Monday, April 27, 2015

Designer Rugs: Beyond A Wow Factor!

The worlds of interior design and fashion design often intersect since the approach to designing a room and designing a clothing collection includes similar elements of consideration like scale, color, texture, shape, material, repetition, contrast, symmetry/asymmetry, and the same attention to detail.

And one of the easiest ways to make a statement in a room is to start with the floor. A rug can form the basis for a spectacular space the way an excellent pair of shoes or exquisite dress can lay a foundation for other elements.

The Rug Company has commissioned some of the biggest names in fashion to create bespoke rugs. The following designers have infused their own sensibilities, and in some cases, signature patterns and shapes into luxurious rugs.

Take a look at the late Alexander McQueen's offerings, created just before his untimely death in 2010. One of the most successful designers of all time (he invented the Armadillo shoe, made popular by Lady Gaga, and the Met in New York City registered his 2011 retrospective exhibit "Savage Beauty" as one of its most attended shows in its history, seen by over 650,000 people), McQueen's sensibility was dark, provocative, and although his collections were sumptuous as well as wearable, they were also highly cerebral. Here, two elements that cropped up again and again for McQueen are transferred into his Feather and Military Brocade rugs.

Designing since 1970, Diane von F├╝rstenberg invented the iconic wrap dress and made fashion history. She still designs and sells her products in over 70 countries and 45 free-standing shops worldwide. Below we can see her Bishop's Cape and Python rugs. I especially like the Python and think it adds a vital element to the room view. Design elements are most successful in trios and look how the python plays with the grasscloth on the walls and the texture of the small console. If the rug were missing, something else would need to provide that extra splash and interest, and to balance out the textures in the room.

Jonathan Saunders, a Scottish fashion designer known for his prints has created colorful, intricate designs in his Herringbone and Nouveau rugs. I always look forward to his men's collection every season since it is usually a marvelous explosion of florals, stripes, and colors.

The venerable English menswear designer Sir Paul Smith (knighted by HRH Queen Elizabeth II in 2000) blends a classic English approach with a sense of (also classic) English eccentricity. His Oriental Birds and Stripes rugs speak to this marriage of design sensibilities.

Sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy founded their fashion brand Rodarte in 2005 and rose quickly to the top. Known for their glamorous, romantic women's collections, the Ivy Trellis (particularly lovely in a dining room) and Marble rugs below are evocative of fairy tales and castles.

I adore Dame Vivienne Westwood (she received her damehood in 1992 from HRH Queen Elizabeth II). I have some shirts and a few pairs of Westwood shoes that are among my most prized possessions (I bought my Pirate boots at her original boutique, World's End in Chelsea). She has created wildly imaginative and supremely unique collections for men and women since the early 70s when she and her then-partner Malcolm McLaren invented a little thing called Punk Rock that changed the course of civilization (no exaggeration). Westwood has always been staunchly patriotic, not to a government, but to the essence of Great Britian itself and has used the Union Jack and Scottish tartans extensively in her work. The Union Jack rug below is a gorgeous rug, made to look like a tattered but still glorious symbol of the Empire. And her Squiggles pattern is absolutely iconic, first appearing in her Pirates Collection in 1981 (my Pirate boots are brown with a black Squiggle design). Here, we see a double layer of the Squiggle in blue--it also comes in a red and brown colorway.

The Rug Company has a large selection of fabulous rugs by outrageously talented interior and graphic designers: take a look!

Happy designing!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Exotic Delia Shades

Hot on the heels of last week's post about the differences between shutters, blinds, and shades, I present to you the wonderful company Delia Shades. Founded by Delia Helig in 2006, her eponymous Manhattan-based company creates shades in varying degrees of light filtering material (Delia shades can filter up to 95% of UV radiation). They are made of environmentally friendly, Greenguard-certified fabric that is lead-free, flame-resistant, bacteria- and fungus-resistant, and yet able to be cleaned with a gentle detergent solution. And as you can see, they come in an array of patterns ranging from Moorish patterns to Indian Jalli screens to African designs to Japanese Katagami. Custom client designs can also be manufactured! Candice Olson used the Latticework pattern to great effect in the first room below.

These designs make a marvelous base for a window treatment which should still include fabric drapes to soften the window casing and also add another opportunity to layer texture and color into the room.

Delia Shades:

If you have windows you don't know what to do with, give me a call. Perhaps we can come up with some amazing, unique window treatments created especially for you.
Happy designing!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Shutters, Blinds, Shades: What's The Difference?

The world of window coverings is enormous. I know, it may seem silly to the lay person ("Oh come on Jeff, a world of window coverings?") but there are almost as many different ways to dress a window as there are windows. And consequently there are many different names and terms that can get confused or used interchangeably.

Let's take a look at three common window coverings that are often lumped together--shutters, blinds, and shades--and discover what they are, and how they differ.

Shutters are generally louvered coverings for a window or door. They can be fixed or able to open up, away from the window or door.

Often one will hear shutters called Plantation shutters since they were used extensively in Colonial islands like Jamaica. They are quite practical in tropical areas since they provide shade from glaring sun but the louvers can be tilted, usually on a central rod, to allow air to circulate. in interiors, they can signal an exotic, lush design scheme.

But the problem with shutters--and a complaint I hear most from clients who may have inherited shutters as window coverings from a previous owner--is that they can be overwhelming and make a space feel gloomy. When used on a large expanse, they tend to feel heavy, clunky...

In this application, it is simply a missed opportunity to layer window coverings which can introduce more color and texture into the space (we will see examples of this later in the post). And unlike most shades, blinds, or even draperies, shutters are fixed to the entire window. They cannot be stacked back or moved off the glass to allow more light or view. Whether they are built to sit inside the casing, or must be boxed and mounted outside the casing, they are bulky and cumbersome to open. Honestly, I have only ever had clients remove shutters, not install them, not only for the aforementioned reasons, but because the look is now quite dated.

Blinds offer a bit more flexibility. A blind is a series of slats made of metal, wood, or a composite material. They can be pulled up tight against the top of the casing, allowing for a fairly unimpeded view and like shutters, the slats can also be tilted to control light. It might just be me, but blinds make me flash on classic noir films from the 1930s and 40s.

And blinds can still have a cool, urban feeling. They play well in city lofts...

...but wood or composite versions can look nice anywhere.

An optional decorative feature on blinds is the addition of fabric "tape" which can come in any color or pattern.

The look can have a rich, Old World feel.

A shade is generally a solid material that raises and lowers in front of the window. The typical shade most of us grew up with is the spring roller shade, which is a tube at the top of the casing on which the material rolls when open. Because of this, it is preferable for the roller mechanism to be hidden behind a fascia of some kind.

Now shades come with a top down/bottom up feature that allows for more precise control, not only for light but for privacy as well. As you can see in the image below, this privacy control is very useful in a bathroom!

Bamboo shades are perfect for introducing additional color and texture, and a warm, organic feel into a space. They are marvelous when layered under fabric drapes. This layering gives rooms a more finished look since the fabric drapery offers a softening element for the space.

And finally, a very popular variety of shade is the soft Roman shade. This is a flat piece of fabric or material (bamboo can be used as well) which pleats up into itself when raised. The advantage to this shade is that it can act like a drapery (coming in ANY choice of fabric), but have the functionality of a blind. For this reason, they are useful in kitchens where one does not want loose drapery fabric near either a water or a heat source. They can be tucked up out of the way, or lay flat against the glass when down.

And there we have three popular window covering options. As I said at the top of this post, the world of window coverings is wide and vast. Stay tuned for upcoming posts about draperies and the many ways they can be created.

Happy designing!