Tuesday, December 18, 2012

5Ws of… Gift Guide, Part 3

Wrap up your holiday shopping by thinking outside the box: Please consider donating to a charity.  If someone on your list loves architecture, interiors or design, here are some suggestions.
Whether you donate to charity, select a book (from Gift Guide Part 2) or pick out a DVD (from Gift Guide Part 1), we hope all your gifts are well received. 
We wish you the happiest holidays!

What: Chic Charity… DIFFA
DIFFA: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS is one of the country’s largest supporters of direct care for people living with HIV/AIDS and preventative education for those at risk.  Merging care and commerce, supporters of DIFFA come from all fields of fine design and the visual arts, including architecture, fashion design, interior design, photography and consumer product design. 
Since being founded in 1984 DIFFA has granted funds to organizations which fight AIDS by providing preventive education programs targeted to populations at risk of infection; treatment and direct-care services for people living with HIV/AIDS; and public policy initiatives which add resources to private sector efforts. 
To donate: www.diffa.org

Who: Women Making a Difference Right at Home…  Traditional Home’s Classic American Women
This signature program celebrates the spirit of volunteerism by recognizing standout charitable women from across the country.  Over the past eight years, Traditional Home has recognized a diverse range of extraordinary women who have made a difference in the lives of their communities.  Honorees have raised funds for public schools, healthcare, literacy, domestic abuse prevention, cancer treatment and much more.
To view honorees and learn more about how to donate: www.traditionalhome.com

Where: From Main Street to Your Street…  The National Trust for Historic Preservation
Historic preservation champions and protects places that tell the stories of our past.  It enhances our sense of community and brings us closer together: saving the places where we take our children to school, buy our groceries, and stop for coffee – preserving the stories of ancient cultures found in landmarks and landscapes we visit – protecting the memories of people, places and events honored in our national monuments. 
PLEASE NOTE: All donations made through December 31 will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $100,000, to fund NTHP’s Hurricane Sandy restoration efforts.  Your gift will help communities impacted by the storm rebuild historic treasures. 

When: When you empower design you empower the future…  ASID Foundation
The ASID Foundation advances the interior design profession by drawing upon its resources to promote meaningful collaboration and research, award scholarships and fund projects that broaden the value of interior design.

Why: Because there’s no place like home… The American Red Cross
The Red Cross continues to focus on reaching as many people as possible who need help.  Your help is urgently needed to continue to support relief efforts.  Financial donations make the greatest and most immediate impact, helping the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance.
All info and images courtesy affiliated charities.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

5Ws of…2012 Gift Guide, Part Two

We’re pleased to present the second in our three-part gift guide.  From a complete history of furniture to a behind-the-scenes look at some very chic lives, these cover some of the most engaging aspects of interior design.  Please see the previous post for great videos for design buffs, and please check in next week for gifts that give back to the design community.

What: Stylish and substantive lives, cataloged beautifully… “A Visual Life: Scrapbooks, Collages, and Inspirations”
Interior designer Charlotte Moss has spent years collecting as well as creating scrapbooks—a pastime both meditative and instructive about her own ideas regarding design and style. In this unique book, Moss brings together her own scrapbooks along with those of notable women, both contemporary and historical, whose flair for style inspires us, including interior designer Elsie de Wolfe and society doyenne Gloria Vanderbilt—all never before published. Organized by theme—home, garden, travel, entertaining, and fashion—each chapter includes examples of Moss’s signature style mingled with excerpts from the scrapbooks of these great women.

Who: Designer, starlet, socialite – mystery woman… “Florence Broadhurst: Her Secret and Extraordinary Lives”
Florence Broadhurst founded one of the most influential wallpaper studios of the Twentieth Century.  Her brightly-colored geometric and nature-inspired oversized designs were all hand printed. Technical advances made in her studio included printing onto metallic surfaces, the development of a washable, vinyl-coating finish and a drying rack system that allowed her wallpapers to be produced in large quantities.  Her wallpapers reportedly contained around 800 designs in eighty different colors.  In addition to being a prolific and legendary designer, Broadhurst was a starlet, a socialite… and the victim of a murder that remains a mystery 35 years later. 

