Forget holiday shopping, the mall, or Soho, this weekend: Opt for an unforgettable musical experience.

I’d been planning to head up to The Cloister’s, the Metropolitan Museum’s exquisite uptown outpost, for months. I knew that visiting the former Benedictine monastery, originally from the Pyrenees, with its covered walkways and  large open courtyard, in full autumnal color would be ideal.  I had already been told that hearing The Forty Part Motet was an experience I couldn’t miss.

Instead I waited until the last minute (the presentation closes Sunday).

I went today. There was heavy fog, like a billowing white pillow, hanging quietly over the Hudson River. The trees were utterly bare. It was perfect.

Walking into the 12th-century Spanish Fuentidueña Chapel to experience the first presentation of contemporary art – ever – at the Cloisters, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had heard about visitors weeping, and that many were returning at a rate of twice a week. The “Motet” had become the “it” event of the season and I was here 3-days before it closed. I entered the space and felt  literally enveloped by the sounds of the 11-minute repeating loop that immerses visitors into a sea of voices, each one part of the astonishing whole. The music is heard via 40 speakers that encircle the chapel in an oval configuration, placed  that way intentionally  by the  multimedia artist Janet Cardiff, who created this presentation for the 40 voices of the Salisbury Cathedral Choir, when they performed the piece in 2001. She has said that the oval speaker placement contributes to a kind of sculptural effect, her own architectural way of breaking down and then adding together the choral voices to achieve a new experience.

The renaissance choral composition from the late 1500s was destined for the Cloisters. The acoustics of the chapel, with it’s soaring ceiling and ancient arches, allows for everything to align perfectly.  In this place the music is a transcendent experience.

Just listen. Look around at the faces. Eyes closed. In awe. It will happen to you too.

You’ve only got a few days. Do whatever it takes to get there.

September 10 – December 8

Fort Tryon Park, New York, N.Y.
212-923-3700

Hechizoo: Voyages/Explorations. Lustrous textiles pay homage to Amazonian nature at Cristina Grajales Gallery

Hechizoo, a Spanish word that translates to “bewitch” is an apt description for the vibe at last week’s opening of the show Voyages /Explorations. Everyone seemed spellbound by the visual extravaganza on display at the Cristina Grajales Gallery. Colorful tableaus included vividly hued textiles, glittering metal leaves,  even a canoe, every inch of it clad with glass beads, hung from the ceiling.  Grajales, curator and connoisseur of all things unexpected, beautiful and meaningful, in the realm of twentieth century and contemporary design, has dazzled us again.

The exhibition features hand-made pieces by the artisans working at the Bogota, Colombia, based Hechizoo studio. The exhibition is about a journey – literal and symbolic – of the people who live amongst the flora and fauna of the Amazonian landscape; one that tells a story about the jungle that is a powerful part of life there.

I first saw copper weavings in Grajales’ back gallery, some years ago, and was struck by their beauty. I vowed to try and write about Hechizoo. I never did make it to Bogotá to see the artisans at work. I never forgot about them either. Thankfully, Grajales persevered, building her connection with Jorge Lizarazo, the studio’s founder, and kept her support of Hechizoo strong, so that architects and designers around the world now know of their work.

Lizarazo, a self-taught weaver, comes to textiles via architecture, having once worked in the offices of Santiago Calatrava and Massimiliano Fuksas.

Today sixty artisans work full-time at Hechizoo to produce custom made textiles for rugs, upholstery, window treatments and architectural meshes. What defines the work, and makes it so distinctive, is its innovative approach to the weaving of disparate materials: Mixing indigenous organic fibers such as “figue” (a woven rope- like material) with man made materials such as nylon, metal, leather, silk, horse hair, cotton, and copper. The resulting textiles and objects are light reflective and ethereal.

Lizarazo and his team make certain that the level of Hechizoo’s craftsmanship be extremely high-level. Esteemed architect Peter Marino has commissioned pieces for Fendi’s Manhattan flagship store. And one can see Hechizoo in Chanel and Dior.

The exhibition is on view until Jan. 31, 2014.

