Sunday, February 16, 2014

Architect & Designer Awards 2014


It was a great honor to be picked as a finalist in three categories for the 2014 At Home Architect & Designer Awards. Universally renowned judges were Barbara Barry (Barbara Barry Design-Los Angeles), Jeffrey Bilhuber (Bilhuber & Associates-New York), Marlon Blackwell (Marlon Blackwell Architect and University of Arkansas-School of Architecture), Michael Boodro (Editor-in-Chief, Elle Decor), and Peter Pennoyer (Peter Pennoyer Architects-New York).  On February 10th, At Home celebrated the awards ceremony with a special gala event at the Missouri History Museum.  
 
 


It's always great to see friends and colleagues in the industry being acknowledged for their talents. It was a night to remember, and I was proud to be a partner of this illustrious community!
 
 
Amidst impressive competition, I was awarded First Place in the category of Kitchen (less than 300 square feet), Second Place for Contemporary Interior Design (for a home less than 3,000 square feet), and Third Place for Living Room.  Thank you, esteemed judges, and thank you especially to Editor-in-Chief Christy Marshall of St. Louis At Home for inaugurating the Awards and so passionately promoting architecture and design excellence in St. Louis!


Friday, January 31, 2014

Pondering the Porter

When the wintry wind is whipping around outside, wouldn't you wish for a chair to keep you warm and protected?  Centuries ago, if you were on call in a cold castle awaiting and admitting guests, you might fantasize about how you might be most comfortable. Happily, some clever soul came up with the idea of enclosing a wing chair.  Central heating and double-paned windows were far in the future.


Ah, the romance of a piece of furniture! At about the age of fifteen, I remember seeing a porter's chair for the first time.  Situated near the front door of an elegant furniture showroom, I recall being enthralled, and having delusions of grandeur, desired to possess the thing. I mused that if I could only afford the $500 or so that it cost, it would make me happy. Suffice it to say that I couldn't afford it.

Versailles Burlap-Backed Chair
Restoration Hardware

The chair was believed to have originated in England, where it then jumped the Channel to great estates and palaces in France. These chairs look fit for a king, but for Louis XV,  I doubt he didn't so much want to make his servants more comfortable as ensure that his guests were suitably impressed and intimidated by his excellent taste and style!


The porter's chair signified your station in life as a servant. Today, it does not discriminate, and in fact, you will find it in the thick of anything regarding high style.

Chesterfield Porter's Chair

When the trade of upholders became upholsterers, all manner of comfort and cushioning was unleashed. Just imagine how much this chair must have helped the poor porter feel cozy and content!

 
With the passing of time, the porter's chair (along with the porter) joined the unemployment rolls.  In the Victorian era, it was  reinvented and reinterpreted as a beach chair.  Here you see an entire herd of them doing hard labor sheltering the well-to-do from the sun and wind. Quite a far cry from the cold castle!
 
 
And why not double your fun and double your pleasure?
 
 
 Atelier Lounge offered by Dauphin
 
In a leap of imagination, the porter's chair has leapt from residential to commercial use, evolving as new needs are required.
 

Another army of porters at work in present day times. This design makes excellent use of the chair's acoustical benefits.  It also lends intimacy in a large restaurant with diners shoulder to shoulder.

Wander's Tulip
Cappellini

Here is an amazing interpretation of the chair disguised as a tulip by the wonderful Marcel Wanders. It is a revolution in design as it revolves on its stem.
 

ID Trim Cap by Antonio Citterio, 2012
Vitra

Another full evolution for the porter's chair.  At work in the office, this ergonomic task chair provides all the basic accoutrements such as helping the poor worker concentrate better in an open office space.

 
Massaud Work Lounge with Canopy
Jean-Marie Massaud for Coalesse
 
Now we're really cookin'!  This pod offers a table, built-in lighting, optimized acoustics, and is totally wired for integration of your techy devices.  You can have total privacy or take a conference call in a completely public space. Added pluses are that you can take a snooze and nobody is the wiser.

 
Haworth Windowseat Chair
Mike and Maaike Studio 
 
I read a silly book in my youth about a woman who became possessed with the notion of owning a Dior gown.  It ended as a sad story, with nowhere for the dress to be worn, and was left hanging in her closet.  Happy to say, the porter's chair is definitely back and enjoying a new lease on life. So why not sit in one and put up our feet?


