Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Food Day

For a few years Meg Fairfax Fielding of Pigtown Design and Chris Cox of Easy and Elegant Life have led the charge to help the hungry on April 1st through April Food Day.  Take a minute, literally, to donate to help fight hunger today. Feeding America serves many local food banks, Harvesters here in Kansas City, and makes things easy with on-line donations.  You know the people you see, the women and men with the cardboard signs who you don't give to because you think, "I'll donate to a reputable organization that will really help."?  Really do.  Here.

I Have a New Gig

I have been a little distracted this week.  I have not, actually, taken to the pole (though I do have a pretty good gentlemen's club story I could tell you sometime.)  If you are imagining fabulous trips, agent signings, book deals, don't.   My week has consisted of my sitting in front of my computer for hours - hours - and writing nearly nothing.  Things picked up a little yesterday and it appears all is not lost.

Don't forget Bottoms Up (the antiques market in the West Bottoms) is this weekend and the Water Lillies  begin their reunion tour at the Nelson.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Let's Have Lunch

Think antiques are not for you?  Can't appreciate their granny goodness?  Or, perhaps you have them but don't quite know how to use them to your advantage.  I think antiques are timeless, chic and stylish and a great investment.  Join me for lunch at Webster House, April 8th, 12 o'clock to discuss using antiques in a younger, fresher way.  Grab a friend, we'll have a laugh and kick around some ideas.  You can register here.

Wonderful image courtesy of Ruthie Chapman Sommers Interior Design.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Design ADD

Elegant as Rheinstein?

Chic as Irving?

Cocooned in a cacophony of color as Gambrel?

Or, crisp as can be as TOB?  What to do when it isn't so much knowing what you like, as knowing what you like the most?  Which way to go when it isn't not knowing how, it's not knowing which.  How does one find the will to winnow?

Really.  I want to know.

Images from top, Suzanne Rheinstein for Courtnay Daniels, Southern Accents, November/December 2002; photography by Tria Giovan; Carolina Irving, her own home, via Little Augury; Steven Gambrel, his own home, Elle Decor by William Waldron; Thomas O'Brien, his own home, via

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thoroughly Modern Me

Do you take books on vacation?  You know, actual books?  Not a grainy seventy-five percent screen of text on an electronic tablet.  Books.

I do.  This trip I took A Moveable Feast, A Passage to India, The Hunger Games, Scat and a broad collection of  Poppleton.  Also, Metropolitan Home's Design 100: The Last Word on Modern Interiors.  Normally, I do not take design books on vacation.  I often buy design books on vacation, happy to lug them home, but usually I don't pack them to go along.

This time I did.  I miss Met Home and its unique, and I think broad, definition of "modern."  The book is a wonderful collection of some of the highlights of the magazine's thirty years of coverage.  There are great, large glossy pictures and short bits of copy, a happy balance for the design crazy.  This particular image, above, has stuck in my head for years.  I hunted through a stack of old issues five times to try to find it before giving up.  The work of architects David Lake and Ted Flato, I have thought of it half-a-dozen times since it was published; I am happy to have it in hand again.

Particularly charming is editor Michael Lassell's introduction; it is the kind of writing that makes you think you might want to hang out with him and have a beer after work.  Which is kind of what he's doing with the book.  Even if your design library leans a bit traditional, you should find good inspiration here.

Photo, top, photography by Erik Johanson, next, photography by John Ellis and last, photography by Langdon Clay, all images courtesy of Filipacchi Publishing 2010 for Design 100: The Last Word on Modern Interiors.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In Like a Lion

It has been a long, long winter.  I know it wasn't just my winter, but I do take the cold personally.

I am at home at the beach.  I am happy at the beach.  I am better at the beach.  My hair is not only bigger, which feels right to this Oklahoma girl, but wavier, and somehow more golden even before the sun has touched it.

Sitting in the sun may be my last conscious vice, having long ago given up late nights, too many cocktails and scoundrels.  Something in me craves it, soul, psyche, some sort of cosmic battery, and I can feel each muscle begin to relax one by one as it absorbs the heat.

My friend, Nick Olsen, would shrug and think, "Duh.  Leo," at this gush and perhaps he's right.  You can all but hear my tail gently slapping the sand as I raise my face to the sun.

More lion than lioness as I have no drive to hunt, content to consume what others bring back.  (Perhaps lions would be the bloggers of the animal kingdom if they could type.)

At the beginning of the week I wondered if I needed the ocean; perhaps sun was sufficient.  But I found myself facing the surf.  Nick knows, Aquarius rising.

Each day I walked to town and knew that I prefer a village.  Here for coffee, there for bread, somewhere else for the paper.  In and back, hello and how are you.

If you were nearby, either towel or table, you would have heard me express my recently discovered distress at the thought of having a gluten allergy.  In the past week I became acutely aware that I could live on bread and butter.  And pasta.  And cookies.  "I," I declared, "am going to eat better bread.  From here on out I am going to eat wonderful bread for breakfast every day."  Mr. Blandings looked up over his bracket, "I asked Scott yesterday how he got into such good shape.  He gave up carbs."

"Really good bread and a square of dark chocolate."  His blue eyes held mine for a moment before he returned to his basketball picks, "That sounds like a good idea."

Who is he to argue with the king of beasts?

With a bit of editing, this was basically my walk to town for the past week.  The churches, particularly charming, had really great lighting.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Just Beachy

We have been away, and while we were gone the paint for Mr. Blandings's study arrived.

The mornings at the beach were cool, the water calm.  It was a banner year for dolphins.  The promise of dolphin sightings could make me do nearly anything.  If you could promise me a monthly dolphin sighting in exchange for balancing my checkbook, I would vary nary a penny.

