Yesterday I flew home to New Orleans for Christmas. My journey was typical, filled people curious about the city. The cab driver asked about the situation in New Orleans post Katrina. A flight attendant, proclaimed her jealousy about my trip all while constantly mispronouncing the city’s name. For the record, it is pronounced New Or-lons not New Or-leans as it is spelled. A bit of a surprise was that I picked up the in-flight magazine only to discover New Orleans Rebirth is the feature.
I realized instantly that I sometimes forget how incredible my home town is. The spirit of this city, the culture, the people continues to go strong despite considerable adversity. While I was reading, images came to mind of some of my favorite areas in town, the Garden District, the French Quarter, Algiers, Metairie. I fell in love with architecture here and started my path into the design profession because of this stunning city. I love the following photographs by West Freeman. The photo on the left is a shot of the french quarter featuring world renown restaurant, Galatoire’s.
Oddly, the Keyes house above is the first building I ever drew. It would be awesome if I still had that old sketch book, curious to see what it will look like now.
The Historical corner of Royal & Dumaine St and the captivating St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, the oldest cathedral in North America
Wall Detail at the Napoleon House
Gallier House Back Porch and Home interior at 623 Bourbon Street
Lafitte’s Blacksmith in the French Quarter
And there is so much more – Big thanks to New Orleans for being such an inspiration.
Photos from West Freeman
Design is really in the details. Completed almost ten years ago, this private residence designed by Cary Bernstein is no exception. Featured on the Contemporist, I was drawn in by the timeless and clever architectural details. Bernstein’s team added a third story to this 1908 cottage in San Francisco. The stairwell is the focal point in the design, transitioning open risers until the landing where the stairs becomes solid spilling into the supple dark chocolate wood floors.
The steel clad fireplace is a bold statement and I love the use of simple upholstered ottomans in front – makes for a cozy evening by the fire.
I am inspired by the railing at the bedroom serving as a banquet which becomes the headboard. This kind of continuity and seamless transition between spaces makes this home so cohesive and efficient.
I always struggle with people being timid about having windows in bathrooms. This light filled bathroom has to be incredibly energizing when beginning the day. I also love the elegance and functionality of this space – the mosaic tile is nicely warmed up by the wooden elements. For more images and information, check out the Contemporist. Also check out Cary Bernstein online for more exciting projects.
Images from Contemporist
While looking for a place in Washington, DC, I came across a listing for a loft condo unit for rent on Dwight & David, a local real estate firm. Often people ask me what really defines a true loft space as the term is used so loosely now in development. Originally popular with artists, lofts are adaptable living spaces created by converting industrial buildings such as a warehouse or factory. This type of conversion is a form of adaptive reuse. The interior architecture of lofts should retain elements of the building’s history such as exposed brick, exposed ceilings, hardwood flooring. The plan layout is open with flexibility to frame out kitchens, living, dining, and sleeping areas. Due to the popularity of lofts, many developers have removed the element of designing your own space by creating standard layouts.
Walnut Street Development’s conversion of the former Rainbow Auto Body Shop in Logan Circle into loft condominiums is a great example of adaptive reuse. The units feature twelve-foot-high ceilings, large windows and open floor plans. Exposed concrete ceilings and ductwork, steel beams and other industrial finishes occur throughout. While these lofts have been designed by an architect, I would essentially gut the unit and start from scratch. I have so many ideas already on how to make the space sing. The unit shown is currently available for rent at $2195. Not really looking to rent at that price, so I will certainly keep my eye on the building for a future purchase.
The one element that I like about the interior design of the units is the industrial sliding doors on the closets, mimicking industrial elevators. Although the placement is awkward. The previous inhabitants had an interesting sense of color. A good tip for using color in spaces – keep it simple…multicolor schemes can work but make sure the colors work together and are used in a way that forms transitions between spaces.
Rainbow Lofts are located on Church Street, N.W. between 14th and 15th Streets. Interested? Go to Dwight and David Real Estate for more information on this apartment.
First of all I am really digging Lonny, an online magazine developed by former Domino editor, Michelle Adams and professional photographer, Patrick Cline. The duo launched the mag in October with a wonderful fall issue. The winter issue is also great. The Manhattan apartment designed by New York designer, Brad Ford was favorite feature . The article is particularly compelling as Ford’s client is a long time friend who he had advised on furniture purchases for years before designing this space. The selection of quality pieces in neutrals over time has certainly paid off. The home illustrates that you can achieve a cohesive and sophisticated design without buying new. And thanks to Lonny, you can find some of the pieces yourself by hovering over the furniture and clicking on the link.
