My Slow Luxe Life, Unplugged and Recharged

I just spent a week unplugged.  Not wireless, but totally unplugged.  Off the grid.  As in no iPad, iPhone, MacBook, iPod or other devices.

First, my husband and I spent a few days in Texas with my parents and my 99 year-old Grandma Lola.  Fortunately, there was not enough time for a Scrabble game because she still beats me every time.  It must be all that practice doing the New York Times crossword puzzle….

After that, we headed to my parents’ cabin in Ruidoso, in the mountains of southern New Mexico.  We loved being in the cabin and in the pine forest, hanging out on the porch with my folks and starting the day together with a long hike.

The deer and elk, by the way, live on the river facing their cabin and they come right up to the house every morning.
As always, I was inspired by my mother’s design sense.  While my parents’ home in Texas is edited and sophisticated and the cabin in Ruidoso is full of unusual collections and it’s a bit intentionally rough around the edges, both homes have a distinctive narrative.  They tell the stories of their city life and their country life, their family and friends and they tell the stories of artisans and craftsmen who have contributed to them.

The cabin is full of art done by local artists (friends of my parents), books, family photos, quirky collections like my mother’s paint-by-numbers, embroidered testers, Western bronzes, bears in trees and the menus she collected when we lived in Paris.  In anyone else’s hands, it would be a horrifying hodge podge, but Phyllis May’s curatorial eye organizes all this into something so wonderful you don’t ever want to leave.

Moving on, we spent the last few days of our vacation in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, with my brother and sister-in-law and our cute, cute nieces, Tessa and Samantha.  Hiking through the mountains in the morning is awe-inspiring.  It reminded me of something I was told years ago and try to remember:

All of your design problems are solved in nature.

What do you think of that?  Is Mother Nature ever “off”?  How are you inspired by nature in your own design?

Happy to be back and feeling quite energized by my technology break!  Have a great week…..

It’s a Slow, Slow Summer. In a Good Way.

Via Pinterest

It’s hard to blog about Slow Design and Slow Living if you’re Designing Fast/ Living Fast/Eating Fast.  It’s just a bit disingenuous.  Like speeding to get to a yoga class.

This weekend, thanks to our good friend, Jack Ford, we went into Slow Mode.  Very Slow.  On horseback.  All through Warner Springs, over the Pacific Crest Trail, stopping for a picnic under a stand of old California Live Oaks.  Even the lunch was Slow.  I’m still savoring it.

Jack owns TAJ Farms in Valley Center, a CSA subscription farm in Valley Center (North San Diego County), dedicated to sustainable and responsible agricultural practices.  In addition to households like mine, he supplies pasture-raised beef, chicken, turkey, goat, lamb and rabbit to a number of local San Diego farm-to-table restaurants, like the Linkery and El Take It Easy in North Park.

TAJ Farms

Jack Ford of TAJ Farms

Well, Jack also happens to be an amazing cook.  So, our picnic included a melon salad with mint and balsamic vinegar.  Free range chicken, arugula and sun dried pesto on focaccia.  Grilled Portobellos, Bufala mozzarella and basil on focaccia bread.  And a garbanzo bean salad with roasted garlic, eggplant, olive oil, lemon and  black olives.  It was truly Farm-to-Picnic Table Slow Luxe Food.  I had a hard time hoisting myself up on my horse, Lacy.  I managed.  I love to ride and it was a perfect blue-sky sunny San Diego day.

On the way home, we decided to stop in Valley Center at the tasting room of our friends, winemakers Chris Broomell and Alysha Stehly of Vesper Vineyards.  When we arrived, they were setting up for a wine club release party and welcomed us with a taste of their Mourvedre Rose and a tour of the facilities.  Chris and Alysha create compelling local wines with minimal intervention.  (We ended up staying for the party, by the way.  Oh, twist….)

Cris Broomell and Alysha Stehly

We tried their Vermentino, their Viognier and their Syrah.  They only make twenty cases of each.  All three were delicious and interesting, but the Syrah is notable because it’s produced whole cluster (they throw the stems in, too), foot-stomped and bottled in small quanlities.  Very Old World.

We left with a refillable one-litre bottle of their addictive Rose, a dozen gorgeous brown and aqua eggs, four cantaloupes, half a dozen tomatoes and yellow squash and a delicious watermelon.  Oh, and a few other bottles for gifts.Vesper Vineyards label

By the way, Vesper Vineyards’ one-liter bottles are refillable at Triple B Ranches in Valley Center, while their wines are available on tap at The Linkery, El Take It Easy and Tiger! Tiger!  in North Park in San Diego.  Vesper Vineyards and its growers are constantly looking for way to minimize their impact on the environment.  They’ve accomplished this by reducing their use of glass bottles, corks, capsules, labels and cardboard cases, along with their production and shipping.   Explains Chris, “By filling reusable kegs with the equivalent of 26 bottles of wine we have eliminated so much of our carbon footprint that it’s going to take me a while to figure out the calculation. The wines we keg are the exact same that we bottle, and filled on the same day so that there is no difference in quality.”

the linkery

Vesper Vineyards has Wine on Tap at San Diego restaurants and Triple B Ranch. That’s Slow Luxe Wine!

