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October 31, 2009

Are You Riveted?

Studs and rivets have been showing lately in great places, on necks, arms, feet, all over. A current interior and graphic design project I'm working on includes rivets, which I designed on window frames, as a cool nod to the client's high tech machinery. Ever since that project, rivets and studs have been affixing themselves everywhere. It's a style trend but still, a case of life imitates art. Here are some shining examples.

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October 2, 2009

Relaxing Times and Places

Café Angelique is a coffee and pastry cafe in the Village on Bleecker Street with great atmosphere and edibles.

There are all different kinds of comfort food. This place's atmosphere definitely adds to the comfort of the food for me. It's pricey and worth it. Perfect for a quick break in a busy day or a rest note between the main stanzas of life.

September 28, 2009

Color Comfort

Even — or especially — critters deserve to feel the comfort of color.

 

February 21, 2009

Other Wordly Bathrooms

Famous for its bathrooms in a city full of places with gorgeous bathrooms, Bar 89 deserves its notoriety.

Bar 89

Located at 89 Mercer Street, the decor is nice and the food is pleasant but the bathrooms are like nothing you have ever seen. Except my friend in Paris just told me there is something there on the Rue de Madeleine that sounds similar. Kissing cousin cities Paris and New York deserve to each have one of these.  There were no photos of the bathrooms and a photo couldn't replicate the experience anyway. Besides a beautifully lit spacious sink area, the stall doors appear transparent but when someone goes in, they become magically opaque and a hologram-like word "occupied" appears with a simple latch of the door -- or perhaps it's sensitive to just walking inside. Masterful design work illustrating how great design creates new experiences and opens up your imagination, playfulness and sense of wonder.

December 15, 2008

Doubledecker

Good things come in twos. More evidence of the sublime evolution of my cat household, which was once a scary zone if these two were near each other. Now, there's a place for everything and everything in its place.

Two Cats Getting Along 

December 12, 2008

Taking the High Road

My kitty has started using the stairs and loft I put up originally for my other kitty over a year ago — and loving it.

Cat Stairs

Naturally, I had to paint the stairs in a cool color to coordinate with my office. The stairs and loft are by my web client, Kitty Cat Loft. I loved them as soon as I saw them. On cat is very light so bounding up the stairs is easy for her. The other is 11 pounds, which isn't heavy but she is voluptuous and maybe the stairs are too close for comfort. Still, the one using it has been with me for a year and has only just started using this awesome piece of cat furniture. She hangs out on the loft and has appropriated it.

kitty cat loft

The stairs are extremely space efficient, taking up only 14" of floor space. They fit in any corner or the middle of a wall. The loft sits over any doorway. I think you could put it over a window too.

October 19, 2008

Children's Wallpaper Art

Currently on view at the Cooper Hewitt is a show on children's wallpaper.

Popeye

Above: “Popeye with the Hag of the Seven Seas;” by Elzie Crisler Segar

The show presents wallpaper from the 1800s to the 1990s and related items of influence such as children's characters in books and cartoons. Some very cute stuff. One of my favorites conceptually is a wallpaper of blank squares so kids can fill in their own images or paste in pictures — very inventive. The Cooper Hewitt is a small museum in a gracious upper east side mansion so it's always nice to visit; they are working on an ambitious interior expansion now too, which will allow exhibits of much larger items such as automobiles.

October 16, 2008

Inside the Designer's Studio

 

NYC's East Side Design Within Reach hosts an IDSA series event called “Inside the Designer's Studio,” tonight, a glimpse into the head and work of some of today's leading designers.

Tonight's event features Rita Nakouzi from Promostyl, a trend forecasting and tracking company, so the slant will be a bit different than an individual designer's discussion of their work. Sure to be very interesting for design buffs.

September 4, 2008

Bringing the Indoors Out

Yet another open air bar graces The Delancey on New York's Lower East Side.

The Delancey

Named for the street on which it resides, this palm-tree festooned hangout is welcoming. This isn't a vast city view like some of the other spots recently cited on this blog; the bar is about three flights up from ground level. The lovely night air filtered in on this yet again perfect temperature evening and a good time was had by all. Tucked away in this now thriving neighborhood, this spot is definitely recommended.

August 22, 2008

A Place for Everything

And everything in its place.

