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10 posts from February 2010

February 12, 2010

Set The Mood For Love With Color

Does Valentine's Day always have to be about chocolates , cheesy cards, and as many of those candy heart messages as we can tolerate?  Not that I mind chocolates, Hallmark, or some of those clever lines on candy hearts these days, but I'm just advocating that we try something new. 

With the celebration of love and relationships on Valentine's day, why not use unexpected color to add unexpected fun?  Show your special someone that your creative talents have been piqued to celebrate your relationship this year! 

RED:  Red, of course, is the currently the color most often associated with love and Valentine's Day.  There's nothing wrong with being a traditionalist when it comes to color.  Especially when we're talking Red.  A warm hue, Red conjures ideas of vitality, energy, and passion-- all synonomous with love!

Colorful Idea--Spice It Up:  Set the dinner table with Southeast Asian food and paint an accent wall in a red inspired by the Silk Road. 

Colin cowie -Bombay-Soiree-001

Colin Cowie Sets the table with shimmering fabrics and accents of gold in the place setting


GREEN:  Green may not jump to mind when you think of love, but it was actually the color that was linked to Venus, the Goddess of Love, in Roman Mythology.  Who would know better?  Venus actually first represented vegetation and growth which are still represented by green today.  Her stories later became more related to those of Aphrodite, the Greek symbol of Love and Passion, but the color green remains her emblem. 

Colorful Idea-- Get Giddy with Green:  Throw a various assortment of velvet pillows on the sofa or floor in saturated colors in jewel tones like citrine, aquamarine, and garnet.  Then, create a blanket of flower petals of any color on the floor.  To add a memorable touch of green, create a canopy of grassy green sheer fabric overhead and, if you can, paint the surrounding wall in a deep teal to create a new and exotic environment for a while. 

Velvet pillows chaise 
Colorful Velvet Pillows Invite Relaxation and Will Pop With a Turquoise Wall or Grassy Sheer Canopy (Photographer: Joanna Henderson) 


BLUE: A restful color, blue evokes images of the sky and the ocean.  It's also known to be an international favorite for many men and women.  This hue has associations in many cultures as a symbol or faith, trust, and loyalty, as well.  Faith, Trust, Loyalty:  three words that can make a relationship beautiful.   

Colorful Idea-- Bathe in Blue: Use sea inspired bath salts, sky inspired candles, and spa inspired blue bath accessories to create an at home getaway for two. 

Blue spa bath


 All three of these colors can get us going.  Each one, in it's own way, is culturally and historically associated to love.  Try something new this year with your honey and tell them the story of why you chose the color that means something special to you.

February 10, 2010

What's the Color of Your Heart?

If you had to something that is THE SYMBOL of Love, what would it be?  The two simple curves that make up the simple shape of a heart have long been associated to the most intimate expression of a person.  I wondered about the origins of the shape, but that would be an entirely different post, so I came back to the beauty of the sweet, simple, symmetrical heart.

Musicians, religious references, and artists have made millions of connections between the ideas of the heart, mind, and soul.  Wendy Isaacson is one such artist and she is sharing her Heart Art with the world.

Using nothing more than Durham's Water Putty, Wood Pulp, and a "secret amount of New York City tap water", Wendy creates a heart, one by one.  What happens beyond the basic heart is a labor of love.

Heart Art Storefront

Image courtesy of Heart Art

Wendy shares hundreds of hearts at her Chelsea shop, Heart Art, that she says help "tell life stories".  "Many clients buy hearts in different phases of a relationship.  Each heart is a progression of that bond-- from dating or marriage, to children and a growing family.  Over time, you can really see your life through these hearts."


Handprints heartKeyhole heartLove stamp heartQuilt heartFragile heart 1When pigs fly

What should your heart look like? Images courtesy of Heart Art

The hearts pictured above show Heart Art's various techniques for creating their handmade hearts.  They have three main techniques:  painting, fabric, and paper.  Details like mounting tiny sculptural pigs on the "When Pigs Fly" heart, using individual U.S. stamps for the "Sent With Love" heart, affixing an actual antique brass keyhole on the "Keyhole" heart that's painted in ruby red with a black wash, and gently wrapping the "Fragile" heart with Swiss paper are what makes Heart Art so special.  Click on each heart above for more information on it's story.

NYC Heart Image 1
The "Shopoholic" heart details purses.  Image courtesy of Heart Art

To appreciate these hearts as art, look at their scale and weight.  They are intentionally curvaceous, solid, and heavy.  They're sanded down and filled by hand multiple times before they're finished to create the perfect form.  Like a good relationship, they invite you to explore their intricacies while falling in love with them.  

