Valentine Expressions

February 11, 2017

You know…we designers design for our clients and ourselves around themes, we design around events, we design around seasons and of course we design around the trends…it all keeps the commerce of products and materials in motion.  And at this time of year, we see focus on wine clubs, pajama grams, stuffed teddy bears in enormous sizes, hearts, hearts, hearts…and roses natural red or gilded, it’s Valentine’s Day!!!

But it’s fair to note that all seasons have valid design consideration. Setting the scene, enhancing the moment – either for you, your family or a romantic encounter, the holidays and especially this one, evoke a desire to create a scene that conveys love and romance.

To that end , my blog is brief. Enjoy that which brings you joy. Revel in the happiness that presents itself. Create beauty where you can. And as we are wont to say….art and good design can almost always bring a better scene to anyone’s place on this precious planet.

So be it a candy heart with a common message of joy, a product acquired to create a scene, a piece of jewelry to promise, a token to send love, a greeting of friendship, a message to offer support, it is all about connecting.

I decided to paint a bowl for my sweetheart. Yes, I had passed this guy’s booth, encouraged others to partake, had appreciated his talent, but never ventured forth. This year, I enjoyed sitting alongside Victor in the shade, with the waves lapping the beach, and soft music wafting through the  air…allowing a moment of focus on an artistic expression, a blank canvas (my bowl) to say Happy Valentine’s Day to MY Valentine.

Here is the finished result.

Connecting. We at PATRICIAN DESIGN support local artists and hope that the next time that you need a gift, want to send a message, or desire a creative addition to your personal space, that you will consider local talent to fulfill that need. OR do it yourself DIY!!!

Wear ART – Shop Local – Support LOCAL artists –  Need we say more?

Ok…we provide the greatest FREE gift wrap to get you on your way!!!

XXX000 Happy Valentine’s Day – (it’s Tuesday – better get prepared!!!)

PATRICIAN DESIGN

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Ta Da! Pantone announces its color of the year for the coming 2017…drum roll please…and the color is Greenery!! Yay!!! Last year there were two  – yes, imagine that – they couldn’t decide so they slurried Rose Quartz and Serenity resulting in a pale, cool, wimpy blend of soft rose and lavenderesque shades into a blended wispy pastel dream. Non-committal, in my opinion…lacking confidence.  Last year the rationale was stated by Pantone’s Executive Director, Leatrice Eiseman as…

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But this year they have it with this fresh organic hue in a yellow-ish shade primed for this year’s rationale from Ms. Eiseman which is:

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I have always loved green. I grew up in a Virginia jungle of a suburban neighborhood inside the Beltway surrounding my hometown of Washington DC. where the first signs of spring were the tiny tips of dogwood leaves poking forth from the delicate branches of those beautiful under-growth trees. The dogwoods were the graceful, human-scale layer beneath the towering canopy of the immense, rigid, vertical tulip poplar and white oak trees that commanded the woods.

Soft mosses, lacey ferns and perky lily of the valley carpeted the hidden pockets of our backyard. New growth is that prediction of amazing renewal and promise of the start of summer. So it is a prime observation that as Eiseman states in her 2017 rationale “greenery…bursts forth…with a reassurance we yearn for…” although I do not feel this is peculiar to this year as winter always makes me yearn for greenery and the reassurance  that spring and summer will return.

My mother also loved green and that probably influenced my childhood perception of comfort and context of it in interior design. She had and still has an eye for color. In 1959 she selected an amazing sculpted wool pile carpet in a warm, dark, neutral, taupe tone and built upon it a color scheme of pinks and greens that was subtle and relaxing, organic and contrasting, blending beautifully in our wooded setting of verdant lushness in which we were cozily situated.

That was upstairs where we felt like we lived in a flowering tree house amidst the dense collection of green leafy between the trees and surrounded by all shades of pink and white azaleas. Downstairs, where we retreated in the winter months, her greens were mixed with gold tones creating a warm interpretation of the greenery around us.

When so many in that era, between the 60s and 70s, were styling interiors with heavy oranges, browns and golds,

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my mother gravitated toward Lily Pulitzer’s fresh, tropical palette of lime green and hot pinks, clean crisp turquoise and citrusy lemon yellow – both in her wardrobe and her interior accent colors.

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Our beach house was turquoise and teal, navy and tan – the sea and the sand.

Following color trends is a slippery slope. I have blogged about it in the past. Adopting that which is often a combination of colors instantly records a place in time when everything from bath towels and shower curtains, bed dressings to draperies appears in the marketplace and inserts its predetermined obsolescent combinations into the lives of so many who would rather catch the wave – often behind the crest – to own and participate in what is conveyed by the market to be the “in” thing to do and to have.

