These observations have proven valuable and will be the subject of upcoming posts for the weekly blog…almost weekly blog. A compilation of themes prompted by real clients and personal answers & ideas for YOU from Doorstep Design Delivery by PATRICIAN DESIGN!!

  1. Use dimmer switches whenever possible.
  2. Do not be afraid of color.
  3. Treasure family heirlooms.
  4. Know why you are installing window treatments.
  5. Mirrors can be your friends.
  6. All leather is not alike.
  7. Layering adds dimension.
  8. Trends can be your downfall.
  9. Eclecticism is personality
  10. Odd numbers of elements make better groupings.
  11. Rugs are wonderful.
  12. Discover new ways to use existing pieces.
  13. Fresh flowers are joyful.
  14. Focal points speak volumes.
  15. Minor changes can make major differences.
  16. Ceilings are opportunities.
  17. Find alternate uses for common things.
  18. Collections can be cool.
  19. Treat yourself to statement pieces.
  20. Enjoy connecting interiors with the outdoors.
  21. Prioritize to plan effectively.
  22. Deconstructing parts can result in creative assemblies.
  23. Balance is key – opposites attract.
  24. Pillows are easy seasonal punctuations.
  25. Plants bring life.
  26. Mobiles and kinetic sculptures add animation.
  27. Even small water features can be soothing.
  28. Incorporate old with new schemes…conversely new with vintage interiors.
  29. Do not fear dark walls in small spaces.
  30. Everyone benefits from a bit of bling.
  31. Test samples do not always satisfy actual finished effect.
  32. Avoid stopping finishes mid-surface or on outside corners.
  33. Textures tantalize.
  34. Scale is critical.
  35. Faux fur has come a long way.
  36. Matching might be monotonous.
  37. Find treasures at second hand shops.
  38. Collect ideas – inspiration abounds.
  39. Zones matter regardless of size.
  40. Punch it up often.
  41. Music and sound are design elements.
  42. Masking unwanted sounds is an art.
  43. Form should follow function but sometimes they are simultaneous.
  44. Context is critical.
  45. When white is an intentional wall color.
  46. Appearance retention is key.
  47. Beware of light sources solely from above.
  48. Fish tanks relax – as art, architecture or furniture.
  49. Daylight vital – circadian rhythm count
  50. Wabi Sabi has value.


Good design enhances life. Consultations no longer are dependent upon personal interviews. Technology has facilitated communication between designers and clients.Custom solutions in the form of samples and sketches can be delivered to your doorstep! Doorstep Design Delivery from PATRICIAN DESIGN

Please contact us regarding cost-effective, quick fixes for your design dilemmas. or 505-242-7646

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This month’s Architectural Digest August 2016 sports Anderson Cooper lounging on the  cover in a backdrop of lush tropical vegetation and a glistening pool. But it was what I discovered inside about which I blog today. Paris-based designer Mattia Bonetti and his love of color and wacky style caught my eye. How could it help but do so? His creativity gone wild with little restraint is like Dr. Seuss parties with Willy Wonk and Dali!! Fanciful forms and incredible colors are the signatures of his psychedelic scenes.

Whether you like his designs or are a bit overwhelmed by them, he made a profound quote that I think bears some discussion. Evidently the author of the article, Mitchell Owens thought so too as he isolated it as a leading statement. Bonetti predicts “If people who can afford incredible decors keep commissioning bland minimalist interiors, it’s the end of decoration.” 20160804_091417

I loved that statement. Yet inasmuch as I appreciate the bland minimalists for their value in their own context, I just liked the premise that decoration is what puts things out there. It’s what sets things apart. It is what stirs new creativity, commentary and explosions of art and design decadence.

Decoration – boldly going where no designer has gone before, Bonetti creates many of his pieces from tables to lamps,  rugs to headboards and all with a fanciful animation that nearly comes alive. Like it or not, you can’t help but react. It catches the eye and forces response.

Fine scribbles on the wall in a graphite grey contrasting with loud geometrics all with splashes if not washes of color – maybe better said drowning in color in some instances – Bonetti is not afraid. Embracing the extraordinary he mixes and crashes his forms and  colors in screaming crescendos that excite and disturb. His tables look as though they could walk – or slither – or in some way motate themselves across the room. 0816-bonetti-hong-kong-house-5

As a designer we should (my opinion) be designing for the client. To find a client who would want such creative experimentation is rare. Either in cases of wild abandon, second or third homes, freaky fanaticism over art and decoration – they are not the rule, but could be fun if given the license to proceed.


