02/19/13

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. When I launched RBD, as I have come to call this virtual spot on the web, I was coming away from nearly two decades of writing for shelter publications, a career that had sincerely satisfied me while I was involved in the research of and writing about design and architecture, covering everything from Art Basel to Cleto Munari and Dale Chihuly to Droog. But I had begun to see the writing on the wall: the publishing industry was in disarray, especially magazines devoted to these two subjects in which I had become heavily invested.

Publications containing my monthly columns shuttered, the features I’d been assigned regularly came into my inbox with much less frequency, and the newspapers whose home design sections my name frequently appeared within evaporated. I was fortunate to have an architecture book, Four Florida Moderns, published during that time, and I felt very lucky to have found travel writing as a sustaining foundation to journalism because it allowed me to continue publishing articles in print and online as I transitioned to a work life that included content creation and editorial calendar management for clients through Improvateur, and social media platform development and management through adroyt.

It is only recently I have deepened my virtual focus, so to speak, and I feel excited I have finally found my bearings. I also celebrate that my point of view, if I may say so myself, has matured. The subjects I tackle are a bit more complex for the audience I targeted here so I have moved my attention to my blog at Improvateur.com. I usually post on #WriterWednesday but it depends upon the subject. I hope you will stop in and see me there; all you have to do is knock!

Here are a few links to my most recent posts in case there is a particular subject you’d prefer to explore first:

Julian Fellowes: A Sustained Narrative As Legacy

Dispatch From Amherst: Emily Dickinson Masters Love

Let’s Do Some Wilde Writing on This #WriterWednesday!

A Plumb Line Into Literary History

The Architecture of Tango

Of Salt Spray and Canvas: Weatherbeaten Maine

Melancholia: Depression as One Perspective

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)! If you are inclined to let me know how you feel about my new effort of deepening my writing, I’d love to hear from you, either here or on Improvateur.

04/5/11
Foundational Exuberance

Grassroots Run Deep: Green Provocateur in Milan


Foundational Exuberance

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.

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.

02/8/11
The Tomb of Heloise & Abelard

Make It Personal!

The Tomb of Heloise & Abelard

I’ve been blazing around Paris soaking in a schizophrenic mix of historically significant writerly inspiration and modern-day Parisian glitz: it’s quite a paradoxical melange! Even the eye candy cuts its own broad swath, from beautifully dressed men and women to a luscious piece of iconic architecture at every turn (I will admit to being a sucker for the Neoclassical French style–the ubiquitous mansard roofs alone are enough to make me swoon)! I generally shy away from overtly touristy experiences when I travel but I’ve put them in the mix during this pilgrimage to the City of Light. They’ve been important points of inspiration sprinkled amongst the hours spent journaling in the cafes that once drew some of the most dedicated writers of all time. What I’ve done with each exploit is to dig deeper; to make each overtly obvious tourist escapade my own in some way.

Oscar Wilde’s Tomb

At the Pere Lachaise cemetery, seeing the tomb of Heloise & Abelard was as exciting as I thought it would be. I’ve been inspired by their story for ages. But seeing Oscar Wilde’s tomb was a surprise, as it taught me something important as an avid reader. Words in a book, regardless how well crafted they are, do not always do the thing they are describing justice if there is significant emotionality attached. I’d read in a number of books, including one of my favorites that I recommend to anyone before they travel to Paris, Metrostop Paris, that Wilde’s grave was one of the most popular in the massive cemetery, and that it had to be cleaned regularly because fans of his literature could not help but write on or kiss the slabs surrounding the writer’s remains. It was a sight to behold and one of the most moving outpourings of emotion I’ve ever seen–in as many different languages as you can imagine.

Kisses Gone Wilde

This limitation of description was brought home to me again as I stood in the study of La Maison de Balzac, the museum dedicated to the famous French novelist and playwright Honore de Balzac. His petite writing table and roomy upholstered chair were placed in the center of the intimately-scaled room where the writer spent hours creating his novels and plays, nearly 100 of which make up La Comedie Humaine. He retreated to the tiny home that was an outbuilding of a larger residence, or a folly, to escape creditors during a low point in his life. He lived in the one-story dwelling nestled into a lush garden between 1840 to 1847. “Working means getting up at midnight every evening, writing until eight o’clock, having lunch in a quarter of an hour, working till five o’clock, having dinner, going to bed, and starting all over again the next day,” Balzac wrote. The writing table, which remains exactly where he had placed it, is where he proofread the entire La Comedie. He said that the desk was “the witness of my worries, my miseries, my distress, my joys, everything. My arm has almost worn it out with rubbing as I write.”