So, that’s what I’ve been up to lately.  I hope you’re also enjoying a bit of the Slow Life.  Drop me a line.  Dash off a digital postcard from wherever you are this summer, my Slow Luxe Sweeties!  Miss you….

One Door Closes, Another Door Opens: New Projects!

Image

Right now, I’m tying up loose ends on a few projects–and I’m digging into some fantastic new construction projects right here in La Jolla.  I’m so excited about this!

This is one of the parts of any project I love the most:  the blue sky phase.  This is where we bubble out all the need-to-haves and want-to-haves and discover how we can make the home significant for the homeowner.

Then, we go to work on the schematic design.

The lot on my first project has a fabulous ocean view, so siting the house right is absolutely critical.  We’ve spent hours looking at the grading plan, walking the site and scurrying up and down ladders to get onto the existing structures so that we know exactly how everything looks from every spot on the property.  For the record, climbing onto roofs is not my favorite part of the project!

As I said, we’re just beginning the project and everything at this stage is still very schematic.  In other words, we have a general floor plan in place but we haven’t fully fleshed it out–not by a long shot–and everything is still shifting.  So, I’ll wait until we are more finalized on that to post about the floor plan…..

By the way, I’ve worked with the architect on this project for many years and because we’ve done so many projects together, we have an almost telepathic work style.  It’s going to be a lot of fun to team up with her again!

This family wants an indoor/outdoor home, comfortable for entertaining on an intimate as well as a large scale.  Since this La Jolla beach house will be a place for friends and family to visit and to gather, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about how to accommodate guests of all ages.

So, here are some of the thought bubbles I have so far, via Pinterest.

I’m really liking the idea of using part of the second floor family room for bunk beds.  It’s an efficient use of space.  I love the feel of tucked-away, cozy spots, which can also multipurpose for reading or just hanging out.

Or maybe building a great multi-bunk unit in one of the secondary bedrooms is the way to go.

What do you think of the bunk idea?

Looking forward to sharing this project with you as it progresses!  Hope you are all off to a great week.

Images via Pinterest.

My Mid-Week Made-In-America Slow Luxe Design Series: Edwin Blue Furniture

Here’s what it says on Edwin Blue Furniture’s Facebook Page bio:  “At Edwin Blue, our mission and namesake is dedicated to reviving the spirit of a time that treasured things built to last.”

Okay.  My knees are weak.  I think I’ll have a seat.  (This one is the gorgeous Rise Arm Chair…..)

Edwin Blue was founded by industrial designer Clayton Vogel and architect Matthew Hufft.  The two longtime friends set out to put their unabashed idealism into practice, designing and building beautiful, functional, inheritable furniture.  Vogel and Hufft were inspired by the reputation the United States once held as a nation of makers.  They sought to do their part to earn that reputation back with their collection of thoughtfully-designed, hand-crafted furntiure.

Simple lines, generous proportions and a focus on sustainable, high-quality materials distinguish Edwin Blue furniture.

Designed for the contemporary market, the furniture is built through mostly traditional means by a team of craftspeople in the century-old stable that now houses the Edwin Blue studio.

“We create furniture that people want,” Clayton recently told Architects + Artisans.  “To do that, it has to be executed in a timeless manner so that not only will you like it, but your children and grandchildren will too.”

This kind of precise detailing–the type that appears clean and simple–is anything but simple.  The process is excruciatingly precise, much like creating a fine piece of jewelry.

Edwin Blue only uses responsibly-harvested lumber, and chooses locally-produced or salvaged wood whenever possible. Currently they work with locally sourced timber like Black Walnut, White Oak, Sycamore, Sinker Cypress, as well as FSC-certified Machiche. Grown in Guatemala by local farmers, Machiche has the rich grain and durability of a tropical hardwood and is one of the most sustainably-grown woods in the world. Edwin Blue uses only VOC-free finishes on its wood furniture.

“It’s as green as we can make it, and still make it heirloom quality,” he says.

Edwin Blue’s work is aimed at accentuating the owner’s experience (of course, it elevates the maker’s experience, too.)  Every piece is made to order with the client in mind, like a limited edition art piece.

All this, of course, is Slow Luxe Design–the farm-to-table of the home.  Thoughtfully designed, heirloom quality, sustainable materials, handmade in America.