Hula hoops…Iridescent life-savers…fun with circles and stripes of color!!!

I play with color. As evidenced in my portfolio but never with such unfettered, unleashed audacity. Yet I believe that color is the best way to punctuate a design.

An overall view of Bonetti’s work will unveil these fanciful forms for sure but not always accompanied by the intense colors displayed in this featured article of the Hong Kong apartment. But Dr. Seuss’s design influence is nearly always present in his creations which are inspired and freeing. So let’s unleash decoration today!!!

Studying the design of workplaces comes from focusing on the methods of the business, nature of the business, various practices and work of the  business…and then there’s the actual look at the individual’s who make up the work team and how best they perform their work in any given business environment.

It is NOT a cookie cutter process. I have been watching the morph of open-office design. Mid-century modern approaches adopted these grand, open landscape layouts Open-concept-office and then the pendulum swung and private offices were the thing to attract employees. We’ve seen Mad Men replicate this era and it prompted a sexy nostalgia for social scene depicted as the workplace norm. 462be137dd7783b16320dfcbdf3d9290

The era and advantages provided by the privacy in those private offices…..

Attracting employees is an art unto itself. Extracting their productivity, once you have them is next. But what is certain as the pendulum swings again is that what has been in recent years the seeming popularity of the open, group work areas, the lack of privacy intended to generate collaborative productivity. And inasmuch as there are bonafide circumstances and business environments which nurture and benefit from this design approach, the pendulum left so many business practices and employees out of the equation for success.

At the start of 2012 Susan Cane wrote a book titled QUIET. It discusses her observations and interpretations of introverts versus extroverts. It address many  aspects of what this distinction is all about and the environments that encourage and those that intimidate or hamper productivity. These observations addressed personal issues such as self esteem as part of the recipe for success. But this  blog is concerned with the reasons for certain physical design approaches in the workplace.

The emphasis has seemed to be upon pitting the opposing personalities against each other and directly or indirectly favoring the  bold and unreserved extrovert over the meek and quiet introvert but it is not about that, the real design picture and life picture should be greater than that as there are many personality types that make-up an effective workforce.

Steelcase has identified a Privacy Crisis. They have performed studies to better understand the design of the workplace in its many iterations. I recently  took a continuing education class addressing this very point and it was so interesting to apply recent observations in my own collection of design projects presenting some of these very issues. A credit to Steelcase for bringing this to the fore but funny how the pendulum has swung once again. True that as one of the leaders in office and specifically systems furniture, they have had ulterior motives in studying what the next “trend” will be.


Semi-privacy….work…study??? Cost.

It’s good business to create things that will attract buyers and users but I found that some of the cool little pods that are new to their collection are more fun than practical and the rationalizing by the sales staff is often humorous in their attempt to make it relevant, desirable, and necessary.

I do like the idea when design has a good functional function – and yet I am frivolous enough to LOVE design for design’s sake…but when it is SUPPOSSED to function – it makes me crazy when it is primarily if not entirely frivolous!!!! Get that? Now the BEST is frivolous that REALLY FUNCTIONS…ponder those examples…I will after I finish this!!!

I regress…my point here is to recognize the need to establish the balance between the  collaborative design of an open team-thinking workplace with the need for privacy to focus, regroup and refresh. And in the case of certain very productive individuals, just get their work done.

I have two examples that in my own practice brought these issues to the design table. One was an accounting firm where conversations with clients about their financial dealings warranted privacy. Having a client later walk through the office and realize that some of their own conversations might have occurred in open areas where privacy was not respected would be a poor business decision and poor business practice. The second example was similarly based around client’s financial planning and preferences at a non-profit organization. An open area where discussions of an intimate and personal nature might take place would not be appropriate. Although at first glance the attraction of a common area where employees could enjoy each other’s camaraderie and interaction, it did not benefit their productivity nor did it benefit the end result which was the confidentiality of the client’s financial planning.

So,  sometimes it is the nature of the work to be done. Sometimes it is the enhancement and facility of the team effort. Sometimes it is the style of the employee doing the work and their best environment for productivity. In the last instance for individual’s personal style of private productivity there are many considerations of interfering distractions… whether it be noise – some enhances the working environment and other distracts terribly – or movement and peripheral activity, distractions come in many forms.

Good design will always be sensitive…sensitive to the object of the design (client and sub-clients as in employees), context of neighboring elements, applicability and efficacy of the design for its intended purpose.

One thing  Susan Cain said stands out, “The secret to life is to put yourself in the right lighting.”

