Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

This photograph was sent to me by my friend jewelry designer and artist Jennifer Ale who made our 14k gold commitment rings. She took it at the Museum of International Folk Art in Sante Fe, which TD and I loved visiting years ago. This is my idea of Halloween style! (Click to enlarge.) Hope you get all treats this Halloween.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Art Jamboree #2

BB and artist Richard Haines (photo: Leah Durner)

Last weekend TD and headed down to Soho in the rain for Art Jamboree #2 – a group of artists selling work on two floors in a building on Greene Street, everything $50 or less.

My friend Richard Haines invited us. You know Richard from the What I Saw Today blog. He's an artist and illustrator who sketches mostly menswear (below). He was drawing portraits at the Art Jamboree.

(photo: Richard Haines)

There were other artist there we knew as well including Trey Speegle and Lean Durner. Leah's paintings (below) reminded me of the work of Howard Hodgkin.

(photo: Leah Durner)

We bought some cards and gifts. From Richard we bought this spare sketch which I put in a frame from A.I. Friedman.

Love her. She will go next to the watercolor we bought at Richard's gallery show, which we're getting framed.

On the floor above I found a textile designer named Lourdes Sanchez who told me she has created fabrics for Old Navy and West Elm. She was selling printing proofs on thin brown paper of her textile designs. I bought a bunch and taped them to the wall in the library. I love textiles, and I think these subtly colored floral "paper textiles" are great.

$1 each.

At the show, "champagne cocktails" were served and music played. It offered a nice opportunity to meet a variety of artists and talk about their work in a friendly, smaller setting. After the art show TD and I repaired to the closest pub for a pint (or two). It was a great way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon. It was like a London afternoon.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fall Days in New York

A cloudscape on Bowery.

The last two days in New York City have been beautiful, with thin white clouds skittering across a clear blue sky like shallow water lapping at the shore. Fortunately I have some free time to enjoy it!

On Wednesday I went up to midtown to have lunch with my friend Abby and then I attended a reading at the library where my friend author Michael Gross was talking about his new book Rogue's Gallery, about the Metropolitan Museum of Art – more on that in a subsequent post. Later I went to a birthday party for my friend artist Richard Haines in a tiny, rockin' East Village gay bar.

Thursday, I hopped on the blue Schwinn and headed downtown along the Hudson River Park. The river sparkled through the green.

Fall colors are coming to the trees

and the grasses that line the park.

Downtown, I had lunch with my friends from the ad agency. It was great to see them.

Back on the bike, I headed to Soho to check out some stores. Opening Ceremony, on a little street called Howard Street, carries avant garde fashion for men and women. Odin, on Lafayette, has cool clothes for guys. Then I went to one of my favorite stores in New York, John Derian, on East 2nd Street.

I've been writing here about Rough Luxe, and John Derian is a master. The store has a country vintage feel, and he offers iron tables with wood tops, lamps made out of industrial parts, and tee shirts printed with nineteenth century images.

The front of the store features tableware and handmade decoupage objects.

There is peeling paint and a weathered edge but still everything is very refined.

Next door he has another store which sells textiles and is a little softer. It's always fun to visit John Derian. And it was a pleasure to be outside enjoying the city on these afternoons. I still get amazed by the sheer power and population of New York. Uptown, downtown, east side, west side, day or night, the city's energy and its people go on in every direction. I've lived in New York for twenty-six years but sometimes on the street I still look around and think to myself, "I love New York so much."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Style on the Shelf

The post that I wrote below about Suzanne Tucker's book got me going to my library shelves of books and magazines to look at pictures of my favorite rooms and schemes. Let's fire up the scanner, shall we?

The picture above is from the World of Interiors, March 2004 (photographer Francois Jussaud), and shows a home in an industrial warehouse in Antwerp. This room is an orangerie – I think everybody should have an orangerie – and features a collection of old canary bird cages and garden chairs.

The photo below is an apartment in Paris (World of Interiors, January 2003, photographer Guillaume de Laubier). The cover line says, "Chateau on a Shoestring: the flat that thinks it's a manor." Eighteenth century furniture and colorful textiles are jumbled together on bare wood floors.

