Wednesday, March 29, 2017

New Orleans’ Longue Vue House and Garden Discoveries

Tribute plaque to Landscape Pioneer Ellen Biddle Shipman at Longue Vue House and Garden 

While March is going out like a roaring lion around here -- big lightning boomers last night sent a ginger jar over the edge and smashed it to smithereens - we have a few days left in this “savage and serene” month, as Emerson described March.

And it’s still Women’s History Month. When I wrote about some of the illustrious women I most admire for a women in landscape design post earlier this month - I didn’t know I’d be visiting New Orleans and Ellen Biddle Shipman’s masterpiece at Longue Vue Gardens nor discovering a renowned plantswoman by the name of Caroline Dorman -- and that their talents and work were inextricably linked. I’m so excited and so blessed by these discoveries -- and I can’t wait to share the good garden stories.

Longue Vue House & Gardens
Live Oak drive to Longue Vue House, New Orleans
The quiet elegance and glamour is almost a religious experience. When you first set eyes on the entrance drive bordered by 42 live oaks leading to the home at Longue Vue I thought it was cinematic in scope and drama. Burned into the retina. Did Ms. Shipman see it that way?

Pleasure gardens have always figured in my favorite gardens; this exquisite home seemed destined for greatness from the start. Perhaps because it was conceived in love, nurtured in a collaborative, respectful process with vision and dignity. And that woman’s touch…

You can read all about the history and the great programing at Longue Vue.

The homeowners and creators of Longue View were the philanthropists and art enthusiasts, Edith and Edgar Stern. Edith’s father was Julius Rosenwald, then president of Sears, Roebuck and Company. Their home was destined for romance right off the block: Edgar and Edith named their New Orleans gem, Longue Vue, after “the tea house on the Hudson River where they had become engaged.”

Original Sears greenhouse at Longue Vue House & Gardens

Today, there is a Sears greenhouse on the property, still in use.

It’s in the Children’s Garden, which is the only garden room that is not part of the preserved, extant, historic garden rooms.

Way ahead of the trend, Biddle spec’d out native plants here, and today, Longue Vue boasts more than 20,000 natives. And the gardens highlight one of the finest collections of Louisiana Iris. More on that later, thank you, Miss Dorman.

The love and collaboration is evident in the thoughtful way the home and garden design was pursued. As I heard recently at the Architectural Digest Show from the good folks at Twyla - “Start with the Art.” Ellen Biddle Shipman did just that. She moved the couple’s existing home, and brought in the Platt Brothers: William and Geoffrey. Together, they cited the gardens for maximum enjoyment from inside the Green Revival style house. This is not small consideration. Even today. Most folks decide to “do” a garden long after the home is complete. So take heed. Start with the art - the garden art. Why not work in harmony with nature? Enduring gardens do…
Longue Vue Maquettes created by Shipman & her team of women artists 

This was a marriage in more ways than one -- from the exterior design to the details of the interior design, every things was considered. Longue Vue teams showed us a room where not only the letters exchanged among the creators testify to their intimate design process and approvals - we were told they addressed and signed off on correspondence with just their initials, ES, ES, EBS, could be a bit confusing) but there is also the maquette model replicas of the house and garden that Shipman’s all-female team created in New York in order for the New Orleans’ design team to see the shadows and interplay of light. That’s incredible devotion to design that would have Martha give pause…

The Platt brothers and Shipman traveled to Spain and Portugal to conduct research and be inspired.
Alhambra-style rill garden is one of the happy results of their garden expeditions seen at LongueVue                                                        

I was fortunate to tour the gardens with Charles Yurgalevitch, Ph.D., Director of the School of Professional Horticulture, New York Botanical Garden and Miami-based attorney, David Feliú. Walking the gardens with our guide, Director of Horticulture, Amy Graham, and Toulouse the black cat in tow, we are struck with how the eight-acre property is expansive yet intimate, with each of the 14 to 16 garden rooms appearing distinctive but part of the whole.

The view from the sweetheart staircase overlooking the kumquat parterre and water fountains gardens is breathtaking - no matter the season, the bones of the garden are there.

I like that they use the grounds’ readily-accessible pine needles for mulch. The fountains were off the morning we were there but it didn’t matter.
Yellow Garden at Longue Vue 

The Yellow Garden was petit garden room near the house that shone -- with blooms and variegated leaf designs with yellow butterfly vine and their gold seeds, yellow datura, loquat, and yellow-tinged shrubs.
Butterfly Vine in the Yellow Garden 
Butterfly Vine Seeds - look like Butterflies.  They use them on gift boxes, too.