For more information on Edwin Blue furniture, go to http://edwinblue.com/.  All images via Edwin Blue.

My Mid-Week Made-In-America Slow Luxe Design Series: Lindsey Adelman Studio

This week, more than 500 exhibitors showed their beautiful wares at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in NYC.  One of the standouts was the Lindsey Adelman Studio.  And that, my dear friends, is where I will be shining my Mid-Week Made-In-America spotlight today. Of course, if you already know this studio’s work, such as the Bubble Series, you know it shines all by itself, thank you very much.

Since the studio’s inception in 2006, the Lindsey Adelman Studio’s focus has mainly been on hand-blown glass and brass lighting.  (Or should we say mind-blowing hand-blown glass and brass lighting?  You decide….)  In their NYC studio, this team of ten artisans designs, builds and shows their work.  Lindsey Adelman Studio’s globes are hand-blown in NYC by glass artist Michiko and parts are machined out of solid brass in the U.S..  Through 1:1 scale model-making and testing, forms and ideas evolve collaboratively.

Now, this talented team, led by Creative Director, Lindsey Adelman, is branching out into jewelry, vessels, tiles, and wallpaper, in materials including wood, concrete, porcelain, gold, and stereolithography. With skill and care, the team of 10, along with its small network of local artisans, manufactures each piece to order.

One of the truly unique offerings from the Lindsey Adelman Studio is the You Make It lighting series. This democratic design concept is a whole new chic twist on DIY.  Definitely not the rug-hooking kits of my youth.  This is a series of lights designed with standard industry parts that you build with the Lindsey Adelman Studio’s instructions.  You can make a chandelier, a mobile, a clamp lamp or a sconce. As the studio explains it, experimenting with off-the-shelf parts is how Lindsey Adelman herself got started before designing and manufacturing the custom system for the Bubble Series.

So gorgeous.  So amazing. Now, even one of the most luxurious handcrafted American lighting collections is available for DIYers. What do you make of that?  Something stunning, no doubt.

My Mid-Week Made-In-America Slow Luxe Design Series: Galbraith & Paul

Yesterday, my very stylish friend and nieghbor, Sue, told me she was ready for a refreshing redo in her wonderful, breezy ocean view La Jolla home.  Immediately, the subtle block printed fabrics of Galbraith & Paul sprang to mind.  They are a perfect combination of elegant handmade artistry, fresh, yet sophisticated, colors and intricate patterns that seems perfectly suited to my friend and her amazing home.  And guess what?  Galbraith & Paul is perfect for today’s Mid-Week Made-In-America Series!

Galbraith & Paul was founded in Philadelphia in 1986 by Liz Galbraith & Ephraim Paul as a hand papermaking studio specializing in lighting.  Now, this studio workshop specializes in hand block printed textiles, handmade rugs, and studio printed wallpaper available to the trade. The wall covering is a newer addition and it is designed by Liz Galbraith.  (I am definitely seeing my friend, Sue’s, powder room in one of these gorgeous papers.)

By the way, these talented artists also make a line of block printed pillows and lighting exclusively for Room & Board.

Artisans in the Galbraith & Paul Studio work together to create fabrics with a subtle and elegant spirit.  In true studio workshop tradition, designs evolve in original and unexpected ways.  In my mind, this is what truly sets the design experience of using a handcrafted product apart from a machine made product.  Galbraith & Paul studio members care about the process of making as much as the product itself–and their dedication to their craft truly shines through.

What I love about Galbraith & Paul are the wonderful tiny imperfections in the hand-blocked surface. These are the telltale signs of craft.  If you take a look at the image of the G & P artist creating this Lotus pattern below, you can see what that is about.  Aaaah, Galbraith & Paul….you’re not perfect, but you’re perfect for me. Wasn’t that a Grace Jones song back in the ’80s?

All images via Galbraith & Paul.

Mid-Week Made-In-America Series: The New Traditionalists

Well, hello there, Slow Luxe Design darlings! I’m not sure how it got to be the middle of the week quite so quickly, but here we are–and I have a great treat in store for you. Today’s Mid-Week Made-In-America Slow Luxe Design spotlight is pointed at The New Traditionalists.  This is one of my favorite furniture discoveries over the past year!  

In their Soho studio (above Balthazar–how chic is that?), the New Traditionalists design a handsome, timeless line of case goods and upholstered pieces that are custom tailored and handcrafted to order using sustainable hardwoods and stunning nontoxic finishes in their New England  factory.

And who are the New Traditionalists?  Well, they are childhood friends, Phillip Erdoes (CEO) and Brady Wilcox (Creative Director), along with designer David Harris (Director of Communications), who first joined forces to create ducduc, an eco-friendly modern baby and children’s furniture company.  This successful line was the result of Phillip being unable to find any nursery furniture that was both stylish and consciously constructed and eco friendly at the time of his first daughter’s birth.

