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!


When a Diva Dishes on Design…

"Inspried By Nature" post on The Decorating Diva.com

“Inspried By Nature” post on The Decorating Diva.com

Carmen Natschke, the editor and publisher of The Decorating Diva, asked me to create a Look Book for her site, which she posted yesterday. I was extremely honored to think about my list of favorite products for a home office and share them with her devoted fans, and I love how beautiful they look in concert. In return, I asked her to share with RBD readers a bit of insight as to her trendsetting site and her take on design:

RBD: What was your inspiration for The Decorating Diva?

DD: The Decorating Diva originally came into being in 2003 as an online resource for the “Decorating Divas Training Center”—a business I co-founded that allowed students to learn everything from faux painting to accessorizing like a professional decorator.

A Decorating Diva Faux Finish Seminar

A Decorating Diva Faux Finish Seminar

Without fail at each workshop, a handful of students would ask about online decorating and buying resources. Sure, one could find decorating information in conventional venues like in the bookstores or on television—and as decorating junkies we all agreed that TV was a great resource, especially our favorite shows like “Trading Spaces” and just about any decorating show on HGTV—but the Decorating Divas’ students needed more, and preferably something they could print and reference later. Born from those requests for online decorating and design resources came the idea for the creation of the website where decorating divas could come to learn about style, design and decor. In December 2006, the website evolved from a decorating workshop resource companion to a complete digital media publication covering a range of design and decorating topics.

RBD: What’s the most fun about what you do? The least fun?

DD: The Most Fun: Everything to do with design—and the fabulous, creative and talented individuals I meet within the design industry. The Least Fun:  Time constraints. Wishing there was more time to cover so much of the interesting products I find. Of course, there isn’t so I have to make some tough decisions as to what I cover and what I have to pass up.

RBD: Do you find that being able to travel the world reporting on design is inspiring and exciting? If so, explain a few situations that illustrate this.

An Abbey in Mont Saint Michel

An Abbey in Mont Saint Michel

DD: Traveling and experiencing other cultures is without a doubt inspiring and does reflect in my coverage of design topics. I also draw on my love of the arts, and museum visits are always a part of my travels. Visiting other countries also offers me the opportunity to note trends in fashion, design, color and the arts. I’m also inspired by the different landscapes and by nature in the places I visit. A recent visit to Panama, for example, inspired me when I noted the colors and patterns in the surrounding landscape. A trip to Mont Saint-Michel in France has forever inspired me with its magical qualities and beautiful medieval architecture. Miami—though it’s a routine trip for me—inspires me deeply with its diverse and interesting architecture ranging from the Art Deco in South Beach to the Icon Brickell, designed in part by Philippe Stark. When I lived on Brickell Key, I loved taking walks downtown to enjoy the architecture from the iconic Atlantis on Brickell Key—a building made famous in the 1980s television show Miami Vice—to the gorgeous new building Jade.

RBD: Do you have a favorite product you’ve come across recently that I can share with readers?

The Snug Furniture booth at ICFF

The Snug Furniture booth at ICFF

DD: After attending the International Contemporary Furniture Fair last weekend, I’d have to say my favorite new design product is Maybelline Te’s Snug Furniture collection. I’ve completely fallen in love with an exquisite silver-gray leather sofa designed by Maybelline’s fiancé, Alex. The construction is elegant, and the sofa has the design essence of old Hollywood glamour updated to fit into a modern design environment, and, yet, it is still equally at home in a more traditional style interior. Perfection!

RBD: Keeping up with such an active online publication while traveling so much must be challenging. Can you share with RBD readers some of your tricks for melding traveling, researching and writing?

DD: Thanks to technological devices (smart phone, laptop, handheld pc and netbook), WiFi and productivity tools, I’m able to work virtually anywhere, and at any time. In my former career, I was a software engineer and project manager so I’m very adept at organizing and managing projects. This has served me well because the job of editing and publishing a digital media publication is essentially one big project. For this “project” I create an annual editorial calendar (that is reviewed and modified, if required, every quarter), a quarterly assignment calendar and a quarterly publication calendar. Having an editorial and publishing schedule keeps me focused and makes it easier to “find” the discipline to get the tasks done.

A Booth at Design Miami/

A Booth at Design Miami/

RBD: Do you have a favorite design fair? If so, what is it about this one that’s different?

DD: Though it is a small design fair, I love Design Miami/ for its creativity, and gathering of incredibly talented artists and designers.

RBD: How has having such a terrific online design community changed your work life?

DD: Having an extraordinary online network of friends and colleagues has helped me discover interesting new design talent and design products—which I may not have come across using typical “offline” channels. Another wonderful benefit of the terrific online design community is the support and feedback we provide to one another.

I think a perfect example of the power of the online community was the recent #blogger19 trip (much credit to Paul Anater) that Brizo sponsored, taking a group of us to Jason Wu’s fall fashion show in New York City. The relationship between the designers and writers began, at least in part, online, and when we met in NYC, we further solidified the bonds of business relationships and friendships. Now, we continue to converse with and offer valuable feedback to one another, whether it’s discussing potential book ideas, new product debuts, design ideas or other issues.

My favorite part of the online community (on a personal level) is the immense generosity within the design industry network online. I was humbled when I saw the outpouring from designers for the recent fundraisers for Layla Grace (pediatric cancer) and Luna Velandry (pediatric cardiology). When I asked the community for help with the fundraisers, they were there—asking how they could help as well as using their online influence to spread the word and raise awareness. RBD: What is the one thing you’d really like for RBD readers to know about The Decorating Diva? DD: That The Decorating Diva is the place for those with a deep passion for style, design and décor.