Category Archives: Inspiration all around

Ad Inspiration

I must be ad crazy this week!

It’s common for me to build an entire project concept around a fabulous advertisement that I see in a fashion magazine.  The problem is that lately, the advertisements haven’t been inspiring.

Thank goodness for March!  This is the second ad I’m dying for (see my prior Chanel post).

I can build a whole design concept complete with color palette based on this gorgeous photo of Julianne Moore alone (for Bulgari).  Enjoy!



Filed under Inspiration all around, Ooh la la

Design San Francisco – 1st Day Highlights

Day one of “Design San Francisco” aka Winter Market at San Francisco Design center.  It was a thrilling day…I met Margaret Russell, editor in chief of Elle Decor Magazine (one of my favorites)!  Margaret Russell was the keynote speaker today with a book signing of “Substance and Style” that followed.  You may remember that “Substance and Style” was on my holiday wish list last month.  Margaret was gracious when I told her about my blog and asked for a photo with her (even though I was shaking like a leaf with excitement!).

Next up was a rich presentation by Eric Cohler on “Find Your Inner Passion As Collector and Curator” at Lee Jofa and Dakota Jackson on “Doing It Right:  21st Century Style” at De Sousa Hughes.  There are so many interesting ideas from all the presentations.  Some common themes that kept popping up were:

Design interiors with a certain joie de vivre, authenticity and timelessness.  Convey your inner passion.  Art fuels the soul.  Mix high and low-priced items.  Create frisson or tension in every space.  Hear light.  See sound.  Craft experience.

Perhaps my favorite quote today was from Eric Cohler, “It’s not how good you are but how good you want to be.”

Looking forward to what tomorrow holds…


Filed under Educational tidbits, Inspiration all around

Design Crush – Charley’s Pad from “A Single Man”

I finally saw Tom Ford’s “A Single Man” last night.  Set in 1962, the movie had a strong look.  What a gorgeous film.  There are so many elements to love, the freshness of the cinematography, the beauty of the actors, impeccable costumes, I could go on and on…

The home of Julianne Moore’s character, Charley’s, left the strongest impression for me.  Vintage, yet modern the set created by production designer Dan Bishop (also of Mad Men).  Loved, loved the mother of pearl Syrian furniture, wonderful ethnic prints in ice cream colors,  and fabulous circular sofa.

An impeccable juxtaposition is the stark, modern home of the Colin Firth’s character, George.  While the movie take place in Santa Monica, the real home is in Glendale designed by architect John Lautner in 1949.  The home happens to be for sale for $1.495  and the listing is found here:

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Filed under Inspiration all around, Sublime Interiors

Be Your Own Curator…

One of the biggest challenges my clients face is adding art and accessories to their interiors.  Of course, I’m happy to act as curator and pull pieces together for them in a flash but often I find myself working with what they have and advising them to be patient and wait for pieces that speak to them.  I feel that the art and accessories are often the most personal component to an interior and those items tell so much about the inhabitant.  I’ll start by raiding the client’s collections or even family/travel photos for inspiration.

This got me thinking about my own collection.  It truly started in a modest way and has grown tremendously over the past 12 years.  A favorite habit was to purchase art whenever I traveled to a new country as a memento.  It was easy to do and often inexpensive.  I started to look out for street vendors and purchased pieces that I could roll up to be framed once I came home.

My first such examples were sepia tone photographs from Prague.  I fell in love with the mystery of the St. Charles Bridge.  I purchased these two moody portraits from a street vendor on the bridge.  I don’t remember what I paid for them but it couldn’t have been much.  It was 1997 and I just graduated college with no employment in sight…They originally hung above my sofa but now are featured in my master bathroom.  I think they really set a tone of mystery and intrigue…

Having enjoyed the St. Charles Bridge photos so much, on my next big trip to Europe in 2002 I picked up this poster from the Lorenzo Cascio Studio in Portofino.  I absolutely fell in love with the bronze relief doors that Lorenzo Cascio created for churches in Portofino and Santa Margherita on that trip.  I certainly couldn’t afford an original but when I stumbled into his studio and realized that he sold a few prints…I had to have this print of a horse for my collection.  There was something about that wild stallion, the colors, and the graphic bits that really spoke to me.  Again, I brought it home rolled up and had it framed stateside…

Jackpot!  During a trip to France in 2007 I found what I consider to be the bargain of the century.  Inside a typical souvenir store in the medieval town of Eze, France I found a pile of original illustrations from the 40’s or 50’s?  This was in the midst of my interior design education.  I was learning to draw perspective, rapid sketching techniques, and watercolor, pencil, and marker rendering skills.  That is probably why I was so drawn to these illustrations.  The detail, style, and loose charm radiates from each and every one of them.  Priced each under 10 Euros…I picked out the illustrations that demonstrated a place I had visited on this trip.  They were framed upon my return.  There are 11 in all and they now sit above my sofa…

Up close detail of the illustration that depicts the Moulin Rouge…such lovely colors and I love the “entourage” of people of the era in front…

Detail of another favorite spot in Paris…Plaza Vendome.  Again, love the people walking by for context, the automobiles, the reflection of the water from a rainy day…

Detail of the illustration that depicts the medieval town of Eze, in the South of France, where I found these loose illustrations…

During my 2007 trip to Buenos Aires I noticed a plethora of street artists and decided this would be an excellent memory of my trip.  While touring La Boca in Buenos Aires, which is known for being particularly touristy…likened to Pier 29 in San Francisco, I honed in on the best quality artwork that I could find.  This engraved piece by Dora Garraffo was much more expensive than my earlier purchases…around $100…but I felt it was worth it.  Only piece 8 of 10 it was more original and something about the relaxed nature of this curvy woman with great hair and fabulous shoes sitting on her red chair…I just couldn’t resist it.  Again, brought it home for framing with a silk border.

