As the World Turns…

Hi everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve posted here on Roaming By Design and there’s a reason for my absence. My writing life has changed since I began this effort four years ago next month, and rather than letting this blog, which once thrilled me as a place for a means of expression, languish without explanation I thought I’d let you know what I’m up to now and to direct you to the place where I feel I’ve finally created my online writing home.

You can now find me blogging about literary adventures on the Improvateur blog and on Sharktooth Press, an indie publishing imprint I have recently co-founded with Gerard McLean. I hope you will stop in one or the other (or both) and have a read!

Here are a few links to a few of my most recent favorite posts:

The Old Familiar Faces

Dante and Shelley at the Duomo di Milano

Horace Walpole Shops the Decorative Fair


I’d like to take this moment to express deep gratitude to everyone who has supported me in my writing career over the years, both in print and in the virtual world. I truly enjoyed all the subjects and cities I covered here for the four years I posted. I had the privilege of staying in some of the world’s most incredible hotels, including the Hotel Principe di Savoia (right in the midst of the area that would soon host the World Expo 2015 when I was there), the Hotel Plaza Athenee, Le Meurice (covering their coveted Le Meurice Prize), a number of W Hotels and The Betsy Hotel.

I’ve experienced wine tastings in Buenos Aires and interviewed Chef Gordon Ramsay in Tuscany. I walked through the Centre Pompidou with hot French designer Patrick Jouin and saw original Gibson Girl drawings by Charles Dana Gibson at the Bethel Inn in Bethel, Maine (though I still have yet to hear a loon in person)! Thanks to the Dorchester Collection during a trip to London, I had the great privilege to see the Paul Gauguin show at the Tate Modern. I had a profound moment standing alone in the study of Honore de Balzac and walked the same streets as Madame de Pompadour while in Paris!

It was the rare moment when I didn’t have my writer’s notebook with me (and it travels with me always so I feel there are many more adventures to come)!


My Design Life (Well, Not Mine!)

Lisa S. Roberts at the Cooper Hewitt in New York City.

Lisa S. Roberts at the Cooper Hewitt in New York City.

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!


A Mad Men Night: A Full Nelson!

If you’re in San Antonio, Texas, tonight, you’re a lucky duck because the McNay Art Museum is hosting “A Mad Men Night” with George Nelson. The architect, writer, designer and educator is going to revisit the heyday of American Modernism.

Who better to do so than someone who had a tremendous impact on it (the images floating through the kicky video are his designs, munchkins; and who will ever forget their first sighting of the Marshmallow Sofa?)! The retrospective of Nelson’s work is being brought to McNay from the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, and the exhibition will remain on view through September 11, 2011.

The lecture + libations go from 6pm to 9pm tonight. Sigh…if only that Roaming by Design private jet would crystalize, we’d be all over this one!


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 bloggers 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.

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!


Mmmm…May Mashup!

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

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.


Miele + Riedel = Crystal Clear

A Miele masterpiece, soon In Vino Veritas!

 When I received the invitation to attend a comparative glassware Champagne and wine tasting hosted by Maximilian Riedel, CEO of Riedel USA, and Nick Ord, CEO of Miele USA, with my dear friend and colleague Saxon Henry, my favorite roamer, I must say I was quite intrigued. I have spent many years in the restaurant and wine industry, and was taught that Riedel or any fine stemware should never be cleaned in a dishwasher for several good reasons.

First off, residual soap interferes with the aromas and flavors of the wine, and scratches and breakage were always a concern. So of course, I wanted to find out firsthand from the man himself why the company had announced a new partnership with Miele to endorse their dishwashers as safe for their glassware. Lots of rules have been broken in the wine world since I first began to understand fine wines and cuisine as a server at the venerable Gotham Bar & Grill in the early 90s.

We were taught to always hold a wine glass by the stem, never by the bowl, to ensure that our fingertips would not warm the wine. This would also allow us to swirl properly to release the aromas in the wine that were so integral to our overall enjoyment of it. We were also taught the importance of the right wine with the right glass which Riedel touched upon during the event we attended (see a bit of his tutorial in the video below), and the right food/wine pairing.

These revelations have stayed with me for years for good reason. In 2004, everything changed when Riedel introduced the “O” line, a stemless glass series. Really??? Well, it took off like wildfire and stemless wine glasses were popping up in top restaurants and well appointed homes around the country. If Riedel endorses it, what’s not to love? thought those of us who paid close attention to wine and food subjects. The glass was so successful that it increased Riedel’s U.S. sales by $18 million dollars from the previous year. Sometimes, you have to break the rules, as they say.

It was quickly clear that Ord likes to break the rules as well. While shopping for stemware to best enjoy his fine wines at home, of course he was considering Riedel, he was shocked to read on the box that they did not recommend washing their “instruments” in the dishwasher. Well, of course Mr. Ord took this as a personal challenge and set out to make a dishwasher that was Riedel worthy. And the rest, as they say, is history.

