Swatch Watch: finding fabric in the City of Lights

Paris Fabric 2

4 bis rue d’Orsel
75018 Paris

The 8th is home to some amazing fabric stores.  Whether it’s upholstery fabric or fashion you’re on the look-out for, start here.  Marche Saint Pierre, Sacre Coupons, and L’Atelier D’origins are just a few of the dozen that sit at the base of Sacre Coeur.  A bustling neighborhood full of tourists and Parisians alike, somehow on my last visit I participated in a food tour that cut right through the heart of this neighborhood, my eyes apparently remained fixed on the chocolates, cheeses, wines, and pastries, because I don’t remember seeing all the pretty prints that share storefront space with the gastronomique delights that I sampled.

My mother must have visited this neighborhood because she arrived home from a trip to Paris with a suitcase full of fabric.  This fabric she carted around for years – literally years!  This was normal for Pat Falla.  She had trouble making decisions.  Perhaps that’s why I make so many of them, with little thought to the sheer number of ill conceived avenues I have pursued as a result.  I guess I believe that forward momentum is more important than perfection. At any rate, the fabric did in fact get used but not by Pat.  My sister Mary Beth found it, had it made into curtains and hung them in one of her homes.  They looked pretty good.

Paris Fabric 5

Nicole folding my beautiful fabric!

I too will be leaving Paris with a suitcase full of fabric.  I really had no intention of buying any, and then there it was – shimmering and winking at me.  I fell for it. It will be right at home in home No. 4.  Now if only one of those French Bergers would fit in my suitcase, I’d have something to drape the fabric on.  A good problem to have.

Paris Fabric 3

2 rue Charles Nodier
75018 Paris

Heureusement Samedi!

 

Bedroom Magic

C WM

World Market . Rattan Twin Headboard.  $124.99

The kind that comes from a hot day in the sun, good food, plenty of exercise, crisp cool sheet, and a gentle breeze coming in through the window.  Sleep is often elusive to me.  I live through fits of insomnia chased by adrenalin rushes, and sheer exhaustion.  The rare and special gift that is an uninterrupted nights sleep – is magic.  For those of you, I could sleep anywhere people…just stop reading now.  Move along.  Nothing for you to see here in this post.

Left:  Serena and Lily:  Linden Sheet Set . Palm Green $258. Right:  Serena and Lily . Metallic Pick Switch Quilt $198. (twin)

I just of course – plenty for you to see here, even if I am jealous of your ability to lay your head down at will, close your eyes, turn off your brain, and fade into the nether region between night and day.  You are blessed.

CFarr

Christopher Farr . Carnival Green – Imagine Custom bedskirts in this cute print.

All this talk of sleep arose from my desire to select the color palette and decor for the bedrooms in the manse.  Since I am primarily there on the weekends, I want the colors to be a bit more vibrant than my year round surroundings.  I love Kelly Green and feel that it’s a nice mix between nautical and nature that works well for Cape Cod.

C S Palm

Schumacher . Zebra Palm

My picks range from the high-end to the low for the first of the four bedrooms.  From World Market to Schumacher, I was shooting for a cheery space to escape to, read my book and fall asleep to the sound of crickets.

Robshaw: Revival of the fittest

JR about

Step back in time…were it not for the sneakers.  Robshaw in India from his website.

John Robshaw strikes me as an old soul with an adventurous heart, and an appropriately reverent appreciation for the commingling of history, and artisanal craft.  It’s a mouthful, but I suspect, though I have not met Mr. Robshaw, that his waters run deep. Therefore, they are worthy of the words. One little post from a gal on a modest quest like me, cannot possibly do this man justice.  I can however attempt to share with you all, some of elegance of what he creates. From the dusty roads of Rujistan to NYC’s Bowery, Robshaw has pioneered a revival.

 

JR The Bowery

The Bowery . in a time gone by.

From fine artist to artisan, from the studios and classrooms of Pratt, to the dirt floors, and open air markets of India, where the ancient and traditional techniques of hand blocked fabrics, found an eager student in John.  He has made a living, in living his passion.

JR Aerial

Aerial Light Indigo

I can only imagine he has a heart born for exploration, an inquisitive nature which led him to ask how, and why this ancient tradition was carried out in this fashion.  Crouched in small covered shacks, carving wooden blocks, which will later form the pattern.  Robshaw heralds the imperfections of the design, as a sacred sign of authenticity.  He imbues a sense of awe, infuses his own stylistic technique for overlapping pattern, and natural variation in color, that is the result of something made with adept skill and pride, rather than the cold, formulaic drone of mass production.