As I stood trying to imagine the mammoth creative energy that must have been unleashed in that room (before I had read this quote, mind you), the thing that struck me was how the table top had been worn down to the point that it had a significant indention in it where the writer had repeatedly run his arms over the wood as he drew wildly flailing lines to the margins of the pages he edited then scribbled in the updated text he wanted to include in the pages he had written. He had done so time and time again as the exhaustive display of edited pages proved. I stood in awe of this tiny table with sturdy turned legs, which had acted as the foundation of such great literary works. It is a memory I will treasure forever.

The door to Honore de Balzac’s study in Passy

Forgive me if I seem overly sentimental in this post: I really do dig this type of exploration so much! It’s like manna from heaven for this writer, who has been making a living as a journalist and author for the past 15 years, to let some of the chaos go and drop down into a deeper place. I hope that if you are roaming somewhere soon, you’ll be sure to find a way to make your experiences heartfelt. There’s nothing like it no matter where you are in the world! And, it just so happens to be #TravelTuesday so we should all be roaming where we want to!

10/2/10
Floral Perfection at Orticolario

You’ll Find Me in the Garden


Floral Perfection at Orticolario

I took a tour of the Figini Pagani Progettazioni offices in Lake Como this morning. The firm, which was founded by Erasmo Figini and Susanna Pagani, designed the villas and other buildings on the grounds of the CastaDiva Resort and I have been impressed with the range of their talents–from whimsical elements in the restored Villa Roccabruna (the former home of Giuditta Pasta, one of the world’s top sopranos) to Scandinavian influences in the Villa Amina. Stafania Tambani from their offices was an amazing escort, taking me around Como and to the Orticolario fair, a gathering of exhibitors who make and/or grow products for and from the garden, for most of the day.

Statuary fit for kings at Villa Antica

The day dawned rainy and stayed drizzly for most of the  morning but by the time we reached the grounds of the Spazio Villa Erba in Cernobbio where Orticolario was held, the sun peeked from the clouds and lit the drenching colors of the flowers being exhibited. I met Figini, who walked me through the beautiful products to the Villa Antica where the opening reception was being held on the terrace facing Lake Como, and understood how such a diverse repertoire could spring from the same mind. He was a force of creativity, something that was clear the minute I shook his hand. The grand nineteenth-century Villa was the former residence of Luchino Visconti, whose heirs sold it to a public consortium so that it could be maintained as an event space. Villa Erba was added to the property, designed by architect Mario Bellini after the many greenhouses typical of the nobility who built residences surrounding the Lago di Como, in 1990.

The view from Villa Antica

I met Moritz Mantero and Arturo Croci, the masterminds behind the Orticolario, now only in its second year but already one of the most popular events in the area. Though it was a bit early in the day for donning my ball-gown (and those of you who know me well know what a joke it is that I’d even own one), I could feel those Italian beauties of a bygone age swishing past me with their silk trains trailing behind them as they exited the grand salon on their way to the terrace to take in the sparkling of stars in the dome of Lake Como’s velvety sky. How’s that for an operatic sized drama on a Friday afternoon in Italia?

08/7/10
Weinberg's work has a sensual graphic quality to it

Paper, Scissors, Rock

Weinberg's work has a sensual graphic quality to it

Miami-based artist Michelle Weinberg has had a string of interesting exhibitions lately from a solo show in the Schoolhouse Gallery in Provincetown to a group show in the Miami Art Museum. She’s also completed a dynamic mosaic tile installation in Miami that architectural photographer Paul Clemence captured. We have a guest interview today on Roaming By Design. Felice Grodin sat down with the talented artist, who works in a variety of media that range from paper collage to tile mosaics to woven rugs, to ask her about her inimitable style:

FG:  There is a vernacular in your work that makes me think of a neighborhood—the local store, signs that you see, even products.  Is this meant to be urban, suburban or both? In addition, is it meant to be a critique of the American landscape?

