What comes next might still start in Silicon Valley…
Industrial designer Yves Béhar got the star treatment in this month’s Vanity Fair. Usually VF reserves its splashy photo spreads for celebrities and British royalty, but this month they chose to highlight one of the Bay Area’s most interesting and disruptive makers.
He certainly deserves it. Béhar’s work is unique in an industry where the Apple aesthetic (and poor mimicry of it) dominates: In Device Land where pure minimalism, or worse, plodding functionality, are typical for technology, Béhar was the architect behind the ornamental Jawbone earpiece, the sinewy Up fitness band and the stunning and eco-friendly Sayl chair for Herman Miller. Continue reading →
Why the Perennial Classic Deserves New Consideration
Last summer Sotheby’s auction house sold the Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet pictured above for $33.7 million – three times more than they’d ever sold any textile for before.
It’s easy to envy the anonymous bidder who scored this rare vibrant beauty which once belonged to the industrialist and Montana senator William A. Clark (1839-1925). The staggering final bid elicited a collective jaw drop in antique textile circles. There’s been a marked uptick in interest in 17th-century rugs in recent years, but what could inspire someone to spend so much on a single textile?
Rarity certainly has something to do with it: The colors and weaving technique represented in the Clark carpet are unusual. But the auction-house happening is also representative of a growing sentiment that reaches much further than the pockets of ultra-wealthy antique buyers. Increasingly, across almost all segments of the American population, people are searching for authenticity in their consumer choices.
This extends well beyond home design. It relates to food, fashion, music and more. After a century of the industrialized world moving us toward mass marketing and greater homogeneity, people are pushing back, spurring artisan culture and a myriad indie cottage industries to serve consumers who want something that’s not just shiny, new and exactly like what everyone else has. But one of the big ways this desire manifests itself in home design is in renewed interest in spaces that evoke history, because a great story – a time-tested narrative – is the hallmark of authenticity.
This year’s Grammys was a bit of a whirlwind when it came to style. There were more misses than hits, but the best dressed attendees really wowed for the occasion. On music’s biggest night, these stars took the cake.
Beyoncé in Michael Costello
Superstar Beyoncé showed off her slim ‘n trim bod in a Michael Costello sheer ivory gown sprinkled floral embellishments. The designer (whom you may remember from Project Runway) was inspired by NYC covered in snow. Michael says he was in shock when Ty Hunter, Beyoncé’s longtime stylist, came into his showroom to pull Grammy looks! And I’m sure glad he did. I love the strategically placed cutouts on this gown. Its fresh, sexy and fun. Exactly what the Grammys should be. I especially love that Beyoncé rocked her blond wavy bob that was a hit from her ‘Beyoncé: The Visual Album’ release last month. Paired with wine hued lips and a subtle smoky eye, this look gets 10s across the board.
Taylor Swift in Gucci
Taylor Swift glittered in this silvery Gucci number. The chain mail gown fit her body like a glove and I love the sheer detail at the neckline. The whole look is classy and incredibly beautiful. Taylor’s laid back ponytail and light pink lip were the perfect compliment.
As someone who reads a lot about interior design, I frequently come across interior photos where I think “wow, that’s really intriguing and stunning,” and simultaneously, “I could never do anything like that in my home.”
The conversation about interiors is often dominated by assertive aesthetics. This makes sense: a room that effectively uses a bright color or a space done up in stark monochrome (trending of late) will grab more attention and attract more eyes than a more discreet one.
But there’s a difference between repinning something on Pinterest and choosing to live with it for many years. I’ll never have a space that’s highly stylized because I have too many beloved objects – art, photos, family heirlooms – that I want to highlight. I want those things to speak to my personality, and I don’t want them overshadowed by too many bright colors or ornamental wallpaper.
Neutral gets a bad name because it’s seen as a default, and a middle-brow, highly-commoditized one at that. But a good neutral interior is anything but unrefined. Creating such a space can be broken down into three main components.
What better way to ward off winter blues than to reflect on the whimsy and optimism conveyed in the abstract motifs of superstar textile designer Lucienne Day. Day died four years ago on January 30, 2010 at the ripe old age of 93. In Britain’s post-war era, she cleared the path for woman designers in a male-dominated industry and left behind a 60-year work legacy with resounding impact – still felt to this day.
Calyx (pictured above) was her breakout work. It was shown at the 1951 Festival of Britain. A linen screen print, the design was a bold, modernist take on mushroom caps that emphasized the geometry of the fungus. Her manufacturer, Heal’s Fabrics, was so wary of the untested pattern that initially they only paid her half the 20 pounds she charged for the design. Calyx, though, went on to win design awards in the U.K. and abroad, and it established Day as one of the most important designers of her time.
Designer Maki Osakwe knows how to mix it up and her collection Maki Oh is a testament to women’s fearlessness and complexities. The Nigerian designer grew up in the bustling city of Lagos and witnessed power dressing to the max. After dabbling in design as a child (inspired by her mother) Maki went on to formulate her own line, driven by modernity and cultural influences.
The liveliness of Lagos is seen in Maki Oh’s eclectic collection. For her latest offering- Spring 2014- there’s a healthy dose of sheer, paint splatter, athleticism and ladylike appeal. And it’s wonderfully cohesive to boot. Maki says there’s a hidden meaning behind each piece, which draws inspiration from decades ago when Nigerian women used their clothing to pass messages to others. This line also cares about the environment. Maki uses fabric that is organically dyed on silks and cottons as opposed to industrial paint dying. There’s a passion for sustainability and every part of the design process is done on Nigerian soil.
