September 19, 2010

Double D of Decorating

Dorothy Draper was a pioneer of Interior Design. Creating her own firm in the 20s (it's still in operation under the leadership of Carleton Varney) she actually broke away from period design which was the norm, and established interior design as an actual art form.

During her lifetime she had regular articles in Good Housekeeping on interior decorating, designed fabrics for Shumacher&Co. as well as being the choice designer for corporations, restaurants, retail stores and of course, high-end interiors. In 2006, The Museum of the City of New York [not to be confused with the Metropolitan Museum of Art] had a retrospective of her work, the first ever exhibit focusing on an interior designer.

Her signature look was the large cabbage roses and the augmented, over-sized plaster reliefs on furniture and over doorways as well as her classic shiny black and white furniture and interior spaces.

I was at a friend's studio and noticed the Kindle furniture catalogue and remembered the company was creating reproductions of her furniture. Without commentary on these pieces, I thought I'd share a few photos of my favorites that are available. Enjoy!

September 14, 2010

[S]Mart Shopping

[Merchandise Mart, Chicago]

Coming up in October... is the opportunity for you to join me and Design Guy University™ for a tour of the Merchandise Mart in Chicago!! It will be so much fun!!

In the next week I'll be finalizing a schedule to visit the largest commercial building in the world containing some of the world's best interior design treasures (see below).

Interested? Just email me at (or respond to your email if you're a subscriber). A full announcement-invitation with details is coming soon!

[shown: the south lobby featuring 17 murals by Jules Guerin]

Very abbreviated history... the Merchandise Mart in Chicago has long been the resource mecca for interior designers for decades. Built by the Marshall Field family, the Mart opened in 1930. Changing hands a few times, it was the single-largest Kennedy family real-estate holdings until 1998 when it was bought by a New York holding company. Chris Kennedy still manages the property. I love the Art Deco interiors.. the elevator doors... oh wow.. wait 'til you see them.

Because it's so large, the 25-floor building has it's own zip code. It contains some of the world's best showrooms including Scalamandré, Kohler, Janis Et Cie, Osborn and Little, Odegard, David Sutherland, Baker, Donghia, Summer Hill (a final list of what we're visiting will be announced later).... whew.. I'm outta breath...just to name a few. If you see products in any decent design magazine, chances are you can find those things here. (note: the Sultan of Brunei spent close to $1.7M in furnishings for his own palace saying "it was the only place in the world where one could shop and get everything done in a week... "

We'll spend 1-1/2 days here at this great place. I hope you're able to come, it will be late October, date to come within a week.

September 11, 2010

Couture Cover Up

[Adena Pin Ring, ca 1799, Paris.]

I have a design board going right now and I needed some spectacular wall covering as this small bedroom needed some ultimate drama and thinking for one wall (although I would love to do the whole thing) I needed something ultimately special.

Adelphi historic wall papers were exactly the ticket. Available only through designers I knew my clients wouldn't be seeing this all about the town giving them a unique, custom look. The patterns are historically correct reproductions of old patterns, but available in the original color plus some new ones they developed.

Enjoy, because as you'll see good design is good design and to me, they're classic and can be for any home traditional or modern.

The designer of this pattern, Grove, has not yet been identified. Mysterious, I love the stylized trees and figures. Note from their website: "This pattern is licensed to Adelphi Paper Hangings by the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution."

The Bees and Stars pattern, ca 1805, was created when geometrics were at the height of popularity having originated in France and migrating to the United States.

L'Oiseau Moderne is illustrated in an advertisement by its American importer, W.H.S. Lloyd Company, in the March 1930 issue of The House Beautiful. I love the yellow and black birds and vegetation. Art Deco all the way.

Philadelphia Harlequin was probably designed by Anthony Chardon around 1790, a sample of it was found in the lining of a trunk (in two colorways) , the other sample owned by The National Parks Service supposedly coming from a residence near Independence Park. Can you believe it was created that long ago? Gorgeous.

September 4, 2010

Lalique kicks (gl)ass.

[Lalique Oak Chandelier]

After my incredible visit to Kohler a few weeks ago, I decided to stay in Chicago before returning home. While there I went to the new Lalique designer showroom located in the Merchandise Mart... my home away from home.

I was met by Bonnie Rhodes, the showroom manager at Lalique who gave me an impromptu tour. She was so knowledgeable about the product and expert at Lalique history. What a complete honor it was to work with her.

This vase was so amazing in person, I had to touch it. Created originally in the 1920s the celebrates the Langudoc vase was meant to celebrate the vegetation found in the south of France.

Figure and Grape Panels. Designed originally for the Orient Express, these are available as one or multiple panels. Awhile back I saw these panels in a design by a Chicago designer in panels for a concealed media center in one of the designer rooms for Dream House. Another option is that of them being clear or a lustre back (a process known only to Lalique so no illumination from behind is needed). While there I saw in the Lalique catalogue (which found its way home with me) a photograph of a modern, outdoor shower using the panels for accent. Gorgeous.

The Turtle Vase. This vase is marvelous. Perfect size for anything like a dining room table, a centerpiece on a coffee table... even the best item to place one or several flowers into. Made as a limited edition of under 1000.

This light, the Seville sconce took my breath away. Available with or without the black accent (it would also be available as clear crystal), the sophisticated light would sparkle any ole space in a grand style.

But what you may not know, is that Lalique acquired Daum and Haviland China. There were so many great examples there... I'll save those for another post. Don't you just want to have all of these great things?