Naming Names: Making our Mark with Monograms

Marni Jameson does it with class.

What’s in a name? Romeo, or Shakespeare as the case may be, said: “A rose would still smell sweet”, but would it? Psychologists, behavioral scientists, technologists, me, and perhaps you too, are fascinated, either for intellectual or financial reasons, by names, and what those names compel us to do, think, and feel.

Bella Lino . It’s the little touches that make a big difference.

As a Business Development professional, I am well aware of the importance of remembering acquaintances names, of using my Clients names in conversation, as a tool to draw the listeners attention back to the subject at hand. I’ve stood in a room filled with hundreds of people, the din so loud that I could barely hear myself think, and yet miraculously, when my name is shouted from a football field away, I am instantly on alert, feverishly in tune to the call. Dale Carnegie’s famous statement ringing in my ear, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Is it possible that, our own name also sounds louder, that its significance to us is a survival mechanism of sorts?

I like to believe I am my own person. If we can’t be our own person, than the implications seem dire indeed, but I am not naive, I remain a mystery to myself most of the time. I do think that I am subject to The Implicit-Egotism Effect, which basically means we are drawn to people and things that resemble ourselves, which includes our name and our initials. It’s comforting, and got me thinking about Monograms and their popularity.

Monograms can be traced back to 350BC, and first appeared on coins. The Greeks, or the Romans or both were involved, as they so often were, talk about an ego – those guys take credit for everything. Then the royals got into the game, and everyone that wanted to be royal, had money, but no lineage, followed suit by putting their initials on everything they could embroider, emblazon, or embellish. The Guild, which was a Union of sorts, used Monograms as identifiers for their artists, sculptors, and craftspeople to ensure they were a legit member of the club. Now we are getting somewhere – everyone wants to belong, and to stake claim. It’s hard to claim something is yours if its initials don’t align with your own, which brings me to a bone I have to pick with my sister. Is it wrong of me to get annoyed when I see her pocket book, the three uniform letters, stamped in gold on her tan leather bag? Those initials belong to me, she doesn’t even have a middle name. Sisters. I wouldn’t really let the letter “A” get between us. How would I ever get to the rest of the lovely alphabet if l did something as silly as that?

Kevin Malone . Powder Room Pronouncement

Our need to belong, to stake claim, to feel important may be the very reason we warm to these interlinked letters. In the design world they appear everywhere. You might find them on a crest, your very own personal logo of sorts, stitched in brilliantly bold letters across a bolster pillow on your bed, or tucked into the corner of a linen napkin, in the tiniest font, a signal to the guests that their host has pride of place, and that something special their way comes.

Do I think that you can take it too far? That I do. Monograms can be made brass and garish. They can be used to intimidate – think the crest on a blazer, fitted for a member of a club for which Woody Alan wouldn’t want membership, or a home with nary a surface free of the three. I prefer them on the back of a Cartier Tank Watch, presented as a gift to me. How would you like yours served up?

One Small Thing: details that delight

Here’s what I love about Kemble Interiors interstitial stair – if it isn’t evident to you already, I can barely breath I adore the rattan wrapped balusters so much. While some may not consider it innovative, I would argue that these did in fact make my life better. I want to run my fingers over its stripped bumpy edge and beg it to tell me why I didn’t think of it first. Brilliant!

One small thing. Sometimes that’s all you get. Sometimes that’s all you need to keep going. One small thing that you love, that makes you smile, that reminds you that there is beauty in even the ugliest of times, situations, or messes. If you are challenged to find it, you usually can. The rough edge of an old beam, it’s splintered edge a reminder that it was hand hune. A word my spellcheck doesn’t even recognize, it not having been manufactured in the modern age, in China, but rather by an actual person, with a chisel, and a commitment to a job well done. That’s worth a curve of one’s lips, up toward the sky, instead of down toward the ground, no?

Here’s what I love in this Kemble Interiors Lobby of The Colonial – so much I’m giddy with excitement. First, those pink scalloped chairs, delicate, velvety and inviting on the inside, exposing their hard shell and texture on the out. Second, Lions, and Tigers, and Bears – oh my, and the fact that there is also a monkey which hints at the mayhem that could ensue, and the pineapple that tells me I am welcome, and more pink. Third, that chandelier’s glass leaves that really are the kind of jungle I like to live in, and finally, the tiny pink striped perimeter of the vaulted ceiling. Subtle, clever, and inviting. Sure the wall is doing everything in its power to grab your attention, but this lobby is going to deliver more to those that are patient, and allow it to unfold overtime.

