Aside from prime time for Le Corbusier-inspired couture confections, the days bounded by July 4th and Labor Day are high summer, a time of sunshine and swimming pools, ice cream and reruns, flip-flops and the illusion that you will read—or at least lovingly stroke—that teetering stack of books that have been accumulating on and around your nightstand since Christmas. But while the December holidays are celebrated with a great decking of halls (as well as homes, trees, yards, websites, and social media platforms), summer is typically welcomed with little more than picnic-themed grocery store displays before it is ushered offstage in a blaze of back-to-school-themed commercials. Not so fast! The sunny design types at Rich Brilliant Willing are savoring the season with “an unofficial seasonal logo” (pictured), which transforms their minimalist monogrammed hexagon for something a little more playful. Need more help lightening up? We suggest RBW’s “space- and earth-friendly” Delta table lamp.
Following a brick-by-brick renovation, NYC restaurant Tavern on the Green is back, and its formerly over-the-top interiors have been transformed with a “robber-baron-meets-sheep-barn” aesthetic and the aspiration to be “food-centric.” We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to take a peek under the famous red canopy.
The sunny Central Park room at the new Tavern on the Green was formerly known as the Crystal Room. (All photos courtesy Robin Caiola)
“Now we can be part of the park,” said restaurateur Jim Caiola, referring to the recently reopened landmark, Tavern on the Green. He and partner David Salama of Emerald Green Group were awarded a 20-year lease to the legendary restaurant, long associated with Broadway show parties, special family occasions, and a role serving as movie backdrop.
“Only the name, the beams and the shell of the Victorian building remain from the old Tavern”, said spokesperson Steven Hall. “Everything else was handpicked by Jim and David.” The pair renovated the interior, while the property’s New York City landlord worked on the exterior. Others involved in the restoration were architect Richard Lewis, lighting designer Ken Billington, and landscape architect Robin Key. It’s been a major investment and long haul.
How do you luxe up a windowless room in the bowels of Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre? Architectural Digest poses this question to one designer each year as it creates a backstage lounge for the Oscars. The task of creating the AD Greenroom (the 12th!) for the 2014 Academy Awards (the 86th!) went to David Rockwell. Having perhaps exhausted his interest in Hollywood Regency and cinema magic through his work on the on-stage proceedings, Rockwell looked to New York City loft living as inspiration.
Faced with the equivalent of a basement studio, he focused on “urban simplicity, but married with film glamour.” The latter came in part from actress Susan Sarandon, who helped select works from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences archive that line the walls: on one side, a wall of screens powered by Rockwell LAB software display digital images from socially conscious, Oscar-winning, and Oscar-nominated films, while on the other side, 14 framed works features images from classic screwball comedies—one of Sarandon’s favorite genres.
A taste of Kvadrat/Raf Simons, which arrives at retail in April. (Photos from left: Anne Collier, Kvadrat)
It’s easy to forget, now that he has ascended to the creative helm of Dior, that Raf Simons began his career as a promising young furniture designer. He returns to his roots with a new range of textiles, cushions, and throws created in collaboration with Kvadrat. Simons looked to his beloved mid-century masters, including Jean Royère, Pierre Jeanneret, Finn Juhl, and Hans Wegner, for textured elements, including a woven mohair reminiscent of sheepskin, speckled boucles, and a fur-like textile. Others reimagine the work of the late Swedish textile designer Fanny Aronsen.
And while Simons used many of the textiles in his fall/winter 2014 menswear collection, for which he teamed with artist Sterling Ruby, the Kvadrat collection was conceived with interiors in mind. “We are making fabrics that are like a blank canvas for designers,” said Simons in a statement issued today. “They are waiting for input from the furniture designers—we don’t control the design they will use the textiles for, so we try to leave it very open; these fabrics should be multifunctional.”
A Dolce & Gabbana Christmas conjures images of leopard-print stockings hung by the chimney with care and a tree draped in black lace, but the Italian duo have put on their Santa hats (red velvet, ermine trim) for one of their favorite casas away from casa: Claridge’s. The London hotel enlisted Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana to design its annual Christmas tree (pictured). This year’s festive fair is decked out in hand-crafted Sicilian puppets known as pupi, hand-painted Italian glass baubles, and a custom-made “luminaire” framework created in Southern Italy. Note the designers, “Our Christmas tree isn’t only a celebration of Christmas as we celebrate it in Italy, but it’s at the same time a tribute to the artisanal Italian tradition.
There are no archives devoted solely to interior design—until now. The New York School of Interior Design announced today the creation of the NYSID Interior Design Archives, a repository for the preservation of primary source material on the people, profession, and business of interior design.
Housed in the school’s library, the archives been seeded with a number of acquisitions, including the archives of Yale Burge Antiques and Interiors; the collection of Neal A. Prince, who served as director of interior design for InterContinental Hotels from 1961-1986; and the institutional records of the NYSID itself, which will celebrate its centennial in 2016.
As Miami heats up with art and design happenings, writer Nancy Lazarus looks to Art Basel’s home country for a look at how W Hotels is schussing into the ski resort market.
Ski-in and ski-out access is de rigueur among alpine enthusiasts, particularly those who trek to the vast, steep slopes of Switzerland. The new W Verbier and The Residences at W Verbier offer just the ticket for avid downhillers and après-ski fans, with a prime location at the base of the mountain’s Medran gondola. Though to get there they may have to navigate past St. Bernards, either via the St. Bernard Express regional train or the Great St. Bernard Pass mountain road.
