Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Exterior Designs for Outdoor Lifestyle at ICFF Show, NYC Open to Public

JM Lifestyles Composite Concrete Table 

The annual ICFF Show is in full force in New York City. It opens to the public today; you can peruse and shop miles of interior and exterior design from global makers you don’t get the chance to see in one place.

There are booths filled with exotic lighting, rugs, desks, fireplaces, benches, wall coverings in metal and paper - and the materials cover every material you can think of; some you didn’t know existed.

This is truly a bazaar for the professional and the consumer design enthusiast.

Trends I saw for Exterior Design include:
  • Lifestyle, glamorous resort products for indoor luxury transported to outside/exterior design
  • Masterful, creative use of concrete composite - and use of recycled content
  • Ergonomic design that works with nature and climate change weather conditions
  • Newer resins and 3-D designs 
I scouted the the exterior designs primarily to get inspired ideas for you - and for my client garden designs.

I didn’t leave disappointed.

My interior design friend, Toni Sabatino met me - always a most pleasant adventure - and when she asked me what my agenda was, she immediately seized the carpe diem moment and took me to Extremis. There, I saw an incredible, smart-looking, lightweight, hand-powered outdoor shade umbrella - the Kismos Parasol design by Dirk Wynants.

Check out this video demo

This is an “original, patented innovation that opens and closes horizontally like a fan… Or a bird’s wings.”
The shade is available in round or square; the span is approximately six and a half feet.
It comes in three colors: white, black, and taupe.
Another plus for this creation is that it is anchored by floor fastening, or a concrete base - meaning no need to construct a topside anchoring that the big shade sails require.
And -- it’s hand-operated! No engine, remote, or crank! Elegant and effective.

There is also a complimentary Kosmos table design that designer Wynants explains was inspired by yachts - where space is limited. The round table and coordinated seating is sleek and functional.
The Belgian-based firm also offers several collections of outdoor tables, chaises and seating - created with ingenious construction for modern lifestyle

Seduced by stone as I often am, I was pulled toward SoMa by Concreteworks with their polished stone shaped like pods. Scattered around the booth, the organic forms are seats!

The Golden State-based company claims nature is their muse (I could see that) specifically by the elegant curves of small stones found in Northern California, “using 3D-scanning technology to recreate the sensuous shapes.” And a variety of colors. I can see these placed throughout a designed pleasure garden - and in an outdoor dining area for a natural, clean look in harmony with nature.

And they can be heated!

They are made of Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete (GFRC) - which means they are not rather lightweight because they are not solid. In turn, shipping is not out of this world prohibitive. It was explained to me that typically they can ship two in a crate for a couple of hundred dollars.

A show-stunner is the table I saw at the JM Lifestyles booth. It was the best of show. And not just because I am designing a table almost just like the one featured there. (Well, maybe it was.)

Rather than solid concrete, the team at JM Lifestyles have engineered a composite made from 50% recycled content, and concrete and (a secret sauce).

The products are lightweight (approximately 10 pounds per square foot), looks like wood, stain-proof, warmer to the touch -- important element that is overlooked when using traditional concrete.

The legs are stainless steel.
You can plant in the center or as I intend - to use with water and ice - to float wine bottles down the table - or to float flowers.

They also showed a doable recirculating water feature on their video presentation that also showcased their ability to create a waterfall edge. Truly.

The Garden-state based firm makes products for indoors and out - and provides a Four-Step easy-to-follow selection process:
  1. Choose your application - counter, bar, table, wall, sink, etc
  2. Choose your texture - smooth, etruscan, etc.
  3. Choose your color -from a light ivory to dark graphite with mushroom and eucalyptus in between - different stains. 
  4. Choose your detail - This is the edging - available in six different looks. You can also design your own custom look
You can add lights, fiber optics, cutting boards.

The wood form concrete and real concreate design fabrication at JM Lifestyles is a discovered resource -- a real gem - for truly excellent exterior garden design. I can think of many projects where their crafted reinforced concrete will work gloriously.

