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Monday, April 30, 2012

Favorite Fine Rugs

Besides my obvious obsession for chairs and pillows, I also have a big thing for rugs. These versatile beauties can transform a space by adding texture, color, pattern, as well, they can set a style or be totally eclectic. The fine hand woven varieties make terrific investments that can last a few lifetimes. A full spectrum of hues and weaves can be found from the many talented rug designers and weavers around the world from Istanbul to the U.S. 

I’ve included a few of my favorite sources below. But I’m always on the lookout for additional ones, who makes the rugs you love? 

MadelineWeinrib’s yummy Pumkin Madala A handwoven chenille with metallic elements.

Hand-knotted in Nepal in a blend of Tibetan and New Zealand hand dyed wool or silk giving this rug a subtle sheen.

I adore this overdyed vintage rug from Loom. The more wear the better.

 Love all of colors of the Anthropologie Flutter Pattern Rug. Bright wool butterflies atop stunning crewelwork.

Carini Lang’s Pivoines feature giant French peonies made of Imperial Silk.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Weave Cupboard by Lukas Dahlén

Since writing a post about knitted furniture recently, everything knitted, crocheted and woven has caught my eye. Traditional techniques are being used to create brilliant, not-so-traditional forms with big impact. Enter Swedish designer Lukas Dahlén and his Weave Cupboard.

The cupboard shown here is reminiscent of a large basket and with good reason—Dahlén used the common wood and weaving technique of taking soft materials and weaving them around a more stable structure.

The designer notes, “The top and bottom plane of the cupboard is held together by sticks kept together like a Windsor chair. Four of the sticks continue down to become legs and two are used as hinges. The weave covers the insides and serves as decoration.

The raw wood seems to have a softness to it as the weave creates an undulating, sensual feel.

Be sure to visit Dahlén's website for more information and to view his other inspired designs.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why I am a Designer - Mark Cutler

Well you knew that at some point I would be brave enough to write my own essay. I wanted to wait a few weeks, as i was genuinely curious about what my friends would write, and I have been both inspired and touched by their candor and willingness to be a part of the series. It seemed like the least I could do to finally give in and add my contribution.

The series was born of a simple question from one of the people with whom I work. I was grousing about, and complaining about what a difficult way this can be to make a living, and she turned to me and said "Why are you a Designer then"? I paused, and couldn't really come back with a smart and snappy response (for those of you who know me, you know it was indeed a rare day)!

So I set out to ask those around me who I knew and who inspire me what their answers were, and today it is my turn....gulp!

Well, starting at the beginning. I was raised in Australia, a large part of my childhood in a small country town with a population of less than 1000. From as early as I can remember I wanted to be an architect, and eventually after graduating high school, that's exactly where I ended up, Architecture School at the University of Queensland, Brisbane.

I am not sure that I was even aware at that time that Interior Design was actually a profession, but it is probably a good thing, since I think my architectural background has made me the designer I am today. After graduation I was headed to the U.K. to take a job, when I stopped for a two week vacation in NYC, that put my life on a whole other path. That two week stay turned into years, eventual positions in London and Paris and finally Los Angeles, my current home.

All of this is background though, where the journey takes you is only part of the story, I think the plot really lies in why the heck you stayed on the path.

For me there are several reasons:

I really like people. There is something very rewarding about people inviting you into their lives and being asked to create an environment that not only reflects that life, but enhances it. My clients are all very successful people and to have an up close and personal view of how they run their lives, manage their families and interact with their spouses, is a ring side seat at success, and sometimes the pursuit of success.  In return for this I am given the opportunity to show them a few windows to the world, based on my experience and together we change each other, just a little and I hope for the better.

I need a creative outlet. I am a creature of constant change, so this field allows me the ability to be constantly creating. Whether its on a large scale, like a whole home or on a more petite one, like finding new and inspiring ways to arrange books on a shelf, finding an outlet for my imagination is vital to keeping me happy. I think that if I were an accountant I would still be creative, but being a designer allows for that need to be filled in a very visual and in most cases a with a short turn around time.

I really believe that someones home can change the world. I have always wanted to be in a profession that helps people. I am not good around blood, so medicine is out, I am not as patient with foibles as I could be, so social work was out, but interior design gives me an opportunity to change lives albeit in a micro way, I think that it can change the way people look at the world and lead to macro changes. A good example of this is are some close friends for whom I designed a house. Both had lost spouses suddenly and they met, fell in love and decided to create a home, and a life that would honor those not here any more and live the life they would have wanted them to live. That home created a backdrop for that new life and taught me an important lesson about how people look at the world and how their physical environment can really change the way life is experienced.

I think that is why I am proud to be a designer, and happy to continue on this windy path.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States

Forty-eight women Surrealists, including Frida Kahlo and Louise Bourgeois, have their “extraordinary visual images” spanning a variety of media showing now at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) through May 6, 2012. 

