Sunday, October 30, 2011

Turn to Stone

TURN TO STONE:  Ahhhh, amethyst!  The most striking member of the quartz family.  Did you know that the Greek words 'amethystos' mean 'not intoxicated'?  How can we not become intoxicated by its extravagant violet colorations running from pale, almost colorless to deep rich purple?  The Ancient Greeks loved amethyst so  much that many of their sagas and stories involve this stone -- such as the goddess Diana turning a nymph whom Bacchus loved into an amethyst. Colorful revenge indeed!  And then there's the rich yellow hues of the citrine -- a stone whose properties include dispelling sadness and anger, as well as making men handsome and intelligent and turning sterile women into fertile and happy ones. (I would no longer be sad, either, if I were transformed into handsome and intelligent too!)  But the real magical properties of these two stones happen when they come together -- and no one made more extraordinary jewelry than the late great Tony Duquette.  Feast your eyes on this dazzling bracelet and brooch rendered in amethyst, citrine and 18 carat gold. Try as you may, you cannot go too deep into the world of the decorative arts of the 20th century without intersecting with the name Duquette, so entrenched is his singularly unique aesthetic and its influence in our design culture.  That Duchess of Windsor necklace, for example?  And now the book Tony Duquette Hutton Wilkenson Jewelry from Abrams has arrived to save ourselves from all that is common.  FINAL NOTE: When you want to be lifted out of your doldrums and sparkle both inside and outside, you can always turn to stone!

Worth a Second Look

WORTH A SECOND LOOK:  Yes, kids, your books can be like your best friends -- they are always there to comfort you and they never let you down because they give you that wonderful feeling when you read them time and again.  These are some of the many books in my personal library (two of them were signed to me by their authors: Beatrice Wood and Bret Parsons).  (1) The Andy Warhol Diaries edited by Pat Hackett. I'm currently reading this for the 10th time and still I find it fascinating -- seeing as how many of the people tattled on by Andy are still alive and having to deal with their naughty pasts long after the deeds were done.  Oh my -- what coke, sex and booze will do to you! (2) The Beautiful Fall: Fashion, Genius and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris by Alicia Drake.  Like fashion, all books have their critics -- and this book is no exception.  I'm reading it for the fourth time and am always awed by Lagerfeld's mad obsession for work, work, work.  He is the #1 fashion designer in the world and he earned it by sheer determination and will.  (3)  In the Pink: Dorothy Draper by Carleton Varney.  What a lady, what a book.  I never tire of looking at Draper's wonderful, colorful, imaginative, timeless designs.  (4)  Colcord Home by Bret Parsons.  With more than 300 residential estates to his credit, Beverly Hills architect Gerald R. Colcord was an unsung legend.  It took Parsons to bring it all together to show us why and we're glad he did.  One of my "comfort" books that I read when I want to reassure myself that all is well with the world -- and it works every time.  (5)  Swanson on Swanson by Gloria Swanson.  She was one tough cookie in those early days of silent film Hollywood, but she never stopped believing in herself.  Forget any other biographies -- take it straight from the clothes horse's mouth.  (6)  Andrea Palladio: The Four Books of Architecture.  If I have to explain this one to you, I will be floored.  This is where the real glamour in architecture and interiors began, kids.  (7)  Blood & Glitter by Mick Rock.  If you love the glam rock '70s, then this is the photography book for you.  Page after glorious page of Bowie, Iggy, Lou Reed, Queen, Tim Curry in sequins, feathers, satin and sexed-up rock 'n roll.  (8)  Helmut Newton: Work.  Buy this book.  Period.  (9)  I Shock Myself by Beatrice Wood.  When I interviewed Wood at her Ojai home in the 1980s I immediately fell in love with her and it was easy to see how others could too -- and in her book she tells all on Dada and then discovers her real love: pottery.