Edible Garden features huge sugar cane kettle as water feature
In the Walled Edible Garden, they employed a big sugar cane kettle as the center of the planting axis and used it as a water feature bubbler fountain. This is an example of employing or showcasing local materials and/or traditions. It makes design and decor unique. Special.

Lots of carefully-grown vegetables, herbs, and fruits offered their bounty to the Sterns and their guests.

Beyond, the one-acre Wild Garden beckoned. Here were scads of colorful camellias - from ruffly two-toned to bright lipstick colors, interplanted with Buckeye.  

Camellias and Buckeye 

I love the mixed materials in the garden.

Soon, we’d come full circle to the forecourt, and it was time to enter the house.

Longue Vue House

You enter the grand home through a kind of portal -- yes it’s a front door but given the scale of the structure, one feels almost like ducking into the semi-circle of the entry hall. It’s a most welcoming entrance.

Otherwise the main floor is filled with spacious, art-filled sitting rooms and rooms with utility, such as the flower arranging room. (I want one of these!)                

Dining pocket vignette features retractable window 
In the dining room, there is a pocket table overlooking a lovely garden composition. Amy told us the window that fronts the table and chairs was built to automatically slide down and open up the vista to the outdoors. Technology in the roaring 20’s that still thrills! 

Dining Room peacock wallpaper at Longue Vue House 
I loved the trellis wallpaper with peacocks (naturally) and the green drapes. So fresh.

Upstairs, we toured the drawing room, the bedrooms and the dressing rooms. (Spoiler alert: Edith took her meetings in her bedroom, sitting on her daybed!)

Then, just as we were heading downstairs to view the party room, Lenora Costa, Curator of Collections, Longue Vue, dashed over to us breathlessly declaring she’d just pulled the original, heretofore unseen landscape design plans for the Walled Garden from a bottom draw!
Lenora Costa, Longue Vue Curator of Collections showcases her unlocked drawer discover!
And just like that -- we were looking at true buried treasure.          

“Do you want to see more?” she asked. Be still my heart! That would be a big “yes.” I felt like we were floating somewhere between Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Rosetta Stone! To see original landscape design plans from the hand and mind of Ellen Biddle Shipman that had never been seen by anyone out of the original circle was a “pinch-me” moment! Lenora didn’t have to ask twice. Trying to act nonchalant, we bustled into her office, while she made apologies for appearances.

We didn’t notice -- having eyes only on the plans being gently opened in their flat drawers. Soon, we were looking at the original plans for the Sunken Garden as designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman.

How could this be? There were no tears, no yellowing, nor decay…

Discovered Ellen Biddle Shipman Landscape Renderings the day we visited Longue Vue, New Orleans 
Lenora explained there were multiple versions of landscape design plans for the simple reason that different seasons required unique sets of plans. What a deep respect for garden art -- a true luxury…

The excitement about the landscape renderings remained palpable. Lenora said she’d just found keys in another drawer -- and the keys weren’t labeled! She described the veil of private vs. public worlds accompanying the family and the organization… “There are these interwoven secrets,” said Lenora. “There’s always a process of discovery,” she added. And that got me to thinking that this is the very element that makes Longue Vue so compelling. It’s not a static place filled with history of a bygone era (although that could be enough and one could study for ages.) Rather, the House and Gardens here are dynamic, giving up tantalizing secrets that fuel our imaginations and bring us back to ever more discoveries. I asked Lenora how her team uses these nuggets; how to incorporate it into the tours -- telling the story. It’s the process of discovery…. I want to write a book about that process. I find it fascinating how a cultural organization like Longue Vue fuels it’s narrative - how it keeps that spellbound magic burning the flames of the curious. Here it seems there is always more underneath the surface. More letters, more receipts, more plans...

"Discovered" landscape renderings from Ellen Biddle Shipman at Longue Vue 
Ellen Biddle Shipman Longue Vue Garden Designs 

So a quick stop to the shop and the party room to see the “Living Sculpture” of Trailer McQuilkin and his extraordinary mixed media, environmental and botanical nature art that was beloved by the Sterns.
Environmental Art by Trailer McQuilkin 

Louisiana Lilies

Doesn’t it just seem fitting in a “stars-in-an-alignment” kind of way that France boasts the fleur-de-lis, or iris, as its national flower and New Orleans - that bad-girl bastion of all things French in the US does likewise?

Moreover, I learned some things about the iris I didn’t know previously while visiting there earlier this month. Mainly that Louisiana Iris has a long, unique, and proud heritage.  Who knew the swamps and bogs of this area held such natural jewels? Well, Caroline Dorman, for one.

