Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Folk-Minded Design

A mini-trend spotted at I.C.F.F. centers on what Ikea has done so well for years. Folk art traditions offer a springboard for many new contemporary designs ranging from area rugs to farmhouse sinks. Here's a few faves, with sources stretching from Barcelona to Kohler, Wisconsin.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Mouse did not get to New York for this year’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), and so the task falls to this author to report back. A wonderfully odd sort of fair, ICFF attracts both big industry giants and individual artisans looking to get discovered. Booths range from big and glitzy installations to a two-panel, two prototype light fixtures setup that the maker all but prays will not fall down. (Yes, we did see one fall). 

The audience is equally varied. Design curators search for objects relevant beyond their esthetics or use, hipsters hunt the irreverent, retailers source new inventory that will actually sell, and architects and designers expect fresh inspiration. The eclecticism of the event means that, usually, all can find a little of what they’re looking for. Yes, we spied knife-form coat hooks and nasty lingerie-draped chandeliers. But what struck me while looking at such a wide and varied gathering of product and manufacturers was this common thread: Whether their target is our senses or our sense of humor, designers are getting alot more personal with product. Mostly, they want us to feel good about it. And why not? No one's looking for another acquisition. But then there's those objects we just can't resist...

Even the most high-tech, precisely made objects aimed not to be. There were memories of kindergarten craft projects conjured with (very sophisticated) chairs, rugs, and wall art of laser cut felt. Bocci dressed its new 25 bench well in loosely folded pleats upholstery below, right (Mouse imagined these in an Alberta Ferretti boutique). Not just pretty, its pleats create comfortable cushioning on a thin, sleekly wrapped structure and avoids environmentally precarious latex foam. 

Computer keyboards masqueraded as low tech in warm wood, and fixtures filtered light through pillowy bouquets of (emptied) silk cocoons. I loved Joel Escalona’s "Dancing Table" below, an imaginative retake on Saarinen's iconic tulip table. Its rigid top is rendered in ruffles to evoke the swirling, high-flying skirts of Mexican traditional dances. (An equally ruffled carpet exhibited underneath added to the festive theme, but Mouse remarked she could lose a bone under there, and I wasn’t too sure its flaps wouldn’t trip me up). A high pile, creamy white area rug with Swarovski crystals woven into its fibers above caught our eyes instead. Says Mouse, "This must be wall-to-wall in heaven."

Fun and flirty, elegantly ethereal, or soft and nubby, this year’s overall shift is not a bold new direction in style. Instead, it boils down to an ever more thoughtful exploration of how materials, craft, and form can forge a greater emotional connection between a design and its user (canine or otherwise). Our next couple blogs hope to show a few examples of that in detail, as well as a few mini-trends. For how these affect kitchen and bath design, check out Karin's upcoming posts on access.decorati.com.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Mouse just joined One King's Lane via The New York Times (yes she still reads PAPER) and is hooked. Similar to her favorite fashion shopping sites Gilt, Ideeli and RueLaLa, this online clearing house is so well curated it feels much more like 7th floor BG's than time in the bargain basement. This week's events: punchy colored glass bouquet vase sets from Reed & Barton (where even day-old water looks pretty...$39 down from $114); soft merino wool, cashmere, and camel hair throws by Soma for Muse left in modern graphic patterns; and a hand-painted paper covered baroque-themed chest ($39) and monogrammed notepad ($29) from Cote Bastide. All listings are at about a third to half off retail. It's a members-only site, so email Mouse (via the author at kedwardsinteriors@gmail.com) if you'd like an invite. Now if only Mouse and I could meet our friends online for a virtual lunch after shopping.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Mouse and her main man, Lefty G. H. Edwards (below), are great diggers. But I'm no gardener. I can grow nothing, plant nothing, prune nothing. So when the season changes, it's time for a fresh coat of glossy green paint on our deck's shrubbery. Yes, these perfectly coifed boxwoods used to live. Purchased in their abundant glory at Jayson Home & Garden in Chicago, we loaded their heft into the back of the LandRover and drove the five hours home, their weight leaving only four inches of our back tires visible. The square steel planters ? A custom job, fabricated beautifully by Jim Russell Designs. Their oxidized patina? A carefully calculated finish whose rich depths have taken two years to develop. Each shrub's size? Perfectly scaled to their planters. So why, just because of one especially blistering winter, would we ever consider replanting? Initially repainted last Spring, their greenery has fooled all our neighbors since. Even visitors haven't noticed. And no birds have tried to purloin their dried branches to nest. Okay, a few brown patches are now showing through... Nothing a quick spray job can't cure. 

Saturday, May 9, 2009


The air is crisp today, but it's Springtime all the same. And the moment's at hand to clear the fireplace of ashes and dress it anew. Jazzy andirons always help, but this dark, empty box needs a bigger lift. Out come those crystal selenite logs we stored in the garage all winter. No, they're not as inviting as a crackling fire. But their slight glimmer in the light does make the most of longer, sunny days. 

Friday, May 8, 2009


Glitz be gone. In these economic times, Mouse suggests more subtle, more natural icons of glamour. Strolling the trade show aisles at Coverings in Chicago and Cevisama in Valencia, Spain, we were happy to see a smattering of new (faux) gemstone collections join one of many exciting new trends in ceramics. An opalescent glass tile that looks surprisingly like turquoise by Tile of Spain manufacturer Onix Mosaico (left) stood apart from the crowd. Marazzi also introduced a large-format, slightly satiny gemstone slab collection of through-body (colored all the way through) porcelain. Made via ink-jet printing, its subtle vein patterns never repeat in homage to nature's fickle hand. Exotic colored marbles and onyx patterns also caught our eye. And true to Mouse's high-performance standards, all of these designs reproduce nature's jewels in highly durable, long-lasting, never-polish, water-resistant porcelain. Perfect for the bath.  For a fuller report on tile trends, see Karin's 2-part blog on the topic at access.decorati.com.