Icy Hot

Posted By Julia-Chicago | Jun 30, 2009 | 4 Comments | Category: Contests, Furniture, Movie/TV Sets

Bachelorette Ice Furniture

I must admit, I am a “Bachelorette” watcher.  Something about seeing grown men weep in front of a multi-million person audience every week really gets me.  Let’s face it, it’s great guilty-pleasure television!  It’s also just fun to see the clothes, the sets, the floral arrangements, the houses…

Bachelorette Ice Furniture

It wasn’t last week’s teary elimination that captured my attention, it was the incredible ice furniture scene!  Was anyone else as blown away by this as I was!? I mean this took ice sculpture to a whole other level.  I had to do some serious research on the web to dig up some of these fabulous pieces.  My question is… why aren’t more people buzzing about these?! Here is their website http://www.icebulb.com They are fabulous! I am only sorry that I could not find an image of the sculptural beauty of the entire tablescape that was featured on the show.  Guess that I will have to tune in to a rerun or two to keep the memory fresh! 🙂

Ice Furniture

Bachelorette Ice Furniture


Neo Con at the Chicago Merchandise Mart has descended upon us, and yesterday I participated in a panel discussion entitled “How to Use the Media to Build Your Brand” as one of Neo Con’s various events.  This presentation took place at the Atelier Lapchi showroom, which I have mentioned previously on MG.  It truly is one of my favorite showrooms in all of the Mart.  I have used Lapchi carpets throughout the homes of many clients.  Not only do they have unbelievable carpets and a phenomenal and knowledgeable staff, but also all carpets are made in a sustainable and ecologically friendly process!


All carpets are woven entirely by hand, a process that inherently eliminates toxic byproducts of factory manufacturing.  All wool used is shorn from ethically treated sheep, mild soap is used in washing, chemicals are avoided, dyes are eco-friendly, and bulk shipping minimizes transportation resources.  Additionally, Lapchi works with the RugMark Foundation to end illegal child labor in the hand-made carpet industry and to offer education opportunities to children in Southeast Asia.  Since its inception, RugMark has rescued over 3000 children from the illegal underage workforce.  (Shown above: Satori shown in Range Brown, from the Floral collection)


Lapchi is particularly known for its customization process.  Lapchi was established in 2001 as the first manufacturer of hand-woven carpets to organize their entire business around the creation of made-to-order, custom carpets.  (Shown above: Meadow in Goldenrod, from the Modernist collection)


Offering a range of colors, patterns and designs, the Lapchi carpet collection has styles that include: floral, contemporary, transitional, mid-century, tribal, Asian-inspired, classic formal, and modernist.  There is something for everyone at Lapchi!

Here are a few of my many favorites from the Lapchi carpet collection.


Nebulous shown in Blaze, from the Texere collection


Thalia shown in Frosted Green, from the Transitional collection

Beaded Curtain

Beaded Curtain shown in Driftwood, from the Mid-Century collection


Mughal shown in Sea Salt, from the Classic Formal collection


Mohave shown in Mist, from the Contemporary collection


Pinwheel shown in Hemlock, from the Modernist collection

Check out the Lapchi website for yourself to see these incredible works of art!  Can’t you just envision a room being created around any one of these carpets?

Tony Duquette

In the fickle world of design, a designer’s worst fear is that he or she will become irrelevant and that their legacy will be forgotten.  The transient nature of the field makes those who have created successful, internationally renowned brands even more admirable, respected and revered.  Tony Duquette exemplifies the designer who is in that “iconic strata,” whose work remains timeless and influential.  The Tony Duquette Studios were founded in 1941, and Tony’s illustrious career included costume and set design for Fred Astaire musicals, jewelery design for Tom Ford at Gucci, a Tony Award for Costume Design for the musical “Camelot,” and elite residential and commercial interiors throughout the world.  Although he passed away in 1999, Tony’s legacy is carried on under the direction of Hutton Wilkinson, his business partner since 1972.

Tony Duquette

The other week I had the pleasure of meeting Hutton Wilkinson at a book signing at the Baker Showroom in Chicago, where they were not only selling the Tony Duquette book but were also showcasing the Tony Duquette collection at Baker.  Baker’s recreation of some of Tony’s most renowned furniture and accessories is exquisite.  His exuberant style has been meticulously represented in these recreations, and they as much inspire fantasy and stir the imagination today as they did when were created as much as 60 years ago.  It is exciting to view these pieces in their original setting, (Tony never duplicated any of his work; everything was custom created for the individual client, architecture and his own distinct vision!) but one can also imagine transferring these pieces into a fabulous 21st century home.

Tony Duquette

Here is the Biomorphic Console in its original setting, the 1960’s Charles and Palmer Ducommun Bel Air estate.

Tony Duquette

And here is the Biomorphic Console recreated from Baker that now you can have in your own home!

Tony Duquette

The Dining Room of the Charles and Palmer Ducommun Estate.

Tony Duquette

The Palmer Chair from Baker, recreated from the Charles and Palmer Ducommun Estate.