Kitty in Shelf

When I first got this cool bookcase, which has wavy shelves (from Design Within Reach), I specifically envisioned my cat making herself at home in its nook-like shelves. (The bookcase comes in separate shelf sections that you slide together and each section weighs 200 lbs, literally. I assembled it myself on the floor and then got some guys to help me stand it up.) Cats being independent, however, she never hopped in, even when I put a soft blanket in a shelf. However, several years later, she is hanging out in it regularly. I guess it has to do with where the bookcase now stands and other factors, such as getting away from her sister, although her sister will follow after her. At any rate, I was forced to clear out this shelf for her or else have my tops constantly askew, found on the ground etc. My feline enhances my view.

August 12, 2008

Cool Stools

One of the coolest looking stool designs is by artist Eric Ziemelis.

Coolest Stool Designs

Available through the Artful Home online, this sculptural seating is handmade of cherry wood and chrome-painted steel. There are some other beautiful stool designs at this source too.

July 25, 2008

Timeless Design

Timeless designer Pierre Paulin created all the beauties seen here.

Pierre Paulin colorful furniture

The shapes, colors and even the names are beautiful, playful, inventive, smart and uplifting. Lucky for us, most are available today through Hive Modern in a great range of fabric choices.

July 21, 2008

Business & Art Are Buddies

My instinct tells me that business and art are allies, not enemies. This has been proven true in my work in graphic design. This week at a lecture by Ran Lerner on his excellent product designs, the same message came through.

Products designed by Ran Lerner

Products designed by Ran Lerner: candle, cutlery set, salt and papper set, wine rack

Ran spoke about the process of bringing products “to market” and I was struck by how similar his working process is to my experience in graphic design. Not having designed mass market products yet, although my rugs are beginning to bloom, I didn't realize that many of the same principles apply in the day-to-day work challenges of product design as in graphic design. Ran works with manufacturers such as Umbra. When presenting to companies, you must take their market into account. So your design is not just about taste; it's about satisfying a company's vision and their client base. This is very much like graphic design where the client's subject matter, audience and goals are key. Learning to work with different clients and audiences challenges your sense of creativity and visual expression. It doesn't need to be a restriction in a negative way. It's certainly a challenge but constraints build new solutions.

When I was beginning to design things, I did some pro bono and low-paying work for broke musicians who needed materials. They had no budget. I had to produce ads, posters, invitations, tickets, CD packaging and business cards in black and white on whatever paper was around. And my creativity soared. I talked to my father about it and wondered why I couldn't be that creative (and cost-effective) for my own projects. He said that constraints are a great and eye-opening tool in all artistic work. The validity of this became evident to me from working on these very constrained projects that were deeply satisfying. Yet another of life's conundrums: sometimes less really is more and even leads the way to more.

July 17, 2008

Run Kitty

Modern area rugs in colorful designs

Modern Rug with Kitty ArtLast but not least in the recent onslaught of rug designs from my new rug business is this homage to my kitty. Her very feminine and curvaceous butt is recognizable to those who know and love her.

I did this drawing of my feline when she was a little kitten and everyone pointed out to me that it was definitely a female kitty. I hadn't realized, had just drawn what I saw. It's cool to see this art now make its way onto a rug design. You can never honor the kitties too much.

July 16, 2008

Rugs Are for Kitties to Twist On

Here is another of my new designs. This design also comes in a yellow/purple combination and was inspired by 1950s lampshade patterns.

Modern Rugs with a Twist

Have fun in your own house like the furball and check out the full line of our rugs grouped by motifs including painterly, graphic, rich solid colors and illustrative rug designs. Our rugs are custom made in any size and shape. This rug is a circle, which works well in a dining room and for ceiling gazing. We can make runners that turn a corner and all sorts of cool shapes. Live it up with our unique modern area rugs. Here's an image of the rug in the fuller room below.

Modern area rugs

July 15, 2008

Big Day for Modern Rugs

Today, I received a shipment of six rug designs for my business, my first full-size rugs with which to take promotional photos, show buyers the actual color and texture of the rugs and launch the business.

Modern rugs in unique colors

The colors came out beautifully and the rugs feel great under your bare feet. The rugs take a couple of months to make. Specifying yarn colors is, to me, the most involved and tricky part of the design undertaking, as what you see in a finished rug isn't always what you expect. You have to learn the translation process the same way you learn in graphic design work how printed pieces translate colors from the Pantone or other color matching systems. But hey, you get to play with colors for hours in the process, so not a bad task.

Modern Rugs in Artistic Colors and Designs

The Good Doggie rug design shown below is one of the ones that gets a big reaction from customers. There's nothing like a critter to get people all worked up. There are more animal themed rugs in the collection too.