It is best not to embrace and adopt the combinations that the market presents. It is better to select color and combinations that transcend the trends – skirt them so as not to fall into the trap of dated color schemes and tired combinations. Some avoid the trap by staying neutral. The safe, timeless colors of whites and grays mushrooms and taupes- but where is the risk and fun in that?

“Too bad for them” I often remark. It is such a missed opportunity…a limitation to select colors that you think you are supposed to like rather than those that truly bring you joy. I say “go for joy every time.” Color is such personality. It is a stage-setting element. It is a backdrop or foreground. It is a theme. It is an atmosphere.

With all that having been said, I for one am thrilled with this fresh selection for the new year. A bright beginning full of hope and new growth, fresh starts and positive forward movement – organic and life-affirming. So seek the colors that brings you joy and go forth with color in this new 2017 soon to arrive. My personal schemes will always have greenery!!!

Oh the Faces! Spanish Market

November 27, 2016

The sky was grey and the air had a decidedly seasonal still-cool yesterday which called for a cozy indoor activity – offered this weekend in the handsome Hotel Albuquerque, host of the Winter Spanish Market. Yes, the decades old traditional Spanish Market held in Santa Fe outside around the Plaza, on warm summer days in July, has begun a new tradition in Albuquerque in the opposite season indoors. http://www.visitalbuquerque.org/abq365/events/detail/28th-Annual-Winter-Spanish-Market/31793/

The collection of world class artists’ booths beneath the enormous hand-tooled tin chandeliers suspended from the spacious ballroom sparkled with festive illumination and colorful creations.

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A variety of Mariachi bands played to the crowds as the curious and collectors wove in and out of the rows of talented exhibitors.

Fine tin-work, dyed and cut straw assemblies, weavings and jewelry presented an incredible variety of work. Fine crafted furniture and spectacular wall pieces were displayed by master carvers. It was a collection of world-class art and fine craft.

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Crazy interpretations of his beloved traditional retablos are Charlie Carillos commically contemporary interpretations of vintage cars with saints at the wheel. Humor that is received with mixed reviews. But his talent is undisputed. Here he entertains at his booth with his colorful delivery.

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By startling contrast, the rich warm colors and traditional reverence that Catherine Robles-Shaw displays in her incredible carvings and painting techniques, wonderful detail and soulfully expressive faces. Her rich hues are Old World in their sensitivity to tone on tone and dark earthen colors outlined and enhanced with ribbons of gold.

Daughter, Roxanne Shaw-Galindo, a respected santero in her own right has continued to carve her own niche in this exclusive world of bultos, retablos and other manner of fine carving and painting.

The mystic powders carefully sought and gathered from ancient land forms and mineral-rich geology diluted with water and even the precious red of the rare cochineal all contribute to the luminous, translucent colors that read so differently from other media.

And further contrast is Frank  L. Garcia with his primary colors of electric blue, yellow and  red shining off of his wood surfaces. Uplifting and extracting smiles from all who pass his booth.

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Oh the faces!! Each santero has his or her own style.  Like fingerprints, the santeros each have cultivated a unique “look” to their work and expressions of their subjects.  The eyes say so much. Mournful, cheerful, pensive or stony stares, the characters are exclusively their own. Despite the similarities bound by tradition, each artist presents a specifically unique style which conveys incredible personality. These signature expressions, as individual as fingerprints, represent so distinctly each  inimitable artist. Despite the similarities bound by tradition, the methods and materials, each shine with startling individuality!

Here santero Ruben Gallegos poses with Mary Anne Green an avid collector and fond owner of several of Gallegos’ work.

Lee Valdez hunches over his soon-to-be cross carefully carving the rope detail around the edges. Light pencil lines define the decoration that he follows with remarkable precision – and look – he is sporting two pair of glasses stacked atop one another – which he says works just fine.

Behind him displayed on the wall are several other crosses in all manner of carving and decorative woodwork. One piece in particular is a yellow pine cross that is riddled with dark cinnamon colored worm holes – splattered actually – creating a spectacularly natural design. And further marks of nature that Lee captures are a knot hole and adjacent burled wood that he places dead center in the intersection of the cross. The four end pieces are carved from a piece of butternut wood providing the perfect natural contrast to the yellow pine yet complimenting the dark flecks of the worm holes. Quite a find, in this amazing piece of wood he spied in a hardware store, and remarkable sensitivity to isolate and assemble the various pieces to create the whole.

