Monday, February 29, 2016

Candice Olson and Benjamin Moore

Last week I had the supreme pleasure of meeting amazing interior designer and host of the hit TV shows "Divine Design" and "Candice Tells All," Candice Olson who, I must tell you, is just as genuine, charming, accessible, kind, pretty, and funny as she is on-screen.

Your blogmaster with Candice Olson. Thanks for a fun afternoon, Candice!

She is traveling around to Benjamin Moore showrooms to promote her "60 Favorite Benjamin Moore Colors" in a new fan deck that features some of her go-to hues and shades.

Most of her colors come from the main Benjamin Moore color deck but some come from one of my go-to color decks for paint, the Benjamin Moore Affinity deck. I actually did an entire house from the Affinity deck, previously seen here.

To learn more about Candice and her Benjamin Moore choices, visit her page at the Benjamin Moore website:
...and be sure to visit her own website for more information:

Happy designing!

Monday, February 22, 2016

In Celebration Of The Library

I know actual physical books are considered somewhat passé at this point, what with all our tablets and Kindles and devices. But there is a place for the old fashioned book, a place to inhale that wonderful paper page smell, and to peruse tomes of wisdom and knowledge...and it is called The Library.

Happy designing!

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Art Of The Staircase

In my design practice, I often have a chance to either start from scratch and build a house, or to work on an interior that is completely demolished and ready for a total renovation. In these cases, I turn to some architects on my team to realize whatever I and my clients might have dreamt up. And stairs are an element that, while necessary, can be a spectacular and unexpected piece of art in a home. Just take a look at some of these amazing creations...

A simple feat of engineering makes the marvelous floating staircase possible. See how nothing touches the ground. Stunning.

This residence below features a hanging staircase of pierced 5mm red powder-coated steel plates by the British engineering firm Webb Yates.

This very unique staircase by TAF Gabriella Gustafson and Mattias Ståhlbom solves a unique problem. Gustafson and Ståhlbom say, "This is a low budget project made out of stacked boxes of pine. The cut out between the ground floor and the attic was to [sic] narrow to construct a regular stair. We had to put each step angled to get the right amount and height of them."

If you love books but have no room in your home for an actual, separate library, this shelving storage solution built right into a staircase is quite brilliant.

If you have room under your stairs, you can also fit in a mini-library!

This amazing ribbon-like staircase is located in the SoHo branch of French luxury goods retailer Longchamp. These beautiful wooden undulating crests and waves designed by Heatherwick Studio combine display areas with the central staircase for the store.

The open design and absence of a hand rail would surely not be permitted here in the United States but this Parisian apartment is pretty amazing with magically floating black steps.

And we have a similar issue with these ribbon stairs (although there is a handrail on the inside wall!). What it lacks in safety is made up in ingenuity and a singularly artistic design sensibility.

The angle of each of these open wooden boxes by Guido Ciompi creates a unique art installation at Hotel The Gray in Milan.

The steps of this truly beautiful white spiral staircase by Italian architect and designer Roberto Semprini seem to be made out of huge, polished river rocks!

And next we have a similar idea with a sensual helix of articulated wooden paddles by French interior architect and designer Patrick Jouin. The central section of this organic design almost reminds me of our vertebrae.

I've been collaborating with an architect on a spiral staircase for a new home. If you'd like to create a unique staircase for your home, give me a call!
Happy designing!

Monday, February 8, 2016

History of Furniture: China

Since today is Chinese New Year (we start the Year of the Monkey!), I thought I would share some traits, shapes, and characteristics of Chinese furniture for this installment of The History of Furniture.

Early in their culture, the Chinese sat on the floor or mats like the Japanese (previously here) but as time passed, low platforms turned into couches and chairs. It's generally agreed that this development most likely had something to do with the spread of Buddhism into China and accompanying figures of the Buddha on raised platforms. The idea of being not only figuratively but literally elevated, of being honored, and of being above others was translated into seating that was more and more raised off of the floor. Special guests, dignitaries, and noblemen were naturally "above" commoners who remained on low platforms or on the floor.

The first raised seating was a platform that became a daybed, eventually gaining carved side panels and an "entrance." Such daybeds came to be very complex enclosures, nearly like little rooms unto themselves.

Lest you think it was all supine lounging, below are two examples of chairs I have written about before in my "Know Your Chairs" column (seen here). The first is the Chinese Yoke Back Chair which originated during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644 CE) and is characterized by a simple, elegant structure with fluid lines, balanced proportions, and concealed joints using the then-new-to-China method of mortise and tenon construction.

The Yoke Back Chair has a back whose design is based on the shape of an oxen yoke, which is a wooden harness put over the shoulders and around the head of oxen or other strong farm animals to pull a plow through dirt.

The Chinese Horseshoe Chair also originated in the Ming Dynasty. It uses a slightly different shape than the Yoke Back, that of a horseshoe.

The following Horseshoe Chair actually folds so it can be taken outside or on a journey so the master and mistress could be comfortable anywhere they go.

Speaking of outdoors, the barrel or garden stool became very popular in China during the Song Dynasty and was originally made from a variety of hardwoods that stood up to the elements. Later the stools were made from ceramic and decorated with lotus leaves, fish or birds, and pastoral scenes.

A common motif on not only garden stools but ceramics of all kinds is the lucky cloud design. Thought to be created between heaven and earth, clouds were looked upon with special significance and thought to represent the celestial realm.

On the ceramic plate below, you can see stylized clouds swirling around the dragons on the rim. In Chinese mythology, it was thought that dragons were able to create clouds with their breath.

As with most any subject, this is just a brief overview as we did not even touch on any chests, cabinets, or cases, as well as metal working. That could be for a future post so stay tuned!
And I wish you "Gong Xi Fa Cai"--or in English, Happy New Year!

Happy designing!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Layering Modern On History by Fiorito Interior Design

After my clients bought a sweet 1920s classic California Spanish bungalow in the Rose Garden area of San Jose, they came to me for some design guidance. We toured the empty house and I asked them what their style direction was and what they were thinking of doing. The heavily ornate, dark wood moulding and trim is original to the house and I naturally assumed that they would want to keep them.

But I was thrilled when they identified themselves as modernists, liking clean lines and a lighter color palette. So we chose a strong white for all the dark trim and a warm neutral for the walls. With that canvas, we began layering on contemporary furnishings but with a sense of luxury that still feels traditional enough to sit in such an historic house. Remember Design Mantra #1 (at right): Contrast brings interest. And modern lines next to the arched windows and elaborate moulding from the early part of the last century is a wonderful juxtaposition.

Custom drapes in a plum-colored Kasmir fabric set the tone for the color palette in the living room. Sumptuous ripplefold panels hang from a ceiling mounted Architrac allowing the full height of the arched window to be enjoyed from inside. The fireplace received a coat of a slate blue color from Kelly Moore. A comfortable sofa with mid-century lines plays nicely with a custom ottoman and a custom rug from Dalyn. And finally, discreetly presiding over it all, the Re ceiling light from Visual Comfort offers a bit of elegance without being fussy.

With white trim, the dining room feels larger, lighter, airier. Custom drapes in a Kasmir fabric hang from Robert Allen drapery hardware. The rough teak pearl finished top contrasts beautifully with the gleaming stainless steel base on the Bernhardt dining table. And the Ziyi chandelier from Visual Comfort adds stately drama.

All after photos by Bernardo Grijalva

Happy designing!