Design in LA
(Bunny Williams, Cindy Galvin, Suzanne Rheinstein)
Last month I attended the 2012 Design Bloggers Conference in LA. I learned a lot, met many wonderful people - design people who "get me"! - and shopped fantastic design sources old and new.
We landed late afternoon on Sunday and headed straight to a "Highballs and Hijinks" party in honor of Ronda Carman, founder of All the Best Blog. Ronda does the best interviews and profiles of design icons - and includes travel, recipes and industry insider info to round out her great blog.
The party was hosted by Suzanne Rheinstein at her renowned shop, Hollyhock, in the La Cienega design district in West Hollywood. Suzanne's recently published book, At Home: A Style for Today with Things from the Past, features beautiful homes she's designed across the country including two of her own.
The place was packed with bloggers and designers and I was thrilled to meet Brooke Giannetti of the blog Velvet and Linen, and her husband Steve, an amazing architect. Together they own Giannetti Home, an architecture, interior and landscape design firm, plus a home furnishings store. And they're raising three kids to boot. What a charming power couple!
Suzanne Rheinstein, Cindy Galvin, Brooke Giannetti
I had just missed Brooke at her book signing at Lars Bolander's store in Palm Beach a few weeks before and was so happy to finally meet the author of Patina Style. Her style is so warm and inviting, so California-easy-living.
As the party wound down, the details of Suzanne's elegant, eclectic shop were revealed - and I was hooked! Everywhere I turned I found things that needed to find new homes in several of my current projects. And of course a few things that need to come home with me, like this little tent sculpture.
You may remember from one of my Paris posts that I LOVE tents. One day I'm going to put one inside a room. Just watch me.
Suzanne walked every inch of the store with me, sharing helpful information on resources, merchandising and the design industry in LA. She has designed a line of fabrics for Lee Jofa and the way she displays them is so clever- easy for clients to see, easy for her to update.
Look at the colors! All Christopher Spitzmiller lamps on one table!
These flowers are all handmade at the very same factory that makes Limoges porcelain in France. Each and every petal, leaf and stem is carefully executed to create a genius reproduction of a live flower or plant. The blue hydrangea plant and delicate lilac stem were my absolute favorites.
We were the last stragglers at the party - I was busy shopping! I was crazy for so many of the pieces that Suzanne designed and loved learning about the process. She's created a very well edited collection for her store.
As a special treat, Suzanne took us behind the store through an open courtyard to her design atelier, a separate building. What a great surprise to see it double for kitchen staff space for a party at the store as well as for day-to-day work, right in the heart of La Cienega.
Hollyhock is a definite must for anyone shopping in LA. If it hadn't been so late I would have stayed for hours!
Afterwards we grabbed a bite at Sushi Roku, one of my favorite sushi places in Hollywood. In addition to great food, the decor is so interesting and inspiring. The hostess desk is fronted with cross sections of logs. There's a giant boulder in the bar area with a pond carved out of it and a huge fish sculpture hanging above.
As I was admiring the rope ceiling treatment (there's that tent-in-a-room thing again), the manager came over and started telling me about the decor. Apparently that fish sculpture was a rusted mess when they bought it. It's so shiny now I thought it was glass!
Hey, that's basic macrame! I can do that.
The sculpture on the wall, depicting a landscape of wind-worn trees, is made entirely of guitar strings. He said the installation process was unbelievable (he actually helped the artist himself) and took several days.
On Monday, the conference began bright and early at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. The hotel is full of history and stunning architectural detail. Legend says the idea for the Academy Awards was coined here (eight Oscars ceremonies were held here during the 30s and 40s) and the original sketch for the Oscar statue was drawn on a Biltmore linen napkin! The architecture has influences from Spanish Renaissance, Beaux Arts and Moroccan styles. I couldn't keep my eyes off the ceilings and light fixtures!
Our opening keynote speaker was designer-to-the-stars Martyn Lawrence-Bullard. He was so nice - signing his book, taking photos, chatting with attendees. I told him about a settee I covered with one of his cut velvet fabrics and he insisted I send him photos!
Cindy Galvin, Martyn Lawrence-Bullard
His talk was pure entertainment! His big break came when a friend called for last minute help with her wedding. Apparently her wedding designer overdosed, was rushed to rehab (Martyn's response, "Oh, how very LA of him") and the wedding was in a week! So he pulled it together and at the ceremony ended up sitting next to Cheryl Teagues who happened to be looking for a designer for her home - and the rest is history.
