08/24/11
Lisa S. Roberts at the Cooper Hewitt event

My Design Life (Well, Not Mine!)

Lisa S. Roberts at the Cooper Hewitt event

The Cooper Hewitt was buzzing on August 16th when Lisa S. Roberts‘ show “My Design Life” was screened for an elite audience of design devotees. The docuseries premieres tonight with two back-to-back episodes on the Ovation network at 8:00 pm ET. The show, which will consist of ten thirty-minute episodes airing on consecutive Wednesdays at 8:00 and 8:30 pm ET/PT, follows Roberts and her team as they visit museum exhibitions, trade shows, retail stores and designers’ studios in order to gather ideas and inspiration for her upcoming book DesignPOP: Popular Trends in Contemporary Product Design. The new book explores the trends taking place in contemporary design throughout the past 30 years.

Highlights from the show include visits to the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the design studios of Harry Allen and Tony Wurman; retail stores such as Design Within Reach and Moss; and restaurants, including David Rockwell’s Pod and Christine Liaigre’s Buddakan. Viewers will learn about the history behind the featured designs, as well as back stories of the designers and manufacturers who created them. The aim of Roberts and her team is to educate their audience about the importance of contemporary design while adding an air of whimsy and accessibility at the same time.

Lisa Roberts began her career as an architect. After six years, she left the field to pursue her professional interests in product and graphic design. Most recently, she has designed products for museum stores, such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum, among others. In the early 1980’s Roberts began collecting contemporary product design objects, which she calls “Antiques of the Future.” In 2006, Roberts published a book by the same title and, since that time, has traveled throughout the country speaking on the subject of design. She has been featured on HGTV, The Today Show, and the Early Show, and Antiques of the Future was reviewed in Time, USA Today, Parade, Dwell, and local publications. In addition, Roberts serves on the executive committee and as a trustee of the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, and as a trustee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), where she is a longstanding member of the museum’s contemporary design group, Collab.

Tune in design fans for a vivid romp through the contemporary design world; you’ll love the full-on, behind-the-sceens access!

06/15/11
Shower_1.jpg.scaled500

Shower Power

There are a number of thrills that come with having built a reputation as a quality journalist/ blogger and social media zealot, one of which is the opportunity to see how products are designed and made. Last week, American Standard ferried a group of us—Andie Day, JB Bartkowiak, Paul Anater, Laurie Burke, Richard Holschuh and myself (design enthusiasts all)—to their facilities in Piscataway for a day of poking around behind the scenes to learn what subjects and ideas fascinate and enthrall their design team, which includes Gary Uhl and Carter Thomas.

There was inspiration aplenty, not just in the design activities going on in American Standard’s studios and laboratories but in the dedication the designers and engineers have to water conservation. I don’t often cover serious subjects that impact the environment here because the tone of Roaming by Design tends to be a bit more kicky and fun. Let me just promise I was having plenty of fun when the subject of water conservation came up, as Gary Uhl, who was taking us on the tour, was one of the most entertaining individuals I’ve ever met on a design tour. In fact, I think American Standard should hire him out to show other manufactures how it’s done!

See, I’ve gotten off track already: focus, Saxon, focus! Pointing out the sustainable attributes of the showroom at the facilities, Uhl noted the bamboo floor and movable display units that prevent them from having to reconstruct the area when new products are released. About the variety of freestanding tubs on display, Uhl remarks they use less water than whirlpool tubs, adding, “Performance and demand for water conservation is growing so quickly that the industry is changing like it never has.”

There was a running joke during the daylong trip that I am one of the few beleaguered souls who still prefers baths to showers because the industry is putting its muscle into what’s most in demand—the shower. It’s a fact: I’m a bathaholic and I crave big, roomy tubs in which to luxuriate. Now that I’ve gotten past the TMI, I will say something for the company’s advancement in showerhead technology: it rocks! The FloWise® Showerhead and Hand Shower Collection is now included in 21 of their design profiles. They use up to 40 percent less water than a standard showerhead. Now that’s a glass-half-full scenario!

The company is also blazing new trails where toilets are concerned. Uhl couldn’t contain his excitement at the new design ideas coming out of the engineering department, which will mean a further decrease in water usage even though their standards are already some of the top in the industry. See a fab little video by JB here. We even experienced the “down and dirty” testing facilities, coming away with a new appreciation for flush technology. Did someone say, “Pass the Miso?” Don’t ask!

A shout out to Nora DePalma and Wendy Silverstein for treating us so well and making sure we had everything we needed to bring our “takes” on the products and design advancements we saw to you.