Loved their tub… I could see making a Japanese Soaking Tub from this material.

OmniDecor is a vendor who creates luminous etched and painted glass designs. I especially like the DecorFlou®.

The company claims, “Glass for exteriors is highly versatile and offers multiple technological and creative solutions for buildings or typical façade elements, such as balustrades, balconies, canopies and windows.

Acid etched glass for exteriors combines light transmission properties with privacy protection. DecorFlou® Classic and BiFlou ensure a high opacity level in favour of privacy, are easy to clean and require almost no maintenance. The DecorFlou® Design decorations or small DecorFlou® Window motifs break the continuity of the etched surface, creating interesting alternations of glossy and matt surfaces.

For customers looking for scenographic effects, SolidLight® is the most innovative, unusual solution, which exploits the potential of the light to illuminate the glass with LEDs giving brilliant luminous effects.” Great design option for those balconies and doors that won’t block the views and vistas and also add a custom design element.

And the outdoor casual greenhouse.

I also was very captivated by the GlammⓇ fireplaces for tabletop, patio, fire pits, bbq, and more to create an outdoor living area that adds warmth, depth and style.

The design concepts the company offers are terrific; plus you can create your own bespoke designs - or work with your garden designer.

The exterior furniture designs at Polart is a glossy, riot of rainbow colors in a kind of mid-century riff on traditional designs.
PolarArt Exterior Designs 
The eye-catching brilliance of the eclectic, artful statement furniture can grouped as a composition, or if you’re a bit timid, add a piece or two. Maybe more Dr. Seuss than you’ve ever dreamed of - but they are real. If you love color mixed with a bit of whimsy - this is for you.

All the pieces are water-proof, the resin coating enhances outdoor performance, the polymer frames are built with steel construction, plus other engineered details. These are chaises, chairs, loveseats, tables and ottomans that you’ll want to sink into, show off and enjoy.

A few more vendors and designers that caught my eye that you should check out:


I love this -- can’t you just picture yourself reading and canoodling in this glamorous swing?!

Wagner Archela

These are some of the wowsy designs from Sergio Jmatos. They just scream unique garden and summer lifestyle...
Sergio Jmatos chair design 
And because you know I adore plexiglass/acrylic or lucite pieces, I was delighted to discover, Plexi Craft:

These columns would work at a beachfront home terrace or patio. Elegant and clean design…

Snakes on planes? No, snakes - and alligators on tables! And LED lamp and cocktail table from The Prince of Monteagudo, John Landrum Bryant.

David Trubridge                                         Molo 

Emu designs offers some very good-looking chair styles. For outdoor and indoor. Their terrace chair and chaise looks are very chic.

Luxury Exterior Style

Stunning surface designs from Midas Metall - the metal skin.
According to the show, “The 30th annual ICFF NYC, North America’s platform for global design, will map the newest frontier of what’s best and what’s next at New York City’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, May 20-23, 2018.

For the four-day duration of the Fair, the Javits Center will be abuzz with more than 36,000 interior designers, architects, retailers, representatives, distributors, facility managers, developers, manufacturers, store designers, and visual merchandisers.

On Wednesday, May 23th, the ICFF opens its doors to the general public as well.
ICFF annually lures those in determined pursuit of design’s timely truths and latest trends to an encyclopedic exhibition of up-to-the-moment offerings, as well as a series of fascinating, fun, edifying programs and a packed schedule of exhibits and features.”

Enjoy the glamour...

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Paradise Garden: Georgia O’Keeffe’s Visions of Hawai’i on Display at NYBG for the 1st Time in NYC since 1940

What an epic story. Imagine thrilling plant explorations. Art - nearly 20 paintings not seen together in New York since their 1940 Debut. History. Exotic locale. Botany. Gardens. Endangered flora. Plus, a memorable denouement.

