Living room by Carrier & Company (Photo: Courtesy of Elle Decor)
On Thursday evening I had the pleasure of attending the opening of ELLE DECOR’s Modern Life Concept House at the new +Art condo development in Chelsea. The showhouse was comprised of two neighboring apartments with rooms designed by 10 of Elle Decor’s A-List Designers to Watch. Each designer offered their own unique take on modern living and I especially loved the living room, shown above, designed by Carrier & Company and the adjacent kitchen/dining area designed by Katie Lydon. The well appointed spaces flowed seamlessly together and felt fresh, effortless and totally livable. The ELLE DECOR Modern Life Concept House is open to the public over the next three weekends so you can have the opportunity to check it out for yourself! If you’re not able to make it to the Concept House in person, below are a few photos of my favorite spaces to watch a video tour of the entire showhouse by Elle Decor editor-in-chief Michael Boodro click here.
Here are the details on dates and hours and for more information or a link to purchase tickets, visit www.elledecor.com/showhouse.
Elle Decor Presents: The Modern Life Concept House
May 20 – 22; May 27 – 30; and June 3 – 5
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
540 W. 28th Street
Admission is $30 and all ticket sales benefit Housing Works.
Living Room by Carrier & Company. (Photo: +Art)
Living Room by Carrier & Company. (Photo: +Art)
Dining area by Katie Lydon (Photo: Courtesy of Elle Decor)
Dining area by Katie Lydon (Photo: +Art)
Tilton Fenwick for Traditional Home
This past weekend Housing Works hosted it’s annual Design on a Dime charity fundraiser which supports homeless and low-income New Yorkers living with HIV & AIDS. Each year top interior designers create fabulous room vignettes for the event and all of the products used are sold at deep discounts to benefit Housing Works. This was the biggest year yet with 56 participating designers and a star studded roster of event chairs that included Nate Berkus, supermodel Iman, Good Morning America’s Lara Spencer and interior designers Charlotte Moss and James Huniford (who is a founding chair of the event). I attended the opening night to do a little shopping (of course!) and there was so much inspiration and creativity abound! Below are a few highlights…
Designers Suysel dePedro-Cunningham (L) and Anne Maxwell-Foster (R)
One of the featured vignettes of the event was a space designed by Tilton Fenwick for Traditional Home. This young design firm has been receiving a lot of buzz since being named one of Trad Home’s top 20 New Traditionals. And aside from having one of the most beautifully designed spaces at Design on a Dime, I think Tilton Fenwick’s Suysel dePedro-Cunningham and Anne Maxwell-Foster should also win the award for most stylish design duo! (Can you believe Suysel’s chic dress is H&M?!)
The inspiration for their vignette was a design blogger’s dream office space! The star of the space was definitely the wall covering which is a Brunschwig & Fils fabric called Seychelles which is based on a classic French motif from the 19th century.
Designer Daniel Pafford also had a standout vignette. His bedroom was an homage to Elizabeth Taylor.
The regal blue color on the walls paired with all of the gold accents is the perfect combination for a space fit for Hollywood royalty.
I had an opportunity to chat with Elaine Griffin who is so fun to be around – she’s always full of energy! She designed two spaces for HomeGoods who was also a major Design on a Dime sponsor (& they’re finally opening up shop in NYC very soon!) Her first space that you can see a glimpse of above is an outdoor terrace belonging to a chic NYC fashionista.
Elaine’s second space was this bright pink living room designed with the quintessential New York City it girl in mind. Think Holly Golightly, Carrie Bradshaw and Blair Waldorf.
Shawn Henderson designed this stylish living room which I absolutely loved. The space has a masculine edge although the pink accents in the artwork and flowers definitely add a feminine touch. I thought the large scale painting above the sofa was stunning.
I was excited to see Katie Ridder added to the roster of participating designers this year. She created a vibrant orange room with an eclectic mix of furnishings that showcased her signature ethnic inspired fabrics.
Jessie Carrier and Mara Miller of Carrier and Company designed a cool dining space that featured a show-stopping art installation by NYC street artists A.S.V.P. I chatted a bit with Jesse who told me that he and Mara gave A.S.V.P. free reign to go crazy on the walls and they just worked with it! The result is fun and totally un-stuffy. I also loved the Sphinx…another fun, kitchy touch. This space perfectly illustrates the idea that decorating doesn’t always have to be so serious and buttoned up!