Also a part of the La Boca, Buenos Aires, Dora Garraffo acquisition was this charming little engraving depicting a couple tango dancing.  If you have been to Buenos Aires, you know that tango is everywhere and at around $40, I couldn’t let this piece go.  I intended to give it as a gift for Christmas that year but loved it so much that I kept it for my collection.  Framed here in California…

On my most recent adventure to Thailand in 2008, found this little treasure.  I actually found it in a tabletop and linen store in Chiang Mai referred from the Luxe Guide (I adore the Luxe Guides).  It is an original one of a kind piece by the store manager.  For about $100 I purchased this piece on canvas, already framed in wood.  The elephants spoke to me as we visited an elephant camp in the Golden Triangle.  I love elephants, but it made me a bit sad how they worked hard for tourists to ride on.  That is why I particularly love the elephants depicted here with wings flying above…

So, be your own curator.  Over time you can collect pieces that speak to you.  They might be prints, originals, textiles, folk art, etc, etc.  They might be from trips afar, trips closer to home, or by artists in your own city or home for that matter.  All that is important is that they mean something to you.

I had fun looking back down memory lane.  Thanks for letting me share my travel treasures with you.


Filed under Inspiration all around, My Style, Travel treasures

Galette des Rois

For 4 years now, I have the privledge of an invitation to a Galette des Rois party.  My hosts, Sara & Philippe, introduced me to the festival of Epiphany a with a delightful flaky pastry filled with frangipane that Sara, an accomplished pastry chef,  lovingly creates every year.  It has always been the celebration that I look forward to after the holidays to catch up with old friends and meet new friends.  Last night’s celebration was exceptional.

Imagine my delight when I received my favorite interior magazine import, “World of Interiors” and this month’s issue features a history of Galette des Rois.  Originally celebrated on the 6th of January, the Epiphany, or Festival of Kings symbolizes the 12 days of Christmas or the 12 days that it took the wise men to travel from Bethlehem to see the baby Jesus.  The King’s Cake season extends from the Epiphany to Mardi Gras day.  This festival is also a touch pagan, originating from ancient winter-solstice celebrations when the return of Pheobus, or the sun, began and banquets, religious rites, and debauchery were held in his honor.

A “feve“, originally a broad bean (symbolic of  an embryo, first sign of life after Winter, fertility, or new life) now a small trinket made from porcelain or plastic meant to represent the baby Jesus is hidden inside each cake.  The cake is sliced, one piece for each guest plus one slice to represent the “share of God”, “share of the Virgin Mary”, or “share of the poor” was originally intended for the first poor person to arrive at the party.  Whoever stumbles upon the feve is named King or Queen and gets to choose his/her consort.

There is a whole collectors market for the feves themselves in France.  The porcelain feve began in the 19th century and came from Germany until World War I when Limoges took over production.  Plastic feves came into favor in the 1940’s.  Collectors of feves are known as fabophiles in France.  A feve that dates before 1914 can fetch as much as 450 Euros!!!  Today top bakeries commission famous designers to design feves for their cakes, Christian Lacroix among them!  Fascinating!

Photos from “World of Interiors” January 2010 issue.  “Bean Feast” article by Marie-France Boyer.  Photography by Eric Morin.


Filed under Educational tidbits, Inspiration all around, Ooh la la

Cartier in America Delivers

I braved the crowds on December 27th at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco to see the “Cartier in America” exhibit.  Where to begin?

I was so inspired by the breadth of work on display and the intention and design exemplified within the pieces.  It was wonderful to see how much thought went into different ways the pieces are worn.  Many opulent diamond necklaces had large pendants that come off and can be worn as a brooch while the strands divide into two in order to be worn as bracelets.

Many inspiring pieces to behold…the mystery clocks, dozens of tiaras, tutti frutti necklaces, Grace Kelly’s engagement ring, Elizabeth Taylor’s diamond and ruby suite of jewelry…you really must see the exhibit in person.

A few standouts for me:

Evalyn Walsh McLean, ca 1932, wearing the Hope diamond with a diamond necklace and chain.  Ok, so obviously the Hope diamond is AMAZING but I’m especially LOVING this entire get-up on Ms. Evalyn…she looks FIERCE and timeless too…this photo is 80+ years old and still relevant today.

The exquisite Hope diamond now on display at The Smithsonian. Cartier cleverly designed the different shaped diamonds to surround the Hope diamond in order to camouflage the irregular shape of the Hope diamond.

Maria Felix, Mexican film star wearing many of her specially commissioned pieces.  I kind of love her…doesn’t she look like a BADa**?  The rumor goes that she brought a baby crocodile to the Paris store as a model for the necklace.

Maria’s crocodile necklace could work as two brooches or as a necklace.  I really love this concept of designing the pieces to break apart and serve multiple functions…so clever!  One is set with yellow diamonds with rubies for eyes and the other is emeralds with ruby eyes…exquisite!

Ahh…are diamonds a girl’s best friend?  Maybe not, but they sure don’t hurt!  These pieces are more than diamonds…they are art, history, and originality all wrapped into one…


Filed under Inspiration all around, Ooh la la

Holiday Wish List – Design Books

There are so many beautiful design books that have come out in the past year that I would love to have in my library.  They would be a great gift for any design enthusiast.  I think you might enjoy them!

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