Modern Rug Design

Rug designs are presented in four categories: Painterly, Graphic, Solids and Illustrative. Since color is one of my greatest design strengths, even the solid color rugs offer wonderful design options in colors that brighten your life, as shown in the long luxurious hall runner below. This color combination is called Blackberries.

Striking colors in modern rugs

The site shopping cart is not quite finished being set up so if you see a rug you're interested in, don't hesitate to get in touch with us. Thanks! 

July 10, 2008

Feng Shui and Kitties Too

Feng Shui is an ancient Japanese system to aid all aspects of life in the design and arrangement of your home. It breaks your living space into a nine section grid and advises that you focus on different aspects of your life and goals in the appropriate area of the grid.

Feng Shui Design

New bedding arrived today and Autumn gave it a test run right away. Thank goodness she approves. I have been hesitant to learn much about or to try to incorporate Feng Shui principles because, as a designer, I didn't want a system to influence me to possibly change layouts that I love. I think a lot of people feel that way initially. However, as I've learned a little bit about it, it really is fun and isn't hard to work with. It offers tips on ways to enhance your environment.

Your Wealth Corner is the upper left area of your house (when facing in from the front door). So you are advised to put tokens of wealth in that area and not to have it bogged down with things that might keep wealth from you. Your Love Corner is the upper right area of your house and the upper right corner of your bedroom and each room too. You are advised to use pink or red candles to attract love in that corner. The system is much more complicated than these simple tips but you can take it in bit by bit and it brings a fresh perspective. One of the biggest admonitions is to FREE YOURSELF OF CLUTTER. Feng Shui believes that clutter keeps all sorts of things away from us and mires us in the past and in incorrect thinking. It does feel great to clear clutter, even if it's inside a closet that no one normally sees; you can feel the clean spirit of it and that's the whole point: what you feel motivates what you do and what happens to you.

July 7, 2008

Modern Cats

Modern Cats For those of us who think the only thing more fun to look at than kitties is kitties in cool interiors, check out the gallery at Modern Cat. Cats are not just beautifully designed; their incredible ability to relax makes them extra photogenic, not to mention inspiring examples for us human friends.

 

 

 

June 25, 2008

Interloper in the Window

What's that in the window?

Kitty in the Window

On this beautiful day, Autumn the kitty caught a breezy kitchen view she'd never found before. Check out her swishing happy tail, which is always that puffy, given her Maine Coon roots, not because she's afraid of anything, fearless trooper that she is.

June 20, 2008

KittyGate II: Caught in the Act

Proof that Autumn is still a kitten as she scales the 6' door I thought I had so cleverly put up to try to acclimate my two kitties without them literally pulling each other's hair out. But Autumn is a “can do” personality and where there's a will, boy, I mean, girl, is there a way.

Scaling the cat gate

Naturally, I am impressed by her acrobatics. I had to take some pictures. It's hard to discourage her and want her to stay for a photo shoot at the same time.

Autumn scales the kitty gate

Not sure what to do next in this experiment. My helpful landlord, with whom I discussed the possibility of her scaling this even when we were putting it up, suggested putting plexiglass on the surface, which she won't be able to grip. I guess I'm going to have to if I want to keep up this experiment. I'm not ready to give up yet, although I also found a cat behaviorist I may consult and I also have a new book coming that may suggest some ways I haven't thought of to try to acclimate these two divas. At any rate, they keep up the entertainment quotient.

June 13, 2008

Where's Thelonius?

Talk about coordinated.

Chic Camouflage

This little critter, whose name is Thelonius (yes; he is named after the great jazz musician, Thelonius Monk), came after the chair for his humans. He's a Bengal, which my cat is partially. Bengals were bred by being mixed with actual Bengal tigers but they are loving, adorable regular kitties (just expensive). They come in a spotted or swirl pattern, tend to be vocal and playful with just a touch of wildness. See more hilarious cat photos at Stuff on My Cat.  

June 9, 2008

KittyGate

Here is an experiment I'm conducting.

KittyGate

When I fostered a kitty previously, using a gate to gradually introduce him to my reigning kitty, worked beautifully. It took patience and time but by slowly widening their area of contact with each other, they were able to co-exist and even hung out together. However, this cat, who is still just a kitten really, is very feisty and knocks over and jumps over any kind of gate I could find. Plus, the first cat is terrified of her, to such an extent that we've had bad accidents. And the new cat isn't helping in that she continues to bolt towards the other one any time they are near each other.

KittyGate

Above: Autumn peers through a gate slat.