British born, New York based designer Katie Lydon designed this living room that was full of natural touches. I had my eye on those Paule Marrot prints above the sofa but some other lucky guest snagged them before I had the chance!
Miles Redd’s whimsical room was full of pattern and packed a colorful punch…
Interior designer Robert Passal always looks so dapper so I had to snap a photo of him! He was kind enough to walk me through his vignette…a masculine study for an overworked Wall Streeter with a passion for horses. You can see a glimpse of the fictitious homeowner’s equine passion in the large wall art and the racing papers tacked to the bulletin board above. Robert did a great job of creating this character and really bringing him to life through his vignette.
My friend Robert Verdi worked with supermodel Iman to design a stylish bedroom that showcased her eclectic home fabric collection. The pair definitely added a bit of glam factor to the event!
And last but not least, I thought Bradley Stephens designed an exceptionally creative space. The inspiration was an old-school New York City tenement apartment. I loved the red velvet sofa and the gallery wall of art. And while the space doesn’t necessarily feature the shelter mag worthy decor that we’re used to seeing at these events, I thought the space was beautiful and it reflects how so many people in New York actually live. I really appreciate the fact that Bradley chose to step outside of the box and keep it real!
Tilton Fenwick vignette photos by Joe Standart
I’m so excited to bring you the first episode of So Haute TV! Join me as I take you behind-the-scenes with designers Nate Berkus, Steven Gambrel, Laura Kirar and Jesse Carrier at the Right Now In Design event I hosted back in July. Hear these design superstars share the deets on their latest projects, new collaborations and current design obsessions. Plus, Nate gives us the scoop on his new TV talk show which premieres Monday, September 13th! (Check your local listings here.) Click the play button to watch the video and let me know what you think!
At Wednesday’s Right Now In Design panel, the intriguing discussion revolved around three main topics: building a brand, the state of the industry and what’s new and next in design. Myself and Josh Greene moderated the talk and below is a detailed recap of the highlights.
On Building a Brand…
The first questions touched on whether or not having a specific and recognizable signature look is important to developing your brand and what the key is to creating a successful brand as a designer. Nate and Steven both felt that maintaining a consistent point of view in your work is essential and Nate expanded on that by talking about the importance of maintaining integrity in your work as well. He believes you should never waver on being consistent with your point of view, regardless of how adamantly a client may demand a specific piece, never incorporate a piece into a space if it’s something you don’t believe is a reflection of your point of view. Nate believes the same tenets hold true when it comes to product design and that quality is crucial. He says consumers are extremely savvy these days and regardless of whether something costs $9.99 or $9,099, if a customer looks at the product and feels it’s lacking in quality, they’ll move on to the next item on the shelf. He believes you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money to “live well,” which is an expression he embodies throughout his work. He also says that throughout all of his work whether it be his television shows, books or his products for HSN, he is always conscious of being consistent in his aesthetic and approach.
Josh and I also asked the panelists about the role of publicity in building your brand and touched on the demise of many of our favorite shelter publications. The designers immediately brought up Domino and acknowledged the huge impact the magazine had on and the industry even though it was only around for a short time. There was also consensus about the increasing importance of online media, although they all agreed there’s nothing like touching and feeling an actual glossy magazine. Jesse Carrier spoke about how publicity has really helped him to create awareness of his brand and reinforce his credibility as a designer. Since his recent flurry of press this year (He was named one of Traditional Home’s top 20 young designers and also honored on Elle Decor’s A-List) his phone has been ringing a lot more and there is a lot more interest in his firm in general.
We also touched on the subject of licensing. Laura is quite the expert in this field having multiple licensing deals including lines with Ann Sacks, Baker, Kallista and Maguire (all Kohler Interiors Group brands) plus a line with Arteriors Home and a couple of new top secret collaborations in the works. She says that licensing deals are appealing to designers because they think they’ll make a ton of money, but revealed that a scoring a deal isn’t necessarily a surefire way for a designer to get rich. It’s contingent upon the nature of the deal and many other factors.
On the State of the Industry…
We kicked off this topic with the predictable yet still-very-relevant question of how the sagging economy has impacted the design industry and if there are signs that things are finally picking up. Nate, Laura and Steven who all operate larger firms agreed that throughout the recession business definitely slowed down a lot and that people, even the very wealthy, just didn’t want to spend the money on a decorator when times were uncertain. Laura also said that she thinks the recession may have forced people to think differently about how they spend their money and told the story of a client who is currently debating whether to spend the money to re-decorate his home or do something philanthropic with it instead. The designers also felt that their design projects are taking twice as long these days. The reason why is that clients are taking much longer to make decisions because they’re giving very careful consideration to every purchase. Jesse had a different experience than the other designers and said that he benefited from having a smaller design firm. During the recession he was able to secure clients who might have otherwise gone to a larger design firm which resulted in a boost to his business.
