Thursday, February 4, 2016

Fascinating Pheasant

Everlasting XOXO: Pheasant's 54" Constellation Mirror receives non-stop fanfare..
What Thomas Pheasant creates is visually arresting. As he glided through a slide show at the recent Las Vegas Market, I wanted to melt into the screen and visit his designed spaces. Maybe one day I will.

What Thomas Pheasant says is also compelling. As I listened to him explain his design process and retell his journey toward the helm of the interior design industry, his confidence was evident yet unobtrusive, and his words flowed with an easy cadence that kept ears and eyes wanting more.

At the Bellagio, Christopher Guy sets the stage for Thomas Pheasant to graciously accept the Icon Award.
I knew little about Pheasant when he took the stage in front of a packed seminar room in Las Vegas. I learned much (that he spent several years folding fabrics in the back of a showroom before getting his big break, for example)  and was quite moved by his gratitude ("I love my staff and when they leave, I want them to leave here a better designer."), and now have a new awareness of the interior designer so deserving of the 2016 Designer Icon Award and all previous accolades.

The title of Pheasant's book relates to the emotional experience of his environments.
In a mix of direct quotation and my translation, here's what I gleaned from Pheasant's presentation.

Inspiration is an overused does not mean replication. It's about seeing something and letting it stay and work inside of you, and then when it comes out, it comes out new.

"Say a lot without saying a lot"...As I mature as a designer, I communicate with less and I am more and more drawn to minimalism.
 I do not like to fulfill a space but would rather leave room for the people, for life. Spaces should reflect the client, and not be locked into the date that I left.
Houses need care, rethinking, and re-imagining, but not too much decoration

My success is not necessarily about certain colors or my style, but rather the emotional connection people have to the spaces.
I've stayed true to my vocabulary.
Re: Trends: figure out how a trend works for you and use them in YOUR way.
If you're putting your name on it, make sure you believe in it and let people judge it for what it is.
Editorial is important; do a showhouse and present the work you want to do.
Bring in people -- accountants and legal -- to help.
Go travel. Live..and bring back experiences.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

New XOXO: The Furniture Library

I XO libraries. I XO design. Therefore I XOXO The Bernice Bienenstock Furniture Library.

Just north of Krispy Kreme on Main Street in High Point, and housed in a c. 1923 former doctor's residence, The Furniture Library is filled with books and periodicals that serve interior designers, furniture makers, antiquarians, patent lawyers, students, and decorative arts nerds of which I am one. This industry-specific resource is the largest furniture specialty library in the world, and includes a climate-controlled Rare Book Room with 350 specimens dating back to 1543.  "Yale and Harvard have the same books, but they're not accessible like ours," says Library Director Karla Webb contentedly.

The library is an aesthetic study and gathering space. It has a number of  rooms, equipped with tech and other amenities, that can be rented for business, educational and social events and the garden, with it's landscaping and sculpture collection, is also inviting.With two floors and plenty of tables and chairs, the library is homey and quiet with room to spread out and delve.

A quick tour...

The interior was refreshed about 4 years ago by High Point interior designer Pat Plaxico.
The burning question I had for Karla ...
"What is this white paint?"
Edelweiss by Martin Senour.

 I've always liked these Phillips Collection wire figures and one greeted me in the foyer.
Flor carpet tiles add a zippy vibe to the studious libes. (found on Aphrochic)
I am totally crushing on these leather mid-century chairs that belonged to the Bienenstocks.
Karla Webb points out an unexpectedly colorful 1843 Victorian-era book filled with fabric samples.

I love looking through old magazines.  "House Beautiful" and "House & Garden" date back almost 100 years.
The Vuncannon Room, formerly a two bedroom suite. can be reserved for meetings, seminars, and study groups...

as can the Hadley Court Center for Design Collaboration with its 80" TV screen and live streaming ability.
This shot doesn't capture the beautiful outdoor setting so you must see it for yourself!
If I lived closer, I'd be here all the time.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Inspired by the Past: Wildwood Lamps Takes on Biltmore Estate

Tall and slender and in multiple finishes, I xoxo the antler lamp.

I fell in XOXO with Biltmore when I took the tour a few years back. So when I found out that Wildwood Lamps was creating a Biltmore Collection, I wanted to learn how Wildwood's creative director,  John Cunningham, had translated the legendary 120-year old estate into a collection of lighting and decor. He kindly took a few minutes off from High Point market showroom set up to fill me in.
John in Dongguan City, China

Q: Had you visited Biltmore prior to going there for Wildwood?

A: I grew up in Knoxville so I remember going as a child. It was a totally different experience -- a phenomenal one working with the Biltmore team.

Q: Biltmore is so extensive where do you start building a collection, mentally and physically?

A: We spent 3 full days at Biltmore, working with the curators at the Estate. We went behind the ropes and spent a lot of time in the archives. We took 300 photos of garden statuary, iron gates, balusters, doors, crown moldings etc. We looked literally everywhere, inside and out, at decorative ceiling patterns, furniture legs, and century-old wisteria vine, at the amazing copper patina gutters. We also went to the museum at Biltmore and got ideas from the Vanderbilt's travels and lifestyle. We were not permitted to reproduce anything in the house; this is a collection simply inspired by Biltmore.
Motif borrowed from a cinnabar box.

Q: Your eye must be trained to look and focus in on what texture, color, or detail is adaptable as an accessory, lamp, or piece of art, yes?

A: Yes, I see things, not always the whole piece but a part. For example my eyes went to a wreath of peonies on an angel statue and that wreath is now a decorative objet that comes in two finishes. The carving on a cinnabar box became the motif around the Edith Lamp.

