Sunday, 28 October 2007

Food as colour inspiration - part 3

Continuing on from my food related posts last week, I came across an article about the apartment of the team who started Anthropologie, one of my favorite stores in the US. This couple's inspiration for colour in their kitchen came not from a type of food, but from food packaging - from the French Pâtisserie Laduree, in particular. They apparently took the pastry tins down to their local paint shop and had them match the colour. I remember reading somewhere that Mary Mc Donald collects pieces of packaging in interesting colours that she can use to match paint colours for future projects. I love that idea. I might have to do the same thing. Maybe I need to go shopping this weekend just in case a client sometime in the future decides they must have Hermès orange or Tiffany blue walls...

Image from House & Garden March 2006.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Does this look familiar?

This green lacquered parchment desk is currently up for grabs on 1st Dibs for a mere $7800 US. I thought it looked familiar when I saw it, and now I know why. It looks remarkably similar to the one that Kelly Wearstler used in the show apartment she did for the Eastern Columbia development in LA that I posted about a while back. Don't you think?

Actually, now I look at it again I realise it can't be the same one, this one has less drawers..

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Sketches of Frank Gehry

I saw a fantastic documentary last night, called "Sketches of Frank Gehry"and I must recommend it to anyone interested in modern architecture. Frank Gehry, most widely known for the Bilbao Guggenheim, is a very interesting character, and I didn't know much about the man behind his architecture until last night. Its a very thought provoking film, and I think its worth the watch even if you don't like modern architecture. The movie was produced and directed by his personal friend, Sydney Pollack (or Will's Father, from Will & Grace as I knew him!) and gives a very personal look into the life of this incredible man. The film features interviews with some very well known celebrities who are Gehry's friends and admirers, including the artist Ed Ruscha, architect Philip Johnson, artist and film maker Julian Schnabel, musician Bob Geldoff and actor Dennis Hopper, among others. I'm not sure whether it is available on DVD yet, but if it is I suggest you go get yourself a copy!

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Elle Decor covers

So is it just me, or does Elle Decor just seem to be getting better and better each month? I thought last month (October 07) was one of the best I had seen in a long time - and the cover still blows me away. But when I picked up my copy of November's issue I started to drool. Now I can't figure out which one I love more. So, I thought I might do something different and ask you guys. Let's vote - I am going to run a poll and I want you to vote on which cover you like most - or if you like neither - OR if there is another back-issue cover that is still your fave. The poll will run til the end of the month and then I'll know the winner. It's all anonymous, so anyone who's been visiting and not leaving comments, now's your time to have your say!

October 2007

November 2007

Saturday, 20 October 2007

I have a new design crush...

....and his name is Frank Roop. Move over Miles, this is the new man of glam.

I am totally smitten with the Boston home that designer Frank Roop created for himself and his wife that was featured in this month's Elle Decor. It has everything that I love: interesting and luxurious surfaces; natural and tactile materials; contemporary art; vintage furniture (especially French 40's); dramatic colours; put together brilliantly in a fabulous high-ceiling brownstone. I was drooling so much over his home that I had to check out his previous projects, and they do not disappoint. All of the eight other projects featured on his site are equally as chic, stylish and glamorous so check out his website if you haven't already!

The combination of mosaic tiled floor, venetian plastered walls and his choice of colours looks quite fresh in their entry. The stool is a Robsjohn-Gibbings design that I've never seen before.

I love this room, to me its simply breath taking. The wallcovering, which is meant to resemble limestone, is by Cannon-Bullock and looks perfect in this room. The mixture of custom made and vintage and antique pieces mix effortlessly in this grandly proportioned room.

The other end of the living room - the cover shot - features a spectacular fireplace surrounded by opalescent mother of pearl looking tiles.

Another Robsjohn-Gibbings piece in the dining room (the table), an amazing Curtis Jeré sculpture above the travertine mantel, floating shelves and shots of vivid colour make this room a shimmering masterpiece.

This is another favorite. The study contains a Jansen desk, an Adnet coffee table, Arbus lighting as well as Roop designed pieces. It's like a roll-call of all the best designers! I also have to say the photographer has captured this room so well and ensured the colours still look so ethereal.

This shot is from the master bedroom which features a Harvey Probber desk, a Curtis Jeré mirror and other vintage pieces. Simply stunning.

Photography of Frank Roop's home by Eric Roth, featured in Elle Decor (US) November 2007.

