Sittin’ Pretty?

Posted By Abby - New York | Feb 26, 2009 | 3 Comments | Category: Furniture

Before changing the channel on the 4th hour of the Today show I caught a clip of Hoda and Kathy Lee discussing the recent sale of an Eileen Gray chair at a 2-day Christie’s auction from the collection of Yves Saint Laurent. Gray’s Dragon’s Chair (or Serpent armchair as I’ve also seen it called) sold for a whopping $28 Million dollars!

I have to say this in not one of my favorite pieces by Gray so I can understand the surprise and shock that many people had by the high price it fetched (for the looks alone). But what really got me was when Kathy Lee quipped: “She can’t be that famous, I’ve never heard of her!”. Oh dear, dear Kathy Lee, it is unfortunate that you haven’t and that your producers didn’t do a quick bit of research on the subject. I personally learned of Eileen Gray in my first week of design school. I even did a project inspired by her work.

Eileen Gray (1878-1976) was a pioneer for women in a field dominated by such famous men as Mies van der Rohe and LeCorbusier. Gray ran in their circle and was a self-taught architect. She is probably best known for her chrome-and-glass adjustable table which retails at Design Within Reach and was designed in 1927.

Some of her other famous pieces include the Transat Chair:

And the Bibendum Chair:

Sometimes I think I forget to appreciate the women that paved the way in the design and architecture industry for many of us. We wouldn’t be sittin’ pretty today if it weren’t for these strong-willed and talented women who weren’t afraid to “run with the boys”! So Thank You Eileen Gray!!

If you’d like to read more about the life and work of Eileen Gray I recommend this book by Peter Adam (I own it!):

Speaking of Paint…

Posted By Abby - New York | Feb 26, 2009 | 3 Comments | Category: Paint

I finally got around to painting my bathroom! I decided on Ben Moore’s Hollingsworth Green HC-141:

I’d share a picture but nobody wants to post their bathroom online. Trust me, it’s a welcome change! A cottage feel with bright white wainscoting and chrome accents. Next stop; the bedroom! It’s a white box right now and I can’t wait to throw some color up. I’ve decided on Ben Moore’s Jamestown Blue HC-148:

I’m thinking of doing a wallpaper in the small hall between the living room and the bathroom & bedroom. I’ve been obsessed with this birch tree print from Cole & Son for years:

I really, really want it! But I’ll have to convince my Mother to make a trip up from Texas. I’ve never wallpapered a thing in my life and I have a feeling I don’t have the patience. She’s a pro! We had red toile in our dining room for years (and a red carpet!)! I thought it “came with the house” but she later told me she picked it out! Funny thing is, I see it everywhere now! Ahhh, the cycle of trends…

Ethan Allen, Revisited

Posted By Abby - New York | Feb 22, 2009 | 3 Comments | Category: Shops and Showrooms

While browsing my Sunday paper I came across an article about Danbury, CT based company Ethan Allen. They have recently launched a new Contract Division and hope to start providing furniture to the hospitality industry.

According to the article, 85% of Ethan Allen’s products have been newly added within the last 3 years. I myself have noticed a revamping of sorts from recent commercials so I decided to check out their website. In my opinion the site is a bit hard to navigate but they offer up several looks and inspiration images to help get you started.

I liked a lot of what I saw on the site and thought the featured “looks” to be a nice touch (especially for non-designers). Perhaps with almost stagnant home sales and a lull in home furniture sales we will see more residential furniture companies target the hospitality industry. Let’s just hope the hospitality industry needs them.

Bar Breton, NYC

Posted By Abby - New York | Feb 18, 2009 | No Comments | Category: Commercial Spaces

A very talented mill worker and designer whom I’ve worked with in the past just shared his latest project with me. Bar Breton is a new casual restaurant in the Flatiron area of Manhattan (actually a block away from my old office). I had walked by the space a million times before and had been inside briefly during construction. It was very dark and dingy in it’s previous life so you could imagine my surprise and delight with the finished project. I had to share with all of you!

I love the fresh colors of soft mauve and yellow and the white millwork. According to the designer, Francois Chambard of UM Project, many interior elements are a mix of old a new. The table tops are made from reclaimed wood as well as Corian, an unusual but stunning combination. UM’s website also explains the organization of the restaurants space with the front having the feel of a traditional bistro.

Note the detail of the reclaimed wood and Corian table top above!

Different lighting helps define the spaces with the middle of the restaurant acting as the “classic bar with intimate booths”. I also know that the booths were original to the former restaurant. Simply refinishing them is always an eco-friendly option. I really like the simple “post style” of the wall fixtures and the light pattern they leave on the wall.

I think the back is my favorite part of the space. I especially love the mix and match chairs and tables and white mill work. It makes you feel like you’re eating in a friends kitchen which is exactly how the designer wants you to feel: “the back suggests an old country house living room.”

The crowning jewel may be this intricately carved fixture with hanging goblets.

Thanks to Francois for sharing his work with me! Photos courtesy of UM Project’s website. Bar Breton serves breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday, Dinner and Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Um, 1 for brunch, a table in the back please!

As designers we all know that each project is a process. I’ve had what I thought to be small projects take months to complete. I’ve also had projects take years! Take the recent renovation of the famed Plaza Hotel. When I started designing that is was Fall of 2004…Ok, so I’m kidding, I didn’t work on that project. (But it did take years to complete and an estimated 400 Million Dollars!)

My point is when you finally see progress, however small, it’s exciting!

I’d like to share some small progress of my own; my new website! It’s still in the initial stages right now but I couldn’t wait to share since, to me, it has come a long way. (Thank you Mark!) I’ll be posting updates on the progress so stay tuned!