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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why I am a Designer- Darrell Schmitt

Well, guilt can sometimes be a great thing. i was at an event last night and I ran into Darrell Schmitt, who I have been hounding for months to do a column for me. He was a man of his word and did it, and it has sat in my in box now for weeks. I felt very guilty seeing him last night, because when you get to know Darrell, there are several things you quickly learn. He is a gentleman who stands by his word, so if he makes a promise you know that he will move heaven and earth to make it happen. He is also one of the busiest and talented designers I know. His work on the Montage Beverly Hills is inspiring, and he has managed to create in a new building a sense of tradition and age that seems perfect. Anyway, I hope that you all enjoy reading his well crafted piece and now I am off to feel guilty about other things!

It wasn’t as though you could stop me from being a designer---I was re-arranging the furniture in my parents’ house from childhood.  I had very early interests in art, architecture, and all things relating to design.  On summer afternoons my mother would pack me down to the local park, where I would eschew the other organized children’s activities to ask the other kids what they’d want their dream houses to be (even young children already have ideas as to how they might want to live), then I’d draw up their dreams and sell the sketches for a penny a story---ten cents got you an elaborate fantasy tower or a cathedral.  My parents provided for me a subscription to Architectural Digest when it was published in black and white, twice a year (this was truly a long time ago).  Being raised in a small town in Kansas, my imagined world of palaces and mansions remained for me fascinating but elusive, as experienced only in books and magazines.   But I found the siren song of beautiful architectural settings ever seductive, and I sought out the images of refined buildings and interiors in every source I could find.  As I progressed up the educational ladder, my interest in the built environment became more sophisticated through my studies of architecture and historic design.   As I began to travel in my later youth, great architectural sites were always my destinations of choice, places where I could hone my eye for detail and experience three dimensionally the spaces I had so long admired only from the pages of books.  A study trip to Europe upon finishing high school was a life-changer for me, opening up my world ever further to the possibilities of art and design.

I studied architecture and interior design in Chicago, and at age 24 opened my first independent design studio in New Orleans.  Both of these cities were immensely influential in broadening and shaping my appreciation of architecture and design.  Based now in Los Angeles for twenty-five years, my career has afforded me many, many opportunities to turn those childhood yearnings for beauty into very three dimensional  hotels and resorts, spas, country clubs, grand residences and yes, even palaces, in far flung destinations around the world.  I have never tired of the quest to create beautiful places---the impulse and the challenge remain as fresh for me today as they were in the dreams of my youth.  What has changed for me, though, is my attitude toward the significance of the role of architects and designers.  I have come to more fully understand the enormous psychological and cultural impact the built environment has on all of society, for better or for worse, in benefitting or deterring the progress of civilization and its effects on the inhabitants of all environments.  For me the practice of design is far more than the conscious arrangement of spaces, furnishings, objects, and light, though it is all of that; it is, most importantly, the exercise of bringing order, harmony, and well-being to the lives of my clients, to make their dreams come alive in a way that enhances how they move through life by creating environments for them that set the stage for their life passages.  I find this a huge but very gratifying responsibility, one that has lent vitality and purpose to all of the work I have done.  As I have come to understand that the built environment is responsible, by far, for the consumption of energy and resources in this country and elsewhere, through the construction and operation of buildings, in a manner of ever escalating consumption of resources over the past century, I have tried to apply my work to the larger goal of working within sustainable practices and design possessing longevity of purpose and quality.  The need for beautiful, uplifting, and responsible design is great in our rapidly evolving world, a challenge I find even more stimulating today than when I started down the path of design

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Antler-Inspired Decor

I have a thing for antlers right now. Not the ones on taxidermied deer heads mounted above the fireplace in a lodge or rustic cabin.  I’m liking the ones that you find in the most unexpected spaces, such as an antler chandelier in a modern dining room or a skull and antlers above a bed in a romantic bedroom.

With many faux versions available, they won’t tug at your heartstrings or stir a guilty conscience. For those that like the real deal, you’ll find those as well. Whichever you choose, they are quite versatile much like cowhide rugs which seem to find their home in a number of stylish rooms.

I’ve collected a number of interior design images featuring these little beauties in a number of different decors. Be sure to comment below and tell me what you think about using them in your own home.

A table of curiosities is looked over by a pair of real antlers. This isn’t the only naturally occurring element in the space, looks as if those are two tortoise shells adorning the table.

