Designing is great fun. But the key to completing the circle that starts with an idea in response to a need (or not) is having that design come to fruition. I am grateful  for having a great team of detailed design fabricators who make my dreams come true.  And they spoil me. I think many designers will say the same thing. What starts on a cocktail napkin,  torn piece of flimsy trace off a roll, a sheet of graph paper or more formally, working drawings, takes shape with the collaboration of designer and fabricators who are not just fabricators, but invaluable contributors to the finished products’ construction and design details. These are the seamstresses, upholsterers, carpenters, iron-workers and all manner of construction trades who bring these creations to fruition!

Several years ago we had a client who was daring in her desire to have a super modern loft. Her history of traditional furnishings and up-bringing was well in place in Washington state, but this opportunity to have a second home, an urban loft, made way for her exercising the juices that offered a new alternative lifestyle and a new “look.”

One of the many key pieces in this fabulous space turned out to be the cornerstone of a new custom collection that we fondly call PATRICIAN DESIGN’S  “Hammered Home.”

As I planned the pieces for this fun and hip urban interior, I designed painted pieces, modern tonsus,  a Nelson inspired coffee table, red and raw steel glass-topped dining table base, a new take on a drop-leaf desk and colorful mixed media end-table/chests all custom fabricated by my team, but I wanted something more, something that gave rich, detail and dimension, interest and art and this new line of custom furniture was born. The first piece, a nightstand/end table for a dual-purposed guest room/study combined clean-lined wood with steel.  So with a quick sketch of the dimensions and form, my desire to have metal legs suspending it off the floor, metal accents but not severe – I thought, hammered?

The wood tone was to be a more milk chocolate than mahogany but tight-grained and true medium  brown. The floors were an existing light engineered material and this brown contrasted nicely.

The next opportunity to introduce this combo theme of our “Hammered Home” design came with a young family’s need for a media armoire in the “family” room. Several years ago when “espresso” hit the design scene for the new trend for modern furniture, everyone  from Target to Pottery Barn to Robb & Stuckey filled their inventory with the dark coffee bean wood finish.  As a designer, I recognized the value of the trend and wanted to accept it, but take it a step further for these very smart and successful, yuppy clients.

In previous blogs, I have clearly stated that all trends are not created equal. some are passing fancies of color combinations that soon become dated or design elements that don’t leave a significant mark to pass the test of time. But the dark chocolate/coffee color enriched that which had so often been blond, light woods and cherry/cinnamon tones of recent popularity and contributed a valid alternate stain theme for wood furniture. The media armoire for a young family’s “family” room, was clean-lined and new. The bling was industrial enough not to be glitzy, but just enough silver-grey metallic to contrast against the dark wood.

The next version of this “Hammered Home” collection came in front of a stacked sandstone wall of bone white, creamy cream, a hint of gold and a tinge of iron rust. We picked the darker rust tone to contrast against the otherwise soft light stone wall colors – the rusty hue suggested a cinnamon colored alder – stain magic! This pair of low profile media cabinets housed all the components and an incredible bundle of wires streaming into the back of the cabinet from all points of the house – and it’s called wi-fi? Really? Due to the color scheme, we decided that a copper metal panel would really meld with the cinnamon-stain of the alder. So we took it a step further to enhance the copper, knock it down a bit and highlight the texture with a blackened rub that nestles into the hollows and allows the bas relief to shine. It is a warm, rich, dimensional textural wonderfulness.

So when a very fun client called last fall wanting a surprise for his wife – nightstands perhaps? I laughed because my husband often says that he’s getting me storm windows for a Valentine’s Day gift…funny – every girl’s dream!! But nightstands are at least in the realm of dreamland!!! So knowing the room and its existing color scheme, I decided upon a satin black with the same hammered blackened copper panels. The combination of the black and blackened copper was sensational. The style was more transitional than the previous clean-lined pieces – but it goes to show that this hammered metal design theme can transcend the styles…

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We LOVE working with this client as he knows that he either has an idea (a new nightstand) that we can create or he calls and asks – what can we create for the next event? Whether birthday, anniversary, Christmas, or Valentine’s Day – we have provided locally hand-loomed textiles wraps, wild embroidery throws, magnificent oil paintings, locally hand-crafted jewelry and more! How fun for him to know that each present is custom and unique, supports local artists and will be a treasure forever. Plus he doesn’t have to shop!!!!!

So we delivered our surprise cabinet last week on Valentine’s Tuesday, I stopped at a quickie store and bought some simple heart stickers – not much larger than a postage stamp, I stuck one in the drawer and one on the shelf of the lower cabinet and thought that whenever she opened this cabinet she will remember that it was her Valentine’s surprise!!! We had a key, took the cabinet to their bedroom, removed the old nightstand, replaced it with the new one…Voila! She came home to a really neat surprise!!! And might there be a matching one in the works?? We can’t say.

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Custom fun – support local artists and make your dreams come true!!!!!

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Fun with PERF!

December 3, 2016

Currently finishing a project that has provided a great theme for incorporating metal, it seemed a worthy blog subject for it’s fun and flexibility! Perf is the product – a perforated steel that comes in several percentages of perforation.

We have used this many times for rolling window shades in a flexible coated nylon material. It is great for filtering for sunlight and privacy while allowing a certain amount of “see-through.” It has been used as an architectural screening material for years. You have probably seen it and not realized it on building storefronts and bus wraps – the perforated vinyl coatings are often used for advertisement because they read as though a solid from the one side and are transparent from within.

Here we are playing around with the steel to create cool elements that compliment the theme of this new taproom. The theme is silver and what material does bring to mind? Metallic. So by dressing raw steel with paint – we apply the silver finish and there we have it!

The required outside patio fencing was constructed with very generic square stock. I called it a hamster cage. It was a bland beige when we first arrived and, without notice, the shopping center management had it and the other structural columns lining the canopy/portico painted chocolate brown.

The plan had been to screen it with perforated panels. The darker paint color created a little better contrast and aided in providing a depth of detail to set-off the silver painted perf.

Inside we needed to fill the volume of this most uninteresting dropped ceiling. Already painted black and looking quite voluminous – but not in a good way – the empty space needed some mass. So in one of those restless, middle-of-the-night design sessions of insomnia the idea to create large drums for lighting shades came to mind.

Drums have been in vogue for several years now. Nothing original from the initial use for table lamp shades except their use was broadened to include suspended fixtures and halved for wall sconces. You’ve seen them – hip and happening – and these were quite over-sized and carried the space.

We needed to fill the void of the 12′ high ceilings in this room that had little or no comfort. All hard surfaces, it was a challenge to maintain the silver theme and edginess of a popular taproom while creating comfort. Seemed an oxymoron of a task. But the mass of the perforated drums in three different sizes grouped in the near center of the room did just that.

The addition of multiple warm white lamps inside will be the crowning touch. (photo to be added here in a week or so)

Then a third use of the perforated material came in the idea for a room-divider/hostess station.

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We needed a place to create a point of arrival. Whether manned or unmanned, this unit can have a chalkboard or other signage identifying special events or beer tastings, with a podium in front creates a translucent backdrop to partially cordon off the rest of the space until the customers are greeted and it also can divide the space for special events and table groupings. to accomplish all of those various purposes we designed it with heavy duty commercial casters complete with brakes so that it could be moved easily for its grand height and weight and  placed where needed for the best advantage.

Stay tuned for the complete un-veiling of this cool new interior in the coming weeks. And meanwhile dream of all the fun you can have with perf!

 

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!

 

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!!!

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.

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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!

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(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/)