Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's April Food Day: Bloggers Fighting Hunger

Today (well, technically tomorrow) is April Food Day - a no fooling around day for bloggers and FOB's (friends of bloggers) to get together to say that we're here for one another and for those in our own backyards who are in need of some help. Having to choose between food and heat is not a choice anyone should have to make and our hearts go out to those who on a daily basis are making that choice. Most of us, at one time or other, have known what it's like to juggle bills and the fear that grips us in the pit of our stomachs (generally in the middle of the night) over how we'll make it to the end of the month. It's doubly tough for those with empty stomachs.

Bloggers all over the country are asking their readers and friends to join together on April 1st and make a donation to Feeding America (formerly known as America's Second Harvest). Any donation, no matter how small, will go a long way if we all do it together.

Click here to donate.

When I worked at WGBH in Boston, we put out a video of a program that aired on PBS's "Long Ago and Far Away" series. This animated tale "Fool of the World and the Flying Ship" tells the Russian tale of how Pytor, a sweet peasant boy, wins the hand of a beautiful princess with a little help from his uniquely talent friends and his own goodness. Pytor and his friends journey to the Czar's palace (on an ice ship) and complete three impossible tasks - proving that even the most humble of people can defeat power and greed.

I thought the story was fitting for April Food Day - one of mutual support and unique talent. Certainly, something bloggers know a lot about! Below is a video I found of about 10 minutes of of the program. At about the 4:18 minute mark is a very funny scene of prodigious eating - one of the unique talents of Pytor's band of friends. Let's all hope that one day, everyone will have enough.






A great thanks to Pigtown*Design and Easy and Elegant Life for spearheading this effort. Two voices have grown to include many. Let's keep it going!




Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Monday, March 30, 2009

Two Model Models in the Fairmont Battery Wharf


A couple of months ago I posted about an industry event I attended hosted by Design New England magazine at the Fairmont Batter Wharf hotel. I've been meaning to post the rest of the images, but am only now just getting around to it!


The hotel is both a standard luxury hotel plus private residences. This group of picky, picky, designers was treated to tours of two of the model units, which were designed by Boston design firm Gauthier ~ Stacy.

There is no pickier group than a flock of designers touring a showhouse or model home. In truth, though, I thought the design of these two units was warm in inviting and went a long way to make the basic white box construction feel like home.

The first unit we toured was the larger, decorated in a decidedly light and feminine manner. The kitchen - with the standard stainless/granite combo - is small but well laid out. Nothing like a sparking new kitchen!

I love these slipcovered bar chairs - a nice soft touch against the hard kitchen surfaces.

This is a little sitting room/office area between the living room and bedroom. This image doesn't really capture how serene the space really is.

Here is a cute little pushme/pullyou double lounge chair. It was night, but the suite faces the Boston Harbor and Charlestown Navy yard.
The walls in the master bedroom are upholstered in a dove gray microsuede. I liked the bed wall treatment where there are square cushy panels. The rest of the walls were flat. The only problem with using microsuede was that the nap really showed up when rubbed the wrong way. I could imagine always needing to get rid of rubs and finger prints!! However, I immediately thought that the upholstered panels were an easy DIY project - square plywood panels covered in a deep batting and upholstered, then hung on the wall. Really, not hard at all!

The master bath - which also looked over the water - sported a free standing tub - perfectly positioned for the exhibitionist, marble clad shower and vanity (not shown).

The guest bedroom is a showstopper with this iron canopy bed (which is available at Anthropologie). I love the spareness of the space.
The feminine ruffle edge mirror softens the hard lines of the credenza.

And, in a slight change of pace, the second bathroom is swathed in a beautiful crysanthemum wallpaper in chocolate brown.
Over at the smaller condo there is a similar modern kitchen


The living room area is kind of a mish mash, but the views are spectacular (trust me!)
I just wanted to flop down on the comfy sofa. I love the mix of pillows.

The master bedroom, unlike the larger condo, is done in a decidedly masculine style.

