Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Color Cues: The Color to Watch!

Every couple of years, a color family emerges from obscurity and becomes the hit of fashion. Several years ago it was the brown family, predicted to be a major player in the bed and bath market for 2005 - and it was already in 2003 and still plays a major role.

Today, keep your eyes on the gray family. At Color Marketing Group, we began talking about grays several years ago, and now, like the browns of the past, it's THE color family to have in your collections.

Funny thing about gray - it is considered to be a "perfect neutral" because there's a gray to work with every other color imaginable. We saw that in evidence at Heimtextil last January as Deb and I walked the miles and miles of aisles.

One of my favorite combinations was the pairing of gray with the purple family - another color family to keep an eye on. Deep charcoal or pale gray, with deep plum or soft lavender - together they made a sophisticated and upscale statement.

Think about this - a midtone gray might be the perfect solution when you want to use black, but don't want the power of black to dominate. You get the look, the feel, without the dominance.

I also liked how the metallic version - silver - added life and sparkle to so many fabrics. It was everywhere!

It's been said that gray is a color family we gravitate to when we need comfort - and I think of gray flannel - one of my favorite shirts (now long worn out!) was a gray cotton flannel plaid with soft gray, black, and a thin red line. Loved it. And, it was comforting to wear. Maybe we need more of that today.

See you next month on the next Color Cues!

Bruce Knott

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Design Icon: Elsie De Wolfe

I would be remiss if I let Women's month go by without paying a little tribute to the fearless women interior designers that have come before us and paved the way.

Interior Decoration as we know it all started with Elsie de Wolfe
( 1865-1950)

A devotee of amateur theatricals, she turned to stage after father’s death, but retired early after a lackluster career. It could have been the rumors that her Paris couture was better received than her acting. Borrowing on her flair for the dramatic, Elsie created an occupation where none existed- Decorating. Through her society connections she was awarded the commission for the Colony Club in New York City. The Trellis Room at the Club “made” her. She is still known today for her latticework creations and wanting painting furniture white at the height of the dark and gloomy Victorian Era.

The Colony Club Trellis Room

Three things helped advance her career; her success as a set designer; her society connections; her own house’s decoration. In 1913 she wrote a series of articles for Good Housekeeping and they were complied into a book, The House in Good Taste. A longtime Francophile (no wonder I admire her) she used the rules of French architecture to collaborate on several houses integrating both disciplines with her mentor Ogden Coleman.
The small world of early 19th century society and Coleman connected to another first lady of Decoration- Edith Wharton. The design network continued when she discovered Tony Duquette. Drawn to his extravagant furniture, she commissioned pieces from him to disguise the lack of architecture in her projects that are still sought after today.

Her Hallmarks
Wolfe believed 18th century France was the peak of civilization and exemplified it in her beloved Villa Trianon. She treated houses as living, breathing things to be cherished. Wolfe is credited with creating the concept of decorating for a lifestyle- the art of living. There have been decorators as innovative as her; but she was the first to sell a concept. Elsie’s houses reflected a connoisseur's knowledge of the past that were always nothing but chic and luxurious.White’s style principles shone through in her interiors- simplicity, airiness; visual unity. Her favorite color scheme was green, white and black and a signature was her bathrooms that looked like sitting rooms.

Wolfe’s Style Iconography
Treillage ~Painted Furniture ~Rock Crystal ~Tented Ceilings ~Mirrors ~Trompe l’oeil
Awning Stripes ~Glass topped tables ~Writing desks and Secretarys ~Chaise Lounges
Chinoserie ~Campaign Furniture

Her Stylistic Heirs
Tony Duquette ~ Charles Faudree ~ Syrie Maugham
Whose style(s) are you heir to? Let me know.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Barbie Turns 50 At Her Real Life Malibu Dream House

Taking time out from her many demanding careers — astronaut, rap artist, Unicef ambassador, Marine Corps sergeant, air hostess, paediatrician, firewoman and politician Barbara Millicent Roberts- better known as Barbie- will take centre stage on Monday, March 9th at her real life Malibu Dream House to celebrate her 50th Birthday.
Decorating Barbie's real-world dream home, a 3,500-square-foot pad overlooking the Pacific Ocean, that will be the site of Monday's of a star-studded soiree was a dream for interior designer extraordinaire Jonathan Adler. Adler, who was commissioned by toy maker Mattel Inc. to decorate the house, said outfitting the sleek mansion (a property that's frequently rented for film and photography shoots) took six months of planning and a few weeks to install.
"I think this really is Barbie's Malibu Dream House because the setting is so incredibly dreamy and ethereal," Adler said. "We're perched on a cliff in Malibu overlooking the ocean. It's a fantasyland for anyone. It was difficult to find the house to celebrate Barbie's 50th birthday because it had to be the ultimate Malibu house, and I think we found it."