I was smitten with Miss Dorman’s story the moment Richard Johnson, the volunteer at the New Orleans Botanical Garden began describing her work with Louisiana Iris. What a dame!

We should be celebrating her work in a much bigger way in order to inspire others, especially women. Miss Dorman is a true pioneer. Having lived almost a hundred years - her career excelled in more than a few categories, from public relations to being a “world renowned naturalist, botanist, horticulturist, ornithologist, historian, archeologist, preservationist, teacher, artist, conservationist, and author -- and the first woman to be hired in the United States Forest Service,” according to her bio.  Wow. she didn’t waste a minute in that long life of hers.

Polymath, Caroline Dorman 
She wrote that she fell hard for the iris the first time she saw one - and it was an “iris crush” that lasted a lifetime… Must’ve been those heady blues and violets and lavender blues she viewed awestruck as they danced in their ditches near Morgan City in 1920, as she described. “My excitement knew no bounds,” she cooed.

Miss Dorman wrote that John James Audubon was the first to call these native beauties, “Louisiana Iris.” Leave it to a an artist… Or an outsider. Sometimes we get so accustomed to what we have we fail to appreciate it. Dorman wrote: “It seems astonishing that these amazing flowers did not attract more attention. Ellsworth Woodward, head of the Art Department at Newcomb College in New Orleans, was struck with their beauty and made paintings of them, which now hang in Delgado Museum. Occasionally local florists cut flowers and sold them -labeled ‘Japanese iris!’” See, they felt compelled to refer to them as a foreign exotic rather than their own homegrown beauties back then.

The great iris collector and breeder, Mrs. Dan DeBaillon, (I think her own name is Mary - but the reports cite the “Mrs. moniker”), left her collection to Caroline Dorman, who had become a fellow collector by then and who also undertook a hybridizing program.

According to the Louisiana Iris Society, “Miss Dorman's greatest claim to fame as a breeder is 'Wheelhorse' (R1952), a rose bitone which has remained popular to this day and figures prominently in the genealogy of many award-winning irises. She also collected cultivars and hybridized more than a dozen Louisiana iris including Foxglove Bells, June Clouds, and Saucy Minx.”

Caroline Dorman has a Facebook page and you can also learn more at the Briarwood Nature Preserve

That Mrs. Dan DeBaillon of Lafayette amassed the largest and most varied collection in existence. It’s reported that she collected the iris “in the edges of New Orleans where she found many unusual and beautiful varieties, even reds and pinks. These fields have now been built over and destroyed. Mrs. DeBaillon had visited Briarwood many times and knew (Dorman) had suitable places for growing these irises; so she willed her collection… to Briarwood, the birthplace and home of Caroline Dormon. The Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve strives to carry on the work started by Miss Dormon by preserving wildflowers native to the south and educating the public on how natural forest ecosystems work.”

Some of the Irises collected or hybridized by Miss Caroline Dormon still reside in the Bay Garden at the Caroline Dormon Nature Preserve, including Wheelhorse, Violet Ray, The Kahn, Saucy Minx,WoodViolet and FireAlarm, CathedralBlue and Mary S. DeBaillon. Miss Dormon registered and introduced 14 collected Louisiana irises and numerous hybrids. Wheelhorse, (Abbeville x Violet Ray ), introduced in 1952 by Caroline Dormon it is thought by some to be the top parent among Louisiana irises.

I hope there will be more study of Miss Dorman and her horticultural achievements. I, for one, plan to read her books. I see six of them: Wild Flowers of Louisiana (1934), Forest Trees of Louisiana (1941), Flowers Native to the Deep South (1958), Natives Preferred (1965), Southern Indian Boy (1967), and Bird Talk (1969).

I also see that some books are out of stock. Pshaw. Perhaps the library is the best bet. Or better still -- order them from Briarwood - plus you can add in her charming flower art note cards -- for $5. You’ll be helping the organization -- and you. Double the benefits. And Briarwood offers the book: Gift of the Wild Things -- an introduction to Miss Dorman’s extraordinary life.

Keep studying about the pioneering female scientists - even after Women’s History Month passes.