Where: Home office or corner office…  “Habitually Chic: Creativity at Work”
Habitually Chic is author Heather Clawson's wildly popular blog about the finer things in life—high fashion, fine art, interior design, and arresting architecture. For Habitually Chic: Creativity at Work, Ms. Clawson has narrowed her vision and using the good will generated by her blog has found her way into the workspaces of the world's foremost cultural generators. The studios, workshops, offices, and creative sanctuaries of top designers, artists, editors, architects, and more are captured and presented in detail.

When: From colonial to contemporary…  “The Encyclopedia of Furniture”
It looks like it’s about 100 years old and some of the photos look like they were printed from slides, but this is hands-down the greatest desk reference for furniture styles and history. Not to judge a book by its cover but this one pretty much says it all: “Covering: Every period and development to the present, the designers and makers, the woods and other materials, the architecture and decoration.”

Why: Because there’s nothing like the original… “The Decoration of Houses”
One of America’s most important novelists, Edith Wharton was a refined, relentless chronicler of the Gilded Age and its social mores. Along with close friends Henry James, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jack London, she helped define literature at the turn of the Twentieth Century, even as she wrote classic nonfiction on travel, decorating and her own life. Her best known works include The Age of Innocence (which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1921), The House of Mirth and Ethan Frome. The Decoration of Houses, her first book, is of special interest to designers.  House Beautiful declared, “Edith Wharton laid down the rules for decorating in her first book.  The Decoration of Houses was the law of the land, and it led to the birth of a new profession.”

Images and information courtesy bn.com, except Who, When and Why (via previous posts); image for Who via eviekemp.com.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

5Ws of... 2012 Gift Guide, Part One

This holiday season, there’s a W for every design afficianado on your list… Starting with some great videos.  Check back next week for book suggestions, and the following week for gifts that give back to the design community.

What: A look behind the scenes… “Sketches of Frank Gehry”
Acclaimed film director Sydney Pollack took a five-year break from the realms of fiction to assemble a lovingly crafted tribute to longtime friend and acclaimed architect Frank Gehry in this documentary born from the sketches of its talented subject. A notoriously shy craftsman whose impressive body of work includes the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Ghery is shown working in his studio unobstructed as Pollack attempts to capture the very essence of the artist's bold works through use of film and digital video. Driven by an intimate but informal series of discussions between Ghery and Pollack, Sketches of Frank Gehry uses the subject of architecture as a launching point to discuss the creative process, and paints a fascinating portrait of how one humble man was able to create some of the world's most awe-inspiring structures.

Who: The iconic architect…  “Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision”
Maya Lin is the young artist who created the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC. This documentary profiles this and her other politically motivated artistic creations. It also chronicles her maturation from a very young, enthusiastic 20-year old artist who, just for a lark, submitted her winning entry in the national contest for would-be designers of the monument, to a mature and articulate artist.

Where: A little place in the country…  “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House”
Fed up with crowded big-city living, advertising executive Mr. Blandings (Cary Grant) decides to seek out a big, roomy house in the country. Armed with more enthusiasm than common sense, Blandings causes many a headache for his lawyer/business manager Melvyn Douglas, who tries to keep the costs within a reasonable amount. Alas, Blandings bulls ahead on his own, first purchasing an estate on the verge of collapse, then opting to build his dream house from scratch.

When: Midcentury modern… “Eames: The Architect and the Painter”
Actor James Franco narrates this richly textured documentary on the celebrated husband-and-wife design team of Charles and Ray Eames. In addition to creating extraordinary plywood and fiberglass furniture, the Eames' also produced everything from children's toys to splints for wounded World War II soldiers.

Why: Because “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death!”… Auntie Mame
Images and copy courtesy bn.com.

Monday, October 22, 2012


Dear readers,

After two years and hundreds of posts, it's time to take a brief break. 

