January 24, 2014:

Design Truths Vol. 2395

I swear to god I really do plan to be less introspective come February. Mercury is almost in retrograde so it can stop spinning my head the wrong way any time now.

Thank you for all your wonderful feedback the last week on the blog it's been great and I am truly enjoying the conversations we are having here, fb and twitter. After being in this business for almost 20 years, it is easy to become jaded and so you have to push beyond and try on a different viewpoint.

I came across this quote - is it even a quote I can't really say. It's a truth and it struck a chord so I wanted to share it.

It's why I am frustrated with popular media's rush to designate the status of expert at will. I think of my son who at the age of 4 is already trying to be perfect at things he's just been introduced. What sort of benchmark are we setting if he must achieve expert status in order to be considered worthy of attention or to get ahead in life at the outset of acquiring a new skill? When I go to trade shows and people want to talk to me about how I got into TV because they think that THAT will set them on the road to success in their business and then I deal them the blow of a life time - I get more work from my efforts in Social Media than I ever got from being on TV.

There IS a gap. I look back to the work I was doing when I transitioned from teacher to full time designer.

Oh my sweet Jesus it was bad.  Okay I cringe about some of the work I did because I made stupid mistakes. The clients were thrilled and I'm being overly critical of myself but HOLY HELL I put DACRON FILLS in silk pillows for Shizzle! I tried to cut corners and upholstered squares to be hung on the wall to create a backboard of sorts - MYSELF - I hang my head in shame for all the things I did to try and save a few bucks for the clients because it WASN'T WORTH IT. I venetian plastered an entire great room and kitchen/breakfast room in TERRACOTTA ORANGE plaster and then I hand painted grapevines.... 


That GAP was rather large.

I am in impatient person. I had a disagreement with my husband the other night because I was being irrational and he forced me to really take stock of how far we have come in the last 7-8 years. All the mistakes we have corrected in our process and how we've overcome some rather catastrophic setbacks. The danger of believing your own hype sometimes is much like a sugar high. It feels so good to get acclaim and recognition but then when you compare it to your own reality, your own bank account, your client roster and work load sometimes they don't jive which causes you to crash a bit. I remember the first time our store was published in a magazine and I was asked to appear on their tv show. I was so busy high fiving myself and certain that this was going to be the wind our sails needed to really get going and it was AWESOME and then nothing happened. Sure a few people would tell us they saw us in this magazine or that one but did it make a huge difference to our business  - no it didn't. What did however, hard work, introspection, asking ourselves the truly hard questions and facing the answers. A commitment to doing the work it would take to get better, work smarter and an openness to learn. 

We are still not to where I want us to be but my new focus is on enjoying the journey and celebrating the small accomplishments. Getting love letters from clients who find pictures of their befores and are blown away all over again by the transformation almost two years later. Having dinner in the homes we've helped to create and seeing how much the owner is truly reflected in the design we fashioned after them. Celebrating a new addition to their family be it a puppy or a baby or attending their wedding. These are rich and soulful connections we are forging here. I think we've closed the gap and there is still a lot of work ahead but there is a lot of love and laughter and beauty here too.

Just want to update and say that this quote comes from Ira Glass and if you want to hear him talk about it there is a link HERE.

January 23, 2014:

Design Trends - The Canadian Edition & A #TCHFM42 Summary

If you follow me on instagram, you'll have noticed that I was snapping pictures up all over the place at #TCHFM42 just over a week ago. The show is basically Canada's Highpoint Market. It is 1/10 the size of Highpoint which is probably in line with our significantly smaller population here in Canada.

There were some amazing surprises by Canadian vendors which I was pleased to see and there were definitely some misses. Furniture is definitely an All You Can Eat Buffet - something for everyone. A couple of trends to start with that I wasn't thrilled to see - I call them the Knock Off Experts. I didn't spot any of these items because that's not original and my goal was to try and find local, original artisans and furniture pieces. My other goal was to try and find patterns and colour that spoke to me and it was sadly lacking. I am not sure why Canadians are so afraid of colour. I also don't get the Industrial Chic fascination or the Abandoned Belgian Farmhouse look of natural coloured linen which is NOT going to be family friendly. It's budget friendly only. No soul.