This is the Tribeca loft of designer Liz Dougherty Pierce (Country Home, September 2000, photographer Reed Davis). The industrial space is filled with a seven-foot table found in Vermont.

The Paris apartment of French actress Isabelle Adjani decorated by Jacques Grange is pictured in the Tashen book Paris Interiors. Pale blue walls, mismatched chairs, a tapestry over the table, and the requisite bare floors create a room which is beautiful and elegant but also comfortable and natural.

I also came across this painting, An Interior in Venice, by John Singer Sargent, which is one of my favorites. I love the mystery of the room as it recedes into darkness.

No matter what the size of the space, candlelight always creates an old-fashioned, romantic aura.

Antiques, plants, flea-market finds, "furniture with legs" (nothing overstuffed), bare floors and mix of wood and iron are all things we like to live with in the apartment.
I wrote about Rough Luxe below, and I would like to find more industrial antique pieces which lend a hard edge but are clean-lined and airy at the same time. I'd like to live like a nineteenth century botanist in a loft by the river. I'm trying to get to something I picture in my mind.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Sumptuous Style of Suzanne Tucker

Carolyne Roehm and Suzanne Tucker at Christie's. (Photo: Gregory Partanio)

The other night I stopped in at Christie's in Rockefeller Center for a party for the California decorator Suzanne Tucker who has just published a lavish new book called Rooms to Remember.

Carolyne Roehm was there and I said hello to New York designer Bunny Williams who I interviewed years ago for Architectural Digest. Her office at the time was in the 60's off Fifth Avenue, and it was one of the most amazing rooms I have ever been in – a fantastic mix of impressive antiques but still very comfortable and familiar.

The author and designer Suzanne Tucker lives and works in San Fransisco. As she explains in her book, she signed on in the 80's as the assistant to designer Michael Taylor who really invented the "California style" – upholstered white furniture, bare floors, nature brought indoors with rocks and trees, and an overall open, airy, light feeling. After he died in 1986, she and a partner purchased his business.

This book showcases her work and covers a range of grand houses including a Tuscan villa in the Sonoma Hills, an Arts and Crafts home in the mountains, a French Provence-inspired villa outside of San Fransisco, and a charming, historical Edwardian house. Gleaming antiques, sophisticated colors, tactile materials and rich fabrics like silks and velvets create a rarefied level of luxe.

A graphic Jim Dine drawing hangs over an eighteenth-century Chinese altar table.

(Photos: The Monacelli Press)

The simple lines of an Italian neoclassical walnut settee contrast with a swirling arabesque iron railing.

A completely romantic green and white French toile covers the walls of a guest bedroom as well as the nineteenth-century beds.

A European cloister, complete with a tile roof and ivy, was added to a 1920s house to create an outdoor dining pavilion.

I was really taken with the scale of these houses – very large rooms, very high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows. One client said to Suzanne, "Design a house that I can get lost in." We don't see a lot of that here on the isle of Manhattan, but it's fun to look at how some other people live. I like the idea behind Suzanne Tucker's book: Think Big.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Jane Comes to New York

Recently my eleven-year-old niece and godchild Jane came to visit for a sleep over. I immediately whisked her off to Dumbo in Brooklyn to visit our friends April and Matt. Jane had become friendly with April when they lived in our building in Chelsea.

I also wanted to see the Dumbo Art Fair. We were a little late for the fair, but it was fun to walk around Dumbo. Love Dumbo – perched on the edge of the East River between the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Then Jane and I met up with TD for dinner in a Dumbo restaurant called Superfine. We sat at a table near a small stage which was decorated with a red velvet curtain, hanging gold stars and artificial grass beach umbrellas. Looked promising. Soon enough a girl blue grass band came out to entertain. What more could you ask for on a Sunday night?

Jane and I share an interest in art and fashion. When we got home she watched on the dvr two episodes of the "Rachel Zoe Project," which she had not seen before. Her parents are going to kill me I thought, because now she will want to stay up late and watch the travails of a Hollywood stylist. The Rachel Zoe show is not for everyone, but I get a kick out of it. Jane enjoyed the show too. "What do you like about it Jane?" I asked. "The clothes," she said. She's right – the clothes are good.