This kitchen is simple and crisp in white. The dining area is furnished with a table from West Elm and chairs from Crate and Barrel. I love the integration of high-end and more affordable pieces in the design.
The modern kid’s room is equipped with the most stylish crib and changer I’ve ever seen from Netto. Consider this space evidence that a child’s room can be both adorable and blend in with the rest of the home’s decor.
The bedroom is serene and simple and feels just as inviting and natural as the rest of the home. Ford feels strongly that all rooms of the home should relate to each other, thus creating a cohesive environment. For more on this exciting project, check out the article in Lonny. And also check out Ford’s blog, Design Therapy, which I also love.
Images from Lonny, photography by Patrick Cline
One of my favorite things is the Best of the Year issue of Interior Design magazine. Some day one of my projects shall grace those pages. In the meantime, I can admire the inspiring successes of others. Here are my favorite projects and products featured.
artechnic: Tunnel of Love, Karuizawa, Japan [Freestanding House] This place just blows my mind. Completed in 2008. You simply must go to the artechnic site to see more photos to better grasp the breathtaking architecture.
CL3 Architects Limited: Illegal Structure, Hong Kong [Exhibit/Installation] Down to basics – I love it!
WOHA: Genexis Theatre, Singapore [Institutional] Channeling the undulating wood canopy of Banq (now Ginger Park) but there is so much more to design of this theatre – go to the WOHA website to find out more.
Rapsel: One Collection by Matteo Thun [Bath Fixtures] Speaking of undulating wood – I love that Matteo Thun & Partners have brought this look into the bathroom basin, shown above right. You may recall the stunning design work of Matteo Thun from my article on the new flagship Hugo Boss store in New York.
Thos. Moser: Pasadena Rocker [Residential/Lounge] Typically Thos Moser uses mostly cherry wood, this rocking chair is available in walnut (shown above).
Big Ass Fans: Isis [Eco Products] It is a big ass steel fan…for such a whimsical name, the company has created an innovative, sleek fan for commercial spaces that provides the perfect combination of gentle air circulation, energy efficiency, and silent operation.
IZM: VisualizmFurniture [Residential/Storage] IZM is a high end Canadian manufacturer of minimalist modern furniture. This sleek walnut/smoked glass AV unit would make quite a statement in a living room.
Vibia, Inc: Ameba Pendant [Lighting] I love anything that can adapt to numerous environments. The ameba pendant is composed of five shapes that combine to form a variety of ways to work in your space.
Check out INTERIOR DESIGN magazine for all of the 2009 winners.
The Ames Hotel, Boston’s newest boutique luxury hotel opened last month. The Romanesque building is the former headquarters of the Ames farm-tool company. The design of the 113-room hotel is the result of the collaboration between designer, David Rockwell and the Morgan Hotel Group. The lobby and reception areas feel quite Phillipe Starck with an eclectic mix of furnishings floating throughout the spaces. The Woodward, the hotel’s restaurant and bar is a modern day tavern. I met a friend there for dinner this week.
My favorite element was probably the subtlest touch, the red ceiling adding considerable warmth in the monochromatic space. Other elements that caught my were preserving and patching the existing mosaic tile floors on the first floor and incorporating reclaimed wood at the bar. There is a nice blend of old and new – shelving with glass display cubes filled with curio becomes a theme that carries throughout both levels of the restaurant. The use of glass and levels of translucency add depth to the experience particularly at the first level bar which is located at a large window exposing an obscured view of the city outside. Simplicity was key in the bathrooms featuring white mosaic clad walls and black stone floors were paired with flush walnut doors at stalls. The elegant mix of white and black mixed with neutrals in the hotel common areas carries into the guestrooms as well.
I was particularly impressed with the plush feel of the one bedroom apartment. The design highlights the historic details of the building’s architecture including the large arched windows. The expansive living room is equipped with an eclectic mix of luxurious furniture and finishes and the bedroom features a stunning polished chrome four-poster bed.
Overall I recommend the Ames!
Images from Ames Hotel
French designer, Valerie Pasquiou designs the homes of celebrities such as Lisa Kudrow, K.D. Lang and Ben Stiller. LoftLife Magazine featured her effortlessly chic New York loft and interviewed the designer. My favorite room is also hers – the library shown above. The books and cozy modern furnishings add warmth.
