Friday, February 22, 2013

The Talk Talk between Designers and Clients

My latest on Williams-Sonoma Designer Marketplace. It's all about great communications peeps!


Click here to read.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Good Design Is...

The amazing industrial designer Dieter Rams' 10 Principles for Good Design should be pinned to every designer's bulletin/Pinterest board. Mr. Rams, now in his 80s, defined great modern product design in the 20th century and continues to inspire today. iPod, iPhone, iPad anyone?

Dieter Rams T3 1957 transistor radio inspired Apple's Jonny Ive's design of the iPod. (source)

Apple iPhone Calculator App is a tribute to Rams' design for BrAun's 1977 calculator. 

And how does Mr. Rams live? Beautifully, of course!

(credits and additional photos and article here)

Note the shelves in the above photo are Rams' iconic 606 Universal Shelving system for Vitsoe Home.

So, meanwhile, as I ponder what good design is and Dieter Rams' beautiful design work, I wonder how I reconcile this sleek modernity with these gorgeous images I've recently pinned to my "Inspiration" folder on Pinterest:

Stefano Pilati's Paris Apartment via AD, photo by Bjorn Wallender

It feels like warring factions - wanting simplicity but loving deep colors, rich details and very, very pretty things. 

Can they co-exist?

Rams's Ten Principles of "Good Design"

Good Design Is Innovative— The possibilities for innovation are not, by any means, exhausted. Technological development is always offering new opportunities for innovative design. But innovative design always develops in tandem with innovative technology, and can never be an end in itself.

Good Design Makes a Product Useful—A product is bought to be used. It has to satisfy certain criteria, not only functional but also psychological and aesthetic. Good design emphasizes the usefulness of a product while disregarding anything that could possibly detract from it.

Good Design Is Aesthetic—The aesthetic quality of a product is integral to its usefulness because products are used every day and have an effect on people and their well-being. Only well-executed objects can be beautiful.

Good Design Makes A Product Understandable—It clarifies the product's structure. Better still, it can make the product clearly express its function by making use of the user's intuition. At best, it is self-explanatory.

Good Design Is Unobtrusive— Products fulfilling a purpose are like tools. They are neither decorative objects nor works of art. Their design should therefore be both neutral and restrained, to leave room for the user's self-expression.

Good Design Is Honest— It does not make a product more innovative, powerful or valuable than it really is. It does not attempt to manipulate the consumer with promises that cannot be kept

Good Design Is Long-lasting— It avoids being fashionable and therefore never appears antiquated. Unlike fashionable design, it lasts many years – even in today's throwaway society.

Good Design Is Thorough Down to the Last Detail—Nothing must be arbitrary or left to chance. Care and accuracy in the design process show respect towards the consumer.

Good Design Is Environmentally Friendly— Design makes an important contribution to the preservation of the environment. It conserves resources and minimises physical and visual pollution throughout the lifecycle of the product.

Good Design Is as Little Design as Possible—Less, but better – because it concentrates on the essential aspects, and the products are not burdened with non-essentials. Back to purity, back to simplicity.

I guess, when it's boiled down, good design for me is functional, self-revealing, timeless, long-wearing, and comfortable. Something to truly aspire to.

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks! Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Skirted Roundtable with Charlotte Moss and a giveaway!

This week at The Skirted Roundtable, we welcome the amazing Charlotte Moss for the second time!

Charlotte came to chat about her latest book Charlotte Moss: A Visual Life: Scrapbooks, Collages, and Inspirations and her love of travel and scrapbooking. We were amazed at all she manages to accomplish and you will be too!

We are giving away a copy of Charlotte's book via drawing. So head over now to The Skirted Roundtable, have a listen to the podcast and leave your comment!

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks! Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What do you think? :: Wallpaper selections & 3D Renderings

I'm in the process of selecting a wallpaper for a client's first floor lavatory. As we all know, small bathrooms are a great place to experiment with bold pattern and I'm excited that the client is on board with adding a little wow factor into the space. I've narrowed down the selections to a general "tree" theme in blacks, whites and grays. This is part of a rural farmhouse addition, so we're a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll, as Donnie and Marie would say. The papers I'm looking at are from Designer's Guild (top left), Osborne & Little (top right, bottom left) and Graham & Brown (bottom right).

The bathroom features bead board wainscot to about 42", a white, marble top vanity similar to the one above, sconces from Hudson Valley Lighting, carrera marble shower walls and floor, and a dark charcoal color ceramic floor from Urbanite.

Here are my 3-D renderings of the bathroom plan, with the different wallpaper choices:

I think #1 and #2 are my favorites. The O&L papers have too much metallic shine to them. I love the Designer's Guild paper - it looks totally hand sketched. And I love the Graham & Brown for the color contrast. To my eye, however, the Designer's Guild paper really makes the room feel taller because there is less contrast and the trees are so vertical.