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A striking woman caught my eye. Her thick curly black hair and handsome silver cross strung on a multi-strand necklace of turquoise made a big statement amidst all of the art and drama. Meet Vanessa Baca.

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As we visited briefly I learned that she is a fellow blogger and I am sure it was fate that we met as her foodinbooks.com is a wealth of observations centered around great books and fabulous food within described. She writes with great depth of description and observation AND she breaks it down and teaches you how to prepare that about what you have just read!

Sean Wells painting as we watched, represents her art in her own striking appearance. Dark hair whipped and twisted with a stylish flair and topped with screaming orange flowers.

Wells’ images are equally colorful, happy and festive. If not her fine retablos, You might recognize her Fanciful Day of the Dead wine bottles and famous, collectible Lottery Scratchers! Find her on Etsy!

It was an inspiring day of extraordinary art in a genre that is so historically and regionally rooted with original methods and patient execution paired with the artistic imaginative people who practice and study this fine work. Thanks so much Mary Ann for a rare treat!

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Today YOU can go see this final day of  the 28th Annual Spanish Market 2016! Get over there!

 

Re-upholstery is good. If you like a piece of existing furniture and it has “good bones” it is fun to give it an instant face-lift with new upholstery. I find myself salvaging clients’ pieces often when they had every  intention of complete replacement. The satisfaction of transforming a tired or dated piece is quite gratifying.

The next best thing is finding a piece that is value-priced for the aforementioned reasons of looking tired or dated and recognizing that is has “good bones.” This is like a treasure hunt. Whether on Craig’s List or in a Thrift Shop, searching for a piece is exciting. You have to see beyond it – you can’t tell a book by its cover – right?

Many of my clients are believers in this practice, but often did not start out that way. In fact for this blog’s example, I have the perfect scenario. It began as I remodeled and designed a spectacular renovation for a  single man who wanted a sleek, modern interior. We started from scratch with all new finishes throughout, custom cabinets, enhanced lighting, and then the search for a piece of furniture that had eluded us. It was the primary focal point that I envisioned – a large orange ultra-suede sectional. I stood beside my illustrator render the room based upon photos of the space and a very loose sketch that I prepared. A picture truly does speak a thousand words and is a fantastic aid in communicating design ideas that might otherwise be misconstrued or just plain missed by the client.

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We began pricing custom fabric on a number of options, but everything was over budget. So I asked if he minded if I looked locally for a used piece that we could transform. Luckily, he was busy and trusting and told me to have at it – so I did. It looked like it was made from marshmallows, but the key detail was the curved corner piece. I did not want an “L” with right angles – I wanted that rounded, welcoming, beckoning corner piece.  This crazy, puffy, formal, dated piece was in perfect condition and the woman, original owner, was moving and could not take it with her. In step I and paid this grateful woman her requested few hundred dollars, called my upholsterer and scheduled the pick-up for the next day.

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When I saw it for the second time in the back of the upholstery shop, I was psyched. It’s always fun- but this transformation was going to be amazing! Inasmuch as my wonderful client trusted me, I didn’t dare let him see it in its original form. I didn’t want to risk the probable fear and foreboding. I didn’t want to give him a permanent unsettling visual, of this puffy, white, marshmallow sectional, every time he saw his gorgeous, sleek, modern, orange masterpiece.

Therefore, the process began as I had already found the perfect orange ultra-suede and the guys at the shop stripped the layers of white damask, foam and fuzzy dacron from the solid wood bones of this beautiful frame. They slicked it clean as a whistle.

With a bit of work to lengthen on side to an imposing 10′ and shortening the other side by a few inches, the new sectional began taking shape. The arms were modified and the cushions squared and the lines simplified. In this case, the concealed feet were fine. Although we often replace feet, or replace skirts with feet, or feet for skirts – those options were not necessary in this case.

The finished product was the perfect piece. Our client was blown away with seeing it delivered and looking like the original illustration that we used to convey the design concept. The biggest response was that of the cost which was a fraction of the cost of buying this over-sized piece new. Because of the unusual size, it would have had to be custom all the way or we would have had to settle for a size less than perfect. Not to mention this was accomplished in less than 2 weeks rather than waiting a couple of months or more for a custom order.

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Ready-made, down-filled,  Ralph Lauren throw pillows were a great find to add a splash of color. The rug is temporary as a larger, lighter one is intended along with the custom cocktail table. Once again my team makes my dreams come true and the client has a unique piece perfect for his needs.

 

 

Given the opportunity to improve upon a recently completed taproom, we instantly realized that painting the entire interior would be the best quick-fix. But that instant gratification was not enough to give this needy/hungry interior some meat to get it off and running.

