Friday, July 31, 2009

Julie & Julia - Set Decoration

Last week Mark Ricker, Production Designer for Julie & Julia, filled us in on his role for creating the sets (and reinforcing the feel) for the movie. Production Design works hand-in-hand with Set Decoration, and on this film Susan Bode Tyson took on the task of gathering the stuff.

Once the Director and Production Designer decide what will be shot on location, what will be sets and the feel that those spaces should have, the Set Decorator begins to fill in the blanks. "From there my assistant and I begin to look in all sorts of places for pieces that we think express who the character is. We photograph lots of stuff and then put together a collage of what we think works," explains Susan.

These concepts are eventually presented to the Production Designer and Director who make selections on what they feel best reflects the characters in the film. "There is always a pile of maybes and rejects as well. Think of it as soup to nuts - it's not just the furniture - it's the little things that give hints as to who the character is. I save things like burned down candles, old worn soaps and burnt potholders and am constantly switching out my worn wooden spoons to use in the sets. I had an old kitchen soap that went from movie to movie until it got lost!"

And from where do all these treasures come? Nearly everywhere. "A lot of the more posh pieces (for this film) came from Newell's Art Galleries. Most of the fabrics were swatched from the D&D Building, but others were purchased on the Lower East Side. We shop everything from antique shops to thrift shops and even Craig's List and garage sales. Many of the antique stoves came from a dealer in the Midwest."

And each set is not static. Pieces move in and out and around to reinforce the passage of time and all of that is planned in advance. "I always wonder if people notice those things!" Yes, Susan, crazy design blog reading (and writing) people do.

Susan Bode Tyson has worked as Set Decorator on many films, including You've Got Mail, and was nominated for an Academy Award in Set Decoration for Bullets Over Broadway; you can read the complete interview here. Julie & Julia opens August 7th.

All images courtesy of Sony Pictures; photography by Jonathan Wenk.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


A fair number of folks end up on my site because they are searching for George Terbovich, who happens to be an outstanding Kansas City-based designer and friend.

Very few of George's projects have been published.

In researching some historic homes in Kansas City I ran across the KC Modern blog which is a terrific resource for information on Kansas City architecture.

This is the Bernard Corrigan house by architect Louis S. Curtiss. I will send you to the link at KC Modern for more information about the house; I have been in it and it is extraordinary.

The design of these rooms, by Mr. Terbovich, was for a previous owner; they have been dismantled. When I saw these images earlier this week I was struck, not just by their beauty, but because the design does not overwhelm the architecture.

I think the restraint is stunning.

Images courtesy of KC Modern; photography by Gary Kabrink.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Wright Stuff

A nice profile on Richard Wright at 1st dibs led me over to his site.

Lots of cool stuff, not the least of which is several lots of architectural drawings of the Empire State Building.

But what do I know? I'm the gal who wished they made prints of the studies for the Shuttlecocks.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What I Do When I'm On Deadline

I don't even really like pink, but these are terrif. On the hunt (just looking...) I ran across this:

Not that I need any more turquoise and gold, but geez. And, in the six degrees thing, it is very similar to the ring Stanley Tucci wears as Paul Child, which you can see on Meg's blog here.

Image, top, Bazaar, August 2009. And, I've lost the link for this particular ring (it's been that sort of morning) but you can search for Gurhan and they pop up all over the place.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Julie & Julia - Production Design

As all married people do, Mr. Blandings and I have a short hand. "Dude," is one, but we have another that comes up fairly often. There are people, well-known people, with whom I become convinced that I would be friends if only our paths were to cross. The first time I described this I said, "If we sat next to each other on a plane I think we would be friends," and that is the measure, now, to describe my connection to someone. Someone famous or at least famous-y.

I feel quite sure, and have for along time, that if Nora Ephron and I sat next to each other on a plane we would hit it off. Which was why I was quite excited at the prospect of the new Ephron movie, Julie & Julia.

I have a sort of perverse connection to You've Got Mail and one of the things I really enjoy about all Ephron films are the sets. I'm a girl who likes a good set. I had the pleasure of seeing Julie & Julia this week and was delighted once again.

One of the things that intrigues me about movies is the process. I checked in with Mark Ricker, who was the Production Designer on Julie & Julia, and he explained how the sets evolved. "(The Production Designer) is one of the first people hired once a film gets the green light. Typically the relationship with the director grows out of conversation, research, shared ideas, art, references, etc. Nora is very involved. (She) is very good at knowing spacial relationships, camera angles in her head and other devices."

Julia and Paul Child's apartment in Paris is delicious. "Julia's apartment was pretty much an instant sell. Julie's took more steps as Nora had been to the real apartment herself, and so was influenced by what she saw there, which ultimately wasn't very camera friendly. We wanted to show the history built between she and her husband Eric. They read a lot. They love science fiction, so we had some posters and tons of paperbacks and travel books. Both are from Texas so we had a few Texas touches throughout. Basically, we just built a layer of accumulation in an apartment without a specific design style, but cozy nevertheless."

I asked Mark if he ever develops a crush on something they have gathered for a set. Let's face it, he's a designer. "Production Design," says Mark, "is a combination of the best of visual fields: Architecture, Interior Design & Decorative Arts, History, Film making, Storytelling, Photography, Landscape Design, Travel.." As for the crushes? "It always happens. Shopping for the set dressing on a film is a combination of buying with characters in mind, but through the filter of personal taste. It is inevitable that certain pieces become fodder for crushes, and I always end up with a trinket or two."

Mark was extremely helpful; for the full interview, and details of what he stuffed in his duffel, click here. The other critical piece of setting the stage is Set Decoration. Next Friday I'll post an interview with the Set Decorator from Julie & Julia, Susan Bode, whom Mark deemed "a genius at coming up with the details." The movie opens August 7th.