Andie Day’s Lifestyle Blog

Building Moxie by JB Bartkowiak

Thanks to American Standard for the great hospitality, including room and board, during the two-day excursion. Comps were taken but that did not influence the tone or content of this article. We at RBD take integrity very seriously!

 

06/2/11
One of our favorite tweeps, Andie Day, with Marcel Wanders at ICFF at our #DutchTreat Tweetup.

Mmmm…May Mashup!

One of our favorite tweeps, Andie Day, with Marcel Wanders at ICFF at our #DutchTreat Tweetup.

So we’re saying goodbye to May, marvelous month that it was, and stepping into June with our eyes on tweetups and junkets that will serve as great roaming opportunities, and we’ll definitely be reporting back (be sure to check out our sister site adroyt for some of the fun–okay, so she’s the smarter sister but we’re still cute here at RBD!).

We had a blast at Alessi and once again Marcel was on the scene, um, actually, he was the scene! A group of bloggers gathered to tweet what the Maestro of Moooi had to say about his designing mind.

A fab time was had by all at the Museum of Art and Design as we hosted a Tweetup during the opening party of MAD’s exhibition “Are You A Hybrid,” curated by Stephen Burks.

GD Cucine was hopping with a hip vibe as design devotees feasted on freshly prepared Italian fare and on Cleto Munari’s vision, which was sprinkled around the showroom in the form of the “Il Magnifici 7,” a colorful collection of furnishings that popped within the serene backdrop of sleek kitchen charisma.

Soho was one rocking nabe during much of the week, our Moss tweetup being a highlight. We hit so many showrooms on Monday night that we stumbled around in sensory overload, ending the evening at Scavolini’s showroom with its lively atmosphere, fantabulous food and hip crowd.

There were so many events, so little time, which is about how we always describe ICFF week in New York City; that said, we did our stellar best to make it to some of the hottest parties and unearth the best in design offerings. Oh yes; there was the show itself! Here’s one of our favorite offerings: James DeWulf’s Ping Pong table, in concrete, which can also serve as a dining room table.

03/23/11
Cassa Hotel & Residences: Our AD Show Headquarters!

Digesting the AD Home Design Show

Cassa Hotel & Residences: Our AD Show Headquarters!

What’s chic and dynamic and fabulous all over? The three days Roaming by Design spent gallivanting around Manhattan as we made our way from our sophisticated digs at Cassa Hotel & Residences to the 10th annual Architectural Digest Home Design Show. There were furniture launches (our Blogger19 cohort Susan Serra being among the buzziest of all), tweetups (the magical Veronika Miller, @Modenus, and Troy Hanson, @troynyc, holding one that drew some topnotch Twiterrati to the Ligne Roset/Valcucine/Margaritelli/Rimadesio lounge), parties (the DIFFA Cocktails by Design being a highlight) and dinners (more tweep talent at one table than any on design junkie deserves)! Making our RBD headquarters at Cassa was a smooth move, as the amazing mid-town location meant we were at the center of everything. We had an extended-stay apartment in the sexy building designed by Enrique Norten. The luxe treatment and serene setting were just the balm for the manic schedule we maintained.

On Thursday evening, we had the pleasure of saying hello to Margaret Russell, the editor in chief of AD, at the DIFFA cocktail party, and ran into some of our favorite design elite, including Daniele Busca of Scavolini and Tamara Stephenson of NestNestNest. We then whisked away to dinner with some of our favorite friends from twitter. Carmen Natschke, The Decorating Diva, cornered the evening on photo ops, Sabrina Velandry out-ordered everyone, Cynthia Bogart, whose site The Daily Basics we love, was a surprise addition to an already amazing night! Getting to see Modenus’ UK contingent, Tim Bogan, was a blast; and we adored hanging out with Andie Day! Friday was all about the show, beginning with Modenus’ Mary’s & Mimosas Tweetup and continuing through a dizzying display of design where we bumped into the always vivacious Amy Dragoo of ABCD Designs, Cheryl Kees Clendenon, Sarah Lloyd, Marcy Feld, Catherine Avery, Chuck Wheelock and Talis Lin. Susan Serra’s Bornholm Kitchen debut drew a stellar crowd. The Scandinavian-inspired furnishings were given a fitting tagline “Warm Heart, Cool Designs,” and we salute Susan for producing such a finely-crafted collection.

Think Fabricate was also at the show with an artful line of furnishings, and our friends at Boca do Lobo brought some interesting pieces to the show once again this year. A newbie to us, perched perfectly within The Paris Apartment booth, was Munna. We couldn’t have been happier to see Aston Smith and Manhattan Center for Kitchen & Bath at the show, and Maybelline Te’s newest introductions for Snug Furniture were as exciting as ever—how she continues to push the envelope in design is beyond us!

