Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dana Volkert Art Exhibition in the Hamptons

We were very excited to attend the opening of our dear friend Dana Volkert's Hamptons art exhibition at MaD Gallery in Wainscott this past Saturday evening. Dana's work has been featured in numerous solo and group shows, but this is her first exhibit in the Hamptons. The title of her show is "Atmospheres," which is appropriate since elements of nature appear as common threads throughout the entire collection.

Dana's fascination with the natural world is translated onto her square, rectangular and circular creations as swirls of color that, on a grand scale are reminiscent of imaginary yet familiar planetary bodies, and on a smaller scale, are evocative of the whorls found within the natural variations of marble and granite. "I have always been inspired by the natural world and its colors and complexity," Dana said. "This new body of work has elements of sea, sky, stone and earth."

Atmospheric circles

The show is curated by Carole Reed, a former art curator for the House of Blues. Carole, who has put together many art exhibitions throughout the Hamptons said, "Dana's work embodies a fully modern and ethereal aesthetic that shows us a macrocosmic world that is both elegant and sublime."

Exhibition curator Carole Reed talks to some of the guests

Dana created the pieces for "Atmosphere" using a proprietary technique that she has developed over the years...It's part art, and part chemistry, and the results are pieces of art that look as though they have been carved directly from nature. Yet, in an artistic sense, Dana's creations transcend nature and posses a modern abstract element to them. They compliment each other when grouped together, and become a featured centerpiece when hung alone.

Atmospheric 12" Squares

Dana grew up in Middleburg, Virginia and, after living and painting in New York for several years, she has returned to her Middleburg roots where she lives with her husband, the noted sculptor Eric Goulder, and their daughter Eva.

Jennifer Mabley, artist Dana Volkert & curator Carole Reed

Michelle Hatch, Jackie McKay and Jennifer Mabley

We have used several of Dana's art pieces in our design projects, most notably in our Parsonage Pond Road project in Sagaponack where we used four of her paintings. Her artwork works so well in conjunction with our Hamptons design aesthetic...Sophisticated collectors appreciate the artistry of her work, and the colors and patterns are evocative of the natural elements without felling overtly beachy. And having said that, our favorite piece from the show is called "Oceanic Blue Atmosphere." It would look wonderful in any number of our Hamptons projects, and even better in our house!

Oceanic Blue Atmosphere 2011

Amazing detail photos of  Oceanic Blue Atmosphere

The colors and patterns that Dana is able to achieve through her complex (and highly secretive) process are unbelievably intricate and stunningly beautiful. We've included several detail photos above, make sure you click on them to enlarge them. But to truly appreciate the subtle beauty and artistry of these paintings, you will have to see them in person.

Dana with Jennifer and Austin

"Atmospheres" is at MaD Gallery in Wainscott, NY through October 2nd. Appointments begin this Saturday, September 24th at noon...If you're interested in seeing Dana's artwork, contact Carole Reed at (631) 875-7366, or just ask us!

Non-art highlight of the evening: Montaco (the Taco truck from Montauk) provided the delicious food at the event!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Guest Post on Tobi Fairley's Blog Today

We were so honored to be asked by our new friend and fantastically talented designer Tobi Fairley to contribute a guest post to her blog today. Tobi is up in the Hamptons preparing for the opening of the Hampton Designer Showhouse this Saturday evening. Tobi and her team have designed a gorgeous bedroom in the house, so we thought it would be fun to write a little bit about the history of the Hampton Designer Showhouse. It's a huge draw for the Hamptons, and the opening gala is one of the must-attend benefit parties of the summer...But most people don't know how the Showhouse got started. Follow us over to Tobi's blog to get all the details, and see some of the great rooms from past year's Showhouses. And be sure to come back here tomorrow for a sneak peak at some of the rooms in this year's Hampton Designer Showhouse.

A Hamptons Home Theater by Mabley Handler

We know what you're thinking: When you hear "Home Theater" you can't help but visualize red velvet seats, heavy drapery, and bad art deco architecture. We've all seen gimmick home theaters in McMansions...It's amazing the amount of money some people spend to create something so awful. Well, put those images out of your mind! We're going to show you how we do a Mabley Handler Home Theater, Hamptons-style.

