Archive for October, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

interior inspirations — design luminary Alexa Hampton

The final speaker at Inte­rior Inspi­ra­tions in Old Lyme was world famous designer and busi­ness exec­u­tive Alexa Hampton. After her father's untimely death, she took the reins of Mark Hamp­ton LLC at the age of 28. In addi­tion to run­ning the com­pany and design­ing beau­ti­ful inte­ri­ors around the globe, Alexa also has devel­oped sig­na­ture prod­uct lines for Circa Light­ing, Hick­ory ChairKravet and Stark Car­pet. A busy woman indeed!

Alexa Hamp­ton at Old Lyme, CT

Her pre­sen­ta­tion focused on the evo­lu­tion of her parents' 1970s NYC apart­ments to her own home today. She traced the time travel of sev­eral beloved pieces of fur­ni­ture as they were rein­te­grated from home to home over forty years. Her take away advice — don't give up the pieces you truly love. Alexa reflected on how much her par­ents' design choices con­tinue to impact her own — she says she will always have a room with dark brown walls and white trim, a com­bi­na­tion she finds "effer­ves­cent".  Do you like or dis­like your par­ents' dec­o­rat­ing choices? Do you find them creep­ing into your life?

In review­ing client projects, she offered some sound advice regard­ing space plan­ning: "when you crack the logic on how a room should func­tion, don't change that when updat­ing. Rein­vent the room in other ways." Her advice on din­ing rooms, "most likely the least used room in the home", it's a good place to go over-the-top. Because din­ing rooms can often look uni­habited, she believes drap­ery is key to cre­at­ing coziness.

Alexa was a funny and engag­ing speaker, and I will admit I was so caught up in her pre­sen­ta­tion I stopped tak­ing notes! I think it was lovely she chose to travel to Old Lyme to raise money for Child & Fam­ily Agency of South­east­ern CT. She was gra­cious enough to sign her book and take pic­tures with atten­dees, and design junkie that I am, how could I resist? 

Myself and Alexa Hampton

The book is won­der­ful, by the way — I encour­age you to indulge!

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Monday, October 25, 2010

part 3: interior design is about…happiness

It was a plea­sure to meet and learn from renowned inte­rior designer and author Alexan­dra Stod­dard this past week­end. She began her design career in 1963 under the tute­lage of none other than Eleanor McMillen Brown — a pio­neer of 20th cen­tury inte­rior design. Alexan­dra came to adopt this maxim from Mrs. Brown: "if you love beauty and cre­ate it for your­self and oth­ers, you will live a long and happy life." Mrs. Brown lived to 100!

Still believ­ing beauty is "spir­i­tual and uplift­ing", Alexan­dra even­tu­ally moved away from prac­tic­ing inte­rior design to writ­ing about liv­ing a beau­ti­ful life. She believes hap­pi­ness is "self-diagnosed" and should be incor­po­rated by every­one into their daily lives. She advo­cates that an inte­rior designer's first goal should be to "step into their clients' per­sonal lives and try to make them hap­pier." I could not agree more!

Alexan­dra Stoddard

Alexan­dra believes that "so many peo­ple have trou­ble find­ing them­selves in their own homes" because they dec­o­rate for oth­ers. She men­tioned a client whose favorite color was red, a color she used to define her own personality, but red was com­pletely miss­ing from her home. When pressed, the client admit­ted her mother-in-law did not like red. For most peo­ple, only 5% of their homes' usage is ded­i­cated to enter­tain­ing. The Stod­dard credo embraces the idea of dec­o­rat­ing for fam­ily, not the 5%!

Another won­der­ful maxim: "your home should be an auto­bi­og­ra­phy". For many peo­ple, it's dif­fi­cult to keep that top of mind, or maybe it's sim­ply too reveal­ing? Mrs. Stod­dard rec­om­mends keep­ing per­sonal and pub­lic spaces strictly sep­a­rated. Pri­vate spaces are not for the con­sump­tion of visitors.