In 2009, the team created The New Traditionalists.  The furniture is inspired by memories, iconic people and locations–like Park Avenue, Charleston, Truman Capote’s Hamptons, the Colony Club–but, although rooted in the past, this furniture is definitely of the moment, with infinite ways to customize each piece with non-toxic finishes, elegant hardware and a myriad of upholstery options.  The factory where all of the work is done is a renovated and restored 1897 factory in Connecticut.  Here, they bench-make all their furniture using sustainable hardwoods (never any MDF) and lead-free paints.  The proximity to their design offices in Manhattan gives them control over the impeccable fit and finish of each custom piece.  

But, as beautiful as their furniture is, this is a company that has a heart and soul, too.

The New Traditionalists care about the impact they make on their environment and in the communities in which they do business. They care about providing jobs and they offer living wages and health benefits to their employees.  And they believe in giving back to their community through charitable donations and community service.

Handsome. Caring. Intelligent. The New Traditionalists is the whole Made-in-America package.  It is that rare furniture company that cares as much about creating goods that not only look good but do good.  And that, my friends, is truly a beautiful thing.

Images via Pinterest, The New Traditionalists

My McGuire Moment

I have news!  A few months ago, I got an email that McGuire Furniture was running a to-the-trade contest called My McGuire.  Now, I have never entered a contest, but McGuire Furniture holds a special spot in my heart–I was raised on it!–so this caught my attention.  And, well, I sent in an entry.

Well, the news is that my submission to the My McGuire contest is going to be included in the 2012 McGuire Furniture catalogue.  I’m absolutely delighted.  Thank you, McGuire Furniture!

This short video will show you exactly the things I love about McGuire Furniture–its timeless design, hand craftsmanship, the fact that each piece tells a unique story….

Are you a fan of McGuire Furniture?  Which collection is your favorite?  (Currently am crushing on Bassam-Fellows and always adore Barbara Barry.)  Is there a particular piece you love?

So Long April Showers, Hellooooo May Flowers!

I don’t know about you, but I am quite ready to stash my umbrella and enjoy some glorious Spring sunshine and all the beautiful blooms that come with it. (Yes, contrary to those lyrics, it does rain in southern California….)  And to celebrate the arrival of May, here are some fantastic florals–from vintage to watercolor–to add to your interior landscape this season. Happy days!

By the way, I gathered up the lovely framed blooms on the wall below in Paris over the last ten years. They are original French textile designs from the ’30s through the ’80s. They can be a combination of watercolor, gouache, pen-and-ink and colored pencil. Some became wallpaper, some became fabric and some became beautiful scarves. There are recognized textile houses and designers, and occasionally I hit upon one of these, but as with most collecting, I just pick what I like. And what I really like is seeing the artist’s hand and a glimpse into the creative process.  The framed bicycle below the textile “garden” is by the German artist, Konrad Klapheck, also brought back from a recent trip to Paris.  Perfect in my home of avid cyclists!

How about you?  Are you ready to bring some May flowers inside?

Images via Pinterest. Photo below by Bronson Pate, Bauman Photographers.

Driven to Abstraction with Pinterest

Dear Pinterest,

Between you and Mother Nature, I am having a hard time staying focused.  And I have a lot of work to do.

Take all these beautiful pictures I’ve found, thanks to you.  Yes, I just keep obsessively pinning them to my Color board.  As soon as I finish posting, I am going to call my cousin, who is a psychiatrist, and ask her if there is an Obsessive Compulsive Pinterest Disorder in the DSM III.

After I stop pinning.

Hey, these are nice….

You can be sure I’m never going to make a purse out of a pillowcase in three easy steps from somebody’s Pinterest board. I use my boards to gather up thought bubbles for projects. I use them to see things from other people’s points of view. I use them to “own” things I never will. I use them to go places I have never gone and see things I’ve never seen.

When I’m not distracted by Pinterest, you might find me in my garden this time of year.  The pomegranate in the photo “grows” there, right outside my office.  It is a sculpture by the wonderful team of Little and Lewis, a very special birthday gift from my husband.  It has a fantastic Slow Luxe story behind it, which I will gladly share with you soon.  It involves wild berries, the inspiring garden gallery of my friends David and George, Bainbridge Island’s best ice cream and ultimately a trip through the Washington wine country with a truck full of cement Gunnera leaves and my amazing giant pomegranate.  But, I digress…..

What do you pin and why do you pin it? Am I the only one with OCPD?!  What wonderful colorful abstract distractions are growing in your garden?

Have a wonderful weekend!

All images above via Pinterest.