I’m mini-obsessed with Desso’s new “Freak of Nature” hospitality carpet collection… because even in a traditional hotel, I love to see a bit of an avant garde flair. (I also greatly appreciate designers who use charcoals as the grounding neutrals instead of tans and beiges.) These looks are stunning enough to be area rugs… image how much power they have when they’re installed wall-to-wall!
Each year I look forward to seeing what the teams of talent will do for Austin Fashion Week’s Mash-up Competition and this year’s images did not disappoint! Click here to see all of the images and vote for your favorites. Personally, I’m most taken with these. (Photos by: Kim Carrier, Maryna Marston, Raphael Umscheid & Alan Sy.)
A few years ago, my passion for design, sustainability and writing turned into Standard Magazine, an all-consuming, unbelievable adventure. Seriously, it was an awesome ride. But last May, I had to face the fact that we were bleeding money… and it no longer felt like a labor of love.
For the first time in my career, I didn’t know what was next. It took the remaining months of 2013 (all seven of them) to re-group and figure out what I wanted. There were a lot of false-starts, frustration and tears but, thankfully, some clarity eventually made it’s way to me.
In this next chapter, I’ll be focusing more on hospitality, retail and product design. I’m currently working with one of my long-time clients, The Bancroft Hotel, on another renovation, and I’m designing a fantastic new event venue in downtown Austin that will debut at SXSW in March. I’m also dipping my toes into the development side of things (which means that, from time to time, I’ll be my own client) and there are some exciting product development collaborations in the works.
This year I’ll also be chairing Austin’s first fundraising event for DIFFA —something I am really excited and passionate about. The money we raise will be donated to our local AIDS service organization (and we hope to wildly exceed their expectations!).
On a fun side note, I’ve recently gone through teacher training for The Bar Method and will soon be teaching in the Austin studio. What does this have to do with design? Absolutely nothing (unless you want to design yourself a rockin’ body) but if you’re in town, I hope you’ll come take a class with me. I promise to kick your butt.
I have one of the brownest thumbs on the planet, but I can take care of an orchid like a champ… a skill I owe entirely to my mentor, Suzanne Tucker.
The offices of Tucker & Marks were filled with orchids (imagine my surprise when I found that even the intern desk was adorned with one of these beautiful creatures!) and one of my jobs was to keep them happy.
Once every week or so, I’d stick a pencil in the soil of one of them to see if it came out bone dry. If it did, I would collect all of the orchids in the office and line them up outside, at which point I would unceremoniously soak their roots with the garden hose, leave them to drain on the sidewalk for 20 minutes and then bring them back in. That’s how I learned how easy an orchid is to take care of, and how I came to adopt them as my own go-to living element.
In Suzanne’s projects, the orchids are an important part of the algorithm, punctuating the space with a living sculpture. It may be a burst of bright color in a neutral space or a pure white palate cleanser in a sea of gorgeous accessories. Often, it is a stand alone piece on a foyer table, so beautiful and grand that, all by itself, it can tell the story of the home one is about to enter.
Since working with Suzanne, I’ve always used orchids for their magic in completing a design. Several years ago, an assistant whose opinion I valued told me that “anyone could just put an orchid there” and that we should do something more outside the box. Never one to want to be accused of thinking inside the box, I stopped using orchids for awhile. But as I’ve settled into who I am as a designer (and stopped caring as much about shock value) I’ve gone back to using orchids because I’ve seen what they can do that nothing else can.
And when you curate the right orchid for the space—with the level of design-savvy that Suzanne taught me to employ— no, not just anyone can do that.
Above, a Phalaenopsis punctuates my former shop in Venice Beach. Art by Ellwood T. Risk hangs above the custom upholstered antique chair and settee. Below, a stunning Oncidium anchors a foyer in one of Suzanne’s projects (photography by Matthew Millman.)