Friday, 19 October 2007

The fabulous Dorothy Draper

My name is Suzy, and I am a design magazine seriously, I have a day off today and the weather outside is nice, and I'm inside leafing through back issues of magazines. How sad you might think. But I've always been a homebody, and I don't mind really. Anyway, I do digress. I stumbled across this spread on the one and only extraordinary Mrs Dorothy Draper. I not long finished reading the book "In The Pink" written by her long time assistant, and now the inherited owner of Dorothy Draper Inc., Carleton Varney. The article I found is about one of her largest projects, and one of the few she did outside the US, the Quitanhinha Palace just outside Rio de Janiero, Brazil that she decorated in 1942. This spread has colour photos of some images in the book that were printed only in black and white. From checking out the webiste it seems a lot of Draper's original decor is still in place, or recent renovations have been very sympathetic to her grandoise vision. The palace was a hotel when Draper originally did the design, but it is now being used as a convention centre. There are a lot more images on the website, so if you're interested check it out. While I'm not a fan of everything that Draper did, she certainly had confidence which I think wins over style sometimes (not always a good thing). These images are testament that Draper never did anything by halves. And while her larger than life neo-baroque style may not work in a lot of settings, it is absolute perfection in this building, and a lot of it has stood the test of time, and still looks marvellous, if not somewhat lighthearted and folly, today as when it was created 65 yers ago.

Images from The World of Interiors (UK) magazine, October 2006.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Food as colour inspiration - part 2

Continuing on from my 'food as inspiration' post yesterday, this is a kitchen that has taken that to the extreme. The walls here are literally coated in chocolate. And a dash of strawberry too. The owner of this home tried to emulate the look of a french patisserie, and it reminds me of the icecream we used to have when I was a child, that was a combination of strawberry, chocolate and vanilla in one tub - in Australia it's called Neopolitan (not sure why...) - and my sister and I would always eat the chocolate and strawberry and in the end only the vanilla would be left over. So what do you all think, is this too much in one room? I personally think I'd end up with an eating disorder if I saw this everyday!

All images from the June 2006 issue of House Beautiful magazine.

Monday, 15 October 2007

"Butter yellow" and food as colour inspiration

I was flicking through old copies of Elle Decor over the weekend and came across one of my favorite interiors, the apartment of NY ceramicist Christopher Spitzmiller. He says his choice of wall colour for the living room was based on the colour of an egg yolk, and was inspired by an interior by Nancy Lancaster of a similar colour. It's been said that Sister Parish chose the colour of Babe Paley's living room walls based on the colour of NY taxi cabs, but it seems to me to be a very lemon custard kind of colour, and something that would be delicious to live with. The idea of painting walls the colour of your favorite food is probably not a new idea, but it certainly seems like a good one. If you've had a favorite food for a long time then surely that says you wouldn't get sick of having the colour around. that reasoning...what colour would I paint my walls? Mango? Avocado? Strawberry? or maybe Chocolate. Hmmm. That's tricky.

Images of Christopher Spitzmillers apartment, from Elle Decor December 2006.

Interior by Nancy Lancaster, from the book "Nancy Lancaster: English country house style" by Martin Wood.

Image of Babe Paley's apartment by Parish-Hadley, from the book "Albert Hadley: the story of America's preeminent interior designer" by Adam Lewis.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Frances Elkins, light years ahead of her time

I haven't even finished reading "Francis Elkins, Interior Design", but I already need to rave about her. I also feel the need to share a few images.

This dressing room belongs to the lady of the house, from a private residence in San Francisco. Her use of silver tea paper, mirrors and glass is ultra glamorous and incredibly chic. Take a moment to think about how modern, or at least current this room is. It was decorated in 1937. Stunning.

Card room with adjoining bar from the same residence. Her use of colour and materials here is superb. The Elkins designed "spider" chairs are timeless.

This entrance hall is from a residence in New York, decorated in 1931. It may not look like anything special, but even in black and white it clearly shows the unique floor - a geometric pattern of steel inlaid into ebonized oak. I've never seen this done before.

Does this image look familiar anyone? Clue: think Miles Redd...(see image below). Elkins was a master at dressing rooms, as this image will attest. Ultra glam all the way.

In the wrong hands metallic silver walls in a bedroom could look cold and uninviting, but Elkins makes this bedroom look rich, warm and full of character. Teaming it with gold of course helps. This room is in an Illinois residence, decorated in 1929.