When one of our clients in Water Mill asked us to help them transform a portion of their lower level into a home theater, we knew we would have our work cut out for us. First of, the builder had put marble floors throughout the entire lower level...Luxurious, to be sure, but an acoustical nightmare! the room also featured two open doorways into the room, so we were challenged with creating an appropriately dark space to screen films that sounded as good as they looked.

To address the acoustical concerns, we proposed carpet laying carpet over the marble floors, and upholstering the walls to create a more favorable listening experience. We originally suggested a large U-shaped sectional sofa to add a social dimension to movie-watching, but our clients felt strongly that they really wanted a true movie theater environment, with individual theater seats for at least eight people. And most importantly, they didn't want the rood to be a heavy and drab...Or red! Their Hamptons house has the classic Mabley Handler styling, with plenty of grayish blues and silvery grey tones. They expected their home theater to have the same feel as the rest of their house.

Our first hurdle was the seating...The home theater seating we had seen in the past had struck us as being very, well, cheesy, for lack of a better word! We couldn't imagine incorporating them into a Mabley Handler-designed room...However, when we saw some of those same seats upholstered in a white leather, all of a sudden we found ourselves coming around! In the end, we selected Palliser Hiland chairs which had all of the power reclining features that our clients wanted, with the style that fit the room. As planned, we carpeted the rear elevated platform and floor, and upholstered the walls.

Our clients wanted the upholstered walls to be blue and silver, with an interesting style, texture or pattern...And we found a great fabric that had all of that: Kravet's Barbara Barry Inlay in Delft, a beautiful circle-and-square geometric fabric, in the perfect shades of blue, grey and silver. We had previously used the fabric for throw pillows on another project, so fortunately we had a swatch of it in our fabrics library.

To create intimacy in the room, as well as block the light coming from the two open doorways that framed the theater screen, we designed a single drapery panel for each opening. The panels would sweep to one side to allow our clients and their fellow theater-goers to walk in, and then they could be released to fall and cover the opening. We used some of Kravet's luxurious velvets...But instead of cliché red velvet drapes, we offset the weight of the panels by keeping the colors light: Off-white velvet panels, with a generous blue velvet leading edge, bottom border and tie-back, constructed by Enzo Valfré of Verduno Collection in Sag Harbor.

We added sconce lighting to the walls to create a softer glow around the room instead of having to use the harsh overhead recessed lighting. We selected the Hardy Cylinder Sconce by Visual Comfort from Circa Lighting. The fixture's square backplate and circular glass shade with silver rings complemented the geometric Kravet/Barbara Barry Inlay fabric perfectly. We were even able to center the sconces directly on the geometric pattern on the walls, thanks to meticulous planning of the layout on the part of our wall upholsterer.

The walls were upholstered by Chris Parks and his team from Arthur Parks Upholstery, and they really did an amazing job. If you've never upholstered walls, you have no idea how much planning, sketching, E-mailing and discussing goes on before the upholsterer even sets foot on the job, especially if the fabric has a geometric pattern in it that has to be matched up panel-to-panel. We had to lay out the fabric in such a way that the pattern ran continuously all around the room, and fell centered on the walls, despite the fact that there was not one wall that was symmetrical to the other side of the room. And we had to do all of this before we even bought the fabric...We need to figure out the layout so we knew exactly how much fabric to buy in the first place, with a minimum of waste.

Before: An ordinary lower level room

After: The Mabley Handler Hamptons-style Home Theater

We say all this not to dissuade anyone from considering upholstering walls in their house. On the contrary, it's a fantastic way to bring color, texture, pattern and interest into a room (with the added benefit of acoustical dampening)...We just recommend that you consult a professional to help you execute it. As we said, there is a lot of planning involved, so many details to think about ahead of time, and so many things to go wrong! So before you find yourself holding a wall stapler and a roll of fabric, talk to an expert first!

In the end, our clients were thrilled that their home theater was completed, just in time for their many house guests to enjoy it. And personally, we were very happy that we had proved to ourselves (and the world!) that we could create a home theater for our clients that evoked the look and feel of the rest of their house, rather than pander to the clichéd generic stereotype of what a home theater should look like.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

NY Gift Show, Our Picks: Furnishings

Last week we braved the icy wintery mix of slush, snow, freezing rain and black ice that's been plaguing the East Coast to head into the city for the New York International Gift Fair. Nothing was going to keep us from seeing the latest and greatest in home furnishings and accessories!