Pet gates don't come tall enough for Autumn to not jump over or knock over. I am amazed that they don't. So I tried calling screen door companies, sliding window screen installers and outdoor pet haven places but got almost nowhere. I finally went to Home Depot and got this lattice material and had a local construction guy make the frame, secure it with hinges and a latch and it's basically a taller gate. Only problem is I can't move it from place to place, which would work better.

Good news is that the new cat now has more room in which to hang out. Bad news is that the previous cat still wants nothing to do with her and isn't doing the curious approaching I had hoped for. We'll see how it goes over time. 

Above: Gate set up to acclimate two kitties. Cost: $120 including installation vs. $300–500+ for the potential screen doors that needed pet-proof screening and more work.

June 4, 2008

Cool Critters Deserve Happening Habitats

Let your critters lead the way to a super stylish pad for you and them.

Really Cool Pet Furniture

Above: Stylish and comfy pet beds from Hepper

I've found some really cool pet furniture and accessories with which to assuage my cognizant felines' cravings for superior designs. It takes hunting to find great pet stuff, which is odd, as people are fanatical about their pets. But the quest is being quenched. Not too long ago, I finished a website design for Kitty Cat Loft, makers of a great-looking spiral cat staircase. While checking out their search rankings, which often leads to nice discoveries in different categories of my clients' work, I came across several satisfying makers of furniture and items for pets. Previously, most makers of this caliber and style level were not American (there are some great German designs) — not true any more. Check out Modern Cat for links to lots of items besides the great beds above. I also met Akemi Tanaka at ICFF last month, who makes an adorable “curve” cat shelf. Lots of good things are brewing for critters in industrial design these days.

June 2, 2008

Mood Lighting

Phosphoria creates custom-made lighting in a wide range of styles.

Gorgeous Lighting from Phosphoria

Unique and stunning lighting designs from Phosphoria

Creator Noah Prince has a background in movie and television lighting and realized that regular life was getting short shrift. Nothing sets a mood more than lighting.

Phosphoria Brooklyn lighting design

Thanks to Greenjeans Brooklyn for citing these beautiful lighting designs from Phosphoria in their report on the Brooklyn Designs show in May. Phosphoria also showed at the ICFF

May 25, 2008

Bedroom Sanctuaries

Furniture maker Maine Cottage does especially well with beds. They love color.

The bedroom as santuary

Above: bed, sidetable and footstool by Maine Cottage

This simple New England-rooted furniture is available in gorgeous hues and can be custom-combined in some pieces. While you may not have the tranquil view shown above, it's really the interior of the bedroom that matters. You don't want light to pour in usually so the main ingredients are within one's control. For my money, besides a beautiful color scheme, a great mattress, plenty of super comfortable pillows, enough spaciousness to feel soothed and a good reading light next to the bed are elements that make for a bedroom where you can rejuvenate yourself.

Heavenly pillows, a good reading light and he's out

Above: Great pillows, good reading light and Sasha demonstrating the art of the nap

My girlfriend had bought herself an expensive Kingsdown mattress a few years back and encouraged me, as a lover of well-made things, to see what a difference it makes. She was right, although to me, great pillows are even more important to a good night's sleep. And don't forget soft bedding. Everyone's different in this area; some people like to be buried in covers and others want the whisper of a fairy's breath as a coverlet. Whichever you prefer, do yourself a favor and take care of your bedroom. Nighttime comfort matters as much as daytime pursuits and in fact prepares you to take them on. But yes, you're allowed to nap during the daytime too.

May 24, 2008

Fine Furnishings Bloom in Rhode Island

Red Elephant Gallery, which carries my rugs in their online store, calls home base Bristol, Rhode Island. They sell beautiful handmade designs ranging from striking affordable jewelry to tactile-friendly goblets and more.

Items available at Red Elephant Gallery

Above, from Red Elephant Gallery: copper and brass wine glasses by Morningstar and pewter handcrafted salad servers by Michael Michaud

Red Elephant Gallery is a great place to find gifts (and things for yourself) because items are unusual, beautiful, often functional and reasonably priced. You usually won't find their offerings at larger design resources. Speaking with Karen, the owner, today, she told me about another furniture fair that may be a welcome opportunity to display my new rug line: the Fine Furnishings Show, which takes place annually in Milwaukee and this October in Providence. I am excited to learn about this potential showcase, which introduces diverse designs for the home. There's a lot of talent blooming in the design world. After attending ICFF last week, it's nice to know that more lies in wait. I'd love a trip to Providence and it looks like there's one in my future.