For the next 10 weeks, I'm going to look at the world without immediately taking a picture with my phone; dig through archives because something interests me, not because it might drive traffic; and write letters - alright, emails - more often than I tweet or text.  It's time to be curious just for curiosity's sake, whether or not anyone anywhere else might find my discoveries interesting.

In short, it's time to unplug.

Thank you all so much for reading, writing and recommending.  It's been wonderful to share icons and ideas and find that you like them too.  I look forward to reconnecting with you and to sharing more of the Who, What, When, Where and Why of iconic design in a few weeks.

In the meantime, please email me if you would like to stay in touch, or if you have an idea for the next round of 5Ws.  And please visit the sites on the blogroll to keep up on the latest in design, furnishings and interiors.

See you in 2013!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Magazine Monday: C California Style

Every Monday I check out the newsstands in search of inspiring interiors on the printed page. 

C Magazine recently got a lot of buzz for a well-timed cover story on Katie Holmes.  However, the inside had me all a-flutter: several design features caught my eye, from noted accessories designer Kendall Conrad’s Montecito home (that carpet is amazing!) to a shopping story with interior designer Alexandra Champalimaud to a look at the Cat’s Cradle lounge and ottoman by SoCal’s own Rose Tarlow Melrose House.

C magazine is on newsstands now.
Images of Kendall Conrad’s Home: C Magazine

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

5Ws of… Diana Vreeland’s Living Room

What: “Then a photograph of her living room appeared in a magazine.  Never had I seen such profusion, so much red! Red on the floor, red up the walls, and textures, textures, TEXTURES! Plaid on top of paisley, flowered chintz next to silk stripes, and silver, tortoise, ebony, conch, gilt – a magnificent explosion in the midst of a beige decade, a world in which the worst sin was to ‘clash.’ You knew the moment you looked at Mrs. Vreeland’s living room that you had seen the future. And indeed, it eventually became the great cliché of New York décor.” – Mary Louise Wilson, introduction to D.V. by Diana Vreeland.

Who: Billy Baldwin designed the living room in 1955.

When: Diana Vreeland burst onto the scene in 1936, when she began working at Harper’s Bazaar. She later worked at Vogue and The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

Where: Legend has it she wanted her living room to look “like a garden, but a garden in hell.”

Why: “Why don’t you paint a map of the world on all four walls of your boys’ nursery so they won’t grow up with a provincial point of view?”

Images: With Fabulous Flair, Habitually Chic, Apartment Therapy, Architectural Digest, Harper's Bazaar (SJP as DV)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Magazine Monday: Architectural Digest and Elle Décor October 2012

Welcome back to Magazine Monday, wherein I search the newsstands for iconic interiors on the printed page.  It’s Fashion Week here in New York, and for fans of both interior design magazines and Project Runway (I know I am not the only one!) this is a very good week indeed. 

Several new magazines hit the newsstands this week.  Nina Garcia’s home appears in Architectural Digest, while Tim Gunn’s must-haves grace the pages of Elle Décor.  So many chic style setters’ homes are featured in each magazine that interior design fans could easily have a Fashion Week of our own just gazing at these incredible spaces.
Making it work, indeed!
Image of Nina Garcia's home via Architectural Digest.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

5Ws of... Hit the Books!

One of the best parts of back-to-school is cracking open all those new books.  If the back-to-school season has you in the mood to brush up on the Who, What, When, Where and Why of iconic design, the following books can help.

 Who: Billy Baldwin: The Great American Decorator by Adam Lewis
The definitive book on the legendary decorator Billy Baldwin, known as the "Dean of American Decorating," famous for his classical taste, streamlined modernism, and brilliant use of color. In the tradition of Rizzoli’s Albert Hadley and David Hicks, this is the first fully illustrated account of the career of Billy Baldwin (1903–1983), one of the most important decorators of the twentieth century, whose work has influenced contemporary designers from Bunny Williams to Jeffrey Bilhuber. With a foreword by Baldwin’s former student Albert Hadley, and enriched by never-before-published transcripts of four 1974 lectures that Baldwin gave at the Cooper-Hewitt, this is an important book for anyone interested in interior design.