An artist in the house is a rare treat. Yes, you who are artists and those of you who have an artist in the family are spoiled by  this continuum of creativity bursting about you. As a designer I am of an artistic nature. I think in artistic expressions, react to artistic stimuli, and make decisions based upon aesthetic sensitivities that I inherently have.

But these weeks being visited once again by our dear friend and respected artist Federico Leon de la Vega and having him painting on the patio and in what we fondly refer to as the estudio-garage, we are surrounded by the unique scent of solvents and products peculiar to his trade of oil painting and the genius of his ability to express his observations on canvas.

Canvases scattered about with partially  completed masterpieces, ideas started and left to dry or waiting for further inspiration while others begin and take shape in varying degrees of completion. A mountain standing on end about 4′ long by 3′ tall, a lemon rind un-peeling in an abstract interpretation of the bright yellow fruit. A still life of citrus lemons and blue pottery creating a classic combination of color.

But in addition to this wondrous collection of colorful and dramatic paintings surrounding us is Federico’s ongoing project of  Mind Your Calligraphy which continues to grow and expand on this very compelling subject. As any of you who have watched the YouTube video by the same name know by now, this fascinating, universally important subject about cursive touches so many imperatives in our lives. ejercicio-preparatorio-2-federico-leon-de-la-vega

Based upon his passionate observations on the subject and translating those observations into paintings illustrating the concepts and precepts that frame this topic, Leon de la Vega is compiling an exciting body of work and references to bring this more to the fore. His recent invitation to speak at the TED-X Talks in Albuquerque this fall are a further step in bringing this essential topic to the attention of those who can make a difference.

Here are two new paintings depicting inspiration from handwritten music scores. Federico met with a client who has a great love of music by his magnificent glossy black grand  piano commanding attention in the corner of his sunroom.  The two began discussing how handwritten music scores, like cursive, allow the individual the quick personal freedom of jotting ideas on paper that can later be transferred to printed, digital means. And in fact those simple personal writings of notes on paper become quite valuable as they are uniquely and spontaneously penned by the hand of the artist. What could be more personal? The two men focused on Gershwin as they further discussed their mutual enjoyment of music, the unique appreciation and connection of expression through handwritten musical creations. Resulting from this conversation, the composer became the focus of these two abstractions of Rhapsody in Blue.  Gershwin diptych




As we explored the hidden pockets at the Renwick Gallery (see last week’s blog) where upcoming exhibits were concealed by various obstructions and drapes, we made some interesting discoveries. We peeked behind a barrier where another exhibit was in the process of being installed. There we spied a variety of objet d’art and standing amidst, in the center of the disarray,  was what appeared to be a draped Grandfather’s Clock. My cousin who had previewed the show informed us that it was in fact the drape that is the art – it is not a drape – not fabric – but an exquisitely crafted art piece  of its own accord. P1150073 The ladders and other tools of the installation unintentionally supported the amazing trompe l’oiel effect. It was not a piece under cover at all – but the cover formed to suggest that there was a statuesque clock beneath it WAS the art!

At the opposite end of the staircase that we ascended is a rotund space dedicated to the history of the Renwick. 20160618_114404_resized Here we found the story. It is a story of passion for the arts, dedication to preserving and presenting, offering to the public these rare opportunities and during its life it has been confiscated and re-purposed for wartimes, protected by Jackie Kennedy and preserved under the official order of Lyndon Johnson that it be returned to its original purpose to be “Dedicated to Art” as a the unique exhibit space it was designed to be. 20160618_114310_resized

Read along the wall and you will learn about Powers’ Greek Slave 20160618_114122_resized and look up and you will be dazzled by a permanently exhibited Chihuly chandelier dangling with droplets of green glass that looks like it was dispensed from a frozen yogurt machine – soft and spiral, layers of iridescent and luminous forms.

The exterior is also fascinating to examine up close. It has whimsical and interesting details of relief and components, modern wave patterns all topped off by an unfortunately “tacky” sign beneath the upper pediment of the entry facade. P1150085 Oh well…

Please make the Renwick a must see when next in DC.

WONDER at the Renwick

June 19, 2016

At 4 years old my teeny cousin, Katherine whom I nicknamed Katie-belle, took my hand as we ventured forth with great discovery stepping down into the carport of our beach house. With commiserating whispers, like the two adventurers that we were that night, we exchanged queries about where we were headed and what we might find and she said ” I Wonder…”

“So what?” you might say. What’s such a big deal about that? Well the concept of wondering, being able to ponder with amazement at what might result, was astonishing to me coming from the mouth of such a young child.