Fine Furnishings Show in Providence

Above, bench by Todd Ouwehand and large sideboard by Frank Procopio

May 21, 2008

Charismatic Clocks

Designer Emi Ozawa's imaginative and colorful clocks are available at The Artful Home. More styles are there, including nice wall clocks and abstract desk clocks.

Fantastic clocks by Emi Ozawa

By Emi Ozawa: Cat Clock and Coffee Cup Clock, both available in several colors

George Nelson's Brilliantly Simple Clocks

George Nelson's Brilliantly Simple Clocks: The Ball Clock and The Watermelon Clock

George Nelson's brilliant designs have been reissued by the Vitra Design Museum and are available at numerous design resources, including Nova 68. Here's his great story about how his famous clocks came to be:

“And there was one night when the ball clock got developed... Noguchi came by, and Bucky Fuller came by… we started making doodles. Then Bucky sort of brushed Noguchi aside. He said, ‘This is a good way to do a clock,’ and he made some utterly absurd thing. Everybody was taking a crack at it, pushing each other aside and making scribbles… and the next morning there was this roll of drafting paper and somewhere in this roll there was the ball clock.”

 

May 18, 2008

Wood Dances with Light

The International Contemporary Furniture Fair or ICFF is currently on display at the Jacob Javitz Center in New York (May 17–20). I wanted to go last year when I first learned about the show and I did go this year. It's considered an important annual trade show for contemporary home design.

Wood Lampshades

Wood lampshades from Madera

These wood lampshades from Argentinian designer Marcelo Dabini for Madera above were a standout in what I saw today. With luck, I will display my rugs there next year and I had to get ideas on how to set up a booth. The lampshades above are more beautiful in person, as light weaves its way through the slats. The workmanship and dimensions are sublime. In addition, in general, designers are a great lot: open, bright, friendly and intelligent. Inspiring.

May 15, 2008

Le Chat

To celebrate the jubilee (60 years of design!) of Pierre Paulin, manufacturer Artifort has reissued more of his amazing work. Le Chat chair is one such item.

Pierre Paulin's Le Chat Chair

From the offering: Paulin designed Le Chat in 1967. Its tense curves seem to leap from a single point. Drawn with a single stroke of the pen. Without hesitation. You can feel the power, the readiness to leap. But it also invites you to sit. It’s fully shaped to your body. Dynamic and restful. Artifort is re-introducing Le Chat, with a slight modification.

With a name like Le Chat (the cat), how could this brilliantly simple chair not be beautiful, playful, graceful, dynamic and restful all together?

May 14, 2008

Fast, Cheap and Great Dinnerware

In my business (design / advertising / communications), they say you can only have two of the three: FAST, CHEAP AND GREAT. Well, that is almost always true but the dinnerware below achieves all three with rare elan.

Super Well-Priced Dinnerware at CB2

These nice square white plates are priced from $.95 to $4.95/each at CB2 and are just $1.95 for the medium 6.5" size. They are sturdy and look great. White looks soothing on your table when added to other striking colors. Every now and then, a real bargain comes your way. Also check out CB2‘s stemless glasses for another good deal in pretty housewares that will leave you enough money to consider owning a bed and chairs.

May 13, 2008

House Becomes Home

My great friend, mentor and co-worker, Barbara, in California, with whom I worked for five years at Price Waterhouse, as I grew to love animals, told me, "Animals make a house a home." She nailed it.

As I was snapping some pictures to show interior designs on my rug website, my kitty followed me around. Here she is in the living room. You never need to pose critters; they always look amazing. They do not always do what you want them to do when trying to take their pictures but they do always look great. They add so much to one's life, I am eternally grateful. They crack you up constantly just by being themselves. They always help put things in perspective. They keep you company when everyone else has confused you or just has something else to do. The ideal mixture of soulfulness*------ (my kity typed that) and silliness, you can always count on the kitties for a sense of well-being.

May 11, 2008

Successful Steps

Stepladders are an item the average person wouldn't probably think too much about in terms of design. But it's often precisely that type of item that is in the direst need of good design, either because it's been neglected or because you use it regularly and a good design could make work more efficient and more of a pleasure.