Jane was wearing a black cotton blazer she said was from H&M. It fit her perfectly, I couldn't believe it. The jacket looked like it was tailored to her body. Sleeves were the ideal length, and buttons at the cuff actually unbuttoned. Jane peered down thoughtfully at her shoulder. "But the jacket shoulder could be a little wider," she said making a space of about a half an inch with her thumb and index finger at her shoulder. Eleven years old. Girl after my own heart.

It reminds me of a story about my grandmother who had great style and taste. When relatives talk about my grandmother they use the word "stunning" which is not a word you hear much anymore. Born and raised in Herkimer, she grew to have a very elegant demeanor and her clothes were always perfect. We were wonderful friends and very close. Here we are together when I turned seven:

At the end of her life she resided in an assisted living home on a hill outside of Albany and I often took the train up to visit her. On one trip I was very happy to be wearing a green flannel blazer by Thomas Oatman who had a store in Soho called New Republic. (Here is an online article I wrote about Thomas in 1997.) Instead of a traditional navy wool blazer, this one was green, and it had tortoiseshell buttons instead of gold. I thought it looked great as I presented myself to my grandmother in the residence on the hill in Albany. She took one look at me and she said, "You do know that one sleeve is longer than the other."

The next day Jane and I went to the Museum of Modern Art. I personally prefer the Met but Jane likes the Modern and it's easier to get to in midtown. I was delighted to see that Monet's "Water Lilies" were all installed together in one room. Hanging with the water lilies was this six foot painting called "Aganthus" – an engrossing swirl of flowers, leaves and grass (click on for better view).

The "Water Lilies" triptych is completely entrancing. Pinks, lavenders, blues and greens lure you into a meditative state.

Lights move into darks. Loops of color float over deep recesses. There is something magical about these masterpieces. How can a subject so simple be so beautiful? I could have looked at them all day.

Then we went outside to the Sculpture Garden. Even though it's in the center of midtown the Sculpture Garden is quiet and peaceful.
A jumble of city architecture including the Trump Tower and the AT&T Building crowd the view

but all you hear is the sound of water.

It's a very pleasant place to sit indeed.

Jane climbed on a sculpture

and we sat for a rest.

Two peas in a pod, I'm telling you.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Anthropologie, or Rough Luxe

A rusty bicycle piled high with old leather suitcases in the window of the Fifth Avenue store.

I was invited this week to preview a new television series which will follow Keith Johnson, Anthropologie's world-wide shopper. The series will be on the Sundance Channel starting October 7th, and in each episode, Keith will travel to a new country in search of unusual decorative objects, furniture and textiles for all the Anthropologie stores, as well as artists and crafts people to hire. That sounds like a great job! I'm looking forward to this show.

Keith Johnson is the partner of Glen Senk who is the CEO of Urban Outfitters, which is the parent company of Anthropologie. Their apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan is featured in the current issue of Elle Decor magazine. This couple met when they were nine years old. Ok, that must be a record! The end of the article gave me goose bumps.

I'm a big fan of Anthropologie. Although it's a women's clothing store, I love their items for the home and their store displays. They also have a great selection of style and travel books. Their windows and in-store designs often feature a clever use of paper which I think is charming. I guess other shoppers like Anthropologie too: even during the economic downturn Anthropologie is enjoying healthy growth both in terms of retails sales and stores opening across the country. Whenever I'm in the store on Fifth Avenue there is a line at the cash register.

The home merchandise is like a trip to a Paris flea market. Glasses and dishes are piled on wood and iron displays which are also for sale. I love the antique industrial combination of wood and iron.

I recently came across this article on The Wall Street about "Rough Luxe" which celebrates this style. Peeling paint, rusting metal and hewn wood can be romantic when treated luxuriously. The style evokes the past, but in a clean, airy way which is not musty or overstuffed. It's what they do so well at Anthropologie, and it's an inspiration.

This metal painted table in Anthropologie looks like our coffee table which I found at the flea market for $25.

One year at the Jane Street Sale, I spotted this metal lamp shaped like a flower, below. Our next-door neighbor fashion designer Zac Posen asked the seller if he would come down from the $65 price, but it was non-negotiable. I came back later and got it for $40 – sorry Zac! My sister-in-law Tracy who works in retail and knows about these things said I should re-sell it to Anthropologie and they could reproduce it.

But I like it too much.