Wednesday, April 20, 2011

about Design on a Dime... Great Shapes: DESIGNLUSH

If Bruce Wayne were a modernist, he'd shop at DESIGNLUSH.

But this would be the Christian Bale version of stately Wayne Manor... a little dark, very sexy, more modern, a definite masculine vibe.

And Mr. Wayne would love the dual personality of DESIGNLUSH, too. The collection has two distinct sides: one, a little lighter, organic, sculptural, and with an architectural and industrial bent. Then there's the glam side... a little Grace Jones, a little swank 80's bachelor pad, with indulgent finishes, luxe fabrics and hides. Bat cave, indeed, if a Studio 54 production.

This ship is steered, and the collection curated, by Stephen Mitchell. Don't let the boyish charm fool you... Stephen is a retail and furnishings veteran. Over the years, he's pulled together an impressive roster of modern design stars to showcase in his recently expanded showroom in the New York Design Center, Rick Lee, Peter Mann, Jacob Marks, Adam Simha, John Pagliaro, Gwen Carlton, and ESQUE Studio, to name but a few.

Installation shot of Fall, 2008's, Modern Masters Collection at Designlush

I've had the pleasure of working with Stephen and his stable of design thoroughbreds both in the showroom and while helping to promote some amazing seasonal events, like Modern Masters, a global collection that showcased the state of the art of contemporary woodworkers with what Stephen dubbed "heirlooms of tomorrow."

Stephen stepped up and donated two very shapely pieces to my Design on a Dime efforts. The first is one of the highly usable "Hal" stools. Why these stool/sidetables don't fly out of the showroom, I don't know. Perfectly scaled, no bad side, usable sculpture, designer pedigree. They work beautifully in clusters, but also totally hold their own. What's not to like?

The second piece shows the softer side of DESIGNLUSH... a creamy-gorgeous premium hide that will be anchoring my seating area. (The eagle-eyed among you will recognize the hide rug from my window at the Bloomingdale's Big WIndow Challenge, where Stephen loaned me a pair.)

Why do I love these pieces in this space?

The Hal stool brings some wood warmth to all the metals, and relates beautifully in shape to the Wisteria Architectural Stainless Steel Stool. The hide adds an organic layer to warm up all the modern, but its overall single tone keeps things cool and minimal, even when layered. It also relates nicely to the ivory tones of the Chinese figures. Its shape breaks out of the stricter geometry of most of the other pieces, but color brings it back into the space.

It's fitting that some of the most organic and sculptural pieces in the vignette are coming from DESIGNLUSH, since sculptural and organic are what DESIGNLUSH does best. Thanks, Stephen!

You can also follow DESIGNLUSH on Facebook.

Monday, April 18, 2011

about Design on a Dime... Get the Light Right, Part 1: Currey & Company

A good lamp is hard to find. The internet has brought us, for better or for worse, a bazillion sources, sure, but finding one that hits on style, budget and quick-ship points is harder than it seems, and can take hours and hours of site scouring. So I was delighted to find Atlanta-based lighting wholesaler Currey & Company (magazine publishers take note: I first found them in the Sources section of Better Homes & Garden...). They're now always on my short list of places to find the light for most any client project.

They have an extensive but not overwhelming selection, ranging from traditional to modern. Where they excel is in the Transitional range... lovely glass lamps, highly usable and with just enough personality to hold their own, and adding what lamps should add a room: a bit of sparkle, a grace note, a dash of color, and, of course, the room-important and ever-flattering light through a fabric shade.

Although I'm not using their Nefret Chair, I've filed it away for a future design project!

But surprisingly, the Currey & Company piece finding its way into my Design on a Dime vignette is less Transitional, and just a touch exotic... the Garnett Pendant (pictured, top), one of their new pierced metal pieces. A little rockin' the Casbah, but modernized. Love how it will add to the silver metal story going on, layering yet another finish in the room that will include chrome, brushed metals, polished nickel, and now this luxurious burnished metal finish, like a full moon over an exotic oasis.

Client project featuring Hammered White Metal Chairs from Michele Varian; Photo: Jody Kivort

I've been enthralled with Near and Middle Eastern design influences since Patsy and Edina went to Morocco (long before Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda), and by a recent client's love of exotic textiles and hammered white metal chairs.

The Garnett also adds a perfect circle above the perfect square of the coffee table from Wisteria. A most elegant lesson in geometry!

I really wanted their new Cairo Pendant, a lot like the Garnett but a little warmer, and for its magical scattering of blue glass beads, which would have been perfect to pick up the blue notes of the painting contenders. But apparently I'm not alone... a wait list (after lots of lovely editorial coverage) for their Cairo means it would not have made the (tight!) deadline for pulling this all together.

I've also just discovered that Currey & Company does accessories and high-personality occasional pieces, and their Southern generosity means a trio of their great and gutsy silvered-glass vessels will also shine in my final room vignette. I can almost picture Jasmine and Aladdin free-wheeling above this glittering little cityscape of moonlit towers and minarets. They'd have a magic carpet, for sure. And, thanks to Currey & Company, good lighting!

You can also follow Currey & Company on Facebook.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

about Design on a Dime... Pull Up a Chair: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.

When I knew I would be doing a vignette for Design on a Dime, there was one place I knew I wanted to go for my primary seating: where I usually steer clients: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.