Well-Designed Modern Stepladders

L to R, Nuovostep stepstool designed by Andries & Hiroko Van Onck, the Tiramisu stool by Andries Van Onck for Kartell, the Flo stepladder by Marcello Zliani for Magis, available at Unica Home, the Museum of Modern Art store and elsewhere

A good stepladder is an engineering challenge because it should be collapsible to the smallest size possible, offer sturdy support for a large amount of weight, look good, reach as high as possible while maintaining its small footprint and be durable to withstand constant use. The answer is modern materials that are both light and strong. There are ways in which our world keeps getting better and one of them is in the development of materials that can accomplish difficult tasks with ease. Pay attention to the height of top steps and the top support bar is a good feature for safety and comfort.

The Great Z Rack

Great engineering and great design go hand in hand. These ladders remind me of another product that is a fine work of engineering: the “Z” garment rack. Features that distinguish this rack are that it is exceptionally strong and exceptionally maneuverable. When I moved apartments, putting clothes on this rack saved a lot of time packing and sorting. I used it again this December at a party and it allowed me to store many coats in a small space with no organizational problems. Its parts are easily reassembled. The “Z” base allows it to turn corners where other racks are clumsy. Using well-designed and engineered products changes your life. 

May 8, 2008

Moving Through Space: Visionary Frank Lloyd Wright

Larger than life architect Frank Lloyd Wright had a chaotic personal life yet created soothingly organized architecture and designs.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum

Frank Lloyd Wright's dramatic Guggenheim Museum interior, designed when he was in his 80s

I popped his logo on the image above because as a graphic designer, it's something with which I'm so familiar and I love it. His architectural handwriting has been made into gorgeous typefaces by several prominent type foundries.

Frank Lloyd Wright's personal life created scandals in his time (wouldn't as much so now, although he wasn't an easy guy) but his driving passion for work outwitted and outlasted his personal turmoil. His life would be splashed all over tabloids today. He was a flamboyant and unique man.

Frank Lloyd Wright chairStructures should come out of nature, he believed, and blend with it and he accomplished this in a way no one else has done, almost like a poet to my mind. Although I find his continuous earth tones to be too monotonous, I still love much of the design, both architectural and in the countless other items he designed. He designed everything inside the house as well and a client had to conform to his dictates or they could not have his house. He designed furniture, tableware, lighting and even one hostess' dress. Numerous “in the style of” designs have been spawned by present-day manufacturers.

He went through long periods of disfavor but was most successful from age 70 to 90, a true artist in his approach to life. Asked how he could work so hard in his later years, he said he could shake the designs out of his sleeve and couldn't get them out fast enough. He hit his full stride at a time in his life when some people have "turned in.” One worker described him as “200% alive.”

His Imperial Hotel in Japan was the only building in the city that survived a massive earthquake right after it was completed. The building had been constructed of  non-standard materials and as an engineer, Wright had calculated that earthquakes were regular occurrences in Tokyo.

Here is a link to a beautiful new structure created 50 years later from an unbuilt Wright design. 

April 29, 2008

Personal Interior Design

Interior design is something about which I am passionate.

Color Addict Interior Design

At left: One wall in the living room of my apartment on the Upper West Side in nyc

Going through the process of updating my rug website and gearing up for business in that endeavor, I've added an interior design section to the site. Friends and colleagues have encouraged me for a while to do this. Interiors I've designed so far include my own and a couple for friends, okay, boyfriend victims if you must know. But they've gone over with much success and I've gotten comments from almost everyone who's ever walked into my places about loving the design. Comments come from incredibly diverse sorts of people too, men and women, kids even, construction workers, movers, painters, former cops, building workers, teachers, artists and all sorts of people. This has led me to believe that I might have something useful to contribute to this industry.

Besides my addiction to color and also texture, the main focus of my design approach when working with other people is to think about their lives. It's very much like graphic design in that you are adding your own touch to the work but it's the client and their goals that need to remain primary. With interior design, what's fun and rewarding is that, with my approach, you help the person see what makes them happy in life. I don't mean what objects make them happy, although those count too but what ways of moving through their places work for them. It's a psychological uncovering of many aspects of who they are. They might find out that what they thought they liked in terms of interiors doesn't actually make them happy or function well in their lives at all. They might be just copying something they grew up with and got used to, for instance. More to come.

April 24, 2008

Juicy Designs: Orange Slices

In addition to the Tulip Chair mentioned in the last entry, great designer Pierre Paulin also created the Orange Slice Chair.

Pierre Paulin's Orange Slice Chair

Pierre Paulin's designs are as fresh as their namesakes, created circa 1965. They are available in heavenly colors and top quality fabrics at hive modern. I dream of being able to furnish a place with lots of his chairs.

Tulip Inspiration

White tulips might be my favorite flower.

