When I opened this cartoon of eggs given to us by friends the other night fresh from their chicken coop, I was amazed by the soft rich color combination that  burst forth.  And color is so a part of my design sensitivity that anytime I encounter an unexpected scheme, the inspiration is incredibly stimulating. So much so in this case that I created today’s story!  20151114_085947

My friends have a ridiculously chic chicken coop.  By that I mean being beautifully white-washed and accessorized including having a crystal chandelier complete with a dimmer—for the rooster and his women to “get into the mood.” chandalier in coop

I might have thought that this contributed to the glorious soft colors that they produced—mood colors…but I actually do know better. I know that it is the breed that produces the color of the shells and not eating carrots for peachy/orange shades or leafy greens for the soft aqua and celadon tones.

These colors though—grouped all together in this random collection, looked like intentionally dyed Easter eggs. The artist of this collection was nature and random selection of hens and collection of eggs and unconscious placement in the carton. I did not rearrange them and they did not arrange them in advance of sending them home with us. It is truly random beauty created by nature. 20151114_085930

Meet Handsome Boy the rooster of this coop. rooster  His women are a fine group of chicks named simply Hello Ladies as that is how they are collectively greeted daily.  hens in coop  They represent the breeds Ameraucanas which produces the green/blue series, Buffs Orpington for  peachy/light brown and Wyandotte for the darker orange brown shell shades. The combination is a color scheme that is so wonderfully balanced with complimentary opposites that it is one of pleasing perfection.

Here are a few color cards from a Benjamin Moore fan-deck of paint colors that represent the range of  complimentary hues and soft values in this earthen clay-like warm palette paired with and balanced by the cool water and flora reminiscent shades.  20151115_125439

Upon closer inspection, the range of tones from these cards closes in on the soft colors of the egg shells.


Nature’s random beauty translated by the design-eye into paint colors and fabric samples for an inspired interior design. fabric 20151121_075630_resized




There once was a chair

quite bland, blond and fair.

A victim of the 80s

when pickling and white-wash went crazy.

But along came a designer

who sat down beside her

and painted her troubles away.


Now she is sassy

coral red and quite classy.

And with her new flair

has inspired others bland and fair,

to make the change

that’s all the rage

to be bold over lighter

redheads are brighter!


(My bright and creative friend, Lynn Platow has more sassy savvy exuding from her very brilliant core than anyone I know. Check out her site http://www.redheadsarebrighter.com/)

Design can be so simple and be so exquisite. Yet sometimes what appears to be simple is extraordinarily complex. Take my recent blog about nature and fallen aspen leaves…simple. Yet the complexity of the leaf itself and its fingerprint-like structure and the complexity of the changing seasons and the stages of the growth of the leaf and its ultimate passing onto the ground amidst others,.,.it is a most complex, detailed lifecycle/design.

Fast forward…Planning a cocktail party takes a lot of attention to detail/design. You plan the food and the containers in which you are going to serve it.  You make it and/or order it out. You plan some hors d’ oeuvres and their little platters. You get some flowers and count your glasses. You plan your table settings and other ancillary things like candles and cocktail napkins. Then you  gather your beverages and make a dessert. Coffee in a pot or individual al la carte in the Kurig? Have enough cups and saucers or do we use mugs and if so—who wants cream and sugar and where will they put their spoons? Back to the cocktail napkins—with coffee mugs too?  Down now to the cutting of the lemons and limes and last but not least, the olives. Fritz Wood olive pick P1110322

Have you ever used an olive picker? Do you know what an olive picker is? How do YOU extract olives from their traditionally tall narrow jar (before we bought them in bulk, wide-mouthed jars from warehouse stores) into a bowl for the bar from which you will garnish drinks? VOILA –an olive picker. Hand-crafted of exotic woods and shaped as artists often say based upon how the raw material speaks to them. Like a stone carver who walks around and around a massive boulder prior to even considering the ultimate subject of the piece. It might be a crouched cougar or it might be seagull devouring a crab on the beach…walking around the stone allows the artists to let the stone speak. He sees the form and studies the possibilities until the moment strikes and the message is clear. It is what it is and cannot be anything else.

