Friday, April 04, 2014

Playful palaces designed by Alessandro Zambelli


I first learned about Italian designer Alessandro Zambelli when I included his recently released 3D-printed pendant lamps in my Whole Home column for Take Part (which you can find here). But I've only just now seen the Palace line of porcelain and glass table wares that he designed in 2011. (Where have I been?!?)

The dishes and glassware (all inspired by Italian architectural monuments) play on the idea of tourist souvenirs but are an entirely charming, practical, and cleverly designed presentation. Am absolutely in love with them. The rooftops double as serving dishes. The plates have floor plans! Part bento box, part doll house, part puzzle. It's a tabletop toy for grownups.

I'm sold.


Palazzo Ducale, with two bowls, a dish and a tray

Palazzo Signoria, with six plates and a serving dish

Battistero (my favorite!) is a breakfast set comprised of six cups, a creamer and sugar, a tray, and a covered container

Torrione, with six square dishes and a small container... for jewelry or hors d'oeuvres, you decide





Thursday, March 06, 2014

Dainty but potent



I've been in love with the work of Swedish ceramist Åsa Lindström since finding her little snaps cups in a shop in Gothenberg years ago. She's long been involved with the Stockholm craft collective Blås & Knåda (such an incredible place!) but I think it's wonderful that she's also now opened her own little boutique in the city, as well as in Gustavsbergs. Though I'll always be partial to her original series (Torsten, Vera, Anton and Ellen are in our cupboard), her new floral designs are definitely calling my name... especially the blackberries, heather and tulips. Perfect for spring. Pass the akvavit!






Monday, February 10, 2014

When "seeing red" is a good thing


Cherish wearing red lipstick, 2000, Guido Argentini ~ Preiss Fine Arts

It's February, the month of lovey-dovey red, and I've just spent entirely too much time alighting the virtual galleries of 1stdibs looking for items in the rosy hue. Herewith, my favorite finds, and a few fun quotes about the color.


A pair of 19th century-style chandeliers in the manner of  F.C. Osler ~ Guinevere Antiques

“If you are inclined to a hasty temper, for instance, you should not live in a room in which the prevailing note is red. On the other hand, a timid, delicate nature could often gain courage and poise by living in surroundings of rich red tones." Elsie de Wolfe

Mario Cananzi and Roberto Semprini's Tatlin sofa in red velvet, 1990 ~ The Gallery 

Tiffany & Co. Venus and Cupid brooch, c. 1890-1910, Enamel, gold, rubies, diamonds ~ Chas. Schwartz & Son

“Red is such an interesting color to correlate with emotion, because it’s on both ends of the spectrum. On one end you have happiness, falling in love, infatuation with someone, passion, all that. On the other end, you’ve got obsession, jealousy, danger, fear, anger and frustration. It’s an interesting color to correlate with all the really intense parts of a relationship, whether they’re good or bad.” Taylor Swift

Christian Louboutin patent leather sandles with velvet trim ~ Exquisite Finds

“All reds go together.” David Hicks


Sunday, February 09, 2014

In honor of my favorite Beatle, George Harrison, kind words from an old friend

The Beatles perform on the 'The Ed Sullivan Show' in New York on Feb. 9, 1964. | AP

Tonight marks fifty years since the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan and music changed forever. I can think of no better way to mark the occasion than by sharing a tender insight into the wonderful George Harrison that was sent to me when I was an editor at Architectural Digest

It was June of 2007 and we were hard at work on the August issue and a special feature written by Paul Theroux on the Hamilton Island home of George and Olivia Harrison. (You can read the article here.) Because of the hefty time difference between California and Australia, I was in touch with the Harrison's landscape designer Malcolm Hunt by email. We had several delightful exchanges, which I've kept filed away all these years because of their poignant charm. Whenever I'd stumble across the now slightly tattered pages tucked away in my closet, I'd read through them and think about how incredible it is when we connect with one another—how magical and transformative friendships can be—and that coincidences are really just answers, answers for which we should be immensely grateful.

Below are Malcolm's messages, exactly has he wrote them:

"I thought I should give you a brief history - the garden was done in two stages, 1st stage mid eighties when the house was being built then it languished with nothing being added - because of a disagreement between the lessee of the island and George - when the lessee was forced out George contacted me again and we finished the job in the mid nineties. I lived in the house at that time. I have a great affection for that job as I was involved from the very beginning and was able to complete the job for a man who I truly loved.

George was a passionate gardener and we could converse in the latin names of the genus and species of plants - in the book George wrote 'I Me Mine' the dedication of the book was to 'gardeners everywhere.'

As you can imagine, the garden involved some serious man hours and heavy earthmoving machinery with dams to dig and planting of many mature trees - some over 60 feet in height. George had a great sense of fun so I was able to incorporate fun things like my signature in the garden - if you stand at a certain spot on the pool deck and look upsidedown at the coconut palm trees around the pool you can see that they form a gigantic M for Malcolm.

One of the greatest compliments I have ever had in my life came from Olivia - George rang me at home one day from the house on Hamilton Island and after our chat he said Olivia would like to talk to you. She said to me 'Malcolm, when you were building the garden I always thought you were mad but being here now we just want to dig it up and take it home with us.'

So all the hours of hard work had all been worth it because at that moment they had loved something that I had co-created with the help of God. Our journey continued with us both being diagnosed with cancer and even though he had been attacked and stabbed in the lung he still rang me up and took me to a clinic in Boston - to me he will always be the greatest."

After sending Malcolm a copy of the issue late the following month, he sweetly replied with:

"Hi Maile, I received the Digest - thank you very much - but I just had to relate to you this little story. So the very second that I sat down to read the 'Harrison Haven' article and I mean the very second, over the radio came the very familiar strains of George's guitar and him singing 'all I got to do is to love you, all I got to be is happy, all it's got to take is some warmth to make it.' His words still bring me guidance and comfort. Especially when the communication is so synchronous. Thank you, Malcolm"




Blow Away by George Harrison, 1979



Monday, February 03, 2014

A horse is a horse, of course of course, even when made of leaves

As of last Friday, January 31st, we entered the Chinese Year of the Horse. I've resisted posting anything of the equine sort but have just learned about the work of 17th-century German artist Wolfgang Hieronymus von Bömmel... And, well, I have to share some of his drawings.

Von Bömmel's fantastical designs depict animals made up entirely of scrolling acanthus leaves. There's remarkably little known about the artist but it's believed the drawings were done some time after 1660. They were made into engravings and published widely in Germany and the Netherlands at the very end of the 17th century. The designs were intended as studies for goldsmiths, who would have used the popular acanthus ornamentation in their work.

The curling foliage so acutely expresses the energy of the animalstheir fur too, especially in the case of the little dog below. I'm completely blown away.



A spirited horse


Soldiers fighting on horseback

A dog and a cat


A lion and a hare



All images via the Victoria and Albert Museum's collection database.