Maybelline Te with her Woven Nest table

We were particularly fond of the MADE section of the show, where artisinal products of every stripe were showing, the array of materials included within the booths covering the spectrum. While making our way through the maze of products, we bumped into the talented duo Eric Slayton and Elena Lyakir—a pair to watch, as we are convinced their stars are on the rise. Among the offerings in MADE, Douglas Thayer’s designs in concrete & wood were standouts, as were the mod-Asian wares in Jia Moderne’s booth.

We’ve spotted a few other worthwhile recaps of the show that we thought you might want to see. Modenus has one, as does Quintessence.

03/11/11
@SarahFrazier @SaxonHenry and @concretedetail at #TheArthurShow tweetup @Moss_Online

What a Day for a Tweetup!

@SarahFrazier @SaxonHenry and @concretedetail at #TheArthurShow tweetup @Moss_Online

Roaming by Design has been on the road a bit lately (uh, I guess that’s what we’re supposed to be doing when we promise roaming, huh?)! We’ve been around town (and across the pond, actually) gathering tweeps around us for some excellent partying. Recently, we had a highly successful tweetup at Moss Gallery in Soho during their #TheArthurShow, joined there by @abcddesigns @StudioBrinson @williambrinson @goodwithstyle @RMManhattanEd @sarahfrazier @concretedetail @RodRuizPhoto @MelissaCantor @DESIGNCOMMOTION and (yours truly) @SaxonHenry to name a few.

At the sexy rooftop lounge at the Gansevoort Park Avenue recently, we gathered a good group of tweeps around us to celebrate #PlungeWeekend. Keeping it cool that night were @Joeod3 @SusanWilber @concretedetail @GansevoortPark and @SaxonHenry. Where are we next? Well, Vegas, baby–we’ll be cozying up to @Paul_Anater and a long list of tweeps he’ll be gathering at the #Coverings2011 show (which includes the divine @jolocktov)! And at the #ADshow2011 in NYC late next week, there will be a large gathering of twitterati (a little birdie tells us @Modenus @AndieDay @SabrinaInc @troynyc @Tim_ModenusUK and @gwphoto38 will be there!). If you want a twitvite, leave a comment and we’ll make sure you are in the know! Happy Tweeting everyone!

Plunge at the Gansevoort Park Avenue

01/21/11
Detail of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Table: Can't Beat That!

Cleto Munari’s New York Debut (Finally!)


Detail of Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Table: Can't Beat That!

There is something to be said for waiting patiently for “the next big thing.” That said, I have absolutely no patience when it comes to postponing visionaries being celebrated in our American design milieu, which in so many ways lacks the spark that I’ve been seeing in Europe. We’re about to get an important infusion of that brilliance when Cleto Munari finally debuts the talent he’s fostered for over four decades in New York City on February 2nd, and I believe this exhibition will prove Munari’s lasting impact on the world of design.

Here’s some background on the man I like to refer to as the “Modern Design Poet”: In 1973, through his close friendship with Carlo Scarpa, Cleto Munari began collaborations with a stellar list of international architects and artists that resulted in functional items of beauty such as furniture, rugs, glassware, jewelry, watches and pens. Scarpa and Munari produced cutlery and sterling silver tableware, and Munari went on to design products with Aulenti, Botta, Portoghesi, Ito, Sottsass, Hollein, Mangiarotti, Tusquets, Paladino, Siza, Mendini, R. Meyer, Graves, Isozaki, Hoppenheim, Shire, Eisenmann, Venturi, Tigerman, Pelli, Bellini, Sipek, Thun, and Zanuso.

Cleto Munari in the Proust Chair

In 1980 Munari created a silverware and gold jewelry collection, called Masterpieces, with contributions by more than 50 architects and artists from around the world. The collection has been exhibited in 120 museums, and is included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Munari has now collaborated with Alessandro Mendini for over 30 years.

Together they have been responsible for silver accessories, jewelry, a pen dedicated to Toni Morrison (from the Book of 5 Pens Collection), and a new 2008 collection of furniture, rugs and silver sculptures. Munari had only briefly worked with furniture in the past and has just recently felt ready for the challenge of creating new collections, including a line he designed with Mendini in 2008, which expresses the architect’s lyrical way of looking at life and includes etchings taken from his personal drawings that he refers to as “decorative doilies.”