What: Hans, His Chair and The World - a Children’s Book about Hans J. Wegner. 
With his 100 years anniversary just around the corner, Danish design icon Hans J. Wegner has become the center of a renewed international attention – resulting in new literary projects and exhibitions.  The richly illustrated book opens the world of the famous Danish furniture designer to the younger generations and draws attention to the old water tower in Wegner’s native city Tønder that has been transformed into a permanent collection of the Danish iconic chair designs.

When: The Stylemakers: Minimalism and Classic Modernism 1915-1945 by Mo Amelia Teitelbaum
In Paris in the 1920's a new style was born, rejecting the embellishments of Art Nouveau and Art Deco, paring down superfluous detail to the essence of classic modernism.  This new study documents how their interchange of partners and ideas led to innovation in every field of the arts. It is packed with fresh material and original insights on artists such as Man Ray, John Singer Sargent and Diaghilev.

Where: At Home with Town & Country by Sarah Medford 
These remarkable homes, lavishly photographed to the publication's singular standard, reflect the latest developments in residential architecture and design, including the “Invisible House,” Tadao Ando's avant-garde dwelling for the Benetton family in northern Italy and Antoine Predock's art-filled Dallas retreat for Deedie and Rusty Rose. But classic design also plays a part: here, too, are Chatsworth, the 400-year-old ancestral seat of the Dukes of Devonshire; Ralph and Ricky Lauren's 1920's-era family estate in Bedford, New York; and Spike and Tonya Lee's historic Manhattan town house. 
Why: House & Home by Orange Art Press
Go, little book, and wish to all
Flowers in the garden, meat in the hall,
A bin of wine, a spice of wit,
A house with lawns enclosing it,
A living river by the door,
A nightingale in the sycamore!
- Robert Louis Stevenson
Images and info: 1: Danish Agency for Culture/Press Release; 2, 3, 4: Potterton Books; 5: Orange Art Press.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Magazine Monday: Veranda, September-October 2012

“Print is dead” they say – but not for me!  Give me a good, thick, glossy magazine and a cup of coffee and I’ll be happy for hours.  Magazine Monday highlights some of the must-see items in print each month from local, national and international design magazines.  

VERANDA turns 25 this year and they are celebrating with an exciting feature called “The Archive Project”.  Editor in Chief Dara Capanigro and her team partnered with iconic design houses to rediscover some of the best, most timeless designs for reissue.  As Dara writes, “If a designs is good it will always be good, and there’s something incredibly reassuring about that.”
The Archive Project is another way to learn more about iconic people, places and things in the world of design.  The first installment looks at chintz by Cowtan & Tout. Veranda is on newsstands now. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Weekend Obsession: Happy Birthday to ME!

Like the old song says, there’s no place like home, not because of the real estate, but because of the sense of shelter and nurture that it provides. This deep, wordless experience can’t be manufactured in an instant but develops slowly, one birthday party, convalescence, Thanksgiving and cup of tea at a time.

From “The Other Real Estate Value,” by Winifred Gallagher, New York Times Opinionator Blog/Living Rooms, June 28, 2010

Image (Magnolia/Bloomingdale's Limited Edition FNO Cupcake) via Racked.com.

Monday, August 27, 2012

5 Ws of... DOMINO Fall/Winter 2012

What: Domino’s new issue just hit stands this morning.  It’s a mix of old favorites from the late, great Domino magazine and some new spaces not published before. 

Who: This issue introduces the Domino Style Council, an eclectic (of course!) group of 13 designers from legends such as Steven Gambrel and Bunny Williams to retail powerhouse Jonathan Adler to bloggers and authors such as Heather Clawson and Phoebe Howard.  Their insights and advice are sprinkled throughout the issue.

Where: Inside the magazine you’ll find three sections.  For living room, dining room and bedroom ideas, see The Rooms.  In The Homes you’ll find features on six houses including the original magazine’s iconic feature on Jenna Lyon’s Brooklyn townhouse. And “It’s All in the Details” offers styling tips for mantels, bookcases and reading chairs.