All images courtesy of Sony Pictures; photography by Jonathan Wenk.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Whitcomb - Hudson River

When I had posted images of David Whitcomb's city townhouse and apartment a couple of weeks ago a very astute reader suggested finding images of his country home, "Marvelous post-Modern (in the best and wackiest sense) rambling pile overlooking the Hudson River."

Based on that description how could I not? After emailing a few other knowing souls Toby Worthington emailed back that it had been photographed and appeared in Judith Miller's Classic Style. Which I bought on line for $2.50. Really.

Whitcomb, an architect, was committed that the house would suit the site, an old iron mine, in both a physical and historical way. This covered walkway with its transparent roof signified the opening up of the frontier pioneered by a nearby railway. The metal table had less lofty ambitions and served primarily as a bar.

The slate of the kitchen floor was salvaged from a museum in Albany and the blocks used in the construction of the wall were piers from the railway.

The scale of the living room is impressive. The geometric wood floor is faux marbre.

The living room is the rotunda that you can see in the first image.

I know very little about architecture, but this seems an interesting mix of Classic and Modern that feels timeless; Miller notes that it was built 1983-87. And, well, I like it. It's just the sort of place that reads very personal and distinct.

Some of Whitcomb's favorite buildings appear in the mural below including the Pyramids, William Kent Lodge and the Hudson River Lighthouse.

It makes me wonder what's become of it.

All images from Classic Style by Judith Miller; photography by Tim Clinch.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Garden Chair by Guinness

Did you ever have two friends who you knew would adore one another and couldn't believe they hadn't met? You know they'd hit it off if only. Mr. Blandings and I were in just such a spot when we were first married. Then one night at two-thirty in the morning our door bell rang. As we dashed downstairs we could see our friends standing arm in arm on our front stoop a little wobbly but grinning ear to ear. When we opened they door they yelled, "Land Shark!"

This print by Hugo Guinness feels just like that.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Homage to House

Mr. Blandings and I had a dinner party Friday night. We were having thirteen guests and the last few weeks were spotted with menus and planning and cleaning.

While Mr. B wants to talk food, it is usually the last thing on my mind. He's a very good cook. The food is always great. It is the first box I check when planning a party at home.

Getting ready for a party always seems a bit crazy, but I always seem to take on a little project that I feel quite sure must be completed before the event or all is lost.

My granny lamps are happy in their new spot in the front hall and the parchment shades finally arrived. A former blogger on whom I relied for stylish advice, House of Beauty and Culture, graciously provided a suggestion for the shades as lamp millinery is a stumbling block for me.

He suggested the shade but also planted the seed that a border, like that of a French mat, would be a nice detail. When I emailed back, "Huh?" he was lovely and sent me pictures and instructions.

HOBAC had suggested insetting the line by a quarter of an inch, but I was chicken. After mixing the paint and adding the glaze I was really afraid as I thought there was a great possibility that disaster loomed.

The first two lines were awful and I mumbled a particularly unpleasant twelve letter word. A little more glaze and a better brush seemed to do the trick and, well, fortunately there is a "back" so the worst of it is to the wall.

I don't know if this is quite what House had in mind and while he might not care to be credited with inspiring my amateurish attempts, I am incredibly grateful.

How I'd love to have a large oval mirror to go behind.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Off the Rack

I have to admit, as much as I love Kansas City, no one lives here for the weather. It's been a terrific surprise that while we have had friends in town KC has put on a marvelous show. 80 degrees, sunny, no humidity. Which led to a pool outing/recovery (last night was a big one) and magazine reading today. Jeffery Bilhuber's Long Island home is in the August issue of Vogue. If you like the rug that he uses throughout (over those deliciously black floors)

they have something very similar at Pottery Barn.

Also, his living room curtains are Le Lac. Just in case you missed it.
Vogue photography by Francois Halard.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

On the Back

Every now and then I'll pull something from the file and discover a really great image on the back of one of the pages. This was one. Eric Cohler found his 15 x 12 brownstone bedroom "very depressing. I decided to fill it with the things I loved best."

House Beautiful, March 1994. Sadly, I do not have the photo credit.

Lost and Found

One of Suzanne Rheinstein's picks for the Enduring Style series was Roger Lussier's Boston Back Bay apartment. I thought I had two versions of his home in my files but I could only find one at the time.

Naturally, looking for something else I stumbled across the later version.

This serene rendition appeared in House Beautiful, March of 1994.

If you think it has been published since do let me know as I would love to see it. Again. And again.

Photography by Thibault Jeanson.

Friday, July 10, 2009

More Whitcomb

An astute reader commented about David Whitcomb's apartment this week. Seems he had a pretty jazzy house upstate as well.

I flipped back through the New York Times Book of Interior Design and Decoration to see if it was in there.

No. But! There were a few photos of the apartment Whitcomb lived in following this one.

Do I love those black stripes on the moulding against the yellow walls? You know I do.

But I digress. The transition from one space to the next seemed to fit with the post at the beginning of the week about the two Albert Hadley projects.

It's an interesting shift and I think one that many people who have an affinity for design would envy. Many of us wish we had a way to explore all the facets of design that appeal.

It's also a fun "I Spy" game to see what moved from one spot to the next and how. These benches, which seem made for the space actually appear in the first living room.

The asymmetrical balance of this room is particularly appealing. (Let's do just ignore that headboard.) As for the country house, Toby Worthington (another astute reader) knew (of course) where it had been published and the book is on the way.

This is from another Whitcomb project. I couldn't help but post it. That linear latticework and the shutters are so chic. And the chintz. Terrif.

Whitcomb's apartments photographed by Daniel Eifert. The sun room was photographed by Robert Perron. All images from New York Book of Interior Design and Decoration.