Above all, Alexan­dra advo­cates hap­pi­ness: "peo­ple will run bare­foot in a bliz­zard to be with you if you are happy at home". Inte­rior design should reflect your inner soul and every aspect should hold a deep per­sonal mean­ing for you. Keep your home cur­rent with the things you love today. It's okay for things to change — those that made you happy 20 years ago may not be the same today, or 20 years from now because you and your fam­ily grow and evolve.

From an author of 27 books on liv­ing a beau­ti­ful and happy life, one final bit of advice. "Make your life sub­lime". Words of wis­dom we can all try to emulate.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

interior inspirations — design luminary Larry Laslo

The Inte­rior Inspi­ra­tion design event in Old Lyme fea­tured some amaz­ing speak­ers. First up, the inim­itable Larry Laslo. Inte­rior designer, artist, fur­ni­ture and fab­ric designer — his work is world-renowned. His pre­sen­ta­tion "The World Accord­ing to Larry Laslo" was funny and irrev­er­ent, and spoke to so many of the issues every designer faces. He showed slides of his own home, which he admits is atyp­i­cally neu­tral. He feels after spend­ing all day work­ing with color, his eyes need to rest when he's home. He favors fresh flow­ers and gigan­tic leaves for touches of color and life at home. An easy idea for all of us to emulate!

Laslo believes in "wild eclec­ti­cism". "It's all in the mix", he says, and "all [one] period rooms are bor­ing". He dis­cussed many of the homes fea­tured on his website, with funny anec­dotes and insider tid­bits about each. "Matchy matchy is a car­di­nal sin!" — another design mantra to live by!

Laslo's Kips Bay Show House 2006 black & white suite

Laslo's advice for doing a show house space: do what you love, let your imag­i­na­tion run wild, and "bor­row big"!

client home in Aspen by Larry Laslo

Laslo inset this sculp­ture into the wood­work for a client in Aspen. The client insists the sculp­ture is a woman, while Laslo strongly dis­agrees "unless it's Venus Williams".

Other invalu­able advice from Laslo: you can't go wrong with white patent leather in the bath­room or espe­cially in the din­ing room — "a run­away meat­ball can be cleaned up with windex". And "hid­ing the tv is like putting a doll with a hoop skirt over the toi­let paper roll". Every­one has one and every­one uses it — no sense in hid­ing it!

Dur­ing the Q&A, I asked if he had ever fired a client and if so why. He said yes he had — because he had taken them to see a chan­de­lier ("very rea­son­able around $12,000"), and the next day the clients went to the shop and tried to buy it cash for less from the shop owner. The shop owner informed Laslo, one of his own biggest clients. Larry asked the clients the next day if they had ever worked with a designer before. They replied "yes" and he told them "you'd bet­ter dig out their card because we're done".  Even the biggest names in the busi­ness have to deal with peo­ple dis­re­spect­ful of the process.

Sharon and I with the amaz­ing Larry Laslo

There were so many wit­ti­cisms through­out the talk, I couldn't type them fast enough. Suf­fice to say he was a delight to meet and lis­ten to and his rooms are sheer inspi­ra­tion. Browse his web­site for some amaz­ing spaces!

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

interior inspirations showcase

As an inte­rior designer, I am always look­ing for inspi­ra­tion. It can be found in many places and many forms, but one that never fails is a designer showcase. I love to see what oth­ers in my field are doing and show­ing, what sto­ries they are telling. This week­end in Old Lyme, Inte­rior Inspi­ra­tions fea­tured eight area designer vignettes, along with a land­scape artists' exhibition and sale at the Lyme Art Asso­ci­a­tion. A won­der­ful bonus were the speak­ers — includ­ing world-renowned inte­rior design­ers Larry Laslo and Alexa Hamp­ton. More on them in the next post.

With­out reveal­ing too much, these are my favorite high­lights from the show:

vin­tage french sofa in Quadrille ikat by han­nah childs

mys­te­ri­ous red shoes in the gar­den room by larry hamre

antiqued mir­ror glam­our by pimlico

The show­case con­tin­ues tomor­row and ben­e­fits Child & Fam­ily Agency of South­east­ern CT.

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