A rustic bathroom boasts a widespread set of authentic antlers hanging above the tub. They are beautiful from this vantage point, but not sure how I would feel about them looming over me while I soak in the tub.

This European home features a skull with antlers in a low key way. You really can hang them most anywhere and they look good.

Loving this antler mirror frame! It provides a stunning focal point for the room and coordinates with the other animal skins in the space.

A red antler chandelier and wall sconce? It’s funky, especially with the lavender walls, but I kind of dig it.

Ok, so I’m ignoring the deer mounted on the wall and concentrating on the white antler chandelier which is quite beautiful in this modern dining room.

 A gallery of deer and moose antlers is mounted in an interesting fashion. The zebra rug introduces an additional natural element.

A transitional living room makes a focal point of differing size and types of antlers set in a gallery style.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

8 Ways to Create an Inviting Guest Room

Hello! I’m Beth, a guest blogger for Timeless Wrought Iron, an online source for wonderful wrought iron furnishings. I spend my days searching the web for beautiful interior design images and ideas then share them with blog readers like you. Today, I bring you tips for creating a stylish and cozy guest room. I hope you enjoy!

When designing a guest room, you’ll want to focus on beauty and function. Think of how you like to be treated when you are a guest in someone’s home. Creating a welcoming space doesn’t have to be difficult, however, it is all in the details. Below you’ll find some ideas for bringing an inviting guest room together and insuring your guest’s stay will be enjoyable and memorable.  

Create the most inviting atmosphere possible, while anticipating your guest’s needs. This bedroom is the ultimate guest room.

Provide guests with a selection of beverages, glassware and snacks. Bottled water, their favorite libation and fruit and nuts are a nice touch. 

Make the bed as comfortable as possible, so they’ll sink into luxury. Down comforters, plump pillows, and Egyptian cotton sheets will have them sleeping peacefully. Don’t forget to turn the bed linens down ahead of time. A mint on the pillow or a little nosegay is always a nice touch.

Place a luggage rack or bench at the foot of the bed so they have a place to leave their bags where they’re easily accessible. Benches can double as a place for guests to slip on shoes. A wrought iron bench with upholstered cushion would work well in this space.

Give guests plenty of light sources for activities such as reading. Also, make sure you provide sufficient window coverings to block natural light for sleeping late in the mornings.

Furnishing the guest room with a desk gives your guests a place to work or set up their computer.

Provide a comfy robe for each guest to give them a luxurious hotel feel. White robes such as the one pictured here are particularly nice.

Fill the bathroom with loads of fluffy towels, bath oil, soaps, shampoo, conditioner, tissue and other grooming supplies. A fragrant candle is always a welcome gift.

What are your favorite ways to make your guests feel at home?

Leave a comment and let me know then be sure click here to visit Timeless Wrought Iron for wrought iron furniture and accessories.

Images: deptoftheinteriordc.blogspot.com; thetrendyhome.com; www.shelterness.com;hamptons-magazine.com; hotels.about.com

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Why I am a Designer- Robert Kaner

First of all it's been a few weeks since i have posted this column,,,, Thankfully people have not deserted me and I have a few now in stock so I hope to get back to being more regular.

I am so excited to post this essay today. I have not known Robert long or well, but when you meet him, you want to learn more. Being the fan that I am of the road less traveled, I appreciate the jump from Law to interior design. The ability to listen to ones self in the light of past experience is a constant battle. Also I am intrigued by people who can master the mindset of both Law and Interior Design (it's sort of like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time)!

Anyway I hope that you enjoy what he has to say and take a few moments to visit his website the work is spectacular!

I like to tell people that becoming a truly passionate interior designer involves five critical elements:
1        An interest in architecture and design beginning at a very young age;
2        A focus on certain specific academic disciplines during one’s formal education – primarily the sciences, mathematics, economics and public policy – with just enough art and architecture classes to keep things “interesting”;
3        Total immersion in a “Paper Chase” law school experience – provided that all studying for classes and exams takes place in the library of the adjacent design school  rather than in the law school library itself (and might as well audit an architecture class while you’re at it, since you’re already spending so much time at the design school);
4        A career as a corporate attorney at a big New York firm with great colleagues, challenging clients and an exciting, fast-paced practice; and
5        An interest in architecture and design beginning at a very young age.
(Parenthetical note in the interest of full disclosure:  not everyone goes through stages 2, 3 and 4.)
I was fortunate to have been exposed to some of the best in modern design and furniture as a child.  At the time, I didn’t appreciate how meaningful it would be in the development of my aesthetic sensibility to grow up in a house with Eames, Noguchi, Saarinen and George Nelson furniture – all icons of modern design with connections to the area of Michigan where I grew up.  I remember paying close attention to the furniture I would encounter at friends’ homes as well as the architecture of buildings I would see as we drove around metropolitan Detroit.  My childhood doodling involved designing buildings on napkins  and in the margins of school notebooks.  

I was blessed – or cursed – to have many interests during my formative years.  My second passion came to me during high school – politics and public policy.  I joined the Debate Team in high school (law school here I come?) and yes, I was also a math and science geek who wore a calculator on my belt.   I found a great way to combine these interests when I studied economics in high school, so in college I pursued a degree in economics and public policy (law school here I come!).

We can travel quickly through the law school years – stage 3 of 5– which candidly was my least favorite of the five stages.  What I remember well from law school was studying – lots and lots of studying.  I did my studying at the design school library rather than the law school library because I found the surroundings to be more comfortable and uplifting.  I appreciated how important one’s physical surroundings can be to one’s comfort and emotional state. 

I had a very challenging and stimulating career in corporate law, eventually becoming a partner at one of the major New York law firms.  As a corporate attorney my focus was on working closely with clients to create the legal structures for them to pursue their objectives.   (Another parenthetical:  “clients”, creating “structures”, pursuing client “objectives” – maybe a little foreshadowing.)
People often assume I was unhappy as a corporate lawyer.  The truth?  Sometimes the lifestyle was pretty rough, but I thoroughly enjoyed the analytical challenges I encountered as a lawyer, and the close relationships I developed with colleagues and clients.  Being a lawyer allowed me to use the left and right sides of my brain in interesting ways.  I would not trade those experiences for anything, and who I am is very much a product of these years. 

But:  who said you have to have one profession over the course of an entire life?  When I was working on the creation of a new overseas investment fund, one of my close friends pointed out that I seemed as excited about the design and layout of the prospectus cover page as I was about the substance of the transaction.   I later made the decision, after a good run as a corporate lawyer, that I would begin another chapter in my life. 
I left my law firm and decided to spend some time travelling and reconnecting with myself.  When I found I finally had time to focus on furnishing the apartment I had purchased a year before, I began to design a furniture piece for my living room and started shopping for other furniture.  I remember a light bulb going off in my head, as I walked through a furniture showroom in San Francisco and, for the first time in my life, I seriously thought about becoming an interior designer.

After four years of college, three years of law school and the bar exam, I never imagined I would set foot in another classroom or take another exam.  One degree later – thank you New York School of Interior Design for some of the most amazing and challenging academic experiences of my life – and after a terrific experience at Steven Harris Architects, I launched Robert Kaner Interior Design.

I hope you will take a look at what I’ve been up to at Robert Kaner Interior Design!  www.kanerid.com.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Elegant Bar Carts Revisited

With their popularity in the last couple of years, you’ve probably had your fill of blog posts about bar carts, but I wanted to revisit them anyway. Why? Because I adore them and with the weather warming up, it’s the perfect time to push one out by the pool for a little soiree with the girls.

While growing up, I remember my aunt always had a bar cart within arm’s reach for mixing herself and guests a quick libation. Of course, those were the days when it was fashionable to have an afternoon cocktail (or three) and a cigarette.

Whether you like the sleek modern models or vintage brass ones, there is certainly a bar cart for every taste and personality. I found examples of bar carts across the style spectrum. If you’re a teetotaler simply substitute the alcohol on your cart with tea, coffee, juice, mineral water or soft drinks. 

A modern chrome model boasts plenty of room for glasses, mixers, shakers, ice and several kinds of liquors.

A bamboo version makes room for wine bottles and a glass rack.

This is a fully prepped bar on wheels.

This bent wood bar cart makes plenty of room for everything you'll need to whip up a delicious beverage or two.

Another bamboo-like bar cart looks as if it is used often.

The e Circa bar cart by Roost makes pushing a full bar seemingly effortless.

Love this cute vintage bar cart, it would be just as adorable used a side table.

Images via: thefashionablewife.blogspot.com; tokyojinja.com;tumblr.com;bellismostyle.com;latimesblogs.latimes.com