Monday, June 27, 2016

History of Furniture: The Eileen Gray Side Table

For this installment of The History of Furniture, let's take a look back at a staple of modernist design, the Eileen Gray Side Table.

Between 1926 and 1929, Irish interior and furniture designer and architect Eileen Gray (above) collaborated on the design and construction of a modernist villa with her lover, the French architect Jean Badovici. Located in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in the south of France, the house was very forward-looking with a flat roof and floor to ceiling glass windows to take advantage of the views of the Mediterranean. Gray named it the E-1027 “Maison en bord de mer” house, a name which contained a secret code: E for Eileen, 10 for Jean (J is the tenth letter of the alphabet), 2 for Badovici and 7 for Gray.

For this home, Gray designed the interiors and pieces of furniture as well. And one of the most enduring of her designs is the iconic side table she created for her sister, who liked to have breakfast in bed. The table has an open circular base that allows it to slip under a bedside or sofa, letting the user bring it as close as possible. For maximum function, the table itself adjusts up and down. Featuring a tempered glass top, the body is made of stainless steel, inspired by some of the tubular steel experiments of Marcel Breuer at the Bauhaus (previously here).

Here is an archival photo of the table in situ at the E-1027 house in 1929!

As you can see, the design, while minimal and streamlined, is timeless and can go with furnishings from the 1930s, the 1960s or 70s, or with any current styles. It is a perfect accent or occasional table.

The table is now produced by ClassiCon, under authorization of The World Licence Holder Aram Designs Ltd, London. Design Within Reach is an authorized dealer as well.

Happy designing!

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Malachite Moment

Malachite is an exquisite saturated green mineral that is considered a semi-precious gemstone. Its circular pattern is fascinating and designers from Tony Duquette to Kelly Wearstler have loved using this mineral for furniture, tile, or printed on textiles. It is a rich, luxurious accent in any room.

Below is a shot from a corner of The Garden Room at designer Tony Duquette's Shangri-la-esque estate Dawnridge. The malachite wallcovering is paired with the same pattern in lapis lazuli for drapery panels. The fabric is available through Jim Thompson.

Here is the malachite fabric in drapery panels...

As I mentioned, Kelly Wearstler used malachite to great effect in the lobby of The Viceroy Hotel in Miami.

Wisteria has a series of mineral prints and this pair of malachite close-ups makes a dramatic statement over a console table.

Italian porcelain manufacturer Fiandre make a wonderful large format malachite-looking wall tile which adds a sumptuous feeling to any space, especially the bathroom seen below.

Designer Shelley Johnstone put a malachite-patterned wallcovering on a ceiling.

Whether it's a piece of furniture, a mirror frame, or on a wall, malachite adds a touch of glamour and sophistication to any space.

Happy designing!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Urban Fabric Rugs Go Around The World!

I'm always on the look out for that special product or accessory that will turn a room into a work of art. And I recently discovered a rug company with a very special product!

Urban Fabric Rugs make cut pile rugs with relief plan views of major world cities! Urban Fabric Rugs say that their products can come in any color and they will create rugs in custom dimensions. I'm itching to put one in a living room or sitting room for a client.

Here we see a view of Dublin in a gorgeous watery blue with the River Liffey cutting through it...

...or perhaps you fancy a saturated fuchsia map of London on your wall?

The geometry of Paris is cooly subtle in a neutral tone...

...while Shanghai practically vibrates off the floor in red!

A recent addition to the city roster is an ancient one...The Forbidden City in Beijing.

They also make a map of Manhattan which, due to the elongated nature of the island itself, would make a fantastic runner in a hallway.

There's also a great view of Los Angeles.

And if you don't see the city of your choice or can't choose, they make a marvelous, conversation piece rug of the time zones of the globe!

Happy designing!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Celebrating 10 Years of Fiorito Interior Design!

This month I'm very pleased and proud to be celebrating 10 years of business as Fiorito Interior Design! I want to thank all my past clients...I have been lucky enough to have a roster of fantastic, kind, wonderful homeowners. It is a true privilege and honor to be allowed into your homes and to share your lives.

And to all my future clients, what are we waiting for? Let's make your house the home you've always wanted. I'll be thrilled to help!

Happy designing!

Monday, May 30, 2016

Kara Mann for Baker

Interior designer Kara Mann has created her first furniture collection for venerable furniture manufacturer Baker and it is clean, geometric, minimal, and moody, exactly like her amazing interiors.

Take a look at some of these gorgeously spartan, architectural pieces. Above is the Lax skirted sectional, the Tumble cocktail table, the Straight Up étagère, and the Composed accent table. Below is a closer view of the Brute sofa and Grounded accent table of polished brass and lacquer.