The same can be said of the woodcarver who studies a massive piece of wood, the enormous appendage, if not trunk of a tree, and practices the same studious evaluation to allow the wood to “speak” to him of its intended purpose—of its timeless statement or interpretation.

Ok, this is a bit more than the woodcarver experiences when he holds a raw piece of wood in his palm and intends to make an olive picker. But the principle is similar in that the artists all participate with the raw material that they intend to modify to express their talent and ultimate intended form of the material.  This artist is considering and intending a utensil at the outset. He holds the wood in his hands and allows the form to guide his hands to follow the contour as he caresses and carves the form in a fashion that is suggested by the raw piece itself. It becomes a smooth crafted interpretation of the original form. The results reveal  the unique characteristics and properties, form and shape, of elegant, hand-crafted, natural wood olive picks. Fritz Wood olive pick P1110323

Behold beauty and design in nature and nature modified. Beauty in seemingly simple things and yet quite masterful. Cheers  – we’re ready…will that be an olive in your martini or a twist of citrus?  Fritz Wood olive pick P1110320

This is my favorite olive picker by artist Fritz Wood in Bozeman Montana! My mother and I were at an art show several years ago and came upon this guy with these gorgeous, sensuous wooden utensils and among the spoons and  spreaders were these curious tools—olive picks! I bought this one for my husband who enjoys jalapeno and/or garlic stuffed olives in his gin.

If you don’t have kids…Halloween can be tough…how to do it, how to acknowledge it. Then there are those who embrace Halloween and Day of the Dead with a festive passion–kids or no kids—that results in wild costume parties, elaborate home décor ,  Mexican celebrations of the deceased and yard art that will rival the Adams Family!!!

We have a neighbor who goes all out. Every year she accumulates more and more yard art of the most ghoulish and ghastly manner that we adults are “wierded out” by the amazing, effectively creepy display. 20131013_104314 The kids, for the most part, think she is the “best lady in the neighborhood” (to quote Katarina a few years ago) because, in addition to her incredible presentation unfolding the entire month prior to Halloween night, she opens her garage on Halloween and gives out the most incredible free gifts, toys, dolls, and games to all the kids.

But I digress…my point is that even if you don’t embrace the holiday for all its fantasy and gore you certainly can find an amicable expression of it to adorn your door or entry table and feel that you are participating if not reveling in…

I elected years ago to hang a golf  prize that I won which was a door decor of branches and silk autumnal leaves accented with a real feathered black crow and festooned with a big autumn-inspired bow. 20151029_090344_resized I love crows. But a would-be dead (albeit fake one with real feathers) one on my door was only a default as result of having won it—not having fallen in love with it, buying it and bringing it home. It’s funny though, I cannot remember what I had prior to my crow.

But it bugged me. Not enough to take affirmative action, but it was always lurking in my mind as I extracted it from the closet each year bemoaning to myself the fact that I was too lazy to do anything about it. That is a perfect example of one not taking an active interest in a holiday.

As it happened, one day I found a funky cat thing…here is a photo. 20151029_082720_resized It is not scary and not literal but fun enough to make me smile and Halloweeny enough to do the trick, (no pun intended). He is the obligatory back cat and he sports a welcome sign and is adorned with painted tin accents of orange and black whiskers, eyes, nose and ears…Yes, I could have made him. But I didn’t.

Now as a designer this all sounds pretty lame. If you were looking for a DIY project—look elsewhere—except for the actual fact that I do like making wreaths and have one alongside my cat which moves to the primary door once Halloween is over.