The bathroom is small, but the marble walls are totally gorgeous!

Here's the second bedroom, which I prefer to the master.


Loving the old film reels on the wall. A great idea to tuck away for the future.

The small bathroom is smartly tricked out in a black on black striped paper.

And finally the entry way clad in black on black Kelly Wearstler Trellis wallpaper (slightly ubiquitous, but not often seen in black) with framed prints. Tres chic!After the party and tour, a bunch of us headed to the bar for big martinis (fantastic!) and teeny tiny hors d'ouvres (miserly).

All images by Linda Merrill except top two.



Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Architectural Digest 2009 Trend Report



Contributed by Lori Dolnick



I attended the Architectural Digest Home Show on Trade Day, Thursday March 26. There was great attendance and very interested designers roaming with and without clients in tow. It was a promise of a spring thaw in the economy, as was the rain that pelted those brave enough to come out in the weather.

A few impressions on what was around the show…

It’s New York City, so minimalism isn’t anything new, but there seems to be a reserved, unornamented quality about a lot of the designs being shown. As if to say, “I appreciate beautiful things… really… I’m not showing off.” Avoiding the ostentatious, for the green, the beautiful or the natural.

- Reclaimed elements coming through in design. Reclaimed floors from industrial buildings, doors, hardware, rod iron.

- Pure design – low VOCs – more organic – safe.

- Worldly possessions – artists and artisans from around the world mingling design forms.

- Tables, decorative elements, chairs – all in nature’s shapes or using natural elements. Trees, gourds, branches.

I also noted more than the usual bedroom designs being displayed. Is the bedroom the next chic area after the kitchen makeover? Is it a sanctuary from today’s stresses? Or is it the one inner sanctum we can freely express and decorate without prying or judging eyes? “You spent what?” It’s not like all your guests get to see your bedroom. It’s a safe place.


Pure Kitchen in Brooklyn offered green, LEED-qualifying kitchens. Made locally, low-VOC finishes. Minimal look, Minimal footprint.

TOJ Gallery, Annapolis, MD featured beautiful Japanese wood block prints.


Lorna Lee John Muller Designs shows furnishings using natural forms.


Bennett Bean Studio rugs are designed in New Jersey and crafted in Nepal.



Suzanne Lovell Inc.’s “Portrait of a Lady” is a private sanctuary of couture living.




Contributed by Lori Dolnick.

Click here to read all of Lori's posts.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Book Review: Interior Design Illustrated by Christina M. Scalise


I've been incredibly remiss at posting about this wonderful how-to book for interior design rendering. "Interior Design Illustrated - Marker and Watercolor Techniques" is both tutorial and historical text on the art of interiors rendering and is published by Fairchild Books, a division of Conde Nast.

When Christina wrote to me about her book, she mentioned "I recently read an article in Metropolis, The Painted Building by Steven Zacks, about the Steven Holl watercolors at MOMA. I was awestruck by his illustrations as they are just as emotional as his structures. I truly hope that design and architecture students take heart and develop a passion and desire to create from hand skills. There is much evidence to support the outstanding design that has its foundation in the art."

Christina is a professional interior designer whose interior and product design work has been published often in trade magazines and international publications. In practice since 1975, her hospitality and retail design work has won numerous awards and honors. While employed with Cole Martinez Curtis & Associates, she served as vice president, design director of the retail division and as a member of the Executive Management Group. She was also the design director of the interior Design division of MCG Architects, before starting her own practice in Newport Beach, California, Florida, and Pennsylvania. As a part-time interior design educator, Scalise taught design studio, professional practice, and rendering courses at Woodbury University, Seton Hill University, Brooks College, and the Art Institutes beginning in 1982. She has also served on the board of the Institute of Store Planners and as the director of its National Student Competition. Scalise is a graduate of Syracuse University where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She is certified by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification and is affiliated with several professional organizations.

Here are some of the amazing historical images included in the book:



Because this is a text book, it's price is considerably higher than the average paperback. But, the quality of the images makes it a must have for those interested in improving their hand drawing skills or even just studying the work of some pretty great interior designers and renderers.

