Design: An Evolution of Style Continued

What inspires the legendary designer John Saladino


Earlier this year I wrote an article on the evolution of style in which I asked a number of poignant questions which were looking for answers.  In my pursuit of information, I focused on those interior designers who, at the time of my becoming a designer myself, were influential to me as masters and mentors.

Some my peers came up in the ranks of these highly creative firms.  The real question is what did we learn from them, and how have we sustained these groundbreaking points of view into the present day.   Old rules were being broken and new dictates were championed.

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Business & Design: The Future of Print Media

Recent data that suggests glossies could be headed for extinction

Wooly-MammothWoolly Mammoth


An article out last week via The Daily Beast about the latest quarterly earnings report from the New York Times got me once again thinking about print media, and more specifically about the seemingly trepidatious shift from paper to digital content that media outlets are attempting to navigate.

As with most any other issue, it does all seem to come down to economics, and as this is our ‘Business & Design’ column, I decided to investigate the bottom line for publishers, to better understand where advertising dollars are being spent, and to pose the question: Is it important to our industry for shelter publications to continue to produce in paper?

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Fashion: John Galliano

The troubled designer teaching at Parsons The New School for Design

john-galliano-on-drugsPhoto courtesy


By now you have probably heard the rumors, and the subsequent confirmation this week, that John Galliano will be teaching a master class titled ‘Show me Emotion’ at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City.  The class will be offered to BFA candidates with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

The description for the class from the school’s website is as follows;

‘Emphasis is placed upon process disruption, improvisational methods, and trans-disciplinary based outcomes articulating acute awareness of personal identity.  Using intuition and emotion as essential ingredients towards authentic design, students will be encouraged to engage with Galliano in all aspects of the creative process including the intense pressure of sustaining a role at the very top of the design world.’

By Thursday afternoon a group of students sent a petition demanding Galliano be fired immediately, and I began wondering how my connections in the design industry feel about Galliano’s latest attempt to reinvent himself.  I got several of them to weigh in.

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See And Be Seen: April 2013

Housing Work's Design On A Dime Shopping Extravaganza



Attending this year’s Design On A Dime event benefitting Housing Works Thrift Shops was, as it always is, one of the most exhilarating and fabulous evenings of the New York Spring season. The interior design community came out in full force to support and to mingle.  The opening of the shopping event was coined by participating designer Patrick Hamilton as a frenzied yet friendly free for all ‘grab it up’ moment like no other.

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Master Class: Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz

Balancing masculine architecture & feminine decor in Venice Beach

12_EDITBenjamin Noriega-Ortiz


Last week my long time friend Steven Wine, the genius behind the feathered fixtures at ABYU Lighting (who just happens to be Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz’s partner) sent me a message on Facebook about a home Noriega-Ortiz designed and decorated in Venice Beach, California.

The house is a mix of modern minimalist architecture and diaphanous, ethereal decoration.  When it was completed, BNO Design began shopping the story around to the mainstream shelter magazines, but the project was deemed ‘too feminine’ for publication.  I was, of course, intrigued.

I decided to contact Benjamin to chat about the home.  He invited me to coffee at his Soho atelier to talk about it.  During our meeting he generously explained his design process for the home, room by room.  It was a fascinating opportunity to learn about his work, and a great chance to publish the project here on the blog.

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Design: The Commodity Trap Part II

A lesson in exuberant aesthetics from Dorothy Draper

21Greenbrier Hotel designed by Dorothy Draper


What makes any designer, fashion, interiors or otherwise, a standout?  Well it’s simple and can be summed up in one single word. ORIGINALITY.  One such notable interior designer was Dorothy Draper.  In her day she was the most famous decorator in America.  She owed her celebrity to her serious work ethic and her ‘way out’ sense of style.  She was also lauded for her daring business sense.

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Business & Design: The Commodity Trap

Picasso's lesson for design professionals

PPPablo Picasso photographed Gjon Mili for Life Magazine, 1949


A few years back I read an anecdote about a woman in Paris, and her chance encounter with Pablo Picasso.  I’d like to recount it for you for two reasons: first because I’m a fan of Picasso’s work, and second because it points out the very real distinction between a commonplace commodity, and the work of a talented creative individual.

Now with all due respect to Picasso, I’m not attempting to compare interior design to his body of work, but the story illustrates a complicated issue for the design community in our post recession, increasingly e-commerce driven economy – design being perceived as a commodity.

Here’s the story.

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Fashion: Kevin Johnn

The Project Runway Alumni on life pre and post reality TV

Kevin Johnn & HeidiKevin Johnn and Heidi Klum


I met Kevin Johnn in 1987 when I moved from NYC to Chicago to be the buyer for Russo, one of the cities most progressive designer boutiques.  The store carried both European and American designers (including several local Chicago brands) and Kevin was one of the designers we bought. I remember his first collection, it was a navy and black medley of suit jackets, skirts, and shorts, as well as the perfect little black dress.  The jackets were sleeveless, some with cutouts and some backless, and if I am correct Kevin was one of the first to pair shorts with fitted sexy seamed jackets.  Nobody was doing that back then.

His vision today is just as on point as it was back then.  He has a superior eye for detail and seam work, and his draping skills are second to none.  Last week we had a chance to talk about life post Project Runway, what he’s up to now, and his plans for the future.

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