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thoughts of Thanks

Thanksgiving day is my favorite holiday for its very simplicity.


I am thankful for pumpkins available in a variety of wonderful shapes and colors.  Or the better to bake in a pie?




I am thankful for the water and wind that shapes fallen trees into fantastic shapes. As beautiful as they are to behold; better to bivouac your bottom?




I am thankful for a wreath made of coconut husks from far away, framing a bundle of Indian corn. How better to warmly welcome my friends to the holiday season? A happy thanksgiving to all!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Hallowe'en in New Orle'an

Where better to spend Halloween than New Orleans? The mansions along St. Charles rise to the occasion, as for any occasion, with impressive and spectacular decorations.





Beads are a basic to the city, and here we have the pearly gates.



This St. Charles manse must have had a hundred skeleton puns across the property. There is no skimping on the sacrifices that New Orleanians will make for a holiday, festival, parade or party. It's my kind of town!



On the hallowed night, many hundreds of well-costumed children and their equally well-costumed parents queued up for treats. The hosts couldn't possibly be more gracious to one and all, as they sipped their Sazaracs.  I was chastened not to begrudge the comparatively few goblins that crowd my front porch in St. Louis.




This is one of my favorite houses, having always been a fan of Neo-classical Beaux Arts style architecture.  Can you estimate how many yards of cobwebs had to be ordered for the wrought iron fence?  And let's see, I'll take a dozen 6' spiders...




The semi-circular driveway accommodated droves of little devils, sort of like a drive-in treatery.




Where do the New Orleans folk store all their holiday decorations?  This creepy gypsy caravan is no small thing to park in your garage!  And what with elaborate Christmas, Mardi-Gras, and St. Patrick's decorations, I don't know how they manage, being as they don't even have basements.




There are no qualms or hesitation about what might be too scary for the little tricksters.  The scarier the better!  Halloween is serious business here and no cutesiness about it! 




Just a sweet little old couple resides here. I saw them dancing the night away later in the eve on Frenchman Street, groovin' to the jazz.  Hope to see them next year, if they're still kickin'!


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sweet and Simple Sample of Summer

Nothing puts you in the here and now as a dog walk. Whether with a young dog pulling you in front, or an old dog lagging behind, the human at the end of the leash is gifted with the canine experience of life. It is called living in the present for all that it is worth.

 
Walking the dog gets you out in all seasons.  You share in the changes in temperature and precipitation. You are able to focus on the sounds, smells, and physical sensations of your surrounding at a pace that has no time.  Well, why not just throw yourself on the carpet of lawn and get a good back scratching?  The grass and ground are cool, and you are one with the earth.


These lovely wildflowers sway in the gentle breeze. I am reminded of my youth, of summers long ago when the last day of school signaled a time that stretched into eternity.


I recall lying in the clover, inhaling its  perfume.  I would make daisy chain crowns and necklaces with my friends.  We would spend hours looking for 4 leaf clovers, believing that it would bring good luck.  Buttercups would be tasted, because the name sounded like they should be tasty. Slender blades would be placed just so in sideway thumbs and blown like a reed, so as to create the call of a bird.


The back yard of my childhood was surrounded by large mulberry trees in which I would climb and gorge myself on the berries.  Sometimes I would tie a blanket in a tree like a hammock, whiling away the hours reading a book, snacking as desired.  The sounds of the birds twittering, a passing car, children at play...all was a soundtrack of vibrant life in the present.


Do you share my delight in the taste of mulberries? It is a simple flavor, but rich in memories for me.  It hearkens the first days of summer and when the sun shines hot, the branches are heavy with berries bursting with juice.  Birds are in ecstasy.



It is free for the taking and I happily partake of this sweet pleasure as Chewy munches on lower level tender green leaves.


A beautiful red purple stain is a tell-tale of my indulgence. As we head home, I step in puddles to wash my shoes soles so as not to bring the mashed berries indoors.