Cristina Grajales Gallery, 10 Greene st. 4th fl 212-219-9941

www.cristinagrajales.com

A new riff on a traditional form in Philadelphia

When artist Alexander Stadler opened his jewel-box-sized shop a little more than a year ago, near Rittenhouse Square,  in Center City Philadelphia, anyone who knew Stadler was sure it wouldn’t be ordinary. Think of the shop, Stadler Kahn as a well curated  “five & dime”  one featuring cool objects rather than safety pins or baseballs. He sells textiles of his own design, along with furniture, vintage items, art, and all kinds of indescribable unexpected “object,”(pronounced ob-jay”). Stadler, an author/illustrator has authored several children’s books that reveal his whimsical, off-beat take on life. The shop’s point of view expresses this as well.

Tonight, an exhibition of truly unusual hand made doilies, by artist and dancer, Asimina Chremos will open to the public. The show, Neo-Doilies,  is the first solo exhibition by Chremos.

Stadler flipped for her work because of its whimsical quality, which he compares to music: “Chremos’ work, like a jazz riff on a standard, reveals what is possible when a classical structure is toyed with and subverted.  Her work exemplifies the most elevated form of play.”

Chremos brings her  appreciation for free movement and improvisation to her crochet work.  Working without a pattern, she discovers the form organically as she works with the material, although she uses traditional crochet technique.

Asimina was first exposed to the crocheting craft at an early age.  Her mother worked in weaving, spinning and other fiber art, and her grandmothers – though from starkly different backgrounds (one was a native rural Virginian and one first generation Greek) – both did crochet.  Under their guidance, she grew an inherent sense for the feminine traditions of household order, and an appreciation for the loving the creation of crocheted afghans and doilies for domestic space.  She now does crochet-work for several hours each day.

THE COLLECTION:

There are nine pieces in Neo-Doilies, ranging from $340-$460.   Freeform and distinct, these biomorphic, sprawling “drawings in movement and thread” vibrate and draw the eye no matter where or how they are displayed.

Asimina uses a small hook – size 10 or 12 – for her crochet-work.  She uses a size 20 thread, which is intentionally on the larger end to allow her work to be delicate yet with a pleasing sturdiness.  To finish each piece, she weaves the ends of the threads back in, then soaking in water and stretching out on a cardboard box with pins.  This process is called “blocking”.  Once dry, she un-pins, irons and starches to create the finished doily.

Opening: Thursday, November 7th, 2013

6:00PM – 8:30PM

November 7th– December 12

1724 Sansom Street (beneath Joseph Fox Books)

Philadelphia, PA 19103

(267) 242-715

www.stadler-kahn.com.

My 9 ‘finds” – 1stdibs at NYDC – last night attending Mario Buatta & Ellie Cullman booksigning party

Last night I attended an event at the New York Design Center. It was a night to toast design legends, Mario Butta and Ellie Cullman, who were there participating in a book signing. The night was sponsored by another iconic player in the design industry:  1stdibs.com and as always, when these events take place on the 10th floor of  NYDC, it’s a chance to see literally thousands of gorgeous objects, vintage and otherwise, that are on display in 33,000-square feet of space. Here items are on sale from over 54 1stdibs® dealers from around the country, as well as a few international dealers

I love looking online as much as anyone, but as a design devotee there’s always an extra thrill seeing things close up; it’s an experience all its own. Of course it makes you want said items even more! I wandered the various showrooms and found some pesonal favorites that I’d like to own. Get ready — last night’s items are surprisingly diverse. From orange velvet chairs with fringe on the bottom, (which Mario Buatta also selected as one of his ‘finds’) to leather and wood campaign stools, to a charming and very cool French desk lamp, that is a simple and perfectly designed.  There are  always a lot of great items up there, so that’s the point of  making it up to the 10th floor, the range of items is vast.

My picks last night:

1. A pair of low back armchairs upholstered in orange velvet with fringe. $5200.Booth 47

2. A pair of mid century Grosfelt House 43 ” slipper chairs/settees Circa 1950s $8500, Booth 36

3. A pair of brass & crystal andirons, 1960-70. $3500. Booth 48

4. French modernist balancing swing arm sconce, 1950s. $3800. Booth 54

5. Fantastically colorful, with a bold graphic pattern, Limoges porcelain plates in a limited edition.

6. T.H. Robsjohn Gibbings leather slipper chairs, 1950s. $15,500. Booth 53

7. A Pietra Dura box with inlay spider, $525. Harris Kratz.

8. Cocotte Diablo desk lamp, 1950s. $1500. Booth 54

9. A pair of campaign stools by Cleo Baldon for Terra furniture, 1970s. $6200. Booth 45.

NYDC – 200 Lexington Ave, NY, NY.