Laid Back in Time

LAID BACK IN TIME:  The Ancient Egyptians called it a bed.  The French called it a chaise longue.  We call it fabulous.  It's basically two parts: a frame and a woven seat.  But together they are a stylish way to recline, such as the dramatic Desdemona Chaise from J. Robert Scott shown here.  Since its introduction in Egypt (two of King Tutankhamun beds are pictured above) the chaise evolved in the Western world into a symbol of luxury and extravagance. Rococo-style chaise lounges -- ornate in design, tasseled and cushioned -- sat regally and indulgent in parlors of mansions in the 1800s.  In the 1930s, chaise lounge furniture came to be associated with Hollywood glamour. Stars of the golden age of cinema such as Jean Harlow, Gloria Swanson and Greta Garbo draped themselves across chaise lounges for photo shoots.  In a strange twist of fate, chaise lounge furniture became a staple of Freudian psychoanalysis, as doctors around the world adopted Freud's method of having patients recline as their dreams were interpreted.  Freud understood the power of relaxation.  The great architect Le Corbusier saw chaise lounges as the ultimate piece of furniture for in any room and easy to mass produce.  "This is the real machine for rest," he commented.  FINAL  NOTE:  Unlike Freud, there's no need to analyze why a chaise is a great addition to your interiors.  Just grab a cushion, your favorite cashmere throw and a good book (like the ones I recommended above, perhaps?) and just enjoy this favorite millenia-old way of kicking back your heels.

Is she or isn't she???

IS SHE OR ISN'T SHE???  We have a mystery on our hands, kids.  For centuries, this 1571 painting Dame au Bain (Lady in the Bath) by Francoise Clouet was believed to be a portrait of the famed beauty Diane de Poitiers, mistress of King Henry II of France.  However, since Poitiers died in 1566 by drinking too much gold (yes! more on that later), it has been speculated that this portrait may be of two other powerful ladies of the time: Mary, Queen of Scots or Marie Touchet, mistress to King Charles IX (Henry's son).  But when you view other portraits of Poitiers, you see an uncanny resemblance, leading one to believe that Dame au Bain could very well be a post-mortem tribute to Poitiers, such was her power and influence during the reign of Henry II.  (Of interest is the fact that only two signed paintings by Clouet are known to exist, including this one -- and Dame au Bain is generally regarded as a great masterpiece of the French Renaissance.  Hey, I'd sign 'em all so that someone would know how much talent I had!)  Back to Diane, though.  So powerful, educated, influential and beloved was she, that she often signed Henry's offical letters for him: HenriDiane as one name -- much to the disapproval of Henry's wife Catherine de Medici (now there's a lady not to have fooled around with).  Drinking liquid gold was a beauty treatment among the wealthy women of the day (you'd have to be wealthy to down the stuff) -- and unfortunately for Poitiers, she consumed way too much of it.  In fact, a present-day autopsy revealed extremely high levels of gold in her hair and throughout her body.  So, if you want to see this lady (whoever she is) up close and personal, you can view the painting (which was inspired and influenced by Da Vinci, Titian and Bronzino) at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Welcome to the Other L.A.

WELCOME TO THE OTHER L.A. -- Everyone knows the sunny side of Los Angeles.  But photographer Jim McHugh knows the side enveloped by shadows, sitting in the twilight of Tinseltown.  And he knows the lost, the unseen and the derelict when it comes to capturing the architecture, landscape and iconic symbols that have come to represent what the world knows as vintage Los Angeles.  His vast collection of images of all things L.A. photographed over the past 30+ years hovers around 4,000 -- an amazing feat for any photographer.  But then, McHugh is not any photographer.  Exhibited internationally, an author of several books, a longtime portrait photographer for Architectural Digest, the recipient of the prestigious  Prix de la Photographie, Paris for his architectural photography, and renowned for his portraits of some of the world’s top contemporary artists, McHugh seems to eat, sleep and breathe photography.  Using a large format, hand held 4x5 camera, McHugh records on Polaroid film the kind of L.A. that only an insider like him can see and feel.  “The photographs are an homage to the Los Angeles I remember as a child,” says McHugh. The city and the architecture of McHugh’s youth is pretty much lost or unseen today, or has become as McHugh puts it, “faded remnants of an earlier beauty.”  The documenting of this L.A. is “an exercise in memory and time” says McHugh.  He has translated this exercise into large format Polaroid prints and he is represented at Timothy Yarger Fine Art in Beverly Hills -- not to mention being in such collections as The Museum of Modern Art, The Walker Art Center and The Polaroid Collection.  Vanity Fair magazine acknowledges that McHugh “follows in the footsteps of photography giant Ansel Adams.”  Pretty powerful words.  But a picture is indeed worth a thousand words and it is the  powerful pictures of McHugh’s that conjure up thousands of words and emotions about the sunny L.A. that is so etched in  everyone’s collective minds.  The city does have its shadow-strewn side, its eerie moments caught somewhere in between twilight and reality, seemingly forever suspended in the mind of McHugh for us to revel in, to ponder and search deeper or wonder to ourselves “where is this L.A?”  Just ask Jim McHugh.  He knows where it is.