Yes, I do like making wreaths, but I am not going to give you a step-by-step on how to do so…there are plenty of those. But I will say that big bold statements of the season are fun. 20151029_083055_resized Mine is not the biggest nor the boldest—but it works in colorful contrast to my pair of black front doors and I do not have to re-make it every year—that is a choice, (not an obligation)  and this current one will last for a decade or two—unless I am struck by the wild hair of DIY that takes me to the craft store for a new rendition—don’t bet on it anytime too soon. Also I could have made two for the pair of doors—but this exercise coincided with finding the cat and therefore I did the cat on one side and the wreath on the other. 20151029_082759_resizedA more thorough “designer”  move would have been to make two wreaths and have one held back until the cat retired after Halloween and properly balance both doors with a handsome pair of seasonal wreaths. NOT. This is a designer’s “do as I say and not as I do.”

But much of this might be like the busman’s holiday—I love what I do and I decorate and design for others daily—I know that many of my peers immerse themselves in their own décor and re-decor and re-decor  – did I say re-decor? Always embellishing their personal space, home, apartment, condo, boat…They are endless, tireless examples of embracing trends,  and concepts, color schemes and  astonishing design statements. Which is all fabulous—don’t get me wrong—it’s just that I feel pressed to do  so much and have so little time that this story is about giving yourself a “bye”!  Like they say this time of year during football season when they skip a week—its like a gift to the players anyway.

As another example, a couple of years ago a friend and I went outside and found two large tree branches—limbs with branches–and stuck them in big  pots, strung lights on them and added a handful of ornaments and said “Voila!” We gave ourselves a “bye” from having to do the entire Christmas tree extravaganza–it was a gift.  But please know that we resumed the tradition the following year.

Back to our point, the season for autumnal décor begins prior to Halloween and lasts through Thanksgiving at which time it comes to a screeching halt and moves aside for Christmas and the next holiday season’s adornment and inspirational design elements.

Therefore, to celebrate the entire autumnal season, I love the various colored, textured, shaped and speckled  gourds, and of course pumpkins which now naturally come in white and blue in addition to the favorite orange. 20140915_123655 Indian corn and dried wheat, grasses and leaves…natural organic elements are, to me, the best—timeless—evoking the feeling of  the harvest and marvelous fall cooking . This delicious display was at Sanger Farms in Youngstown, New York.

In summary, I say find your happy place with a couple of simple Halloween items and fill-in with the organics—they will take you comfortably through Thanksgiving and after that we will be ready for another story.

I was  leafing through a past issue of Architectural Digest when I came upon this photograph of what I’d call quite an exhibition bathroom! Although I’m confident that just beyond the field of vision of this photographer’s camera lens there’s a motorized shade that is drawn and retracted at the push of a button to either unveil or conceal this magical tub scene from view, I was still enchanted by the exposure!20151017_195312_resized_1

Not that the scene by itself wasn’t enough to catch my eye, but the tub is what first drew me in! It is identical to one that we are currently using in a small hall bathroom remodel. The contrast between the context of the elements, in the two quite different settings, is amusing. It’s a statement tub in either case as it is an extraordinary clean-lined, thin vessel—egg-shaped and stunning in its simplicity.

This is such a perfect example of context and design. How you can take a design element and place it in two entirely different scenes and have such  completely different effects. And yet this tub stands on its own. It is a sculpture, it’s an art piece, it’s a focal point. It’s really the element around which the room says what it says.

Now, in the one room, seemingly limitless dimension seen beyond the glass wall is expansive and all about the suggestion of privacy resulting from of the vast natural surroundings. The glass wall expands the boundaries of this space as though there were none—as if the tub is sitting outside in nature. This tub is the focal point of this scene in front of this glass wall—looking out over a verdant landscape so connected to nature. By fascinating contextual contrast, in our scene this identical tub will also be a focal point, a very sculptural focal point, but in a tiny space not much bigger than its own footprint surrounded by nostalgic finishes in a vintage bungalow that was built in the 1920s.

What is it about bathtubs? Remembering Mr. Bubbles and the kids’ “man in the bathtub” animated cartoon commercial…LOVE it—silly, yet so memorable. And then there is the “Calgon take me away…” memory. Let’s not forget Mel Gibson in “What Women Want” where the bathtub becomes the conduit for his fantastic transformation into the id of a woman. Bathtubs evoke a place of escape and fantasy and good design only enhances the possibilities.

