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Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

I am shooting in Zacatecas Mexico and we had the pleasure of shooting in this amazing old hacienda over easter.

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Mary Cooper is an extraordinary colorist. I was shooting her house in the late spring in New Orleans. She lives in this turn of the century bargeboard house that sits at the edge of the devastation of the 9th ward. Her street is dotted with the x marked abandoned homes ravaged by Katrina. Her place is fabulous! Humble architecturally, crude craftmanship in places have been transformed into modern, chic ecclectisism. Her stylistic perspective resides somewhere between shaker, early colonial americana, traditional japanese and organic modern.  The mix of found objects, the limited resources have culminated into a space that is warm yet mercilessly edited. The almost monastic and austere decor is completely juxtaposed with interesting , suprising and unlikely color combinations. The paint finishes are flat and harmonious with a twist. warm pumpkin and ochre  with an infusion of tuquoise lifts the palette in a way that only a real sophisicated eye could know. Her choices are considered and true to her overall vision.

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Mr. Fabulous! Was just contracted to do the interior of the White House! This of course is the project of a lifetime!!! Take a look at some of Mr. Smith’s interiors.2009-01-13-gasl_michael_smith_daras_022009-01-13-gasl_michael_smith_daras_032009-01-13-gasl_michael_smith_daras_042009-01-13-gasl_michael_smith_daras_09

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As everyone is experiencing the uneasiness of current events, the hope that is out there on the horizon is like a beacon for us to focus on. It is almost impossible to not have some anxiety about what is happening in our economy, even if the impact has not yet been directly felt. The whole world is trying to spend less, re-think it’s priorities and make use of what already exists. New projects are being postponed or pared down––that new addition or luxury kitchen has now given way to the cosmetic renovation which could be simply a repainting of the cabinets in many cases. Many things have been the mother of invention, and a big one right now is having little or no money for a renovation budget. It is time for everyone to roll up there sleeves and get creative.

The good news is that times like these challenge our creativity, which is how we grow. A few weeks ago I wrote about being mindful visually: well this is an expansion on that concept. First of all, everything that before might have been thought of as used, or junk, or old is now green. The new terminology is reclaimed, recycled and sustainable. It is not only vitally important to the health of our World, it can also fashionable, so go through your stuff and make a list!

I like to make lists–so in this case I would make a list with three catagories: 1) what to keep, 2) what can be refurbished and 3) what to get rid of. I talk about taking an inventory in my upcoming book, and the importance of knowing exactly what you have to work with––for example, that tired old lamp you have might be great with just a new shade, and the coffee table you’ve had for years, and are so used to looking at, has great lines, so a new paint job or refinish would update it and give it a whole new lease on life.  Look at your rooms, your desks, your wardrobes and see what you can create from what you already own. I guaranty we all have more to work with than we realize! An example of this is a woman who took all of her family’s old stained and worn cashmere and wool sweaters then cut them up into squares and sewed them together in a quilt like manner. She wound up making the most beautiful and interesting throws and blankets imaginable out of the ruined clothing. It was so successful that she expanded the line by rummaging through goodwill bins and now makes bags as well. The point is is that times like these call for the ingenuity that we are known for, so reclaim, recycle, and create! My dear friend Jocelyn Mason, who designs and creates the most beautiful bags using reclaimed leather, has a saying “if you can’t get out of it, get into it!” Which pretty well sums up where we all are in these trying economic times. So buck up, take stock and get creative.

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One of the things that this campaign season has done for many us, is it has gotten us to pay attention to what we think and what we believe in. No matter what side of the fence you are on, I’ll bet you have tuned into your value system in the recent months with a more self-examining eye. Being mindful about what we are choosing as consumers has never been more important certainly, and we are challenged daily to find value in all of our goods and services. Gone are the days of oblivious frivolity! Even if you have the means, it is totally passé.  What is “HAPPENING” now is to be clear and focused and articulate about what we want our lives to be and that means cleaning out what is no longer working, and replacing it with precise, effective and innovative solutions. This way of thinking completely applies to everything in our lives, from how we vote to how we decorate. Being mindful visually will helps us discern, not only what we like but what is important to us.

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back to italy

 

entrance to a garden

entrance to a garden

inside courtyard

inside courtyard

simplicity

simplicity

garden on the ceiling

garden on the ceiling

bathroom
bathroom
bathroom

bathroom

view of a courtyard

view of a courtyard

I have been fortunate enough this year to have traveled to the Italian countryside twice with one of my favorite clients. When you are on location with a local production company in the region that you are shooting in, you very often have access to places that tourists and quite frankly some locals never get to see. This was the case when we got to shoot at a Popes summer residence in Frascati. Frascati, known as an affluent weekend retreat for nobles and wealthy Romans, is about 45 min. outside of Rome. The quaint little square is flanked by gorgeous palazzos’s. At the very center of the village, at the top of the hill is the summer residence of the Pope. It has been a Popes residence since 1680 and is maintained by the Borghese family. 

 

There were Carravagios, Bernini’s and Botticelli paintings hanging on the walls. The gardens were overgrown and exquisite, with pots full of ivy and flowers. There is this amazing quality when things, and gardens and architecture get old and patina sets in. We are so often trying to achieve that look of decaying oppulence.It is so elusive visually. One of the things that was apparent was that there was rich, deep, vibrant color that had mellowed and faded. The sense that there was a monochromatic color palette was an illusion. Infact the unification of the palette came solely from aging, and like a good wine, or soup the blend is perfect. Italian style, which is a style that is so complex has always facinated me. Even in the most ornate and decorative examples of architecture and art, there is a simplicity in form and underlying structure. It truly is classicism at its finest. Square rooms, center doorways with symetrically placed windows, usually dressed with paneled shutters are what you find in classic Italianate design. Even in gardens, there are center entrances, and a uniformity in the arrangement of pots and benches. And a symetry in the planting of trees and flowers as well . 

this wallpaper is from 1800, and it is tooled leather

this wallpaper is from 1800, and it is tooled leather

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Loft Living has long been a way of life in many cities.

NewYork City is without question the most known for its loft lifestyle. Lofts were first renovated into residential living spaces in the early 70’s by artists who were looking for big, inexpensive spaces with good light . Soho and Tibeca, which were basically no mans land in downtown manhattan, were industrial neighborhoods with spaces that at one time housed sweatshops, printing houses and button factories. These spaces had high, usually tin, ceilings, giant windows, fir floors, and exquisite cast iron facades.

These spaces became very desirable in part because the unobstructed expanse of space could easily be built out without structural restrictions. You could put a wall anywhere! Lofts became customized to the individual and people got pretty creative with the interiors. Although lofts have been criticized for erring on the cold, austere side, that is no longer true! Lofts can be warm, homey and still feel airy and luxurious!

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