He said Mattel gave him access to the company's archives, including a look at all of Barbie's various dream homes over the years. "Barbie was a dream client because she doesn't exist as a person," Adler said. "She exists as fantasy and is the perfect client because she's always happy and fun and loves everything. I thought to myself, 'How would Barbie live?' What I thought was Barbie would have a house that is glamorous, kittenish, chic, colorful and happy — as well as functional."

Adler lined Barbie's bedroom with wall-to-wall pink carpeting emblazoned with her initial. The closet is filled with 50 pairs of pink peep-toe heels while her kitchen is stocked with cupcake-making ingredients. An in-house museum features 25 vintage Barbie dolls on display. In the garage? A pink Volkswagen New Beetle with a motorized pop-up vanity in the trunk.

Following the festivities, most of Barbie's custom decor will be shipped to the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas to furnish a special pink-tinted Barbie Suite that will be available for bachelorette parties, birthdays or anyone who wants to live like Barbie. Other items will be available from the "Jonathan Adler Loves Barbie" collection launching in September.

Adler's favorite furnishings are hanging in the living room: an original Andy Warhol portrait of Barbie valued at over $200,000 and a chandelier — designed by "Project Runway" contestant Chris March — that's made up of over 30 blond wigs and took more than 60 hours to craft. Adler also admires a one-of-a-kind black-and-white wall mirror created with 64 dolls.

So where's Ken? "Ken's around, but does she need Ken?" said Adler. "No."
Of course not, this is a woman who has played muse to Oscar de la Renta, Giorgio Armani, run for President and owns her own flying horse .

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The F Word

March is National Women’s History month and in honor of that, TrendSpot be posting with the F word in mind… Female that is-Femimine, Fashionistas, Feministas. We’ll highlight independent women that are redefining where and how we were living and other atypical interiors. We’ll pass on random acts of feminism- marketing, PR, socializing, etc. We’ll explore the EVE-o-lution trend in consumerism and interiors from all angles; and give you the back story on women design icons both past and present.

Stay Tuned and spread the word!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Business Of Design: James Swan's Great Idea

We're all about niche marketing here at TrendSpot. California interior designer James Swan's "After Care" program is a unique take on using a niche to create another revenue model for your business. Conceived when a customer mentioned to James that they had no idea about what was entailed in continuing care of what James' calls -the physical plant. The client commented that he didn't have a clue about how to handle the post project management in their new home. “Because I am a people pleaser, I said it’s done; we’ll take care of It “, says Swan. They started looking at the idea and realized this is not a unique experience and because we work with people who have fairly substantial properties this could be a great opportunity. Unique clients aside; each home is different. One might have polished brass hardware that needs to be hand polished three times a year and the house next door might have polished nickel that patinas on its own. Plus, Swan realized there are still gray areas about who does what and when- even if you have staff. Out of that conversation grew the after care program. The program is separate from his design scope of services. He uses it as a talking point when interviewing for a project. Swan hasn’t expanded the program beyond his existing client base, but acknowledges there certainly is a market for it.
Here’s how it works:

· Be clear about what ongoing care, upkeep and needs there are. Then quantify it by doing a through project and services inventory
· Use the All your Eggs in One Basket approach. Comb the property for items and system needs that need at least once a year then create your scope of services list from that.
· Present a proposal to clients in a face-to-face individually crafted to their needs and offering them options of doing it all, something in between or nothing.
· Present a contract that provides scheduling of tradespeople and craftsman, onsite supervision to make sure the project is understood and done correctly and follow-up including picture perfect cleanup.
· The client pays the craftsmen directly and you bill the client the supervision fees.

Sound interesting? Are there AfterCare products or services you can add to your scope of services?