Pasquiou cautions designers against getting too obsessed with trends and playing the matching game. The white color palette sets the tone and accessories and furnishings add color. I love the blending of modern furnishings with antique, masculine with feminine.
It is refreshing to see a bedroom that is poised yet simple. The bed is sans headboard – I have been doing this for years – who needs a headboard when one is surrounded by the texture of exposed brick walls.
Pasquiou in her cozy living room. I love the mix of the organic in the lounge chairs and cowhide rug with the orthogonal coffee table and sofa. A designer’s home often gives you the best sense of their style. And I love that Pasquiou makes intuitive decisions that culminate in a sophisticated, yet approachable environment.
Images from LoftLife.
Introducing the Film of the month! Featuring movies that make a strong architectural statement. I recently saw French director Jacque Tati’s Playtime (1967) again and was reminded of what a splendid essay this film is on modern society. The architecture of Playtime becomes the star of the film. Dialogue becomes background noise and Tati spent more money on designing this fictional world than on professional actors. Through humor Playtime reveals the extraordinary elements of modern life. The main character, Mr. Hulot, played by Tati, represents the everyday man, blending into the fabric of the urban context. One scene comes to mind – without ruining the film – Hulot and several similar looking men file on to this bus going home from work. Posing the question – are we all just clones of each other and cogs in the wheel? A couple days later I recall seeing three men returning sandwich in hand from their lunch break – dressed and groomed almost identically filing up an escalator. It made me laugh and it became clear that while this movie was made in the 1960s, we see the same elements of conformity and other themes expressed in the film today. Rental is strongly encouraged.
Thanks Emmy for the idea!
Image from Projo.com
While perusing old magazines for inspiration, I happened upon this favorite from the May 2008 issue of Metropolitan Home. This home takes my breath away. Owner, Jim Dow purchased this 1920s Mediterranean in Seattle’s Queen Anne Hill. Dow hired designer Garret Cord Werner and landscape architect Bruce Hinckley of Alchemie to create an urban retreat.
The design team considered the importance of continuity and flow throughout the spaces. The color palette is simple and masculine. The incorporation of slots in the walls is a theme carried throughout all the spaces. Particularly the use of cubbies for wood ties together the dramatic living room and family room carved out of basement below.
The focal kitchen is sophisticated and sleek, opting to use custom open steel shelves instead of typical upper cabinets. The stunning walnut slab dining table branches out of the bar and allows a moment of organic departure from the rigid orthogonal lines in the home. I fell in love with the vintage 1970s Castelli armchairs that surround the table and found them via 1stDibs, a great online resource for finding antiques.
The masterpiece of this home is the spa-like master suite bathroom featuring a Japanese soaking tub recessed into the floor. The tub transitions into the exterior pond. It doesn’t surprise me that Dow mentioned that he takes a bath every night. The water feature of this tranquil oasis continues into a garden, then cascades down the retaining wall into a pool.
The use of concrete and steel creates seamless transitions from interior spaces and the exterior, elegantly bringing the outside in.
As the weather gets a bit cooler, I am thinking about cozy nights by the fire. Considerable innovations have been made in the production of fireplaces, these objets d’art now transcend the hearth as we once knew it. Here are some of my favorites on the market.
FABER BRIGHT The see-through frameless glass fireplace shown above is by Faber, a fireplace manufacturer in the Netherlands. Their built-in gas units provide considerable heat with a modern edge. Not yet available in the U.S.
METAFOCUS 8 This limited edition sleek wall mounted fireplace designed by Dominique Imbert incorporates sculpted bronze facade which mimics wood. The doors slide open to reveal more of the rippling flames within. How cool is it that it moves? Anyone else thinking James Bond. Base price $33, 800 from Euroflues
WITTUS CUBIC SERIES The industrial black matte steel Cubic Series by Wittus Wood Stoves functions as both stove and fireplace. CW200, the model shown with integrated cubbies for wood is my favorite. Pricing starts at $4150. Check out HomePortfolio for additional info on model pricing.
PONTON FIREPLACE Based on the concept of the campfire, this portable glass column fireplace by Ponton is a favorite. The stainless steel firepit appears to float. The fire is fueled by standard fuel paste and can burn for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Available at PID for $2909.
MALM FIREPLACE At least one of these should be pretty easy to buy, my choice, the Malm Fireplace, available in white and stainless at Design Within Reach. My preference is for the steel version, cost $1500 white (shown), $2900 stainless.