Fortunately, there were pieces that shone and I would MUCH rather focus on these but first a side note:

It's #IDS14 this week in Toronto. The Interior Design Show. I should be thrilled. So many amazing things to see but I'm just not that into it. Year after year, it's the same people, the same displays, the same lack of pattern or decorative pieces. Artisans all tend toward the masculine - more bent plywood than you can shake a stick at. There are kitchens and baths but I already know that they are fabulous. There is a distinct lack of cache and soul. Why aren't brands small and large teaming up with designers who use them regularly and to great success to help design these booths or concept spaces? Why are we not showcasing actual working designers instead of the same ol' same oles or worse yet, bringing in foreign born designers and showcasing them?? I mean sure it's nice to bring in someone new from outside of Canada under say an Icon Series but why are we ignoring the workhorses in our industry that keep our trades and brands in business? This has bothered me for years and it's why I can't bring myself to A) spend the money to go to the Gala B) muster up the energy to get myself down there. Last year I did a tweet up/Instagram walkabout with Masco Corporation which was amazing. I know it costs big bucks to display there but I really think there should be some sort of initiative that pairs up a designer with an exhibitor to GENUINELY showcase Interior Design talent to everyone. Then it would be a MUST attend event. You would want to scope out each booth to see what X came up with on behalf of that brand!! I mean how incredible would that be for everyone involved??!!!!

I also think that the #TCHFM should do the same. The Van Gogh showroom was made over and expanded with the help of designers Glen & Jamie and it was a significant improvement. Just about every showroom and booth could follow VanGogh's lead on that one.

I should update this to say that two of my favourite brands reached out to me to join them in IDS activities and because of my relationship with each of them, I'm attending.  I had a long chat with one of their reps yesterday about this very blog post and she was in full agreement. #IDSToronto MUST change. I found out from my husband that we had to pay for Trade Day tickets this year. That is utterly ridiculous. Terrible value if you ask me after paying for Gala night. They won't even let brands offer a bar in their booths like they do in Europe. Shameful. I wonder if I should wear a black armband to mourn all the design that won't be represented at #IDSToronto this year? A bit morbid I know but extreme points of view are often needed in order to achieve a change even a small one. I am okay with this.

I'm still obsessed with Spikes. I love this interpretation of a sputnik by Renwil.

The Wave Chair. THE MOST COMFORTABLE DINING CHAIR I HAVE EVER SAT IN. I think this must be the chair that Anne who used to work with us raved about to me after visiting the show one year. It fits her description. It was insanely comfortable. I'm not so fussed by the overall look of it - not gonna lie it's a pretty predictable modern chair - but the comfort takes it to a whole other level. They should hire me to help refine the look and update it a bit. Imagine it with brass legs? Right? You're feeling me now yes..... TRICA call me!!!

Hexagon, Octagon I don't really distinguish between either I love them equally. I am wondering if this mirror will work in my bathroom...... Have you seen my sneak peeks on instagram?

I love how tailored Van Gogh has transformed this sofa. It used to be a bit frumpier and this update is way more my thing. It goes to show you that their are a lot of gems to be found in shows that you may look past. The key is to NOT CHARGE people to attend them. Then you get what you get. However, when you start to charge people to attend, it's imperative that you wow. Enough of the all modern, all contemporary, architecturally driven design shows - let's see one that incorporates all aspects of design & decoration. That strives to include the traditional, the transitional with the modern and the contemporary. Let's see more collaboration and celebrate our talent base. That's a show I want to be a part of.

January 21, 2014:

Fashion Design Mash Up

I don't usually do these but sometimes I see an outfit that reminds me of something Design-y or vice versa. I see a room that reminds me of an outfit I've seen.

Love it when that happens. I've tried to hunt for them in the past but I always prefer when I get a sudden lightbulb moment of sorts.

I wonder what Freud would say about my love of all things Urchin when it comes to design and well now fashion.

I could write a book on my love for spikey things except for hair I'm not really a fan of spiked hair. I also don't really love the spikey trend on clothes and shoes. I think it's because my mom threatened me with untold horrors if I ever decided to become a punk rocker in my teens. I was such a good kid (expect at the age of 14 when I HEAR I was a total bitch for a year - I don't really believe it. I was there and I was totally cool...)

Anyway, here's a lil spike love.


Not sure who Lily Rabe is but her dress is fabulous. Then I realized why I loved it.

Reminded me of the Lumiere Chandelier by Jean De Merry seen here in Ashley Stark's apartment for Elle Decor. I really never get sick of it. Better yet, Jean De Merry let me into their showroom on a Saturday in LA when they were closed just so I could poke around. Sigh. SO much beauty.

Then I saw this shot from Harper's Bazaar which made me think of...

A lil Franz Kline anyone? I've always loved this room by Ralph Lauren Home. Sexy. Though I will say it needs a smattering of colour.

January 21, 2014:

Artist Spotlight: George Zimbel

George Zimbel is an American born photographer who lives in his city of choice, Montreal. He is also the father of my brother in law. I knew that my  BIL's dad was a photographer when I first started dating my husband but didn't realize that he was present at a VERY fateful photoshoot until a few years later.

