Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Travel Tuesday - Chateau Mcely - Czech Republic

Located north of Prague, the Chateau Mcely is a palace in the woods.

"From its ancient Celtic roots the deep forests and hills of Northern Bohemia has always been a place of mystery and enchantment. Throughout history it has always been a deeply spiritual region, giving raise to a number of legends, and often called 'the birthplace of saints'. St Wenceslas (Vaclav in Czech) is associated with the region, and of course in more modern times the most famous figure from just 'down the road' from Mcely was the composer Bedřich Smetana. Stories of fairies, witches, and the usual brew abound. However the top legend of Mcely concerns the Virgin Mary."

Also included on their website are the most beautiful illustrations of the interiors and exterior spaces. "Storyboarding a castle..."

Normally I profile two or three hotels in a given location, but this hotel is so amazing, it stands alone!

Monday, July 30, 2007

I've been tagged!

The fabulous Ms. Place has tagged me. Here is a little about me.

Four jobs I have had or currently have in my life:
1. cleaned houses during college
2. business manager of opera company
3. professional flute player
4. interior decorator

Four countries I have been to:
1. France
2. Italy
3. Germany
4. England

Four places I’d rather be right now:
1. Paris
2. Paris
3. Paris
4. Tuscany

Four foods I like to eat:
1. french fries
2. ice cream
3. ceasar salad
4. grilled chicken

Four people that I would like to tag: (I'm bad at tagging!)
1. Susan Serra, the Kitchen Designer
2. The Peak of Chic
3. Kora-in-Hell
4. umm... suggestions?

Designer of Note: Klaus Haapaniemi

Iittala, the Finnish home products company creates dinner ware and other home products that are sleek and sophisticated and meant to last a lifetime. They have partnered with illustrator Klaus Haapaniemi to produce the Taika Collection - an exuberant and whimsical collection of dinnerware. I love this pattern! (of, if I had room for all the sets of dishes that I want!). Iittala products are sold worldwide. Yay!

Klaus Haapaniemi (b. 1970) has had plenty of coverage recently in the Finnish as well as foreign media. His CV of design work is impressive: garment prints for Diesel, Levis, Marimekko, Dolce & Gabbana, Cacharel and Bela’s Dead, a new brand. He has also worked as Creative Director of the Italian fashion house Bantam, published a book entitled ‘Giants’ together with the Finnish writer Rosa Liksom, produced illustrations for the Observer newspaper, shown his work in exhibitions – and done a few other things in between. The international WGSN trend analysis service has dubbed him as one of the most important rising stars in illustration and design. (from Iittala.com)

as seen on: The David Report

Design Star - Episode 1

Task: Design the loft space where the designers will live
Budget: $15,000
Time Frame: 28 hours (Day 1 - 6 hrs; Day 2 - 14 hours; Day 3 - 8 hours)

We've met the designers and they were introduced to where they will live and to their first challenge. The group started off working well together - they seemed to have no problem breaking up the tasks and creating teams. The loft has two levels - main living on the first level and two bedrooms on the second level. The kitchen wasn't part of this task, apparently.

In this episode, there was no single winner or winning team.

Large bedroom for seven - designed by Will and Josh "Sparkle" J
I think this was the most cohesive and attractive space and it was nice to see how well Will and Josh worked together - they seemed to hit it off quickly and move forward with purpose. They had seven beds to work with and a two level curved floor, which restricts the floor plans. It's a bit of a shame that the beds were placed so close together (so much for any possibility of privacy) but there wasn't much choice. The color scheme is luxurious and serene. For this effort, Will and Josh J were given high marks by the judges and were placed in the top group of contestants.

Main living space - Sunken Dining Room, Quarter Pipe, Zen nook - Todd, Scott & Kim
The main living space was probably the most difficult one to create a harmonious design. They quickly determined that the sunken space would make for an interesting dining area - which was a brilliant use of this unique feature. The more obvious choice - a sunken living room or relaxation pit would have worked, but wouldn't have been as unique. Xtreme sportsman Todd saw the open space to the side of the pit and immediately thought "Quarter Pipe", as in skate boarding. Okay... not the way nearly 99% of anyone else would go, but he certainly pulled it off well. I did think it interesting that they never had a discussion about what the judges would think, or even if any of the others living there would use it. One of the first things one should do when designing a space is take into account the needs and desires of all those living there.