Q: Favorite pieces in the collection? 

A: I love the whole collection. There are 70-80 skus including 50 lamps, decorative accessories, and artwork. People will hear "Biltmore" and think "Victorian", but nothing could be farther from the truth. Harriet Cook and I took our Biltmore inspirations and brought them into present day and made pieces that were modern and appropriate for today. We executed the Olmstead Lamp - a very natural design that can work in different environments -- in three finishes. The white-washed finish is beautiful for a beach house. Florida will love it!
Detail of Olmstead in white.

In metallic... the Olmstead lamp.

John and Harriet return to China and India in November and start working on Biltmore again!
John and Harriet perfecting a bronze finish.

Authors note: About 4 years ago, after my visit to Biltmore, I wrote a blog some of my favorite details for Bob Vila. Here it is.
One of my shots from my visit a few years back.

The Wildwood Lamps showroom is at 200 North Hamilton, High Point, NC. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

XOXO: Linda's Colorful World

Favorite paintings.
   "Some colors that have become really trendy and popular should be credited to me. For example, I have been using orange as an accent color for years...and I paired it with pink way before Tory Burch did!"
                                                                       ~ Linda Rosenberg McGuire

A glimpse at her closet.

She has a way with color, wearing it and decorating with it. She doesn't try hard to make herself or her house look good. She merely chooses what she XOXOs and it all falls into place. 

Happy Feet

When Linda visited me in Florida we took a long walk and I could not help staring at her sneakers and how great they looked in the super-green grass.

"I wore lots of black during my late teen years when I had a weight problem. In my mid 20s, I started to add pinks and purples around my face because I thought it brought out my green eyes. The older I got the more I realized that color just brightens me up inside and to the outside world as well."

I love that Linda still lives with my  mother's painting.
Linda and I met in kindergarten. I slept over her house a lot. I remember the chocolate brown den where we watched TV. I am pretty sure her bedroom was yellow. She recounts a lot of orange in the house and I remember a fair amount of blue. Plus, she grew up with one of my mother's colorful abstract paintings and still prominently hangs it today.

"Both my sister and I surround ourselves with color. I think it has something to do with growing up in a very colorful house."

On a recent visit to Pennsylvania, I helped Linda pick paint colors for her new home. Owned by the school where she works, she tread conservatively as she could not put color up on every single wall. She was allotted 3 accent colors beyond the creamy ivory everywhere color. She chose a saffron yellow in the kitchen, medium rich pink for her bedroom and a bluish gray for her son's rooms. I look forward to seeing it all upon my return. 

In the meantime, here are some more photos from the house that was.

"Surrounded by young men (Linda has 3 sons), pink in my bedroom makes me feel like is is a "lady cave."Warm tones in my living space elicit feelings of warmth , happiness and an overall cozy feeling.

"I have had green dining rooms in my last two homes. I think it is a gathering color, healthy color, and a color always associated with good nutrition. I read once that it is a color that encourages people to stay at the table, but I am not convinced it works."

Selecting a bowl: This is a choice I relish being faced with.
"I actually like a lot of color in my food too. On of my favorite dishes to make is tomato sauce with poached eggs on a bed of spinach. Beautiful!

Linda Rosenberg McGuire is a parenting coach, consultant, and speaker with keen insight into the teenage mind. She shares knowledge and guides parents and teens with a compelling combination of humor, wisdom, and personal experience. Linda is also the Dean of Students at Westtown School in PA.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

NEED: Do We Need Interior Design Emoji?

Eye candy from Maison
While walking last week's Maison & Objet Miami, I wanted to text a few friends but was dismayed by the lack of smart phone graphics to convey  my adventure. Granted photos of colossal glass chandeliers speak volumes over simplified cartoony emoji...but still, it's nice to have an option.
I thought: "Why aren't there furniture emoji? I WANT them."

Then I googled "furniture emoji" and discovered that Ikea had come up with its own iconic text language earlier in the year. Ikea's emoticons are beautifully illustrated; they remind me of modern flashcards. Ikea's emoji philosophy:

In the home situation
misunderstandings occur most around clutter.
And that is why IKEA introduces Emoticons:
a communication tool to ensure universal love
and understanding in your home.

Check it out at

Before learning that Ikea had pioneered furniture emoji, I felt inspired to take it on. As a design enthusiast, I was feeling left out of the picture text world. Apple's existing emoji offerings enhance the victories, challenges, and overall communication of other careers, but for interior designers...there's.really nada.

A chef can express enthusiasm for a new dish that just got written up in the Times.

A basketball player can share his success after being signed to the pros.

But in the world of basic unbranded non-Ikea emoji, what can an interior designer really convey via text?I am a tad surprised, since designers and furniture makers comprise such a passionate group, that they have not left their mark yet in the emoji world, especially with design icons such as a Barcelona chair, an Egg chair, a Kagan sofa, an X-bench, a Sputnik chandelier. While waiting in a doctor's office, I mocked up these.

Perhaps for this trade, emojis simply cannot rival photographs to relay the design experience and the library could be endless. How would one adequately communicate:
Luna Bella's Medusa pendants
 these luscious tablecloths from LinenMe
a  B+W composition at Maison Montaigne
the comparative textures of nuLOOM's rugs
Sometime emoji move but not to this extent.

 Love these magnetized porcelain plates designed by Martial for Non Sans Raison
Me on a So-Nu river stone chair
So maybe it's ok then. We have our camera apps. Do we really NEED emoji? And is Ikea correct -- that all emojis are the key to harmony at home?