Do you have a preference?

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks! Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Monday, February 11, 2013

Surviving the Blizzard of 2013

So, the Blizzard of 2013 (aka Nemo) started off gently enough...

But didn't stay that way. Lots of wind and snow, resulting in the expected power outage. We always lose power here on Cape Cod.

After the dust, err, snow had settled, we have over a foot, with up to 3 foot drifts against the house. The temps dropped to the teens outside and by the end of 48 hours, the low forties inside.  We have a very small wood burning stove, which was a life saver. I spent part of yesterday shoveling out my car and the driveway and getting in to warm up, not to mention power my telephone. This above from inside my car. Note - always, always have a clear exhaust pipe and open windows when sitting in a parked car with the engine running!

When not tending the fire in the wood burning stove, I kept warm under this vintage hand-tied quilt that I've owed for several years. Usually, it decorates a guest bed but this weekend it was put to the test and passed with flying colors!

Sunday dawned a beautiful sunny day and I was finally able to get out of my driveway by mid-afternoon. This is the grocery store parking lot. We finally got our electricity back around 8:30 last evening, just in time watch Downton Abbey!

Today was the big clean up. This little Franklin stove saved us, it really did. We cooked hot dogs in the open flames and wrapped food up in tin foil to heat in the embers. There are quite a lot of uses for wood ash including as a glass and silver polish when mixed into a paste with water and as a traction agent on ice, which I intend to try. More ideas here:

If you were affected by the blizzard, I hope you're safe and warm today.

Meanwhile, I'll be live tweeting this evening's episode of Antiques Roadshow along with bloggers Katy Elliot, Stacy Kunstel, Mally Skok, Cynthia Bogart and others. Airing tonight is part 3 of the Roadshow's trip to Boston. The show airs at 8:00 pm tonight (check local listings) and we'll be tweeting using the hashtag #AntiquesRoadshow or click here.

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks! Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Thursday, February 07, 2013

A Wicked Stahm is Brewin' and "Yankee Milk Fever" sets in

So, 35 years after the Blizzard of '78 hit New England, we're hunkering down for another Nor'Easter/Blizzard/Snowmaggedon.

If you were in New England at that time, you likely remember how you spent the blizzard.

Perhaps you were stuck in your car on Rte. 128 for days. Or in the Boston Garden after attending the Beanpot tournament.

Perhaps you were looking for your car, wondering if you'd be waiting for Spring before you'd see it again.

Or your street was under freezing water due to unprecedented tides. 

Or maybe you took advantage of traffic-less streets to get in a little skiing.

One thing is for sure, we'll never go hungry again! The onset of "Yankee Milk Fever" stems from this storm. When we hear bad weather is coming, we stock up on the basics, because you never know how many days you'll be living on bread and milk!

I was in high school and spent the days without electricity and heat at home with my parents, grandmother, our dog Tiny (a shorthair dachshund who did NOT like the cold) and the neighbor lady. We had an open floorplan house so my Dad had to tack blankets and plastic sheeting on all the door openings into the kitchen/family room to keep the heat from the fireplace in. Thankfully, we had a big fireplace and a gas stove which could be lit with a match. And the telephones still worked (ah, landlines!) so when I went stir-crazy I could hide out upstairs (it was 40) to call friends and check in. We also spent a lot of time gathering sticks and kindling from the woods - it all felt so very "Little House on the Prairie".

So, we're all preparing for the coming storm - apparently upwards of two feet. I'm trying to get a bunch of design work done in the event of an extended power failure, plus battening down the hatches. And buying my bread and milk. The fireplace is a little smaller than the one that got my family through the Blizzard of '78, but it will have to do!

Thinking warm thoughts!

 all credits and image information here

If you are in the path of the storm, I wish you warmth of hearth and home!

If you would like my help on your design project, I would love to chat with you! Please email me. Thanks! Subscribe to ::Surroundings::

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

LivingKitchen 2013

::Surroundings:: regular contributor Lori Dolnick is always on the go and her most recent trip was to IMM Cologne in Germany. Lori was kind enough to put together a great video of what's hot in European kitchen design.

Trend Report by Lori Dolnick

I recently traveled to Cologne, Germany for the 2013 LivingKitchen trade show with the BLANCO Design Council ( to learn more). It is always inspiring to experience the show through the eyes of the designers/bloggers both on the BLANCO Design Council and with the Modenus BlogTour who met up with us for press events. Out of the hundreds of photos we took - these are curated by trend including reclaimed wood looks in cabinets + tiles, grey colors, a stunning architectural sink design called MODEX by BLANCO plus pure white design for appliance + cabinets. Everywhere we looked, there were smart phones, tablets and remote controls. If you ever wanted to see an international home design show in under 2 minutes - here's your shot!

Friday, February 01, 2013

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