Culture Watch: Ballet

CULTURE WATCH:  His hands, his arms, his legs, his eyes all become vehicles of true artistic expression to convey all the nuances and excitement that is supreme ballet.  Nikolai Tsiskaridze is a delight to behold.  Bravo!

Ciao Edie!

CIAO EDIE!  Good lord, she was a handful.  By the time she left us in 1971, Edith Minturn Sedgwick was everybody's darling, a tragic heroine in her own production, an Andy Warhol Superstar, and a true style icon.  Complex, daring, nonstop, carefree -- that was Edie.  FINAL NOTE:  At Studio of Style, we say know your limits, know your boundaries and have a great time with life -- and, of course, always be stylish!!_Manhattan

La Dolce Vita: Luggage Labels

LA DOLCE VITA: They conjure up all the romance of the golden era of travel.  Those colorful little square, rectangles, circles and triangles are miniature moments in time that still transport us to exotic places that offer exotic smells, tastes and adventures.  Palm trees swaying in balmy breezes, tranquil lakeside vistas, grand architecture.  STYLE TIPS: Luggage labels are among the best collectibles, price-wise, and they can be used in numerous decorative ways.  Yes, they look great on vintage luggage and steamer trunks, but you could create a flat mirror surround with them, or put them beneath a glass tabletop, or fill a scrapbook as well that would be a great hand-me-down to loved ones.  Or perhaps you just might be inspired by their fabulous color schemes to design a room around it?  FINAL NOTE:  Give in to your inner wanderlust and take another look at these gems of yesteryear.
Collage by Greg Firlotte

The House that Art Built

THE HOUSE THAT ART BUILT:  Once upon a time there was a Hollywood art director named Harry Oliver who built a storybook style house in 1921 to serve as offices and dressing rooms for Irving Willat's film studio in Culver City, California.  Lopside, pointy, with tiny windows and rambling overgrown gardens, the house now resides in the quaint burg of Beverly Hills where it has become a regular tourist attraction -- though still a private home not open to the public.  Throughout the years, the house has been the subject of many urban legends, almost none of which are true.  But what is true is that this fantasy house was the product of an artistic imagination and has survived its relocation, various renovations and several owners to delight visitors from around the world who still want to believe in fairy tales and happy endings.  STYLE NOTES:  Asymmetry, handcrafted rustic materials, imagination and daring to live differently all come together in this wonderful cottage.  I doubt there's a straight angle anyway to be found -- which is all the better!  FINAL NOTE:  Home is where the heart is -- and there is a lot of heart that went into preserving this one-of-a-kind abode throughout the decades. 
Build your own storybook house:
Photo by Greg Firlotte 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hauntingly Beautiful

HAUNTINGLY BEAUTIFUL:  You know the real reason we love to watch 1940's Rebecca over and over, don't you?  Yes, Alfred Hitchcock's direction is as masterful as any film made.  And Joan Fontaine's vulnerable character as the new Mrs. de Winter tugs at your heartstrings.  And we all love those wicked, wicked moments of Mrs. Danvers in Judith Anderson's powerful portrayal of evil and possession.  But you know, kids, that it's those incredible rooms created by the team of interior decorator Howard Bristol and interior designer Joseph B. Platt (all gorgeously photographed by George Barnes) that draw our eye into every scene -- making us want to live there forever and ever (and never burn down!).  STYLE NOTES:  As you study the interiors, you'll note that scale is key to making Manderley the most sumptuous house quite possibly ever filmed.  It seems like a gazillion yards of fabric and wallpaper were used to create Rebecca's dreamlike bedroom.  Bouquets of  flowers are everywhere and the quality of light streaming through the ever-so-tall windows is the other main visual effect that gives an otherworldly feel to the film.  Think about all these visual elements combined and you'll know what to do when creating your own Manderley.  By the way, though uncredited in the film, it has been concluded that the renowned costumer Irene created the fabulous "Rebecca gown" shown here.  FINAL NOTE:  The overwhelming romantic feel of the rooms in this classic film can be captured if you really sort through the design elements as I mentioned and build upon them in your own way.  Mrs. Danvers didn't have a ghost of a chance, but you certainly do!

