a party" attitude, made Joe a favorite fixture on the LA design circuit scene.  I always admired his colorful, playful interiors, and he was a wiz at dishing up the prettiest tabletop display.  Many can be seen in his book, Flair: Exquisite Invitations, Lush Flowers and Gorgeous Table Settings.  Every page offers some sort of take away that you can incorporate into your tablescapes!

Joe certainly did have a flair for living.  His apartment was featured in House Beautiful some time ago. He described it as "crowded and cozy."  You can certainly see his talent for incorporating antiques with high and humble art and more contemporary pieces.  He had good teachers. 

Under the tutelage of Albert Hadley, Francis Eakins, and Suzanne Rheinstein, Joe excelled at creating color combinations that seemed new and fresh.  He loved the art of the hunt and strove for excellence when designing traditional interiors with a twist.
The pedestal with the tortoise shell came from Hollyhock, his mentor's Suzanne Rheinstein's shop.    The bronze painted ceiling reflects and glows in the California light.

Using abstract impressionistic art, antiques, and modern pieces along with his attention to detail provide good tension to a room, and were employed in many a Joe Nye interior.  He loved all the happy colors, like pink (a mainstay).  Everything looks good next to pink.

Joe also was known for his love of chinoiserie, as in the colorful curtains and lantern in the bedroom.  The palm stripe paper and dhurrie headboard, along with assorted antiques, co-exist happily.

The master bath also served as the powder room, so drama and elegance were the name of the game.  I think the use of red, black, and gold does the trick, handsomely. 

Joe was voted one of 100 Top Decorators every year for the past decade by House Beautiful. He will be missed by those that knew and loved him, and those that did not know him but loved his work.  The world looks a tad darker.

FLAIR Ph: Edmund Barr
Apt. ph:Roger Davies

Check Mate

Mario Testino,  fashion photographer extraordinaire, has created a line of clothes and accessories called MATE.  I saw them on Net- a- Porter and was curious as to how this ebullient, colorful, expressive collection came about.  With a show and a book entitled Alto Moda, which means high fashion in Spanish, Mario visually pays homage to his homeland by showcasing Peruvians in traditional costume shot over some period of time.  It is named after his cultural foundation located in the heart of Lima's Barranco district.  Being Peruvian, Mario wanted to celebrate the vibrancy of his heritage, document it, and provide a platform for other homegrown artists.

“I wanted to pay homage to Peru and to the sumptuousness of traditional Peruvian clothing, clothing to which Peruvians remain attached today,” shared Testino in April’s edition of Vogue Paris.

“I’ve seen how much Peru has changed in recent years and how much society has become more open.  But despite everything, Peru’s DNA has stayed the same, and it has remained a country that seems to exist as a celebration of diversity and difference – from different landscapes to different ethnic origins and even different foods. I’m proud of our potatoes. Whereas there are only 10 or 20 varieties in Europe, there are thousands in Peru.”

The beautiful caftans, scarves, accessories and jewelry (collaborated on with Vicki Beamon of Erickson Beamon) gives a portion of its profits back to the MATE foundation.  

Shopping for a cause ALWAYS makes sense to me, especially if they are wearable works of art.  Could this collection become collectable?  Hmmm...

Look for the collection exclusively at Net-a -Porter or read more about it in Mario's book.  The exhibit will be traveling to New York in the fall, I am told.

ph: Mario Testino

Exercising Beauty

I don't care where I am and what I am doing, my surroundings are important to me.  The way an environment makes one feel should NEVER be underestimated.  When I saw Windsor Smith's design for Tracy Anderson's newest gym in Brentwood CA, my mind was blown.  Tracy's friend (and investor) Gwyneth Paltrow suggested her friend Windsor might be the perfect woman to bring the sophisticated yet casual vibe to Tracy's newest location.  Windsor wanted a sculptural look for the gym suggesting the sculpting that Tracy helps her clients achieve.

A white on white Retna commissioned canvas hangs in the serene lounge that one can rest their weary bones in after a tough class.