When it comes to creating a color or decorative palette for your space, I always say Start With What You Love.  These hearts are individual works of art that offer inspiration and even color ideas.  Use one of Heart Art's hearts or any personal expression of color and art to understand combinations of color that can work in your space, too.

I asked Wendy about her thoughts on Color.

"You know, I'm not prone to think of hearts as Red.  But I will never forget when I started Heart Art 20 years ago, the very first heart that I sold was a solid Red heart."  She went on to tell me that though she doesn't naturally tend to lean towards purple and pink, there are many "Purple people who need Purple hearts." 

"It's a lovely battle when it comes to color.  I start with my vision and fold in what my clients tell me about themselves and their own vision of their heart.  We combine both to create the final heart.  I used to think that the form and concept were most important and that color was secondary, but I've learned that people have are very passionate when it comes to requesting a color."  After 20 years, the most requested color is still Red.

A final note:  Wendy does create entirely custom hearts for clients, too.  I asked if we could share any images for this post, but she said those are secrets that are locked away in the hearts of her clients and herself. 

February 08, 2010

A Traveler's Diary Of Design Lessons

I'm traveling internationally for the first time since my son was born and he's along for the trip (Good golly, may all the forces be with us!)  But, this trip is important because travel has been so influential in my life that I want to pass that gift on to my son, too. 

When I was just six, I took my first international trip with my family as we moved to the United States.  I'll never forget those matching red Chinese silk skirts my sisters and I all wore or how terrified I was as we de-boarded the plane in the US.  (I took a deep breath in and, was so scrawny that my skirt just fell right down!  Yes, that really happened.  We can laugh at this NOW, but I was mortified that day!)

Now, as I think back over the years, I can really appreciate how much travel has shaped me.  Whether traveling to a new nieghborhood or a completely foreign country, I always end up looking at my own life a bit differently when I get home.  So, as I'm traveling for a while, I'll still share some colorful thoughts I'm having, but I'm also going to take a break and enjoy myself some good old fashioned vacation time! 

Until I'm back with my new ideas, I thought I'd share a few little lessons picked up from other journeys:

Balance Vancouver
Balance is Natural(Vancouver has these amazing rocks that are simply balanced one upon the other by some very talented locals.  This is also the inspiration for the Winter Olympics Emblem in Vancouver.  The formation is called an inukshuk.  As reported on CBSnews.com, an inukshuk is "a carefully balanced pile of unworked rocks and slabs.  The Inuit have built them through time to guide travelers...") 

Look Up Versailles
Look UP!  (Versailles and many historical buildings have the most intricate details on the fifth wall...the ceiling) 

Sunset Zanzibar 
Enjoy the colors Sunrise as much as the Sunset.  Both can offer inspiration.  (My friend Sandy E took this in Zanzibar) 

Be Functional Amsterdam 
Let Function lead Design.  (These dutch apartments still use an age old method when a new tenant moves in.  They open up the windows and connect rope and a platform onto the architectural hook at the top of the roof to move belongings in and out of the space through the window.)

 Patience Haiti 
Make lots of deposits in the Bank of Patience.  You may find that you have to draw upon it often in during a project and in life.  (My husband volunteered his time in Haiti a couple of years ago.  He found it amazing that in a country with so little, they still made time for patience and laughter.)

Enjoy Paris 
There is Perfection in everything--observe the details.  It's the details that make anything personal.  Perfection is only what you see as being "just right."  (This is a sweet treat from my favorite dessert boutique in Paris, La Duree.  They have the most amazing ambiance that completes the experience.)

Know Your Home Botswana
Have a sense of Direction.  Set forth some goals and plans in life and design.  Both may change along the way, but you need a starting point!  (This very funny sign was photographed by my friend Betcy J. in Botswana)  

Home Amsterdam 
"Home" can be interpreted in many ways.  Be open to new ideas of what it can mean to you.  (In Amsterdam, boathouses are as common as apartments.  I found them to be filled with character.)

Where have you gathered your design, color, or life lessons and what are they?

February 04, 2010

Benjamin Moore Designer Showrooms In 21st Century Interiors

I am so thrilled to see Benjamin Moore's Designer Showrooms featured in a fantastic new book, 21st Century Interiors, Edited by Beth Browne.  Good call, Beth!  The showrooms were fantastic to work on with Searl Lamaster Howe and they LOOK fantastic in the book! 

