By Cathy Whitlock
Theatrical, French, and reinterpreted traditional interiors along with all that’s new and chic in hotel design.
Clarence House: The Art of the Textile
Hotel Chic: Hotel Style Translated to Real Life
Design Tech Tonics: Tech Information for People Who Aren’t Techies
Slow Love Life
Kazumi Yoshida and Robert Appelbaum, Rizzoli 224 pages, $65
Sara Bliss hotelchicblog.com
Beryn Hammil designtechtonics.biz/2011/02/ welcome-to-design-tech-tonics.html
Dominique Browning slowlovelife.com
A trip to the Clarence House showroom was always a treat for both client and designer (along with those great multicolor bags). It was also one of the hardest showrooms in which to gain entry—even actress Greta Garbo had to provide credentials one day when she wandered in off the street. From fabric designs such as the Japanese botanicals Papiers Japonais to the whimsical Grand Tableau Chinois, the work of the venerable house—truly one of the most iconic names in textile design—has appeared in historic homes and eminent museums around the world. Founded in 1961 by the late Manhattan interior designer Robin Roberts, Clarence House offered the best collections of decorative fabrics and wallpapers available in Europe to American designers and architects. He teamed up with designer Kazumi Yoshida, and the pair created an in-house signature of unique high-end designs never seen before. Today Yoshida resides as creative director and penned Clarence House: The Art of the Textile just in time to celebrate the firm’s 50th anniversary. The book details the company’s history along with the creative process from initial design to finished product through beautiful images and colorful sketches of fabrics and interiors. It’s a great walk down memory lane.
The marriage of hotel and residential design may not be a new concept, but finally someone has featured the best of the interiors of five-star properties from Amsterdam to Santorini on one site. Hotel Chic: Hotel Style Translated to Real Life is the brainchild of author and freelance magazine writer Sara Bliss, whose work appears in such diverse publications as Esquire, Town & Country, O The Oprah Magazine, and Interior Design. Hotel Chic is a “travel/design blog to showcase the coolest hotels around the globe” and it doesn’t get any better—some of the most innovative designs are coming from the world of hospitality these days. Readers are not only inspired by the stunning hotel rooms, lobbies, and bars, but also by the site’s great travelogue offerings. Bliss also features products on “how to get the look.” Hotels such as Kennebunkport’s Tides Beach Club, Capri’s J.K. Place, and Morocco’s La Sultana Oulidia are putting residential interiors to shame in terms of innovation, elegance, and that essential “wow” factor. Part travelogue, part design journal, Bliss chronicles the favorite haunts of designers such as Jonathan Adler and Miles Redd. Truly one of my favorite blogs for armchair travel, here’s hoping Bliss turns this into a coffee-table book someday.
It has always fascinated me how designers and architects can be adept at creativity and problem-solving yet can barely program their new iPhones. Enter Design Tech Tonics, a blog for people who aren’t “techies” written by an interior designer. The blog grew from the Facebook and Twitter posts of San Francisco interior designer Beryn Hammil, who occasionally offered tips on short cuts, innovations, and apps. Her posts eventually turned into a popular blog, and it’s quite clear Hammil has found her niche. No matter what your level of proficiency, there is something for everyone. A recent post can be as simple as upgrading to Apple’s i0S operating system to more applicable advice on why designers need to know about QR codes (you will notice these in the corner of your favorite shelter magazines), apps for construction and home improvement, and painting and drawing tutorials. While I can go to the Apple website and sift through dozens of entries on a subject, this blog seems to frequently offer what I am looking for. And if you still can’t figure out how technology can improve your life, the filmmaker turned interior designer also has a video for that.
One door closes and another opens as the old saying goes, and it’s a phrase that proved apropos for Dominique Browning. The former editor of House & Garden found herself unemployed after the magazine’s demise, grieving and contemplating her next move. Going from life in the fast lane to discovering a new way to live, she discovered a state of being known as “slow love life,” which translated into a wildly popular blog and the eventual book Slow Love Life: How I Lost My Job, Put On My Pajamas and Found Happiness. While it’s not a spiritual how-to blog, Browning’s candid personal essays cover her weekly journey, reminding us all to wake up and smell the proverbial roses. Her loyal readers are glad she is back and covering topics from “around the house” design, and gardening (clearly her passion), to stories on green living, travel, “in the kitchen,” and even politics. Each no-holds-barred essay reads like an intimate letter from the editor. As Browning notes, slow love is a “means of engaging with the world in a considered, compassionate way” and a place to “practice daily mindfulness in the midst of our busy, productive days.”