Georgia O’Keeffe may have spent only nine weeks immersed in the Hawaiian Islands in order to produce two images for a Hawaiian Pineapple Company promotional campaign - Dole - but it took many years to put together this extravaganza at The New York Botanical Garden, opening Saturday.

The New York Botanical Garden’s secret sauce for producing compelling, comprehensive events that celebrate the relationship and crossroads of fine art and nature (Kahlo, Manet & more) may have reached its zenith in the Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai‘i show that opens May 19th and runs through October 28th.

This show is worth at least a two-day exploration because there is so much to see and experience. Yet, while the show is outsize the experience is an intimate one. When you enter the Gallery to see the 20 framed paintings hanging there, it’s exciting to consider that this is the first time this little known body of work is even on display.
It’s a jewel box of botanic art.

At the press preview, we were told the show was most likely sparked by a November 2012 feature in The New York Times that detailed the story behind O’Keeffe’s unlikely sojourn to Hawaii and her artful plant paintings as a result of an equally unlikely commercial commission.

A more recent March feature in The New York Times that I well remember as provocative reading, could’ve only amplified the Garden’s resolve to showcase the urgent need to sustainably manage threatened and endangered species. The article reported that out of the 1,280 endangered animals and plants recognized by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, 557 are in Hawaii. Conservationists have called it the “extinction capital of the world”. The show highlights the importance of plants in Hawaiian culture and the threat the native species face today.

Visions of Hawai’i focuses on the iconic artist’s immersion in the Hawaiian Islands in 1939, evoking the Hawaiian gardens and landscapes that inspired O’Keeffe. And just as O’Keeffe often painted elements as she imagined or saw them -- adding in elements - so too does the NYBG team employ their artful botanical and horticultural expertise to present an extremely lush flower show; exquisitely curated in the Garden’s Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

The walk through the long borders of the Conservatory showcases the remarkable beauty and richness of Hawai‘i’s wild and cultivated flora.

The Hawaiian Paradise Garden is a “starting off or jumping off point” featuring plantings designed by the inimitable Francisca Coelho, former NYBG Vice President for Glasshouses and Exhibitions where she designed and installed the major flower exhibitions in the Conservatory. I believe this is Coelho’s first show since she “retired” from the Garden.

Her touch is evident throughout the exhibit.

The curated plant display is masterfully presented and inspired by O’Keeffes letters to her husband, world-famous photographer, Alfred Stieglitz, charting the chronology of her Hawaii adventure.

There are three flora presented in the show:
  • Native Flora: of the more than 1,200 Native Hawaiian species, 90% are endangered and/or threatened 
  • Canoe Plants: Cultivated plants that made their way to the archipelago more than 1,500 years ago by the Polynesians, including Bread Fruit, Cordyline, and sugar cane
  • Modern Introductions: Plants that arrived with (white) settlers from the late 18th Century for agriculture and ornamentation. 
It’s interesting to learn that many of the plants had to be grown by NYBG, some were grown by others to the Garden’s specifications, while many more were loaned by other botanical gardens.

The colorful tropical garden plants on display there reflect those those Georgia O’Keeffe encountered and painted while in Hawai‘i including: ti plant, frangipani, bougainvillea, heliconia, hibiscus, bird-of-paradise, ginger, and many more tropical favorites.
Pineapple plant. Photo: courtesy Carolyn Campo

Coelho’s plant list contains more than 300 types of plants for the exhibition.

This is an inspired introduction to the profound importance of plants in Hawaiian culture.

During our overview, we watched the newly produced video for the show where Georgia writes to her husband how overwhelmed she is by the welcome necklace of flowers - the lei; she describes the astonishing presentation in fastidios floral detail.

Starting in June the outdoor Conservatory Courtyards will showcase a wide variety of Hawaiian plants in beautiful potted and ground-level trough displays.

Pineapples and bananas, among other favorites, will be on view in the Central Courtyard, while hundreds of hibiscus, as well as gardenia and bougainvillea, will fill the Hardy Courtyard - especially a variety of the Hawaiian state flower: Yellow Hibiscus, hibiscus brackenridgei.