The book is filled with 80 projects that tell the story of global design excellence in every category, including hospitality, retail, commercial, and office space.  Our project was filled with equal parts of anxiety, excitement, and humor, as my design cohort Andrea Magno and I went through rolls of tracing paper, countless paint chips, and lots of endless conversations to figure out what this showroom was meant to become.  We had certainly learned a great deal from our first Benjamin Moore Showroom in San Francisco (at the Design Center) of what to repeat and what to avoid!  For example: Repeat hiring a phenomenal showroom manager like Rachel Elliott.  Avoid hosting an opening and a major Aura launch party for hundreds of designers the same night!  (Phew, I'm still tired thinking about that day!)


21st Century Interiors features the Benjamin Moore Showrooms in both New York and Chicago

Fast forward to NY and Chicago.  Working with Pam Lamaster on our new showrooms in both Chicago at the Merchandise Mart and in New York at the New York Design Center was the perfect example of what a good architect/designer/client relationship should be-- respectful, creative, on time, and in budget.  She and her team took our concepts and brought them to life in a big, big way.

Our goal was to share with the world an innovative way to think about a company that has been around for over 125 years.  We set our sights on rethinking how color is viewed and creating a space that's inviting and serene at the same time.  Our Color Technology team souped-up the space with customized lighting that alternates between various types of lighting at the touch of a button and an LCD so big that it will make you think you're in a real room when you use Personal Color Viewer to virtually paint away. 

Take a look...what do you think?

New York Benjamin Moore 2

All our collections are on display.  That's over 3400 colors!

Chicago Benjamin Moore 1

We used white and gray laminates and bamboo for the tables and counters.  The floating ovals help absorb sound in the space.  We maintained that the walls and finishes needed to be fairly neutral so our clients can easily see the colors they're selecting.  Cloud White OC-130 was our choice for the showrooms.

Color Display 1

We conceived these "color totem poles" that rotate to show 4x4 samples of every color in our collections.  The great thing about these color totems is that they are modular and can be replaced if needed.  The other great thing is that they're fun to spin around!

New York Benjamin Moore 1

The specialized overhead light fixtures change light output to mimic various types of light.  The gray on the tabletops helps our customers to see the color they choose on a neutral background.  In the background there are actual paint chips suspended between translucent 3Form panels that give the effect of floating color.   

Many design buildings are exclusively to the trade, but do open their doors to everyone for some events.  If you're in Chicago, New York or San Francisco, please try to stop in yourself and see design excellence come to life.  Beth (Chicago), Rainy (New York), and Rachel (San Francisco) would love to see you there!



February 02, 2010

Global and Local Car Colors

Do you go to your local car show?  Well, if you're in Geneva, Switzerland, your "local" show is the 80th International Motor Show.  Nice.

Though my dose of Swiss includes cheese, chocolates, and some very reliable luggage, I do also share their passion for automotive design.  If you, like me, aren't going to Geneva, don't be distressed.  There are auto shows in many other places, too.  And the world is indeed getting a little smaller.  For the first time, Dupont released their color findings for the Global auto market as a whole.  The top selling colors across the planet?

   Silver – 25 percent
   Black – 23 percent
   White – 16 percent
   Gray – 13 percent
   Blue – 9 percent
   Red – 8 percent
   Brown/Beige – 4 percent
   Green – 1 percent
   Yellow/Gold – 1 percent
   Ubiquitous "Others" category – <1 percent

Automotive design and color can offer many hints of what's to come in fashion and interiors, too.  I especially look at the color, the finishes, and the details in hardware.  Locally, I went to my car show and found lots and lots of black white, but that just made the pops of color stand out even more. 


Best color match: Autumn Cover that I used for my dining room


This color was iridescent turning blue in one direction and green in the other, reminding me of Benjamin Moore's Metallic pearlescent tint glaze colors- can we say "luscious"?


Most unique car color I saw was this copper toned orange brown.  Similar to Greenfield Pumpkin HC-40

IMG_0172 IMG_0165 IMG_0150

I found that design was still in the details like Audi's linear lights within the front lamps, their angular wheel accents, and an etched Cadillac symbol within the lamps of their Hybrid SUV


There were hidden hardware elements everywhere.  Door handles are disappearing and leaving just a sleek silhouette behind

Look into your local car show for unexpected design inspiration, too.  If you're in Chicago, the Auto Show is on from Feb 12-21.  Los Angeles hosts their show in the fall, November 19-28 with the first two days exclusively reserved for press.  If you're in New York, the Jacob Javits Center will be brimming with autophiles April 2-11.  If you're somewhere in between, check your local resources for the show closest to you.

If you still really really want to get to Geneva, Peugot will begin giving away admission starting February 23.  But remember, you've got to get to Geneva on your own.  Happy Trails!