When we returned upstairs to join the group, I was eager to share my amazement about her simple phrase, “I wonder.” I exclaimed  “She wonders!” Repeating it incredulously about 5 times!

Today she is a dedicated grown-up pursuing exciting adventures in education as she navigates the University system and teaches students with a creative approach that captivates and engages beyond their expectations.

What is wonder? What is wonderful? Yesterday I visited the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. . The current exhibit is called WONDER. P1150084It truly is a wonderment for all ages. This architecturally magnificent building designed in 1859 by James Renwick, in the then chic Parisian Second Empire Style, is the elegant backdrop for a most progressive and creative collection of present day modern artists’ works. Diverse examples, of spectacular displays using simple materials,  brought to life in forms unexpected – of grand proportion and thrilling magnitude. Although my learned and previewer cousin had introduced me to the exhibit in advance, it captivated and engaged beyond my expectations.

This grand yet intimate edifice welcomes and encourages close observation of both itself and its contents. The spectacular main staircase, centered upon entry, presents a brilliant coral red carpet installed with a curvy,  serpentine migration up to the second level. Ooh – if copying is cool and emulating is the greatest form of compliment – I will be looking for an opportunity to specify a similarly whimsical installation. P1150052

Glittering overhead, spanning the entire length of the staircase, is a rectangular chandelier of mirror-like stainless steel punctuated with little LED lights blinking in random patterns. P1150066 The glitz and bling make such a striking, formal, contemporary statement in this expansive volume that it startles with joyful contrast. The artist, Leo Villareal of whom I had heard in advance, was originally from Albuquerque – where we now call home. A remote desert origination transplanted into the fast pace of the urban centers of the east coast resulting in this shiny experimentation with light, form and wonderfully reflective surfaces. Villareal melds basic high-tech coding to use his own algorithm of the binary system 1s and 0s communicating to the lights when to turn off and turn on – yet sequences that are never exactly repeated .P1150064 It’s not just your linear code of characters that is read on a screen –  here it is an artistic experience shared by all who look up in this gallery’s exciting exhibit.

Straight ahead, through the massive opening to the next exhibit hall, was the wispy fishnet-like rainbow of woven warm-colored fiber representing both  wonder and danger. Artist Janet Echelman’s inspiration is from a map of the energy released across the Pacific Ocean during the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.  A natural disaster so devastating that it shifted the earth on its axis and cost us a fraction of a second in time. Surreal? Sci-fi? No, it really happened.  Beauty and grace depicting a horrific event. P1150063 Large scaffolding at the end of the room suggests the manual installation that was required to suspend this wondrous drape catching light and glowing with golden aura. P1150068

The lower level still had wonders to explore starting with the magical woven willow saplings – creations of artist Patrick Dougherty. He has wound these great lengths of supple branches to form Hobbit – like holes of imaginary forest habitats. P1150056 We were at once drawn into these cozy nurturing cubbies of what appeared to be nature – not forms created by man. Nature. Organic and raw, elegant and graceful winding toward the far reaches of the very high ceilings. Like a sculptor who says that the stone dictates what it wants to be and how he carves it – Dougherty knows that the long willow branches have a true will and bend their own way challenging him to work with them toward that goal of partnership with nature. The beauty is in the end result.  People of all ages wandered in and out, peeking through window-like openings pretending to be exploring an enchanted forest of wonder.

Next – stacked index cards- really? P1150061 Have you ever experienced Tent Rocks?  8-24-12 Placitas lunch, Tent Rocks Heather, Tricia, Zeke 044Have you ever looked upward and around and through the magnificent forms created by nature eroding the earth’s strata revealing layers of color and creating spires of rocky towers? It is a magic land just south of Cochiti in a very unexpected pocket of nature’s magnificence in our Land of Enchantment. And the spires that artist Tara Donovan created with stacks of index cards – an overwhelming accumulation of millions of index cards suggest grey spires replicating nature’s wonders in the canyons among the spires of the Tent Rocks. P1150062 It’s as though a photographer captured this natural formation in black and white.  Donovan’s interpretations are tones of grey as a result of the stacked white index cards with slivers of shadow sucking away light in between each of them. Clustered and staggering in height, the “Untitled” towers are inviting to walk amidst and pass between, winding around them like a  tourist or explorer or perhaps inhabitant in ages past and present as they have stood for ages.