Thursday, October 27, 2011


POODLE-LICIOUS: Toy, miniature or standard -- we love our poodles, don't we kids?  The term "French poodle" is so common that we forget that the poodle is actually believed to have originated in Germany.  The Low German word pudel means "to splash in the water" because this breed was once used as a water retriever during hunting!  Who knew?  Well, now you do.  The poodle's lush curly, moisture-resistant coat aids in swimming.  And the Standard Poodle is regarded as the second most intelligent breed of dog after the Border Collie and before the German Shepherd.  That's another reason we love them!  STYLE NOTES:  (1) Back in 1953, lots of people (especially those in Los Angeles) fell in love with the pink poodle lamp when legendary designer Phyllis Morris introduced it.  It is still made today from the original mold and is shown here in silver with a handmade silk shade. (2)  Christopher Robin's silver poodle pendant is certainly a charming charm. (3) The pink and black poodle soaps from Gianna Rose Atelier are scented with Italian mandarin, mango and jasmine.  (4)  Don't you love the retro-inspired poodle textile designed by Captive In Florida from Spoonflower?  (5) And who can resist Texas artist Judy Gibson's classic painting of a white poodle to hang in the den or library?  FINAL NOTE:  Poodle lovers unite!  Start filling your world with all these perfectly peachy poodle pieces -- pronto!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

From London with Love

FROM LONDON WITH LOVE: Twiggy has never been more vivacious, beautiful or downright fabulous!  When she burst onto the fashion scene at age 16 in the mid-1960s, she was an instant hit -- and the best part is that she has never left us, which means that we can still get our Twiggy fix in many ways!  From fashion to films (she won two Golden Globes for "The Boyfriend"), to a TV presenter, to being a clothing designer and so much more, Ms. Lawson is a one-woman phenomena to say the least.  And if you also happen to love, love, love the Union Jack motif (as we do at Studio of Style), you are in luck if you go to HSN where Twiggy's collection includes a ring, a weekender bag (now on clearance price), or luggage in good ol' red, white and blue!  STYLE TIP: You can feel as if you're in London anytime with these timeless accessories.  For certain, everyone will be asking where you got these groovy goods -- and you can say "I got them from Twiggy"!!  FINAL NOTE: Whether you're 16 or 60, you're always the right age to celebrate life in a colorful way!

Tease Me, Please Me

TEASE ME, PLEASE ME:  "We used a lot of Aqua Net," Ronnie Spector admitted in a Village Voice interview about the incredible heights of hair sported by those '60s singing sensations The Ronettes -- and judging by this photo alone, I can see several cans worth -- all to our eternal enjoyment.  Achieved by teasing and lacquering, teasing and lacquering, the beehive was developed in 1960 by Margaret Vinci Heldt of Elmhurst, Illinois (owner of  Margaret Vinci Coiffures in Chicago) who several years before in 1954 won the National Coiffure Championship -- who knew?  Well you do now, kids!  Though many famous women would wear this 'do' over the decades (from Audrey Hepburn to Wilma Flintstone in "Fred's New Boss" season three), none wore it more beautifully than The Ronettes (Veronica "Ronnie", Nedra and Estelle).  STYLE TIP: If you've got the hair, then we've got the time to admire it -- especially if it goes big and up to the ceiling.  Be it a beehive, a bouffant a la Lady Bird Johnson, or just plain big mounds of lacquered-up tresses, you can be that girl who stands head and shoulders above (literally) everyone in a crowd of so-so hairdos.  FINAL NOTE:  How can you say that you've actually lived until you've walked the red carpet of life wearing a beehive hairdo -- now I ask you?

Come Fly with Me

COME FLY WITH ME: Big but slim (4" x 3" x 3/8"), this antiqued silver metal case from Cosmic Firefly in Las Vegas is the perfect traveling companion to hold your cash, credit cards or, if you got 'em, cigarettes.   Made from heavy gauge brass (and not flimsy tin), this handcrafted case is among the many cool fashion accessories and super cool jewelry made by BA and NAY (yes, kids) -- two ladies who started Cosmic Firefly as a creative outlet for their vintage, nautical, steampunk, Victorian and just plain weird objets to make all of our fashionable lives all the more interesting.  (By the way, BA loves almond milk on cereal and hoards scissors, while NAY loves vegan cooking and decoding the universe.  Sounds like our kind of gals!).  STYLE TIP:  For 48 well-spent bucks, you can impress everyone at the next social function when you whip out this case to retrieve your business cards.  I suppose you could buy your card case at one of those retail box stores...but why would you want to do that???  FINAL NOTE:  Think globally, buy locally (and if NAY does decode the universe, let's hope she tells Studio of Style what she finds out and we'll publish it here first).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sweet Betty

