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10 posts from April 2009

April 30, 2009

Color Inspiration From Africa to Milan

Moroso 3

Colleagues and friends are back from Milan and they all seem to agree -- Moroso is the HIT of the Fiera show.  Once again, Moroso has collaborated with stellar designers and showcased their work. 

Nanook Chairs inspired by animal hides- Philippe Bestenheider

Ron Arad Do-Lo-Rez

Their focus was on an exhibit called M'Afrique -- a celebration of modern African culture including everything from the art of Nubian caligraphy to the photography of acclaimed Tanzania-born architect David Adjaye.  All the designers work realized for this exhibit integrates various African techniques and fabrics, like Ron Arad's Do-lo-rez (red and black blocks above).  It's  classic design that was reupholstered in African fabrics.

Overall, the colors are bright, pronounced and optimistic as Moroso ventures towards African inspiration.

April 29, 2009

Design and Color Are for Little Stylistas Too!


This Eames Elephant is a part of a great collection for kids from Vitra.  The assortment of colors offers an option for children and those who are just kids at heart, too (photograph Hans-Joerg Walter, copyright Vitra).  I also just read about a sculpture called "Old Leaf" on the Material Girls blog.  It's the work of artist Kathy Taslitz and it reminds me so much of Eames classic work in a modern and organic way.


This Porcupine Desk by Hella Jongerius is also fantastic.  Though it was introduced in 2007, it's sure to be classic in the world of children's modern furniture for years to come.  I can just see my baby's colored pencils decorating it's top.

April 28, 2009

Crystals & Gems Sparkle in Milan

The Milan Furniture Fair and Zona Tortona just wrapped up in Italy as I type this blog and the Crystal Palace was a splendor of fractal delight!  Swarovski actually has this amazing arena as part of Zona Tortona, the "it" part of the show that has been happening over the last few years in the streets of Milan.  This year, Arik Levy, their creative collaborator, opted to be very direct and celebrate the beauty and technology of the actual Swarovski crystal.

The cavernous space was filled with sculptures of larger than life crystals, some cut from marble and some skeletal wireframes of chaton cut crystals.

Swar1 Swar2


I'm mesmerized by the celebration of geometry set against the unique ability of a crystal to capture color and redefine it through refraction.  And, of course, I just love the way a beautiful jewel sparkles!

April 22, 2009

Dining by Design

I just enjoyed another year's DBD gala put together by DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids) and sponsored by Architectural Digest.  This years gathering had a very intimate and special tone to it.  The air is community rather than competition.  The designers are especially passionate about their work, too.  Check out Diffa's site for the tour schedule.  Here are some of my favorites:




Fashion Institute of Technology with mentor David Beahm. The message is strikingly simple-- "leave your wish." All were invited to scribe our own wish and tie it to the ever-growing overhead sculpture of thoughts.



Michael Tavano for New York Design Center (Photographer Rick Lew) with the help of a commissioned local graffiti artist. Michael Tavano does a beautiful job narrating color, design and style with the street story of AIDs.  Details: Chic graffiti crusted dinnerware; Homey cherubs on the ceiling to symbolize our dear ones lost to AIDS.



Parsons, The New School for Design with mentor Vicente Wolfe brought colors to life with Color Mayhem.  The premise: What if Benjamin Moore paint colors came to life when no one was looking?  The result: A whimsical, hand constructed series of robot characters with colorful personalities that I would invite over for dinner anytime.


New York University with mentor Miles Redd.  This primary feast combines animated color and digital fireplace with traditional lines in the dining table and chairs.  The result is a vivid table full of fun.



David Stark for Benjamin Moore & Co. The Natura paint can turned dining room was big enough for a party of 20, but the paint's actual impact on the environment is minimal.  We chose to introduce our zero voc paint that's available in any color over dinner.  Some guests donned their painters' hats as they lifted their paint brushes onto the evolving canvas and found virtually no odor to the paint.  Details: Paint cans as light fixtures and centerpieces- now that's reuse at it's best!


Francois Simard for Kravet. A burst of color through upside down beach pails makes a fun statement overhead.


SHoP Architects and Supima for The New York Times. Articulated blooms create a semi-private dining space that is as tactile as it is appealing.  Details: Place setting templates cut from fabric adorned the table.



David Beahm for Continental Airlines. This classic combination of Black White and Red is accented with a crisp blue and creates an inviting and rich table by David Beahm.

April 21, 2009

Color: Where to Start

So you're committed to it.  You want to bring color into your world.  But how do you find that balance between living like rainbow-brite and your grandma's off white wonderland?  In my world, I always say- "Start With What You LOVE!"  Whether it's a modern painting or an heirloom rug, the objects in your life that you love are a great source of inspiration.  After all, your space is supposed to be a reflection of who you are and what you're all about.


I have had this beautiful coconut shell for years now--it's hand painted inside with lime green, white, and blue accents.  The painted design is sealed in with a topcoat that has a great luster to it.  I picked it up when visiting the Grenadines many years ago & it was my inspiration for color in my dining room.  I love the way the green and blue play off of each other and the white layers in some contrast.  My dining walls are painted in Benjamin Moore's Prescott Green HC-140 and I painted my ceiling in their Grasshopper AF-415 in a semi-gloss finish to add a little glamour.  I found a modern chandelier to bring in the white accents and carried that white onto the trim around my window.  To tie it all together, I grabbed a rug that combines the blue white and an olive (rather than lime) to bring in contrast. 

I still remember drinking fresh coconut water from just-pierced coconuts and now every time I sit down at my dining table, I'm surrounded by that same refreshing sensation.



So look around your home and find something like a pair of earrings with intricate beadwork in copper and pearl tones or a favorite photo from your best vacation spot.  Look at the combinations of colors and pick one or two colors for your walls.  If there are more colors in your inspiration piece, use them as accents like throw pillows, photo frames, lighting, or event stemware/tableware.  When you start to look around, you'll be amazed at what you start to see.

If you're not feeling entirely color confident on the first, don't give up!  Try these tricks:

  • Select and use only one color from your inspiration piece on the walls.  Pick a second color for major accents. 
  • Figure out three groups of color in your object- light/safe, medium/adventurous, and intense/daring.  Now figure out what kind of environment you want- safe, adventurous, or daring?  Well, there you go--give that old roller a whirl and see where the magic of color can lead you.
  • If you've got a curtain fabric or carpet that you're starting with, look for the least pronounced color in it and use it on the walls. If there's lavender in the background, for example, or a coral color in a small detail, pull it out and put it front and center using paint. This trick always leads me to a surprising balance and gets people asking about the inspiration for an interesting palette!