Irwin Weiner ASID - I was fascinated by magnets as a child. Were you, too? I couldn't get enough of small magnets, bar magnets, and magnetic toys. I'd click them together constantly and then reverse the positions of the magnets and feel the invisible push as the opposing poles repelled one another. Talk about magic!
Watch the video to see the designer assembling one of his pieces in minutes. MAG has all the advantages of flat-packing furniture, but with higher-quality materials and strong magnets instead of screws, Allen wrenches, and other time-consuming fasteners. Smart and stylish.
Irwin Weiner ASID - My IWI team is in the process of renovating a mid-century colonial revival house in Bucks County, PA, and while interviewing contractors, we're hearing again and again that it would be cheaper to tear down the house and build something new. That's a problem mentality. Without markers from our past, where will our heritage be? Is it better to tear down a wonderfully sound, but in need of TLC, stone-and-stucco house in order to construct a new McMansion? Absolutely not. When I came across Nathan Eddy's documentary on the now-demolished Prentice Women's Hospital building designed by modernist icon Bertrand Goldberg, a film which had its premiere in my native South Africa, I see that the same fight for preservation is raging in our major cities.
The past, especially the "modern" past, is in jeopardy because it's simply not as cost-effective to renovate as it is to tear down and begin anew - and there's always investment money enticing us to opt for new construction. The recent past is often seen as ugly and startling, and the new as fresh and beautiful (which is seldom the case). Let's see what we can all do to act locally and stem the tide of demolition and empty-headed start-overs.
This is an amazing line. I can recommend it - and Joe's service - without hesitation. The elegant, flowing curves of the oak furniture are all steam bent by hand. Pure design bliss!
Irwin Weiner ASID - It's been a fun summer of sharing design resources and gardens we've admired from this year's New Hope Historical Society Garden Tour. This last Pennsylvania stop featured a lovely 1875 rural gothic home, built five generations ago by the owner's great-great grandmother and grandfather, and you can see some of their plantings in the garden - his great sycamore tree and her rose of sharons. The small town lot is extremely narrow, but every inch is packed with interest and discovery.
The three gardens featured trees and shrubs that add color and interest throughout the growing season. There was a simple traditional mixed border garden in the front line bordering a picket fence. The middle garden, shown above, was modern English style. And we headed down the gravel walk to the "hunter's lodge," the greenhouse behind the lodge, and the back garden which sloped down to the Delaware canal - a garden featuring magnolias and his great-great grandfather's sycamore.
Irwin Weiner ASID - As in most professions, interior design is a lot about research. There are new resources springing up every day, and we haven't done a good job putting together presentations to our clients if we haven't exhausted our search for something fresh and different. I love stumbling onto resources that are tangential to what I'm really looking for, too, and recently I came across Artaic Innovative Mosaics. Computerized processes digitize images into small squares of color, like pixels, and robotic hands select just the right color tiles to assemble foot-square sheets of tile; when all the sheets are put together, you have the image in tile. So very cool, I can't wait to use this on a client project. It would make for a fantastic focal wall, a sexy kitchen backsplash, or a new wave powder room or spa.
Irwin Weiner ASID - The New Hope Historical Society's 21st Annual Garden Tour was a highlight of our summer, and in this next stop on the tour, we saw what nearly a million dollars could do to transform a shady forested area and turn it into a showplace of architecture, gardening, and imaginative hardscaping. The rocky hillside was turned into a fairly kingdom of ferns, in many varieties and other shade-loving plants. The house itself was designed by Ronald Bentley and Sal LaRosa of B Five Studio and features a round stone tower that functions as an indoor-outdoor fireplace, clean mid-century lines, and glass walls that create a dialogue with nature.
From the house, we explored the lower terrace, marveling at the view into New Jersey from our Pennsylvania lookout, then went back up into the front yard to explore the main terrace, consisting of lots of perennials made for woodlands, supported by granite stones. The Jerry Fritz garden design was spectacular.
Irwin Weiner ASID - It's wonderful to see a consumer and trade resource like Serena & Lily mature into a grown-up household fabrics and decor company. When they first started, I wasn't entirely impressed. The bedding and linens were high quality, but the color palette and patterns were extremely subtle and faint. For my clients, they didn't present strong impact for the bed, the dominant statement piece in the bedroom.
Now that's changed. The product line is diverse, the patterns are on-trend and beyond, and the color sense is spot on and bold enough to please the toughest design client. Click on each product photo for more information.
Irwin Weiner ASID - Perfect hot summer weather greeted us as Jay and I went with friends Ed and Rick to the 2014 New Hope Historical Society Garden Tour. A true highlight of the six gardens we saw was a formal parterre garden lines by an allee of carpinus trees (ah, those trees were trained within an inch of their lives and were truly magnificent!). While a formal garden isn't my personal style, there's much to love about the great design and execution of this space, combining beautiful views of the Delaware River with a garden to die for.
