Forest Inspired Wall Art

November 2, 2012 § 1 Comment

I love how the fall has a way of opening up the trees, allowing us to see their graceful limbs and delicate leaves.  This year I’ve been especially inspired by my visits to nearby gardens and arboretums. Check out this fall leaves pattern I developed!


Also this fall, I discovered the artwork of Julie Anne Mann. Her haunting, spiritual drawings of trees onto large walnut panels feel both eerie and comforting. The collection, appropriately named “Forest Portraits”,  presents trees with personalities, attitudes and flaws.  I especially love the portrait titled “The Lovers”, on display last month at the Wexler Gallery. Hand drawn with delicate silver leaf, I would absolutely love to have it on one of my (unwallpapered) walls.

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Little Serow: Big Design in a Small Space

October 15, 2012 § 1 Comment

During our honeymoon, we traveled through D.C. and ate at the most lovely restaurant, “Little Serow“, near Dupont Circle. The incredible basement space, formerly a Dunkin Donuts, looks and feels like you’ve walked into someone’s home in Northern Thailand. The color and texture of the space felt so reminiscent of the room I rented while living in Guatemala, I had to include a photo (see below)Image

Chef Johnny Monis and his wife, Anne Marler, inspired during their travels to Southeast Asia, developed the restaurant concept as well as designed the space. The aqua teal walls feel pitch perfect, as does the corrugated tin ceiling. No computers are visible (the serving staff pulls out the point-of-sale computer to process payments from a drawer), and they don’t have a phone. The no reservations, no substitutions, no frills, 28 seat dining space works (and tastes) wonderfully.

Pattern and softer textures missing from the interior finishes are incorporated into the delightful plateware and vintage dresses worn by the serving staff. The cool green walls help diners feel relaxed and calm while eating the deliciously spicy food, while the small touches of floral pattern help you to feel even more relaxed and at-home in the bustling little restaurant.

Elixr Cafe: Wallpaper, Any Way You Like It

September 21, 2012 § 1 Comment

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Many thanks to the talented team at Greensaw Design & Build who invited me to consult on the beautiful new Elixr space.  I designed the wall treatments, which add a warm touch to the rustic, industrial-style cafe. I love how even a small amount of wallpaper can either dramatically, or subtly transform a space. For example, I chose a more delicate, lattice-style floral paper for use behind the coffee station, which beautifully blends in with the brick, wood, and coffee merchandise. However, on the entry wall, I wanted a bright, dramatic pattern to make a statement and set the tone for the space. Wallpaper can often be much more durable than paint, so it’s helpful to remember that it doesn’t always have to be noisy and colorful, it can be more quiet and subtle.

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In the bathroom, I hand applied a geometric pattern using warm tones to create a homey, welcoming atmosphere without it feeling too decorated or dramatic. The pattern fades in and out of sight, which adds to it’s character and subtle complexity.

Brilliant Design in at The Louvre in Paris

September 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

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I didn’t think I could love Paris any more than I already do (see me practicing my French smile at a cafe in the Marais), but the new galleries for the Islamic arts at the Louvre just might put me over the edge. The new Galleries, designed by the Italian architect Mario Bellini and the local Frenchman, Rudy Ricciotti, feature a striking contemporary glass pavilion on two levels, covered by an undulating steel roof, reminiscent of a scarf, or perhaps a floating carpet.

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The galleries, which appear to float within the Louvre’s neo-Classical courtyard, required ten years of design, development and construction to complete. I’m enamored with the roof, which, at first glance appears light and delicate, but actually weighs 150 tons and has been painstakingly fashioned from almost 9,000 steel tubes that form an interior web, over which are a layers of glass and golden steel.

I love the geometric quality of the roof, so well-suited in both form and function to display some of the most beautiful geometric art humanity has ever produced. See some of my favorite examples below.

I can hardly wait for my next trip to Paris so I can visit the galleries in person.

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Philippe Ruault

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Par Avion: Air Mail Patterns

September 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

Humans love both the art of flying, and the joy of receiving letters. One of our first known air-mail deliveries occurred by balloon on January 9, 1793, traveling from Philadelphia to New Jersey, carrying a personal letter from George Washington!  Air mail officially began in the United States in 1918 and while it’s now considered obsolete (in 1995, the Postal Service began transporting all First Class long distance intercity mail by air), beautiful air mail letters continue to be produced.

I purchased the classic half-chevron/rhombus bordered envelopes  in Guatemala several years ago, (see below) and continue to use them for fun whenever I send a letter to a distant location. Now I’m dreaming up ways to create patterns inspired by these classic shapes.

In researching the subject, I was delighted, but not surprised to learn that the rhombus blue and red framing is just a modern simplification of myriad former air mail designs. While air mail envelopes were almost universally printed with red or blue ink, their outside framing (and of course, stamps) varied widely. Popular motifs include airplanes and balloons, stripes, stars, arrows, and occasionally more eclectic shapes like firecrackers or shields.

See some examples below, from a collection curated by R. Howard Courtney

I’m delighted! And off to develop some modern classic takes on these designs. As always, it’s great to be in good company. Designer, & Kathleen developed a great invitation based on a classic airmail pattern here, which I love. Now off to the races!

10 Corso Como: An Italian Geometric Treasure Trove

August 31, 2012 § Leave a comment

Photo by COURTESY PHOTO

While developing a series of geometric wallpaper patterns, I’m referencing some of my photos from a recent trip to the iconic, genre-defning, Milanese emporium: 10 Corso Como. Located in a dense, historical neighborhood, 10 Corso Como has provided a nearly transcendent shopping experience for well over two decades. It’s not so much a store, it’s more of an institution. Once inside the beautiful gates, you can enjoy a delicious meal, spend hours perusing books in the 2nd floor bookstore, take a stroll through a current, world-class art installation, relax on the rooftop garden terrace, or, of course, shop. The clothes, shoes and accessories are, of course, exquisite.

Today I’m especially inspired by their circular patterns, integrated into the logo, displays, and fabrics.

No trip to Milan would be complete without a visit to the store, which shares it’s street address with it’s name, 10 Corso Como.

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Elixr Cafe Opening Wed, August 29th!

August 22, 2012 § Leave a comment


An amazing (and I attempt not to exaggerate when I say this) cafe with the city’s BEST COFFEE is re-opening next Wednesday after moving to a new, larger location. I collaborated with Greensaw, and the owner to develop and install wall and textile finishes throughout the space. The floral and geometric wallcoverings combine beautifully with the salvaged wood, creating a warm, relaxing atmosphere that makes you want to, well, sit and enjoy a delicious cappuccino. Often.
More photos coming soon.