Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Summer Reading: Which Design Books are You Reading?


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As summer nears its end, I’m wondering, which design books are you reading? I’ve had a few out all summer; a few that watching Million Dollar Decorators on Bravo inspired me to buy, a few I picked up at the Borders going out of business sale, and a few that just sort of came across my desktop and I impulse-bought, so I thought I’d share. We’d love to know which design tomes are inspiring you this summer; please share them with us in the comments section!

Here are the eight that I’ve had out for easy reference this summer.

Mary McDonald Interiors: The Allure of Style:  I absolutely loved Mary’s personality on the show, though they were not able to show very many of her big projects. You’ll need this book to check them out.

Summers in France: I absolutely fell in love with Kathryn Ireland on the show as well, wishing she was someone I had a weekly margarita date with. Her personality shows through in this fantastic book, where she shares her farmhouse in the French countryside. She also includes information about how to be a good guest (bring something back from the market when you go, rent your own car, don’t ask to borrow Kathryn’s laptop, and don’t throw cigarette butts in potted plants).

Bunny Williams’ Scrapbook for Living: I admit, I just judged this one by the cover, the fact that it involved Ms. Williams, and the fact that it was deeply discounted in the almost-wiped out design section at my neighborhood soon-to-be-empty Borders store.

Undecorate: The No-Rules Approach to Interior Design: Founder of DwellStudio, Christiane Lemieux, has been a friend of this site for a long time, and it’s been a ball to watch her success. Here, she explains her approach to design (there is no specific approach) and features all kinds of comfortable and stylish spaces that break all the usual rules.

Decorate: 1,000 Professional Design Ideas for Every Room in Your Home: We’ve also been following blogger Holly Becker since the very early days of her now extremely popular design blog, Decor8. It’s so much fun to hold a copy of her baby, this book, in your hands and wonder “how the hell did she come up with A THOUSAND ideas?!??!!” It’s also funny to have a book called “Decorate” right next to one called “Undecorate.”

The Happy Home Project: A Practical Guide to Adding Style and Substance to Your Home: I LOVE this book. It is one that truly inspires, not just through it’s beautiful images, but through the direct instructions and advice given by Jean Nayar. She also lives by example, having delved into all of the topics she discusses like the journalist she is, and applying their lessons to her own life.

50 Bauhaus Icons You Should Know: OK, another Borders bargain. I’m taking their word for it. One Bauhaus icon I’d like to forget? Those awful sweatbox Gropius dorms at Harvard. The worst! By the way, I just did a summer program at Harvard, I’m not trying to front like I am a Harvard grad. If you really must know, I applied there for grad school and was rejected. But I digress. This is just a good book to have to round out the serious design shelf.

The New Traditional: This book came out several years ago, but I am cheap and didn’t wind up getting it until I could score a used copy at a good price. It’s a nice one to have around because Darryl Carter’s work is a very good lesson in curating and editing. It makes me look at traditional items with fresh eyes.

Which design books are capturing your attention and inspiring you this summer? Please let us know in the comments section!


Thursday, April 29th, 2010

DwellStudio’s Christiane Lemieux at SCAD


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Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a talk by the founder of DwellStudio, Christiane Lemieux, at SCAD Atlanta. We’ve been carrying DwellStudio since it was plain old Dwell, and I smiled when she put up slides of her sketches from her first collection (“I couldn’t afford a light table, so I used the window”), as they were so familiar and are still some of my favorite designs. In just a few short years, Christiane has taken a textile company and grown it into a lifestyle brand, and she is starting to become a household name among the design set, just like Jenna Lyons. Next stop Oprah?

Christiane geared her talk to the students, and laid out a path to entrepreneurship based upon her experiences. These included an education at Parsons, grabbing every internship under the sun (hers included a stint at Isaac Mizrahi), immersing yourself in the industry (manufacturing, shipping, selling, P.R., etc.), finding a niche and exploiting the heck out of new media.

Listening to these talks made me realize just how much the landscape of retail has changed for designers in the last decade. Portfolios on websites, Etsy stores, Social Media, microbrands, research, etc. have opened up so many opportunities to those who may lack a stockpile of start up bucks. Christiane encouraged students to license designs over selling them, to remain open-minded (DwellStudio’s images are used in a series of children’s books, something she’d never thought of!), to form strategic partnerships and to diversify.

She knows of what she speaks. Whenever Christiane has guest blogged over here, I’m humbled to admit they are the best posts we’ve ever published, and her own blog is beautiful. She is also one of my favorite twitterers (tweeters? whatever!). Thank you for the inspiration Christiane!

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