Munari does not understand how anyone can live with furniture devoid of color. He has told me that each time he enters his house he has the impression that he is “invaded by the music of all the colors.” To him, it is poetry. His newest collection is entitled “I Magfinci 7,” a series of tables designed by Cleto, the beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet Mark Strand, painter Sandro Chia, artist Mimmo Paladino, architect Mario Botta, and Mendini.

12/14/10
Mathieu Lehanneur's Once Upon a Dream

Sleeping Around: Veuve Clicquot Style!

Mathieu Lehanneur's Once Upon a Dream

If you’ve ever dealt with jet lag or insomnia, you just might decide Mathieu Lehanneur is your new best friend, especially if you are heading to the Hôtel du Marc after his Once Upon a Dream sleep capsules are in place late next year. Veuve Clicquot, the official champers of Design Miami, brought the capsule to the fair a few weeks ago, enticing the curious into its soothing confines. The bed-built-for-one has a timer that can be set to achieve your ideal temperature, ambient light, sound level and mood.

There’s research behind the design, and the materials and colors purportedly are calibrated to help people rapidly recover and adapt to new surroundings during travel that would normally bring about jet lag. The philosophy behind the capsule is based mostly on the work of Dr. Alain Nicola, a sleep disorder specialist in France. Lehanneur and his team used the doctor’s precepts, such as “going to sleep is like stepping off into another state, shifting down into consciousness by successive stages,” as inspiration

After a few nights on the party circuit in Miami, I needed only a slight nudge to slip inside and recline on the uber-soft perch. Had Lehanneur not been so eagerly awaiting to talk about his high-tech, super luxe design, I would have been hard-pressed to leave!

10/8/10
Johnny Grey

Booking it to England

Johnny Grey

You all know what a sucker I am for books, and you might have guessed that any subject addressing a lack of soul in design would get my attention as well. There’s an event in Birmingham, England, this weekend that looks to be an interesting exploration of emotional design entitled “Home Is Where the Heart Is: Interior Design with Emotion.” Johnny Grey will join designer, writer and TV presenter Kevin McCloud; Habitat creative director Theo Williams; and designer, author and TV presenter Naomi Cleaver at Grand Designs Live on Saturday, October 9th at 1:15 p.m. to discuss the timely subject. The panel will be moderated by producer Aidan Walker.

Johnny’s talk, which he’s calling “Ten Books: Sources of Influence,” will explore his favourite titles and demonstrate how they have influenced his work as well as what value they offer to clients, designers and architects. They include, A Perfect Mess by Eric Abrahamson and David Freeman; The World of Goods by Mary Douglas and Baron Isherwood; Happiness: Lessons from a New Science by Richard Layard; I’m Still Here by John Zeisel; Healing Spaces by Esther Sternberg; Wabi Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets and Philosophers by Leonard Koren; The Art Instinct by Denis Dutton; The Alexander Technique by John Gray; The Craftsman by Richard Sennett; and House as a Mirror of Selfby Clare Cooper Marcus.

“I want to spread ideas to designers and homemakers on ways of embedding soul and comfort, using new tools from brain research, psychology, art, food and the five senses via ten original and powerful books,” Grey says. “Over the years many books with powerful ideas do not find tipping points, and designers don’t have enough time to read and tend to stick design books. I’d like to see this change: I think we’d be all the better for it.”

Here’s a sneak peak as to what Grey had to say about Happiness during his presentation at Decorex last week.

09/27/10
Johnny Grey's "take" on the new cottage kitchen...

Johnny Grey on the Post-feminist Kitchen


Johnny Grey's "take" on the new cottage kitchen cupboard...

I’m at Decorex in London for the debut of Johnny Grey’s new furniture line for the kitchen (see earlier posts about his inspirations on Design Commotion and my Examiner page). As I was interviewing him this morning, he said something that I found so remarkable that I decided we just had to get it on video. The talented and soulful designer believes that we have now gone beyond the post-culinary kitchen—which he has advocated for quite some time—to the post-feminist kitchen. It’s a brilliant extension of his philosophy that a kitchen is a living room in which meals are prepared so they should be furnished like one.

This inspired the new line, in fact, which is truly furniture for the kitchen—something that many manufacturers claim without backing it up. The collaboration Grey has undertaken with some incredible artisans is brilliant. I’ll be bringing you other posts with videos of their take on design and collaborating with Grey. And, of course, we’ll have more video of the personable Grey dishing on kitchen design as we explore his ideas for one of the most important rooms of the home. It is, after all, called the heart of the home for good reason!

Talented tweeps Sarah Lloyd and Paul Anater have terrific posts of Grey’s new line on their blogs so check them out!