Farming is no Fable: Farmhouse Pottery

Shhhh….can you hear that?  It’s the sound of serenity.  The traffic thins, the mountains rise around you, the rivers start to rush, and the people slow down and smile.  It’s not a Splenda smile either – all Emily Post etiquette.  It’s warm maple syrup, tapped from the tree where the wind whispers a happy tune.

Vermont is a special place.  Oh it has it’s troubles like any place, but when it’s you, the smell of firewood burning in the distance, a brisk breeze making your cheeks rosy, the smell of fir pines as you tromp through the woods, they do seem far away.

farm 6

Eight Days a Week.

On my annual work retreat we tucked away to Woodstock, Vermont, a storybook New England town, to work, and to hear one another, away from the noise of the city.  We worked, and it worked.  Maybe it is as simple as clean air, clear ideas, renewed spirit?  Whatever the reason, I feel lucky and inspired.

Farm 2

Artisan’s at work.

On my way out of town I stopped into Farmhouse Pottery.  My Boss Lisa gave me a beautiful parting gift from this store, and having seen a blog post from Erin GatesElements of Style, I couldn’t leave without seeing more.

Zoe and James have created their very own American dream.  Harvested from the land, mined, tooled, and worked by artisans – all here in the states, they have created something sophisticated in its purity, and simplicity.  The retail store and the workshop juxtapose mud and beauty.  Thoughtful vignettes abound, a wall of pottery, a whitewashed stump turned side table, a linen pillow, apron or napkin, a custom crafted table set with wooden bowls, dried flowers, and decorative clay fired trees.  A floor stained in a custom pale gray.  I’d move right in – though I am pretty sure that Zoe, James and their two little girls live upstairs and would find my presence unwelcome.  Now if I could perfect my pottery making skills, it might be a different story all together.  One of the artisans assured me that after making 500 or 600 vases – I’d really get the hang of it.  He wasn’t kidding.


Linen Pillows . from $85.

West Elm: Working Partnerships

It was a few years ago when I first started noticing West Elm pieces in Commercial applications.  I spied a side table or two in AEW’s Corporate Offices, in the Seaport, designed by ADD, Inc., scattered throughout.  To my delight I found pillows and side tables in Hawthorne’s artisnal drinkery in Boston’s Kenmore Square, and thought, perhaps they’re on to something here.  Affordable, hip, mid-century design – way to stay on budget, on trend, and allow for the flexibility of change down the road.  Love it.


West Elm with Inscape

A little over a year ago, West Elm partnered with Etsy to bring local businesses together in their Kenmore Square location, allowing them to have a pop-up shop under their roof.  Brilliant.  It happened in cities across the country.  What forward thinking business strategy.  I was introduced to some small business owners I wasn’t likely to have made contact with otherwise, and got to meet Erin Gates of Elements of Style, eat a fantastic bacon glazed donut from Blackbird Bakery in the South End, and leave with two pillows.  A win.

On Thursday night I visited Peabody Office Furniture in Boston’s Financial District for the big reveal of their Inscape Office Line Partnership with West Elm.  I have been waiting for the unveiling for months when I first learned of the dynamic duo’s plans.  I wasn’t disappointed.  It’s got that welcome to Don Draper’s Office, care for a Manhattan look about it.  It’s sixties cool with its clean lines, dark wood, and retro fabrics, I wanted to move right in and have the Mad Men re-make me.  I could just picture it….I enter in jeans and tennis shoes, hair in a pony tail, bags under my eyes….I exit in a red Carolina Herrera gown, Harry Winston choker hanging heavy around my delicate neck, diamonds as big as rock candy threatening to make off with my earlobes, 5 inch Louboutin’s peaking through the swaths of fabric surrounding me like meringue cloud.  Naturally either Don himself or some swashbuckling man trails behind me.


West Elm . Mid-Century Modern Madness


West Elm . Pelle Gooseneck Chandelier $799.

Ah, dare to dream.  Thanks West Elm for that lovely fantasy, and thanks too for finalizing my decision on a living room chandelier.  After all, your first order of business was to help the everyday gal like me have a fabulous home, was it not?


Designer Profile: Erin Gates

“Sliding head first  is the safest way to get to the next base, and the fastest.  You don’t lose momentum, and there is one more reason I slide headfirst, it gets my picture in the paper.” – Pete Rose

That kind of momentum takes courage.  It takes faith.  It turns a blind eye to thoughtful contemplation, which might lead to a logical, risk free path.  Which just might lead you nowhere fast.  To a place that isn’t new, that doesn’t inspire, that won’t challenge.


Erin Gates at home showcasing her signature leopard print.

When I consider Boston-based designer Erin Gates I think of some serious momentum.  I admire it in such an enormous way, and frankly it isn’t limited to Erin, but to people that have the courage to defy common wisdom, to launch into uncharted waters, even if they are only certain that the current pool they are in, doesn’t suit their temperament, but aren’t at all sure which pool will.


Velvet pillows with Key Fret Detailing under $100.  Erin Gates Collection for Wayfair and AllModern.

Art Gallery Manager, Fashion Stylist, Event Planner, and Interior Design Assistant, from what I’ve read it doesn’t appear that Erin’s early jobs where anything but that – a job.  When she launched out on her our, I bet she didn’t imagine that she’d become a business mogul.  An author and publisher of multiple books – her first Elements of Style is an amuse bouche for the eye, her second, out soon will surely be as delicious.  She has collaborated on jewelry design with M. Flynn in Boston’s South End, pottery with Jill Rosenwald, also of Boston, she provides her own fine art pieces to accent spaces when the occasion calls, and her latest venture has her teaming with Wayfair and AllModern to produce a line of home goods.  Her blog – provide a sneak peak of what she had to offer.


Juniper & Moss . Follow her on Instagram…it’s worth it.

While I think of her signature pattern being a leopard print, and admire the joie de vive it took to put aa stair runner in the front entry of her suburban home in the same, her book jacket which captures my attention.  The bold white and black stripes are distinct and instantly recognizable.  Whomever came up with it should be given a prize.  It’s brilliant, I spy it in dozens of Instagram photos, and it always makes me smile.

Look for the collection on its release 5 October 2015, and visit her blog for additional information on her signature collection.