We’re Proud: A Designer Previews Interior Designer gets another big award

At Designer Previews we’ve always been proud of the talented group of interior designers and architects we represent; but we tend not to brag. But, today, I can’t help but share good wishes to one of our — and the world’s– favorite interior designers: The uber talented Jamie Drake. For me to shine the right light, I guess it should have a lavender hue, to spread some wondrous color around, so “think” lavender, please. You see, Jamie has never seen a color he doesn’t love. Well, especially if it’s purple.

Tonight, those bon vivants lucky enough to be attending the Fashion Group International Galaxy 30th anniversary awards, with super stars March Jacobs and Robert Duffy, you’ll be on hand to see Jamie receive the award for interior design. He’s in great company, among other recipients, for fashion, are Alexander Wang, Angela Missoni and Christopher Kane.

This is hardly the first award for Jamie. He’s received oodles of them and has been on every “best” list ever printed. He’s been at this for 30 years ( or is it more?!) and he deserves it all.

Jamie  knew from a young age that design was his calling; choosing to study at Parsons and The New School, in NYC. Today, he’s among the most sought after of designers, and it’s a privilege for me to work with him.  See, it’s not only about his creativity; his exuberant and daring use of color; his elegant glam factor; or his love of luxury; for me, it’s really about his depth: It’s his multifaceted vision that holds me spellbound. His eye is always dialed to just the right “on” position. His range is vast — from period traditional to eclectic to modern.

Here, a few photos of Jamie’s work, including one from a project for a very particular client– Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who wanted Gracie Mansion redone in 3 months.

Also, a recent Architectural Digest story on Jamie’s own new home in a Manhattan high rise.

Kudos to Jamie for all his great work. Have a great night Mr. Drake – you deserve it!

First 3 photos: Orange, purple, turquoise, yellow, luscious fabrics, romance, sumptuous, edgy, elegant, modern, beautiful, luxurious, unexpected…..words for Jamie’s work are best kept to the point. The images speak for themselves.

bottom photo: The stunning parlor room at Gracie Mansion in period style, but so fresh, check out the rich color and the stunning green Schumacher velvet on the chairs.

The rich history of modernist architecture in the Hampton’s is jeopardized by too many development spec houses

This past weekend I had the chance to show a friend, who hadn’t been here in 20 years, what the Hampton’s, so beautiful this time of year, looks like now. He had read a lot about the massive development taking place.  Being an architecture buff, he wanted to see again some of the iconic houses, like the reknowned Charles Gwathmey house, designed in 1966, in Amagansett. It’s a seminal work, always referred to when discussing modernism in the Hampton’s. Gwathmey along with Michael Graves and Richard Meier dominated modern American architecture in the 1960s and ’70s. Then there are modernist houses out east such as one (by the also revered) late Norman Jaffe, built in 1977, featuring massive sloping walls of stone and glass. Sadly, after 20 years designing houses in the area, few of Jaffe’s works remain in original condition.  However,  this Jaffe home, perhaps the only to have survived intact, is in East Hampton.

There are some wonderful architects working out east today, (see my website architecture page for some examples). Unfortunately however, the Hampton’s is now being over developed, with houses that aren’t part of the vernacular. It’s changing the landscape dramatically, and my friend was stunned to see the change and how the area is a haven for developer spec houses.

The New York Times recently delved into this subject, and I was quoted, along with the esteemed architecture critic and author, Paul Goldberger.

“I’m concerned that the Farrellization of the Hamptons and the suburbanization of the Hamptons are linked,” said Donna Paul, a Sag Harbor resident and owner of Designer Previews, a company that matches architects and designers with clients seeking to build custom homes. “These are houses being punched out in record time, and that will make the tone and feeling of the Hamptons more generic.”

Paul Goldberger, a Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic who has written extensively about the Hamptons, said Mr. Farrell’s company had spawned a host of imitators matching his architectural look, if not his company’s quality. “If I see one more shiny new gambrel roof, shingled house I’ll scream,” Mr. Goldberger said. “It’s become a hopeless cliché, almost a blight.”

