February 25, 2010

Ralph Lauren Home

He's done it again!  I had the unique opportunity to attend the 2010 Fall preview of the Ralph Lauren Home collection last week at their corporate showroom on 26th Street.  While press images are not available at the time of posting, I promise, you will not be disappointed.  With two themes of "bohemian chic" and "London bachelor pad", the styles, colors, fabrics and furniture profiles are sure to please many a consumer.

In the  meantime, for all you New Yorkers, there is a sample sale of Ralph Lauren Home furnishings from the 2009 collection at the Metropolitan Pavilion (18th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues) from February 27th thru March 2nd.  Shipping is available on site.  I hope a few of my favorites below are available! 

February 23, 2010

Hagia Sophia

Hagia Sophia, as you see it today, is the third incarnation of this sacred site that was first dedicated by Justinian I on December 26, 537.  This structure was established to visibly mark the emperor's victory over Rome, as well as signify the importance of Istanbul as a global city worthy of having such a religious structure.

Most notable on the interior is the immense height, the use of domes and columns for support and the decorative mosaics.  

The most recognized of the mosaics are the Comnenus Mosaic (c. 1122) and the Deesis Mosaic (c. 1261).  It was typical during this time for wealthy patrons to fund the construction and installation of the mosaics.  In return, they are often shown in the murals (as illustrated by the Empress Irene below) which further illustrates their wealth and religious devotion by visually showing them in close proximity to religious figures such as the Virgin Mary, Christ as a child and John the Baptist.


To walk among this structure is to be in awe: the scale, the ornament, the detail left me in appreciation for the architectural engineering that existed fifteen hundred years ago.

As a designer, it was when I turned the corner in one of the back passage ways, that I found an area of inspiration: the use of varying species of stone for decoration.

On a practical standpoint within the industry, marble specimen is typically found within lighting and tables, rather than the construction itself.  Enjoy a few of my favorites!

Brooks Lamp by Frederick Cooper.

Marble Specimen Obelisk from Kevin Stone Antiques, New Orleans


Antique Italian Gilt Gueridon, c. 1820, from Therien.



18th Century Irish marble mantle with decorative stone inlay from Chesney's London


February 18, 2010

Yerebatan Sarnici

If you're like me, it took you a few times to pronounce these words smoothly and in its' entirety; however, despite the unfamiliarity with the Turkish language, this is one stop on your adventure that shouldn't be missed.
Yerebatan is an underground water storage facility built during the Justinian era (527-565) and is known as "The Sinking Palace" due to the magnificent columns that arise from the water.  There is evidence that a basilica and a colonnaded garden once existed on the site.  It was an underground mystery for hundreds of years, as what you can tour today was forgotten until 1545 when a Frenchman noticed that people were drawing water from various holes throughout the ancient city.  The water came from this reserve.

This facility of brick vaults, supported on 336 columns, may look familiar to you James Bond fans, as it served as a backdrop in From Russia With Love

From a design perspective, there is a magical empowerment that majestic architecture provides: to be able to incorporate the stoic beauty within a residential setting, is the careful deliberation of scale, proportion and material as shown in these interiors below:

An outdoor space by Bunny Williams

A living room by Timothy Corrigan, as featured in Architectural Digest


The entry into a bedroom by French designer, Jacques Garcia, as featured in Architectural Digest


A simplistic, stoic entry by John Saladino

A chic living room by Miles Redd ...and a little peek of an upcoming post on Suzani inspired fabric, as featured on the club chair!

February 16, 2010

Christie's Auction: Interiors Style and Spirit, South Kensington London, February 23rd

One of the most delightful experiences I have had as a designer is to participate in auctions worldwide on my client's behalf.  Not only do auctions provide one of kind pieces for my projects, it can also enables my client to build collections.  For me, there is no greater thrill at 6am than to get the call from London or Paris, listen on the phone as the auction gets underway and then actively start to bid on the various lots I'm interested in.  Clients and designers have mixed feelings on antiques, but for this designer, the ability to acquire the "silent witness" to other people's history is quite enchanting.

From time to time, I will give a glimpse into upcoming sales and a few of the pieces that catch my eye, whether it be from a client's shopping list or simply something that I find beautiful or unique.