I can't say that I love the lighting fixture they made for the table - too clunky - but it did help create an intimate feel to the space and the attempt at making a custom piece shouldn't go unnoticed.

Again, I don't personally love the indoor quarter-pipe idea, but Todd definitely knows his way with the power tools and it did integrate well with the space as well as provide a backdrop to the dining area.
I think their best space was the zen nook. This could have been placed in the pit, but the effect would have been lost. This was a lovely little private space - which comes at a premium when eleven people are sharing one living space. It's styling is clean and simple - accessorized, but not cluttered.

Bar Area - designed by Neeraja
Neeraja took quick control of the money and managed the budget. She seemed to do well with this task - fairly doling out the cash and no one seemed to run out of money for their individual needs. Her design work, however, was not as successful. As the judges said, this was decorating, not designing. While this space started off as the most "finished" and specific in the loft - bar are and stairs - Neeraja didn't do anything to improve the area at all. She could have at least replaced the chandelier - or painted it bronze. The addition of the pink shades was just a big old mistake.

Small bedroom for four - designed by Christina and Adriana
This bedroom was pretty mediocre, in the long run. I like the curtains separating the beds (can you tell I like my privacy?) but the colors don't read well at all on television. The lengthwise beds are a good idea, but they could have painted the wall behind those beds red to really make them pop. The two didn't see eye to eye on much of anything (unlike Josh J and Will) and the room showed it. Christina suffered from trying to be too nice, while Adriana clearly hasn't met an accessory she doesn't like.

Living Lounge - Robb and Josh F.
This space was a big mess - there is no other way of saying it. The circular lounging area was a good idea - very Las Vegas - but neither knew how to pull it off. Josh F doesn't have the carpentry skills he thinks he has (unlike Todd) and Robb has some ideas which sound better in his head than he's able to execute. His idea of a "design metaphor" of the car doors referring to doors opening and closing in life is interesting - but not right for the space he was working in. As a matter of fact - had he been doing the entry/garage door area - his idea might have worked much better. But, he wasn't. In designing a space, it's great to have a unique idea, but not every idea works in every space and the trick is knowing it. If you find yourself saying "I've always wanted to do xxx", step back, think, and then ask yourself "But does it work in this space, for these people?" Note to Robb, visualize, visualize, visualize. And note to Josh - know thyself and learn to use the power tools safely!

Robb and Josh F ran out of time to do the cushion for the round platform and for finding pillows and accessories that matched the space. We can see from the shot above just how off the colors are. A big old eye sore! I wonder if they fixed that later on? And what ARE those hanging things on the pillars?

Front Entry - Lisa
And now we come to Lisa. When did industrial and punk become so militaristic? Between the drab green and the army-style lettering, I felt like I was watching a M*A*S*H* rerun. Now, if she were trying to make some anti-war statement - perhaps. But no, just writing the contestants names backwards on the walls says... nothing. And what was up with the phone book sculptures? And the moss beds? Needless to say, for this effort, Lisa was sent packing. I agree with this decision because while Josh F and Robb's space was pretty lousy, at least there was an attempt at function and a real building project. Lisa folded phone book pages... But, I wish her well, she seems like a very nice person who's passionate about what she does.

So, was there a clear winner? Per the judges: Will, Josh J, Scott and Todd all did "Strong Work"; Kim, Christina and Adriana's work was "Enough to get by". The bottom four consisted of Neeraja, Robb, Josh F and Lisa, with Robb and Lisa being selected as the bottom two.

Apparently, even tho Kim worked with Scott and Todd, the judges determined that the boys had more to do with the success of their space.

