The current photography exhibition of Mark Shaw‘s photographs at Liz O’Brien‘s New York gallery is at once remarkable, beautiful, poignant and wonderfully chic. As viewers we are invited to a specific time and place where two creative individuals met in New York’s high society of the 60’s resulting in a unique collaboration. Mark Shaw, a celebrated photographer with a realists’ eye for glamour and style was a personal friend of Tiger Morse, an innovative fashion designer with fearless individuality. Her model-like sleekness and poise combined with an un-self-conscious strange beauty was admired and imitated by many women in her social circle. Both also were clients of Max Jacobson, the notorious “Dr. Feelgood” known for liberally supplying his celebrity clients (including JFK) with “vitamin” shots of super-charged doses of amphetamines. Mark Shaw’s considerable talents were not limited to fashion photography; the subjects of recently published works include numerous celebrities at work and at play as well at least one compelling volume documenting John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy’s young family.
In 1962 on assignment for LIFE, Mark Shaw accompanied Tiger Morse throughout Asia sourcing fabrics for her clothes as well as home accessories she sold in her exclusive boutique on the Upper East Side, A La Carte. What emerged from this exuberant travelogue is a series of enchanting color photographs that contrast Tiger’s perfectly coiffed and unique fashion sense against the hustle and bustle of the world of commerce in the far East. One can easily see how these cultural experiences would expand her awareness and inform her design sensibilities. She further translated her authentic style mix to interiors by way of the accessories and furnishings purchased during her whirlwind travel adventures. Tiger had a knack for combining high and low style, borrowing from the past to bring something into the present, often referred to as Hodge-podge or Bricolage . Her whimsical and spontaneous designs were a breath of fresh air against the severe minimalist aesthetic of that era.
Working my way thru the stylish crowd on the opening night I marveled at the interlocking personalities that converged to create this exhibition. Mark Shaw’s clever and seemingly spontaneous photography captured the effervescent Tiger Morse and that particular era; their shared love of coloring outside the lines and portraying a chic madcap world is palpable.
What emerges is a colorful depiction of a woman ahead of her time, following her passions and boldly standing out from her high society clientele. Add to this heady mix curator Alan Rosenberg’s considerable knowledge and personal insights into fashion’s history, design, the multi-layered story of New York City at that time. Lovingly exhibited in Liz O’Brien’s sumptuous jewel box of carefully selected furnishings, lighting and accessories and — voila! — it’s truly a wondrous feast for the eyes and senses. The large scale photographs and fascinating commentary flow into the setting and vice versa. I can just picture Tiger perched on any one of the gorgeous velvet sofas. Exhibitions that are this thoughtfully organized invite viewers to look at the bigger context, to consider other outsized talents and their visual impact over time. And what extraordinary collaboration is just under the radar and influencing us at this very moment? One can only hope that it is at least as compelling and fun as this one surely must have been.
Published November 11, 2015 in Huffington Post Style section
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged A La Carte, Alan Rosenberg, Fashion photography, Kennedy, LIFE magazine, Liz O'Brien, Mark Shaw, Max Jacobson, Tiger Morse | Leave a Comment »
My client, Dr. Adebola Dele-Michael, the brilliant and respected dermatologist, recently moved her Radiant Skin Dermatology and Laser suite of offices to 116 Central Park South. Although the public spaces and exam rooms had been renovated she wanted the overall look to be more welcoming and reflect the nature of her business: beauty and self care. When visiting the site I noticed her rapport with patients is very hands-on and personable, I wanted to convey that quality while maintaining the practical aspects of a professional environment. Initially I wanted to work with the fine architectural details (glossy mahogany chair rail throughout) and tie in the neighborhood by way of black and white photographs of Central Park, using additional furnishings on the traditional side. But then I veered off into another direction…..
Before: functional but not welcoming
After: a chic cocktail table, beautifully framed art, tweak the seating, and of course – orchids
To balance the classic and slightly masculine ambiance I added a couple of contemporary furnishings in pale creams and glossy whites to liven up the waiting room. The cocktail table from Blu Dot transformed it into a living room, the scale just right for the daily traffic flow of patients in that area.
A couple of colorful overscale prints on the walls gave it a modern edge and brightened things up. Danette Koke, art consultant par excellence, helped fine tune the selection of Carrie Waldman prints and suggested the matte white frames to complement the new furniture.
Stylish lacquer console from Bungalow 5: perfect for displaying product line and storage space
In addition to warming up the spaces we devised a couple of ways to promote the Radiant Skin skincare line. I enlisted multi-talented photographer Reed Davis to shoot the products and then hung the resulting stunning images in the exam rooms and receptionist area. In the waiting room a beautiful display box was built to specifications by Plexi-craft and is very chic on the new console.