SWEET BETTY: Oh, she is so fabulous, that Betty  Catroux.  One never tires of gazing at her, perhaps envying her for being so tall, so blonde and...well, so Betty, the ultimate muse to Yves Saint Laurent.  She's always had that certain je ne sais quois -- and I never use that phrase except for her.  In 1969 Paris, she is shown here with Saint Laurent, the legendary fashion designer to whom Catroux pledged her fashion allegiance.  Fellow model and muse to YSL, Loulou de la Falaise (who is in her own right a fashion designer -- check her out on HSN -- I never miss her shows!) is pictured here as well in front of YSL's Rive Gauche boutique.  Betty...elle est merveilleuse, non?  STYLE TIP: A definitive look that says who and what you are can be your best friend throughout life -- as witnessed by the timeless Betty Catroux.  If you know your fashion strengths that flatter and give you a wow factor, then keep it and go for it.  FINAL NOTE: Change is good, but a tried and true method that works is even better.
Photos: Wesley/Keystone/Getty Images; and Italian Vogue

Man About Town

MAN ABOUT TOWN: On any given night, artist Septerhed can be found traversing the streets of Los Angeles pasting his unique style of graphics on telephone poles, utility boxes, sides of buildings and wherever he can.  Hey, kids, it's tough for a street artist to be taken seriously -- but a recent solo exhibit for Septerhed at Hold Up Art gallery in downtown L.A. gave the artist's many followers an opportunity to see his work up close and personal instead of from behind the wheel of an automobile cruising along Melrose or La Brea avenues.  In fact, I was intrigued by Septerhed's art enough to stop my car near the intersection of Melrose and Fairfax avenues, get out and study his wheat-pasted art in detail one Sunday morning.  Even more intriguing was learning that his website offers very well-priced serigraphs that are bold and colorful -- and truly clever in their artistic delivery, mixing words and graphics that make a statement about society.  STYLE TIP: Rather than put up predictable blah blah blah artwork on your walls, why not blow your friends' minds with a vivid display of street art?  Start googling street artists and learn their styles, where they're showing (you'd be surprised at how many exhibits you can attend of street art) and start to build a collection before others snap it all up.  FINAL NOTE: Street art is dynamic and filled with restless energy.  Get out more often and enjoy these free artistic roadside attractions.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Malachite Madness

MALACHITE MADNESS: Revered by the ancient Egyptians for its mystical and therapeutic properties, malachite still holds a spell over those of us who marvel at its ability of fascinate with its never-ending, never-repeating green patterns -- informing us that it's not possible to ever see it all, that there is still more.  The many variations of green in bands moving from very light to very dark add even more to its allure.  Clockwise from top left: 1. Dransfield & Ross placemats; 2. textile by Ravynka through Spoonflower; 3. tables from Global Views; 4. European art glass in malachite tones; 5. Tony Duquette's large rug from Roubini Rugs; 6. the real deal.  STYLE TIP: Since everyone's talking about going green, here's your chance to do it visually and make a dramatic statement at the same time.  Mix it up with silver for a crisp modern feel.  Dark wood tones make it intriguing; light wood tones make it playful.  Malachite tiles make an incredible kitchen backsplash or countertop.  Fill a bowl with raw or polished malachite stones in differing shapes and sizes (skip the eggs -- everyone's done that).  FINAL NOTE: If you're gonna be green with envy, make it malachite green.

Gaga Over Lulu

GAGA OVER LULU: She was the style icon of her era and her famed bob hairstyle came to symbolize a free-spirited era during the heyday of silent films in the 1920s.  Louise Brooks starred in 17 films altogether, but it was in the 1929 German film Pandora's Box directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst where Brooks really shone as the lead character Lulu who was a loose sexual cannon and was even one of the screen's first portrayal of a lesbian.  Wowza!  But it was that hair!  Did you know that Liza Minnelli styled her "do" for Cabaret after Brooks at the suggestion of her famed film director father Vincent Minnelli?  Uh huh.  And thousands of sweet young things wore the bob hair style during those "roaring twenties" -- their visual way of sweeping away the past and welcoming in the twentieth century with a fashion bang.  Just look at Brooks' composure, her posture, her eyes, her hands, her everything.  STYLE TIP: Do you feel comfortable with a certain look?  Can you assemble an ensemble of hair, makeup, clothes, shoes, accessories and jewelry that make you unique and as fabulous as possible?  How do you sit? Walk? Talk? Consider these as part of your style!  FINAL NOTE: You don't need to be famous to exude style in whatever you do and wherever you go.  People will notice, believe me.

