Friday, December 9th, 2011

Around the Web This Week


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1. A “cocktail dogtrot?” Yes Please! The work of Lake Flato Architects over at Garden and Gun will give your eyes a wonderful break from whatever spreadsheet or TPS report you are working on.

PHOTO CREDIT: Misty Keasler for Garden and Gun

2. Thank you to Ms Sally from Curbed for posting the link on Facebook to a post on a blog about the awesome ironic PSA ads from the College for Creative Studies. What a tangled interweb we weave, that was a mouthful. Just check out the full post here.

3. I’m super excited that Archidose creator John Hill released his book this week – it makes me want to go to NYC pronto. While I wait, I’ll be getting to know all of the new buildings via his Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture. Order it at any of your favorite book retailers. It highlights the most important projects from the first decade of this millenium, filling a hole that exists in the NYC architecture guidebooks.

4. Got about 2 and a half minutes? Check out this inspiring video from one of our newest vendors, Defy Bags. I love the way they mix old materials with new designs and that each bag is unique.

Check out all the Defy Bags and snatch up your favorite before it’s gone.

5. I’d like to give a shout out to Lucas over at Taste Terminal for including the Urbancase Emergency Cocktail Station in his 2011 Gift Guide for the Drinker!

Check out the rest of his picks here.

Learn more about Urbancase and how it came to be here.

Order one for the drinker in your life here


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, May 26th, 2011

A New Resource for Design Books


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I was so excited to learn about this great new resource for finding inspirational books (although, it’s probably dangerous for me as I tend to hoard design books). It’s called Designers and Books. Right now I’m deep into one of my personal favorite creative person’s book list, the fabulous Cynthia Rowley. There are architects, fashion designers, interior designers, product designers, graphic designers, car designers…you get the idea. Every Tuesday another designer adds their personal book list. From there, you can create your own personal reading list and email it to yourself (be warned; if you clear your cookies, it will be lost. Upcoming technology on the site will provide password protected reading lists for users. Here’s a little peek at the clean and simple format of the site:

So far, Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi have created my favorite list.

If you’re like me, you noticed that there are not any landscape architects on the site yet. Do not fret. Lists from Michael Van Valkenburgh and Deborah Nevins’ lists are coming soon.


Wednesday, April 27th, 2011

Design Reads: Light x Design


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I recently received a copy of Light x Design: 20 Years of Lighting by Bentley Meeker. Meeker is a lighting designer. While he started at The Palladium during the Wubba Wubba Wubba era (if you get that reference you are as old as I am!), his focus today is on event design. Now here comes the part where I am embarrassed. As I looked through the different pictures of the events (many of which were planned by Preston Baily), it took me until my third perusal to realize a lot of them were taken of the very same spaces (at the same angle even). The lighting design had so transformed the spaces that I could did not even recognize them.  The other thing I appreciate about this book is that Meeker’s lighting highlights and transforms some of New York City’s most glorious interior spaces, from Gotham Hall to The Museum of Natural History (imagine the whale in shades of blue and green speckles). While Meeker and architecture are a great pair, you’d be amazed at what he can do with a tent as well.

Pardon my photography, which does not do the book’s photography justice; my scanner is on the fritz so I had to shoot the book with my camera. Not ideal.


Friday, April 30th, 2010

David Stark Interview and Book Giveaway


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There will be no flickr faves today as I had the privilege of interviewing event designer extraordinaire David Stark this week and I wanted to post it posthaste (there is some kind of new, lame, blogging pun in there somewhere, between “post” and “posthaste” but I’m going to leave it alone). Also, one of you lucky readers will have the privilege of scoring his new book, David Stark Design FOR FREE! Just leave us an event planning story, tip, or just tell us a go-to item you find yourself using to decorate the table with again and again in the comments section to enter. If you can’t wait or if you don’t win, click here to purchase the book. We will choose a winner on Friday, May 7.

We’ve talked about David’s projects here before; I had picked a favorite awhile back (the Metropolitan Opera, bedecked in graphics from operas past), but after browsing his projects again I realize it’s impossible. I mean, how intimidating must it be to design the event for the anniversary of Cooper Hewitt’s National Design Awards? No sweat for David and his team.

Event for the Metropolitan Opera

So many of your ideas go beyond my wildest imagination – What’s the best piece of advice you can give someone on how to get inspired when they are planning their decor for a party?

Open up your mind to the world of material possibilities.  Flowers are my first love and the reason I got into this business in the first place, but flowers are simply one tool in the tool box.  Paint swatches from the hardware store, Post-it notes, number 2 pencils – anything really can be lassoed to become lovely touches to or an entire, breathtaking transformations of a space.

Please share a secret or two on how to set a striking table on a tiny budget.

I always say I would rather do one or two things perfectly than 25 things in a watered down way.  If I am buying flowers, instead of buying one bunch of three different species, I buy three bunches of the same species for more impact.   The supermarket holds a bounty of centerpiece ideas.  A line of green apples marching down the table is a centerpiece one night and a snack or pie the day after.  Pin a place card to a perfect apple at each place setting to create the “exclamation point at the end of the sentence!”

For this wedding in Maine, local flora was put to use. Trees that had been cut on the property were chopped into logs to create dramatic backdrops, and pinecones were put to work as placecard holders.

Our readers are very environmentally conscious. How can we stay green when decorating for an event that will only last a few hours?

The best start is by avoiding disposable silverware, plates, napkins, and cups.  I know it is EASIER to clean up by simply tossing, but it’s not that much extra work to wash your dishes.  For centerpieces, potted plants, especially this time of year, can begin as a centerpiece for your dining table.   The next morning,  plant your centerpiece in your garden to enjoy all summer long.

If you are crafty, you can turn your trash into treasure.  I have made all kinds of topiary and paper flowers out of our office paper waste, and in fact, we are creating a whole flower shop, called The (purley paper) Flower Shoppe to celebrate the launch of our new book at the west elm store on Broadway and 62nd Street.  The store is open to the public for two days only:  May 13th and 14th and is filled with all kinds of garden-y treasures that we have hand-made from the pages of old books.

So you ever feel creatively blocked? If so, how do you break through it?

I go  for a looong walk at Target. J

What is one of your favorite indulgences?

I am addicted to the gym and the trainers that keep me healthy and in my head and my heart.

Please share a favorite project with us and tell us a little bit about it.

Oh, I don’t have a favorite project!!!  That would be like singling out your favorite child!  But . . . I am particularly fond of a gala we designed for the Robin Hood Foundation a couple of years ago where we received a million dollars worth of donated items that the program recipients needed – food, clothing, shoes, alarm clocks, blankets, and so on.  We created radical and towering installations with these materials for the event, and then after, each item went to the people that needed it most.  100 percent charity, playing double duty as art, without any waste.  I like that.  A lot.

Yup, that is a cyclone of shoes!

Thank you so much for your time and all the inspiration I glean from you!

OMG!  It is my honor to be interviewed by you!  Thank YOU!

all images from