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interiors

Finnish Line: Designers Discuss Spirit of Marimekko

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.

weather diary
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.

teapotWhile 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.
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Reading the Tea Leaves: Starbucks Debuts Teavana Concept Store in NYC

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.

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(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.
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Andrew Galuppi and Ahmad Sardar-Afkhami ‘Bring the Globe Home’ in Online Tag Sale

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“I really got some crossed looks when I brought this Indonesian mask back from a trip overseas,” says Andrew Galuppi (at right). “I took up most of the overhead bins!”

CM_portraitsLooking to ward off the evil eye with a wedding Hamsa from North Africa, amass an instant collection of Japanese liquor bottles, or add a Moroccan Beni Ouran rug to your living room? These exotic treasures and many more are just a click away thanks to interior designer Andrew Galuppi and architect Ahmad Sardar-Afkhami. The pair have teamed up with flash sale site One Kings Lane for “Camera Mundi” an online tag sale that begins today.

The collection of homegoods, priced from $20 to $3,000, includes rugs, furniture, statuary, and other objects collected by Galuppi and Sardar-Afkhami during their travels around the world. “Every handcrafted item is infused with someone’s story—they probably were taught their skill by a long-lost relative and spent hours on each piece, and without the help of a machine,” says Galuppi, who travels to India every winter. “This is part of the world I like supporting, because each piece carries with it an energy and a real story that gets transferred to your home.” We asked the globe-trotting designers to tell us more about “Camera Mundi,” the objects in the sale, and where their worldly, contemporary aesthetic will take them next.

cm objects

How did you come to work with One King’s Lane?
Ahmad Sardar-Afkhani: One of my close friends, Nate Berkus, was doing a sale with another friend, Ethan Trask, who works at One Kings Lane. We began talking and he proposed I create a sale mostly with the rugs and textiles I have been collecting.

Andrew Galuppi: Ahmad didn’t want to do the sale all alone—it’s more fun with a friend—so he knew my apartment was stuffed to the rafters with bits and bobs and he thought the mixture of our two collections would create one great big exciting assortment…kinda like a crazy bazaar!

Tell us about the significance of the title, “Camera Mundi”?
Sardar-Afkhani: In Latin, it means “room of the world,” where objects from different historical and cultural backgrounds can be displayed next to each other. I’m all for this type of juxtaposition, where new meaning and beauty is derived from assemblages of objects that would otherwise have little in common.

Galuppi: In addition to what Ahmad has explained…I think that a lot of people have really well curated homes these days, and including an object from some far away place will add texture and personality to a space to make it really feel finished and unique. That’s where “camera mundi” comes into place: bringing the globe home.
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Christopher Guy Opens New York Showroom, Looks to Web to ‘Add Another Dimension’

You may recognize the deco-inflected globetrotter look of Christopher Guy from the sets of The Thomas Crown Affair and Casino Royale. In the wake of the ribbon-cutting on the brand’s showroom at the New York Design Center, designer Christopher Guy Harrison was on hand to discuss his “contemporary with classical values” style and how he conveys it in an increasingly digital world. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to pull up a sumptuous chaise longue and observe.

CGuy speaking

CGuy eclairageWhile online platforms have left their mark on interior design in recent years, they’ll never replace the need to discover and experience design in person. Interactive technology has created innovative ways for designers to build their brands and businesses, communicate with clients, go shopping and provide inspiration, said Elledecor.com editor Amy Preiser at last week’s New York Design Center What’s New/What’s Next event.

Digital platforms are certainly not a substitute for perusing a design showroom, especially when it’s a colorful state-of-the-art NYDC penthouse. Christopher Guy Harrison, CEO and founder of Christopher Guy, shared his brand’s approach to digital from his new flagship space. His furnishings have been featured in movies such as The Thomas Crown Affair, The Devil Wears Prada, and The Hangover, and he’s designed hotels like the Bellagio and Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas as well as the Ritz Carlton in Tokyo.