Tony Duquette

Another view of Duquette designs in the Charles and Palmer Ducommun Bel Air Estate.

Tony Duquette

The Abalone Chandelier from Baker.  Although it was hung (as seen above) in the Drawing Room of the Ducommun Estate, the chandelier was originally part of Duquette’s one-man show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

With the Tony Duquette Collection at Baker, you can now own your own piece inspired directly by one of the design world’s design greats.  What are your thoughts on this unique collection?

Lapchi Presentation

You may have read about NeoCon in my previous post, but this year I not only plan on attending the exhibition, but I will also actually be IN it!  I will be participating in a panel at the Atelier Lapchi showroom, one of my favorite showrooms at the Mart. (And for those of you who haven’t been to the Merchandise Mart, it’s ENORMOUS and filled to the brim with beautiful design options for both home and office!) Lapchi has the most incredible selection of hand-woven, custom carpets that I frequently use in the homes of my clients.  The event is co-hosted by Interiors Magazine and the panel will be moderated by James Barra the Creative Director of Interiors.

The panel discussion, which features two other noted and frequently published Chicago designers, is titled, “Views from the Top: How Designers Can Use the Media to Build Their Brand.”  I felt very honored to be selected to be a part of this event and will surely be giving a shout out to my fabulous readers at Material Girls!  I will also be discussing the importance of a well-designed, up-to-date website, how to establish and to communicate your brand, how to  get published,  and how to best utilize database resources (such as the Merchandise Mart’s Designer Portfolios) to reach out to potential clients.  The panel will then be followed by a Q&A.  I’d love to see some Material Girls in the audience!

Do any of you designer’s out there have any questions about how you can best reach potential new clients?  Love the idea of being published but just cannot break into the scene?   This panel discussion is for you.  Or, share your thoughts or questions here!

The event is open to the public, so stop by if you’re at NeoCon!

Tuesday, June 16 10:00 am, Atelier Lapchi, Merchandise Mart Suite 6-160, Chicago.  Champagne reception to follow!


Posted By Julia-Chicago | Jun 10, 2009 | 2 Comments | Category: Contests, Events


During a mere three days, the Merchandise Mart in Chicago goes from its usual hustle and bustle to a veritable whirlwind of events, speakers and presentations during the Neo Con World’s Trade Fair, the country’s largest conference and exhibition of contract furnishings for the design and management of the build environment.  The over 50,000 visitors can view the latest products, learn about innovative techniques and mingle with designers, artists and architects from around the country.  

Returning for its second year to Neo Con is CANstruction, a charitable event that enlists 20 of Chicago’s best architecture, construction and engineering firms to create innovative structures out of, yes, CANS!  Over 86,000 can were used in last year’s competition to create these phenomenal larger-than-life structures, and this year’s competition is expected to exceed this amount.  The “Build Night”  on June 10 kicks off CANstruction, where build teams have from 6 pm – 6 am to complete their work.  Not only does this event showcase the incredible talent of these firms, but all of the cans used are donated to the Greater Chicago Depository– double whammy!


The event is free to the public June 11-30.  I will definitely make at least one trip to check out these works of art.  Stay tuned for more surely incredible photos to come.  So whether or not you plan to attend this year’s Neo Con, be sure to check out this CAN-tastic and worthwhile event!



Baby Shower

Parties, entertaining, now showers! ‘Tis the season for gathering friends and family to celebrate anything and everything, to which my last two posts, now this one, are a testament.  It’s always fun and beneficial to hear what the experts, such as Eddie Ross and Tom Kehoe, have to say about hosting a get together.  We cannot, however, have the likes of Eddie or Tom on call to deck-out every gathering, large or small.  So I am dedicating this post to my own take on hosting a party, in this case a baby shower.  

A few weeks ago I hosted a shower for a mother-to-be who is very near and dear to my heart.  Having known Erin for over 10 years, she was our beloved sitter when we lived here in Chicago, and after a brief junket at SMU, she transferred to Miami of Ohio while we were hunkered down in  Cincinnati  (where I opened my antiques store, Crackle.)  Thank goodness that she is now a special education teacher at a local school so we still get to see her often!  Erin and her husband, Lee have been a wonderful part of our lives and being pregnant with her first child, I wanted to throw her a shower that was intimate, personal and lovely.

Baby Shower

Rather than holding the shower at a restaurant or country club, I chose to have it in my own home.  I think there is no better way to honor someone than by having a gathering for them in your own home.  It shows a level of commitment, dedication and involvement that I just don’t feel is achieved by holding an event elsewhere.  And besides, this way- for better or for worse- the event planning (and very importantly decorating!) is in your own hands.  

By using my own furniture and place settings and adding celebratory touches such as floral arrangements and balloons, the event retained an intimate yet bubbly and fun feel.  Using things of your own, often in unexpected ways (such as the table which is normally used as a center table in my parlor and chairs from all over the house!) instantly creates a relaxed atmosphere that is far from a stuffy, formal setting.  The delivery of recently purchased pieces from Brimfield could not have come at a more opportune time.  Chairs were everywhere!!!