 

Charles Gwathmey’s modernist architecture.

An interior shot of one of Charles Gwathmey’s modernist, now iconic Hampton’s houses.

A Norman Jaffe modernist house built with a sloping wall of glass and stone.

A Design Hotel in Athens with the most amazing beds — find them in New York’s Soho

A recent Greek sojourn began with a night in Athens, made special by my choice to stay outside the city center, in the leafy neighborhood of Kiffisia. I zeroed in on the destination, the Nafsika Hotel, because I knew they had Coco-Mat beds! I had stayed in other hotels where the beds were featured, and after a 13-hour, two- flight trip, I knew I was guaranteed a good night’s sleep.

The hotel not only features the aforementioned beds; it’s a branded hotel, operated by the esteemed Greek lifestyle company Coco-Mat, www.coco-mat.com. Ecological comfort and consciousness along with good design  have been the mantra at Coco-mat since the company first launched their mattresses in 1989.

At Nafsika, bicycles are offered and encouraged as a means of tranport to see the beautiful neighborhood. Delicious healthy food is prepared in the open kitchen off the chic, comfortable lobby, where white linen covered furniture is casual and welcoming.

In the guest rooms, of course, the bed is the star–and the sheets that dress it– made of all organic linen in pale, earthy colors, are also dreamy. As I slid between the sheets, on that incredible mattress, within seconds, my jet-lagged body drifted into the most delicious sleep I’d had in months.

In the morning I discovered the beautiful garden, it was quiet and I was surrounded by lush greenery and a canapé overhead. Yummy Greek inspired healthy food was served. The hotel staff is eager to please and welcomes weary travelers with warm hospitality; a trademark of both Coco-Mat and Greece.  If you want to head into the city center, it’s easy to take the nearby Kiffisia subway, and be hassle free.

OK, just as you were thinking of going to Greece (good idea) to check out the beds, and becoming intrigued about Coco-Mat; if you’re in NYC, you’re in luck! Just head downtown to Mercer Street in Soho. There, a modern, two-level store features the full range of beds, mattresses, toppers, as well as sheets, towels and furniture.

What makes these beds so special is the simplicity of the concept: everything is organic and metal free. Springs have no role in a Coco-Mat mattress, but natural rubber and coconut fiber, as well as seaweed, horsehair, cactus fiber and wool do play a role,  in these utterly unique, indescribably comfortable mattresses. The beds can be customized for body type and sleeping preference because of the layering system, which can create isolated support for different parts of the body. And, ( I can’t believe no one else has thought of this) each layer is wrapped in removable, washable covers. Too smart, right?!

The Soho Coco-Mat store carries a full line of natural pillows, and furniture. The company is among the most successful in all of Greece, and now has 65 stores, (as cool as the Soho store) in 12 countries,world wide.

If you want to really get what Coco-mat is about, click here, http://www.coco-mat.com/?i=coco_us.en.hotels and tour some of the most astonishing hotels around the world. I promise you, this will be impossible to resist.

COCO-MAT SOHO store: 49 Mercer(between Broome St & Grand St) 
New York, NY 10013 
(212) 431-2626   www.coco-mat.com

Hotel Nafsika, http://nafsika.coco-mat-hotels.com/

new modernist rug collection expresses mood through the colors of nature, from art work by Joseph La Piana

Carpet and rug making is a centuries old tradition where the artistic vision has been expressed by an individual maker, who was also the weaver. In the 20th century, modern artists such as Paul Klee and Pablo Picasso, discovered rug design. They, along with Pierre Cardin, Verner Panton and Ottavio Missoni, all began to extend their creative vision to this medium; designing carpets for interiors, which were equally modern. Now, Joseph La Piana, the New York based artist, is among them.

La Piana’s recently launched collection of rugs has been done in partnership with the venerable custom carpet and rug boutique, Patterson Flynn & Martin. The collection is in all 8 of the company’s showrooms across the country.