We have so much to learn. So much garden glamour to explore …

Toulouse the cat guide at Longue Vue

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Home & Garden Preview Highlights from Architectural Digest Show 2017

Given this week’s snowmaggedon blizzard and the accompanying arctic weather in New York -- along with most of the East Coast lately-- you’d be forgiven if you feel an overwhelming urge to nest this weekend. But for the latest on how to feather that nest of yours -- you cannot miss the Architectural Digest Show (AD Design Show) open now through Sunday, March 19th. The show provides a cornucopia of home design and decor ideas from the industry’s best designers, artisanal craftsmen and craftswomen, and manufacturers -- so you can browse your heart’s content; sure to find plenty of ideas. Or to just dream…

The AD Design Show is truly unique in producing a show of such importance. I can think of few, if any, media brand that is a platform for an entire industry. Here is the nexus for design, technology, and sustainability. All with a conscience and a nod to lifestyle and the makers.

I was privileged to be part of the press preview for the show so I’ll share some suggested “must-see” booths and later provide details on trends, products and materials.

Featured Brands to Visit

Why not start with the best? That’s BEST Range Hoods - Booth 347 - a leading designer of luxury range hoods, the maker features Italian designed range hoods that make a statement while never compromising powerful capture. BEST showed in-ceiling hoods that won’t mar a nature view - such as that vista to the water or woods that you probably bought the house for. They also showed a prototype of a Gaudi-inspired range hood that looked like a datura or brugmansia

brugmansia .jpg

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BEST Gaudi prototype hood -- see the brugmansia look?

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Chef Ryan Scott cooking demo at BlueStar

BlueStar - Booth 287

BlueStar® is a manufacturer of high-performance appliances for the home – and a trailblazer in color innovation – more than 750 colors and finishes -- the brand unveiled a full commercial-style kitchen suite, including premium, built-in refrigeration. BlueStar also featured a cooking demo hosted by Celebrity Chef Ryan Scott and Designer Kim Lewis.

The awarding-winning BlueStar 36-inch Built-In Refrigerator, which provides a seriously fresh take on premium food preservation that redefines the art of cooling, will be featured, along with a preview of a French Door model. New to the BlueStar kitchen suite, launching at the show, is the double Electric wall oven,featuring two, integrated, temperature controlled bake stones, 12+ Cooking Modes, a powerful 2,500 watt bake element and an intense 5,000 watt broiler. Its sleek design offers an intuitive, easy-to-use single controller which operates both top & bottom oven. BlueStar also will be introducing the new 36” Induction Cooktop, featuring BlueStar's iconic professional performance. There are also prototypes along the outside of the booth. BlueStar president, Eliza Sheffield noted that the show is a kind of focus group -- so don’t hesitate to provide your feedback. Gotta love this Southwest - sort of Frida Kahlo looking stovetop and hood with its brilliant colors, no?

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Ronbow - Booth 179 - the award-winning company - Winner of 2016 Design - produces luxury bathroom furnishings with a focus on wood and ceramic products -- using eco-friendly, sustainable materials. The highly-acclaimed Signature Series by Ronbow is a diverse collection of extreme quality and refined luxury with internationally trendsetting bathroom products designed by the world’s premier artists, designers and design firms, bringing together 11 new collections from nine top European designers under one brand. Ronbow showed a teeny-tiny sink but with full features including a Blue-Tooth power source for mobile phone to listen to the music or news while getting ready for the day. Their Vento (Italian for “wind”) vanity had a sink that did look like it was shaped by nature.
The art deco vanity in navy -- “the new black” was quite glamorous.

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Beautiful vanity opens like a puzzle! 

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Vento- wind-swept sink design

Liebherr - Booth 271 -- The family-owned and German-based Liebherr Appliances brings the best of European cooling to the Americas. With more than 60 years of expertise in premium refrigeration, Liebherr Appliances combines quality, design, and innovation to offer high-end refrigeration solutions for the modern home or business at approximately one-third or so less than other manufacturers.  

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This is my scarf drawer - brimming with ECHO scarves! 

ECHO - Booth 432 - Known for its expertise in print, pattern, and color, Echo began as a scarf company in 1923.

The brand has become a leader in creating innovative and beautifully designed accessories and home products. ECHO is showcasing a range of fresh and exciting designs including the brand new Ibiza Indoor/Outdoor Collection in collaboration with Kravet. As the name implies, Ibiza takes its inspiration from the rustic beauty of the island. Splashed with Mediterranean and Spanish influences and a fresh global spirit, the collection is an exploration of modern versatility. The high quality performance collection is woven with fibers that stand up to everyday use and don’t fade in the sun. 

ECHO Ibiza - I can see these looks in many of my garden designs

ECHO Ibiza

Woven Legends - Booth 524 - The Art of Woven Legends: Woven Legends leads the way in a rug renaissance by pioneering the use and cultivation of natural dyes since 1982, as well as re-establishing the hand spinning of indigenous nomadic wools in Turkey. The brand’s rugs showcase some of the best carpets woven in the past century.