Irwin Weiner ASID - I promised to update D2S readers about the progress on our new home improvement project which started around Easter 2014 in New Hope, PA. It's a joy to work with IWI clients and help them beautiful their homes, but it's a nice change of pace to also be working on our own property. There is much that has been happening, starting with the hay field (about 7 acres) in the front of our property. On the April weekend when we officially took possession of the 12.5 acre farm, we saw our farmer out in the field spraying "something" on the hay that made the field look emerald green. Fertilizer? Water? Both?
On July 5, the hay was cut in the afternoon and sorted into rows to dry in the heat. On Sunday, July 6, the field was alive with tractors and balers and the hay was rolled into bales but most were baled as the traditional "long squares." We've got crops!
Jay took some pictures of the process, and he got a bit of poison ivy as he moved closer to the action (wearing shorts). The farmer told us that we might get another cutting/baling this year if the growing season continues to be rainy and sunny/hot as it has been so far. More house progress to report:
- We've reclaimed the little guest cottage on the property as our weekend home and will be living there while the main house gets remodeled. We've been adding lighting, painting walls, cleaning, and filling the space with items we've borrowed from friends and purchased at area flea markets and country auctions. Our vegetable patch is growing well, with two kinds of tomatoes, honeydew melon, cucumbers, herbs, and red peppers maturing nicely. We've already had some great tomatoes and have barbecued whole chickens, sausages, and burgers on the grill. It's been a wonderful summer!
- With the help of Jeffry and his brothers, our new best friends from Honduras, we've been gradually clearing brush, limbing trees, cutting down dead trees, and burning debris in our favorite thing ever: a fire pit! The house is in an agricultural township that permits open burning of organic refuse, so we have huge bonfires every so often. We're shaping up the outside and maximizing the incredible views from the house, overlooking the hay field, our neighbor's corn field, and forested land all around. We have to pinch ourselves sometimes - we're only 5 minutes from all the action of New Hope, PA/Lambertville, NJ, but we're in the country. It's so peaceful, too, with the calls of wild turkeys and our neighbor's sheep being the only things you can hear on occasion.
- The plans for remodeling the main house have been drawn up and we've met with several area contractors to bid out the job. In the meantime, we've cleaned the house, top to bottom, and will have a big "before" summer BBQ party for Bucks County friends and family on July 19 to officially kick off the project.
More progress to report in a few weeks. I hope you and your family are having a great summer, too!
Irwin Weiner ASID - Who doesn't remember the Rose House from the iconic movie Ferris Beuhler's Day Off? Modernist, clean, and stately, you can see from the video below that it was an endangered property that could have been torn down. Luckily, the house sold earlier this year (click here to read more about the Rose House sale), and the owners will restore the house and the nearby pavilion to their original condition. Don't you love happy endings?
Stepping off the back porch, covered by a blindingly immaculate white pergola and a styled-to-the-hilt brunch party table, we began to follow the brick terrace, flagstone, and crushed gravel paths that led us through secret gardens and outdoor rooms. Let's just say the garden crew needs to make weekly visits to maintain the lush grounds.
From the bricks and flagstone path, we were led to lawn and an allee of trees - note the amazing swaths of lily turf surrounding the trees in gently crowned beds - that led us to a beautiful secret garden. A clever raised flower arrangement (urn on a pedestal) provided the focal point at the end of the allee. "Allee" is "avenue" in French, and the joke is that, like all things French, the allee is very high maintenance. But if you're the gardener, this is no joking matter; they're a lot of work to keep looking nice, and this home's allee was in fine form.
The Secret Garden ended in a series of meandering paths bordered by viburnum, hellebores, hydrangea, perennials, birdhouse apartments, garden sculptures, and lots of manicured lawn. One of my favorite features was a little cottage in the middle of the backyard. A small herb and vegetable garden was added to the back of the cottage, enclosed by a charming white picket fence.
Next post: another highlight of our tour. I hope you and your family are having a wonderful summer and enjoying your outdoor rooms, wherever they may be!
Irwin Weiner ASID - This fascinating video by James Munn will take you into a variety of movie sets, located in stunning modern homes. Movies love over-the-top locations, and oftentimes the architect, interior designer, and set designer can create mood by choosing a specific style of home.
These homes all had starring roles, both for their architects and for the roles they played in memorable movies. Which one is your favorite?
Irwin Weiner ASID - As global fashion became a huge multi-billion-dollar business, everyone wanted to expand from clothing and accessories to "lifestyle," and that means plenty of fashion houses that have gotten into designing and manufacturing their own furniture line. Here are some of our favorite fashion houses who have taken their trend-setting ways from the runway and turned them towards your home.