Atmosphere in interiors is so much a part of the brand, the identity, and the success of a business. Popularity is based upon a certain comfort level, the clientele who gravitate there and the product that they are effectively providing. Whether that is food or drink or both, the atmosphere, (including lively enjoyment by clientele), service and food/beverage – all contribute to a successful establishment.

This does not mean high-end, elegant, fancy or even simply hip – although the definition of hip can vary from spare unpretentious and un-self-conscious funky, to studied funky, to affected stylized, to trendy hip and happening,…but, it does NOT always have to represent expensive interior design.

Yet a strip center generally lacks pizzazz and to install a taproom into that generic scene takes some creativity. That does not mean money – it means just what I said, creativity.  And creative interior design is all about ingenuity and balance.

Balance in interior design is key. This interior was filled with hard, cold surfaces – concrete floors, silver-grey laminate table tops, brilliant silver table bases, grey chairs, polished white granite bar top, silver laminate bar face, silver metallic wall sconces, glistening silver under-scaled chandeliers, white walls with cobalt blue accent wall. Brrrrrrr….makes me chilly just recounting the scene. And this was summer! Imagine this setting with crisp cold wind blowing outside and snow blanketing the mountain – not the place you want to gather for a beer in the wintertime!!

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To instantly soften and add warmth, we painted all walls a dark taupe. The soft, mousy grey/brown color pulled from the existing slate wainscoting to tie the two wall parts into a unified “read.” It gave the silver elements (especially the sconces) a contrast – which results in “interest.”

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The back bar was bland even with the new paint color and to add dimension and animation we mirrored the rear center section. This illusion added depth and interest to carry the ceiling through and add a mirrored storefront and exterior reflection which created an illusion of space and character where there had been nothing.

But unlike most back-bars, this area was conspicuously naked. A couple of stainless shelves housing stemmed wine glasses, and growlers felt spare. Plus the right side of the back bar was closer to the bar and the patrons were a mere few feet from a plain, painted sheet-rock wall. Yes, there was a large format TV screen above, but straight ahead – it was just blank wall.

In the wee hours of the morning, as I tossed and turned for a variety of reasons, I jumped from thought to thought, project to project, and personal concerns pelting all the while in a seemingly endless stream of insomnia. Yet, it was during the angst that the idea of the taproom being named “Silver”…silver…beer cans are silver/aluminum…beer cans crushed and nailed to a wall…texture, silver (theme of the taproom) interest – maybe?- all converged into one of those light-bulb moments of revelation.

And yet you might say – “silver…aluminum…more cold and hard. Why would this be an asset to this interior?” I felt that the texture and dimension of the cans would add more interest than the perceived cold and hard of them. The pockets of folded shadows and the relief off from the wall, paired with the over-all massive full-wall of pattern, would all contribute a positive design element to the scene.

As I pictured the wall of circularly flattened aluminum cans in my in my  mind’s eye (a tool that I employ daily while envisioning concepts and finished products well in advance of their fruition), I furthered the concept to encompass possible bar games. Yes, derived from this perfect grid of circular aluminum discs, I began creating games in my head. A bar is often animated by bar games and this was just another opportunity to interact using this unique wall-scape. Since that initial concept, I have created 3 different versions of the animated interaction in the form of games, on this fantastic Can Wall.

So with great patience, Enrique planned the layout with literally laser precision in a perfect grid. We counted the expected number of cans vertically and horizontally aligning with the brilliant red light beams. The previously crushed cans were laid out on a table – well a handful of the 3,200 that we had prepared for the wall. It was determined that punching the nails into the cans prior to installation would expedite the process of affixing them to the Can Wall. Labor intensive from start to finish, this wall was a great accomplishment for a devoted few.

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As the cans were laid out on the table – initially upside down exposing the crinkly open side (devoid of tops), I instantly LOVED the complexity of the depth, texture and shadows. A tight, random application of them would have resulted in a fabulously complex matrix of design. But upon closer inspection, the “texture” was really raw, with sharp threatening edges that were not possibly reasonable within close contact with people brushing by. So, lacerating the staff was not an option – even for a really cool textural metallic wall treatment. Perhaps this application will surface in a more appropriate location away from human flesh in the not-too-distant-future!

Like hubcaps fastened to the broad side of a country barn at dusk, the reflective silver discs pop in the flanking darkness.