Woven Legends proudly presents The Anka Cooperative, a social enterprise with a mission to empower Syrian women refugees by providing them dignifying work through the creation of fine carpets. Anka started in 2012 in southeast Turkey, and is currently working with 250 Syrian refugee women in two camps. The Anka Cooperative will formally launch on Kickstarter on Tuesday March 21, to expand their efforts to a third refugee camp. You can support the campaign to raise funds and awareness of their mission, here:

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This Woven Legend rug was reproduced for the Met Museum 

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Woven Legends rugs are based on historical designs

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Woven Legends founder: Neslihan Jevremovic 

Baldwin Hardware - Booth 293 - Baldwin’s Evolved collection is the next generation of smart handlesets and door deadbolts blending exquisite architectural designs with Kevo technology. Evolved delivers an electronic solution designed to exceed the luxurious architectural standards of Baldwin customers. Baldwin Evolved offers an easy Bluetooth “touch-to-open” solution in 18 handleset styles and three deadbolts. Customers can choose from 18 Baldwin finishes for customizable style. Evolved connects through advanced bridge technology to allow you to easily open and close doors via your smartphone and the Kevo mobile app, which runs in the background so there is no need to open the app to enter the home. By downloading the app, you can easily issue “ekeys” for remote access, real-time access history and remote unlocking capabilities within Bluetooth range.

Evolved’s streamlined design easily conceals the technology in a smart, sleek design that is 60 percent smaller than other electronic products on the market. Evolved features subtle LED lights to communicate elegantly with users. It also features a self-aligning brass bolt for easy operation and is water-resistant to ensure moisture won’t affect the technology.

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Gaggenau - Booth 387 - Gaggenau is a manufacturer of high-quality home appliances and acknowledged as an innovation leader in design and technology “Made in Germany.” The company, with a history dating back to 1683, has revolutionized the home kitchen with its internationally acclaimed products. Gaggenau’s success is founded on technological innovation and a clear design language combined with high functionality, hand-craftsmanship, resulting in what the company calls the art of the kitchen.

Available in April, Gaggenau is premiering its EB 333 oven - to mark its 333 years in business - and they say it “perfectly embodies Gaggenau’s design philosophy of traditional avant-garde, where timeless craftsmanship is combined with innovative design. The most striking feature of the 36 inch wide oven is its full-width 3 mm thick stainless-steel door, creating a beautifully sleek and elegant front. The door is equipped with a new soft opening and closing technology to enhance the user experience. “

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Gaggenau artful products and new Masterpiece oven - Culinary Luxury - & serving Ossaban ham! 

Thermador - Booth 387 - Thermador unveiled a completely refreshed Culinary Preservation line, providing exceptional cooling storage with an amazing array of refrigerator, freezer, and wine unit combinations that allow for flexibility and personalization in the kitchen –and throughout the home.

Newly designed TFT control display,with a sleek modern look, provides intuitive management for every aspect of the unit. The ThermaFresh System in the refrigerator drawers provides optimal humidity and temperature control to extend the freshness of meat and produce. The FreeFlow® Cold Air System allows items on door shelves to remain cold and quickly return to the interior temperature once the door is closed. Delicate produce bins provide a storage solution for delicate produce and herbs. The bins are easily removable to take to the food prep area -- love this feature. LED theater lighting in two long tiles along the side provide filtered even lighting, ensuring all food can be spotted and labels are readable. Specially designed Diamond Ice maker in all culinary preservation units with freezers. How glamorous!

Thermador offers Incredible personalization possibilities with over 23 customizable models, including a new 36” refrigerator, 36” freezer and a 23 ½” refrigerator that, when matched with an 18” or 24” freezer, will fill a pre-existing 42” or 48” cut-out.

Open Door Assist feature provides the option to push the door to open or pull it to open –with just a simple selection from the TFT display.  This is one of the features recommended to the company by their design brand ambassadors.  I'm proud to share that my friend, Toni Sabatino is a leader on the board and advocated for this feature!

Glass shelves with aluminum trim and drawers in refrigerator and freezer columns exude a luxurious feel and clean symmetry when paired alongside any other column.

Wine columns feature Full Extension Wengewood racks with triangular dowels that provide more stability and an elegant presentation for fine vintage bottles. You also have the ability to place a custom panel on the door, or to order a stainless steel unit with no door assembly required.