Coming up on February 23rd in London, Christie's Auction House will be having the Interiors Style and Spirit sale.  Here are a few of my favorite pieces:

Lot 8, A pair of French Gilt-Bronze and Black Marble Console Tables c. 1965, most certainly desgined by Pierre Delbe of Masion Jansen, Paris

I love these as potential bedside tables or to flank an interior door, perhaps in a hallway or entry.

Lot 44, A pair of chinese jars and covers, 19th Century


Ginger Jars are always great to stand on their own or be converted into lamps.  They're the perfect accent in a conservatory or poolhouse and the color orange, while not rare, is also not too common.

Lot 139, A George III Brass Mounted Ebonised Musical Eight Day Timepiece


The perfect find for my client to give to her husband for his birthday!  It will join a collection of antique clocks and sit perfectly in his study.

Lot 160, A pair of ebonised X frame stools, c. 1900


I think these are great because they offer a lot of versatility: add a velvet cushion and the combination of the velvet and black frame is perfect for a New York City apartment.  Leave the cushion off and the cane seat allows the stool to provide addtional seating in a country home.

Lot 314, A Russian gold and get set miniature travelling inkwell, c. 1900


The perfect accessory on any desktop or bookshelf.

Lot 579, A pair of North Italian painted commodes, 20th Century


Finding "pairs" of painted antique commodes is a lucky day in a design firm.  I like the delicacy of these and think they would work great as bedside tables or in an Orangerie as serving tables and storage.

February 11, 2010

Seeing Red

Valentino's fame is marked by his collection of dresses, Elizabeth Arden's spa door is painted a vibrant glossy hue, and never before have women (and possibly men) been infatuated with the underside of shoes until Christian Louboutin came along with his red sole.


As we celebrate Valentine's Day this weekend, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite red inspirations...have a lovely weekend!

Pair of Red Lacquer and Steel Commodes by Willy Rizzo c. 1970, Mallett Antiques

Chinese Export Side Table, Frederick P. Victoria

Oval Drum Shade Lantern, Charles Edwards

I'd be remiss if I didn't share the library I love....Albert Hadley's creation for Brooke Astor...10 coats of the oxblood red paint!


A favorite room at the Covent Garden Hotel in London

A lovely red and pink study by Miles Redd

February 5, 2010


What better way to start this blog and to start this New Year than with a glimpse into where I was in early January: Istanbul, Turkey. Istanbul, also known throughout history as Byzantium and Constantinople, shows evidence of settlements as early as 667 BC. The city has served as the capital city for the Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Latin Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. So as you can imagine, a city that straddles both the European and Asian continents was awe-inspiring. As a designer (and one who studied art history) to walk the cobbled streets and bear witness to the history, the architecture, the culture...well, the wheels of inspiration were turning.

Throughout the city, the most evident example of Turkish decorative arts are the Iznik tiles. Iznik, the modern name for the ancient city of Nicea, is a walled town located on....you guessed it, Lake Iznik. The Fritware, a technique of firing silica and glass at low temperatures, rose to elite status during the Byzantine Empire as potters began making less jugs, plates and bowls and instead began to develop the wall tiles that would be used to cover the interiors of palaces, mosques, and other monumental buildings.

The Topkapi Palace which served as the hub of the Ottoman Empire for over three centuries, is by far one of the most regal installations of the Iznik Tile. The harem, which served as the private residence for the sultan, the sultan's mother, his wives and his concubines provides illustrious layers of tiles on the walls, the ceilings, the windows, the floors...a true 360 experience culminating in the Royal Receiving Room.

The Sultan Ahmet Mosque more widely known as the Blue Mosque was built from 1609 to 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I and still operates as a religious mosque today. I quickly had to walk through as we were close to prayer time and only practicing Muslims are allowed inside during the prayer, but the few minutes I had were in complete awe: the interior has over 21,000 Iznik tiles depicting over 50 designs of tulips, pomegranates, and other graphic imagery.

While it's hard to imagine the grandeur of the palace and the mosque working within a private residence that most of us are familiar with, the concept of using tiles for decorative embellishment is endless.

One of my favorite applications is as a fireplace surround:

Bunny Williams installed tile beautifully as a wainscoting detail in a residential entry:

Finally, for purchasing Iznik tiles, there is an abundance available in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul; however, to keep the process more "stateside" Ann Sacks has a beautiful collection of Iznik inspired tiles: