Tag Archives: history

“I’m one to look back in order to move forward”- Thomas O’Brien


photograph by: Lauren Gries

Last week I wanted to write a witty post about how as we celebrated our independence, we should also be remember how much of England we owe our lives to American in interior design, music, fashion etc. Well I didn’t get around to it soon enough to do the post so I just decided to forget about it. However, tonight as I was reading through the new Thomas O’Brien book American Modern, his introduction basically explains my thoughts perfectly.

“Although I’m often referred to as a modern designer, my job is, I think, more about editing what has come before and making it into something new. I’ve always felt you can’t move ahead unless you know where you’re coming from, in order to really decide what you want to take with you and what to leave behind. In American design, that entails a particular debt to English and Continental influence, filtered through colonial assimilation, rural enormity, and the intensity of the city. Remixing those ingredients – making that mix your own – what I like to practice. I do believe there is something in that process which is quite American in spirit, ultimately modern in implementation.”

O’Brien goes further to say

“Practicality, industry, boldness, scale. Simplicity and sincerity. Innovation. These are the ingredients of American modern style.”

Betsy Burnham’s dresser seen on Decor Demon

Maybe it doesn’t fully explain what my post would have been about, but it describes the ideas I would have liked to evoke. I have grown up in America and fully appreciate what this country has to offer and has given me in my life. However, I feel that there are too many people in America who forget about where and how this country came about. If it weren’t for England, we wouldn’t have America. There would definitely be a country here now, but it just wouldn’t be the same. In any case, whether it be an understanding of our country or just anything that we enjoy in life, I think it really important to have an understanding of where and why that came from. I would see it so much in college where people would want to make something that referenced a certain style of design, or just ‘liked’ something, but never actually took time to research what that style was and why it even existed. I have to say, that would drive me crazy!

Design can be many things to many people, but to me, it has always been about tradition in modern life. I am guided by traditions, both inherited and studied, which I will bend to the moment I’m living in. I’m one to look back in order to move forward.” – Thomas O’Brien

On a lighter note, I’m really impressed by O’Brien’s new book. Although I’m only a few pages into the text (there is more than the usual design books), I have flipped through the photos and have already chosen a few favorites. Above are images pulled from aero studios and Laura Resen, the photographer.

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Filed under Home, Interiors

Great Finds: French Ticking

Who doesn’t like a great unexpected find?  Yesterday I went to Anthropologie to return a few things and stumbled upon a lovely quilt.  It was on sale from $348 to $169. Now $169 is still a little high for my price range but I have looked for a quilt for a while that has the french ticking like fabric.


Although the recorded history of ticking fabric is slim, I found a little about the specifics of ticking. Vintage ticking was used to hold the feathers of old mattresses and pillows. It was important to individuals who slept on feather mattresses and pillows that the feathers did not poke them through the fabric.  It was also important to keep as many feathers in the mattresses and pillows as possible. The very tight woven vintage ticking provided both qualities.  True vintage ticking was woven with natural cotton colored thread and thread died with indigo blue dye. Original ticking was sold only with indigo blue stripes. As time progressed, different colors and patterns were developed and sold. Ticking was also made with washed-out red, blue and green stripes.  You can find a little more information about ticking fabric [here].

Previously when I was searching for bedding options I found fabric by the yard at Ballard Designs and that Restoration Hardware carries a line of bedding that has similar kinds of fabrics, but its $$$$.  If I didn’t have a million other projects going on I would toy with the idea of making my own quilts.  The Anthro quilt however, provided me with instant gratification! What I like best about the quilt is that it is reversible, with one side being a little bolder and darker than the other.  I put the quilt on my bed last night and decided that the less busy side works best for summer, because it has an airy feel to it.

The  quilt is also styled with an iron bed that is very similar to the bed frame that I purchased recently on a trip to Connecticut.  As past posts [here] have shown, I have a love affair with the Louis XV style bed.  Ballard Designs sells one, but with the cost of shipping and taxes the total would come to around $1100!  Unfortunately my post-grad/not yet full-time employee budget cannot afford that.

The bed I purchased was $345.00!  It has a French Industrial look partnered with the Louis lines and caning, that adds some charm.  My mother calls it tenement style, I like to call it French Utilitarian Chic!  But of course with a price like that, the bed still needs some work.  I really dislike the current color and faux finishing, however with a little paint the hidden charm will come to life.

I’ll have to post before and after images when I am finished with the painting!  In the future I want to go into detail about the store Preservation, where I purchased my bed.  It’s a great find in the quiet corner of Connecticut and definitely worth the trip.

photos:

Anthropologie

Ballard Designs

Lauren Gries

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Filed under Apartment, Home, New York

Must do: Visit Ace Hotel – Drink Stumptown Coffee

Just last month my boyfriend discovered in the Garment District (29th and Broadway) that there is a Stumptown coffee shop!  We were both very excited as we were introduced to the magnificence that is Stumptown coffee on our last vacation to the Seattle and Portland area.  In Seattle there has been a battle between Stumptown and Starbucks and I think everyone agrees that Stumptown takes the cake.  It’s always roasted locally and it’s always delicious. . . not burnt like the other stuff.  The Stumptown in Manhattan is also locally roasted, (of course) in Red Hook Brooklyn.  I guess they have been open for over a year now, but I’m hardly ever in that nook of town so without having previous knowledge of the company I may have never even found it.

The coffee shop is located inside of the grand Ace Hotel and coffee customers are more than welcome to hang out in the hotel’s lobby as there are no seats in the shop.

The other real gem about this find is the architecture and interior design of both the hotel and the coffee shop.  when you turn the corner from Broadway  on to 29th street, you feel as though you’re walking into a completely different neighborhood in another era.  On the north-side of the street is one of the last Second empire, cast iron buildings left mostly in tact in NYC and on the south-side is the beautiful (I think restored), Breslin Apartments building that is the sight of the Hotel.

I have to step back and take a moment to discuss the cast iron building, the landmarked Gilsey House is a former grand hotel (1872-1911), the first to offer telephone service to guests. It was noted for its bar made of silver dollars, and was a favorite of Diamond Jim Brady and Oscar Wilde. Converted to housing in 1979 it’s still a beautiful sight to see.

As I was saying before though, the Ace Hotel is by this amazing poser design couple/duo that is Roman & Williams. They are so inspiring and talented it makes my heart bleed when I look at their work sometimes. I know that sounds really dramatic but, seriously look at that rendering!

The design of the place is so successful, because my first experience was great, not only because of the taste of Stumptown coffee, but also because the building’s atmosphere and environment.  Standing in that coffee shop I felt as though I was transported back to Portland.

The other night while visiting my brother, his partner was showing me inspiration images for the shelving unit that they’re planning on building.  I thought the images looked very familiar and when I began telling them about Stumptown, and the decor I had to show them a picture of a light fixture that I had snapped on my phone. Well lo and behold, the inspiration images were pulled straight out of the Ace Hotel!  To make a long story short, you must try to visit this place when you’re in the city. It’s just so beautiful and inspiring, and tasty.

{The infamous light fixture}

I also found this video about Roman & Williams on their website.  It was shot by “The Scout” for some reason I can’t embed it into my post, but the images and what the designers have to say is wonderful and entirely worth the ten minutes to watch. So please check it out. Here is a quote from The Scout about the video:

‘”It’s a shame to only have dreams at night. You should have a few opportunities during the day.” This wistful quote from Stephen Alesch speaks volumes about the spaces he and Robin Standefer create as architects and designers. Their firm Roman & Williams, is named for their grandparents, paying homage to another era. Together, they draw on the evocative moods, textures, and meaningful objects that linger somewhere between past and present. Their work is infused with memory and allows participants to connect with a more romantic and important time.’

Along with the video, the can catch the studio visit here: The Scout- Roman & Williams Studio Visit

Video Link

Websites:

Roman & Williams

ACE HOTEL

NY times article about Stumptown

Photos via:

The Architects Newspaper – Douglas Lyle Thompson

NY Architecture Images site

Flickr, Man Seeking Coffee, and Hotel Chatter.

favorite sweets

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Filed under Food, New York

Scanning the globe for inspiration

I’ve been back home for only a few days and I’ve been really restless trying to figure out what it was that I “discovered” on my trip to Paris.  Last year it was the color red being the “red thread” but this year I was really unable to put my finger on something.  Spending time in a city where the world’s best trend forecasting companies are home based is a little intimidating, because I almost feel as though it is imperative to bring something back with me.  I found a few trends popping up, the vintage military jackets, straw hats, and of course the over saturation of the striped shirts, but overall the only creative feeling that I could gather from this city is the concept of minimalism.  Not the kind that you would imagine from the 90s era of fashion or the minimalist art movement, but more of the un-satisfaction of over-consumption.  In Paris clothing and styling is more simple, store windows are more simple, the attitudes of the French are more simplified.  Maybe this is something that has always existed in the Parisian culture, but it just feels like a return to naturalism . . . but in a modern sense.  Although I can just put myself in Sofia Coppola’s film “Marie Antoinette” when she so well visualizes the return to naturalism. But of course that came about after years and years of over-consumption, hence the revolution.