Often mixing up a couple of styles works well! Adding a few clean lined contemporary pieces created a more balanced and serene setting. Now I need to book an appointment!
Photography: Reed Davis
Making sure the chairs are comfortable!
A very special THANK YOU to Bara Kirkpatrick Jichova for interiors photography
Posted in Finishing Touches, It's all in the details | Tagged Bara Kirkpatrick Jichova, Blu Dot, Bungalow 5, Carrie Waldham, Danette Koke Fine Art, dermatology, doctors offices, Plex-Craft, Radiant Skin, Radiant Skin Dermatology and Laser, Reed Davis, waiting rooms | Leave a Comment »
A bit of flair for the entry way Photography Qixotic Imagery
In the past few years, wallpaper has had a renaissance; a number of well-known designers have launched their own lines and the technology for custom designs has skyrocketed.
Serene New York City dining alcove: before
….and after (guest appearance by Gus) Photography Qixotic Imagery
I am happy about this flurry of activity: an exquisite wallpaper not only brings a wonderful touch to one’s home, it can transform an ordinary little space into something that looks like a lavish present waiting to be opened.
Classic black and white style with feminine floral
Often I seem to work with wallpapers in smaller rooms that need a bit of livening up, like a beautiful powder room, dining alcove or entryway.
A pretty print as final destination
I like the idea, too, of a wallpapered room pulling you toward a distant happy surprise.
Gianbattista Valli can’t live without Isola Bella “it’s like living in a landscape”
My dream is to use Zuber’s Isola Bella magical landscape for a master bedroom suite. Any takers?
Some of my favorites are in these photographs: Osborne & Little and Harlequin, to name a few. I always love to see what Timorous Beasties are up to in the UK. They give a fun unexpected twist to classic styles. Closer to home in Brooklyn, the amazing Flavor Paper can produce ANYTHING from a personal blown up photograph to images pulled from Andy Warhol’s work http://www.flavorpaper.com/collections
And if you haven’t seen the film “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” go see it. I stumbled onto it almost accidentally. An endearing coming-of-age story with a terrific cast. Ezra Miller steals the screen with his charismatic performance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5rh7O4IDc0
Posted in It's all in the details, Uncategorized | Tagged Andy Warhol, Ezra Miller, Flavor Paper, Gianbattista Valli, Harlequin, Isola Bella, Osborne & Little, The Perks of being a Wallflower, Timorous Beasties, Wallpaper, Zuber | 3 Comments »
Late last Fall my client and I stopped into the Kartell showroom in Soho to look at lighting fixtures; we instantly fell for Ferruccio Laviani’s “Bloom” displayed in a couple of styles and colors at the front of the store. They resembled huge futuristic bouquets of sparkling flowers. But, would they work in a doctors’ office waiting room? We debated and measured and questioned and agreed to take the leap and got two of them in the transparent crystal finish. I am quite sure there isn’t another doctors’ office anywhere that showcases these wonderful Blooms for lighting!
It wasn’t until they were installed that I realized how extraordinary these lights are, the structural design is remarkable and ingeniously devised. Even my favorite handyman, Andy, was impressed … as we laboriously clicked each and every “flower” to the delicate armature. I quickly discovered they are quite tricky to photograph; when they are lit they glow beautifully but the detail of each flower can be difficult to visualize.
Here’s a photo of Andy installing one:
Also this detail of two of the flowers, aren’t they wonderful?
Up close: they look like the real thing
Posted in It's all in the details | Tagged Andy Alilovic, Bloom, chandelier, Cristina Hadzi Interiors, doctor's waiting room, Doctors offices interior designer, Ferruccio Laviani, Kartell, Light fixture, New York City Interior Design firm, Soho | Leave a Comment »
Cleaned up and Organized!
I recently worked with a wonderful couple in Brooklyn that moved into a large brand new 2 bedroom apartment in Brooklyn; it needed to accommodate an entire house-full of belongings. A good deal of this project focused on storage options and finding a proper place for everything from books to running shoes. I re-configured the interiors of all the closets and designed a custom bookcase in the dining area as well as additional storage for the living room.
Many other customizable details presented themselves throughout their new home, for instance both bathrooms had vanities that were completely impractical. I am not a huge fan of “vessel” style sinks but – that aside – in both cases there was room to spare on either side so why not go larger? When Steve Boyd built the bookcase and storage unit for the other rooms we discussed brand new vanities. (The other units I mentioned came out beautifully so I will be writing and including photos in my next post). I selected the other components to got with the existing sink : larger counter tops and new hardware. The top is Corian and and the slightly over-scale Rocky Mountain drawer pulls complements the hardware throughout the rest of the apartment. The wood is a beautiful warm cherry, moving away from ubiquitous mocha finishes. For the master bath vanity we added a set of drawers to the right side which makes all the difference for storage.