From the same residence, this time in the library. Elkins has covered the walls with sheets of Hermès goat skin (parchment) and has used a Jean-Michel Frank leather sofa and lacquered coffee table in a tortoise-shell finish (barely visible at the bottom). To me this room is absolutely timeless. And not only is it ultra stylish, it also looks ultra comfortable.

From the same residence (lucky people!), the ladies dressing room in their tennis house (now that's money...). An ode to Frank in a not so subtle way - walls are paneled in wood with mirror bands and the dressing table is covered in shagreen.

Frances Elkins undoubtedly paved the way for modern designers today like Kelly Wearstler by creating interiors that were a clever blend of styles, periods and genres. It is hard to appreciate her skill and it only becomes obvious when you think about how rooms were decorated in that era, and how modern these interiors still look today. One particular room that shocked me was a restaurant with polished concrete floors - not because of its uniqueness, but because it was created in 1941!

Elkins actively promoted the work of Jean-Michel Frank and his associates (the Giacometti brothers) in the USA, and was one of the first decorators to commission Tony Duquette to produce pieces for her interiors. She mixed in great circles - some of her friends included Salvador Dali, Coco Chanel and Syrie Maugham.

This will definitely be a book in my library that I will go back to time after time after time.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007


Wilson Shieh has been touted as the most talented young artist in Hong Kong, and I had the honour of meeting him this past Saturday at the ICAF. Born in Hong Kong in 1970, Shieh graduated from the Fine Arts Department of The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 1994. He paints modern, sometimes political, and often humorous images on silk using a traditional chinese method called "gongbi" (meaning fine line). He is represented in Hong Kong by Grotto Fine Art - where he has a solo exhibition coming up at the end of this month. I was told by the gallery manager that almost 90% of these pieces have already been sold. He is also represented by several galleries worldwide, so if you are interested in seeing some fantastic contemporary chinese art that incorporates traditional techniques I suggest you check him out. This is one of the pieces that will be featured in his upcoming show.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Thomas O'Brien - the quitessential New York designer?

If Thomas O'Brien is not the quintessential New York designer, then he is certainly one of the most accomplished. And with new collections for Bloomingdales and Reed&Barton he's also one of the most published. He has put his stamp on ranges of furniture, rugs, fabrics & trims, lighting, tabletop, bathwares and much more. His style has been called 'warm modern' and while the term may not have been coined specifically for him, it certainly fits the bill. I think what I like about his style is that it is masculine but not in an overpowering or intimidating way. To me, his interiors always look inviting and personal, and while they are very photogenic they don't appear to be showcase-ish. He has created homes that range from the traditional to the modern (usually with a mid-century bent to them), from the masculine to the not so masculine. His products are now showcased in either end of the retail spectrum with collections for Bloomingdales as well as Target. Here are a few of my favorite images from his portfolio...

Friday, 5 October 2007


Today is the beginning of Hong Kong's first ever International Contemporary Art Fair! It's being held in conjunction with several Sotheby's auctions of Chinese art and artifacts. There are several lectures being held as well, so I'm off tomrorow to check it out. Hong Kong doesn't get many of these events which is why I'm so excited about it. I probably won't be buying anything, as we are still paying off our last art purchase, but then again, I say the same thing every time I go to an exhibition and we usually come away with something...

Have a great weekend everyone.!

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Dawn Nakamura Furniture

I discovered a new furniture collection today, Dawn Nakamura is a stylish young furniture designer based in New York (another great reason for me to move there...) and her first collection, called "Epiphany", is just divine. Reminiscent of the early century masters her collection is modern and very versatile. These are a few of my favorites...
I love the shape of this cabinet, and the use of Kamagong timber (a timber found exclusively in the Philipines, and a member of the Ebony family) is striking.
The turquoise shagreen band on this coffee table adds a bit of unexpected colour and texture to an otherwise classic profile.

Parchment covered sofa - an absolute classic.

Dawn says of the production of her work "My fabricator for Parchment and Shagreen trained in London with one of the last fabricators who worked with the late John Paul Cooper. J.P.C. is who brought back the revival of Parchment and Shagreen in the 1930s and 40's and did work for Jean-Michel Frank, Rhulman, etc.."

Her collection is available to the trade only, and her showroom is open only by appointment, but I thought I would share this for fellow designers living in NYC.