MW:  Neither, and it’s not any sort of value judgment. I’m filtering these places, these experiences of city, country, neighborhood through my imagination. It’s kind of a celebration, a positive act meant to elevate. I like how folklore works—a contemporary folklore that combines different cultures and universal notions of pattern, flavor, graphic—the idea of inflection. It’s my own take on an underlying structure that exists throughout things like furniture or objects. The designer Patricia Urquiola uses it. I’ve always been inspired by Persian miniatures, decorative motifs and Matisse. There is something in the decorated surface that captivates me. The designer Andrea Branzi said that fluctuating, flickering pattern provides its own structure.

FG:   Why are there no people depicted in your work?

MW:  It’s a conscious decision. The objects rather than people act as figures. The viewer is really the figure, meant to enter my spaces. My work is not about the “gaze” (of one human subject to another). I’m not interested in depicting (other) human emotion. My work exists separate from my own emotion, or anyone else’s psychology.  I’m not interested in the fetish value of objects or a cult of personality. I’m more interested in the relationships among things and how those relationships describe something new. The exploration of compositional space and how things are developed within the two dimensional plane is what I am interested in.

FG:  Do you think there is a boundary between art and design?

MW:  There can be but does one have to care about it? Obviously the training is different. In design you solve problems, talk about functionality. In art you set up your own problems, talk about theory. In the contemporary art world works are shown in a specialized arena. I want my work to spread beyond that arena, relate to the environment, which may include relationships with a “client” and the public.

FG:  What about scale in your work? For example, in your latest project through Miami-Dade Art in Public Places—Shadow Canopy, GSA Facility, Miami, FL (2009-10)—how does the intricacy of one tile filter to an entire public plaza?

MW:  There was so much “design” initially in that building. The idea is that the tiles would enhance the architecture, not overload the experience. Through an irregular pattern, a pattern that seems to track how a human would walk into the space, it reinforces the human element. Tile breaks a space into units to become an animated backdrop, that of a humming heartbeat or a neurological activity. It reinforces our relationship with our own functioning, our everyday life.

FG:  Your way of working is reminiscent of practices when art and craft were considered a trade. Postmodernism introduced the notion of the “concept” where there could be a divorce between art and craft. Is your work a return to the former idea and how is it contemporary?

MW:  There is so much art and so many artists who have influenced me, from all over the historical map. Italian Futurists, Sonia Delaunay, Persian rugs, Warner Brothers animations, the theater. My view of technology encompasses the handmade, the artisan-made, the industrially fabricated and the high tech—all those technologies have distinctive textures. I think it’s impossible to reflect on art without responding to its physicality, its manufacture.

FG:  What about future projects?

MW:  I’m inspired by industrial design and graphic design, and also moving into 3D—from surface design to furniture and even my own rudimentary architecture. My father is an architect. I would love to collaborate on a building with him!

08/4/10
Mille Fiori (photo by Al Hurley)

Earth, Wind and Fire Frozen in Time


Mille Fiori (photo by Al Hurley)

Since revolutionizing the Studio Glass movement, Dale Chihuly has continually pushed to new heights and experimented with new forms, creating blown glass artistry that take command of indoor and outdoor environments regardless of a setting’s inherent beauty. His works are synonymous with drenching color—evident in the installations at the Chihuly Collection within the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg, Florida, which recently opened to the public.

During an interview, I once asked the man behind the glass how he would explain the excitement his work generates and he said, “The color is a very important part of it, but it could also be the scale of the works I create. I think people are excited because they are often looking at things they’ve never seen before.” Tampa-based architect Albert Alfonso of Alfonso Architects created the backdrop for Chihuly’s vibrant works on display in the series of galleries that make up the arts center. “The Chihuly Collection would not be the spectacular space that it is today without the hard work, vision and dedication of my friend and architect Albert Alfonso, who transformed the space into a spectacular architectural environment to showcase my work,” Chihuly remarked of the 10,000-square-foot center

Persian Ceiling “Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going”-Alfonso (photo by Scott M. Leen)

I had the good fortune to understand a bit about what makes Alfonso tick creatively when I was interviewing him for my most recent book Four Florida Moderns. He approaches his architectural commissions with great passion, and an artist’s eye and heart. I asked him during that interview how the paradoxical qualities of the rational and romantic, and the rigorous and poetic relate to his creative process: “I think the reason Kahn said that architecture is an old man’s profession is because we’re constantly trying to learn the craft of architecture coupled with the art of architecture. When I say the craft, I mean connections—how materials meet and how we can express ideas in a very clear, rational way. When a steel beam is meeting a wood panel, how do they meet? There has to be some point of transition. When you look at our work you’ll see the Miesian concept of form-giving. In this respect, we try to make things very honest. We couple that with the intuitive as it relates to say, Corb, who would set up a Miesian rational grid and then violate it with a cubist or an organic shape. This creates a tension that becomes paradoxical. The way Mies accomplished the same duality was to place a Caulder sculpture in front of a building. The two are like a marriage that works, and the duality of opposites brings richness to a building.”