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Individual pull out drawers for variety of herbs and fruits 

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Take away trays to the table or BBQ 

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Swarovski Crystal studded Rangecraft hood 

Rangecraft - Booth 485 - RangeCraft has been a leading industry manufacturer of high quality, custom designed metal range hoods. RangeCraft’s Made To Order Hoods are available in over 25 product designs. Decorative bands, rivets, buttons and pot rails can be added to dress up the range hood. The brand is showing a new Miami Design in Antique Copper enhanced with copper color Swarovski Crystals -- the only manufacturer licensed to do so. Pure, glamorous luxury for the kitchen.

Urban Cultivator - Booth 144 - Urban Cultivator is THE product you’ll covet at this year’s show. It’s the future, now. You can grow herbs and micro greens in an indoor garden incubator that looks like an under the counter wine storage unit. The greens cultivate in approximately two weeks and you can continue to add new seeds the tray racks. Love this truly homegrown luxury. It’s a four-season healthy way to eat investment.  The unit can be a standalone or used with a water hook up. You can customize the cab it with a choice of front tints and five different tops: Cherry, Male, Walnut, Stainless Steel.  It has four grow trays; four humidity domes.  And the company provide 24/7 phone support - but you won't need it.  Enjoy growing your own food.  It even comes with a starter kit of four plants.

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Grow your own herbs & micro greens all year with Urban Cultivator  

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Pull Out growing trays, Urban Cultivator 

FlowerBox Wall Gardens Naturalist - Booth 128 - I was completely intrigued with this brand’s signature collection of live - yet preserved - plants. As a horticulturist and garden designer, me and fellow designers, could argue that vertical gardens are like the unicorn of the garden art world; presented with great frequency as the next “thing” but it just doesn’t work. Yet here at FlowerBox were moss, ivy, ferns, and boxwood hanging like verdant wallpaper. In fact, the company says they have 30 kinds of exotic plants and they swear that in the seven years they’ve sold the products they’ve never had a problem. I’m going to try this FlowerBox and will report back after I’ve test-driven in an install. In the meantime, be sure to check it out. Along with their resin tree and plant stools.

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FlowerBox vertical garden wall coverings 

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FlowerBox resin tree table or stool 

Pennoyer Newman - According to the company, “Cast from originals that once graced the gardens of some of the foremost estates in the U.S. and abroad, the collection of over 400 stone resin replicas are lightweight and weather-resistant. What's more, each Pennoyer Newman casting is handcrafted in New York City using a unique composition of pummeled marble, rock and resin.” For me, I know and love this brand - and the co-owner Virginia Newman so much that I have to look up their description. I use the pots for clients and we adore the look and quality of these investment containers, millstones, fountains, and statuary. The theme of their booth is “nobility” and from the lions to the herons to the pedestals - there is no doubt about their pedigree and noble presence. You must visit and own as much as you can of Pennoyer Newman. 

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Pennoyer and Newman 

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Pennoyer & Newman's garden products - replica's of classic designs 

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Pennoyer & Newman "Nobility" themed AD Show booth features artful prints of Cecily Pennoyer's 

I also liked the ventless fireplace designs at HearthCabinet.  No need for a chimney, gas, or electric.  The "fireplaces" are good looking, just right for small spaces, and put out some heat, too.
photo courtesy HearthCabinet 

Showing in the same booth is MJ Atelier - their bespoke sculpted wallpaper, sculptural wall covering, and textured wall coverings are exquisitely elegant.  Truth too, they feature a peacock on their business card so they had me...

Of note is Charleston Limewash - eco-friendly limestone or stucco interior or exterior wall surfaces.  Very authentic and beautiful.  

Kalamazoo, Outdoor Gourmet, always shows quality outdoor kitchens and this year they are featuring a new item: the Smoker Cabinet.

A step up are the Lynx Grills and their new Sonoma Smoker.  It features "smart" capabilities likes the brand's SmartGrill, that is wifi and app-enabled with pre-loaded recipes - or you can add your own custom recipes. These American made outdoor kitchen products are welded stainless steel, grilling platforms that is easy to clean.  The hood construction allows for air recirculation.
Lynx Grill

The company sees outdoor kitchens becoming ever more complete in terms of complete functionality.  The pizza oven and cocktail station add to the overall look.  Plus my foodie friend, Donatella Arpaia is the company's brand ambassador!  

Donatella cooking demo at Lynx Grills


Saturday, March 18th:

11:30 A.M.–12:30 P.M.