I have one copy of this book that I am willing to send out (domestic US only, please). If you would like it, please post a comment about your experience with hand rendering and I'll draw a name at random and mail it out!






Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

On the town: Designer Appreciation Event at Clark Showroom

Lovely party people with me: (l-r) Janice O'Leary from Boston Common Magazine, Leslie Fine of Leslie Fine Interiors (and winner of a design award last evening - congrats Leslie!), Teresa Burnett of Willow Designs, Inc. - thanks for driving Teresa!) Stephanie Robinson of Boston Common Magazine, and moi of Chameleon Interiors.

I attended a lovely event last night at the Clark Luxury Appliance showroom here in Massachusetts last evening. Those people really know how to put on a party!

Clark's showroom, which they bill as a "playground for grownups", is filled with the most gorgeous kitchen vignettes, all with working appliances. Designers, builders and architects can bring their clients to the showroom to test drive any appliance they rep - including Sub-Zero, Wolf and Asko.

Great food, flowing champagne and industry friends. A really fun night! Thanks Clark!



Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What A Dump! Bette Davis as "The Decorator"

My friend Michael J Lee, a fantastic photographer, sent over the link to this hysterical 1965 television pilot of Bette Davis as "The Decorator". This was an early Aaron Spelling (Dynasty!) project. Too funny! Sitcom veteran Mary Wickes plays the long suffering, wise cracking, assistant.

Best line: "Don't be absurd! Everyone needs a decorator!" [cue opening credits!]







"I don't care if it is your house! It will have a moat if I want it to have a moat!"






Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Travel Tuesday: Sneak Peek: The Olsen Hotel, Melbourne

Here's a little sneak peak of a new artist hotel, The Olsen, currently being built in Melbourne, Australia:

Opening in late 2009, The Olsen hotel is a tribute to one of Australia's greatest living painters, John Olsen. The stunning structure has been designed by Rothe Lowman Architects

The fifteen story hotel hotel will be draped in a canvas like facade of opaque white glass, while windows will collectively reflect Australia’s largest John Olsen artwork. An imposing, six-metre-wide mural, painted exclusively for the foyer by John Olsen, will set the tone for the rest of the hotel.




John Olsen (b.1928)

John Olsen is one of Australia's most significant and accomplished artists and is recognised for this both nationally and internationally for his energetic and distinctive art.

Olsen's name is widely associated with his exuberant and colloquial You Beaut Country series which firmly established his reputation in the early 1960s. He is also famous for his interpretation of Sydney harbour in his commission for the Sydney Opera House called The Salute to Five Bells undertaken in the 1970s.

Plants, birds and animals began to feature in his works during the 1970s and 80s when he travelled extensively across the country, giving new insights into Australia's regional and desert landscapes though he has always sought to capture a spiritual and universal dimension to the landscape and the natural world in his work.

Olsen has won many awards including the Archibald Prize in 2004 for his self-portrait, the Wynne Prize in 1969, and an OBE in 1977. His works are represented in the National Gallery of Australia and most state and regional galleries. His works are also held in private and corporate collections both nationally and internationally. (courtesy of www.evabreuerartdealer.com)

"Back O'Bourke" by John Olsen, courtesy of Prints and Printmaking.


"Tree Frog" by John Olsen, courtesy National Gallery of Australia.

Inspired by Olsen’s lyrical style, Rothe Lowman has included Olsen’s famous etchings of frogs and swinging monkeys in the design of each room. Olsen’s use of texture and colour form the palette for the hotel interior denoting a sense of elegance and timelessness to a truly unique hotel offering.


Main public areas will be hung with Olsen original artworks, while carpet will incorporate fluid freeform graphic elements inherent in Olsen’s work. All rooms will include prints of Olsen’s work on the walls and bathrooms will be separated from the main living space by translucent glass, subtly covered in a watermark effect with an elegant Spoonbill bird, purposely created by Olsen.





Subscribe to ::Surroundings::