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:

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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.

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Modani Mateo rug

A few white leather footstools dotted about.

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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.

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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.
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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.
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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.

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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…

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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.

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

Modani images provided, other vendor images link to vendor pages

distraction: Retro Butterick

On September 7, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

I’ve been itching to sew lately. Getting great inspiration from these 50’s and 60’s Retro Butterick patterns, especially these bell or swing/rockabilly skirt styles.

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May need to take a stab at this last one.

images via pinterest

summertime blues

On July 7, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

While blue seems to be the favorite color of a significant fraction of the population, it’s one of those colors I often overlook when picking out clothes and accessories. I do like teal and turquoise, which is to say I like my blue with green in it.

When I notice holes like this in my wardrobe (there is also almost no red in my possession, I noticed recently) I like to think about them – about why there might be such an omission, and whether or not I’d like to remedy it. I do abstractly like ultramarine and cornflower blues, baby and powder blues…but there is a great difference between liking a color and wanting to wear it. It’s a decided personal stamp of approval, it seems, to wear (and so, often, to purchase, to have purchased) a color.

If there was ever a time I would want to sport a true blue, summer is it.

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This saturated cornflower blue t-shirt (I know, a t-shirt. So adventurous) is now the brightest blue on hand. The part of me that wants to wear some combination of white, cream, caramel, and cognac at all times thinks it’s a bit garish but I do like it. Fashion baby steps.

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J Crew tee, Joe’s skirt, Steve Madden sandals, vintage beaded clutch, Skagen watch, Vuarnet sunglasses, 10mm pearl studs from Pearls of Joy, pearl ring from Pearl Paradise, 6mm pearl necklace* from eBay, vintage amethyst bracelet. On the lips: Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet in La Favorite. On the nails: Deborah Lippmann Girls Just Wanna Have Fun polish (a really bright, pretty coral).

*I’ve been wanting a choker length pearl necklace in a small pearl size for a long time, basically because of the costumes in movies like Dangerous Liasons, Valmont, and anything set in 18th century France, in which they are often worn by young, unmarried women to great effect. I like how they ever so gently mold to the curvature of the throat, the 6mm size youthful and understated.

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all the gold things can stay

On December 27, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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One of my favorite side-effects of the resurgence of vintage and retro aesthetics is the old school packaging popping up here and there. If lipstick is good, lipstick in a weighty gold tube is better.

A great example is this Albeit lipstick I mentioned briefly before (wearing here). Estée Lauder’s Mad Men collection has the same vintage look, as does Charlotte Tilbury’s new line. What can I say? I like the color gold. I agree that one can have too much of it and that it is sometimes tacky beyond redemption…but there it is. I want it. And it’s festive in the bargain.

A great formula is key, of course, but packaging is part of the experience. Even if the act of using the product is private, as I think is more often the case for our generation (fading is the image of the woman pulling out a compact to touch up in public), still each element adds its weight to the whole, marking the difference between the perfunctory and the ceremonial. Naturally it feels special to use objects we find beautiful, and their beauty helps us to be mindful of our task. More appreciative, maybe. If we have chosen truly to our taste. It is the case for me, when I choose truly to my taste.

Elizabeth Arden, Estée Lauder and YSL have always understood this. Michael Kors had the right idea from the start with his new collection (we agree about the supremacy of gold, Michael and I). Props to biodynamic brand Dr. Hauschka for their satisfyingly luxe packaging, and it’s not as metallic but I quite like Clarins’ packaging, too.  Once in a while Revlon releases one of their retro pigments in vintage packaging and I keep waiting to run into one. Certain designer brands, too, do limited edition packaging once in a while that I think really lovely (think Givenchy, think Armani). Tom Ford, though he doesn’t go full-on with the gold, has that Midas air about him, everything he has a hand in glinting in the light.

I find value in that sensation of using something special. Often I wouldn’t think of these objects as especially important to me or tangled in sentiment (if so it is a sentiment that begins and ends in their aesthetic appeal), rather as influential when directly in use. I think I take it to something of an extreme, and want every object in my little empire of possessions to feel special, purposeful, chosen. Really a lot of them do, though. A lot of them are. It is perhaps not too unrealistic a desire.

weekend distraction: it’s all in the details

On November 16, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

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This is, without a doubt, the coolest tag I have come across, and possibly the best safety pin ever.

I really must find a worthy use for this safety pin.

This utilitarian, strategically weathered ensemble is the price/product ID tag for the leather jacket* I got at AllSaints. There, for unabashedly staggering prices, you can find a great industrial chic aesthetic rendered in some of the softest and most luxurious fabrics around. The hefty price surely paid, in part, for this beautiful tag, but I find myself applauding AllSaints for it. This is branding and cohesive vision at its best.

*which will show you soon. It was so, so worth it.

Have you seen their storefront on Newbury Street? A massive matrix of vintage Singer sewing machines.

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Brilliant.

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