Happy Anniversary to the Urban Electric Company!

I’m thrilled to tell you that my great friends at the Urban Electric Company in Charleston are celebrating a special milestone:  A decade of American craftsmanship.

I placed my first order with UECo nine years ago and instantly fell in love with both their handcrafted lighting and their incredible service.  This is a company in a class by itself, as you’ll see in this celebratory anniversary video.

Thank you, UECo, for including me in your celebration.  Happy, happy birthday and many more!

sunroomThe Urban Electric Company's Garrison Wall Lightkitchen clg052410920053

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!

The Camera is Mightier than the Keyboard

I have to thank Julie Hussey profusely for introducing me to The Makers Project.  Julie writes a wonderful blog called Quartersawn, which celebrates Everything Slow in Charleston.  Charleston, you might already know, is the home of my favorite lighting company, The Urban Electric Company.  It is also just one of my favorite towns, and perhaps even more so as I read on Julie’s blog what a wonderful vibrant, tight-knit community of artisans it has.  That community includes Julie’s husband, Bill, who is a woodworker specializing in custom doors.

Now, about Jennifer Causey and The Makers Project.

Jennifer is a Brooklyn-based photographer whose exquisite photographs celebrate those who “make things and make things happen.”  Her shots of such diverse artisans as a chocolatier, a food stylist, a jeweler and even an axe maker inspire and amaze me.

I could ramble all day on the Slow Luxe Life and never communicate all the inheritable luxury of just one of Jennifer Causey’s shots.  They say everything I want to say about eschewing the mass-produced and embracing the handcrafted and local.  Only they say it so much more beautifully.

Day #24: Create a Framework

Credited to Life on Michigan Avenue
29 Ways to Stay Creative

Welcome to Day #24. Today we will be Creating a Framework.

And it’s a good thing, as Martha says. Because, if you’re anything like me, with a tendency to get a little, uh, tangential, in your creative problem solving, a framework can keep you focused.

Your framework is your narrative structure. In my case, the overall framework for my interior design work is Slow Luxe Design–Inheritable Design. Then there’s the framework of the project itself: What is the style? What is the scope? Who are the clients? I design within this framework, with well-considered, high-quality, local, handcrafted, vintage and antique items that tell a unique story.

When I look at products to use in my design projects, I look for those that fit within my framework. If you look at some of the companies I admire, you can see that.

Leontine Linens’ offers heirloom quality, handcrafted linens, made in Hardinsburg, Kentucky. The Urban Elelctric Company’s offers beautifully designed, timeless, handcrafted luxury lighting made in Charleston, South Carolina. Madeline Stuart’s upholstered and case goods combine stylish comfort with a refined aesthetic–and they have a small carbon foot print, being made right up the road from me in Los Angeles.

Without a starting point it can be difficult to even get going on some projects. If you want to flesh out an idea, you have to have a skeleton, right?

Okay, final thought on Creating a Framework. Sometimes, when I start a project, I use a piece of fabric or a tile detail, for example, to help me create my framework. Then, I start building my design narrative around that particular item. The palette comes out of it, the materials and finishes are inspired by it, and I let it guide me through the design process. I’m not trying to “match” it–I’m just using it to stay focused on my vision.

Speaking of projects, I’m starting an exciting project soon. It’s a Slow Luxe Design Project–and I plan to take you along as I post. It’s two lots in the village of La Jolla with knock-out ocean views. I can’t even tell you how rare an ocean view is in the village. Definitely worthy of some Inheritable Design. Can’t wait to share this process with you!

See? I’m off on a tangent…..

Love it! Day #16: Go Somewhere New

Credited to Life on Michigan Avenue
29 Ways to Stay Creative

When I see the words “Go Somewhere New”, I feel a little spring in my step. I imagine myself in far-flung countries, picking through treasures at antiques markets, perusing sculptures in magnificent museums, people-watching in outdoor cafes and meandering through formal gardens.

Last year, I visited Charleston, South Carolina for the first time. If you haven’t been there, and you want to Go Somewhere New, go there. What a fantastic city, full of history and architecture. I was there in the spring and everything was in bloom. Wow! That’s all I’m going to say. I also had the opportunity to tour The Urban Electric Company‘s workshop. Another wow! All of their lighting is bench made to order right there in Charleston. By the way, I just received a sneak preview of their 2012 Collection. Extra wow! This collection is designed by Michael Amato, who must “Go Somewhere New” often, because he is so incredibly creative.

Anyway, as creatively inspiring as world travel surely is, changing the scenery with a quick visit to something in your own backyard can be equally energizing. I know that, because the majority of my clients are in my own neighborhood, La Jolla, it is easy for me to go for weeks without getting out of my area. So, when I go out, I try to get out of my neighborhood and my element and see things in a different way.

A few weeks ago, I went out with my husband to a craft beer and pizza establishment in the North Park area of San Diego. The crowd was young and hip–but not trying too hard to be hip–families. The atmosphere was Slow. Slow Food. Slow Beer. Slow Design. Lots of recycled and repurposed materials and big, friendly tables. The owner, my husband told me, was a former graphic designer and the place had been a window blind factory in its previous life. Hence, the name: The Blind Lady. It sure perked me up creatively speaking. I’m pretty sure that even if I go there again, it will still help me stay creative.

