25 April, 2013

"Designers At Home, Personal Reflections on Stylish Living . . . "

Scot Meacham Wood Residence 2012
(photographed by Nicolas Smith)


Well . . . after what seems like years (in fact, it all started with an excited phone call from Ronda Carman in late August of 2011 asking if I would be interested in participating) - Designers at Home, Personal Reflection on Stylish Living is finally a reality.  A studied peek into the private residences of 50 designers from the US, UK, and Europe.  It launched officially from Rizzoli just last week . . . and is being greeted with rave reviews from around the globe.

The above image is one of many from my own little flat here in San Francisco - in one of its rare daytime appearances.  For some reason - we always seem to photograph my place at night - so it was a fun challenge to shoot it with the bright morning sun streaming through my home.

My own place is just one of the fifty designers whose homes are featured in this impressive collection.  And I'm beyond delighted to be included.  It's been great fun for the last several days to read through each chapter - many designers that I have only admired from afar . . . and also friends that I have know for years - reading Ronda's insight into their world as well as their own thoughts on their homes has been fascinating.

If you're in the Bay Area . . . Ronda will be at Hudson Grace on Saturday May 4th for a book signing from 2 to 4pm.  Come by and say 'hi' - and get a chance to meet Ronda!  I couldn't be more proud of her success if I were twins.  And seeing the long, drawn-out process of getting everything ready for the book has given me a new appreciation of her dedication and her great writing style.


19 April, 2013

"It's in the Cards . . . "


It's been a busy couple of weeks here at SMW Design.  Most of this week has been consumed with the installation of our charming garden room at the Peninsula Volunteers Showcase House in Woodside, CA - and while we're getting the last few details hammered out . . . I thought I'd share this quick shot from the room.

Since we've designed the space as a "card room" - I thought I'd have some fun with my 'branding' and had these business cards made from custom decks of playing cards from La Plates.

Hopefully, we'll have some new business 'in the cards" . . . .


08 April, 2013

"Lilly Pulitzer, 1931 - 2013 . . . "

Lilly Pulitzer, 1931 - 2013


I awoke Sunday morning to the sad news that Lilly Pulitzer had passed away that same morning - at her home in Palm Beach.

In the 1950's, Lilly and her husband moved to Palm Beach, Florida - and she decided to open a juice stand (she and her husband owned citrus groves) just off Worth Avenue.  But, over the course of working each day - Lilly discovered that she was having a hard time keeping clean.  So . . . like any wise entrepreneur . . . she designed work outfits - jaunty shift dresses in bright, manic floral prints - that would hide the day to day activity.

Soon she discovered that she was having more interest in her bright ensembles than the juices . . . so by 1959, she became president of Lilly Pulitzer, Inc based in Miami - and she was wardrobing such famous names as Jackie Kennedy and members of the Vanderbilt family.

So for a few moments . . . let's just celebrate her bright, cheerful style . . .

"Despite the forecast, live like it's Spring"
                         - Lilly Pulitzer

Lilly, in one of her store - in 2007.

The other reason that I'm a little blown sideways by this morning's news . . . is that I'm working on a current project (our upcoming room in the Peninsula Volunteers Decorator Show House) that is using the Lilly Pulitzer Collection of textiles from Lee Jofa as the inspiration for our room.  So after spending the last several months knee-deep in fuschia and emerald green textiles - I'm particularly saddened by this news. I hope that our little project will be a celebration of her jaunty attitude - and her love of a bright, cheerful life!

Long.  Live.  Lilly.


06 April, 2013

"National Tartan Day, 2013 - Adventures in Scotland . . . "


I thought we'd do something a little bit different this time around in honour of National Tartan Day - the day set aside to celebrate Scottish heritage.  In years past, we've recognized the day with a glorious parade of tartan images and plaid pictures!  But, this year - I thought we would just go straight to the source - SCOTLAND.

I had the great pleasure of touring through Scotland with Ronda Carman a few months ago - visiting textile mills and taking in the local sights  - and I thought I would share a few of the travel pix (taken by the amazing Gerardo Jaconelli) from my visit.

A brisk afternoon with Fiona, me, and Ronda - on the ferry to Bute . . . to visit Bute Fabrics. 

It was amazing to see every single metre of textile being inspected and
repaired by hand as part of the finishing process.

John Glen, of Begg of Scotland, with Ronda and me - as he guides us around his
amazing facility - explaining the weaving process. 

This afternoon was clearly one of the highlights of my trip.  Yes, we boarded that tiny
little plane to fly to the outer Hebrides Islands to visit the Harris Tweed Authority.  

Yes, this is where ALL the Harris Tweed in the world comes from.  All of the wools are from the UK - and
they are brought here to the Hebrides to be dyed and mixed into the amazingly
complex threads that are woven into Harris Tweed.
While I was visiting - they were making the most incredible thread - and a deep, musky, chestnut
brown colour.  
Like a painter using a palette of paint colours - the artists at Harris Tweed mix these
incredible hues to create the threads used to weave Harris Tweed. 
So . . . here's the truly amazing part of the Harris Tweed story.  Though you may have often used
the term 'cottage industry' to describe any one of a number of hand-made items - Harris Tweed
is a 'cottage industry' with ACTUAL cottages.  After the yarns are spun at the main factory - they
are delivered to individual craftsmen on the island - where they are woven in small cottages or 'crofts'
into the yardage. 
A simple 'herringbone' weave - in rich purple and black.  
Then the yardage is send back to the factory - where it is washed and inspected . . . .
More of the beautiful tweeds from Harris in the receiving department . . . 
And then after they are inspected - and each metre is stamped - marking
them as true Harris Tweed before being sent out.

Ronda and I also had the great pleasure of spending a long afternoon 'at the pub' with Brian
Wilton, President of the Scottish Tartan Authority.  Chatting about some of the modern
uses of tartan - and beginning to plot a custom designed tartan for myself.  Yes. 

For Further Reading on Scottish Textiles . . . 

"Tartans" by Brian Wilton, of the Scottish Tartan Authority

Scottish Estate Tweed, from Johnstons of Elgin

Harris Tweed, by Lara Platman


(Images – Copyright Gerardo Jaconelli) 

These images may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission.

03 April, 2013

"But, It Is Easy Being . . . "

Kiera Knightly, in Atonement


I don't wish to rub your noses in it, oh sweet east coast friends . . . but, we're in the serious throws of a proper Spring here in San Francisco.  Daffodils are struggling through the damp ground.  Our weather is warming considerably.  And after a long, wet winter . . . my eye is being pulled away from the blues that have been stirring my imagination as of late . . . and back to their proper green.

As I've stated in the past . . . were you to awaken me from a deep sleep and ask my favourite colour - I will always answer 'green.'   Dark and loamy.  Or bright and cheerful.  Those lush hues of the earth that always bring me to a calm state of mind . . . and inspire my creativity.

So come with me and cast your mind upon the green . . . it's easy . . .

"Highland Dress"

SMW Design, Berkeley Project

The lush front lawn of Highclere Castle . . . also known as "Downton Abbey"

SMW Design, Piedmont Residence

SMW Design, San Francisco Residence 

Prince Charles . . . in his younger days.

Hopetoun House, Scotland

Oscar de la Renta, Spring 2012

Patrick Grant, of Norton & Sons.  London. 

One of the most famous party dresses of all time, from Gone With the Wind

from Tucker & Marks, San Francisco 

SMW Design, Mountain View Residence 

SMW Design, Berkeley Project

SMW Design, Mountain View Residence 

(and be sure to check back on Saturday - for a very special National Tartan Day tour planned for you . . . !)
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