insights on creating innovative spaces

What do Antiques, Gardens, Kitchens and Steampunk Have In Common?

Steampunk designs by Art Donovan

Spring has arrived! although the cold, sharp, winter weather continues to linger, March has kept me, and the rest of the design community, busy with interesting activities and events. These events are de rigueur for designers.  We network. We chat with suppliers, retailers and other designers. Let me share some thoughts from a few of this month’s activities.

I kicked off the month attend Antiques & Art at the Armory.  This show is well known for dealers, of high caliber, presenting their incredible collection of antiques and art.  Although I do not have a direct or immediate need for these types of purchases, as a designer this a show that keeps me up to date on what is going on in the world of fine antiques and art.  This is a research trip for me. I thoroughly enjoy scrutinizing the details and craftmanship of fine furniture.  I am fascinated to understand the current market interests in artwork that is showing in collections, galleries and future auctions.  Studying the details in fine furniture opens my eyes to new ideas for developing custom pieces that would be appropriate for a modern lifestyle.

Sometimes, the hustle and bustle of life in this concrete jungle causes us to forget the respite of the quiet, gentle, greener side of New York.  On March 14, as a member of the Horticultural Society of New York (HSNY), I attended an illustrated lecture by NY photographer Betsy Pinover Schiff.  She took us on a photographic journey through some of the public and private gardens represented in her new book, New York City Gardens.  Why, as a designer, do I spend time at HSNY events?  I attend them because I draw inspiration from the shapes, colors, lighting and scent of nature.  Even if we don’t have the luxury of a private terrace or garden, we can bring a touch of the outside – inside.  We can avail ourselves of the new spring treats found in the Flower District or Greenmarkets.  A simple plant on our window sill or in a small container can spark the green thumb in all of us – and bring a pop of color or warmth to a room.

Oven top hood by Best

Closing out the month, I and thousands of my colleagues attended the annual Architectural Digest Home Show.  There were several inspiring lectures during event, one of which, moderated by Florence Perchuk (leading designer and author on kitchen design). was a dialogue on “Designing for the “A” Word”.  (I’ll share more on kitchen design and the boomer generation in my next blog!)  I found great new designs in exhaust cook top hoods from the Best Group – one shape reminded me of a lipstick tube!  Besides new styles, Best is known for high quality products without the sticker shock!

A favorite aspect of the show for me, was the section devoted to Artisan craftsmen, exhibiting alongside a broad spectrum of talented artists.  Some long time favorites for me are contemporary artists James Kennedy and Bob Bachler.  One of the most fascinating exhibitors in this genre, was Art Donovan, who is part of the “Steampunk Movement”.  These artists create extraordinary art from unique devices and ingenious contraptions.  I felt as though I had walked onto a set of a Jules Verne film.  Beautiful light fixtures and clocks from piles, valves – you name it!

artwork by James Kennedy

ceramics by Bob Bachler

 It’s been a busy month filling my head with more thoughts on how I can best help clients create the spaces they have always dreamed of.  If you’re in the early stages of considering a redesign, events like these may help you solidify some of your ideas or introduce you to new ones.  Are there events you’ve heard about or attended that inspire design ideas for your home?  Post your comments here about these events – I’d love to hear about them!