Numerous examples of riotous florals pleasure my eyes and in some cases, offer a lovely scent. Meanwhile, Chewy is sniffing other kinds of aromas, lagging behind or pulling ahead. I thank him for letting me share his walk and reminding me that there is no past or future, only the present, so live it! 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Rocks in My Head

The word 'right' connotes all sorts of things...do you lean right or left politically?  Are you right-brained or left-brained?  Do you have strong opinions? How do you feel about rocks?  Do you love 'em or leave 'em?   Sometimes an innocuous assignment as finding the right rocks becomes a time consuming labor of staggering proportions. I won't bore you with the heaps of rocks that I have examined and rejected for a current project.  This new delivery looked promising.  Was it an auspicious signal that my toil today was inaugurated by a loud crack of lightening?  The skies were threatening and monster storms and tornadoes were imminent.  Adrenalin kicks in!


Rockin' n Rollin'

The things I do for my clients!!!  I've been on the prowl for the 'right rocks' after proposing some rock pulls for an exciting project located on the bluffs of the Mississippi River. I needed 3 pairs for some closet doors.  A prior vendor had proved disappointing, so custom (RCF) was the way to go.  Little did I anticipate that these would become million dollar pulls for all the time I put into finding just the right rocks.  

Fruits of my labor

Line-up for the final selection.  Gotta be just the right color, size and shape!  Sorry to discriminate, but everyone will get a turn, depending on future project requirements.  Let's just say it's the school of hard rocks.


Bring on the barrow

I told the cashier:  This is a big order.  Priced by the pound, the grand total was some $3.58.  In my opinion, priceless for something billions of years old!  What stories could they tell? This is the stuff that I like to have around me!

Dramatic backdrop of a day in the life of an interior designer

I finished my rock transaction as the first drop of rain began to fall.  Now I will send these rocks off to Skipping Stones Studio in Idaho to be drilled, finished, and epoxied to the mounting posts. Though commonplace and inexpensive, they are as integral to the design solution as the most valuable work of art.  Definitely puts a smile on my face!  Tell me, are you in love with rocks and like to live with them, too?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Not Time To Say Goodbye

On this past New Year's Day, Chewy and I went out for our usual morning walk.  It was a beautiful winter day; the sky was cerulean blue and the temperature crisp but not too cold.  We enjoyed the twittering of the birds and the surreal quiet that only occurs on New Year's Day due to most people having the day off and staying at home. I optimistically made lists galore of all the resolutions that I might inaugurate.  My day was off to a good start! 

My mascot, Chewbacca
 
I left for a brunch and then returned home to find that Chewy could not use his back legs.  My happiness dissolved into despair and depression at what I imagined would be a dreadful decision to be made. It was tortuous to wait out the long day and night to see his doctor in the morning.  At our neighborhood Kingsbury Animal Hospital, Dr. Shaw advised that Chewy was suffering from geriatric disc displacement. He suggested a special harness, patience, and even acupuncture. I made an appointment at St. Louis Hills Veterinary for their earliest acupuncture opening.To my utter surprise and relief, Chewy began to get a little bit better day by day.
 


After a few days of rest, Chewy needed exercise to prevent muscle atrophy, but he was still dragging his feet a little and they needed to be protected.  I bought him some leather boots from Petsmart and with the fancy harness from Help 'Em Up (which enabled him to picked up like a suitcase), he was soon handsomely outfitted like a French mountain climber. 
 


At Chewy's first treatment, needles were inserted in his head, back, and hind legs.  Some of these were connected to a gizmo that looked like something you might tinker with in your basements back in the 50's to run a toy train. In addition to the acupuncture treatments, he was administered the ancient herbs of myrrh (for improving his circulation) and aconite (for pain relief).

There were also concerns about his right eye, which required a visit to a dog eye specialist. Turns out it was another 'old age' issue of corneal degeneration that happily was quickly arrested. A broken molar was discovered as well, that would have to be dealt with at a later time. Fortunately, he had no current skin allergy problems. This is a million dollar dog, if there ever was one!
 


Still a puppy at heart, Chewy took these traumas in stride and was soon back to treating himself to a good back scratch on a zosia lawn. Never mind the boots and harness; what was important was doing the things that dogs love most:  walking, sniffing, and scent marking at every opportunity.


Here he is on his baronial bed for Briards having an afternoon nap. He sleeps on an orthopedic foam mattress surrounded by damask pillows and fur throws. The white sheets are washed weekly because he has been prone to skin allergies. It's been a tough 2 months, but he is well on the road to recovery and his old self.  I've had Chewy for a long 15 years, and treasure each and every day. What a relief to have this reprieve and not have to say goodbye just yet!