Very happy results! Those myriad odds and ends that accumulate in a bathroom at last have a home AND going with a larger design did not affect the integrity and flow of the overall space!
Posted in It's all in the details, Personalized Interiors | Tagged Brooklyn apartment, cherry wood, closets, Corian, Counter top, Interior designer New York City, master bathrooms, Rocky Mountain Hardware, Steve Boyd, storage, vanities, Walton Stairs | 1 Comment »
Clean lines, inviting and stylish
Springtime is all about big windows opening wide and a blast of fresh air as if for the first time in what seems like forever. I think about lighter fabrics and easier day-to-day routines. The beautiful Paul McCobb armchairs pictured here, from a house I designed in Candlewood Lake, Connecticut, are good examples of this casual-chic, springtime vibe.
Designed by Paul McCobb in the 1950’s
My clients’ directive initially puzzled me: they wanted the feeling of visiting their grandparents’ bright and sunny summer house, of camping out, but with a twist of Beverly Hills Hotel glamour for good measure! I think ultimately we got there. The wall surfaces are a happy mix of different grass cloths, lively 70s floral wallpaper from Second Hand Rose, and vibrant paint colors.
The clients had recently been to Australia and picked up a few pieces of furniture made from the rich native Jarrah wood; I had no idea what the furniture looked like and was building my design scheme around these pieces sight unseen! We found another few beautiful pieces at Lobel Modern and reupholstered them. I designed custom sofas, headboards, draperies, and window-seat cushions. The fabrics for the most part are solid cottons in really clear pastels from Osborne & Little, with a few nature inspired prints as well. For that “grandma” touch, I had a few of the sofa throw pillows monogrammed.
The house is furnished and each piece lovingly installed, the lake’s sparkling surface reflects inside on the walls and warm weather fun begins!
- Here and there some nature-inspired prints – love the butterflies!
Posted in Inspiration | Tagged Beverly Hills Hotel, Candlewood Lake Ct., Fabrics, grass cloth, Jarrah wood, Lobel Modern, mid-century furniture, nature inspired printed fabrics, New York Interior design firm, Osborne & Little, paint colors, Paul McCobb, Second Hand Rose, weekend homes | 1 Comment »
Rome Ah the Eternal City! I was very fortunate to have been born and raised in Rome; its extraordinary layers of history, grand architecture, lyrical fountains, and incandescent quality of light touch me in one way or another every day.
Kinokuniya This bookstore in New York and Singapore is a lot of fun to visit: great selection (aside from books!) fashion magazines, ideas for clever gifts, a small café upstairs. I go for the luxurious wrapping papers, pens, extensive playful stationary department.
Chanel nail polish – the intense and edgy colors that morph into cult classics; with names like Malice, Pirate, or Vendetta how can you possibly go wrong?
Coffee Always on the hunt for a new favorite, currently addicted to Yirgacheffe from Gimme Coffee.
The Odeon a downtown New York classic that despite the bustle is always cozy and welcoming with a terrific bistro menu. I love their steak au poivre and decadent profiteroles!
Jean Paul Hevin chocolate, Paris. The selection of dark chocolate bars is staggering and truly mouthwatering. As a birthday gift I once received a chocolate high heel shoe! What a wonderful treat!
The courtyard’s salmon/burnt orange colored walls Photo:
Hotel Costes This luxuriously over the top hotel designed by Jacques Garcia makes me feel cosseted and well cared for after a long day of running around Paris. The intensely lavish interiors, excellent food, background DJ music, and intoxicating fragrances are a feast for the senses. Beauty secret: in the winter I wear their room freshener as a fragrance.
Loulou and Otis
My cats Loulou and Otis, both darling strays that found their way into my life. Otis is a street kid from Harlem and Princess Loulou leapt into my arms at the Humane Society, where they mistakenly asserted that she was not an Alpha female – ha! They are generously allowing me to live in their apartment.
J.M.W. Turner His classical landscapes pull me into their world. As his career progressed his works became more and more abstract, his colors more luminescent, the imagery haunting. The painting above is called “Sky”
Manuel Canovas fabrics I love many, many different fabrics but I find these color and pattern combinations unusual, vibrant, and fresh. In my interiors projects I am often interested in conveying luxury, relaxed comfort, and originality; Canovas’ designs do just that.
Posted in Inspiration | Tagged bookstores, cats, Chanel, chocolate, coffee, color, comfort, Fabrics, fragrances, Gimme Coffee, Hotel Costes, Humane Society, interior design, J.M.W.Turner, Jean Paul Hevin, Kinokuniya, landscape paintings, luxury, Manuel Canovas, nail polish, New York City, New York City Interior Design firm, Rome, Singapore, The Odeon, Yirgacheffe | 2 Comments »