Not just because of their great range of styles. Not just because their pieces are highly usable, or because their quick-deliver upholstery has been the foundation of many a room I've designed, with pricepoints and quality that keep my clients happy. Not just because I had the pleasure of interviewing (handsome Texan) Bob for Apartment Therapy. Not just because they give great parties with drag diva DJs. Not just because they were the manufacturers behind a lot of great companies (like Crate & Barrel and Room & Board) before they became a standalone brand. Not just because they publish great and friendly books that generously share their strategy for stylish, comfortable living. And not even because they were among the first in the industry to feature the occasional shirtless hunk in their advertising.

But because I love what these seating guys stand for.

Mitchell has made a name for himself by living a good and open life. He speaks out often and passionately about coming of age as a Gay man. He has lived without apology for his sexual orientation, and has worked tirelessly to make sure religion does not create a culture of fear or isolation when it comes to LGBT issues of equality. He is the man behind Faith in America. His amazing book, "Crisis: 40 Stories Revealing the Personal, Social, and Religious Pain and Trauma of Growing Up Gay in America" predated the It Gets Better Project, and has found its way into the White House, and many an American school library (although, arguably, not enough of them). It was at a Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams event where I met Daniel Karslake, the director of "For the Bible Tells Me So," (a must see) and met the lovely actress/advocate Judith Light, herself a friend and fan of Mitchell and his work.

Mitchell is also a walking advertisement for generosity, personal and public... he risked some potential branding reputation when he changed the company name to include and acknowledge past-partner and creative guy Bob. And their company has been a pioneer in on-site childcare, workplace equality, American-made product and eco-sensitive practices before Green became a buzzword. He's also recently married, and to hear him gush about his nuptials, you'd be hardpressed to remember why there is any argument against same-sex unions. He's also been a big force (even if he doesn't realize it) behind my own small steps into activism and living openly.

So, to add anything of theirs to my room would be an absolute honor, and so true to the spirit of this event, but I figured with so much giving, I'd not stand a chance of tapping into their generosity.

Happily, I was wrong. They delivered. Beautifully. WIth two Quinn armchairs. Love.

So, you know why I love Mitchell and Bob. But why do I love these chairs? They look great from any angle (important, since they may be floating in the three-walled vignette space), they add lovely curves to the largely geometric scheme, and they are time-neutral, with a vague vintage feel, but cleaned up enough to be totally modern.

They'll be in a SEXY metallic vinyl... "Gunmetal" in Alloy, which will only accentuate all those curves, like lamé on a red carpet starlet.

But the generosity didn't stop with the pair of chairs... Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams also chipped in their super-versatile Kimora Buffet, the perfect anchor point, and a piece that can make its way from living room to dining room to bedroom. I've used consoles as anchors before, in the Bloomingdale's Big WIndow Challenge, and my own living room. I love the legginess of this, perfect for a small space where precious inches are added when you get anything up off the floor. And its clean lines make it a neutral foil to anything more lively happening around it. Those lines also add great shelf-life to what might typically be one of the bigger investments in a room.

Read more about the other pieces to my Design on a Dime room vignette puzzle, ground up and piece by piece, here, here, here, and here!

Monday, April 4, 2011

about Design on a Dime... Flexible Pieces: Jayson Home & Garden.

There aren't many places where you can log on and furnish an entire suite of rooms without having it look like it all pulled up in one truck, but Jayson Home & Garden is one of them.

Even though I can't quite remember how I found them, I fell for the Jayson Home & Garden website at first, well, site. They also produce a gorgeous little catalog, offer a great selection of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams upholstery, and their seasonal "Petite Flea" events are droolworthy (WHO is the lucky person doing their shopping??). They feature a beautifully cohesive, yet highly eclectic collection... traits to which I generally aspire in my own design work, but which certainly ain't as easy as the folks at Jayson would lead us all to believe.They also have a smoky, masculine vibe, but not in a cliché way, and with a healthy dose of curve and refinement that keep their appeal broad. No pun intended.

Jayson's Painted Wood and Black Velvet Napoleon Armchair, paired with the iconic Saarinen Tulip Table from Knoll

I recently pitched some pieces from Jayson to a bachelor client... their Napoleon Armchairs, which I had hoped to pair up with a Saarinen Tulip Table for a dark tone-on-tone story in the corner of a his open plan living room. That never went anywhere, but I filed away the chairs, the idea and the link to Jayson for some other room... hopefully, perhaps, some day, my own! I am also a big BIG fan of their Tyler Armchair (apologies to PETA), a staple in their collection which I've dog-eared in more than one of their catalogs...

So when I was rounding up my list of dream sources from which to pull a piece or two for Design on a Dime, Jayson was high on the list. But like my lust for Wisteria, I didn't think desire alone was enough to convince them to ship some pieces, free of charge, to be included in my in my room vignette.
Clarke Upholstered Bench, in "Mineral" Velvet

Once again, I underestimated the generosity of a company I now have even more reason to admire. Not one, not two, not three, but FOUR pieces are heading my way... their brand new Clarke Bench (in a gorgeous Mineral blue), the super-versatile and ideally-scaled Wentworth painted wood cabinet, and two deep anchors of color... a pair of Embellished Turquoise Jars.

The Wentworth cabinet will be the perfect anchor for a little "Tidbit," and destined to be styled as a compact and civilized bar (stay tuned for lamp info!). The Clarke Bench, with it's timeless Parsons styling, the perfect companion to the Wisteria Stacked Stainless Steel coffee table, just as angular but softened up with full upholstery. They play very nice together.

Okay, so with more pieces in place, what's your guess for frontrunner in the rug race?