Thursday, May 31, 2012

Peony Picking

Hours before the ninety degree heat hit, we managed to make it out to the peony fields to help a friend harvest the blooms. It was pretty fun standing in the midst of blooms as far as the eye could see. 
Unfortunately many of the blooms were already wide open. 
It is best to pick peonies when still in bud so that they last longer. If you pick them wide open and looking perfect, they won't last more than a few days. 

The flower grower had many different varieties and colors, although they all looked similar from afar.

On a pretty late spring day, though, even the humble daisy looks beautiful.

Suffice it to say, Mr. and Mrs. Goat monitored our every move!

Great examples of rust patina

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Creative Mind: Joana Vasconcelos

cre*a*tiv*i*ty: the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations 

On June 19, 2012, the Château de Versailles will host an exhibit by the first female and youngest contemporary artist to do so on its historical grounds- Joana Vasconcelos. As you can see already, Joana is the embodiment of creativity.

Versailles has hosted contemporary artwork exhibits since 2008. This year, the Paris born, Lisbon resident will take her unusual creations and display them throughout the palace. The Marilyn shoes will be staged in the Hall of Mirrors.

Marilyn, 2011  
A pair of nearly 3m tall, high-heeled shoes made from stainless steel cooking pans.
One of Joana's earliest, well-known works is the chandelier, A Noiva (the bride), displayed in 2005 for the Venice Biennale.

A Noiva (the bride), 2001

The chandelier was made out of 25,000 OB tampons (with no applicator) 

This filigree teapot, standing 5 meters high, is now on display at Waddesdon Manor for its outdoor exhibition of contemporary sculpture by leading artists of our time, Sculpture in the Gardens, held from May 26-October 28, 2012. It was conceived as a tribute to the history of Portugal's role in bringing tea from the far East into Europe and the country's part in developing that trade over the subsequent centuries.

“Pavillon de Thé”

Photos below record the installation of the fantastical teapot at the Manor. 

 "Mr. Wine", 2010

At Versailles,  among other things, Ms. Vasconcelos will explore the role of women's achievements, beginning with Marie Antoinette and Perruque, 2012, a large-scale wig placed in the former queen’s state apartment. Guards, 2005, featuring two marble lions enveloped in intricate crochet, will be situated in the Queen’s guard room.

We look forward to seeing all that she has up her sleeve at

 P.S. 6-16-12 Here are the high-heeled shoes, Marilyn, 2011 in Versailles:

Cool or what?


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Gossamer Weaves

I am fascinated by the gossamer metallic weaves of textile designer Sophie Mallebranche. Her innovative, 100% metal woven fabrics combine industrial materials such as stainless steel, copper and brass threads. Linen, silk and cotton threads may also be added. Sophie Mallebranche's "fabrics" catch the light, as well as let it shine through.  

Ms. Mallebranche graduated from the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Appliqués Duperré and shortly thereafter won the  Talents à la Carte prize in 1999. Her beautiful metal fabrics have garnered her quite a following, with customers such as Guerlain, Plaza Athénée and the Chanel building in Tokyo.

 In 2008, Sophie joined forces with the prestigious Toiles de Mayenne mills (founded in 1806) to industrialize the fabric's manufacturing process. Before the collaboration with the mill, producing just 4cm of woven fabric took an hour. Now the fabric is woven at 2 meters per hour using fully adapted industrial equipment to weave the metals on a large scale.

Presently, Sophie and her partner, Guillaume Danset, run the Material Design Group with the goal to produce and create innovative materials. "Most of the time I bring something theatrical to the space. At that level, my creations can be considered to be architectural elements or interior textures. My starting point is to make an interesting response to the space. Then I concentrate on the joy of experimentation until I find solutions that may surprise myself."*

Some of her stunning work:


Ateliers Sophie Mallebranche
20 rue de l’abbé de l’épée
75005 Paris
06 22 19 72 03

Monday, May 28, 2012


with grateful hearts.
Because of the brave souls who fought for our country, 
we are still free and able to enjoy the gifts of beauty and nature.

We are blessed.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Monet's Garden at the NY Botanical Garden

If you are in the New York City metro area, you might want to take a stroll through the NY Botanical Garden's newly opened exhibit, Monet's Garden. We luckily discovered it on opening day. Having been fortunate enough to actually visit Giverny last fall, naturally I was curious. The exhibit did not disappoint.