What did you think? Any thoughts yet on who has the leg up so far?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Design Star - Will Smith

Company Website: Interior Motives

Portfolio: (hard to grab images, so this is best I can do. But, click image for your tour)

Images and interview from the News & Observer.

Will - the real "Will Smith" - started his design career as a result of an ex-girlfriend moving from the house. He needed to re-decorate for himself and the once insurance guy became a design guy. His focus is on budget concious design. His style seems to be warm and pretty inviting, deep colors (there's a lot of that this season) and textures.

His "I can do that" attitude might just serve him well this season and he certainly has a nice personality that works well on television. But, can he break out of his own personal style and does he have the broad view that education and historical context provide to give the clients what they want?

Stay tuned tonight for the first elimination episode of Design Star!

Design Star - Todd Davis

Company Website: Epic Spaces

Portfolio images:

Says Todd in a recent San Francisco Chronical interview: "I can do the quiet retreat - our bedroom is a very peaceful place," Davis said during a rare-for-him sit-down at his 2,000-square-foot loft, a renovated Victorian behind Ghirardelli Square that he shares with wife, Gena, 34. "But if you want to relax, you can do that with color, and with texture and with fabric. My emphasis is to provide functional rooms that are incredibly interactive, and I went to the show to blow people out of the water, create a leading edge and open people's eyes."

Todd has a background in extreme sports and has been doing illustration and landscape design in California. His interior design work seems a little more limited and his website appears to show his own home. That said, for all his "play, play, play" image, he's got an interesting eye and you can see his art background in his choice of accessories and textures. His colors are rich, his textures dense, woodsy and natural. But then, would we expect anything different from this man:

Okay - I just HAD to include this photo. Need I explain why?

While I don't love the image he's projecting on the show - bouncing about like a child, X-treme "hey dude" 'tude, his website and work depict a much deeper intellect. I hope I'm right.

Design Star - Scott Corridan

Company Website: Corridan & Co.

From Scott's portfolio: Scott does wedding and event planning, plus floral design. There are no actual portfolio photos on his website, although several snippet images, which one assumes is his work. He's done extensive press and writes a regular "Scott's Garden" for Inside Weddings magazine. So, check out his website. (note to Scott - offer visitors a way to turn off the music, it's annoying not to have that choice and turns people away!).

The website style (since I don't have much else to work with) is artistic and lyrical, but also a bit muddy and could have more visual material to go on. There is a Q&A page, which is impossible to read. One wonders if this mimics his design style. His personality is definitely going to be one of the bigger ones on the program.

Design Star - Robb Mariani

Company Website: none that I can find (anyone have any more information?)

Since I can't find a website, I can't provide images of Robb work, so he's still a mystery. Hailing from Wisconsin, he now lives in Florida and is an antique truck collector. He lists his favorite styles as: Modern, Avant-garde, and Bauhaus. He has no formal interior design training, although did have three years graphic design in college.

We'll see what this mystery man give us on the show and if he lives up to his Bauhaus reference?

Design Star - Neeraja Lockart

From Neeraja's MySpace page. Much nicer than the "bitch-edit" photo HGTV sent along.

Company Website: Neeraja's MySpace

From Neeraja's portfolio: images can be viewed on her MySpace, in slideshow format. She lists these images as work as interior designer and photostylist, athough which is which isn't readily apparent in the photos. The work seems to be mostly for hotels and special events and seems pleasant enough.

Say's Neeraja:
"Hi everyone. I am an interior designer and photo stylist currently living in Palm Springs and Los Angeles. Previously I worked as a make-up artist for 15 years. I have a daughter Makela who is an up-and-coming supermodel. Please feel free to say hi. "

Neeraja seems to be getting the bitchy "older" woman edit so far (I guess 42 makes her older - sigh...). Her comments - the usual variations of I tells it like I sees it, and I don't care what people think - would tend to make one feel that she will be the resident hard-a. Her interiors experience seems limited and I'm not sure about her hand-on skills. But, having spent years as a makeup artist with a celebrity clientele should have given her lots people handling skills. The operative word being "should have".