The NY Gift Fair runs twice a year, in August and January. The "gift" portion of the fair (small accessories, gifts and products) is held in the Jacob Javitz Center, but the home furnishings vendors are all located in Pier 94 (West 55th Street & 12th Avenue/Hudson River), which makes it much easier for interior designers and store buyers to focus on the product lines appropriate to their work.

Our favorite new find at the Gift Show is COUEF, founded by Chicago-area interior designer Jamie Schachtel. And what is a COUEF, you ask? Well, unlike the Thneed in Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, this really is  a fine something that all people (and their houses) need! COUEF stands for: Chair Ottoman Upholstered End-table Furniture...It's a simple concept, with several thoughtful details and a ton of customization options. The basic ottoman/foot stool can be made rectangular or square, can include a pull-out shelf, and has a top that can be removed to reveal a storage area inside. The base can be clad in a variety of materials, from fabric to leather to wall paper to mosaic tile (yes, tile!)...And the top has options too, fabric, leather, even terry cloth for the perfect bathroom stool. It's a clever piece of furniture with great versatility.  Our favorites are below...Go buy one right now!

Mosaic tile base with terry cloth top and pull-out shelf
Ultrasuede with applique and nailheads

Mosaic tile base with mohair top and pull-out shelf

Wallpaper base with nailheads and velvet top

We discovered Oomph last spring, just as we were starting to design our room at the Hampton Designer Showhouse. They were kind enough to lend us a beautiful Fairfield coffee table for our room, and we've been fans of theirs ever since. Oomph was founded in 2009 by Amy Rice, Patty Hopple and Louise Brooks, three long-time friends from Fairfield County, Connecticut...And what started out as a small collection of pretty lacquered tables has now blossomed into a thriving business producing these must-have tables. We've included our favorite new pieces below, starting with their stunning Backgammon table that we loved so much, we ordered one for ourselves on the spot for our Lake George house that we are in the process of renovating (more on that next week...). The Fenwick Chart table is another great addition to the Oomph line...It features a real National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration nautical chart of Nantucket, Martha's Vinyard, or your choice of any of NOAA's available navigation charts. A perfect addition to any beach house.

Backgammon table in Club Navy

Fenwick Chart table

Tini tables with Fez & Marrakesh marble tops

Tritter Feefer
We have been ordering furniture from Tritter Feefer for a few years now. Their hand-crafted wood furniture works perfectly in many of our projects, and their pieces are available in a wide variety of beautiful finishes (we like St. Moritz, Sausalito, Hamptons and Sand Dune). The collection is rooted in Gustavian design, but with a more casual finish to it. Some pieces are traditional, while others have more of a transitional feel to them...Overall, we call their style garden chic! We love their new San Blas desk, and  their Laura cabinet side table will also be making an appearance in the guest room of our Lake George house. Tritter Feefer is based in Georgia, and all of their furniture is made on site. Owners Bill Aultman and Mary Louise (ML) Littlefield are very accessible and easy to work with, and they are very collaborative. And in case you're wondering, their company is named after their grandchildren's nicknames: Tristan (the Tritter) and Faith (the Feefer)!

San Blas wood and metal frame desk

Bella side tables, available in round, square, and rectangle

Laura cabinet/side table

Mr. Brown from Julian Chichester
Mr. Brown is a new spin-off from noted British designer Julian Chichester. As opposed to the highly stylized (and high end) Julian Chichester products, The Mr. Brown collection is a more retail-friendly line...But even at the lower price point, you still get plenty of style. Out favorite was a  casual gray cerused oak chair, very beach house chic. They also have a great lighting collection (more on that next in part two of our Gift Show round-up).