Photo from film found: weddingsinparisi.com

I think this minimalistic character is what I really like about Paris.  It’s so different from New York in that matter, even in NY we’re trying to be more natural and organic but it becomes a big deal and in a way unnatural, and like everything else in American culture the idea of being natural and organic is flaunted and commercialized, making the concept ironic.  Now I know I am generalizing here in many ways, but I am to trying to explain this feeling that I get from Paris, and essentially it’s really hard to.  With that said, I think I’ll lighten up and try present a few odds and ends of trends, (design-wise) that I captured while being in Paris.

1. military jackets: I saw so many women and men wearing these jackets, from young to old, and thin to thick (even though there aren’t a lot of thick women in Paris).  The most important styling detail of these jackets, you must roll up the sleeves!  When I tried mine on, the girl at the counter insisted on it and even motioned me to roll then pushing my sleeves up.  It was funny.

Chictopia.com has a little segment on this jackets, showing where you can buy them.  However, I know that Madewell was selling them at the end of last summer, because a lot of their designers use Paris as an inspiration, and they definitely just bought a bunch of those jackets in bulk and shipped to the states to sell for hundreds. I’m thinking one should just hit up the army navy stores for a better deal.

These jackets have oddly become the ‘it’ item of Paris and the best part is that they’re really cheap.  I bought one at “The King of Frip” which was actually below the apartment we stayed in.  This store had an entire rack dedicated to these jackets, all selling for only 10 euros a piece!  Now I was silly and forgot to take a photo of the front of the store but, The King of Frip is found @ 33 Rue du Roi de Sicile • 75004 Paris, France • 01 42 78 33 72 .  I found a beautiful photograph taken by the street blogger/photographer, Yanidel.

photo found here on Yanidel’s Blog ‘Street Photography in Paris’

2. Straw hats: while all the stores in the US are selling these hats, people in the States are not wearing, in Paris however, they are in full force and those ladies look effortlessly chic as they avoid sunburns and skin cancer.  That is something my boyfriend & I had a laugh over a few times, there were so many singed and burned Americans. Please put on some sunscreen!

Thank styleinthecity.com for these photos, and um that’s Karl Lagerfeld in the background of the pic.

3. Color: I saw a slight influence of the color turquoise in design in Paris, not as big as it is in New York.

More so I noticed the color combination of yellow and white popping up in design.  The image on the left is from the Givenchy 2010 Fall collection, the image on the right is a window display for a jewelry company, and the below image from Apartmenttherapy.com, a Parisian apartment.

More to come soon. . .

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Filed under Fashion, Paris, Shopping, Travel

Keep Calm And Carry On

click here to buy print
That’s right, that’s what I should be doing now.
As I am nearing the end of my very long college engagement, I am really stressed out.  This propaganda poster seems to be well suited.  I’ve seen a lot of it lately, possibly because this world is also super stressed with the poor economy and the thousands of unemployed.  Since I have seen it so much I thought it would be nice to know a little more about the meaning behind it.  Below the history is printed and if you’re interested you can find more information from the store.
This is the original, also found on the above store.
I must say, I have especially been seeing this print around the world of interior design.  It’s almost seems a ‘must have’ in your home office.  On the other hand, that is a bit cliché.  I guess I will let you decide for yourself on that one.
Century City Office
(I really like those chairs and rug)
Photo found on: Apartment Therapy
Photo found on: Apartment Therapy
I stumbled upon this image, the decal is a little more interesting, I was even thinking it might be fun to blowup of the text and stencil it on to a wall where it would take up almost the entire wall space.
click here to buy
Other prints to check out that may carry the same sort of wit but are a little more original are found on this site www.keepcalmgallery.com
click to order print
and here for this print
and this one is a personal favorite.
found here

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