The lines are blurred between exercise equipment and art installation

The gray, lavender and cream  torture, I mean signature, latex streamers hang gracefully at the ready for her notoriously tough workouts. 

I am always fascinated by the inspiration behind an idea, design, creation. In this case Windsor always admired Frank Gehry's iconic gold and brass fish sculpture in Barcelona, Spain.  That was the jumping  off point for the look of the brass shelving.  It is as beautiful as it is functional.

If you feel as though your home gym needs a little bling, Windsor would be happy to customize a gold basketball hoop for you to call your own.

Located blocks from the beach, the use of  taupe, white, wood and marble supports the desired casual, beachy feel which happily co exists with all the elegant brass!

A blow dry bar was included in this mega studio.  The girls friend, hairstylist to the stars, David Babali will oversee things within the salon.  Tracey is transforming bodies inside and out.

A white commercial Trauslen refrigerator holds Tracey's fresh pressed juices. She also has a food program to help you live the TA Lifestyle.

 Hers is a upscale lifestyle brand.  Each endeavor ; food, videos, the workout, supports the message of living and building a  healthy, graceful, strong, beautiful body.

Frankly, I'd much rather moan and groan in a beautifully appointed gym, it gives me something more pleasant to focus on besides the difficulty of the workout.  It almost helps one rationalize the $50.00 a class price tag

PH:Windsor Smith

The Martyn and Mary Show ~ part 2

Remember when I did a wrap up of spring market at the D and D building and I spoke of Martyn Lawrence Bullard and Mary McDonald?  Refresh your memory here.  Well, I was supposed to interview them and  pose a couple questions.  Time got away from us and many vied for their attention, so I left the questionnaire with them and just heard back.  It reminds me of the column People magazine does; stars, they're just like us...

1.)    People would be surprised to know that…

MM ~     I am a great traveler in 3rd world countries and I love hot dogs. 

MLB~ My favorite thing to do in life is to stay home and cuddle up in front of the TV with my dog , daisy .... I travel so much that those evenings are few and far between. 

2.)    Where is your Happy Place?

MM~  My bed with coffee and magazines 

MLB~ My happy place is most defiantly Sunday mornings in bed with a pot of earl grey tea catching up on my favorite shows like the Borgias and True blood !

3.)    If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

MM~  My mercurial nature 

MLB~ I would love to be just a little bit taller. I'm just 6 ft but always wanted to be 6'2.... I know sounds crazy !

4.)    What do you consider your greatest achievement?

MM~  Being loyal to in the face of adversity 

MLB~ My whole career has been an amazing achievement considering I didn't have any training in design. I am very lucky and blessed to be doing something I adore everyday and let creativity run wild in my office.  I think being presented with the Andrew Martin International designer of the year award was one of my proudest moments however !

5.)    What is your guilty pleasure?

MM~ coming in the office late 

MLB~ Sea salt encrusted chocolate truffles ! 

6.)    I believe in…


MLB~ I believe in the power of love and all the magic that brings with it ! 

I love coffee in bed, chocolate truffles, The Borgias and want to be taller also!  We could totally be friends!

Thank you Martyn and Mary:Fascinating!

More Design TV ~

There's a new crop of design shows coming to TV.  Don't think DIY, don't think Design on a Dime.  This is design voyerism at it's best.  Multi-million dollar properties, realistic design dilemmas being solved, huge competition wars to be waged.  They're drawing back the curtains on the drama and design decisions that enthrall us again and again.

Two of my favorite "Bravolebrities," Jeff Lewis and Mary McDonald star in a new show, 
Property Envy, a la Fashion Police.  Along with super realtor Brandie Malay and arbiter of style Stephen Collins, they dish about design and decor, and critique merits and mishaps of multi-million dollar homes.  I love when they throw open the doors of drool worthy homes we regular people are never privy to, until now.

