Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Furniture As Art

I took a little break from "blog land" this past week, now I'm back!! I thank all of you who have checked in during my absence and hope you will continue stop by!! I would love to hear comments from you!!

I have always been fascinated with furniture design. The Mid Century Modern period, from about 1933 - 1965, is synonymous with clean simplicity, geometry, visual lightness and experimentation with new materials such as metal, plywood and plastics. It was an exciting time in design with a lot of artists, craftsmen and architects experimenting with shape, form, function and materials redefining how we look at and feel about everyday objects.

A lot of furniture that came out of this period became instant classics, still highly recognizable and sought after today. Some of the more popular designs came from designers such as, Saarinen, Bertoia, Eames, Mies van der Rohe and Breuer. Their designs have a simplicity and timelessness that makes them still relevant in today's design world. You see their furniture used by many designers today mixed in with new pieces, but the Mid Century items appear as functional art. The "conversation piece" in the room that is both useful and beautiful.

I came across the work of a not as well known artist of this period, Gerald Summers. He designed The Bent Plywood Chair pictured below. Charles and Ray Eames are better known for their experimentation with bent plywood, during this period, creating beautiful furniture designs. The design of Summer's chair is breathtaking; it's clean curved lines and simple structure all created out of one piece of plywood, show that he was a true master of his craft. Summers was a carpenter that formed a furniture company in the 1930's called, Makers of Simple Furniture. The bent plywood chair was created in the 1930's and is his most recognizable piece. He is also known for his experimentation with Airplane Plywood, which is a high strength plywood made from mahogany and/or birch and uses adhesives with increased resistance to heat and humidity. So you know that the chair is not only beautiful but strong as well !! I would love to have this piece in my home, but found out that one just sold at Christie's for a cool $14,253 !!

I am very grateful for all the great artists and designers, of the past and present, that have created such works that continue to inspire and amaze. I hope to discover and share other lesser known gems, such as Summers, through my journey in design. Because to me, that is a great luxury!!!

Bent Plywood Chair by Gerald Summers. All chair photos from PeterPetrou.com

The gracefull curve and finish of Louboutin's Prorata pump in tortoise shell (from my collection),
reminds me of lines of the bent plywood chair. Fashion and interior design united!!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Ode to Monday..............

Today is Monday, it is the beginning of a whole new week; A week of possibility, a week of new beginnings, a week that can be anything you want it to be!! There is a Gaelic proverb that states, Monday is the key day of the week, I believe this to be true. Monday is the measuring stick for the rest of the week. If you perceive Monday to be bad, sluggish, full of angst, you will drag that attitude with you for the other 4 days. If you view your Monday as full of possibility and renewal, you will take that attitude with you for the other 4 days, being amazed at what you can find when you open your eyes!!
Monday is one of life's little luxuries!! It is a chance to start a new, take a step back and re evaluate what you would like the whole new week to be!! If you didn't like the way your last week went, too much work, too many crabby people, no time for yourself...... not to worry, you are still here and Monday is a whole other opportunity to start fresh. Monday is a day to start over, look at problems and anxieties in a whole other light. Set goals for the week ahead, tell yourself that everyday is full of possibility and Monday is just the beginning!! Start the week off with the best luxury of all, an attitude of grattitude!! Be thankful for Monday and have a beautiful day!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

David Jimenez And The Art of Display.

I adore David Jimenez's Kansas CityLiving Room!!!

I love David Jimenez's living room, pictured above. I could easily live in this room!! Every element is carefully balanced and it is accessorized in a way that is stylish and not over decorated. The room looks comfortable, relaxed, sophisticated and well coordinated. David is a visual merchandiser who has worked for The Gap, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and is now at Hallmark. I first heard of him through an interview on the blog, La Dolce Vita, but recognized his home from a previous spread in House Beautiful Magazine.

The first thing that drew me to this living room is that my personal aesthetic is very similar to his; He has said he is drawn to "rooms that are warm, inviting, layered and look collected". I did a post, in May, about my personal style entitled "Warm Mine Up, Please....", I am always drawn to warm, inviting colors, fabrics and accessories. The next thing that I appreciate about his work is his artful way of accessorizing. I began my career doing visual merchandising for a large department store. My formal education and training are in architecture. After I received my first degree, jobs in my field were scarce, so I found a job in visuals. Through my education I learned the fundamentals of design and spatial relationships, but doing visual merchandising I learned the art and the importance of accessorizing. Basically, in visual merchandising you are accessorising a department; bringing products (merchandise), color and lighting together in a way that is appealing to gain the customer's attention. Through doing this work, I learned the art of balance, proportion and placement in accessorizing. Of course, in a store, the displays are bigger and more dramatic than you would use at home, but the approach is the same.