Albert Alfonso contemplates the Blue Neon Tumbleweed (photo by Al Hurley)

These themes have played out in myriad ways in past projects: musicality informed a school with a music-based curriculum in downtown Tampa, a reinterpretation of a Caravaggio painting enhanced reflective light qualities in an open-air chapel, the emotional anticipation of air travel when flying was a new and unparalleled experience was a jumping off point for his Airside C project at the Tampa International Airport For the Morean Arts Center, his friendship with Chihuly rewarded the project with an intimacy that reflected Alfonso’s adroit understanding of the glass artist’s work and his inspirations.

Knowing Chihuly’s dreams and desires deepened the project, gallery by soulful gallery. “Dale and I had talked about how he’d always wanted to do a chapel, so we began with that feeling of a central space to hold the Mille Fiori with side chapels,” he explained. “Dark patina walls mediate between the wood structural members above and travertine stone below framing the symphony of a thousand flowers of glass and light.”

The Float Boat Room (photo by Scott M. Leen)

The spiritual is reflected in the spaces that undulate around the glass pieces, which writhe and spark within them. Portals of light pierce walls, offering a glimpse into some mysterious future or past, and displays stand erect like altars giving themselves over to the privilege of holding such frozen liquidity born of fire. The art of Alfonso’s architecture here is that he created an environment for the sumptuous glasswork that pays homage to its importance without interfering with its power. It’s as if he understood the spirituality in Chihuly’s work and allowed it to shine through the series of warm, wafting galleries—a known or unknown testament to a boy who remembers being fascinated with glass at a young age.

“If I think way back, I remember stained glass windows in a church I went to as kid; they fascinated me,” Chihuly explained. “I also combed the beach when I was a boy for Japanese glass fishing floats—it was thrilling to find them.” Alfonso created a moody gallery for Chihuly’s floats that evokes a dramatic watery world. “The brilliant carnival aspect of the float boat setting invokes a night scene in Venice with Palladian facades and orbs of color reflected in the canal,” he explained. Water figured just as dynamically in other galleries, such as the one containing the Blue Neon Tumbleweed. “This is a round seamless room with a deep portal that holds the fluid light of the neon tumbleweed,” he said. “Or am I underwater swimming under a man of war? I lose all horizon reference and simply swim.” A great admirer of Le Corbusier, this is how Alfonso’s talent frequently eclipses that of other architects given the same tasks: creating drama from inert materials. His architecture and the glasswork of Dale Chihuly couldn’t have been a better match for the purpose of passionately engaging the imagination.

06/10/10
Indian Creek house by Rene Gonzalez, on one of AIA's tours

Architectural Adventures


Indian Creek house by Rene Gonzalez, on one of AIA's tours

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) convention is in town and the sun-dappled streets of Miami Beach are filled with lots of serious people looking up at buildings and pointing out iconic facades. While exhibitors bring their new products to the convention center, tours are taking place and events are spilling out into venues across the beach and the mainland.

Two of the homes in my book Four Florida Moderns are on Jaya Kader Zebede’s tour “Miami Modern Homes: Contemporary Expressions.” Jaya, a Miami-based architect, will be guiding attendees through the residences as she speaks about the aspects of modernism that make the tropical modern homes unique. On the event front, Architizer is teaming up with SCI-Arc to hold an event at 1111 Lincoln Road this evening. The structure by Herzog & de Meuron will be teaming with one of architecture’s hippest crowds and I’m thrilled to say I’ll be in attendance. Take a moment to read this incredible “Required Reading” review Architizer posted about the book yesterday.

Inside the convention center, I wanted to point out several noteworthy booths: Ceramic Tiles of Italy is highlighting some sexy products (and a killer booth designed by Dante Donegani & Giovanni Lauda of D&L Design), as is Axor (check out the Patricia Urquiola fixtures:, the sophisticated result of a five-year collaboration!). Brizo is wowing attendees in the Kraftmaid and Delta Faucet booths. I can just feel the new design programs taking shape as I write this a few blocks away: the energy is stimulating!

