The Antiques Diva Does Italia!

Toma Clark Haines definitely knows la dolce vita!

We’re speaking Italian on this Travel Tuesday with some exciting news. Our ONLY choice for European lifestyle tours, The Antiques Diva, is expanding to, you guessed it, Italia; and Toma is already working her magic on the romantic language by saying, “Buongiorno Baby” to anyone wanting to come along for the Tuscan ride!

Tuscan tastemaker Susan Pennington will create and direct the tours, which will amble through the best venues in Florence, Sienna, Arezzo and Lucca (here’s a feature in Belle Inspiration). A British expat living in the heart of Tuscany, Pennington was once an antiques buyer for Harrods in London and an auction-house specialist in New York City. She’s lived in Tuscany for the past two decades, running Montestigliano, a local agriturismo business known for its sumptuous Tuscan-style luxury décor.

Word up, Diva fans; this is Toma’s sixth country, and the list of destinations for gallivanting is impressive: France, England, Belgium, Holland, Germany and, now, Italy. Where’s my passport? Did someone say the University of Bologna is calling?

P.S. We understand there is a spot of royalty in The Antiques Diva’s future. Check in at adroyt in the next week or so and we’ll fill you in!


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!


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.


A Meaningful Mosaic Monday: Julie Richey Style

"La Corrente" by Julie Richey takes the 3-D Prize

“La Corrente” by Julie Richey takes the 3-D Prize

Julie Richey’s “La Corrente,” a marble, glass smalti and seashell dress sculpture, has won the Best 3-D Mosaic award, a distinction given to her by the 2011 Mosaic Arts International—an annual international juried exhibition of contemporary mosaic art. “La Corrente” means “The Current” and the piece exemplifies beauty amidst destruction, a theme that Julie was inspired to explore because she created the work of art during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill crisis. We’ve followed Julie’s esteemed career since she won the Orsoni prize and love how her depth of feeling comes through in her work.

We thought we’d treat RBD readers to a sampling of how travel makes an impact on Richey’s creative expressions. She’s planning a Master Mosaic Tour in Italy this fall in case you’re so inspired you want to follow her to the ends of the earth (well, Italy qualifies as that for most of us who long to return again and again)! In her own words: I love to travel—anywhere—and I consider myself fortunate to have discovered a career that allows many interesting travel opportunities. I’ve been all over the US, to Mexico, Italy, the UK and Spain; and soon, I will travel to Australia—all for mosaic-related work.

Looking at my mosaics from the last few years, some are inspired by traveling and finding an image imbedded in my head from the trip. This would be “Night Shirt,” a wall-relief mosaic of a shirt depicting San Francisco Bay at night. I was inspired by a 3 a.m. visit to a park overlooking the city. I held that image in my mind until eventually it came out as a mosaic sculpture. Other works can be inspired by a friend’s vacation stories (as with “La Corrente”), or are formed as a response to an opportunity, be it a commission, a juried show or a public art commission. I’ve made mosaic landscapes of my New Mexico vacation photos and utilized clients’ photos from summers in Canada to make a glass kitchen backsplash for a new home.

Julie Richey with "L'Ambasciatrice"; photo by Pete Lacker

Julie Richey with “L’Ambasciatrice”; photo by Pete Lacker.

For “L’Ambasciatrice,” I was inspired to create a sculptural dress depicting native Texas wildflowers and butterflies for a special event—an art auction benefiting the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX. I love Austin and will use almost any excuse to pop down from Dallas. In this case, I couldn’t finish the mosaic before the deadline, but just kept working on it (for nine months, off and on) until it was fully realized.

Although “L’Ambasciatrice” never made it to the Wildflower auction, it did travel to shows in Mesa, AZ, Galveston and Dallas. I named it “The Ambassadress” because throughout its construction, I carried it everywhere for art demos, including one at an arboretum, the arts center where I taught mosaics, even a church where a pastor used my mosaics to reinforce his theme of “brokenness and reconstruction” for his sermons.

That last one was a stretch, but in every case, this “little mosaic dress that could” allowed people to see a facet of mosaic-making up close. They were very curious about the methods, materials and structure, and the ambassadress did her job well. I’ve been fortunate to travel to Italy frequently—first as a college student for a Rome semester, then as a graduate scholar in Art History. Once I became fluent in Italian, there were return trips for sister-city cultural exchanges, tours with the Renaissance Polyphony chorus of my alma mater, and the invaluable learning experiences I had taking workshops at the Orsoni foundry in Venice.

Winning the Orsoni Prize in 2009 was a dream come true. It was an honor just to earn the recognition—but they sweetened the deal by including a full trip to Venice, a week in their workshop, and a full stay at the beautiful Domus Orsoni bed and breakfast. Talk about reinforcing your career choice! For the dedicated mosaic artist, there’s almost no better place in the world to spend a week wallowing in luscious colors and absorbing the Venetian setting. After more than two weeks at Orsoni and a subsequent family visit, the members of the staff there are my friends, not just professional contacts. I feel at home in Italy. I could spend weeks in Rome and rarely need a map. Put me in New York City and I’m as lost as last year’s Easter egg.