Mum's the Word

MUM'S THE WORD:  "If you would be happy for a lifetime, grow Chrysanthemums," a Chinese philosopher once said.  And the Chinese should know -- they've been cultivating this incredible flower since the 15th century BC (although these ancient growers might not recognize the mums of today with their more showy display of petals).  You can enjoy these amazing creatures as textiles (such as the Japanese Chrysanthemum collection by Phillip Jacobs for Westminster); as art (that is, if you can wrangle this brilliant Pierre-Auguste Renoir painting); or as a show-stopping rug ("Chrysanthemum Spring" from Decorative Carpets in West Hollywood, California).  Whatever form you choose, you can't go wrong with this most underrated of blooms.  STYLE TIP: Make as big a bouquet as possible, mixing colors and types of mums, allowing them to spill out and over the vase.  Use solid cloth napkins in the same colors as the flowers on your dining table arrangement.  FINAL NOTE: Don't worry, be happy, grow chrysanthemums.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tile Style

TILE STYLE: Listen up, kids.  We all love tile -- especially when its handmade, unique and clever.  And that's exactly what you get from the extremely clever Linda Ellett, founder of L'esperance Handmade Tile and Pottery in upstate New York.  In fact, her work is among the best we've encountered in a long time.  She says, "I've always liked to play in the mud....but when my first glazed piece came out of the kiln I was hooked - 4th grade to be exact!  What did I make? An ashtray for my Gram Collopy inscribed with the words "don't smoke" (!) and a guitar as a tribute to my fav new band - the Beatles!"  Hey, with a bio like that (and knowing someone named Gram Collopy), what's not to love about her incredible tiles?  STYLE TIP: These tiles will make a space truly different.  Imagine her Inuit fish, frogs or water lily tiles in a bathroom; or the Cheshire Cat or mushrooms as part of the kitchen backsplash; acorns and squirrels around the library fireplace.  Ellett would be happy to work with you on your special design schemes.  FINAL NOTE:  Think outside the tile box.  Why be traditional when you can be original??

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Steel 'N Beauty

STEEL 'N BEAUTY: The Maya steel bowl was designed in 1977 by Giulio Confalonieri with an Art Deco-meets-futurist reference and a simple step-upward splaying outward design.  Genius.  STYLE TIP:  Fill this gorgeous thing with mounds of dragon fruit, pomegranates or black beauty eggplants for striking effects.  FINAL NOTE:  One classic bowl like this is all you need.

Still Groovy After All These Years

STILL GROOVY AFTER ALL THESE YEARS:  Forget gypset.  Forget boho chic. Hard to believe, kids, but it was in 1967 that the album Incense and Peppermints hit the Billboard charts, launching The Strawberry Alarm Clock into pop music history.  Unlike today's music listener who never gets to hold a 12" x 12" LP cover in their hands, albums of yesteryear were both visual and literary insights into musical acts -- reading liner notes on the backside of the album like it was (and it was) the new gospel for the hip.  The cover!  Doncha just love it?  I'll give you all the time you need to let your eyes roam over and over the cover of this psychedelic gem.  Those colors, patterns, applications, beads, pillows, clothes and that fabulous folding screen.  STYLE TIP: Count how many colors and patterns you find in all these items, then imagine all those colors in one room.  Can't you?  Some might see it as a cacophony of color -- others a beautiful blendship.  FINAL NOTE: Light some incense, pop a couple of peppermints and let your freak flag fly.