Dunstans Chair in Old Gray oak & linen cushions

Roost has become one of the most talk-about home furnishings and accessories vendors in the last few years, probably best known for their modern carved wooden deer heads (you couldn't open a design magazine or read a design blog without seeing them a couple of years ago). They also have a small but well-designed collection of furniture with an industrial yet natural edge to it. Their new industrial picnic table & bench and round cafe table & stools are great (And we still love their aluminum-top table with wood base).
Industry dining table & bench in recycled teak & cast aluminum

Industry cafe table & stool in recycled teak & cast aluminum

Aluminum desk with wood base (Dining & coffee table also available)

Bungalow 5
OK, we say everything is our favorite, but Bungalow 5 really is one of our favorite vendors, and has been for years...We use their furnishings in almost all of our projects, and we have their cerused oak Alexa chairs in our own kitchen. Aside from their cerused wood furniture, they are best known for their painted lacquer pieces, and the new smaller version of their Brigitte dresser is just delicious in pale blue. The also have a great selection of grasscloth-wrapped furniture, which takes modern-lined pieces and relaxes them with a lacquered grasscloth covering. The look is very Mabley Handler, so it's no surprise why they are one of our...Favorites! The also just opened a Bungalow 5 store in NYC, so pop in and see them.
Brigitte 3-drawer dresser in Light Blue

Frances A/V Cabinet in White Lacquered Grasscloth

Luna Bella
The style of the Luna Bella collection is on the shabby chic/romantic side, and probably a bit more formal than we usually do. However, we love this sofa and daybed...And when you love something, you find a way to make them work! They also had a bed with an amazing built-in overhead light option...Unfortunately, we didn't get a photo of that, but we wish we did! Oh well, something to look forward to next time...

Fiano Sofa in vanilla chenille

Madrid Sofa in blue velvet

One of our go-to vendors is Worlds Away...Their combination of reasonable price point and great style makes them a designer's best friend. They are probably best known for their beautiful iron frame and glass top side tables, which bring a touch of glamor to any room. They also have a great selection of cerused wood pieces, and brand new this year is a stunning collection of faceted glass furniture. Now we just have to find the perfect client for these ice-blue glass bedside tables...
Farrah night stand in Ice

Lynda mirrored console table in Limed Oak

Curly demi-lune cabinet in Limed Oak

This vendor was new to us...Zentique, what a great name! The have a great collection of cottage-style Gustavian-inspired furniture, very cozy and comfortable, and perfect for a Hamptons house, or any kind of cottage, Hamptons or otherwise. They show their Aubert sofa as a dining option with a kitchen table, but that looked a little too forced to us...We would rather see it in a sitting room, or even in an entryway or hallway. And their Napoleon Half Wingback chair is more like a chair-and-a-half wingback chair, super comfortable.

Aubert sofa in gray linen with brass nailheads

Napoleon Half Wingback chair in natural linen with brass nailheads

Halo Styles
Probably better known for their bold Union Jack-adorned furniture and artwork, Halo Styles also has some more subtle pieces that are beautifully designed, like the zinc-topped pine farmhouse trestle table and Thonet-inspired X-back bentwood cafe chair that we saw at the show...Perfect for a farm house, or your house. We'll feature their nautical semaphore flag pillows (great for lake houses and beach houses) next time.

Pine dining table with zinc top and Bali Cross chair in Antique Oak

Chelsea Textiles
Chelsea Textiles has an interesting mix of furniture styles, a Gustavian collection, a Mid-century modern collection, and a high-style, high gloss lacquer collection...But what unifies them all is their stunningly gorgeous color palate, soft grayish hues of blue, green, cream (they also have some punches of color in burgundy, red, navy and aqua). Our favorite piece of theirs was the elegant two-drawer bedside table in the prettiest shade of gray-blue called Almond, which is not a tan color as you would have imagined...Apparently, it's named for the color of the inside of an almond shell. We'll be checking for that the next time we crack open an almond!

Two Drawer bedside table in Almond

Design Workshop
If you like industrial furniture, look no further than Design Workshop...They are your one-stop shop for it all: Parsons tables, drafting tables, school desks, architect stools, and an assortment of rolling carts. Their furniture looks equally great in a modern Hamptons barn as it does in a Brooklyn loft...Our pick of the litter is their nickel chrome faux-bamboo chair: Industrial design meets old-school Southampton!

 Nickel chrome Bamboo chair with linen cushion

Design Legacy by Kelly O'Neal
Design Legacy has been around since 1989, but they are new to us. They have a broad range of vintage fabrics (in nautical, animal, floral/topiary, political/flag patterns, and many others) that you can use to customize anything in their vast range of products, including picture frames, trays and upholstered furniture. They also have a well-curated collection of accessories, but our favorite piece was this very simple iron frame chair with vintage coral fabric seat.

5 Square iron chair with vintage coral linen seat