So, how about you? Going somewhere new to stay creative? Drop us a line!

Yay! It’s Day #11: Surround Yourself with Creative People

Credited to Life on Michigan Avenue
29 Ways to Stay Creative

Ok, I was trying to love all 29 days equally, but I have to be honest: I’m a little partial to Day #11. It’s hard to stay creative in a vacuum. Being around other creative people is energizing and inspiring.

Part of why I started this blog has to do with this: I wanted to carve out a meeting place for anyone who is interested in Slow Luxe Design–inheritable design! This would be a place to inspire, collaborate, teach, share ideas, stories and resources.

Do you want to know how the amazing artisanal mirrored glass is created for the Urban Electric Company’s new Globus fixture? You would read about it here. You want to know how many pairs of hands work on each hand-embroidered piece from Leontine Linens in their workroom in Hardinsburg, Kentucky? I want to bring you that story. Want to hear about the abandoned factory that The New Traditionalists rehabilitated in New England to build their line of sustainably harvested neo-trad furniture? I want you to meet all of my Slow Luxe Design friends and hear their fantastic stories right here!

What I envision is creating a consortium of vendors, suppliers and designers who are committed to Slow Luxe Design. I really want to surround myself with others in the design trade who care about taking time to source high quality, well-crafted American made items or vintage, up cycled and antique items for the home instead of going to mass-market goods.

What do you think? Do you want to come to the Slow Luxe Design party? Do you know of anyone who might like an invitation?

The more creative people we surround ourselves with, the more we’ll stay creative. And the more fun we’ll have doing it. See you tomorrow!

Day #6: Take Breaks

29 Ways to Stay Creative
Credited to Life on Michigan Avenue

I’m a big fan of Day #6: Take Breaks!

After all, there simply wouldn’t be Slow Luxe Design without a few breaks along the way.

Slow Luxe Living is about slowing down your pace, getting out into the world, being part of a community, and making choices in a more mindful way.

A friend of mine used to say, “All of your design problems are solved in nature.” and as I take frequent breaks to wander around my garden or walks in my neighborhood with my husband, I’m amazed at how often that statement rings true.

Here’s a great example: As the story goes, when James Klein and David Reid of the New York porcelain design studio, Kleinreid, first approached the late legendary Eva Zeisel to partner with them on a project, she invited them to come with her to her home in upstate New York.

“When we arrived upstate the next day, she ordered us out of the car to take a walk through a nearby apple orchard insisting, “You live in New York City and need to see trees and nature.” We spent the rest of the day on her patio drawing forms and cutting paper silhouettes.” The lovely “Eva” collection came from that initial “break”.

That’s the essence of Slow Luxe Design and Slow Luxe Life, folks. So, take a walk. Hit an estate sale. Cook a great meal.  See a movie. Just get “off the clock” for a while. You may find you get more out of your “on the clock” time if you do.

That’s Day 6. Take Breaks. Enjoy!

Day #4: Get Away From the Computer

Credited to Life on Michigan Avenue

29 Ways to Stay Creative

Welcome to Day #4: GET AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER.

Yes, even if Leontine Linens just launched their new web site and Jane Scott Hodges’ blog and you’re just dying to peruse it. It’s clean, classic and altogether fabulous–like everything they do.

Yes, even if you just got a preview of the new 2012 Urban Electric Company lighting collection by Michael Amato and you could sit and gaze at it for hours because it’s absolutely stunning.

No. It’s Day #4: GET AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER.

If you need me, I will be having my favorite Slow Lunch: Veggie chile at Zinc Cafe in Solana Beach with my friend and client, Susan, who has a formidable Slow Luxe Hedi Schoop collection, a wicked sense of humor, a pretty darn cute dog by the name of Lucy and the ability to whip up a mean plate of Snickerdoodles when the situation calls for it.  What more do you need?

This concludes today’s post.

Off to a Bright Start

The Urban Electric Company's Garrison Wall Light As I mentioned in my page on Slow Luxe Living, The Urban Electric Company is hands-down my favorite lighting company. I first fell in love with the aesthetics of these lights in about 2004 or 2005. I loved that they felt familiar and fresh, nostalgic and modern, all at the same time. Timely.  Timeless. Many of my personal favorites in the Urban Electric line are the work of Michael Amato, the company’s Creative Director. Soon after, I placed my first order and I swooned over the impeccable workmanship. For a gal who cares about stuff like clean welds, workmanship of this calibre is a really big deal.

Last April, I had the opportunity to tour the Urban Electric Company‘s workshop and corporate offices in Charleston. What a fantastic experience. All of their fixtures are bench made by hand by their artisans in Charleston. From the artist who creates the glass to the engineering staff to the craftsman who applies the metal finishes, the process is amazing. Even the way The Urban Electric Company packages their fixtures for shipping is a work of art. I’ve really never seen anything like it. And I won’t even get started telling you about the service at The Urban Electric Company.

I am so pleased to be featured in this month’s Eye on Design Blog by The Urban Electric Company. What an amazing way to kick off 2012!

Title: A conversation with Andrea May
Link: http://blog.urbanelectricco.com/the-blog/2012/1/6/a-conversation-with-andrea-may.html