Being a blogger, I couldn’t help but ask Nate about the infamous Moggit Girls story. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, back in May a duo called the Moggit Girls who write a satirical blog about design, tweeted Nate that he should do a show with an audience full of design bloggers. Nate tweeted back that it was a great idea and within an hour tweeted again to tell the Moggit Girls that he wants to do the show and to expect a call from his producers! Talk about the power of social media! This story led into a question about how social media has impacted the industry and how having a social media presence has impacted the designers’ businesses and brands. Jesse, Steven and Laura all acknowledged the importance of social media but confessed that they haven’t quite unlocked the secret to finding the time to build a huge social presence for their brands online. Laura does has a Facebook page and says that social media is always a topic that comes up in her marketing meetings, yet she hasn’t quite embraced it the way she would like to. Nate, on the other hand, has a huge social media since joining both Facebook and twitter earlier this year. He admitted though that he fought the idea of twitter and Facebook tooth and nail but after attending a social media conference at Harpo, finally bit the bullet and now it has become a huge part of his business. He also says that social media will play a big role in his new nationally syndicated show which premieres September 13. (Visit thenateshow.com to check your local listings for air times). The topic of blogs came up and the panelists acknowledged how important design blogs are becoming to consumers. They all said that rather than bringing in tears from magazines, clients are now emailing them links to inspiration they’ve found on blogs. And while they appreciate the exposure that design blogs offer, they’re not quite sure how to manage that publicity against the print world because print is still the priority and they would never want exposure on a blog to cannibalize an opportunity for a print feature.
I mentioned to the designers that with the rise in how-to television programming on networks like HGTV and the wealth of information available through blogs, clients seem to be more educated than ever. I followed that up by asking the panelists how this affects the way they approach their role as a designer. They all agreed that clients seem to know way too much these days, but that it’s not always a bad thing. Whereas designers used to be the ones that presented memos to their clients, the clients are now handing the designers memos from sites like 1stdibs! Still, they feel their roles as designers are solid because while a client can certainly have an eye to spot a beautiful piece, they don’t have the expertise to understand if the scale will work in the space, if it will fit through a doorway, etc. It also challenges designers to be far more creative with their sources. also, specifying custom furnishings really allows them to take the front seat and lead their clients to their choices.
On What’s Right Now and What’s Next in Design…
Josh broached this topic by asking our panelists for their predictions on the next big color trend and their point of view on color in general. Steven said that he’s drawn to blues and personally loves to use color in his projects although it’s really up to the client in the end. He spoke about a client who expressed how much he adored his use of color but that it wasn’t for him so instead Steven was challenged to experiment with textures and layering rather than strong color. Nate said that he is usually drawn to a combination of colors rather than one specific color, while Laura talked about the practicality of using color in context. She feels that the location of a home has a huge impact on the color choices that are appropriate for the space. She gave the example of how a pink house would look amazing and possibly even commonplace in Florida but if you had a pink house in New York it would seem totally odd.
As a final question, I asked the panelists what they were obsessed with “right now in design.” Jesse is currently obsessed with upholstered walls and Steven has an obsession with interesting surfaces and finishes. Nate and Laura both share a current obsession with mid-century Mexican furniture, a coincidence I found to be quite uncanny!
That about sums up the key points of the panel discussion. I want to give a special thanks to Pierre Frey, my gracious co-host who was so kind to let us hold the event in his beautiful showroom! In case you’re not familiar, Pierre Frey the company was founded in 1935 in Paris, France and designs, creates and manufactures fabrics and wallpapers in the purest French tradition. The company is celebrating it’s 75th anniversary this year! Along with Pierre I want to thank my co-host Josh Greene and his business partner Alex Kale as well as Pierre’s showroom manager Kim Huebner…we all worked together to make this event a success. And finally, a special thanks must be given to our generous sponsors for the evening:
The beautiful floral arrangements were provided by H. Bloom. Check out HBloom.com to try their floral delivery service in New York City.
Fiji Water provided water for the evening to help keep our guests hydrated! Check out Fiji Water’s blog here.