Next is a dining room featuring the Solid dining table (with a marvelous hammered bronze base), Slip side chair, and Straight Up sideboard with a delicious, textural finish.

The Cane arm chair, below, reminds me of Lloyd Wright's famed Origami chair.

This sleek, urbane bedroom below features the Caged king bed (in leather and bronze!), Band dresser, the amazing Plinth side table (with a thick slab of lucite holding up the cantilevered top and drawer), and the Star ottoman.

And here is the lovely Mann herself sitting on her Slant chair with, left to right, the Straight Up sideboard, the Serene chaise, and the Cradle accent table.

If you're interested in any of these Kara Mann pieces, they are available to me through Baker at the San Francisco Design Center. Give me a call!

Happy designing!

Monday, May 23, 2016

World Interiors Day 2016

I will be celebrating World Interiors Day this Saturday, May 28, 2016, which is an event sponsored by IFI (The International Federation of Interior Architects/ Designers).

This year's theme is "Interiors Intelligence" and as you can see by the poster above, "thoughtfully designed spaces help us learn, reflect, imagine,discover and create." Working with an interior designer can greatly improve the experience of your home, how you live in it, and ultimately the value of your space. Life is so much better if you love where you live!

Interior designers can help with:
* Floor plans
* Space planning
* Color palette
* Paint selection
* Lighting selection and design
* Furniture and furnishings selection
* Art selection and placement
* Bath and kitchen remodels

In my own practice, I can help with any or all of these steps. If you have unlimited time and patience, you could tackle some of these yourself, but why bother when an educated, knowledgeable professional can save you time and heartache (and heartburn). But most importantly, an interior designer can save you money by helping you to avoid mistakes that would be costly to amend, fix, or do over, which is especially true with kitchen and bathroom remodels. It is not as easy as it looks on HGTV! Trust me.

I am an advocate for my clients, introducing them to products and materials that they might not otherwise know of. I can help to expand design sensibilities into new, exciting areas. And I can bring to the project advantageous relationships with vendors, suppliers, and tradespeople that clients normally would not have.

If you have been a fan of design but have never worked with an interior designer before, or if you have been thinking of perhaps working with an interior designer on a possible project in your home, or if you have started a project on your own but can't quite seem to finish it, I encourage you to contact me. I can help to greatly enhance your home and your life in it with thoughtful design. My business motto is, "Shape your home, shape your surroundings, shape your life."

Click on my business logo to the right to see my website, my portfolio, and to contact me!
Happy designing!

Monday, May 16, 2016

San Francisco Decorators Showcase 2016

I just attended, as I do every year, the San Francisco Decorator Showcase (previously here and here). For the last many years, the Showcase was located in a grand home either on Nob Hill or in Pacific Heights, but this year, it jumped a neighborhood or two, to Telegraph Hill. Called Villa de Martini, this lovely Mediterranean-style home was built between 1930 and 1932 for a Louis Demartini. It is curious that such a grand home was being constructed at the time of The Great Depression...and it is smaller than some of the other SF Showcase homes, but it still packs a wallop, especially with the views of The Bay from the upper floors.

The tour starts, as it usually does, outside on the grounds. The stairway up to the house was embellished by Davis Dalbok of Living Green Design. He titled the fantasia "The Sea Is Rising"...because it certainly is. He combined mythological sea creatures with gigantic shells and magical silver gazing balls cascading down the hill to create a pretty but sober reminder of what is happening to the planet...

Veteran Showcase designer Antonio Martins was in charge of the first Living Room one sees upon entering the house. I love sleek modern designs paired with a traditional background (the new makes the old stand out even more and the old makes the new stand out even more...just look at the iconic I.M. Pei glass pyramid at the Louvre in Paris). And Martins did that in this room that features original archways and Palladian putting in ultra modern sofas, console tables, lighting, and artwork...along with two Empire stools by the windows facing The Bay, all against a white lacquered wall backdrop (see my #1 Design Mantra, to the right: "Contrast brings interest!"). He told me that the floor, which looks like waxed concrete is actually sheets of hot-rolled steel! He also specified some very special, fascinating wall sconces, seen in the sixth  image down: they consist of a series of glossy blocks which twist to reflect the light shining up from only the bottom block.

The dining room-lounge and kitchen area designed by Martin Kobus continued the neutrals from the previous living room, but he added some softness with organic materials. The amazing light over the dining table in cast glass and bronze was created by master craftsman John Liston, as were the very beautiful cast glass bar stools in the kitchen.

The kitchen cabinetry which looks like cerused oak is actually a resin product as is the walnut slab and the marble island. Easier to care for, especially in an area that sees a lot of action and chemicals--both food and cleaning--that can wreak havoc on natural wood and stone!