Needless to say I already have a mental image of this finished scene in my mind. Here now I’m presenting the photograph that caught my eye and the tub as it sits, in an adjacent room, waiting to be installed.20150828_153403 Once finished I will be pleased to present the same tub in our context—that which I have painted a picture of here, in its otherwise traditional, intimate, encapsulated environment.

Take me away…

Art and Design in Nature

October 17, 2015

A spontaneous decision to play hooky Friday morning and hike with a friend for the second time in a week up an invigorating 8 mile trail that climbs about 2,000+ vertical feet was once again spectacular. I am always inspired and rejuvenated – finding beauty along the familiar path – hiking up the La Luz trail of the Sandia. Every turn offers a scene of unbelievable beauty, 20151002_105521expansive vistas, towering peaks, massive walls of granite and dense growth of trees and forest. The aspen are turning. Upon closer inspection the intimate beauty underfoot is equally stunning with intense color and pattern.

The warm air comes.

The leaf sprouts and opens and grows green.

The tree reaches skyward and the leaves shimmy in the breeze.

The tree bends and sways.

The leaves flip and cling.

The air chills.

The leaves turn golden.

The tree releases the leaves.

The leaves fall to the ground.

The tree is surrounded by the fallen leaves.

The leaves turn pewter dark.

Their scattered pattern is beautiful.

Inspiration for a printed fabric or a woven textile?

A painting perhaps?

There is so much art and design in nature,

with which to be inspired.20151002_114440

They hung from the exposed structure of the portico that ran the length of the house over-looking the marina and the tropical glistening scene that surrounded the estudio-cafe. Gently twirling blades of colorful aluminum balanced and counter-balanced on wire and suspended from nearly invisible filament. Petals of flowers, leaves, triangles, they dangled and spun in the gentle movement of air. What local artist created such magical sculptures that added such color and dimension to the various heights of space both inside and out ? I must find this fanciful person.P1040400
I discovered he was not a local, rather a visitor del norte. Yes, an American snow-bird escaping the chilly climes and bringing his art, as he vacationed in the southern resort of Puerto Vallarta, for others to share. There was a kismet, a chemistry between the two men, the host and the new-comer. Both teeming with artistic juices looking for challenging means of expression in a variety of media. The host was more than willing to share his space to exhibit these delicate yet powerful pieces. The new-comer when describing his work references “poetic spaces and meaningful places” and nothing could better describe where he found himself and his new venue, the estudio-cafe.20140118_125532
Having enjoyed for years the magic of the estudio-cafe with it’s perfect waterside setting and continuous collection of artists presenting exquisite musical talent and fine art of all manner, engaging conversation in an ever stimulating artistic dynamic, it was this day with the sun-bathed ochre stucco walls and shadows cast by the progression of the day with soft breezes wafting through the architecture, that I was moved once again by the composition of it all.
A three-dimensional collage of color and style, form and scale, art both created and spontaneous – an unselfconscious collection of rare confluence that cannot be created – but happens. This is an incredible experience. And it was with this overwhelming experience that first introduced us to our host and has since brought so many fascinating people into our lives.20140125_131409
This was the beginning of the friendship, spawned by the love of art, related color and shapes, that brought Terry Welker’s work to New Mexico. After a couple of years admiring the enchantment and thrill of his mobiles at the estudio-cafe, I made the call that connected our common love of design and resulted in a premiere exhibit of spectacular, yet modest sized kinetic pieces a our boutique gallery in downtown Albuquerque.A0968D4A-813E-4E75-86B9-71807134DAA5 As he says of his work, “he animates space with sculpture.”
Come to PATRICIAN DESIGN to see these fantastic suspended sculptures and smile at the joy they bring. And also the “host.” This wonderful artist, Federico Leon de la Vega, who by warmly embracing family and friends has created a nurturing atmosphere of love and friendship, limitless talent and sensitivity and who has also generously exhibited his magnificent oil paintings at PATRICIAN DESIGN.20150117_121847 We invite you to experience these two outstanding artists brought together by a remarkable union of creative energy and goodwill.


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