 

Left:  Robshaw: Aleppo Light Indigo. Right:  Malik

Robshaw is a fine artist indeed.  His Bowery based shop is gritty, and full of curiosities.  It doesn’t feel at all far from the farmland that its Dutch name indicates was its origin.  Before all all the shops, and bars and restaurants sprung up, before its neighbors in Chinatown called themselves by that name, and long before the Lower East Side was hip and called The LES, and before it was inhabited by writers, and Wall Street Brokers, Hasidic Jews and bejeweled starlets…it was just farmland.  Like a seed planted in that rich soil, Robshaw sprung up, flourished, and spread from East to West and back again.

JR Marmar kashmir

Robshaw . Murmur Kashmir

While many of the patterns feel Bohemian, I envision them in The Manse’s – Cape Cod Coastal setting.  The watery blue hues, the organic leafy patterns, vines and blossoms, feel right amidst the sand and seagrass.  Crisp, not rumpled.  Roman, not flowing reams of fabric for windows, upholstered stools and benches, not soft hassocks and floppy pillows.  Whatever your preference, Robshaw’s refined designs are both unique and familiar.

Left:  Robshaw . Citadel Lotus.  Right:  Robshaw . Faris Silver.

Sold to the Trade, and not here in Boston, you must email:  fabric@johnrobshaw.com.  Pillows and sheets can be bought at ABC Carpet in NYC.  I often find pillows at Hudson in Boston’s South End, and Target http://www.target.com/p/john-robshaw-bedding-collection/-/A-50746566 has an amazingly vibrant and playful line of bedding designed him.  Something to suit all budgets this Saturday.

JR Kalmala

John Robshaw . Kalmala

Something Beautiful: Jenna Lyons

jenna l7

Jenna Lyons

Creative Director and President of J. Crew, until Monday, when I heard the sad news of her departure.  If you don’t know already, this woman is seriously cool.  Design is in her genes, whether she wears them (jeans that is) to the Met Ball, the who’s who of whoing in American Hip People of the Moment, or she’s donning a jacket that any American teenage kid would wear to school, with stilettos, and a high-fashion silk print pencil skirt.   She can pull it off.

jenna l12

Lyons . Sleek Elegance

Like great interior design, there is a fascination with well juxtaposed materials in fashion.  Fluffy fur, paired with a utility jean, sequins with khakis, suiting with a pajama top.  Yes, it’s surely true this look will not work for everyone, and I don’t want it to.  She’s special. She’s amazing.  She’s the reason I still spend more money at J. Crew (shoes excluded) than on any other brand combined.

I feel like the air has been let out of my balloon.

I admit that I didn’t come to know who she was before her Park Slope Brooklyn Apartment was featured in Domino Magazine.  Will you hold that against me?  Not too long ago, she came to Boston and spoke at the Copley Place Store.  I was fascinated by her upbringing, her self-consciousness, her belief that she wasn’t pretty.  She’s so incredibly relatable, real, warm, and when I had my picture taken with her, she made me feel fun…special.

Jenna Lyons Park Slope Home.  Black . White and Yellow Graphic Beauty.

jenna l 5

I find it interesting that not all people that are fashionistas, are good at interior design, and not all interior designers are terribly fashionable.  Interesting because I draw inspiration from fashion for my interiors projects all the time, and I adore fashion.  I would’t say I am a huge risk taker, but wearing 5″ heels on a construction site is riskier than any Safety Officer wants you to be – what do they know about fashion anyway?  I love my industry, but I simply could not be in it, if it didn’t allow me, to be me, as far as fashion is concerned.

jenna l8

Juxtaposing materials and textures.

“It only takes one colorful item to make a great day beautiful – or a bland outfit sunny.”  Jenna Lyons

J. Crew followers may not have been able to express themselves in quite the same way as Lyons – I suspect she wouldn’t want them to, but at the same time, to go back to a plain old t-shirt, khaki pant, and tennis shoe – the brand of old, seems too dull for words.

Jenna l3

Look at that floor!

“As far as I’m concerned…leopard is a neutral.”  Jenna Lyons

Jenna l9.png

I’m hoping that the Leopard that is so often present in her style, expresses itself in her comeback.  If her “Crew” couldn’t get on board the J., she’ll find another vessel and trust me when I tell you, I’ll be her winch man.

jenna 16

“When something hasn’t been as beautiful as it can be, the reason is always bigger than the thing.”  Jenna Lyons.

