Saturday, September 29, 2007

Media Talk - Decorating Girls are Savvy Girls

How do I know? Because I was mentioned in the new book The Savvy Gal's Guide to Online Networking (Or What Would Jane Austen Do?) written by Diane K. Danielson and Lindsey Pollak.

In the section on "Blogging as a Marketing Tool" on page 93 they write:

Linda Merrill, owner of Chameleon Interiors, an interior design firm, runs a blog called ::Surroundings::, which focuses on design. She began including reviews of the BravoTV design show, Top Design, and attracted a following that even included on of the show's judges, Margaret Russell, editor-in-chief of Elle Decor. Russell subsequently mentioned Linda's blog in her magazine. Now, that's one way to raise your online image!

I may be an online writer, but it's always cool to see my name in print! Check out The Savvy Gal Blog for ongoing updates by the ficticious Wendy Darcy, a modern day single professional woman who channels Jane Austen and reminds us we all have a little Jane inside us!

Sneak Peek: Living Room Project

I'm very excited. For the last year, I've been working on a very fun project in Boston - a late 1800's Victorian town house. The photo below is the living room as it was on Day 1. The building had been apartments for a long time before being condo-ized by a developer. Layers of paint couldn't diminish the inherent beauty of the architecture. With original parquet floors and genuine plaster crown molding and medallion - this room was aching for a more sophisticated treatment.

Layers of white paint were painstakingly removed to reveal amazing walnut trim - which was stained to bring out the beauty of the grain.

Over the last several months, furnishings and window treatments have been designed, ordered and delivered. I've been busy making pillows which add a nice punch of color and comfort.

We installed the beautiful sheer linen London shades yesterday - which really topped off the space.

I'll have better photographs to come, when the room is completely finished. We need some more accessories and the small things that really bring life to the space!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Media Talk - Domino Magazine's Dara Caponigro

Today was the second and final day of Design Boston at the Boston Design Center. The final keynote speaker today was Dara Caponigro, Style Director of Domino Magazine.

Updated Classics - Honoring Great Design of the Moment, Without Being a Victim to Trend

Join her for an engaging look at the current state of design and an inspiring discussion of how referencing classic styles of the past and their timeless influence can encourage fresh and creative ideas and embolden your own design decisions.
Dara began her career as the assistant to the director at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum doing photo research for museum publications. Though she originally intended on pursuing a career as a veterinarian (she even spent a year at the Bronx Zoo handling exotic snakes, lizards and birds), Dara’s keen eye for the arts eventually led her to House Beautiful where she worked for 14 years learning how to produce a magazine. After leaving her decorating director post at House Beautiful, Dara became the design and decoration director at Elle Décor for many years. In addition to her career in publishing, Dara has owned and operated an antiques business, importing furniture from France. She has also decorated many houses, several of which have been published.

After a long delay due to computer problems, Dara gamely started her talk to a room full of professional designers without benefit of visual images - not an easy thing to do!

After her talk, we were treated to a fabulous cocktail party at the Baker, Knapp & Tubbs showroom - pear martinis and hors d'ouvres were delicious and plentiful. Just what the hungry and thirsty designer needs at the end of two days of seminars and lectures.

During the cocktail party, Dara was kind enough to take some time out to sit down with me to talk about design, her views on what makes a great room and her excitement about Domino's Decorating Contest. Here are a few items from her main talk and some bits from our personal conversation.

Dara shared with us photos of her families' country home in New York. Her personal style is more modern than the architecture of the house - inherited from her in-laws - so when she moved in, she tried to create very contemporary interiors. But, she ultimately realized that while she loved them - they just didn't work with the bones of the space. She equated this to a women with less than perfect legs wearing a mini dress. The woman may be attractive enough - and the dress really cute. But, they just don't work together. So, she ultimately re-did the interiors and found that she loves some of the rooms even though they are still "not her". The marriage of space and interiors and architecture should drive the style, to some extent.Photo by Paul Costello / June 2006

When talking about her personal style, she referred to it as "Organic Modern". I asked what this meant to her and she mentioned that it might be the use of a George Nakashima piece in a modern, clean interior. As an admitted traditionalist, the term "organic modern" seemed really fresh and inviting.
George Nakashima Conoid Bench

She mentioned that one of the editorial criteria of rooms featured in Domino is that they always chose rooms to photograph that look like they belong to real people.
I love this room with its pink walls and accessories, mod black chair and white table, with a traditional Windsor chair sitting in the background.

And this black/white bedroom below with the careful/careless canopy just casually thrown up on the wall and striking bed covering are perfection!

Photo by Simon Upton / July/August 2006

At the end of her talk, Dara left us with four tips on how to avoid looking "too trendy":
1) Don't have rooms where there is nothing personal
2) Don't do rooms where everything in them is expensive and showy
3) Avoid rooms where everything is from the same season - rooms should have a sense of history
4) There should always be something in a space that throws the decor off just a bit

One of the things about Domino, is that they cover a wide variety of styles - from OTT glamour to the makes-no-sense eclectic. A little something for everyone. Readers may not always like, or understand, the selections, but they think about them. Just read the commentary on Jackie Blue Home.