Baby Shower

Baby Shower


With its fairly open floor plan, tables and chairs in just about every room of my main floor were not isolated from one another.  Rather, each “vignette” of sorts provided an intimate yet unique experience which were united by guests mingling throughout the entire space.  

It was a truly fabulous day full of love, laughter and life.  What better way to celebrate the coming of a new life than by holding a party in honor of someone who has contributed so much to your own?

On the QT….It is a girl 😉

Baby Shower

Pagoda Red Party

After a seemingly endless Chicago winter, Chicagoans love to soak up every bit of sunlight and warmth that starts to appear sometime around mid-May.  Whether it be jogging along the beach, catching a baseball game, or throwing an outdoor gathering of friends, Chicago residents have an acute appreciation for a beautiful, warm summer day.

On Wednesday afternoon I attended a lovely gathering, aptly titled a “Peony Party” in the beautiful Scholars’ Garden of Pagoda Red in Winnetka, IL.   Although it was a bit chilly and the peonies were not yet in full bloom, a great many were in attendance to listen and mingle with Tom Kehoe of Kehoe Designs, who shared ideas and inspirations for entertaining in the garden.  Tom’s work is nothing short of exquisite.  With the ease characteristic of someone who is truly gifted in their craft, Tom shared with us simple yet ingenious ideas for our upcoming summer parties.  We were even lucky enough to see some of Tom’s original floral arrangements and photos of his events!  What dazzled me most was Tom’s use of the “unexpected” in his events.  Aiming to engage all of the senses, Tom strives for gatherings in which the guest leaves feeling that it was an “overall wonderful experience” yet not due to a single, obvious factor.  Tom advises the host to create an experience that literally involves touch, taste, smell, sound and sight to create this well-balanced event.

Tom Kehoe Designs

Tom Kehoe Designs

Tom wowed the audience with his fabulous designs and creativity for events such as this “Gothic on the Beach” theme ten year corporate anniversary, which featured a performance by Bon Jovi.  Tom inspired us all with his ingenious synthesis of rock n’ roll chic and simplistic elegance.

Tom advised to not “overdo” it with colors.  Pick a couple strong colors and repeat them throughout to make a strong yet polished statement at your event.  Additionally, Tom emphasizes the importance of creating a color story that is indicative of the event’s purpose. As exemplified at his “Worldly Affair” held at the Field Museum in Chicago, Tom chose rich greens, reds and yellows and repeated them throughout to “capture the feeling of a journey around the world.”

Tom Kehoe Designs

Tom Kehoe Designs

The takeaway message that the audience garnered from Tom’s words of wisdom was that more than anything, utilize your space wisely and play up its assets.  Whether it be highlighting the white sands and blue waters of Lake Michigan’s shores with contrasting black features, playing upon the worldly nature of the Field Museum with architectural and design features from around the globe, or using sleek, modern accents as well as natural ones to mimic the modern structure of the Calatrava designe Art Museum in Milwaukee (at a wedding seen below), Tom Kehoe engages all aspects of the senses to create uniquely unforgettable experiences.

What are some of your most exquisite, memorable events?  Have Tom Kehoe’s words of party wisdom inspired you to throw your next fabulous get together?

Kehoe Designs

Tom Kehoe Designs

Kehoe Designs


I have the pleasure to be spending the day with Eddie Ross and an “entourage” of fans at the Kane County Flea Market on Saturday, June 6. I have been a fan of Eddie’s for a long time. As you may know, Eddie is a former senior style editor at Martha Stewart Living, was associate decorating editor for House Beautiful, and starred on “Bravo’s” reality series Top Design. Eddie and his partner Jaithan Kochar now have a popular blog and website, www.eddieross.com. The blog provides inspiration on how to cook, craft, decorate, and entertain not only beautifully but also affordably.


I will be touring the flea market with Eddie, Jaithan and my dear friends from Scentimental Gardens. Debra Phillips opened her Geneva, IL business in 1989, adapting English gardens to the Midwest landscape. This exquisite home and garden store blends her love of garden design and the exhilaration of the hunt for one-of-a-kind antiques with an edgy European flare.


As we were preparing the guest list for the cocktail reception to follow the day’s events, I found myself intrigued by Eddie’s ability to bring lovely touches to every aspect of his life. Even a small gathering of friends at his home came alive with simple, elegant touches for which he is known. As Eddie himself says, “Truth is- even the simplest foods, thoughtfully presented, can make for the most memorable meals.”




Wow, way to go, Eddie! Isn’t it remarkable how a few sprigs of baby fern in simple, vintage pressed glass ice cream cups can light up an entire table? Taken directly from his garden, they added just enough decoration and life to the table without overpowering it. Look around your home or garden for some fun, cost-free decorations that will provide that “magic touch” to your next gathering. What are some of your favorite ways to decorate a tabletop? What are some simple inspirations to share with us all?