You can feel the sweep of sea grasses floating past...

You can feel the sweep of sea grasses floating past…

Now most of my days in Italy revolve around mosaics. Where are the truly great sites? How can I get there without spending a fortune and driving my fellow travelers crazy? Who wants to go with me to an obscure Tuscan seaside town to eat spaghetti alle vongole and explore Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden mosaics? Two years ago we were on a January choir tour of Italy, and we took a day trip to Palestrina, the birthplace of one of our favorite composers. As soon as we’d finished singing Mass, I bolted up the steep steps of the village to the archeological museum where I knew the famous Nile Mosaic was housed. The hike was crazily vertical, and I was gasping for breath when I arrived at the site but the mosaic was so worth the pilgrimage. Sometimes the desire to wallow in mosaics brings serendipitous moments.

In June 2009 I was leading a small mosaic tour of Rome and had made an appointment to visit Dr. Paolo di Buono, director of the Vatican Micromosaic Studios. He suggested a Wednesday morning. Travelers familiar with the Vatican know that the Pope holds his public audience each Wednesday morning. We expected the Vatican grounds to be quite chaotic, but instead they were quiet and deserted. The audience was set up outside in Piazza San Pietro where Jumbotrons flanked both sides of the colonnade and hundreds of chairs were lined up for special visitors. After we toured the studio with Dr. Di Buono, he offered to take us into Saint Peter’s Basilica through the side door.

When we passed the guard and entered, I realized we had come though Bernini’s famous “skeleton door,” the monument to Alexander VII, at the back of the basilica. I’ve been in St. Peter’s countless times, and have even attended Easter Vigil Mass there with thousands of pilgrims. This time was different: it was almost deserted.

As delicate as a lacy slip, sea shells ornament "La Corrente"

As delicate as a lacy slip, sea shells ornament “La Corrente.”

One worker on a miniature Zamboni-style machine drove up and down the nave, polishing the marble floors. Five guys in rappelling gear were perched on the Baldacchino, the high altar canopy, cleaning it with Swiffer dusters. Dr. Di Buono brought us to the entrance of the basilica to see the mosaic works his studio had restored, including an altar painting designed by Raphael that was actually a mosaic.

Looking past the Swiss guards in profile through the open doors, we could see thousands of people outside in the piazza, awaiting the Pope. Inside, it was just the four of us, the Zamboni driver and the Swiffer duster men. We exited as we had come in, via the Bernini door, and as we turned in our security badges and got our passports back, I glanced over to the basilica. Not 30 feet away was the iconic white Popemobile, awaiting Benedict XVI. The guards hurried us along so that the Pope could come out, get into his little car, and start toward his audience. We exited Vatican City, wove our way through the colonnade and popped out into the piazza. There he was, larger than life, on the Jumbotron.

In the two minutes it had taken us to get to the piazza, he’d climbed into his car and beaten us to the starting gate! We’d like to thank Julie for gracing our blog on this Twitter #MosaicMonday, and wish her happy Roaming as she inspires artisans far afield and close at home! Photos of “Night Shirt” and “La Corrente” by Stacey Bratton.


Of a city…

The Admirals Club at JFK.

The Admirals Club at JFK.

When traveling, I’m often fascinated by how a sense of place pervades nearly every aspect of life in the best cities in the world. I call New York home and have come to see Paris as the city in which I’d most like to live if I weren’t fortunate enough to reside in my favorite town. I just returned from the French capital where I spent 2 1/2 weeks tasting all that the City of Light had to offer, including the ultra chic sensibilities the French have in spades.

New York is gritty and a bit worn around the edges compared to Paris’ polished, refined exterior (if you’ve ever taken the Metro in Paris and compared it to the Subway in NYC, you know what I mean, as the Parisian underground is as buttoned-up as its beautiful Neoclassic facades!). On my way to France and when I was returning to the states, I had the opportunity to check out the designs of the American Airlines Admirals Club Lounges at JFK and Charles de Gaulle. I loved the black and white photography in the JFK lounge, the iconic buildings and panoramas that help to define our city such a pleasure to study; and in Paris, I felt as if I were being swept along in a luxe ocean liner back in the day when traveling by ship was glamorous and de rigueur.


Passementerie de Paree

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, and Remy Lemoine

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, and Remy Lemoine.

Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva, and Remy Lemoine (who was recently featured on one of my favorite sites, The Curated Object) with his passemanterie in Le Dome in Paris. Loving all this inspiring design after a day at the Marche aux Puces. So many great ideas, so little room in my suitcase!


Cleto Munari’s New York Debut (Finally!)

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

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

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.