I am really looking forward to The Real Designing Women.  Premiering on HGTV, it follows four designers busy doing what they do best, the real life drama behind the scenes (there is ALWAYS drama), and problem solving design dilemmas (with realistic budgets), then the big reveal!  The four ladies are LA's Lori Dennis, Toronto's Dee Dee Taylor Eustance, along with NY's Jennifer Flanders and Nina Freudenberger (remember I mentioned Nina in the last story?)

Hmmm,  I have mixed feelings about this next one.  Coming this fall, America's Dream Builders is a giant, splashy competition show hosted by Nate Berkus.  Teams will be competing against each other in different cities creating huge transformations with an interactive component we haven't seen before.  I'm thinking The Great Amazing Race meets The Apprentice.  Of course it will be must see tv!

I'll let you in on a little secret... 2 years ago I made it through 5 rounds of casting for this very show.  At the time the working title was Home Transformers.  The details were sketchy, but I was over the moon with the anticipation of possibly being involved.  Alas, they went in a slightly different direction without me.  Oh well it was fun while it lasted!

A Walk with Traditional Home

The window of Haus Interiors

Traditional Home magazine and Hunter Douglas sponsored a little walk around Nolita and Soho to gather some design inspiration and acquaint ourselves (well me anyway) with some design stores we may not have been familiar with.  With a possible opportunity to shop, I was all in.

We began with breakfast at Haus Interiors where Nina Freudenberger curates the small store cleverly.  From it comes big design ideas.  Remember Nina's name as you'll be hearing it come up again in the not too distant future.

Note to self:  great for gift giving

From there we headed to Elizabeth Street Gallery with Holland and Sherry.  This store/gallery/showroom was an interesting, eclectic mix of bespoke and bemused.  The front of the store has an array of antiques; unusual and the mix unfiltered.  This antique shooting gallery from Coney Island is sure to be a conversation starter in any environment.

The back of the store transports you to Seville Row, where Holland and Sherry Bespoke show off their customizable merchandise created from their luxurious textiles.  Outfit your home, outfit yourself.

The outdoor garden is one of New York's "little neighborhood gems."  You can peruse or party among the statues

Allan Reiver owns Elizabeth Street and lives upstairs.  An added bonus on our little tour was seeing his apartment.  Eclectic to say the least; a fascinating mix of new and old, many of the pieces tell a story.  The collection of trucks on the shelves in his kitchen is made by a prison inmate, and Allan buys each as it is completed.

Michele Varian is a Soho favorite.  Her store is filled with many of her popular self designed pillows, wallpaper, and textiles layered with accessories that seem to tell a story of a singular vision.

Sachin of Ankasa entertained us in her beautiful store.  The brocades, embroideries and appliqu├ęs are applied to more than the up scale pillows.

Thomas O'Brien is a very busy man!  At AERO we discovered not only the beauty of his home decor store, but his bustling design business.  Selling his own designs as well as others, AERO can be a one stop shop to outfit any abode.  With collections for waterworks, Lee Jofa fabrics, Circa lighting, tabletop for Reed and Barton, etc., etc., Thomas doesn't seem to be slowing down.

The board room is filled with prototypes of all kinds

What does it say about me that my favorite part of our stop there was the in store chef who creates healthy culinary creations daily to keep creative minds creating.

There are so many projects in the pipeline.  AERO studios have dozens of retail/hospitality jobs as well as their residential jobs.  Denzel Washington's project on the mood board was one of the sneak peeks there to be seen.

Ochre comes to us from across the pond with modern, contemporary custom designs expressed with individually and respect for craftsmanship in mind.  Their lighting is sublime.

John Houshman, in his second floor atelier, fuses the organic and contemporary.  The yin and yang of materials creates my favorite rough luxe look.  On 950 arces in the Catskills, the team harvests and makes furniture infused with wit and irony.

I fell hard for this mirror with it's live edge base.

After an exhausting morning of inspiration and insight, we ended with a lovely lunch at  The Butcher's Daughter juice bar and cafe.  A kale smoothie and quinoa was exactly what I needed before jumping on the train heading home (insert SIGH).

Thank you Traditional Home and Hunter Douglas.  A good time was had by all!