Tastemakers discuss individuality, personal style, and the undeniable intersection between fashion and home today.
Featuring Tim Gunn of “Project Runway,” HGTV’s Genevieve Gorder, and Los Angeles-based interior designer Mary McDonald. Moderated by Jane Keltner de Valle, Style Director at Architectural Digest

1:30–2:30 P.M.

The partners of McAlpine use architecture and design to shape private sanctuaries that inspire creativity. Specializing in highly personalized interiors for clients like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, they will reveal the soulful spaces, romantic bedrooms, extraordinary guest quarters, party barns, and more that endow each retreat with individuality, intimacy, and uniqueness.
Featuring McAlpine partners Bobby McAlpine, Susan Ferrier, Greg Tankersley, and Ray Booth. Moderated by book consultant Jill Cohen

3:30–4:30 P.M

Trade secrets and essentials behind the art of entertaining and high design are revealed.
Featuring Ken Fulk, designer and creative director for the tech sector’s elite and the author of Mr. Ken Fulk’s Magical World; Lela Rose, fashion designer and author of Prêt-à-Party; and Laura Dowling, Chief Floral Designer for the Obama White House and author of Floral Diplomacy at the White House. Moderated by Athena Calderone, renowned lifestyle expert, author of Cook Beautiful, and creator of EyeSwoon

Sunday, March 19th:

11:30 A.M.–12:30 P.M.

Learn what you need to know to define your project scope, set your budget, and navigate the gritty details of renovating small or palatial spaces. The conversation will focus on the nuts and bolts of a stress-free renovation.
Featuring licensed contractors Stephen Fanuka of “Million Dollar Contractor” and DIY network star Jason Cameron. Moderated by Jean Brownhill, Founder and CEO of renovation matchmaker Sweeten

1:30–2:30 P.M.

Designer Vicente Wolf’s book The Four Elements of Design: Interiors Inspired by Earth, Water, Air and Fire is the springboard for this discussion on how to create spiritually positive interiors and find beneficial ways to utilize all aspects of design— architecture, landscaping, interiors, and urban development— to achieve a higher level.
Featuring Vicente Wolf and Katie Scott, interior designer and author of Let It Be. Moderated by Linda O’Keeffe, design writer and co-author of The Four Elements of Design: Interiors Inspired by Earth, Water, Air and Fire

3:30–4:30 P.M

Aiming to expose a few key master makers of the new movement afoot—the New Material Style—hear how this trend uses untapped material to take precedence over conventional standards of typology, usability, and even beauty.
Featuring master makers Lora Appleton, Ara Levon Thorose, Kim Markel, and Cody Hoyt. Moderated by Daniel Michalik, Director of Product Design at Parsons School of Design

Diffa By Design
THURSDAY–*MONDAY, MARCH 16–20, 2017 *Note - this element of the show runs through Monday. This is the tablescape showcase by major brands and designers. As much as it pains me to write this, the tablescapes were a disappointment this year. I eagerly anticipate this element of the show every year, especially because I also provide tablescape design for my garden design clients and I truly appreciate the inspiration and jaw-dropping compositions. Yet there were few that are astonishing. In a departure from past years, our tour “sherpa” said there was no theme given the creators. Still, there was a striking plethora of stark, austere looks and cut, forced spring tree twigs and shrubs, such as cherry blossoms and pussy willows and tropical philodendron leaves and a dearth of blossoming flowers or arrangements. There were a few good uses of succulents. Overall, missing were the whimsical, theatrical tabletop creations.  Yet, there is much to see and enough wow to impress.

My favorites? I loved the Ralph Lauren Home nautical display.  And for our simpatico style masters on the other side of the pond, Ralph Lauren UK

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Ralph Lauren nautical tablescape

Benjamin Moore -- the painted walls felt like a fine leather glove… The table setting is a classic look.

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Benjamin Moore tablescape 

Rockwell Group with Ovando 20 - Loved the colors -- meant to evoke the desert at dusk - the living wall of plants, and the use of succulents as architectural element amplified the approach of eating in a potting shed. A projector casts blooming flowers onto the succulents and cacti, and a diffuser fills the air with scent.  While I would not want the scent at a real dinner party - even heavy fragrance interferes with the olfactory pleasure of food and drink, this design was a fantasy.

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Rockwell Group table 

Twyla - 21 - featuring artist Edward Granger, who was on site, completing a wall hanging painting for the display. His bigger piece, “Mystify The Mind #3” hangs on the back wall and is the inspiration for the composition. I love the company’s “start with the art” approach to interior design decor - vs. an all too common methodology of choosing the art to “match” the decor. Ouch!