Turn Over A New Leaf

TURN OVER A NEW LEAF: The striking beauty of autumnal leaves is undeniable.  Each leaf so richly colored and truly unique unto itself.  How splendid nature is, kids!  Imagine bringing those rich colors indoors and being able to enjoy them long after the last leaf has fallen to the ground, only to be covered by snow.  Thankfully there is Spoonflower in North Carolina.  Who, you ask? In their own words: "Spoonflower makes it possible for individuals to design, print and sell their own fabric designs. It was founded in May 2008 by two Internet geeks who had crafty wives but who knew nothing about textiles."  Fabrics here were created by Owl and Chickadee (far left); and top to bottom right: Carina Envoldsen Harris; Siya; Raven Wood Studio Design.  STYLE TIP: What unique and colorful things you can do with these (and hundreds more) handcrafted fabrics from this very clever and resourceful company.  Wait 'til you see the plethora of fabrics you had wished you always knew about.  FINAL NOTE: Take a look around your room and ask yourself what needs refreshing in the fabric department.  Perhaps something handcrafted (and something none of your friends will ever have) and made here in the good ol' USA is the answer.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Make An Entrance

MAKE AN ENTRANCE: Okay, so the gothic look may not be your cup of devil's claw tea.   But you gotta admit the sets for the classic 1931 Dracula film can still send chills up your spine -- for all the right reasons.  Sadly not credited onscreen, Russell A. Gausman's art direction for one of the most influential horror films of all time (neck to neck with the 1931 Frankenstein with art direction by Charles D. Hall) truly set the visual tone of scary for generations of art directors to mimic.  Massive rooms with massive staircases, windows and fireplaces with their massive andirons create the perfect backdrop for the blood-thirsty Count to seduce his victims.  STYLE TIP: Bigger is better when it comes to creating environments not soon to be forgotten.  Look at the scale in your rooms -- is everything pretty much the same height, width, depth?  If you're taller than most everything in your room, then you've got design problems, my friend.  If you have a mirror in the room, make it one big, tall mirror -- even if you have to lean it against a wall.  Then, start to create differing height scenarios around that -- and voila you'll begin to resolve the issue.  Accessories can be in various sizes--from miniature to large--to make the point as well.  Make your curtains reach to the ceiling and not just the window height.  I'll stop there, but you get the idea.  If you are in a situation where you can control the architectural elements, then by all means double the size of what is standard.  Look at these pics from Dracula for reference and you can apply that to contemporary, traditional and transitional interiors.  FINAL NOTE:  Next time you watch your favorite film, look at it from a design point of view and you just might see every lamp, table and chair in a new light.  Must read: Designs on Film: A Century of Hollywood Art Direction by Cathy Whitlock

Embrace the Moment

EMBRACE THE MOMENT: Okay kids, so you may never have heard of Nancy Cunard.  Frankly neither did I for the longest time.  But now that I've caught up with the rest of the cognoscenti, you can be too.  She was one helluva gal.  She was a muse, a writer, an heiress, a political writer and spent a great deal of her life fighting racism and fascism.  She wasn't a designer and had nothing to do with decor or architecture.  But what she had plenty of was style -- original style.  And that was what alienated her from many of her peers.  Cunard was fearless in her beliefs -- sorta like you and me, huh?  Her beliefs led to threats and hate mail -- some of which she published in a book to point out the ignorance she found in society.  STYLE TIP: See the wealth of African bracelets, her artistic repose and the dramatic angle of her arms?  Now that's style, kids! Cunard's inner fortitude became what was manifested on the outside.  And you know what?  That doesn't cost a cent.  But it's not something you can buy either.  What makes you strong? Determined? Devoted to an ideal?  Can you wear that on your sleeve, coat, dress or cape?  FINAL NOTE: Embrace the real you -- the unreal part of you is pretty much out of style anyway.

The Original Man Cave

THE ORIGINAL MAN CAVE: If we're gonna talk about design, let's get real and start at the very beginning.  The caves at Lascaux in southwestern France may very well be the best rooms ever created -- ever.  17,000 years later and they still are amazing to look at and to try and wrap our brains around.  The organic nature of the art integrating with its environment can still teach us a big lesson about interior design.  Nobody taught these paleolithic painters about form, style, technique.  They just did it from their gut.  And you can too.   STYLE TIP: Start first with the big picture -- everything else will come from that.  Make the focal point of your room a mural instead of the usual paint or wallpaper with the few obligatory pieces of artwork strewn about.  Be bold or don't go home.  Don't try to be a "designer" -- be a human with human needs.  It's when we get too caught up in what we think is "design" that we lose sight of what it is we're trying to accomplish.  Study the images of these caves and see if you can imagine being the original people painting these images in place for the very first time.  How exciting that must have been.  You can have that  kind of excitement too when you create your own living space.  FINAL NOTE: Don't cave in to conventionality.