“We need to embrace the internet to add another dimension. At its start, the internet was just an extension of the catalogue,” said Guy. For his business, the web and digital tools have become a priority, and he reported having a dedicated web staff of 20 in his Singapore office. He uses the platforms to showcase interactive spaces, share design influences, and convey different moods.
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Mark Your Calendar: City Modern 2013

Archtober is nearly upon us, and the designtastic autumnal fun gets off to an urbane start with City Modern, celebrating the best in New York design and architecture. Now in its second year, the collaboration between Dwell Media and New York magazine kicks off next Friday with a Meet the Architects celebration, followed by a weekend of City Modern home tours in Manhattan and Brooklyn (the one pictured at right is “Skyhouse,” a project by architect David Hotson and interior designer Ghislaine Viñas that occupies a previously vacant four-story space at the tippy-top of one of the oldest surviving skyscrapers in NYC). The week continues with programming led by New York design editor Wendy Goodman and Dwell editor-in-chief Amanda Dameron, including a sure-to-be-stimulating conversation among Paola Antonelli of MoMA, the one and only Michael Bierut, and architecture critic Justin Davidson about “What Design can Do For New York City.” Get the full scoop on all eight event-packed days here.

Seven Questions for Eskayel’s Shanan Campanaro

Shanan Campanaro brings the soul of an artist and the sharp eye of a fashion-savvy graphic designer to Eskayel, a collection of custom wallcoverings that has rapidly expanded into fabrics, rugs, and decorative products such as enchanting pillows, scarves, and stationery. Educated at Central St Martins, Brooklyn-based Campanaro developed Eskayel’s distinctive style—painterly and organic yet contemporary and at times downright futuristic—by mixing the handmade and the digitally manipulated. She uses watercolors and soluble watercolor pens to create paintings, scans them, and then plays around with their pixels. This week marks the launch of “Cosmos” (pictured below), a collection of starry, outer space-inspired patterned pillows made in collaboration with ABC Home. She talked with us about the out-of-this-world pillows, the origins of Eskayel, and how she keeps the company’s products eco-friendly.

How did you begin Eskayel?
I made some wallpaper for my house out of a design from one of my paintings, and then decided to try and make a whole collection and enter into a design show in Brooklyn.

Environmental responsibility is an important aspect of Eskayel—has that commitment been challenging to sustain as your business has grown?
Well, we are so committed to staying as green as possible that it just means certain things that might make our product less expensive or more commercially viable are off-limits. For example, producing overseas or using vinyl. There are a ton of innovations in technology that have come along that have made things easier for us. Because of these innovations, our contract paper is recycled and the paper substrate with the contract requirements is a relatively new product. Also, the latex digital printers which use water-based inks and have the durability of solvent printers (which off-gas, and have not been an option for us in the past) have really expanded our capabilities.

How did the collaboration with ABC Home come about?
We met buyers from ABC several years ago at ICFF [the International Contemporary Furniture Fair], but it really all started when Paulette Cole, the owner, saw our Poolside collection at ICFF in 2012. The standard Eskayel line was selling well, so they wanted some exclusive patterns for ABC from us, so we designed the Cosmos collection for them and collaborated on furniture. The Cosmos collection ships today, so it should be in stores any moment!
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Making Room: Inside Museum of City of New York’s ‘Launch Pad’ Model Micro Apartment

Are even tinier apartments the answer to better accommodating the emerging housing needs of major cities? An exhibition at the Museum of City of New York suggests as much, and the “live smarter and smaller” theme seems to be resonating—the popular show on new housing models has been extended to September 15. We asked writer Nancy Lazarus to head over to the museum’s fully built “micro unit” and make herself at home.

About thirty curious visitors filed into a 325-square-foot full-scale studio apartment model on a recent Friday afternoon. The occasion wasn’t a real estate open house, but a chance to experience a highly touted micro-unit called “The Launch Pad.”