Tulips as Inspiration

L to R: white tulip, tulip sleeve, the Little Tulip stool by Pierre Paulin

Ironic that it's the white that knocks me out the most since their varied colors are also magnificent. The pristine white flowers with their brilliant green petals slay me. They look 1930s to me in white, with their dignified grace and elegance and they seem debonair, to go well with cocktails and an expansive nightime city view. Seeing similar design inspiration used with greatly differing results is fun and gets your design imagination going. When I saw the tulip sleeves above, very pretty, I remembered how much I love the Pierre Paulin tulip chairs. Available as a stool or chair, in a larger model and with an ottoman, the chairs do the flower justice.

“A chair should be more than simply functional. It should be friendly, fun and colorful.” — Pierre Paulin

April 23, 2008

Elephant's Memory

Elephants are large-brained creatures and are reputed to have good memories, besides being really cute. When I was a kid, I used to repeatedly make elephants in Shop class (aka woodworking class).

Charles & Rae Eames' Playful Elephant

The Eames Plywood Elephant is considered a legend by collectors. Only two prototypes were produced in 1945, both of which were subsequently displayed in an exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art. Charles and Ray Eames were fascinated by these gentle giants.


While I really love my Shop class elephants, I have to admit that they weren't quite as cool as the charming and graceful Charles & Ray Eames elephant pictured above. For my non-designer friends, the Eames are a famous design couple (Ray is the woman) who worked mid-century and whose furniture and useful accessories are adored for their beauty, chicness and smart functioning qualities (lightness, comfort etc.). I had never seen their adorable plywood elephant before but they did delve into toys and other fun accessories besides furniture. Plywood is famous for its grace, beauty, flexibility and strength in fine furniture design and came into its own in that era with new construction techniques.

Another example of a couple who worked passionately together (my ideal), design doesn't get any better or more imaginative than lots of the pieces turned out by the Eames, whose masterful creations are still considered the height of modern interior design. See many beautiful Eames designs at Design Within Reach, Hive Modern and The Vitra Design Museum.

March 14, 2008

Design Great Verner Panton

By now almost everyone has seen the ubiquitous Panton chair designed by the venerable Verner Panton.

Verner Panton, the Great Designer

Even if you don't know the name, which design afficianados will, you have seen the chair in lots of catalog layouts and even in movies (it appears in Woody Allen's fantastic movie, Sleeper, as a future icon, in his predominantly white future). It's also in the permanent collections of many museums.

The Gorgeous Panton Chair

Doesn't he look like someone you'd like to know in the picture above? I have one of these gorgeous chairs in a limited edition fuchsia color from Design Within Reach — absolutely comfortable and beautiful. For those of you who care, besides its cool S shape, this chair is famous for being made from a single piece of injection molded plastic, is incredibly resilient and can be stacked, used indoors and out, fits with casual and sophisticated decor. Lots of cool design isn't comfortable but this is!

“Choosing colors should not be a gamble. It should be a conscious decision. Colors have a meaning and a function...”

— Verner Panton

Since its inception, the chair has been updated with even more resilient plastic and although vintage editions are pricey, the current model can be had for $245. A great source is hive modern

Designers like this got me hooked on mixing modern sculptural furniture with antique, gorgeous wood pieces. As I was taught in my religion major classes, ”The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” That applies to mixing old and new styles and to the Panton chair, whose parts happen to be just one single piece of polypropylene. I love it! 

“Most people spend their lives living in dreary, beige conformity, mortally afraid of using color. The main purpose of my work is to provoke people into using their imagination and make their surroundings more exciting.”

— Verner Panton

November 2, 2007

Yes, I Really Can Fly

For the first time in a while, I went out in a costume on Halloween:

Halloween

In case you can't tell (duh), I'm a wood nymph. I had gotten this costume that I love, complete with (working) wings for a party two years ago that never happened. So this year, I just thought, I'm putting it on and going some place. That place ended up being Union Hall in Brooklyn, which I mentioned a few entries back as having fun and good-looking bocce ball courts. Well, did we ever have a good time (my friend and I). The place was very full but because it's so big, there was still enough room to walk around without it getting uncomfortable. It was like being in a party at a beautiful mansion. The costumes were fantastic, from Marie Antoinette to Clark Kent to pirates to many original oddball combos that were hilarious — lots of great wigs with huge hair — the inventiveness was satisfying. Everyone was friendly and you could easily talk to strangers because the costumes were a good introduction. About a fifth or so of the crowd wasn't wearing costumes and even that was fun, making it an odder and more eclectic scene. It was a perfect party and I'm so glad I went out. I'm definitely doing this again.