Whatever the reason for the departure, it won’t be bigger than her ability to overcome it.  Certain of that!

jenna 14

Enough Said…..

Ode to Etsy: small business . big community

New businesses, ways of working, entirely new economies, and economic realities…are popping up at a pace that is frankly dizzying.  Sadly many companies, and ways of life are disappearing just as fast.  I’m telling you right now, if Dairy Queen disappears into that good night, there will be nothing good about it!

Etsy 1

Etsy . SouthernShades $70.

Etsy represents an old way of doing things, like back in the day when people attended craft fairs to get one-of-a-kind gifts, and pieces for their homes, with the new reality, people are so super busy that the thought of traveling to Brimfield for the Antique Flee Market seems as daunting as going to Fiji to meet the Dalai Lama…impossible. It’s the time not the dime that’s the problem.  And this my friends lends itself nicely to the reality that our intense need for speciality items hasn’t diminished one iota, even if the way in which we go about getting these things has.

etsy 2

Etsy . Mowdwrk . $295.42

More than a convenient place to shop, Etsy, which was launched in 2005, and is global by nature of it’s this e-commerceness”e”, is a community.  It feels a little like WeWork, and though store-owners don’t share the coffee or the medical plan, they are benefitting from a peer-to-peer network, and the collective power of hanging your shingle along side other photographers, pillow makers, jewelry designers, and a shared belief artisnal over mass produced.  Maybe I can’t get to Brimfield, or Fiji in the next few years, but bet I bet I can get something something unique from one, or both places, on Etsy.

etsy3

Etsy . Thetuftedfrog . $260.

Let’s talk price.  Some items are very expensive.  Predominantly one of a kind, and handmade, it should not be surprising, but more often than not I find them far more affordable than the larger stores in which I am inclined to shop.  This has led me to start proactively searching there site before I hit send to place my order.  I’ve simply got to stop spending so much money on furnishings.  Money that I will never get back.  A year ago, I would have told you that it absolutely wouldn’t be worth all the disruption, if I couldn’t design my properties just exactly as I wanted.  If you can’t read between my lines, I’ll spell it out here for you – expensive!  Now that I have been turned on to Etsy, I feel like I can have it all.  Want the new Schumacher fabric for your throw pillows –  one of the Etsy Store Owners likely has it.  I’ve even found things I didn’t know existed before.

etsy6

Etsy . LoveColoray . $320. removal wallpaper

Etsy’s opened a whole new world to me.  I could log some miles surfing those shops.  Back to the problem of time…Happy Sunday.

etsy canvas carnival

Etsy . CanvasCarnival . Curtains . Price based on size.

Garden Party

wp-restaurant

Hidden Garden . a restaurant with a story.

I wonder if it started with Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood, or The Secret Garden, perhaps too it could have been Lord & Taylor’s The Bird Cage Restaurant, which I have referenced before.  I loved it there, the chirping of the birds, the cafeteria trays, the enormous bird cages gathered in the center of the restaurant.  My sister Jo-Jo hated it.  The food, the noise, the fuss.  I’m a little fussy and I loved Raymond Lowey’s design, in just the same way I fell into step with Piglet and Pooh as they wondered the wood and snuggled into Pooh’s hollowed out tree for a pot of honey.  Maybe that’s the real origination of my love of tiny spaces and not boats at all.  They are cool.  They are magical. They are alluring.

wp-schumacher

Schumacher . sweet little bird . they got it right.

Whatever the reason, however the seed was planted, this season has not ended for me.  As the snow piles up all around, I long for a little umbrella fern to poke its kelly green finery stubbornly through the snow.  I don’t think umbrella ferns are actually indigenous to this region, but that is the image that is in my head nonetheless.

wp-de-gournay-1

deGournay . breathless from it’s beauty.

This longing for spring and other things floral, and chirpy, and secretly happy is expressing itself in my desire for a pair of One Kings Lane Chinoiserie pillows that are singing a sweet song of seduction to me.  I think I’ve fallen under their spell.  But it’s not just the pillows.  Truth be told, I am attracted to all manner of botanicals, chinoiserie’s, and garden leaves.  There’s an elegance to bringing nature in doors.  Of course on my own terms.  This is not an open invitation to have a mouse in my house.  I realize I am no match for Mother Nature, but we have an agreement with one another, and I plan to stick to my end of the bargain, and can only hope she is a woman of principle.

wp-bungalow-5

Bungalow5 Panels

Some of my very favorite’s come from Schumacher.  They do watery and bold, modern and old school Versailles in a way that elicits longing.  de Gournay is elegance and opulence and when I have a powder room again I think I’ll paper the walls in hand painted petal a la de Gournay… true artistry.