I went to a design consultation that was arranged through my office once and arrived to a condo that had the most amazing gallery wall of photography I have ever seen. I remarked at the collection and the clients told me that they were mostly their prized Zimbels. I immediately perked up and said "George Zimbel?" They responded enthusiastically "YES!" When I told them he was my BIL's father they practically swooned. Their art collection was enviable including some on loan to V&A in London - I was very chuffed that they were so chuffed by our association. Ironically, ten years with my husband I've yet to actually meet my BIL's father but I am a huge fan of his work despite this.

Check out George's work HERE. Rumour has it there is going to be a sharp price increase in the coming months. You will find his artwork EXTREMELY affordable given the subject matter and the work itself.

Here's a little taste of my favourites - you will quickly see why I'm a big fan...!

Marilyn, The Flower. (Yes. THAT Marilyn Series) Sept 11,1954

Marilyn, The Crotch.

Space Babies Jones Beach New York, 1959

Pat Nixon, 1960

The baby is my brother in law. he he he

The Queen Mum! 1964

Helen Keller at Harvard, 1956

and my favourite.... Jacqueline and John Kennedy, New York 1960.

January 19, 2014:

And I’m Back!!!!!

Palm Springs and Desert were divine. My new past time is going to be looking up real estate listings for the area and finding myself a new vacation home/ California Office perhaps? Spent a brief nanosecond it seems in Minneapolis working with the best of the best creative wise talk about my mind being blown to round out the week.

My travel card, she's rather full. Upcoming trips to Vegas (#BlogtourVegas), NYC, North Carolina and Boston. I look forward to design clients in any if not all of these areas. I love working with adventurous types or those who aspire to be adventurous. Those who may feel the fear but do it anyway because they know it will be great. Even better if they surmise it will be but are then blown away by the eventual outcome.

Mercury slides into retrograde the beginning of February and as per usual I'm already feeling it however this time around it's a bit different. I'm feeling way more introspective than usual and a bit discombobulated (is that how that's spelled I'm too lazy to check).  It almost feels like one long out of body experience.

Had the occasion to spend some leisure time with two very experienced designers in the last two weeks. Different ends of the spectrum but WOW did both bring a wealth of industry knowledge and inference. It was really great to be able to share and reflect with you Mary and John. You've both honed such a craft and are artists. Learning lots from each of you. Over the next year my goal is to really focus on Design as a Craft and if you're into words that drive you (not really my conscious thing but I definitely do have words that buzz in my head as mini goals) let's talk more about honing the craft, bespoke, artisan, craftsmanship and soulful. These are the descriptors that I want associated with my work. Passion with purpose and intent.

This year I am championing such things as craftsmanship, the bespoke, artistry, design as a craft that needs to be honed. I think that as a community we should celebrate the rising stars among us and mentor. For those who are new to the industry, it is important to remember that honing one's craft takes time and a lot of mistakes. A LOT. Instant success is just that instant. Your goal should not be to be a flash in the pan but rather a slow rolling boil. Simmer. There is much to learn in simmering. I love that word and the way it rolls off your tongue.

And for that matter remember that if are going to form an opinion, base it on fact and relationship. Do not rush to judgment. Knowing when to defer an opinion, a decision and knowing when to act are a sign of a true professional. I know it drives my team crazy when I won't commit to all of the items in a space but the same can be said for so many other things in this business. Even when I'm putting a space together, knowing all the facts or waiting until more of a scheme has come together is essential. I can't make an informed decision if the key pieces are missing even just one. The same is true for people. Knowing how and when to read between the lines is probably one of my greatest secret weapons. It shouldn't be overlooked or discounted.

And for heaven's sake stay the hell away from any band wagons. Radiant Orchid or otherwise.

Do your best and know that there will be slings and arrows along the way. They'll slide off you, but often they will show you more than you may realize.

What the hell was in the water in California (see also that my hair has never been curlier than it was in the Desert)????

We are camped out at my inlaws until this bad boy is finished. Few structural issues needed to be resolved (house built in 1856 this was SO anticipated). But let's just love on the marble shall we?

This happened in Minneapolis.

Thank you to Domaine for including my foyer in their feature about making a great entrance. This was an amazing surprise to come home to. I would also like to thank the Toronto Sun and Marcy Cornblum for THIS generous feature on my work and my house.

And I'd like to close on two pictures that found their way to my phone from my dear friend and colleague Courtney. It is my not so secret pleasure to be able to mentor him. I so very much appreciate the trust he places in me and how his questions challenge me to rethink my own process.

Design by: Courtney Lake

It is a privilege to watch his work grow with each project and to know that I have been fortunate enough to help shape and challenge his process. He is for certain a rising talent and is hungry to learn and grow and isn't afraid to do the work necessary. Here's to celebrating that!!!

Design by: Courtney Lake