Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dream Design

Production Designer Sarah Greenwood of Atonement fame has done it again with the lust worthy sets for Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day! Penelope Green recently interviewed the Oscar Nominated designer for The New York Times and here's what she had to say.

Q. Most of the film takes place in the fantastical flat of Delysia Lafosse, an American nightclub singer on the make. What was your inspiration?
A. It's Hollywood Comes to London, and we set about referencing a lot of Hollywood style, like Dorothy Draper and William Haines.

Q. What is that wallpaper?
A. It's hand-painted and costs a fortune from de Gournay.

Q. What's your own house like?
A. It's an 1850s schoolhouse in Brixton. Doing "Miss Pettigrew" was a flight of fancy. It's all the things I don't have in my own life, though now I do have one of the throws from Delysia's bed, a fake polar bear skin that my dog loves.

Q. What is your favorite period?
A. Anything but the one I'm working on.

The movie opens March 7th and I know I can't wait to check it out. I also wonder it might also inspire people to move away from minimalism to more luxurious designs.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Search for Light Fixture Leads to So Much More!

There was such a huge response to the custom light fixtures seen in the photos I had posted from Thom Filicia's portfolio that I had to track down who made them. It involves a husband, a wife, some interior design, a little welding, photography, a dragon, and a few topiaries, all of which I will explain in a minute. First, let's start with the light fixtures.

The light fixtures are made from cold rolled steel which is hand fabricated and fitted with restoration glass. I think you can see it best in the photo above in another Thom Filicia interior. Each one is custom designed for the space it is to occupy. The restoration glass throws a spider web pattern on the walls when lit.

The line started when the husband and wife due of Matthew Larkin and Elaine Grant of Grant Larkin, designed a house up in the country where they live and had the notion of doing the lighting in a Japanese/modern aesthetic. The architect Gray Davis of Meyer Davis Studios saw the finished product and commissioned them to design one for his office which he shared at the time with Thom Filicia. That's how they came to Thom's attention. Since then they have done a number lighting fixtures for him and many other designers. Grant Larkin does not currently have a website but they may be reached at 413-698-2599.

Matt and his wife Lainie started their design business 20 years ago, after Matt was let go from Decorative Arts Studio, a furniture restoration company that specialized in high end Deco (Tony DeLorenzo, Michael Chow etc.). The owner had a habit of "cleaning house" every five years or so. Matt graduated from Skidmore with a double major in Art History and American Studies with a minor in Studio. Their first commission was to redo the original "Alice's Restaurant" of Arlo Guthrie fame on Main Street in Stockbridge, MA. That was seen by an Ad Executive who commissioned them to do an office in the Pineapple building, corner of Broadway and Houston. A friend saw that and their first residential job was a 3500 SF penthouse in Sutton Place.

They admit that they were total rubes and didn't even know what a CFA was at the time but it seems like they used it to their advantage by having almost everything custom designed and fabricated which set them apart. They used blacksmiths, bronze foundries, textile artists etc. Matt admits that it has "gone uphill (and sometimes down!) from there and says that "a great part of the satisfaction of my job is dealing with all the trades. Lainie, who has a theatre background was as ignorant as to the "workings" of the business, but has an inherent style sense that is off the charts." So the two country rubes jumped in and learned as they went and their interior design business continues to grow to this day.

If that wasn't enough to keep them busy, Matt Larkin started designing topiaries! He admits, "that came about because I was looking for an excuse to be outdoors more." A friend of his became the director of Green Animals in Newport about 15 years ago and during a visit in the winter he saw the topiary in the snow and it was just one of those moments he said. He took an adult education class in welding and figured out how to make frames which led to House and Garden naming him one of the "New Tastemakers" in 2005 for his topiary work. Are you starting to get the feeling that Matt doesn't do anything halfway?!


After that he was commissioned to do the exterior decoration of The London Hotel NYC with David Collins Studio and will also create the planters for the new London Hotel West Hollywood. For more information and images, visit Matt's website Black Burn Farm.



You may also have seen that Matt's work featured in the Neiman Marcus Fantasy Gift section of their Christmas catalog last year. The Dragon Topiary was 100 feet long and had gold leafed horn, claws, teeth and fins and blown glass eyes. It was so spectacular that it made it onto the TODAY show and Good Morning America. Of course, it might have also been because it cost over $35,000!