The event Saxon and I attended launched the global partnership of the two iconic brands, unveiling the next generation of Miele machines that will be introduced this coming June. The Futura series is made up of 20 models of 18- and 24-inch dishwashers that have features as sophisticated as a super tall bottom trays equipped with fittings that hold extra tall stemware in place and an option for chilling pilsner glasses (beer drinkers everywhere can thank Ord for this fact: he’s an ale man)!

Beyond the tech fun, there is tech genius behind these new dishwashers as well, such as water and energy consumption features, and RemoteVision™ that alerts a technical service team whenever there is a performance issue. Oh, and did I mention we tasted some excellent wine in none other than Riedel stemware, or as Maximilian called them “tools” for making any wine-tasting experience delightful?

It was a tough job but someone had to do it!

Roaming by Design would like to thank Susan Wilber, our guest journalist today, for this juicy post! The dynamic food/wine guru is a freelance culinary event planner who makes the behind-the-scenes rigamarole of handling intimate and large-scale events seem effortless when they are far from it. We’re thrilled to have her as an occasional contributor here. Welcome Susan! For my piece on the event, which I wrote for the kicky new site Food Republic, hop on over to this page (and don’t forget to stay for a while and look around)! Happy Roaming everyone!


Making Some Noise (the Wine’s Unfiltered)!

Newton Vineyard's Unfiltered Chardonnay and Michael Wisner's "The Element"

Tonight, winemaker Chris Millard of Napa Valley’s Newton Vineyard will be in New York to host an interactive workshop on sustainable winemaking. Also on hand will be Michael Wisner, the Snowmass, Colorado-based eco-friendly ceramicist who has joined with Newton for the winery’s third-annual Eco-Chic collaboration. Wisner will preview “The Element,” a set of clay coasters and a wine chiller created from clay he harvested in Newton’s Carneros vineyards, made exclusively for the vineyard’s Unfiltered Chardonnay, which will be available in late April. Millard will explain what distinguishes unfiltered winemaking from other methods, while Wisner will discuss his own take on sustainable artisanship.

Last Thursday evening, William and Susan Brinson invited a lucky gaggle of tweeps to their chic NYC apartment for a delectable repast. We had the pleasure of drinking the Chardonnay and I’d say it’s going to be a feather in the vineyard’s eco-chic cap. We sipped the wine as we nibbled on William’s spread of appetizers that included a sauterne and black truffle pate, speck ham, crusty French bread, pungent aged cheeses, and spiced cashews. For dinner, he and Susan served Jamie Oliver’s Pasta alla Norma. It was divine and the perfect end to our rousing tweetup at the Duravit showroom, which brought the always entertaining Philippe Starck to town to debut his shower toilet SensoWash. How do we know he’s ever the life of the party? Check out this interview, one I will personally never forget!

It was so great to see all the tweeps who rocked the #Starck4Duravit event with us. A shout out to @irwinfelddesign @nestnestnest @abcddesigns @StudioBrinson @sar_fraz @WilliamBrinson @novitapr @RobertaKLEEDAP @RachelWells @jenniferrector @apttherapy. And a hearty thanks to @NewtonVineyard for creating such a fantastic wine!


Grassroots Run Deep: Green Provocateur in Milan

 The World Expo 2015 being built in Milan.

The World Expo 2015 being built in Milan.

The world is heading to Milan for Salone Internazionale del Mobile forthwith and it’s likely that everyone in the design world is going to be met with an entirely different landscape than they’ve encountered in central Milan in the past, especially the Porta Nuova and Republica neighborhoods. I snapped this shot from my hotel room in the Principe Di Savoia last October as the city began to prepare for the World Expo 2015, which will carry the theme “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.” It reminded me of Miami once upon a time when the joke circulated that the construction crane had become the city’s official “bird”!

Our inbox is rocking and rolling with new launches at iSaloni as furniture manufacturers prepare for the show with great anticipation (and likely a bit of trepidation considering the global economy). Instead of covering these here, we ask that you check in on the Design Commotion Facebook page for news or click on over to Modenus where V and Tim are going to be doing previews of new products debuting at the fair and Tim will be reporting live), I’m taking a rather #TravelTuesday tack today to shed some light on an initiative that I believe bears watching.

It’s an effort by Paul Clemence and Jade Dressler called Green Provocateur (here’s the blog), which will launch on April 10 just as iSaloni gets underway.  They are calling their guerilla installations a “global urban art intervention” and the one in Milan is being sponsored by AMAZElab.

I’ve collaborated with Clemence on articles for Aishti magazine and celebrate his eye for an emotionally-charged architecture so I can only imagine the exhibitions they produce will be powerfully magnetic. “I find architecture’s poetry wherever I go,” says the photographer. Take the time to watch the video and you’ll understand more of the thrust of their vision. You can also follow their guest posts on Metropolis Magazine’s online site Metropolis P/O/V.

I can’t wait to see how Clemence’s and Dressler’s point of view ripples across the globe! You can like the Green Provocateur Facebook page here. And visit them on indiegogo here.


Digesting the AD Home Design Show

Cassa Hotel & Residences: Our AD Show Headquarters!

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

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.


What a Day for a Tweetup!

Tweeps at #TheArthurShow tweetup @Moss_Online.

Tweeps 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 @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 @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