Snap out of it and see what is glowing like a fine fiber sail in the sunset in the next room. Stretching upward and crossing midway are thousands of incredibly fine threads woven from small hooks on the base. P1150059How could a human working only by hand – without computer generated machines digitally fabricating such perfection create this finished piece that we are studying with such wonder? How can this fine tedious seemingly impossible count of thousands of threads be executed with such grandeur and grace by one mere mortal? gabriel-dawe-plexusa1-wonder-renwick-gallery-washington-designboom-03 The artist Gabriel Dawe transcends our ability to comprehend the exactness of his beautiful accomplishment with extraordinary patience, precision and creative foresight to imagine the end result and bring it to fruition.  It is a wondrous, luminous sculpture of rainbow colored threads inspired by the skies of his native Mexico and current home in East Texas. The fine weavings also inspired by his Mexican heritage are interpreted, stretched and exaggerated here reflecting the light and spectrum of color from its base to ceiling. P1150060

We missed a couple of early installations of WONDER but were thrilled by today’s adventure. We had many opportunities to wonder…wonder how the artists conceive of their fantastic ideas and actually build their dreams to share with the world. We wondered what it takes to spark that creativity and passion that requires commitment and demands such unfailing determination. We wondered about those who collect these talents and curate these exhibits for the joy of so many. We wondered about the practical side of marketing these concepts to support the artists and this amazing  accommodation started so many years ago by a true visionary William W. Corcoran.

My next blog will trace the history of this wonderful architectural treasure, the Renwick, and share more of the day’s discoveries that you might visit and experience as you tour my birthplace – our Nation’s Capital.




Fe Fi Fo Finishes

June 4, 2016

I have resisted faux wood porcelain tile, without good reason, just for the sake of installing something new. I have believed that it is great for a Long John Silver’s fast-food place attempting to convey the look of a wharf, fish shack etc…it is also good for a grocery store produce department – again, trying to depict a grower’s market with barn-wood floors while all the time being easy to maintain and virtually indestructible. But for a home (unless it too needs to be indestructible), chic restaurant, office lobby – I find it way too cold and faux. wood grained porcelian tile generic

Furthering the disdain for the material is poor specification and poor installation. Having grout joints accentuate the tile making even less believable than it already is – is the worst.

But as usual, if you wait long enough the trend will either fizzle or bloom and bloom it has- check out these really fun porcelain pieces of plank in colors – yes colors on purpose to exaggerate the idea!!! Now this is a trend with which I could have a little fun!!! 20160604_075109_resized

The first generation of the faux wood porcelain planks took themselves too seriously and so did the designers who used them (except in the smart applications aforementioned and perhaps an ultra contemporary beach house desiring an ease of maintenance flooring material). Not to mention, they were not the finest examples. But with all embracing this trend and using it everywhere – walls, floors etc…I found myself in boxes of cold wood-like tile – fun? I think not. wood-grain-porcelain-tile-floor-wall-bathroom-atlas-concorde-etic

The evolution of the product has advanced its aesthetic and applications. Inserting shocking contrasts weathered-wood-look-porcelain-tile-kitchen-floor-abk of grain and color just for the sake of design. Yay!!

So yesterday we had an all-day continuing education marathon. It was comprised of several independent  courses on a variety of interesting subjects well delivered by entertaining and informed speakers, a trade show of great design sources, a lovely lunch, and finishing with a festive cocktail hour. During the course of cruising the trade show along all the vendors’ displays, I stopped at a familiar one presenting tile of all manner – including wood-grained porcelains. I engaged in conversation with one of the reps and specifically about the tired over-use of this trend. We were in perfect harmony regarding our agreement on this subject.  While there I did admit a straying from the natural integrity of the materials that I generally embrace when recently I specified a vinyl wood flooring material in a residential application. This particular installation was prompted by the desire to have the look of wood flooring but with the resilience, durability and soft cushion that this unusual product offered. We had wet area conditions right off the pool area where traffic patterns to the restroom and kitchen were constantly traveled by adults, kids and dogs. The pliable product installed with a tight tongue and groove detailing and the remarkably beautiful faux wood-grained finish had great color, texture and dimension. To further belie the true content of the material, we placed stunning hand-knotted wool rugs on top of it making it more believable to the eye of the beholder. We have successfully fooled everyone to date while offering a water and dog toenail impervious, super easy to maintain floor!!!

So there is a time and place for nearly everything…just don’t settle because the trend is set-forth. Take each material and make decisions for the right materials in the right places – and never shy away from having a little fun!!! modern-porcelain-floor-tile-uonuon-14-ora-italiana-1