October 17, 2007

Chic Pet Furniture

Like all good design, there's more than meets the eye to getting cat furniture right. In my quest for great-looking and functioning furniture and objects, as well as to make my critters happy, I am trying out some new pieces. I already know a few things I would design differently than what's readily available.

Chic Cat Furniture

Lab technicians are busy road-testing this scoop-topped pedestal (available at The Cat Connection). It has a sisal rope pole and another soft rug section to claw (good for their nails and to keep them off furniture you don't want clawed) at the bottom. Two cats can use it at once and it's better looking than most of what I've seen out there. Pedestals and cat trees need to be very sturdy so cats can jump and scratch and really wrestle with them. This tends to make them quite heavy.

Rug parts, I have learned, are almost always made from remnants, which means you can't usually get very interesting colors. This "country blue" was the nicest choice for this product from among other pedestrian options. Standing scratching posts also have to be tall enough for a cat to stretch his/her entire length or they probably won't be used. One thing I find frustrating is that these are just too high to look good in my living room near either a couch or chair. I wonder if they couldn't be a few inches shorter and still work. Cats like to be high up but the few inches wouldn't be very different, I don't think, from a cat's viewpoint. The wide base also makes them hard to maneuver and lay out with tasteful human pieces. I'd be interested to see if a skillful facility or designer couldn't streamline some pieces and still make them work well.

October 9, 2007

Late Night Bocce Ball Fun

Over in Park Slope, Brooklyn, there's a great place to go called Union Hall. Their elegant, spacious interior houses, among other amenities, two bocce ball courts.

Bocce Ball at Union Hall

A less-interested sportsperson than me there could not be, however, someone was nice enough to ask me if I felt like playing and it was a great atmosphere and looked intriguing so I did. Boy, did I have fun, not to mention that my team won, which was just me and a nice guy I met named Chad. I've never seen bocce before, let alone played it and I can see why it draws a crowd here. I read a bunch of online reviews of this place and while most people like it, there are complaints too. I went late on a Monday holiday evening so perhaps I'd have to see it under varied circumstances but I had an extremely favorable impression.

Union Hall, Brooklyn

Union Hall is a beautiful place — exceptionally spacious, elegant calm lighting, a library that lives look and feel. Park Slope is filled with restaurants and interesting spots in which to spend time — The Tea Room offers something similar and really nice too at 837 Union Street. I guess I'm not as jaded as I used to be. But I can't stand bad service and overly crowded, noisy places. Last night, Union Hall got a top rating from me. I applaud them for offering not just another restaurant or bar but a place that gives you a calm, enjoyable unique experience. They also offer live music downstairs, which looks like a great room (can't vouch for the sound) and interesting lectures.

August 27, 2007

Design by Color

Easily sorting by color is one of the things I love about shopping online.

Shopping by Color

Well-organized online stores such as Bluefly, Nordstrom and Zappos make it easy to shop by color and find just what you're looking for if they have it. This concept is at the center of InMyFavoriteColor.com. You will be taken to multiple retailers but you choose a color to begin. I think it's a great idea. I find that thinking in color categories gets the creative juices flowing. The ability of web stores to let you think this way is a tremendous capability. I no longer want to go to physical stores to plow through racks to find what I might like. It can be fun occasionally to meander with a friend and wile away an afternoon but then I'm really just hanging with that friend, not shopping. To find what you like quickly and plentifully, being able to sort by colors and other smart categories is a huge boon.

August 16, 2007

Colorful Interior Life

My design career has headed in the direction of interior design recently.

Interior Design

This is a photograph of my gallery / hallway design in my last apartment in Manhattan. My designs are drenched in color, with plenty of open space and beautiful textures, such as Murano glass lamps with ceiling medallions (available from many architectural and hardware resources) and wrought iron details (the flower stand here is from the Gramercy Park Flower Shop).

For those who are interested, the paint-flecked slotted doors attached to the kitchen entry were found in an antique store in New Jersey. The blue over-painted small armoire is from Chester, New Jersey, an abundant antiquing town. The small stool is an Eames classic, available from Design Within Reach. The large mirror is a great value at Pottery Barn. The small lamp is from an antique store with a new shade. The small edge of a corner table you see was designed by me to fit in the corner of my previous apartment's kitchen to make more counter space. The rug is by Susan Sargent, who helped inspire my own rug design collection.