Autorretrato con collar de espinas y colibri
(Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird), 
1940 Frida Kahlo

From the LACMA website, “North America represented a place free from European traditions for women Surrealists from the United States and Mexico, and European émigrés. While their male counterparts usually cast women as objects for their delectation, female Surrealists delved into their own subconscious and dreams, creating extraordinary visual images. Their art was primarily about identity: portraits, double portraits, self-referential images, and masquerades that demonstrate their trials and pleasures. The exhibition includes works in a variety of media dating from 1931 to 1968, and some later examples that demonstrate Surrealism's influence on the feminist movement. Iconic figures such as Louise Bourgeois, Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo, Lee Miller, Kay Sage, Dorothea Tanning, and Remedios Varo are represented, along with lesser known or newly discovered practitioners.”

Autorretrato (Self Portrait) Bridget Tichenor

 “Curators Ilene Susan Fort and Tere Arcq, of LACMA and Mexico City’s Museo de Arte Moderno, respectively, hope to provide a foil to surrealism’s long-standing gender bias—as well as explore how these artists found their greatest inspiration away from the movement’s center, in Paris,” Vogue’s Chelsea Allison says of the show.

"In Wonderland" Inspired Artist App
Jody Zellen loved the collection so much she created a free app for iPhone and iPad based on the In Wonderland exhibit. Check it out…

Get the book “In Wonderland: The Surrealist Adventures of Women Artists in Mexico and the United States” By Ilene Susan Fort and Tere Arcq  It’s available in English, Spanish, and French.

"This volume features the work of 48 Mexican and U.S.-based women artists - Louise Bourgeois, Leonora Carrington, Frida Kahlo, Lee Miller, Kay Sage, Dorothea Tanning, and Remedios Varo are represented, along with lesser known or newly discovered practitioners, including Maya Deren, Helen Lundeberg, María Izquierdo, Jacqueline Lamba, and Janet Sobel. Their contributions to the surrealist movement span more than four decades and their work was both influential and radical in its own right. Thematically arranged, the book includes more than 250 full-color images along with several essays exploring the effects of geography and gender on the movement. It illustrates surrealism as a gateway to self-discovery, especially in North America, where women artists were freed from oppressive European traditions and the vagaries of war." 

Image 1:Autorretrato con collar de espinas y colibri (Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird), 1940, Oil on canvas, Canvas: 30 x 24 in. (76.2 x 60.96 cm) © Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo courtesy Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin. 
Image 2: Autorretrato (Self Portrait) Bridget Tichenor Undated Oil on canvas Canvas: 19 11/16 x 19 11/16 in. Private collection © Bridget Tichenor Estate

Friday, April 20, 2012

A Little Friday Variety

I’m crazy for chairs and pillows. If I had room I’d own hundreds of them. But sadly that’s not the case, so I just stick to salivating over them in shelter mags and on the web.

Today, I thought I would bring you a few extraordinary chairs and pillows I ran across recently. The following two designers really stood out so take a look at their wares and be sure to visit their websites for a look at their complete lines.

First up is Wild Chairy, www.wildchairy.com. Designer Andrea Mihalik reinvents classic chairs with contemporary fabrics resulting in seating with a fun and fresh attitude. Take a look at some of her creations.

It’s official. I’m in love with New York City designer Thomas Paul, www.shopthomaspaul.com. His line of truly inventive and often nostalgic home wares had me saying, “I want, I want, I want!” Besides a plethora of pillows, he also designs a full line of bedding and assorted items for the home.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Remembering Albert Hadley {1921-2012}

“Life is all about manners. Nothing else matters.”--Albert Hadley

While I didn’t know Albert Hadley, what I’ve learned of him through his work and from other’s experiences has been impressive to say the least. Considered to be one of the world’s preeminent interior designers, Mr. Hadley worked with such families as the Astors, Vanderbilts and Onassis’.  While he designed some of the most noted interiors in some of the finest homes, he is said to have been free of any touch of pomposity—ever kind and generous.

Below I’ve shared some of Mr. Hadley’s most inspired quotes along with images of his work. 

“Decoration is really about creating a quality of life, and a beauty in that life that nourishes the soul, that makes life beautiful. That’s what all this is about, not just what’s in and what’s out.”

“My theory is we’re not so much interested in lighting as we are in dispelling shadows. We want to get rid of the gloom, to have light to feel happy."

“Make your home as comfortable and attractive as possible and then get on with living. There is more to life than decorating.”

Albert Hadley pinboard

To read more about the design icon get his book "Albert Hadley: The Story of America's Preeminent Interior Designer"

“Flair—a primitive kind of style—may be innate, but I think knowledgeable taste is learned, the result of travel, experience, living, education.”--Albert Hadley {1921-2012}

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Why I am a Designer- Caroline DeCesare

I know that this series has been very Los Angeles centric, so today I am featuring a designer who is based in Mesa, AZ, who I met a few years ago at a conference. Caroline is one of those quietly confident people that creates an impression from the moment you meet. I really enjoyed reading her essay, the thing that struck me was the sense of responsibility that she has for her own life and how she faces her journey with a fundamental belief that things will work out.