The furnished model (pictured above) serves as the centerpiece of “Making Room: New Models for Housing New Yorkers,” an exhibition on view through September 15 at the Museum of the City of New York. Amie Gross Architects and interior designer Pierluigi Colombo, founder of Resource Furniture, collaborated on the unit’s design.

Architectural models and design solutions from New York and selected cities worldwide are also showcased. These coincide with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s initiative to offer more affordable, though smaller-scale, housing options for the growing ranks of single city residents.

An open ambience prevailed inside the micro-unit, not claustrophobia, as skeptical attendees may have expected. They soon learned key elements for optimizing space from Jeffrey Phillip, an organizing pro who specializes in blending style and efficiency.

“We all struggle with living in small spaces, but small spaces are also grand spaces,” Phillip said. He showed visuals to illustrate the advice he offers to space-challenged clients. While a few concepts were conventional, others were counterintuitive. Some mini spaces benefit more from design makeovers.
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And the Winner Is…Chrysalis: Grayish Green Triumphs in Farrow & Ball’s ‘My Colour’ Contest

Slumbering Lepidoptera for the win! A vaguely ectoplasmic, creamed pistachio hue known as “Chrysalis” has triumphed over a highly pigmented field of finalists to win Farrow & Ball’s “My Colour” contest, in which fans of the quirky-luxe purveyor of paint and wallcoverings submitted inspired and inspirational colors that would play nice with the likes of F&B’s “Elephant’s Breath” and “Churlish Green.”

The celadon-meets-Slimer shade emerged at the top of a field of some 800 entries, narrowed to 20 impressive finalists that included colors such as “Jodhpur Blue” (think Yves Klein goes to India!) and “Federal Pink,” a complexion-enhancing match for the rosy newsprint favored by the Financial Times. “It is a beautiful grey/green shade, almost shagreen, which makes a lovely modern neutral,” says winner Samantha Mansell, who will receive 10 gallons of paint in Chrysalis, inspired by the pupa casing of the monarch butterfly. “The sculptural shape of the chrysalis with its gold details also makes it look like a precious piece of jewelry. Natural, stunning, and simple.”
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Quote of Note | Cathy Kaufman

“The Wrights preached practicality over the ‘total absurdity of the Old Dream,’ and no place was riper for implementing their vision than ‘The Vanishing Dining Room.’ Conceding that, to ‘a reader accustomed to a room devoted only to dining, with fixed and formal furniture, we may seem to have done frightening and unstabilizing things,’ the Wrights’ iconoclastic solutions included placing the dining table on lockable casters, so that it could be rolled next to the sink for clearing after the meal; using disposable paper plates and cups to eliminate part of the dishwashing chores, upholstering chairs in plasticized materials, and streamlining meals to limit the number of dishes and utensils needed—no more soup to open dinner, followed by salad, a garnished roast, and dessert; the one-dish, freezer-to-oven-to-table-casserole was king. Some of these suggestions have stood the test of time. Others have been dropped or modified to marry convenience with convention and aesthetics, although the rolling dining table, however intelligent, will always evoke images of Marx Brothers mishaps.”

-Culinary historian Cathy Kaufman on Russel and Mary Wright‘s 1950 Guide to Easier Living in “The Vanishing Dining Room,” an article that appears in the latest issue of Vintage Magazine

Design Within Reach Debuts Textiles Line

Up with upholstery! In a move that makes us want to recover all of our furniture in a hazy wool that is simultaneously ethereal and sweatshirtesque, Design Within Reach has launched a proprietary textile program. The nine textiles in 42 colorways, which debuted online and in DWR studios this week, range from a creamy cotton twill and a broad weave that plays well with saturated brights to a moody ducale wool and a textured, tiger lily-toned take on post-industrial recycled polyester. Seven of the fabrics, including a smart lama tweed, come from a family-run mill in Italy, while the aforementioned dreamy wool melange and eco-friendly textiles are all-American, made by Maharam, which was acquired by Herman Miller in April.

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