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The process is nearing completion and I will save for another blog sharing the fun and games emanating from the Can Wall,  and the entire finished project complete with new warm white pendant discs over the bar and soon-to-install enormous perforated drum light fixtures suspended from the ceiling, over-sized photo images of the brewery behind the scenes and tantalizing signature dishes in the unique category of the Nexus New Mexico Soul Food.

 

Meanwhile, the take-away here is…balance cold and rigid with warm and textural – along with all the other opposites that attract – when designing be balanced.

 

 

 

For a while in the world of design trends, dark colors intimidated. Bold designers dared to apply dark eggplants,  chocolates, charcoals and black to surfaces of their projects, but only a rare few clients would take the leap. Now it seems that we are seeing people accept the dare and more dark surfaces and intense envelopes of color are appearing on the scene.  I have often been asked – “Won’t it make it small?” or “Will it be too dark?” and the reason I am making the suggestion is because I already know that it won’t!!!

I’ve blogged about small rooms with dark walls in the past, but two recent projects featured my recommendation for dark cabinets. Not dark walnut or the market-saturated “espresso” which is the trendy generic for “whatever the wood – or pretend wood, we’ll make it dark brown” – very dark.

In this first case, my client – friend after many years of consultations – brought me into their home that they had occupied for a couple+ decades. It began with the  “pickled” wood cabinets that were in vogue at the time – stained red oak with a white-wash that resulted in a peachy finish. When we first did a “punch-up” we added steel cut-outs of Mimbres designs affixed to the soffit. We also added a black table and chairs with a splashy fabric as a valance in bold colors intertwined with black. The drama lifted the anemic peach theme to new heights.

Fast-forward another 15 years and my dear client was ready for a change. She called and brought me into that familiar kitchen scene and announced that she thought she wanted to re-purpose/paint her cabinets white. l looked around the adjacent family room and beyond and pondered this request.

What you might like in a magazine spread or a Pinterest post is not necessarily applicable to your context. I visualized the dramatic change. Looked at her floor (oh, we had upgraded to a large format stone-textured porcelain from the original 8×8 glazed ceramics in the last 15 years – perhaps a decade ago), looked at her family room furniture and finishes and said “I’m not so sure that’s where you want to go.”

I knew she was fairly thorough in her investigations and would not have called me prior to doing quite a bit of research and trend monitoring so I tread a bit softly when I said “I think you should go black.”  And her response was EXACTLY what I expected as she repeated the color in complete quizzical surprise.

“Yes” I said and continued to explain why. She loved her fabric that had been hanging over her breakfast nook window for years. The table was virtually unused and the steel cut-out art was one of their favorite design elements. Black was a natural. “Don’t be afraid of the dark.” I laughingly said.

Black on oak gives a wonderful moiré effect to the grain texture as it reads though the painted surface. It’s a bit exotic, rich in texture and interesting to boot. So with a bit of hand-holding and massaging the description of the intended finished effect, she took the leap – husband in cautious adgreement – they braved this bold departure from the norm.

We first selected a granite to coordinate with the floor tiles and the soon-to-be black cabinets. A swirly geology of glorious goop featuring the rose-clay tones of the mottled stone floor with black tracing through and clear quartz for pizzazz. We then set forth creating the back-splash which began with her love of glass – but to depart from the off-the-shelf 1×1 offering we cut away sections and punctuated it with 2x2s and some 1×1 domed bullets that added further interest to the multi-toned field. 20160906_173401

With those complimentary materials selected, we began the process of painting the cabinets. Boxes in place and door and drawer fronts finished off-site. All flawlessly sprayed, with many coats of conversion varnish tinted black, the transformation was dramatic.

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The second example, of this fear of the dark when it comes to finishes, was another kitchen which was a small galley-styled golden walnut stained oak 70s model. To which, we added a rough iridescent slate floor to complement the existing stone fireplace – of the same material – only in boulder form. Seemed at this point, for this sophisticated bachelor, the perfect complement to the handsome slate would be striking black cabinets. In this case –  new, without the character of the oak in the previous project, as the cabinets were completely replaced and the new selection was made from a factory fabricated series. Similarly dramatic, the sleek black was perfect against the slate’s rugged grey/golden iridescence.

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The galley footprint was greatly expanded, by carving out of the garage work-bench  area. And again, the transformation was daunting. Here we selected a mosaic of horizontal stones and glass for the backsplash – one of the stones was exactly the same iridescent grey-golden slate as the original fireplace and stunning new floors throughout.

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Be bold, be brave and consider your context. You might just find that black is your best bet to transform your cabinets into stunning statements.

 

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.

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

I play with color. As evidenced in my portfolio http://www.patriciandesign.com 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!!!