The ability to see life as a puzzle to be solved or a maze where you just need to find the door, are the very skills that make for a great designer....enjoy!

Life Not According to Plan

I am a designer because it was inevitable; despite my best intentions to be anything else.
An overachiever in all things academic, I had my eye on an Ivy League education and a brilliant law career (complete with designer suits and a fabulous Hermes briefcase.) Never mind that every aptitude test I ever took pointed to a career in Interior Design. As the saying goes, “Man plans and God laughs.” 
At the age of 14 I was in a boating accident and suffered major trauma to my left leg – after weeks spent in the hospital, months recovering and years in a lawsuit – spending my life in courtrooms around other lawyers was the last thing I wanted to do.

Life Lesson #1 Life, most often, does NOT go according to plan.
After two  and a half years in college I found myself in a guidance counselor’s office investigating ASU’s Interior Design Program.  The highly competitive program was a 5 year Bachelor’s Degree. I left in tears, realizing I had just wasted the last 2.5 years. I called my mom and said,”If I do this,I will be 26 years old when I graduate!!” Her response was “You’ll be 26 years old whether you do it or not.”

Life Lesson #2 Time will pass, best to get on with what you were meant to do.
Like most of my fellow classmates, I was brainwashed into believing the only “real” design career was with a huge firm doing commercial design, although, in my heart, I secretly loved residential design. This led me to accept an internship at a boutique residential design firm in Scottsdale vs. a large hospitality firm in San Francisco. I took no end of crap for this decision from my classmates (and I detected a few rolled eyes from my professors as well). Result: I was the highest paid graduate in my class. (at the advanced age of 26).

Life Lesson #3 Make your own choices. You’re the one who has to live with them.
The next ten years were filled with amazing projects from high-end golf clubs and luxury spas to grand estates. I had all the creative freedom and responsibility – without the stress of having my name on the door.  Then, one day, everything changed. My sister and I were driving past a building for sale. She jokingly suggested that we buy the building so I could open my own design firm. We didn’t’ buy that building but the seed had been planted and within nine months, I had opened the doors to my own firm; during the biggest economic meltdown in history. It was January 2009.

Life Lesson #4 The timing is rarely perfect to make a life-changing decision.
So now I get to go to my own office and meet with glamorous clients, design their luxurious homes and, when I’m not meeting with clients, I’m off shopping.
That made me laugh just typing that.
But really, Why am I a Designer?
I am a designer because I love to solve problems.
I put myself in my client’s shoes and figure out how they live their life and then translate that into a home that functions for them and their family.
I love knowing that the decisions I make will shape the environment where my clients will raise their families and spend the best moments of their lives.  
It’s honoring who the client is and helping them tell their story in a way that is tasteful and stylish but still THEM.
It’s never perfect, even when you start from the ground up. You have to make the best decisions for this client at this time in their life and be willing to adjust as you go. I once heard someone say that the key to mental health is flexibility. Sounds like the best Life Lesson of all.

The Ultimate Adjustable Coffee Table

If you’re like me, you use your coffee table for a variety of purposes—dinner table, work table etc. That’s why I’m totally taken with Wright Table Company’s High-Low Table. It’s as purposeful as it is handsome.

Using a clever arrangement of pivot arms, counterweights and gravity, the top of the table may be lifted and pulled 26” toward you while sitting on the sofa or chair with very little effort. Wright guarantees the table won’t spill your coffee or tip over on you.

Made from hand-wrought steel and copper, its look is very industrial chic. It’s available in a variety of finishes and powder coated colors.  

Visit http://www.wrighttable.com for more information or to purchase the High-Low table. While there, take a look at their other inventive products.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Decorating with Animal Hides

One of my favorite ways of bringing an exotic feel to a space is by using animal hides on the floor. They’re perfect on hardwoods in the living room or bedroom. They also work well for adding neutral-toned texture and pattern to a room’s décor.

via decoideas.com

I love the look of zebra and cheetah, but of course these aren’t legal, so a painted cowhide which closely resembles these works nicely. They play well in a traditional, eclectic and modern décor when you want a little pop of personality. Other exotic hide lookalikes include giraffe, tiger, jaguar and leopard. Other rugs are made from reindeer and elk hides which go well with a lodge style space.  

Natural cowhides look terrific in a farmhouse, country or modern space and come in a variety of breeds and colors. I like the white hides with brown spots for a fun look.  

Besides looking amazing, they’re inexpensive and highly durable making them a good choice for an active family with children and pets.

There are many sources online to purchase quality hides like Hides & Co. http://www.cowhidesrugs.com. For example, their exotic hides come from Argentina, considered to produce some of the finest quality cow hide rugs. I love the brown one below. They also have a chevron mosaic rug I am pining for. 

To find out more about decorating with animal hides read "Cowhide in Decorating a Home" on one of our favorite design sites, Houzz.com