challenge: interior design

On January 5, 2015 by theseventhsphinx

Modani, a furniture store specializing in contemporary designs, recently invited me to design a living room infused with my style. The idea is to begin with one of their modern sofas and build out from there, using their accessories or any others. This kind of thought experiment always interests me, underscoring the fluid, plastic nature of style and the sense of the word style that is universal, not limited to clothing or the presentation of the body but inclusive of the entire environment surrounding or belonging to the self.

When you begin to think about style in this expansive way, intimations of one’s style start popping up left and right, its influence revealing itself in every aspect of life. Even if you are not consciously thinking about it this is the case, even if you think you do not have a style, you do. Like an accent. If you do think about it, though, the number of variables up for consideration…endless. The potential for harmony and expression, endless. I have long thought about style in this broad way, a certain way of approaching the world that reflects a bank of principles I am acting on (not so easy to identify these) regardless of the application. That said, I seem often to be contradictory, both minimal and baroque, rustic and modern.

It’s almost more entertaining to design a theoretical living room than a real one as with interior design I always have difficulty making final decisions. They are more final and lasting (and expensive) than most fashion decisions, and not so many of us get to have multiple houses to design.

In the absence of an oxblood leather tufted sofa, I would perhaps go for something completely impractical, like this:


Modani phantom sofa

Having determined a white base (white walls, definitely, large windows), cream and pale wood accents seem inevitable, and texture becomes critical, the presence of interesting textures to balance the absence of color. Hardwood floors in a pale oaky shade (or whitewashed, even!) and a cream shag rug, say.


Modani Mateo rug

A few white leather footstools dotted about.


Modani Tedo stool

I completely fail to get the mania for throw pillows. I can see them being useful for certain lounging positions but the kind that are only for show and actually cannot be used (i.e. are uncomfortable to use)…I don’t get it. Art I get, certain tchotchkes I get, purely decorative throw pillows I do not get. That said there could be some cream brocade pillows on the sofa as well. I guess. And one of these Brahms Mount alpaca cotton throws.


Brahms Mount Alpaca/Cotton Herringbone throw

A low reclaimed wood coffee table with a simple silhouette, the contemporary sofa contrasting with the raw wood.

J. W. Atlas reclaimed wood coffee table

A grand spalted maple bowl wouldn’t go amiss here.

Spencer Peterman oval spalted maple bowl

Bookcases, surely. Perhaps something like this, or perhaps one wall custom built with shelves in some useful geometric configuration like this.

Modani Lugano Library case

So, one wall of books, one wall of windows, one wall mostly a generous passage into the kitchen, and perhaps above the sofa a large brush painting of plum blossoms. Something like this, but I am going to try to paint my own.



OR, the painting alone on a blank wall, and a large mirror above the sofa instead. Perhaps with a simple wood frame or perhaps with no frame, just clean edges.

A vase with some rotation of my favorite blooms, preferences for white and rosy shades. Peonies, snapdragons, tulips, ranunculus, orchids…


Simon Pearce Anemone vase

Hm, something to put the vase on…a vintage pedestal table along these lines. I like the idea of some elaborate touch that isn’t quite intuitive but that is still tied in with one of the thematic threads of the room.


This is a good beginning, I think. Now I’m thinking about the kitchen…

Modani images provided, other vendor images link to vendor pages

weekend distraction: winter white

On December 22, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

I love white all year round, really, but particularly in summer and winter. I think the only difference for me season-wise is the weight and the volume of the textures involved. So for winter: fur, leather, long sleeves, layers, length, weight.  I don’t want just a pop of white here or there, I want a bright monochromatic shout. Not only in the realm of fashion, either, this is a deep preference that spans all environmental contexts.

I am nothing if not consistent.


I covet white bedding especially. 


Michael Kors


Gianfranco Ferré


Kate for Mango






This kind of bohemian chic look attracts me more and more. 


I am on the hunt for a white coat. Scandal may be to blame.


Salvatore Ferragamo


I want white pumps like this. I don’t care how impractical they are, I am shopping right now.



Donna Karan (damn)



Haider Ackermann (check him out)


Marco de Vincenzo


I could do this all day.

images via pinterest


smell this: Manly Indulgence humidor candle

On June 18, 2013 by theseventhsphinx


I thought I would just mention this candle, as I think it smells fantastic, but it turns out to be really difficult to find, some rare collaboration between Nieman Marcus and Ambercrombie & Fitch. TJ Maxx yields mysterious gems, now and then. I only picked it up to investigate because I thought the packaging was cute/ridiculous.

I’m going to mention it anyway.

Usually I don’t buy scented candles. I think this is one of just two that I have, and the first one I was given. It now inhabits that category of not-very-desirable objects I haven’t quite thrown away yet. I have one of those little tea candle diffusers that I sometimes put essential oils in or, more likely, just drops of perfume. With candles the scent is often too cloying, even if it is abstractly nice, or too cheap/synthetic. This one, though, just smells so good. I bought it impulsively and stuck it in my closet. The official notes are teakwood, mahogany, cherry bark, sweet tobacco, amber, and plum. I pick out amber, cedarwood, and sweet tobacco, with the amber rather dark (which I could see as plum-influenced) and dominant but I would say balanced with the wood.

I suspect this is a testament to the virtues of paying up. That is, expensive candles, not unlike expensive fragrances, where the expense is reflected in the ingredients, really do smell better than their cheap cousins. This is particularly evident when I note how pungent the candle is just sitting around, unlit.

So I guess I like expensive candles now.

UPDATE July 2013: This candle, while high quality enough to smell very good, is not high quality enough to burn well (evenly, completely). Lesson learned. It turns out there is (as with so many things. As, really, with everything) a whole world of candle knowledge.

details: by the soap dish

On March 15, 2013 by theseventhsphinx


Hm. So…I have a bunch of vintage posable Care Bears.

I don’t really collect them in a purposeful way. Exactly. I don’t really collect anything. I just, sort of…have them. You know how you just have things? Some I’ve had since I was very small*, and some I got later because I like them, and figure if you ever want something that’s vintage, the sooner you get it, the better (ah, eBay, eBay, eBay. So many curious acquisitions can be traced back to eBay). These are such hardy little toys, the kind of thing I would want on hand if I had a baby.



They are from 1983, like me.

I came across them in storage recently and took them out in a fit of nostalgia. I frequently rearrange my environment, and am always wondering how I can edit it, make it more fitting to the moment. So, for now, vintage Care Bears. They keep me company while I brush my teeth and whatnot. Funshine bear is encouraging me to floss.

[This is the kind of bizarre stuff you can do if you don’t have to share a bathroom.]


And here is the soap of the moment†, the Nancy Boy Signature Body Bar. A nice, classically soapy and unobtrusive scent, all natural, and the bar is a generous size. It’s sitting on my cobbled together soap dish thing, which I really like. My personal environment is an extension of myself, re: style, and it gets the same attentions, bit by bit.

†I like bars of soap, as opposed to some substance that can be dispensed. They are more tactile, more sensual, and there is more art and history behind them.

* As it happens, I really like the wooden Nancy Boy soap dish as well. If you are into soap dishes…