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!

04/29/10
Matthew’s living room in the country is filled with Italian art and antiques, while the room itself was inspired by Palladian architecture.

Italy of My Dreams

Matthew White

Interior designer and author Matthew White, who co-founded the New York design firm White Webb, has a new book out. The expressive title, Italy of My Dreams, hints at the beauty contained in the book, both in terms of imagery and of the prose White so beautifully composed. Here’s a taste of his choices for the dreamiest locations in one of the most heavenly countries on earth! In his own words: In these pages, I share how I was seduced by Italy, and how that seduction affects the style in which I live (case in point: though each of the homes featured here could be nestled into the Italian countryside, each one is on American soil). Just as the grand tour so deeply affected travelers three hundred years ago, Italy continues to move and inspire me. So this is my “grand tour” of sorts, a tour of my Italian-inspired homes, past and present. Each one of these houses, whether situated in town or country, East Coast or West, link three essential elements: love of domesticity, love of beauty, and love of Italy. There’s an old Tuscan proverb that says “Man makes the place, and the place makes the man.” From my earliest days at the trailer park I have pursued one thing—beauty. I may have found it in Italy, but I made it at home.

Matthew’s living room in the country is filled with Italian art and antiques, while the room itself was inspired by Palladian architecture.

Matthew’s First Trip to Venice: It was from a train that late September evening when we first laid eyes on Venice. Night was falling, and our view through the window as we crossed the lagoon made the city appear as a sleeping giant lying thin and elegant on the water. I knew I would love Venice long before we had even begun to plan the trip, long before I arrived there. Venice represented to me a city from a different realm. A place not really of this world. How else could one explain a city of stone palaces built on water? Matthew’s take on the influence of the Tuscan villa on American design: Il Poggio and various other great Tuscan houses would inspire architects, artists and writers for centuries. Edith Wharton wrote the book Italian Villas and their Gardens as a way to share her enthusiasm for these romantic places. Bernard Berenson, the famous art historian who specialized in the Renaissance, lived in a charming villa in Fiesole, just outside of Florence. These nineteenth and early twentieth-century American tastemakers understood the architectural importance of the Italian country house and were in part responsible for bringing that understanding to a larger audience in the modern age.

Villa delle Favole was a house Matthew restored in California. Its old garden, like its architecture, was inspired by the Italian Renaissance.

How Thomas Jefferson was inspired by Italian architecture: Monticello was unique in eighteenth-century America in that it looked back to the great buildings of Palladio and ancient Rome yet seemed very contemporary. And because of Jefferson’s ingenuity, the house incorporated some original and very American ideas. The concept of referring to the romance of European history while living in the present and casting an eye toward the future is a completely American trait. Italian influences in the work of McKim, Mead & White, and how that spirit continues: Charles McKim said…”As Rome went to Greece, and later France, Spain and other countries had gone to Rome for their own reactions to the splendid standards of Classic and Renaissance Art, so must we become students, and delve, bring back, and adapt to conditions here, a groundwork on which to build.” More than a century later, I was inspired to follow a similar path. By taking inspiration from the past — ancient Rome, Renaissance Italy, and Stanford White’s New York — I created a place for living in the twenty-first century. The result is a home steeped in two millennia of Italian history yet created by, and for, Americans.

This library holds ideas that are both Italian and American.

Venice’s admiration of styles from the East: No city in the world is a more alluring melting pot of Eastern and Western styles than Venice. Every arched window and each glittering façade stands as glamorous testament to the admiration Venetians had for the art and architecture of the Eastern Mediterranean. And yet each architectural element shows how Venice took that style and made it uniquely its own.