Because the brackenridgei is so very imperiled and endangered it cannot be taken across state lines, so you will see the Chinese or “resort” hibiscus, according to Todd Forrest, Vice President, Arthur Ross Vice President for Horticulture and Living Collections.

The set pieces in the Conservatory are designed by Tony Award-winning scenic designer Scott Pask. Beyond the borders, planting beds arranged around an open-sided, thatched-roof pavilion inspired by a traditional Hawaiian hale designed by Pask, tell the story of the canoe plants—those useful plants brought to the Islands more than 1,000 years ago by Polynesian settlers.

Vignettes featuring native Hawaiian plants will teach visitors about modern efforts to preserve Hawai‘i’s imperiled flora, according to NYBG.

O’Keeffe wrote during her visit to Hawaii: “My idea of nature has not been beautiful enough.”
How sweet and authentic is that?

Her immersive works evoking the gardens and landscape of the Aloha state clearly mark her desire to honor and capture that distant beauty and her acclaimed “sense of place.”

Let’s see if I can break down the show into doable categories that will help make it easier to understand and visit because there’s just so much to take in at this epic show.

Botanical Art: In addition to the gardens and landscape art that evoke the spirit of Hawaii already noted, there are a series of outdoor sculptural art installations, designed by contemporary Hawaiian-Chinese sculptor Mark Chai, and fabricated to his exacting specifications in Brooklyn. Mr. Chai and his beautiful wife and manager Makana, were on-site at the preview.

Chai’s outdoor installations are inspired by the forms of the plants that O’Keeffe encountered while visiting Hawai‘i are on view in the Garden. The 13-foot stainless steel sculpture in the reflecting pool near the Leon Levy Visitor Center was inspired by the Heliconia plant.

In addition, the 12 wooden lanterns hanging and illuminated at night, along Garden Way, for evening events celebrate the Hawaiian canoe plants: Kukui (candlenut), Ulu (breadfruit), Ipu (gourd), Awaphuki (ginger), Ohi a ‘Ai (mountain apple), and Hala (screwpine).

O’Keeffe Fine Art: Because this is the first time these paintings are on view in New York -- not seen together here since their 1940 debut, this is a marked occasion for O’Keeffe enthusiasts. Her works depicting Hawaiian subjects garnered critical and popular attention when they were exhibited in 1940 at An American Place, the gallery of her husband, famed photographer Alfred E Stieglitz.

Entering the rotunda leading into the LuEsther T. Mertz Library Art Gallery there are four oversize images of some of her snapshots anchored on giant panels:

Seascapes, Sugar Cane Fields, a Morning Glory, and Lava.

There is also a digitized version of her sketchbook to indulge in.

All the works - 20 in total - were created in 1939 and include:


Crab’s Claw Ginger (plant depicted is actually a “lobster claw” heliconia)

Pineapple Bud (both of which were used in the (Dole) Hawaiian Pineapple Company’s advertisements and which are held today in private collections.

Hibiscus with Plumeria (loaned by the Smithsonian American Art Museum); and a series of landscape paintings depicting Maui’s interior ‘Īao Valley and lava-studded shorelines (loaned by the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, and a private collector).

The exhibition spotlights a transformative experience in the legendary artist’s life, revealing O’Keeffe’s deeply felt impressions and the enduring influence of the Islands’ rugged topography, dramatic landscapes, and exotic plants.

You cannot miss these feminine, evocative, and really - never-before-seen paintings.

Working together with the Garden’s Curator, Joanna Groarke, the fine art gallery show was curated by art historian Theresa Papanikolas, Ph.D., Deputy Director of Art and Programs and Curator of European and American Art at the Honolulu Museum of Art, the exhibition features these 20 O’Keeffe depictions of Hawai‘i.