Well demonstrated in David's living room above, is the importance of accessorizing to bring a look together. The architecture of his room is beautiful, as are his furnishings, but well chosen and well placed accessories finish the story, they are the jewelry to the beautiful outfit. Accessories fill the gaps and complete the story you are telling in your room. But notice I said well chosen and well placed items!! Accessories can give a room character but too many can look like clutter!! Careful placement and editing are key.

A few tips to consider when accessorizing:
  • Think of a triangle when grouping objects; tallest item in the middle, shorter items to the sides. Once you have the initial "triangle" set, you can add smaller items in front. Play with the composition until it looks balanced and attractive.
  • Vary heights of objects to create interest. If you have similar height objects you want to display, use a stack of well bound books to use as a riser.
  • Create balance with the objects, don't let one area of the room become heavy with accessories and another look empty. I always look for "gaps" in the room when placing objects; stand back, look at the space, is there a part that looks empty compared to the rest of the space? If so, that is where you need to place some objects. David's living room above is a good example of a balanced space. He placed a chest, with a mirror hung above, accessorized with a lamp, a print and other objects, that filled the room's "gap". Notice how he balanced the amount of objects; since he has the coffee table well filled with items, he placed only 1 object on the side table and a few behind the sofa.
  • Look to design magazine's for inspiration. Choose rooms that appeal to you and look at how they are accessorized. Copy the layout and proportion into your rooms (yes, we professionals look to magazines for inspiration too!!)
  • Group collections of items together. Like items have more impact as a group than scattered around. (I have a future post in mind for displaying collections, check back!!) This works for framed prints too.
  • Most of all, have fun!! Display items that reflect your design sensibility and mean something to you. Afterall, being surrounded by the things you love and sharing that with the ones you love is the most luxurious thing of all!!

A great example of the classic triangle!! Notice how the print in the
middle becomes the tip of the triangle and the other objects taper
down from that point. The orange boxes and obelisk are layered
in front for added interest. Image from David Jimenez.com

A "gap" beside the window filled with well displayed
objects. David Jimenez's home in House Beautiful.

A collection of prints arranged on a wall. David Jimenez's
home in House Beautiful

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Chance To Dream - Girl's Bedrooms......

My daughter is 5 and just started kindergarten. She is starting to take interest in her personal space, ie: her bedroom. She asked me for a chandelier like the princesses have in their ballrooms and said she wanted pink bedding. This prompted a small re do of her room. I got her a chandelier, we changed her bedding, edited out some of her toys she wasn't interested in anymore and re accessorized. I took her to a few stores and let her help pick out frames and other trinkets to display on her shelves and dresser. She wanted silk flowers, (I don't usually use silks, they are one of my pet peeves!!) We found some acceptable pink roses and gerbera daisies, afterall it is her space. This all got me thinking about children's rooms and the challenges they pose.
As a designer and a mother, I find children's rooms one of the most difficult to design. Most of us start designing the room before the child is born, thinking of sweet baby things and the needs of a baby; the catch is that baby is going to grow and grow rapidly!! The needs change, the tastes change and unless you want to re do the room every few years there are a lot of variables to consider, this room is going to get used a lot and have to meet the constantly changing demands of a growing and active child. Not to mention the ever changing and growing amount of things to be stored, toys, clothes, books, collectibles!! Yes, maybe I am over thinking this, but I'm a designer, that is my job!!
When I start a new project, I always take time to make a program for the space or the house. Carefully listening to the client's needs in the space, what functions will it serve, what type of entertaining will they do, what their spatial and taste needs are. With a children's room, it's all guessing. Yes, we all know, basically, what a child will be doing in its room, but each child is unique with its own tastes and interests and until they are old enough to express this and we have observed how they play and what their interests are, it is the parent that has to think ahead and plan accordingly. Another question is, how old is old enough to have the child decorate their room? I remember, as a child, my wish list for my bedroom was, orange shag carpeting, bright orange walls and a yellow and green bedspread. Thankfully my mom didn't follow my early wishes, but made me wait until I was a pre-teen to redecorate my room.
The key is to get pieces that can grow with the child, have a flexible floorplan that can accomodate changing needs and select a color that won't limit your options for bedding or appear too "juvinille".