The result includes wondrous interpretations of his artwork, with a palette of natural hues that reminds us, especially at this time of year, of the colors in nature. That idea is always in La Piana’s eye, as a keen observer, he is entranced with form and shape, and what occurs with the interplay with light. His work is an abstract expression of these natural occurrences. Therefore, the rug imagery features abstract, biomorphic shapes, or at times a range of subtle to vivid striations of color. The rugs literally mirror La Piana’s canvases, drawings and photographic work. In this collection, he often deconstructed larger works, to adapt smaller sections of them. Then, once woven with wool and silk these new iterations of imagery become their own evocative story. The muted color palette is earthy, with warm grays, sepias, mulberry, and soft browns.

These rugs will look perfectly at home in a modern interior, an eclectic mix, or even contemporary designed room. The rugs are timeless, like nature, so they lend themselves to many kinds of interior design.

There are 24-patterned rugs in the collection, and any can be ordered in a hand tufted or hand knotted version. Most are combinations of wool and silk. See all at: www.pattersonflynnmartin.com, available to the trade.

Left image- Fresh Pond (in rich magenta) is all silk and hand-tufted.

Indigo Ink- wool and silk and hand knotted

Fluid Movement-wool and silk, hand knotted,

 

Italian food+Italian kitchens+design+ fashion- the best of the best

Last week I went to a very cool event on the rooftop of one of those great old factory buildings on Manhattan’s west side, in the 30s. These days they are entertaining spaces, all white lofts, with candles everywhere and spectacular views of the city. Speaking – and cooking- was the esteemed architect Adam Tihany, known for his great design work in restaurants; Fern Mallis, the founder of Fashion Week; the chef Cesare Casella, formerly of  restaurant Beppe, now  in his Upper east side restaurant; and Dino Borri, who is Mr. Eataly. By that I mean, he is the person in charge of all Eataly stores around the world, and for bringing us all the fantastic products in the Eataly in NYC, on 23rd & Fifth ave.

This esteemed group had gathered to tell us about the upcoming 2014 Italian kitchen event in Milan.

Every April in Milan, the renowned ‘Salone de Mobile’ takes place. It’s like fashion week for the design and furniture industry; it’s that important!  Last year,  FederlegnoArredo, the Italian Federation of wood, cork, furniture and furnishing industries, presented “Kitchen, Soul, Design: L’Italia che Vive,” an effort to show the best designed kitchen companies in Italy. And now that I’ve seen some examples, I’m lusting after a new kitchen. We’re talking beauty and innovation.

The Eurocucina Show, in April, 2014, will exhibit a combination of the cutting edge and the traditional. The special show Made in Italy  reflects the everpresent  passion and spirit  that has, throughout history placed Italy at the forefront of art, creativity and culinary excellence.

The two kitchens shown here:  (upper image) Snaidero board Verde : Snaidero’s solution for apartments or limited space environments is tailored, flexible, yet its design concept is beautiful and doesn’t sacrifice on function. Scavolini Diesel: Scavolini has designed an extremely modern and modular kitchen, yet one featuring a distinctly vintage spirit in its materials, treatments and finishes. The result: an ambiance that blends modern with comfort.

At bottom left to right: Adam Tihany, Fern Mallis, Dino Bori, Cesare Casella.

Stay tuned, there will be more on this in April!

 

 

Exhibition not to be missed- Father & son Brazilian designers at Espasso

The renowned Brazilian furniture designer José Zanine Caldas, who died in 2001, worked as a furniture designer and self-taught architect for years. His expertise was in model making.  He was well known for making the models used for projects of Oscar Niemeyer and the other major modernists in Brazil. Caldas then pioneered the concept of sculpting furniture out of solid native Brazilian woods. His son, Zanini de Zanine, 35, today continues this legacy. In the new generation of furniture designers in Brazil, Zanini is considered among the most important. He has shown extensively in Europe and in LA, but now father and son are featured for the first time together in the USA, in a new exhibition at Espasso, the go to shop for all things Brazilian, in Tribeca. Featured are 18 pieces designed by  the son; one of which was designed exclusively  for Espasso. And, the special treat, are the five vintage works designed by his father.

Images at left: Upper image, current work by Zanini De Zanine. lower image: vintage work of José  Zanine Caldas, circa 1970, all at Espasso.

The exhibition is only on for two weeks, until October, 12, so get yourself on a downtown train and head to Espasso at 38 N. Moore st. 212-219-0017. www.espasso.com, for times and details.