In addition, the Garden has published “Georgia O’Keeffe Visions of Hawai’i” landmark volume book, available now in the Shop or online. The fully illustrated exhibition catalog explores this little-known chapter in the artist’s career. It’s a an equally luscious introspective into not only O’Keeffe but the Hawaii of that period. It’s a hardcover coffee table book that beautifully contextualizes the exhibit and explores the pop culture of the time as it relates to Hawaii.

Visitors of all ages will learn about Hawai‘i through complementary events and programs, including a scholarly symposium, an original short film, a film series, and the Interactive Mobile Guide.

A brief backdrop -- In 1939, at the age of 51 (probably kind of “old” in those days), O’Keeffe traveled on the aforementioned commission to Hawai‘i to produce images for the Hawaiian Pineapple Company promotional campaign. Her nine weeks on O‘ahu, Maui, Kaua‘i, and the Big Island of Hawai‘i resulted in stunning depictions of mountains and waterfalls as well as her signature close-cropped views of flowers and plants she observed there.

“Many things are so beautiful they don’t seem real,” she wrote.
At the time of her trip, O’Keeffe was among the most famous artists in the United States, best known for her depictions of the stark landscape and desert flora of her beloved New Mexico.

In the video documentary, you see newspaper headlines of the time, heralding her arrival to Hawaii. We were told that she was whisked into the Island’s High Society, she took took to wearing mumus.
At one point, she was a guest of Willis Jennings on his Hana plantation, where his daughter Patricia took to driving around O’Keeffe. Along with her own motor excursions, the artist painted quickly; often working right in the car.

The curators pointed out the sense of immediacy, brush strokes and liveliness in the paintings.

NYBG offers a rare opportunity to view the O’Keeffe advertising images as seen in the “Woman’s Home Companion” magazine - an example of the many media where her ad art appeared.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of Hawai‘i explores this lesser-known chapter in her career, the enduring cultural impact of mid-century perceptions of Hawai‘i, and the natural history of the Hawaiian Islands—one of the most ecologically diverse places on Earth—hidden behind O’Keeffe’s depictions.

A Poetry Tour, organized in partnership with the Poetry Society of America, explores the relationship between nature and people in the Hawaiian Islands. The Tour highlights the work of contemporary poets in Hawai‘i, including former U.S. Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin.

Elsewhere in the Garden - in the Britton Rotunda, an original short film entitled “Off in the Far Away Somewhere: Georgia O’Keeffe’s Letters from Hawai‘i—narrated by Academy Award-nominee and NYBG Trustee Sigourney Weaver—features excerpts from O’Keeffe’s personal letters to her husband, famed photographer Alfred Stieglitz, written during her journey to and around the Hawaiian Islands.

The Britton Gallery features Flora Hawaiiensis: Plants of Hawai‘i, tracing the history of Hawai‘i’s flora, from unusual native plants, to those valued by the ancient Hawaiians, to the ornamental and agricultural plants O’Keeffe painted.

Displays showcase archival photos, illustrations, and letters from the LuEsther T. Mertz Library and specimens from the William and Lynda Steere Herbarium. The exhibit also highlights the work of current and former NYBG botanists in the Pacific Islands, including Collaborators in Hawaiian Botany, Drs. Otto and Isa Degener, who explored and documented the flora of Hawai‘i in their magnum opus, Flora Hawaiiensis (1932–80), and worked to conserve its ecology.

In the Ross Gallery, you can enjoy Georgia O’Keeffe’s Hawaiian Voyage, a display highlighting the artist’s journey from her departure at New York’s Grand Central Terminal through her nine-week island-hopping explorations of exotic flora and lush landscapes.

Food: Hawaiian-inspired food will be available for purchase in the Hudson Garden Grill and at STARR Events’ new Poke Truck, which will feature four different types of poke (including a Veggie Bowl), the trendy dish of marinated raw fish served over rice with Asian seasonings.

What, no Spam?