According to Twyla, “To bring back the practice of using art as inspiration to create a space, Twyla partnered with Brooklyn artist Edward Granger to make the room itself a work of art. Granger created two murals and a large-scale artwork featuring colorful geometric forms.

Austin-based Twyla is a new way to discover and buy contemporary art. Our curators partner with artists who exhibit at world-renowned museums and galleries to create obsession-worthy limited edition prints you can’t find anywhere else.

At DIFFA, Twyla introduced its first trade program providing member interior designers, architects and developers a discount on Twyla pieces, dedicated account managers, access to top curators and complimentary rendering services.

In Twyla’s room, the furniture and table were custom made and Austin-based ceramic designer Eliana Bernard crafted the marbleized plates and vases and the lighting fixture is by Stickbulb.

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Twyla - Ed Granger Mystify painting inspires table decor 

Twyla cited a luxe with minimalism trend, using lucite, and the channel (velvet) seating.

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Brooklyn artist, Ed Granger completing a work of art 

Sunbrella - This was the most thoughtfully nuanced narrative, curated and displayed in an intriguing and compelling display. The designer, Stephanie Housley, Coral & Tusk, explained how she wanted to tell the American story - featuring the West and our national parks; a refined cowboy kind of dreamy American West in a “glamping” setting.

Custom, textured fabric bisons - the “true American mammal” - hung on a custom ombre fabric wall. Textured Sunbrella covered seating with a look of antique kilim.

The cups and plates were all hand-thrown, made by Brooklyn artist Nicholas Newcomb, and featured textile baked in the material. So incredible I had to pick a cup up and feel its tactile sensation.

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Sunbrella American national park-themed tablescape 

The Blue Ocean display was also rather layered design -- with a nautical theme, using reclaimed wood, vintage, mid-century chairs and creative lighting that illuminated a hanging table with small green plants, with a center well and potted plants. The designers explained the plants can come off with the wood trays used for cheese or….

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Blue Ocean table 

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Blue Ocean hanging table features tray inset 

The Tzelan composition was a glittery space: reclaimed European Oak with squares of mineral composite of copper, zinc, and nickel that defined the interior space, gold-topped table, and lovely table setting. A great steal-worthy touch is the use of mineral crystals as part of the place setting, citing the mineral’s energy capability. Great conversation starter, too.

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Tzelan glamorous tablescape 

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Tzelan glittery tabletop decor 

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Rock Love: place settings feature minerals & quartz with energy properties! 
Roche Bobois +Gensler has a very cool tableau -- just the kind of outré look you want to see at a show like this.  While the walls were a series of their signature stuffed chairs, a "huge" lampshade kind of hat or "cone of silence" suspended over the table.  
Roche Bobois + Gensler Dining Tableau 

Inside were projectors so that the dining guests will be able to bask in a moveable feast for the eyes -- besides the purported bubbly dinner conversation, of course!  

Crate & Barrel had a good narrative: a couple comes home from a night out and along with friends, they raid the refrigerator, pour more champagne and enjoy their “Midnight Snacks” in the kitchen. The composition wasn’t a tablescape; rather a kind of set design.

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Crate & Barrel "Midnight Snack"

The Design Within Reach table was a treat: a garden table display that was a true eden fantasy. The walls are alternating mylar, mirrored table top covered in moss, twigs, air plants, and green.

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Design Within Reach garden tableau 

A lovely, transporting tablescape and dining room is designed by Eddie Ross, Style Director, ATG Stores. I learned ATG will be changing its name in April. Stay tuned. Products will still be available at The Mine by

The tablescape is in a greenhouse - available at ATG -- featured an Asian as interpreted by an English garden look with lots of blowsy hydrangea plants, trellis, indoor styled furniture and lamps, layered pastel dish settings, fabric tent runners, urns, mirrors, lights… The details add up to an intriguing and compelling design.

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ATG's Eddie Ross design 

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ATG English garden table decor in a greenhouse 

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ATG richly-layered tablescape 

Be sure to visit Pier 92 for DIFFA’S 20th Annual DINING BY DESIGN New York. The Architectural Digest Design Show is home to this spectacular display of cuisine, creativity, and glamour with one-of-a-kind dining environments that awe and inspire—all in support of DIFFA’s work to fight HIV/AIDS. DINING BY DESIGN also features a dynamic silent auction, the legendary COCKTAILS BY DESIGN party on Thursday, March 16th as well as a closing night Gala on Monday, March 20th.” You can purchase tickets to the Monday evening gala.