Dara - thanks for speaking with me, it was great to meet you! And to Amy Peck (Dir. of PR for Domino) - it was fab meeting you too! I hope you enjoyed your evening in Boston and those fabulous crystal coasters you purchased!

LATE BREAKING NEWS - Amy emailed today with the announcement they have just inked a deal with Simon & Schuster for the first-ever book. "The Domino Book of Decorating will feature the magazine's signature blend of beauty and comfort, glamour and practicality, and offer inspiration and advice for decorating every room of the home. Filled with floor plans, before-and-after shots, and a wealth of lush photography, it will include all of the magazine's popular elements: unexpected expert decorating tips, eclectic style juxtapositions, shrewd shopping strategies, and ideas drawn from sources as far apart as Louis XIV and Le Corbusier." Coming in 2008!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Meet The Artist: Patrick Frey

Patrick Frey, head of famed French textile company Pierre Frey spoke to a near standing room only audience today at the Boston Design Center. He spoke of his father, founder Pierre Frey, his mother, Genevieve, who in the 1930's created textile designs that look as fresh today as they must have back then (see below), his maternal grandfather who was one of the designers of the ocean liner Normandie, and of his sons, two of whom are in the business with him.

I also had the opportunity to have a lovely private interview with Mr. Frey. Below are some notes on his main talk, followed by our personal conversation.

Genevieve - designed by Genevieve Frey, 1930's. This looks so 'today' doesn't it?

A traditional Toile de Jouy - Coutances Positif
Original toile fabrics were hand block printed. Today, they silk-screen the image onto the fabric, one color at a time. A new engraving can cost upwards of $15-20,000. Traditionally, toiles are single color scenes printed on a white or cream cotton ground. Older toiles (18C) have plain white backgrounds, 19th c technology allowed for background printing as well. One interesting note: Mr. Frey mentioned that he has often been asked why they don't create coordinating fabrics - such as one with a small flower detail - to work with their primary toile collections. The reason is because their design, engraving and printing process would be the same as the primary fabric, and therefor, the price would have to be the same. However, he feels, and I would agree, that while buyers will pay well for the beautiful primary patterns, they will not hold the secondary prints in the same regard and won't pay the same for them. I thought this was an interesting view into the business side of an artistic company.

"Petit Gonesse"
In 1783, French physicist J. A. C. Charles launched a hot air balloon that fell in the small village of Gonesse about twelve miles away from the launch site. The towns people, having never seen a balloon, were frightened, thinking it was perhaps the devil. I don't have the image, but there was an original toile created, depicting this event. Mr. Frey referred to toiles as "ancient photography". Pierre Frey has updated this event in their "Petit Gonesse" fabric - which has a free hand, calligraphic quality to it. In the print, you will see the downed balloon (upper right), the farmer trying to kill it with his farming tools and women looking on. I've looked at this fabric in the showroom several times - it always captures my attention - but knowing the background story makes it so much better!

La Paix (Peace)
On this fabric is printed the word "Peace" in something like 30 different languages, including braille.

While the images above are mainly shown in neutrals, each has a couple of different colorways available. Here are some additional images that strike my fancy:

Saint Hubert


Miss Li

Trés jolie, n'est pas?

Patrick Frey's passion for his business and the art of textile design is quite evident. He said that he feels that they should have no limits, except that they remain very French. So, while he takes inspiration from all over the world - Africa to Montana to the Seychelles - he maintains a uniquely French perspective. He shared with me that while he loves color, the majority of buyers - around the world - hesitate over the use of bright colors and that neutral palettes are the best sellers. He knows that when he creates a new design or collection, a larger percentage of the colorways must be in neutral palettes in order to generate sales. He did say that Americans tend to be more adventurous in our desire for color and mixture of patterns than are our European friends. I was actually a little surprised by this.

I asked him which country embraces the Pierre Frey brand the most. While America is their biggest market (due to our size), they are more popular in the European countries such as England, France (of course), Belgium, etc. He also mentioned that the Eastern Europen block countries - Russia, Estonia, etc., and some of the So. American countries - are fast growing markets for the brand. He said that over the last five years, their young people have become wealthier and are highly knowledgeable about design trends in Europe and America.

Ultimately, Mr. Frey said that he goes with what he personally likes when creating a new collection of designs. He doesn't rely on marketing or trends to "advise" him on what will be successful. And, at times, he's been surprised by what sells well and what hasn't. "You never know", as he said. He does, however, listen to the reactions of audiences when he shows his designs - the "ooh and ah" factor.

I think he's done a pretty good job so far!

My thanks goes to Patrick Frey for his time and to the French Embassy for their generous invitation!

Pierre Frey fabrics are available "to the trade" only.
Click here for purchasing information via our Buyers Service

New England Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

The inaugural inductees into the 2007 New England Design Hall of Fame were announced Tuesday at an unveiling ceremony held in the courtyard of the Boston Design Center.