Lest you think that was all, there's Matt's personal photography hobby that has led to a collaboration with the members of the group Rites of Passage and a recent book entitled, Suspended in Time. I will warn you that the photos while haunting and beautiful, are also deeply disturbing and may not be for everyone. But the book will be honored for photography at the Independent Publishers Book Awards ceremony in March so someone obviously liked it!

I'm so glad that my quest for a light fixture led me on this amazing discovery! I hope this post will serve as inspiration to anyone who is thinking about starting their own business or thinking about learning a new hobby. You just never know where it might take you! I also think that Matthew Larkin might just be giving Julian Schnabel a run for his money in the modern day Renaissance Man department. I have a feeling it's a only a matter of time before he directs a movie or picks up a paintbrush!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Habitually Chic Designer: Thom Filicia

My post about Nate Berkus had me thinking about my other favorite TV makeover marvel Thom Filicia. With all that charitable work helping straight men clean up their acts, it's easy to forget that he is a real interior designer with a fabulous portfolio behind him. And speaking of behinds, he was also the miracle worker behind Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony's Long Island home, seen above and in the next four photos below from the premier issue of Vogue Living.

In the living room above, Marc Anthony's antiques hold court of the shelves in front of recamier sofas custom designed by Thom Filicia Inc., while the white lacquer bench, ebonized Lelau tables and mirror are from Holly Hunt.

Filicia said the home which was originally Anthony's retreat was a challenge because he wanted it to feel comfortable yet represent their personalities which are very different. She's obviously glamorous and he's a bit of a bohemian, as are a lot of musicians. But Lopez said she "can appreciate the bohemian side, and he also can appreciates glamorous things, so it was easy for us to meld.

In the glamorous yet comfortable silver papered dining room, the table is Fernworks Antiques, in Los Angeles and the wingback chairs are from C. J. Peters in New York. On the original mantle sit candlesticks from Aero Studios and mercury globes from Paula Rubenstein. The convex mirror is from Sentimento Antiques in New York. The silvered wall covering is from Roger Arlington.

All in all, I think it looks like a lovely home. I just wonder how they are going to baby proof it now! Below are more images from Tom Filicia's portfolio.

Upper East Side Residence

Upper East Side Residence

Thom's Soho Apartment

Thom's Soho Apartment

Hamptons Showhouse

Hamptons Showhouse

Quogue (Hamptons) Billiards Room

Greystone Estate Living Room

Greystone Estate Living Room

Greystone Estate Living Room

Gracie Square Home featured in H&G

Gracie Square Home featured in H&G

Monday, February 25, 2008

Green is Good

I know it's been talked about forever but I thought you might be interested to know that you can now own the infamous green dress from Atonement that has been deemed the "it" dress of the year. Clothes Off Our Back is auctioning off the dress online with proceeds from the auction benefiting Variety – The Children’s Charity of Southern California. Green really is good!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

And the Oscar Goes To...

Actually the Architectural Digest Oscar Greenroom this year goes to Dorothy Draper and Company, Inc., or more specifically Carleton Varney who now runs DD. Above is the rendering, courtesy of my new friend Kelly Reynolds who was lucky enough to work on the project and gave me the inside scoop.

The room was inspired by the Arrowhead Springs Resort in Southern California that DD designed back in 1939. The bar for the greenroom was replicated from the hotel, pictured above, and the famous Draper door seen on the front of the book In the Pink: Dorothy Draper by Carleton Varney which is also from the original installation.

Carleton Varney said, "I wanted to recall the 'Golden Age' of Hollywood, where the mix of white satin, fringes, mirrors, leather tufting and crystal were the components of the design." Staying true to Dorothy Draper fashion, Mr. Varney has employed her trademark use of black and white on floors, seen below at Greenbrier, and doors against glazed aubergine walls to create stunning contrast.

Alas, poor Kelly did not get to go to Los Angeles to actually install the Greenroom but she can still take pride in helping create a beautiful room in which Dorothy Draper would certainly feel at home! You can see more of the finished Greenroom in a future issue of Architectural Digest.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Chic for Sale

Before it's recent demise, House and Garden was selling chic vintage prints of images from it's archives but now you can buy them from all the magazines under the Conde Nast umbrella in their chic new store. From vintage Vogue covers to iconic images of Veruschka and interiors by Cecil Beaton, above. You name it. They have it and it's definitely worth a peak.

"In Clifford Coffin's quietly beautiful image from the March 1, 1949, Vogue, the crimson tones of a model wearing a Vogue Pattern suit-dress cut in Balmain fabric pop against a misty and melancholy streetscape."