Along with gallons of Calke Green (top), an almost-armful of samples arrived as I ponder the fate of walls and ceilings and doors.

Light Blue, Parma Gray, Dix Blue, Borrowed Light and Skylight, sit, able and well-bodied soldiers battling for attention with a pile of bills and mail.

Even on my screen, these colors don't resemble the hues in the cans.

But later today I will begin to swatch and swipe and stand and consider.

All the while thinking of the beach, much as I was thinking of paint as I considered the colors of the water and sky in Florida.

All color images courtesy of Farrow & Ball; the actual paint I paid for myself.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Block by Block

Always intrigued by quilts and hooked rugs and needlework, I've been focusing lately on the patterns from other cultures and countries that feature similar shapes and patterns as traditional American crafts.

John Robshaw's pillows offer a nice little case study on this subject.  (Are case studies still a thing in the working world?  We did a million of them back when I twisted into pantyhose five days a week.)

Robshaw's handblocked designs have always showcased common shapes, but this latest collection features more embroidery and stitching.

You can find the pillow collection here.

All images courtesy of John Robshaw.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On Site with Roy Hamilton

If you are a designer, you might have seen this type of display at a Hinson showroom.  Pots and vases and cache pots en masse, all with this creamy, dreamy finish, pottery accented with a slightly darker linen pattern or faux bois or swirl.

And if you have, you know that the pieces are the work of long-revered potter Roy Hamilton.

Hamilton moved from the West Coast to NYC a few years ago and set up shop in Christopher Spitzmiller's studio.  A more talented and gracious pair could not be found. 

While Hamilton's pieces suit a neutral Neutra, he has recently added color to his creations.  Hatches and dots and swirls add swish to brilliantly executed forms.

Still with Spitzmiller, but at his own address on-line, you can find Mr. Hamilton here at Roy Hamilton Studios. dot com.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Unconventional Wisdom

I was giddy to see Elle Decor's new column, Unconventional Wisdom in the April issue. Welcome to wisdom in any dose, this condensed knowledge from Mario Buatta reminded me of the columns of yore from the likes of Mark Hampton and Van Day Truex. Elle Decor Editor-in-Chief, Michael Boodro, says the column was inspired by comments from two great decorators, "In L.A., Madeline Stuart mentioned to me, 'You guys should do a story on J. F. Chen. He has had such an impact on generations of L.A. designers.' A few months later, at the book party for Suzanne Rheinstein's new book at John Rosselli, Bunny Williams said, 'You should do a story on John; he knows so much.' And I realized that Elle Decor didn't have a format to tap into the most experienced people in the design industry."

Boodro notes that in an industry that is constantly on the look out for what is next, this column will focus on people who have shaped the field for decades. Unconventional Wisdom will feature leaders in all aspects of the discipline. Look for Lela and Mossimo Vignelli talking about modern design in the May issue. And, yes, Chen and Rosselli down the line.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Where for Art, Thou?

A few Kansas City art notes for the coming months.  The Bingham@200 exhibit at the Nelson-Atkins Museum opened this week. George Caleb Bingham was a renowned regional artist and this will be the first of several events celebrating his documentation of life on the plains.  The Nelson's exhibit features a selection of Bingham's drawings.

The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art is currently running Embarrassment of Riches: Picturing Global Wealth, 2000- 2010.  Didn't feel like there was a whole lot of global wealth left the later part of the decade, but the photography exhibit will likely prove otherwise.

Enough of flat surfaces?  Stop in to the Belger Art Center to see Wendall Castle in the 21st Century.  Castle, engineer, sculptor and furniture designer, has pieces in the collections of the Nelson, the Met and the MoMA.  See more than a dozen of his designs (sculptures?) here through June 3rd.

And, looking ahead, mark your calendar for the opening of the Monet Water Lilies exhibit.  The Nelson's panel will be reunited with the two others from the triptychs beginning April 9th.  The single panel is big.  The three together should be, well, really, really big.  Tickets are required; members are free.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A special thanks to Bryan at Bennett Schneider who stepped in to rescue me when I realized that I did not have updated cards for my trip.  He had the old information waiting when I walked in, had the new proof sent asap for approval, then helped expedite the order and have it shipped to my hotel in New York.  They would have been waiting for me at the desk if the hotel had been as competent at Bryan.  Be sure to stop in and see them in Crestwood.

The New Traditionalists

I was in New York last week and was drawn by the siren song of other bloggers to check out the New Traditionalists.

This up-and-coming furniture line was started by a couple of guys who liked good, traditional design, but were ready to turn it on its ear.

Architect and designer Brady Wilcox, formerly of John Varvatos and Donna Karen, is responsible for the furniture design.  The company does not exhibit at Market, so they can roll out pieces as they are ready instead introducing an entire collection.  Wilcox plans about twenty more new pieces this year.

But the pieces themselves are not the whole story.

The finishes are really remarkable.

Remarkable and many.  Flat, lacquer, layered, lined, it's all your choice and by "you," I mean any darned body.  The New Traditionalists sell to both the trade and individuals.

And, an added bonus, if you care about this kind of thing and I do, the furniture is made in New England.  Not China.  New England.

Just what made Wilcox want to collaborate on a high-end furniture company with a downtown soul in the midst of a (please almost over) recession?  Philip Erdoes, fellow native Oklahoman, hit brick wall after brick wall (and not the desirable urban loft kind) while hunting for furniture for his nearly-newborn a few years ago.

Erdoes and Wilcox had been friends since junior high and together these guys created duc duc, a jazzy line of furniture for the nursery and kids rooms.  Erdoes knows more about Big 12 standings than design (and I wonder if he trips when he says "12" instead of "8") but perhaps because of that he can look at the business in a new way.

No High Point, manufacture in New England, market through social media.  You know, new.