Casa Dragones provided its ultra smooth 100% blue agave sipping tequila for our guests to taste. Visit the Casa Dragones website here.
And finally, Etude wines provided a fantastic rosè and chardonnay for the evening. Visit Etude’s website here to learn more about their wines and vineyards.
L-R: Steven Gambrel, Laura Kirar, Nate Berkus and Jesse Carrier. Photo: Marion Curtis/Starpix
Last night myself along with Pierre Frey and Josh Greene hosted an event with an A-List roster of designers that included Nate Berkus, Laura Kirar, Steven Gambrel and Jesse Carrier. It was a fabulous evening that started off with a cocktail party followed by a panel discussion on design. Now before I get into the recap of the talk, I’ll give you some background on how the event came about and also fill you in on some of the insider info I uncovered about the designers during the course of the night.
Me in the middle with co-hosts Pierre Frey to the left and Josh Greene to the right. Photo: Marion Curtis/Starpix
A while back not too long after Josh started his blog Shagreene, we casually kicked around the idea of collaborating together on a project. A few meetings, calls and ruled out concepts later, we landed on the idea of planning a panel discussion and then brought the idea to Pierre who graciously agreed to partner with us…and the rest is history! We wanted to keep the event very intimate and bring together a group of young influencers in the design community to hear from our esteemed panel of speakers. Notable interior designers like Brad Ford and Harry Heissman plus a slew of magazine editors from publications like Elle Decor, House Beautiful and Town & Country came out to join us for the evening.
L-R: Nate Berkus, Laura Kirar, Pierre Frey and Jesse Carrier. Photo: Marion Curtis/Starpix
It was also quite surreal to be moderating a conversation with four AMAZING designers whom I admire greatly. I was so intrigued by what they had to say and each designer brought a unique perspective to the discussion. I felt so honored to be engaged in conversation with such an esteemed group of panelists.
Nicole Gibbons & Nate Berkus
Now I’m sure you want the inside scoop on the designers and what they were like so I’ll gladly oblige. Let’s start with Nate. First off I am a HUGE Nate Berkus fan. I love his design aesthetic and really identify with his approachable, down to earth point of view on living. I have most of his Oprah episodes saved forever on my DVR, I have his book and even his sisal rug from HSN…Needless to say I was beyond excited when he agreed to participate. Nate was so genuine, gracious, charming and also quite funny! During the discussion he kept everyone in stitches with his hilarious one liners and off-topic anecdotes. Before answering his very first question of a night he paused to poke fun at the fact that he recently lost a design job to fellow panelist Steven Gambrel! He also suggested we all close our eyes in remembrance of Domino when a question was raised about publicity and shelter magazines. Both Nate and Laura are native Chicagoans but had never met until last night. As the talk went on the two realized they were kindred spirits who both share a love for mid-century Mexican furniture and have a dream of renovating and designing a crumbly old hacienda in the Yucatan one day.
Laura, who was so elegant and poised, is actually living out her dream now as she recently purchased and is in the process of renovating a crumbly old dream house in the Yucatan! She joked that she’d invite Nate over for a visit once her house has a roof! She also filled me in on some exciting new collaborations she has in the works but you’ll have to tune in to the first episode of So Haute TV to get the deets!
Steven Gambrel also revealed that he’s also working on some very exciting collaborations launching next year and he also gave the scoop to So Haute TV! (Are you getting excited for the first episode?!) I have to say I was quite enthralled with Steven’s good looks. He’s super tall, tan and incredibly handsome. His dapper gray suit was perfectly tailored…I wanted to pull a “Joan Rivers on the red carpet” and ask him who he was wearing! He shared with the audience that he prefers to specify custom furniture for clients as much as possible and given this, I’d be willing to bet his suit was custom too!
Jesse was a bit more soft spoken than his counterparts and admitted to the audience that it was his first time sitting on a panel! Hearing him talk you would have never known. It’s been a huge year for Jesse who is a principal in the design firm Carrier & Company along with his wife Mara Miller. He was named one of Traditional Home’s top 20 young designers and also honored on Elle Decor’s prestigious A-List so one of the questions I asked him was how all of the recent publicity has impacted his business. His answer? His phone has been ringing off the hook with calls from prospective clients! The recognition and the work is certainly well deserved!
Well, that’s all the inside scoop I have for you now but be sure to check back later for my part 2 recap with a full overview of the panel discussion to hear what these design geniuses had to say about building a brand, the state of the industry and what’s now and next in design.
All Photos: Marion Curtis/Starpix