The New England Design Hall of Fame honors residential architects and interior designers whose work is of the highest caliber and who have made a significant contribution to the design field in New England. The Hall of Fame will have a permanent "Living Legacy" at the Boston Design Center.
This year's inductees are:

Mr. Richard Bertman, FAIA. Mr. Bertman is a Co-Founder of CBT Architects, who have designed some of the areas most beautiful academic buildings, including the recent South Shore Conservatory addition in Hingham, MA. I'm a regular volunteer of the Conservatory and newly appointed to the Board of Overseers and having been in this building - and even decorated it for special events - I can attest to its beauty and functionality.

South Shore Conservatory, Hingham, MA - addition by CBT Architects

Mr. Lee Bierly, ASID and Mr. Christopher Drake, ASID Principals Bierly-Drake Interior Design.
Mr. Bierly and Mr. Drake's Palm Beach home - image courtesy of Palm Beach Cottage & Gardens

Ms. Celeste Cooper, ASID. Former design consultant for Repertoire, currently consulting with The Orpin Group and 1100 Architect in New York. Ms. Cooper has done many beautiful hotels and restaurants in Boston. One of my favorites is:
The lounge at The Federalist - courtesy of The Orpin Group

Mr. Jeremiah Eck, FAIA - principal of Eck|McNeely Architects, Inc. Mr. Eck has one of "those names" - everyone who pays even the scantest attention to local architecture and design know of him. Check out their website - particularly for their residential projects that so perfectly integrate into their environments.
Waterfront home - Wellfleet, MA. New Construction. Photo courtesty of Eck|MacNeely

Mr. Richard FitzGerald - R. FitzGerald & Company, Inc. was founded 45 years ago and specializes in residential interior design. With associate, Michael J. Lee, the firm has had the opportunity to work on many special projects: a Georgian Revival residence, a Mizner Spanish house in Palm Beach, an Art Deco apartment in New York, and Beacon Hill townhouses. Images of Mr. FitzGerald's work aren't readily available - but if I find one, I'll post it!

Mr. Graham Gund, FAIA - architect, art collector and philanthropist
North Shore Music Theatre - photo courtesty of NSMT

Mr. William Hodgins, ASID - Mr. Hodgins worked under iconic designers Albert Hadley and Sister Parish prior to starting his own residential interiors firm in Boston.
Photography by Billy Cunningham, courtesy of Architectural Digest

Mr. James V. Righter, FAIA - Principal Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects, Inc.

House on Cape Cod - photo courtesy of the architects

Mr. Charles Spada - Charles Spada, Inc. Mr. Spada specializes in white/cream interiors. "Color is easy. White, on the other hand, is elevating and uplifting, a pinnacle of aspiration"

Mr. Spada's own home, image courtesy of Traditional Home

Dan Kaplan, editor and publisher of New England Home Magazine, called the inductees "a who's who of the legends of design in New England."

Inductees into the 2007 New England Design Hall of Fame were selected by a committee of individuals from the New England design community, including representatives from the Boston Design Center, Boston Architectural College, Boston Society of Architects and New England Home's editorial staff.

The inductees will be formally honored at a gala dinner on November 7, 2007 at the State Room in downtown Boston, the city's preeminent event venue. A portion of ticket proceeds will benefit a New England Design Hall of Fame design scholarship fund to be established at the Boston Architectural College (where I studied design!).

Congratulations to all!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wüd Furniture Sample Sale

Wüd Furniture in Brooklyn is holding its annual sample sale this coming weekend.
Saturday 9/29 and Sunday 9/30 - 11:00-6:00. 10/1-10/5 - by appointment.
They open this annual event with cocktails on Friday the 28th, 7-9PM

Sample sales are great opportunities to get one of a kind pieces and well priced floor samples. I wish I could go!

Tuf(ting) it out

It feels like everywhere I look, I'm seeing a lot of tufted furniture - from the traditional sofas, to upholstered headboards (another big current trend) to Brocade Home products to bathroom stall doors. It's such a traditional look and can span the gamut from opulent and sexy to tailored and (literally) buttoned up. Maybe that's why we like it - a little something for all tastes. Here are a few I've seen recently.
Stephon Collection at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams

Chester Collection at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams

Salon lounge chair by Baker Furniture, as seen at Traditional Home

Veranda Magazine cover - October 2007

House Beautiful Cover - October 2007

Custom made pillow by me!
Button tufted chaise settee at Target

Petrie Sofa at Crate & Barrel

Tufted ottoman at Brocade Home

WC in the restaurant Provence in SoHo, image courtesy of Blueprint
(and seen all over the design blogosphere!)

Custom made kitchen banquette at Heller Furniture

Dream Sleigh Bed at Charles P Rogers

Is tufting for you?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Meet The Artist: Kaffe Fassett

Kaffe Fassett was born in San Francisco in 1937. When he was 19, Kaffe won a scholarship to the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston, but left after 3 months to paint in London. He settled in England in 1964.

His bright, colorful textiles, needlepoints and quilts are filled with riotous colors, patterns - a little vintage, a little modern, a whole lot of fun.

Fabrics available through

And these fabrics from Glorious

Rugs available through Dash and Albert Rug Company:

Dinnerware, designed by Kaffe Fassett available at Gorgeous

Bedding from Pine Cone Hill

Bedding from Neiman Marcus

Even Pajamas!