"Melanie Kahane decorated this converted attic space, complete with a crimson chaise lounge and loveseat. Haanel Cassidy photographed the space for the January 1955 issue of House and Garden."

"A model holds fabric against a white wall in this Herbert Matter photograph, which was featured in the September 1950 issue of House and Garden." Makes me wish I was a decorator in the 1950's! I love the hat and gloves! Talk about chic!

Katie's Tablescape

If you haven't already seen it, you must check out Katie's beautiful tablescape and flowering quince branches at Katiedid that she was inspired to create after my post about forcing branches. I have to say that she could give any top interior designer a run for their money. It's one of the most beautiful displays I've ever seen! Kudos to Katie!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Wedding of the Year

If you live in New York or follow the society pages, then you'll know how obsessed everyone has been over the photos of Lauren Davis's recent wedding to Andres Santo Domingo in Colombia. Well, the wait is over. Vogue has published the exclusive photos by Arthur Elgot in the new March 2008 issue. It was a lavish affair and her couture dress designed by Olivier Theyskens and embroidered by Lesage was magnificent. It was certainly fun to peak at how the other half lives.

Also in the same issue was a small article congratulating Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem and designer Duro Olowu on their recent nuptuals. The two quietly tied the knot at City Hall with Ms. Golden wearing a dress designed for her by Olowu which to me sounded so romantic. Sometimes the simplest things are the sweetest.

Ms. Davis registered for her wedding at Charlotte Moss which impressed me since the shop is chock full of one of a kind and classic gift ideas. I'm also pretty sure she doesn't need anything from Crate and Barrel. But it got me thinking about gift registries and how most of the ones I've seen depress me. I honestly don't know if I will register when the time comes. I will probably have everything I need by them and I don't particulary think I want to remember my special day with a toaster. It's not very romantic.

I have many lovely artsy and creative friends who I would love to see surprise me by creating their own special gift. How about a vintage book inscribed with lovely sentiments or a poem which will remind me of them every time I open it. Or pillows made from fabric that they specially designed and inside which are sewn special wishes for the couple. Maybe someone whose hobby is pottery could make a vase and imprint the wedding date on the bottom. (I don't know if I know anyone who throws pots so maybe someone should start taking classes now.) If someone's not creative they could pick up a special gift on a trip and write a note explaining why they chose it and the meaning behind it. You get the idea.

The moral of my story is that the next time you are invited to a wedding, I hope you will think outside the box and chose a gift from the heart and not the registry. I also hope that brides who receive gifts off of their registries will appreciate the thoughtful gesture because no one needs another toaster...especially since they shouldn't be eating carbs anyway!

A Flair for Living

"The true spirit of hospitality is about sharing the pleasure that you derive from living with beauty." - Charlotte Moss

Charlotte Moss's eagerly anticipated new book A Flair for Living will be released in May and can be preordered on her website. It is touted as "her most elegant and personal design book to date, Moss will tempt you into the world of the refined by offering a lavish tour of every component of a home." I know I am very excited to own what looks to be a very beautiful book indeed!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Forcing Spring

It was 65 degrees here Monday in New York and this brief reprieve had me craving spring even more so I decided to force the issue literally. Forcing branches is an easy and pretty inexpensive way to brighten up your home while it's still cold outside. Just cut the ends and arrange the branches in a sturdy vase filled with water and place in a warm spot.

My flowering quince above has not yet bloomed but is getting close. You can place the vase near your radiator to speed up the process like I have but I wouldn't recommend leaving it there. Space is at a premium in my apartment and it's the only place out of the way so there it is staying! Usually forced branches last about two weeks.

I like seeing the branch ends in a clear vase but many other people prefer a more decorative container such as the blue and white Asian vase seen here in House Beautiful. If you have the speace, I always think bigger is better too. It makes a more dramztic statement. If you've ever seen the overflowing vase of cherry blossoms at Rue 57 restaurant in New York, you'll know what I mean!

Steven Gambrel

Apartment of Carlos Souza


Apartment of Jean Greenberg Rohatyn

Kelly Wearstler

I would have gone bigger and fuller here.

Very zen at Josie Natori's New York home

Nate Berkus

Image from Domino Magazine

Home of Valesca Guerrand Hermes

My favorite kitchen designed by Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch of Roman Williams

A beautiful display of forsythia in House Beautiful March 2008

I'm not sure how I feel about the tulips in the same vase as
the forsythia but it's an interesing idea.

Once the weather turns warmer in April, you can
switch out the branches for fragrant lilac!

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