When: This Fall/Winter edition will be on newsstands until December 3.  Not sure what the official on-sale date is, but copies have been popping up on a few newsstands near Conde Nast in Times Square and on the Upper East Side.

Why: “This special Domino issue satisfies several very basic human urges: the longing to stare open-mouthed at things of great beauty, to covet them, to copy them, even make them our own… Let the drooling begin…” – from the Editors’ Letter
Images courtesy Domino Fall/Winter 2012.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Weekday Obsession: Desks

The morning commute meanders across 57 Street, where the AERIN offices overlook the intersection with Madison.  Coverage of her new office in Architectural Digest – and images of other fabulous workspaces – have inspired a little desk organization around the 5Ws office. 

Images: Architectural Digest; Vogue; Domino; Habitually Chic; Matchbook.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Weekend Obsession: Shagreen

In the 17th and early 18th centuries, the term “shagreen” began to be applied to leather made from sharkskin or the skin of a rayfish.  This form is also called sharkskin or galuchat.  To create the pebbled look we associate with shagreen today, the skin’s placoid scales are ground down to create small round protrusions on the surface.  The material is colored from the other side and the dye shows through the front, creating a textured and toned surface. 

Jean-Claude Galluchat, a master leatherworker in the court of Louis XV of France, first popularized shagreen.  Its popularity spread throughout Europe in the mid-18th Century.  Shagreen’s rough texture led to the French meaning of anxiety, vexation, embarrassment or annoyance. 

Images: Shagreen City Lights by Edelman Leather; Edward Ferrell + Lewis Mittman Swedish Lounge Chair via Elle Décor; Studio E Sun Hee wallcovering. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday Julia Child!

“We arrived back in Washington, DC in November 1956, and almost immediately dove into the task of renovating our little jewel of a house at 2706 Olive Avenue [sic].  It was a 150-year-old, three story wooden house, on the outskirts of Georgetown…  What fun to feather our own little nest, the only nest we actually owned.” – Julia Child, “My Life In France” 
Image via The Ten Mile Square.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

5Ws of... The Woolworth Building

Who: Designed by Cass Gilbert, the building, at Park Place and Barclay Street, was commissioned by the retail magnate Frank W. Woolworth and constructed between 1910 and 1913. Woolworth famously financed the building without loans or help from developers.

What: “The Skyscraper and the City: The Woolworth Building and the Making of Modern New York,” by Professor Gail Fenske, contains numerous illustrations, including one showing a 1929 advertisement for the building, calling it a "Cathedral of Commerce" -- a name that has stuck -- and lauding its height (792 feet), number of floors (60), weight (206 million pounds), floor area (15 acres), exterior windows (3,000), tons of steel (24,000), bricks (17 million) and tons of terra cotta (7,500).

When: On the evening of April 24, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson pressed a tiny button inside the White House, lighting up the Woolworth Building in Manhattan. It was "the tallest structure in the world, with the one exception of the Eiffel Tower in Paris," The New York Times reported, and it was a marvel of architecture and engineering.

Where: Construction will begin soon to turn The Woolworth Building’s neo-Gothic tower, one of New York City’s most recognizable landmarks, into about 40 luxury apartments, including a five-level penthouse in the cupola.   An abandoned 55-foot-long basement swimming pool, originally part of a health club, will be restored as an amenity for residents.

Why: “The question of whether the Woolworth Building is, indeed, a great work of architecture may still be open to debate. Yet Woolworth and Gilbert's project represented in the eyes of contemporaries more than a vulgar contraption for producing a profit, and more than a dubious expression of corporate power, egregious advertising, or an aggressive assault on New York's new signature skyline.” – Professor Gail Fenske

Note: The information in Who, What, When and Why is reprinted from “A New History for an Old Skyscraper,” by Sewell Chan, published on NYTimes.com on July 25, 2008.  The information in Where is reprinted from “Luxury Living in Old Temple of the 5 and Dime” by Michell Higgins, published in the New York Times on August 7, 2012.

Images: Big City Blog Boy, Ronnie Elgavish (2, 5, 6), Saturday Evening Post, New Construction Manhattan.