While it’s true that little can get lost in a sea of super-sized homes, the very fact that it could get found, is delightful. Even if you live in a less than large home, as I do, it’s possibly one of the most intriguing and rewarding experiences to have a guest recognize that some thing small that you chose, added, dotted onto your canvas and then partially obscured, to increase the wonder of its discovery, was in fact, discovered by them. It’s like sharing a secret with a friend that understands you like no other.

Yes, just yes. Collins Interiors is a master with the details. I’ve looked and looked, wondered and hypothesized, but can come to no conclusion, and Collins like to keep their secrets. Is it painted or paper. I know the wallcovering is pasted on, but the vent? How do they do the things they do, and what makes them willing to go the extra ten miles? I bow down to you. It’s nothing short of art.

As I took my weekend ramble through my instagram feed looking for something I would love, I came across so very much. People really are the most amazing amount of talented. Hats off to these wonders for the marvels they produce.

What I love about this Palm Beach Home Style image that feels so very Mark D. Sikes to me? In a sea of blue and white it is grounded by an antique farm trestle table. I love its unapologetic use of blue on blue patterns: note the striped rug, the china the chinoiserie vases, and of course the wallcovering. I love the pop of red on the table and the leafy greens on the mantle that let you know this isn’t their first rodeo.

Tap twice if it’s love…Instagram

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Blue Print Store . Dallas . TX – I would go every day if I could.

Back when I worked in the architecture firm I used to browse the aisles of the design library in awe of all the materials. Samples of wood, tile, plastic laminate – yes, and ugh, Forbo sport flooring, paint decks, you name it, it lined the shelves.  I loved it, and had no idea that it wasn’t sexy.  We designed public schools and libraries — the materials primary characteristics where durability and durability.  Still, I was inspired, and longed to be one of the lucky few that got to put together the design sample boards for Client approval.  It feels like a long time ago now.

Visiting The Design Center in Boston (now called the Innovation Center) was a rare, and intimidating adventure.  Back in the day, a non-designer like me, was not welcome.  They made it abundantly clear that they’d rather I leave.  My desire to see, touch, and be exposed to all those lovely textures, furnishings, materials and wall coverings, superseded my need to follow the rules, and I tamped down my fear of those foreboding dictatresses of design, in favor of five minutes inside the vault.  They exhibit a modicum of welcome nowadays.  Do go in.  It’s worth it.  Act like you own the place – pretend you’re French.  You’ll be fine.

Pink perfection….

In-between these rare visits  I scoured design magazine for inspiration.  This remains a favorite pastime, but with just 12 editions annually the mags can’t fulfill my rapacious desire for design.  Enter stage right….Instagram.  It’s like an old friend that one day you awake to realize is full blown love.  It delivers constant inspiration.  It connects me to people, and places I would never have known, or visited.  I see old things in a new light.  New businesses that harken back to a time when things weren’t mass produced.  I see just how I will design No. 5, and I owe it to InstaG.

As I scroll through the feed I feel almost as happy as if I’ve received a love note, aka a text, from a boy I really like.  That vulnerable spot between my belly, and my breast is aflutter with wonder.  Everything I have ever wanted, and some that I never knew I needed, is there.  The tech savvy of the grammers, use tags.  These tags tell you the designers or materials that are the point of focus in the photo.  Fear not, if the item you are interested in isn’t tagged (by the way, you won’t see these tags unless you tap the photo once), you can simply send a note through the comment section to get the product details.

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The community is so friendly, so willing to share.  So happy to promote others.  It’s lovely.  Today I will open the boxes that arrived this week (I have not intentionally been delaying the moment of gratification), and examine my new lucite and brass curtain rods, courtesy of LuxHoldups via Etsy.  These I found on Instagram through Collins Interiors, a sister design firm to Blue Print Store in Dallas Texas.  My favorite.  Lux is a Brooklyn based woman-owned company that does amazing things with lucite.  Do check it out, and if you don’t already have an Instagram account, what are you waiting for?

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