More deGournay….stunners.  Left is my favorite restaurant in the world, BG at Berdorf Goodman designed by Kelly Wearstler…my idol.

wp-okl-chinoiserie-bird-pillows

OKL . Chinoiserie . I’m hitting the buy button.

The pale mint green panels of Bungalow 5 a way to introduce just a little garden to your Parlor Level unit or any old place you call home.  If you’re shy when it comes to florals, this is as careful as someone controlled, and reserved is likely to get, while still tipping their toe into the bird bath.  A pillow will do too.

wp-ina

Irina Munoz Clares.  because nature knows has all the answers.

Finally, I fell in love with the bold and cheery designs of Josef Frank.  The South of France home featured in this month’s Architectural Digest, showcased a room papered in a print that’s so sooo, and not at all too much, and just the only place in the house I would want to spent my time.  To be frank, Frank – you did good.

wp-josef-frank

Josef Frank . Svenskt Tenn

 

Bellflower Blues: reconciling the reality of budgets

I’m stubborn.  I don’t think I could hide this reality even if there was a desire to.  I’m stubborn, and I embrace it for all the good and bad it brings into my life.  It’s dragged me across the finish line more times than I can count when I wanted to quit.  It’s had me smile politely when teachers, counselors, family members told me all the logical reasons what I was attempting to do couldn’t be accomplished, shouldn’t be tried, would lead to disappointment.  Set the expectations lower.  I smiled, as if I was in agreement, while all along I was thinking to myself… we’ll see.

galbraith-and-paul-bellflower

Galbraith & Paul . Bellflower

This same stubbornness has kept me from saying I’m sorry when I was wrong, from letting go of an idea that didn’t serve me, from accepting, and making minor adjustments when by all rights, it would have been in my best interest to do just that.  I’ll work harder to know when my stubbornness is good for me and when it is not.  That is something I am good at – hard work.

galbraith-and-paul-lotus

Galbraith & Paul . Wing-backed Chairs in Lotus

I think of this now because of a Fabric and Wall covering company I stumbled across a few years ago in a new studio called 534 in the Design Center in Boston.  Galbraith & Paul has been around since 1986, though I didn’t know it.  A PA based company started by Liz Galbraith and Ephraim Paul their artisanal approach to hand block printed fabrics is oh so lovely.  This age old technique is the simplest of the printing methods, the easiest and the slowest, so patience is a must, or pre-planning essential as lead times are between 10 and 12 weeks.  I barely hang on to a place long enough for it to make it worthwhile to purchase these works of art.  Stubborn…so purchase I did.

galbraith-and-paul-small-star

Galbraith & Paul . Small Star.

Now, because these are handmade, and their painted nature is evident in the alternating thickness of the paint that appears at the edge of the block print, and the watery washed out nature of the portions in between, they are all individual works of art.  This type of art is expensive.  I mean really expensive.  The kind of expense for which I wasn’t prepared.  The same kind that will make getting to the million I am attempting to get to …. really, really hard.  I did it anyway.  I acted like I was compromising when I ordered the fabric for the curtains in the bedroom.  The beautiful Lotus fabric in the color way . Dove, the sample which I have been carrying around in my purse for months, dreaming of, appreciating, bonding with.  How could you possibly expect me to say we were breaking up because of a silly thing like money?  I didn’t, I wouldn’t, I couldn’t.  I spent $3500. on what amounts to two panels – two very full panels in my defense.  Clearly, I would pay anything for love.

galbraith-and-paul-tusk

Galbraith & Paul . Tusk

From this same maker I planned on using a second fabric for the Roman Shades in the living room.  A sublimely perfect pattern called Fern.  I said to myself, I’ll let this one go.  I can’t possibly afford both, but perhaps I can.  I just may have thought of a way to order the minimum lot, accent the base, and just possibly get exactly what I need.

galbraith-and-paul-medly

G & P – Parquet in Light Mineral (left) Reed in Willow (center) Sakura in Light Mineral (right)

Another way to get a little bit of this beauty in your own home, head down to Room and Board.  They have an exclusive line of pillows and lighting in their fabrics.  That’s what I call a win – win.

galbraith-and-paul-fern

Galbraith & Paul . Fern