- Hermes: home goods ranging from decorative objects and linens to fine and casual dinnerware, all with French flair.
- Fendi Casa: a robust whole-house interior design approach, complete with furnishings, home fabrics, whole-kitchen systems, and outdoor furnishings. An impressive, all-encompassing design approach, geared to upscale contemporary lifestyles.
- Ralph Lauren Home: another whole-house design, with the upscale casual "preppy American" vibe, you'll find everything from paint and tableware to lighting, case goods, and upholstered goods for inside and outside your home.
- Alexander McQueen: the late fashion designer reached the heady heights of UK/global fashion through sheer imagination and genius, and the Rug Company's Alexander McQueen collection shows off the vivid patterns and colors and themes that made his art famous, this time in rugs, wall hangings, and pillows.
- Versace Home Collection: the Versace brand is synonymous with over-the-top Italian adornment, and you'll find the almost-baroque assortment of pillows, linens, tableware, crystal, and glassware a fun way to add punch to your home decor.
- Missoni Home: shop here for your home textiles, throws, pillows, poufs, candles, and bath linens and you'll be adding Missoni's distinctive, sophisticated eye for colorful patterns.
- Oscar de la Renta Home Collection: beautiful, romantic, colorful tableware, entertainment accessories, linens, and carpets - and his Century Furniture line, too.
- Etro Home Collection: Italy's oft-imitated, but never surpassed collection of home textiles is astounding. You can build a whole-house color scheme around their fascinating patterns and schemes and not go wrong.
- Vera Wang: her lifestyle collection and licensing efforts have extended her brand into everything from tabletop lines to home linens and textiles. The look is clean, classic, and romantic.
- Armani Casa: another whole-home experience, the world of Georgio Armani, tailored and richly masculine, extends to wall coverings, home textiles, furnishings, lighting, rugs, and accessories.
- Calvin Klein Home Decor: here is another example of fantastic brand expansion into home territory, with Calvin Klein branded furniture, accessories, bedding and bath collections, and other products.
There are many others we haven't gotten to, including Diane von Furstenberg, Pierre Cardin, Donna Karan, Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Matthew Williamson, and others. The list of talented fashion designers whose brands have branched out into lifestyle is endless. But lucky us for this injection of beauty, style, and design into our decor selections!
Irwin Weiner ASID - Most world religions talk about stewardship. We must take care of whatever it is that we're in charge of and leave it in better condition than when we found it. If you're a farmer, you must be a good steward of the land, making certain that your agricultural practices don't deplete the soil or pollute nearby rivers and streams. If you manage a retail store, it's your responsibility as a good steward to build up your employees and the condition of your shop, making everything better than when you took over. And if you're a homeowner, you should maintain your home well and improve it so that it can be passed on to others in a better condition than when you found it.
Home stewardship is one reason why I love the interior design industry so much. IWI's work with clients helps to improve the function, beauty, and livability of a home. We improve curb appeal, we change the architectural structure so that the bones of each room are enhanced. We help clients make decor choices that have great foresight, that won't date in a short period of time, and that can be enjoyed for many years in the future.
With my own new home, we took on a property in Pennsylvania that needs lots of TLC. We know of people who were interested in the potential of what we just bought, but they were ultimately overwhelmed by the work it would require to update the house. Fortunately, it's my job to improve properties, and it's a pleasure to tackle this new home improvement project and practice good home stewardship. From time to time I'll be posting some updates on our house progress. The basic architectural drawings are completed and we're about to have the new renovation plans finalized and filed with the township. Then it's taking the project out to bid with contractors. The fun begins!
Irwin Weiner ASID - Christopher Hyland is a dynamic, energetic force in design. His contract and residential fabrics are well curated (see his showroom at the D&D; it's a must-see stop on your next visit), and he also finds the time to put together a beautifully produced online design and lifestyle magazine. Visit the Hyland Magazine website for more information and subscribe to this inspiring digital publication.
Jay Johnson - Irwin and I enjoy Sunday flea market jaunts now that we've moved into our new home in Bucks County, PA. The main house will be renovated and sits empty for now, leaving all our furniture in storage and us living in the guest cottage (which will eventually be demolished and rebuilt). We're furnishing the cottage with loaned furniture from friends and items we buy at country auctions and the flea market in Lambertville, NJ. This past weekend's top find was a Bruno LaVerdiere vase. The dealer was very well informed about the former monk who began his ceramics work in the 1950s and 60s and built up a reputation in the Pacific Northwest as Brother Bruno. Devoted to his art and teaching, Bruno's work is simple, elegant, and stylish. His work is widely collected and appears in top museums, like NYC's Museum of Arts and Design (click here to read his bio). It was a great flea market find!