Kobus and his team left two windows over the sink but chose to frame them in a very minimalist way with a sheet of bronze glass.

The ceiling plane is one of the forgotten areas of most rooms and homes, but of course us designers have them in mind when we are designing (see a gold metallic ceiling I installed in a dining room here). This absolutely stunning powder room, already very engaging and special because of the integrated marble sink, steel backsplash, concave mirror light fixtures, mirrored wall, and exquisitely moody color scheme was made all the more special with a surprising mural of a blue eye on the ceiling. Beth Martin, who designed the room, says the design was inspired by a long slim window at the back right which made her think about light and how we all view space...hence the eye.

The first floor study turned out to be an extremely subtle but rewarding experience. Upon first entering, it might be easy to look around, perceive it as pleasant enough, and move on. But closer inspection reveals a wealth of tone, pattern, and texture which, if one is looking, ultimately seduces. Stephan Jones did a wonderful job of layering many elements without the room feeling burdened or busy. I got a lovely ethnic vibe as well from the Asian-esque pattern on the corner sofa, the rug, and the Japanese boro pillows and calligraphy-like art work series on the wall.

The only room in the Showcase house this year to truly embrace color--well, to shout it out loud really--is this fantastically fun bedroom by Annie Lowengart who dubbed it "Smoll's Room Redux" after her sister's childhood bedroom...which must have been some bedroom judging by this! As one climbs the stairs to the second level, the geometric, faceted ceiling is seen before the room itself--a delightful prologue of things to come. A palette of bright, saturated oranges and pinks is whimsically punctuated with some leopard and donuts. The walls are an orange-stained wood pattern!

Stevie Nicks inspired Ian Stallings to create a special little corner room off the upstairs hall. Too small to be a bedroom or lounge, Stallings decided to make "The White Witch" room a study with a small desk for writing and reflecting while looking out across the rooftops to views of the San Francisco Bay. In keeping with designers' awareness of the ceiling plane, Stallings specified a marvelous, colorful wallpaper from Scottish company Timorous Beasties.

The Loft Bar, also located in the upstairs hall, and also coincidentally utilizing a Timorous Beasties wallcovering on the wall and not ceiling, was created by Linda Sullivan. Now, I suppose if I were a designer faced with an odd, little, one-off niche in a hallway that used to be a storage closet, I might be at a bit of a loss as to what to put there. It seems that a bar doesn't fit on the second floor private bedroom area of this house, but...maybe I am making too much of it. I am aware that designers participate in show houses not because clients are involved, but precisely because clients are not involved, thus letting a designer's creativity run wild. So I can forgive Sullivan...and besides, she did a lovely job with the color palette and materials. I really like the mix of cool colors in the cabinetry and wallpaper with the warm metals of the door and drawer hardware and the industrial dome light fixtures.

Tineke Triggs of Artistic Designs For Living was inspired by the romance between rock legend David Bowie and his super model wife Iman...on all of our minds since Bowie's shocking and untimely death earlier this year. Triggs says, "A sophisticated palette of black, gold and cream reflect Iman's timeless glamour while modern furnishings and angular forms speak to David's more edgy persona." The beautiful dark lacquered ceiling reflects light and brings a calm hush to the space.

Unique clusters of hanging lights function as night table lights while a small wire sculpture of a quote in French by author Alistair Stuart MacLean ("Un baiser est une gourmandise qui ne fait pas grossir": A kiss is a gourmet treat that won't make you fat) is mounted over the bed. And a tiny black and white photo of Bowie and Iman sits on a night table.

The northern view from this bedroom is jaw-dropping with a panorama that includes the Marin Headlands, Sausalito, Angel Island, and Alcatraz!

Highlights from the lower levels of the house:

A fantastic bathroom featuring Deco Monkeys, an amazing hand painted de Gournay wallcovering, by Shelley and Company...

...a sweet, light children's room with a double head-to-head bed (excellent use of space!) called Two Bedheads Are Better Than One by Nest Design Co. featuring a climbing wall and soft felt "boulders" below to catch falls...

...and another curious spot that used to be a storage closet like the Loft Bar that has been transformed into a vague, multi-use area by Lois Vinsel...but I really like the Scandinavian feeling of this space with white washed wood, simple and clean country-like accessories, and a phenomenal Venetian plaster ceiling INLAID WITH SHELL BUTTERFLIES!!! Also notice the sweet little paper butterfly settled on the ceiling light fixture over the counter.

The Showcase House this year is at 298 Chestnut St. and will be open through May 30, 2016. It's a great opportunity to see the work of some talented designers (there are a lot of us here in Northern California) and to see a special, historic San Francisco home.

Happy designing!