A few tips to consider when planning a child's room:
  • Select furniture that has longevity. Select pieces that are sturdy and can be used in an older child's room. Don't select furniture with childhood scenes or themes that they will quickly out grow, unless you are planning on re furnishing when they are older.
  • Pick decor that suits your child's personality while still reflecting your aesthetic. If you are choosing for an infant, choose "flexible" colors and furniture. An example of this was given of my daughter above; the paint and furniture stayed, we just changed lighting, bedding and accessories (whew!!). A few small changes allowed for her personality to be shown and kept the cost to a minimum.
  • Storage is essential!! Think about closet organizers, a well organized closet can hold a lot!! Also, think of pieces that are easy for your child to access and open, remember you will want them to put away their things!! A sturdy, secured to the wall, book shelf with easy to access baskets can be flexible, stylish and keep things neat and organized.
  • Add "themes" in the accessories or bedding only. All children have their favorite characters and heroes, but designing a whole room around this can be very limiting and labor intensive to change as their interests grow. If you have a sheet set, pillows, prints and trinkets of their favorite characters around the room, you have satisfied their interest and can easily replace as they change.
  • I think decorative shelves are a great thing to add to the room. If done right, they not only add to the decor of the room, but give an organized space to display collectables and trophies without having the room look disheveled; believe me kids collect!!

Below are photos of girl's bedrooms that, I think, are young, stylish and add room to grow. A children's bedroom is an important space; think of all the dreaming and planning for the future that goes on in their minds in that room. It is also a place to feel comfortable, secure and cozy!!

Palmer Weiss Interiors

Canadian House and Home

Ruthie Sommers Interiors

Elle Decor

Elle Decor

Restoration Hardware

Restoration Hardware

Restoration Hardware

Elle Decor

Elle Decor

Elle Decor

Canadian House and Home

Elle Decor

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

The Quintessential Fall Decor - Ralph Lauren

Fall is in the air!! In my part of the country, the weather is still warm, but the soft breeze, the slightly turning colors of the leaves and that crisp fresh smell in the air all signal that fall is very near!! To me the quintessential fall decor is a room adorned with Ralph Lauren. The warm colors, the menswear inspired fabrics, the very layered beds with many blankets all look like a place that would be great to curl up and keep warm, read a book or watch an afternoon of college football. The plaid, the houndstooth, the paisley, the herringbone, the leather, the velvet, all the wonderful textures and hues of his rooms remind me of a very well put together fall ensemble. Looking through the roomscapes you feel as if you are about to step out of the house into a landscape of colored leaves!!

With a chill in the air, a look at http://www.ralphlaurenhome.com/, is as satisfying as a trip to the apple orchard!! The site is a fall feast for the eye; There are slide shows of the rooms to view, video tours of homes and informational videos with tips about using color to setting up a bar (think glamorous like Madmen!!). There are plenty of tips for adding a bit of "Lauren" style fall inspiration to your room!!

There are simple ways to add a bit of "Lauren" style to your room without major reconstruction, purchasing all new furniture or picking up a paint brush (although painting your room a warm rich color certainly would be a start!!). Adding accessories and "Lauren inspired vignettes" around the room would certainly do the trick and add a little bit of that fall richness. Layers of accessories and carefully chosen mixes of fabrics and patterns are key to acheiving the look. He always has a balance between "old" and "new", making the room look as if it's evolved over years of careful collecting or pieces that have been passed down from family members. Antiques and one of a kind pieces are always present. Here are a few ideas to get you started if you want to acheive this look:
  • Adding pillows in a mix of "ready to wear" inspired fabrics. For example mixing a houndstooth or herringbone fabric with a silk paisley; A bold plaid in silk with a rich velvet or a subtle plaid with a soft silk stripe. Think of one fabric being the suit and the other the blouse or tie that accompanies it. Pair the pillows, on a sofa, with a thick, warm blanket of cashmere, plaid or faux fur (like the overcoat to the suit, to continue the analogy!!).
  • Go to your local consignment store and pick up an easy to upholster bench or pair of smaller benches that can be added to the "layered" look of the room. Add a "ready to wear" inspired fabric.
  • Add a pile of worn leather bound books with a small glass vase of flowers placed on top to a table, pair this with an assortment of frame types, ie: wood, metal, glass that all work together and look like you've had them for years.
  • To add a bit of the "Lauren Glam" look (see his Brook Street photos on his site), pair a crystal based lamp, in a structured or deco style, with silver pieces and black framed photos or follow the video's steps to set up "the perfect bar".
  • Select a series of prints, artwork or images to combine and hang artfully as a collection on a wall. Make the frames interesting, choose all black in different finishes for a glam look, or combine wood and leather for a more urban country look.
  • A layered bed is essential for the "Lauren" style. To achieve a more "fall" feel to an already exisitng set, add a wool throw blanket at the end of the bed in a complimentary pattern. Add new shams in a rich velvet and textured throw pillows.
Remember, the Ralph Lauren look is not a structured or matched look; it is meant to look like it has been accumulated over years and tastefully lived in. It is full of contrasts, masculine and feminine, old and new, high end and low end, therefore have fun with it, no hard fast or steady rules. Layering, adding your personality and having items that mean something to you are key to this look!!

The following photos are from RalphLauren.com