The shining stars of this collection are as diverse as the line itself. An off the shoulder knee length dress boasts puffed sleeves and a sheer skirt. It’s equal parts artistic and whimsical. Another look features an athletic-inspired top with peplum sleeves in a graphic print, reminiscent of chipped paint. The rest of the look is comprised of a high waisted silk trouser with a tad bit of colorblocking under the knee. The details are both evident and discreet, loud yet bashful, mysterious but sweet: much like the duality of a woman. At the core, Maki Oh embodies the freedom of defining your own beauty. Women want to express all sides of themselves and with this line there’s no need to choose. I’d like to see these pieces at the Fall ready-to-wear shows next month, opening night at an exhibit or pretty much any NYC event. They’ll do quite nicely in my closet.
Interior designer Kara Mann does for spaces what Maki Oh does for the body. Her work is multifaceted: daring, strong, sexy, worldly and edgy. And sweet. The New York City and Chicago based designer creates distinctive interiors by mixing modern and traditional. Here are some standouts from a few spaces she’s worked on.
Red was the standout color at this year’s Golden Globes. New actress turned fashion icon Lupita Nyong’o donned a super chic off-the-shoulder Ralph Lauren cape in bold scarlet. Her fierce cropped ‘do acted as a great compliment to the elegant look. Aaron Paul’s wife Lauren Parsekian was ravishing in a sexy lipstick red Burberry gown accentuated with a bit of bling and her golden locks. Actress Amy Adams switched it up with a two toned Valentino that showed off her fit arms and perfect porcelain skin. The color red is associated with energy, strength and power so it’s no mistake that it’s been a red carpet fave. Who can forget Nicole Kidman’s iconic Balenciaga gown that she wore to the 2007 Academy Awards? Talk about epic. Not strutting down a red carpet anytime soon? No worries, here are some surefire ways to kick your outfit and home up a notch with red’s bold accent.
For everyday style, I love red accessories paired with a neutral outfit like grey or camel. It’s unexpected and never overdone. Try the season’s hottest topper: the fedora. This deep burgundy one from River Island is a hit with a blazer, jeans and boots. Try this Mulberry belt with a denim on denim outfit for a cool pop of color. Over the weekend, these Miu Miu shades are a winner. For night, pump up your little black dress with a colorblocked scarlet and creme quilted leather Miu Miuclutch. When traveling, a vibrant iPad case like this one from Gucci, makes it easy to find in your carryall.
Back for a fourth season, Downton Abbey’s beloved residents are now just a few years shy of the jazz age, evidenced by the Crawley sisters’ new hairdos and drop-waist dresses – quite a change from the late Victorian ensembles of previous seasons. Of course, no one expects the grand Abbey itself to change quite so quickly – there are all those centuries of heritage to preserve!
Home goods retailers have been capitalizing on the PBS-induced Anglophilia for quite some time now with Downton-inspired paints, candles, textiles and more. Much of the merchandising is rather lacking in Edwardian authenticity, and maybe that’s fine: There probably aren’t that many of us who want to turn our homes into mock noble estates.
But there is inspiration to be taken from the richly decorated interiors of Highclere Castle, the show’s main filming location. Here’s a look at lessons we can glean from those lovely sets:
Rooms as period collections
The castle’s saloon was finished in 1860. Richly ornamented from floor to ceiling, it has Gothic-period vaulted entryways that draw the eye upward and highlight the room’s grandness and opulence. Continue reading →
One thing that always comes to mind during a new year, besides making a list of goals, is starting from a clean slate. Organizing my apartment, throwing out things that are causing clutter and getting in the way of me being my best. There’s a refreshing feeling that comes with things that are minimal. You have no distractions and it’s easy to point out the most beautiful and important aspect.
While searching for the minimal and the beautiful, I came across Brooklyn jewelry designer Fay Andrada. Each piece in Fay’s collection is unique and exquisite. Her inspiration lies in handmade tradition and her goal is to create modern artifacts. With her innovative line, Fay has mastered the art of simplicity. Her work is unbothered and almost zen-like, Here are a few of my favorite things:
The dictionary definition of rustic is as follows:
adjective: Of, relating to, or suitable for the country or people who live in the country
Too often we conflate rustic with other less-than-pleasant descriptors – old, worn, decrepit – and sometimes (especially where real estate listings are concerned) rustic is misappropriated as a euphemism for “in need of refurbishment.”
Even when we aren’t using “rustic” against its natural purposes, the picture it most commonly calls to mind is a grandparent’s cabin draped in scratchy Navajo blankets, or a ski lodge with a stone fireplace and leather booths in dire need of reupholstering. A sense of aging lingers around “rustic” that is unfairly limiting. Although there are probably city folk who believe pilling textiles and scuffed furniture are what is worthy of country dwellers, the truth is that a transcendent rustic interior is one that is tastefully informed by its natural setting – a space that uses locally-sourced materials and incorporates cultural heritage and quality craftsmanship.
Perhaps due to the prevalence of outdoor lifestyles in northern Europe, Scandinavian designers in particular excel at forging contemporary statements using a rustic palette.