The W brand’s first Swiss property covers all terrains, with state-of-the-art lodgings, spa, restaurant, bars, and cafe. Much like Verbier’s four valleys ski area, the W resort is laid out in a series of four chalet-style wooden buildings interconnected by glass atria that feature climbing walls. W’s parent company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, worked with Les Trios Rocs, the owners of the luxury development project.
“We wanted to bring the location to life in a W way,” said Ted Jacobs, W Hotels’ VP of global design, during a recent stateside press preview. The brand partnered with Dutch design agency Concrete Architectural Associates on the lodgings and with Spanish Michelin-star chef Sergi Arola on the cuisine.
A new showroom aims to dispel the myth that bespoke design is difficult to produce, tricky to access, and crazy expensive. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to experience “artisanal products in a real-life setting.”
Custom design comes to life in a new take on the traditional showroom. Design-Apart, known for delivering bespoke Italian design through its online marketplace and design services, recently launched its first “living showroom”—a real apartment where people live, cook, clean, and work—in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood.
“I thought we could do more to present Italian designs than traditional showrooms do. There are so many showrooms out there, but they’re just aesthetic,” explained Design-Apart founder Diego Paccagnella (pictured) at a recent press preview. “Here we live and interact with design, giving people a deeper experience of living in a place designed by Italian artisans.” He and his family are living there for a year.
Paccagnella and Stefano Micelli traveled around Italy to source designers. “We selected companies not by their size or by how famous they are, but more for their flexibility in producing customized projects for clients,” said Paccagnella. “The objects here are built by artisans and they consider the people who live here,” Micelli added.
The Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum recently kicked off “Design by Hand,” a new series focused on the craftsmanship, innovations, and merits of contemporary global designers, with an evening that spotlighted Marimekko. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to get an inside look at the Finnish design house, renowned for its original prints and colors.
Marimekko’s Jussarö cotton fabric, designed by Aino-Maija Metsola, is part of the Helsinki-based company’s new Weather Diary collection. Below, Sami Ruotsalainen’s teapot uses the Räsymatto pattern designed by Maija Louekari.
While the name Marimekko is based on “Mari” a girl’s name, and “mekko,” the Finnish word for dress, to its legions of worldwide fans it stands for fond memories and cheery graphic prints. The Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum recently hosted an event featuring three Marimekko designers: fashion and textile designer Mika Piirainen, ceramics and product designer Sami Ruotsalainen, and print designer Aino-Maija Metsola. While each designer offered a unique insider’s perspective, selected themes surfaced that shed light on the brand’s impressive longevity:
Potpourri of patterns: “While Marimekko is known for bold designs, it’s not all about massive prints, it’s also about contrasts,” Piirainen said. “We’re crazy about dots, and circles are the friendliest shapes in the world. We’re crazy about stripes, too,” he added. Flowers and their textures are also popular motifs, even black and white solids. Recently these designers have also turned their focus to smaller prints.
Individual inspirations and influences: “It’s important that inspirations for products are close to you so people know there are emotions behind them,” Metsola said. Finland’s islands in the archipelago, seasonal weather patterns, and vegetation form the basis of much of her work, such as her “Weather Diary” aquarelles or “Midsummer Magic” collections. Piirainen is also influenced by nature, and takes photos during his travels to Lapland and Australia. For Ruotsalainen, food and items of everyday life impact his designs.
Always thirsty for hot new markets, Starbucks is betting big on tea. The coffee giant recently spent $612 million to acquire Atlanta-based Teavana Holdings, and is not letting its newest subsidiary steep. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to see what’s brewing at the first-ever Teavana concept store, complete with tea bar, a “curated” loose leaf tea section, and tea-inspired foods.
(Photos courtesy Starbucks Corporation)
“Teavana is a twist on beverages, and changes the idea of how people think of tea,” said Chanda Beppu, strategy and business innovation director for global tea at Starbucks. It’s also designed to broaden how customers think about the brand.
Starbucks acquired Teavana and its more than 300 retail locations in December 2012, and last week unveiled the first “Teavana Fine Teas + Tea Bar” on Manhattan’s Upper East Side (on Madison Avenue at 85th Street). With an assortment of 100 Asian-inspired flavors and a coveted location near Museum Mile and Central Park, Starbucks is also looking for New Yorkers, tourists, art lovers, runners, and passersby to warm to the concept store. “We’re still learning,” said Starbucks chief creative office Arthur Rubinfeld during Wednesday’s press preview, “and we’ll see how much of a community gathering spot this becomes.”
For Starbucks, it’s all about local relevant design, and textures are key, added Rubinfeld. Starbucks’ creative director of global design, Liz Muller, led a tour of the multifaceted venue, divided into distinct sections. “Here we wanted to create a tranquil, calm, zen-like ambience,” noted Muller. “Tea is the speaking point, and the store is in the background.”
“At the entrance visitors are greeted by a wall of teas,” said Muller. “As they continue inside, they’ll see an illuminated countertop and a menu board on the left side. Wall graphics include hibiscus lit in color, with wallpaper in muted tones. The solid wraparound countertops are made of recycled oak wood, and we used lower club seating for guests. The food case is like a jewel box, taking a European approach,” On the far side of the entrance is a colorful merchandise display.