At the entrance to the Botanical Garden, we were greeted by a luxurious display of foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) in full bloom. Talk about a wow factor! 

A little background for you...

 A photo of Monet's garden (reflected in the water) taken by photographer Elizabeth Murray
The water lilies in the Conservatory Courtyard Pools

The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory was a treat for the senses. Before we even entered the garden display, one could smell the roses. The iconic green of Monet's trellises was dead on. Delphinium, roses of all types and colors, poppies, hydrangea, foxglove and, I am sure, dozens of more flowers were blooming happily together. Not a weed or brown leaf or petal to be seen. Granted, this was the first day, but just to bring these plants to bloom to perfection and look natural was an amazing feat.

 Laburnum tree (commonly called golden chain)

Poppy pods in front of delphinium

It was a sight!

 As you strolled out of the flower beds, you passed through this lovely "house" façade.

Just look at this gorgeous structure! 
The Conservatory is a Victorian-style glasshouse that opened in 1902.

There are also two of Monet's paintings and rare Monet artifacts on display in the Rondina Gallery, which we did not have time to see. 

The New York Botanical Garden
Bronx, NY 10458 

I hope you have the chance to go!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Weekending It

Enjoying a weekend in the garden...

Doesn't this clematis have a great color?

What are you doing today?

Tomorrow I'll take you to the Monet exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden
Stop on by!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Kips Bay Showhouse Highlights

Blogfest 2012 is now history! It was an incredible experience organized by the the most generous folks at Kravet  /Lee Jofa / Brunschwig & Fils.  Their attention to detail was amazing; they were zealous in making sure the attendees lacked for nothing. 

One of my favs was visiting the famed 2012 Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse. It was a who's who of interior designers and lived up to every preconceived notion that I had. This year's location was a total change from previous years as it was not only on the West side of town, but was held in a very modern double penthouse rather than a luxuriously traditional townhouse on the Upper East Side.

Yes, green is the color of the moment. In every tone you can imagine. And, yes, lacquered walls are very much still with us. Look at the smoothness the painters were able to achieve in Thom Felicia's "Gallery" room:

In the dining room by Todd Alexander Romano, the wonderful combination of deep colors were accented by a fab silver (probably aluminum leaf or it would have tarnished by now) leaf painting.

The leaf was actually loose and fluttering away- an interesting idea.

Walking into the kitchen, the charming lineup of phaleanopsis orchids pulled you in from the room's amazing views.

The penthouse rooms were rather plain boxes to start off with. Designer Brian Del Toro decided to add wall interest by introducing panels of marmorino Venetian plaster, separated by smooth, polished strips of Venetian plaster. 

The color was yummy... and not green! Refreshing. OK, there were plenty of green accents though.

The iconic Charlotte Moss chose a pretty green grasscloth to become the companion walls to her boxwood wall with its own porthole. Ms. Moss was there in person, greeting the bloggers graciously.

Alexa Hampton's deeply colored "Dragon's Breath" lacquered walls and beautifully traditional decor was stunning. We met Alexa the next day and, believe me, she is one girl you would love to have at your party. She's got the best sense of humor!

Fun idea- the chalkboard wall in a hall. The mural was done by Andrew Tedesco Studios.

I think this next room was my favorite. Very small and cozy with very light cream, polished Venetian plaster walls, it was a private sanctuary designed by Raji Radhakrishnan, who was also fun to meet in the room. She greatly enlarged two photos of her favorite paintings, filling an entire wall with one and using the other above the fireplace. 

Great idea- if you don't use the overhead light, replace it with a sculpture.

I should have known- the meticulous Venetian plaster was done by Judy Mulligan and her crew. (See more of her work here.) The walls and ceiling were subtly stunning.

This is the second photo...

In this digital age, the possibilities are endless- another wall of photos, separated into panels. Very effective and full of possibilities.

Scott Sanders' "The Cabana" room was fun and full of surprises. The color combos were smashing together and so lively. The sofa and curtain fabric is a newly colored re-issue of a vintage Scalamandre fabric.

The Phillip Jeffries grasscloth is "Split Pea" Juicy Jute grasscloth. Lime green and aqua- one of my favorite combinations.

Last, but not least, metallics are still alive. This foyer's Venetian plaster wall, designed by Timothy & Associates, was topped with a translucent silver to great effect.

And this sublime silver leaf ceiling really added to the calmness of the room.

It was a lot to take in!

What is your favorite detail?

[6,9,13,14 Photos by Alexa Stevenson]


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