06/8/10
Gramercy Park Hotel, designed by Julian Schnabel and photographed by Dean Kauman

Dark Nostalgia

On the cover is the Royalton Hotel designed by Roman and Williams

I have long been a title junkie so it’s no surprise that when Dark Nostalgia landed on my desk, I immediately responded to its resonant appellation. Not only did it remind me that a fair amount of my nostalgia resides in the dark realm, it showed me that after living in Miami Beach for five years, where a white blight has taken over interior spaces, I responded even more strongly to the beckoning wave of warmth I felt emanating from the book’s pages. “Many of the projects featured here are places I know well, and their architecture, design, and aesthetic affected the way my friends, colleagues, and I began to craft and then live our professional lives,” writes author Eva Hagberg, a New York-based culture, architecture and food writer. “With as much personality as the individuals who created them, they called us back time and again with their bold and fantastically self-indulgent embrace of purposeful alteration, decadent taste, and sometimes, pure play.”

Apotheke, designed by Christopher & Heather Tierney and photographed by Matthias Gaggl

Projects within the 208-page book, published by Monacelli, include The Stanton Social, The Bowery Hotel, Bobo and Gramercy Park Hotel in New York; the Black Calavados in Paris; the Shoreditch House in London; and the Clift Hotel in San Francisco. The author pegs a turning point in design, the end of an era, at the moment Roman and Williams designed the renovation of the Royalton Hotel in New York. She points out they had “so thoroughly removed” Philippe Starck; “had so completely stamped their own gritty and dark nostalgia onto the place, that critics didn’t know what to do.” Why was everyone at a loss? The new interiors required an entirely new vocabulary. “Gone were the round shapes and cartoonish forms, relics of a design time that thrived on words like ‘blobby,’ ‘organic,’ and ‘computer,’” she explains. “Gone were the jokes, the puns, the inside references.” Hagberg contends that the dark nostalgia in the book is bittersweet because the architecture she has surveyed “shows that we can love our past and our longing.”

Gramercy Park Hotel, designed by Julian Schnabel and photographed by Dean Kauman

As the projects unfold within the beautifully presented pages, the dark side does pulse from the glossy sheen of the photography, but it is a welcoming darkness that beckons one in from the glare of intense scrutiny. These are spaces that scoff at sunglasses and self-consciousness. These are rooms that insist you breathe, loosen up and stop taking yourself so seriously. Hagberg’s command of language and her appreciation of the aesthetics she’s surveying make the book an enjoyable read. About Julian Schnabel’s Gramercy Park Hotel, she writes, “Part of the Gramercy Park Hotel’s history is real, but much of it is embellished by our imaginations. The combination of bold color and unconventional furniture used here brings the hotel’s design forward, making a provocative statement about the reembrace of decoration, articulation, and fancy.”

05/17/10

ICFF Editors Awards Announced

The Table of Contents Page of Four Florida Moderns

I haven’t made it to ICFF yet (I’m usually there the first day by the time the doors open) because I’ve been stuck at home on deadline. I’ll be there bright and early in the morning, though and will be cruising the maze of booths to see what’s hot this year. You’ve likely heard (because I’ve hardly talked about anything else lately!) that Archivia Books is hosting a book signing for Four Florida Moderns inside the fair tomorrow in booth 1066 at 3 p.m. If your in Javits Center, we hope you’ll stop by. All four architects will be on hand to sign the books, pretty much a miracle given their jam-packed schedules!

The editors awards were just announced. I thought I’d share them with you. Blu Dot won for “Body of Work”; Objeti, LLC, and Studio Dunn won for “New Designer”; the award for “Craftsmanship” went to Cocochi Design; Mabeo nabbed the award for “Furniture”; the nod for “Seating” went to Arper spa; the “Carpet and Flooring” award went to Ardeco Interier Sro; Peter Stathis & Virtual Studio were chosen for the “Lighting” category; “Outdoor Furniture” was nabbed by Snow Peak, Inc.; Triple Pin Blue Denim Tiles presented by Material ConneXion won the “Materials” category; the “Wall Coverings” award went to Timorous Beasties; the “Accessories” award was given to Kikkerland Design, Inc.; Dana Barnes Design won for “Textiles; Axor took top honors in “Kitchen and Bath”; Tom Dixon got the nod for “Multiple Production”; The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) won the “Design School” category; and Molo took top honors for “Booth” design. Congratulations everyone!