Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Don't get me wrong, I'm all for globalization.  But when one of my special treasures becomes available through West Elm, it really upsets me...

Years ago, when I was working at the gallery in Hong Kong, I was introduced to a wonderful cooperative project in Indonesia called Lombok Pottery.  Here, pottery is created by an entire village.  The men dig up the clay from the nearby hills, while the women are in charge of making the actual pots and vessels.  Each piece is handmade, without a wheel, created layer by layer, varnished by hand, and then baked in the ground under rice straw.  It is a delicate process that takes several days and one that creates pieces that are individually unique and absolutely beautiful.

I know that West Elm is meaning to do the right thing and expose these artisans and their products to a bigger audience, but mass producing them seems so wrong.  The success story doesn't always mean that you need to end up in a catalog at $12 a piece (mine was definitely worth every penny more)!

Here is my pot.

Here are West Elm's:

Lombok Pottery Collection

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The salt is in the air

Summer is finally here in New England just in time for Memorial Day weekend.  After weeks of rain, we were able to do some much needed landscaping, break out the grill, and do some overdue spring cleaning.  Isn't it amazing that even though we go through the same routine each year cleaning out closets of old clothes and sorting through toys, we still manage to find an entirely new round of crap waiting to be purged?!?!  Anyway, the summer breeze has me anxious to wear sundresses and open windows and think about a little house that I worked on in Cape Cod...

Monday, May 23, 2011

The final three

So, I've got my glass of pinot, and the kids are finally in bed.  I am online searching, searching for an old-school, traditional, English-influenced bed for a new client of mine.  Having a hard time finding the something-something that she is looking for.  It really is amazing how fast trends take over, and how streamlined design can become so mainstream...  Despite countless hours at the Design Center, and countless hours here in front of my computer, I can only come up with a handful of products worthy of presenting to her and her pricepoint.

Here was my criteria; something sophisticated, something romantic, something not upholstered, and something that goes with a Victorian house.  Here are my favorites so far...


http://www.edwardferrell.com/Product_detail.aspx?pid=13608&LO=4 (btw, this can be done in all wood).  But they are out of her pricepoint. 

So, after a little comparison shopping, here is the best and final, and hopefully most well received option:

Hope she loves it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's all in the details

This past Saturday was my daughter's 1st Communion.  As religious as we are not, there was still something very special about it.  It could have been the white dress.  It could have been backdrop of the church and how it was adorned with fresh tulips and hydrangeas.  Or, on a deeper level, it could have been how monumental the action of an actual sacrament was for a second grader (though I think for mine, it was more about finally getting to eat the wafer and being told she could really drink the wine). 

Churches are innately beautiful in their own architecture.  The stonework, the woodwork, and the stainglass windows are all pieces of art in themselves.  Even when they are falling down and left for ruin, the details of their construction can still appreciated.  And that's what I realized as I was downloading pictures from the day - It's paying attention to the details that make the things special.  It's the white dress, and the flowers, and the way the light comes in through the stained glass.  But, more importantly, it's about appreciating the details and making whatever you create your own.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Around my table

Today I was fortunate enough to sit at a "designer roundtable" to discuss how a struggling fabric house can reinvent themselves during a time when value and luxury are two words that should coexist in the same sentence; a bit of an oxymoron but what most clients are truly looking for when they hire us to manage their budgets and make their house look beautiful at the same time.  Including me, there were 10 mixed-use designers there sharing in an open discussion about what is important to each of us when it comes to choosing a brand and a showroom.  To some it was customer service.  To others, a user-friendly website with up to the minute information on pricing and current stock.  And to me, it was and always will be, practicality.  Of course the first two points are important things that I look for, but ultimately it's how practical the fabric (not so much the brand) is for my project and for my client.

In recent years, there has been a strong movement away from fuss and into function.  Those special single-use rooms are getting harder to find with people wanting to live in their space rather than just admire it.  When I look at a project, I tend to think of the space as a whole, even if I am just working on a piece of it.  I am a big believer in cohesive design and feel that rooms should flow into one another without obvious stops and starts, and color palettes should continue through transitions welcoming you into the next space.  If I had my way, everything under one roof could be interchangeable, and a bedroom chair could easily serve as extra seating during a dinner party without feeling like something borrowed from another room.

So getting back to the practicality of a fabric house.  It's obvious in my portfolio that I favor certain fabrics and certain manufacturers.  Some of the lines just understand my idea of design better than others.  Sometimes that can mean budget.  Sometimes durability.  Sometimes accessibility.  And, sometimes, how much time I have to find the fabric before the babysitter calls telling me it's time to come home.  But, more times than most, it means all of it coexisting in the same sentence and the same space. 

Chair from bedroom
Can transition into the living room

And then into the dining room

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Why now?

