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…..

My Mid-Week Made-In-America Slow Luxe Design Series: KGB Limited

As I was agonizing over which Slow Luxe Design company to feature this week–this one or that one or perhaps the other one–a miraculous thing, indeed, occurred.  The decision appeared via email.

I opened my email and the answer was staring at me, in the form of this spare little caramel-colored leather table by KGB Limited.  Otherwise known as My Current Crush, Emile.

The table is handcrafted with a centuries-old technique where water-saturated leather is stretched over a maple frame and molded into shape.  And it’s made in New York City.   So sweet, sleek, chic and altogether irresistible.

Who is this KGB, you ask?   Well, I would tell you but I might have to kill you.  Okay, not really….  KGB Limited is Khouri Guzman Bunce Limited, founded by architects David Khouri and Roberto Guzman and interior designer/sculptor, Christiaan Bunce.  Together, they create a line of handcrafted American furniture which can be seen at their stunning showroom in Chelsea’s Gallery District.

The line is, as they put it, “unapologetically modern but executed in materials and utilizing methods associated with older levels of craftsmanship.”

No apology necessary, gentlemen.

KGB works in some of my favorite materials, including fumed white oak, silicon bronze, Statuario and Nero Marquino marble (and some surprisingly amazing materials I never considered, like Pyrex).

And yes, I am somewhat obsessed over the finger-jointed walnut detail in the Statuario marble.  In fact, it is the thoughtful detailing of all of the KGB pieces that really makes this collection special.

KGB Limited has fashioned sophisticated pieces that employ marquetry, leather molding and precious metal plating techniques.

So, what do you think, my Slow Luxe sweeties?  Which of the KGB Ltd. pieces do it for you?  

One Door Closes, Another Door Opens: New Projects!

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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: Christopher Peacock

I’m delighted to tell you that the one and only Christopher Peacock is in the Slow Luxe house this Mid-Week.  Yes, my dear friends.  That Christopher Peacock.  The Christopher Peacock who has been whipping up some of the world’s most delicious kitchens in his company’s American workshop going on twenty years.  And to celebrate this twenty-year milestone, they’ve recently debuted the highly anticipated Culinarium Collection.

This spectacular collection is a nod to the color, style and the romantic countryside of Denmark, The Netherlands and Flanders. The Collection exemplifies the ultimate in luxury and quality.  “Culinarium is an important part of our global luxury strategy.  I’ve chosen a blend of painted cabinetry and hand-selected white quarter sawn oak to exist together in a room.  Culinarium takes on a more traditional feel as I’ve chosen to use cladding on the end panels in the room and I’ve made the door styles and rails wider.  There is a chunkiness to the entire Collection, including the rounded hutch.  What’s always thrilling for me is the hardware. I’m introducing polished copper hardware for its first showing.  The rounded pulls and chic knobs are truly elegant, stunning and are destined to become iconic, and, I believe, fated to become the fashion.  To say the least, I’m extremely proud of our work,” says Peacock.

Headquartered in Connecticut with showrooms in Greenwich, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco, and representation through a select group of design associates, Christopher Peacock products have been manufactured exclusively in the United States for 20 years. Every room of cabinetry is made to order and specifically detailed for the individual client. Using only the finest materials, his team of craftsmen fashion raw timbers into cabinetry suited for every room in the home. From kitchens to libraries, to spectacular bathrooms, Christopher Peacock remains the benchmark of taste and understated elegance.

I find the detailing of the new Christopher Peacock collection entirely fresh.  I admit I was smitten by the hardware from moment I laid eyes on it.   What do you think?  Can you see polished copper handles in your future?  What do you think of the chunkiness of Culinarium and the mix of materials?

Or do you prefer some of the past work we’ve seen from Christopher Peacock Home pictured below?  For me, it’s all about the perfect understated mix of ingredients, whether traditional or modern, kitchen, bath or library and impeccable American craftsmanship.

Drop me a line, darlings.

I’ll be curled up with a good book in that bottom photo waiting to hear from you….

All images via Christopher Peacock Home.

My Mid-Week Made-In-America Series: A Sneak Peek at the Urban Electric Company’s New Steven Gambrel Collection

Did you pick up a particularly lucky penny recently?  Are your stars in perfect alignment?  You must be doing something right because today is your lucky day!  Today is the day you are getting a behind-the-scenes v.i.p. preview of The Urban Electric Company’s  drop-dead gorgeous new Steven Gambrel collection.

I sincerely hope that you are sitting down.  I have to tell you that, when I first got a glimpse of this stunning collection, I personally had a bit of an “I’ve-fallen-and-I-can’t-get-up” moment.  This sophisticated collection, which officially launches June 1st, is a merging of one of the most talented designers in the country, Steven Gambrel, and the unparalleled bench-made American craftsmanship of The Urban Electric Company.

Based on utility fixtures, such as those from the shipping industry, Gambrel then mixed in elements that were more decorative, so that the collection feels both familiar and completely unpredictable, utilitarian and entirely sophisticated.  The Malplaquet, for example, is based on an industrial light, but it’s fitted with striped custom glass that pushes it well beyond convention.

If you want the full behind-the-scenes experience, I invite you to view this video, The Making of the Steven Gambrel Collection.  It really showcases Gambrel’s inspiration and vision for the collection and the amazing collaborative process that went into the collection.

Here’s a peek at the Gilfroy and the Boxbridge:

Here are some other highlights of the Steven Gambrel Collection–and my personal favorites, by the way.

Kardamyli offers a great-looking flush-mount option, which is not always easy to find.

The Abbott wall light has clean, go-anywhere good looks, smart details and I can see it in so many different finishes.  (Okay, I admit, I’m a sucker for a well-placed slotted screw…..)

I’m completely smitten with the Erddig fixtures for their timeless simplicity.  One for the table.  One for the wall.  One for the floor.  And the split finish possibilities!  Well, for me, these are the classic Chanel cap-toes of the collection.

And then there are the lovely lyrical Suffolk chandelier and the handsome Houghton.

Every time I look at the collection, I notice another delicious detail.  Like the petite glass ball at the bottom of the Suffolk.  Stunning!

What do you think?  Tomorrow is the official launch.  Will you be heading to The Urban Electric Company web site to see the rest of the collection?  Drop me a line, darlings!

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.

These Hand-Printed Made-In-America Textiles Are Spot On

On Friday afternoon, I kicked off a great weekend with a spin around Mission Bay on my bike with my husband. It was beautiful San Diego weather and exactly what I needed. Riding my bike makes me feel like a kid. I grew up in a small-town Texas neighborhood where we spent all summer long on our bikes. Schwinns with banana seats. We rode to the tennis courts, swimming pools, friends’ houses and didn’t come home until dark.

Polka dots have the same energizing effect on me. They never take themselves too seriously. I love them in almost any kind of room to inject a bit of freshness and levity and these are some of my favorites, all hand-printed in America. Some are from Galbraith & Paul out of Philadelphia and some are from Studio Bon Textiles out of Dallas. How about you? Do you connect with the dots? By the way, all of these images are via my Pinterest, although wouldn’t it be awesome if I really did have a bike like that? 

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