Public Programming Throughout the Garden during the exhibition, there is a rich program of performances, events, and activities for adults and children, celebrating the diverse cultural traditions of Hawai‘i past and present, as well as the beauty and variety of Hawai‘i’s flora.

During Aloha Nights, evening programs will spotlight the culture that captured Georgia O’Keeffe’s imagination. On select Celebrate Hawai‘i Weekends, NYBG, in collaboration with Hawai‘i Tourism United States, will feature performers, artists, and artisans from Hawai‘i, showcasing the time-honored traditions and unique cultural heritage of the Islands.

A scholarly symposium and a film series are also among the planned programming. 
In the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden (ECAG), a 12-acre indoor/outdoor educational facility, children and their families will be inspired to explore and observe nature—just as O’Keeffe did, and as many other artists and scientists do for their work. After walking through the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden entry arch featuring larger-than-life flowers and fruit painted in the O’Keeffe style, visitors will proceed along the main path to discover a child-sized model of the lava forms inspired by O’Keeffe’s painting Black Lava Bridge, Hāna Coast, No. 1 featured in Sun Central Plaza, with black sand representing the beach at the base of the structure for children to explore.

Families can participate in guided activities using real plants and plant parts such as pineapple bromeliads and banana palms to introduce cross-disciplinary activities on concepts of scale and perspective using scientific tools such as microscopes and hand lenses to look closely.

Children will then represent these close-up views of plant parts using watercolor paint on paper. Children will pot up a ginger rhizome, Zingiber officinale, to bring home a bit of the Hawaiian tropics to nurture and observe its growth.
A visually stunning Interactive Mobile Guide, available at, complements the exhibition by transporting users to both the current Hawaiian landscape and back in time to the Hawai‘i that O’Keeffe visited in 1939. 
Features include multiple 360-degree videos of the plants and locations O’Keeffe observed and depicted in her work; personal accounts found in O’Keeffe’s handwritten letters; advanced location-aware technology that will help users engage with content automatically; and vintage photo frames that allow participants to create their own digital souvenirs and share on social media.

Celebrate Hawai‘i Weekends, Aloha Nights, Live Music and Hula, Lei-Making Demonstrations,
and More During Exhibition at NYBG

Georgia O’Keeffe and Hawai‘i: A Sense of Place

Friday, May 18; 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Ross Hall

Moderated by curator Theresa Papanikolas, Ph.D., Deputy Director of Art and Programs and

Curator of European and American Art at the Honolulu Museum of Art, this distinguished

panel explores the importance of landscape as Georgia O’Keeffe’s creative refuge, inspiration,

and source of restorative power. The panelists are DeSoto Brown, Historian and Archivist,

Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Honolulu; Samuel M. ‘Ohukaniōhi‘a Gon III, Ph.D., Senior

Scientist and Cultural Advisor, Hawai‘i Nature Conservancy; and Carolyn Kastner, Ph.D.,

Curator, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe.

Members $25/Non-Members $29

Weekend Performances, Demonstrations, & Film

Saturdays & Sundays, May 19–October 28

Every weekend you’ll be whisked away to the Hawaiian Islands with performances, events,

and activities that celebrate the diverse cultural traditions of Hawai‘i. Enjoy hula, plein air

painting, or see how a traditional lei is made. Explore Hawaiian culture through our Hawai‘i

Past and Present Film Series.

Programs include:

Hula with Music; 12, 1, & 2 p.m.

For full schedule of performance groups, visit

Oh - and that denouement? O’Keeffe sent the pineapple company two of her artworks upon returning to New York. The “Dole advertising executives were exasperated to learn that she had painted almost everything except pineapples, including papaya trees, heliconia plants and even fish hooks. So the company had a whole fresh pineapple couriered to her by seaplane, which she graciously did paint.”

Ahhh, the seductions and vagaries of the world according to plants.

Mark your schedule to visit this show. Many times. You’ll enjoy each and every artul discovery inspired by nature --- and the plants…

NYBG's Todd Forrest, Artist Mark Chai, NYBG's Gregory Long