After putting up my first post, I was asked by a number of people "Why now?  What are you trying to accomplish by starting a blog?  Is this a marketing tool???"  Scratching my head, I have to admit, it was kind of impulsive.  In fact, I honestly looked up blogging on Wikipedia to see what I was getting into AFTER I had published the post...

But here's the real reason, impulsive or not.  I went to see Charlotte Moss, an icon in design, give a lecture at the Boston Design Center this week.  It was a great talk about what inspires her and how those inspirations translate into her designs. She showed a series of slides that were taken from her own camera, her own perspective of the things that she comes across.  From the flowers in her gardens, to doorknockers that she passes as she walks along a street in Italy, to taking notice of another designer's intentional details, she scrapbooks everything that she sees along the way.  Her own personal journey through life is woven into what she creates as a designer, and by having photographs and notes of the journey, she can continue to reference and be inspired by those thoughts again and again. 

I realized walking out of there that all of my notes are in my head; everything that I do comes from the vision up inside my own space.  Despite how good my memory is, the images that I catalog aren't always so translatable.  They are not always remembered in the order that they arrived.  And, they are not always intentional notations.  Furthermore, being a one-man-show, and having it all under one roof probably isn't the best idea. 

So I guess I was so inspired about scrapbooking my inspiration, that I started this blog - a way of downloading those visuals up top and keeping them in a safer place.  My hope is that this new found venture will become my working narrative; something that I can pull from and refer to along the way; something that will help me, and my clients, understand where my ideas are actually coming from...

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Let me introduce myself...

I'm an almost-middle-aged mother of four with my own interior design business that I've been running from home for the past six years.  Being almost middle-aged, I am new to the world of blogging.  Though, standing at my laptop in my kitchen while the kids are eating Asian noodles from a box from Target, I am a quick study, and quite honestly, getting hooked on blogging...

Life for me is full time, all the time.  My husband says that I have 2 speeds - on or off.  I go, go, go until I hit the pillow, and then I'm shut down recharging until the first kid is up, staring at me from the side of my bed telling me they're hungry for waffles...  My kids are aged 3 through 10, swimming in every activity from soccer to drama to Chinese to literally swimming.  BUT, they're thankfully in school most of the day.  During that time, I'm able to service a handful of clients and keep up on what's hot and what's not.

Interior Design is my second career.  When I was a kid, my mother was a NJ housewife obsessed with the D&D building.  She would redecorate at every opportunity.   Brunschwig & Fils, Scalamandre, and Clarence House were names I was familiar with early on, but Wall Street was calling my name instead, and I followed in my father's trading footsteps and started my career in finance.  I went to school and studied economics, moved to NYC and got my first job at one of the oldest banks in the country.  I met my husband and lived on the Upper East Side.  Life was pretty good.

Soon after we were married, my husband got a job offer in Hong Kong.  We were excited at the opportunity and committed to a 2 year contract.  I found a job at another bank there and kept up on my career.  He travelled to Phuket and Singapore and all sorts of exotic places.  I felt left out sitting on my career in a high rise with a great view. 

After much debate, I left my job and decided to travel with him - though I felt like such a slacker.  I was 27.  I felt obligated to have a job.  So, to solve my personal plight, I decided to try something new and flexible and took a position with a local gallery specializing in Southeast Asian textiles and Balinese art.  Quickly I took interest in the local cooperative villages, the beautiful Chinese brocades, and Jim Thompson.  I couldn't sit still.  For the first time in my life, I felt creative and inspired by the beauty around me.

But just as my new life was getting started, I was pregnant and our contract was up.  We snuck in an amazing trip to Bali and Australia before heading back to the States and settling down in Brookline to start a family.  After such a whirlwind adventure of life-altering experiences, my husband knew I wouldn't take well to becoming a stay at home mom.  He surprised me for Christmas that year with an enrollment in New England School of Art & Design's interior decorating program.  And, alas, a new found career had begun.

And now, ten years later, I'm still at it.  I can now appreciate my mother's influence in my career and would love to tell my late father that the twelve different dining rooms all really paid off in the end... 

I LOVE doing what I do.  Sitting at my laptop at 9pm when the kids are asleep, I am still talking, thinking and researching some aspect of design (though now there is a glass of Pinot next to my laptop).  I am seasoned at this in a different way - My life in the boys club of Wall Street has left a realist in me that thinks more objectively about design than my peers.  I think, "How is this going to work in a busy household, in my household?  What can I do to keep their kid's puke from staining their new white sectional?  How can they afford this when private school is around the corner?  What's the trend of this neighborhood, and how can the developer make sure that they capitalize on who their true market is when setting up a model unit?  Do people really think purple will stay in style long enough to upholster a sofa in it?  Sisal is gorgeous, but olephin that looks like sisal is more practical" - right??  These things I know - they are my everyday life...