Friday, April 23, 2010

My Best Design So Far

Well, it's been nearly a year since I've posted anything regularly. I've been preoccupied with my latest, greatest design: my son, Joey. He's just about 5 months old, but he was several years in the making. Going through IVF in order to have a child is intense and demanding, but let me just say that it was so very worth every minute of it. Hence, my long absence from blogging.

I haven't stopped designing because I simply can't cease doing something that I love. However, since he was born I have taken an extended hiatus and have not taken on any new clients. I worked so very hard for this darling soul and I need to enjoy him. I am going to make an effort to keep writing and you'll see some interesting new things develop over time. I'm getting back in the swing of wanting to share what I see and what I love in the world of design.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Layered Windows

It never fails that what I love is usually the most expensive options. Window treatments are no exception. In most cases, I love layers of window treatments. Shades, sheers and drapery. Or Shades, a secondary drapery, and a focal drapery, or shades and cornices… you get the idea. I have found with most of our installations that layers of window treatments offer our clients the most in terms of privacy, light control, and design. Of course there are situations where simple is good- contemporary loft spaces call for a clean shade style. Tropical environments with many layers of heavy drapery would seem out of place. But in so many cases a few layers adds options and sophistication to any room. Here are a few of my favorites:

Above: Mary McDonald's layered window treatments.

A beautiful tailored silk treatment including a cornice, drapery, and a wonderfully simple shade to complete the look.

This is a very simple example of layers. Both layers are similarly crafted and practical, but also beautiful. That second layer adds a lot of warmth.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Appealing Bookcases

When I first started to become interested in design I was dating a guy whose mother was an interior designer. She had an innate talent for making things look great. Every corner of every house was finished to perfection. Even the bookshelves. (Yes, I noticed). What came as a surprise was that she had asked one of her assistants to do them. Mary, she said, had a talent for making shelves look great and perfectly accessorized. Sometimes I wonder if it had to do with the fact that it wasn’t Mary’s stuff. I don’t think so. I have always taken note of bookshelves and decorative spaces. I’ve studied what I like and what I don’t like and why, but to tell you the truth, that doesn’t make it any easier. Each time we are presented with new display challenges in our work it is different- each person cherishes different things and wants to see certain items every day. Sometimes it can be intricately framed needlework, other times it can be a doll collection or a highly meaningful memorabilia collection. Sometimes we supplement what our clients already own to help them complete a display, but more often we end up editing what they have to make a display with more impact. Less is often more.

There are a few things you can think about when creating beautiful display shelves. The first and most important is to make sure the lighting is good. If possible, under shelf lighting is great. It can highlight individual and important items. But do make sure the light is balanced. A set of shelves should be lit from above with a wall washer to insure adequate overall light and diminish deep shadows. If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to add this type of light during construction, don’t let the opportunity pass you by.

Another great trick to use in built-in shelving is to paint or paper the inside of the shelves. You can do just the back, but I prefer the back and the sides- leaving the shelves painted or stained as the exterior trim to tie the look together. Use a deeper color shade, and keep them all uniform.
Lastly, think about visual interest. Lay books both horizontally and vertically. Insert artwork, sculpture, and other small items sparingly and randomly. Balance is nice, but think about variety with different heights and interesting stopping points for the eye. And have fun.

Image at the top: Very practical bookshelves in the Chicago office of designer Alesandra Branca.

Here are a few more great examples:

The bookshelf as a backdrop. I wouldn't have thought of this, but I like the idea of making practical space out of a wall of bookshelves.

Create interest by hanging artwork on the outside of the shelves.

This is a simple bamboo shelf in Barclay Butera's entry. Notice the color and the proportion of the objects mixed in with the books.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

McDonald's New Concepts

I'm not a huge fan of fast food. I try not to eat it, but let's face it, if you put McDonald's fries in front of me I'm hard pressed to say no. The best in the business. Well, I think it's fair to say that McDonald's has leapfrogged all other QSR establishments in the design arena as well. The company recently hired Studio Gaia to design new restaurant concepts and (if I may say so) they ROCKED it!! Check out these images! Would you have guessed McDonalds? Would you have guessed fast food? Studio Gaia emphasizes the use of straightforward and inexpensive materials. The end result looks anything but inexpensive- I'm so impressed. The concepts were recently featured in Hospitality Design Magazine and (I hope) McDonald's will start rolling them out soon. In fact, I just heard that a new concept store opened a few miles from the office today. I may have to stop in. The question is, can I resist the fries?

Below is another, more urban concept. Also by Studio Gaia.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm working on it....

Hi Readers-

I realize that the text here got really small and hard to read all of the sudden. I'm working on it! We will be adding an RSS Feed and links to follow me on Twitter very soon. Thanks for your patience!


Art Upon Art

I can't help posting another brilliant move by Hermes. It's right up my alley. Hermes has taken the beautiful color studies of Joseph Albers and woven them into silk scarves! Mind you, this happened last Fall, but I bet you can still find them.... if you're lucky enough to be able to get one. This is such an obvious pairing- color in any natural material is richer and more vibrant and beautiful. Such amazing color combinations in silk is downright luxurious. My color professor in school studied with Joseph and Annie Albers, so I have always had a fondness for their work. Hermes and Joseph Albers? Slam dunk!!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I can't get away from the fact that I simply LOVE marble countertops. I know so many people find them less than practical, but this surface is timeless and incredibly beautiful. Plus, what do you have and live with each day that doesn't show any character or age? I consider it wabi-sabi and I think it's a good thing. Without a doubt my next kitchen will have marble countertops.