He must have said ten times, "The truth of it is I always wanted to be something of a pop star." I guess he really is now!
Martyn's book, Live, Love, Decorate, is full of his exotic, layered designs. The book's forward is by Elton John!
The conference stage was beautifully decorated (perfect for a designers' conference) with multiple seating areas where the expert panelists conducted their sessions in casual comfort. There was so much knowledge, experience and personality up there, from the hilarious Hardy Wallace (dirtysouthwine.com), to the wicked-high-energy Brian Patrick Flyn (decordemon.com), to the quietly brilliant Christine Kennedy (wayfair.com) and the marketing genius of Tobi Fairley (Tobi's Blog).
The stage was set with a new line of furniture from Currey and Company which will be presented at High Point later this month. It looked very smart. Go Currey!
Between sessions (it's SO hard to sit still in your chair for 8 hours straight!) the conference sponsors hosted lunch and exhibits in the "Bowl," deep in the bowels of the hotel. One of the standouts was a new line of fabrics from Duralee by designer John Robshaw. The designs are as fabulous as any he's done before (see influences of his work I found at Oka in London) yet since they are through Duralee, they are available at a much more approachable price point.
The faux bois in a delicious cut velvet is also available in chocolate and navy.
The quality of this looks like a hand-blocked batik. I love these blues.
I have made miniature rooms before and rearranging furniture in my dollhouses was my life as a child, so when I saw these miniature rooms I just went crazy. I love them. How cute are those little ghost chairs?
Event founder Adam Japko of Design Sherpa brought a little sparkle to both mornings of the conference with a champagne toast for all. In addition to being a media executive, Adam has a blog wine-zag.com, where he writes about his love of and experiences with wine, food and enjoying both with friends. He's a real wine connoisseur.
What made the conference even more fun was sitting next to my friend David Harris from The New Traditionalists. I loved seeing him - he is the nicest guy and he knows EVERYBODY. I love their style and just used a few pieces from their line in one of my projects. They recently launched new pieces at the Architectural Digest Home Show. He'll be in Chicago later this month and plans to stop by Maze. Can't wait. Cheers, David!
David Harris, Cindy Galvin
At lunch on Monday, winners of the Design Blogger Hall of Fame were named. Voting was open to conference participants in the weeks leading up to the event. Congrats to all the talented winners!
- Best Overall Design Blog: Tobi Fairley, Tobi’s Blog
- Best Design Blog Graphics, Photography, & Presentation: Cassandra LaValle, coco+kelley
- Best Writing On a Design Blog: Jennifer Boles, Peak of Chic
- Best New Design Blog: Meredith Heron, Sashay
The colorful and very funny Jason Oliver Nixon of Madcap Cottage was the emcee for the event. He had several wardrobe changes (including a pink camo blazer) and was eminently entertaining! He asked the audience "Who is wearing blue eye shadow?" So I held up my hand and would you believe I was the only one in the room (I wear it every day!)? And that made me the winner of an exquisite shell box from Currey and Company! Thank you Currey and Company and Bethanne Matari!
Tuesday's keynote speaker was a design icon I've admired for years - Bunny Williams! Bunny was just as personable, forthright and gracious as I imagined. She was a phenomenal speaker and offered great, practical advice on running a design business (the audience ranged from recent grads to established designers) and gave us a photo tour of her homes.
Bunny Williams, Cindy Galvin
Bunny described the path of her career from working at an antiques dealer, to moving on to work for Sister Parish for several years, then deciding to take control of her life top to bottom. She is now married to her soul mate, John Rosselli. They share so many mutual interests with their design backgrounds. A big bonus is he loves to do the cooking and Bunny loves to set beautiful tablescapes - of course - which leaves her more time to shop for her clients. This is my version of a dream team!
If you don't have a copy already, you must get Bunny's book An Affair with a House. In it she describes the process of rehabbing her beloved 18th-century house in New England, but it's more than that. It truly is a love story and I completely identify with the excitement, frustrations and ultimate joy in creating a haven for yourself and your family. A must read! Her most recent book, A Scrapbook for Living, is full of practical ways to personalize and organize your home. Really smart stuff!
At lunch on Tuesday, TradHome, the online magazine that is a joint effort from Traditional Home and Lonny Magazine, announced the winners of their NewTrad design contest. Lots of talented young designers! They'll be featured in the May issue of TradHome, so watch for it.
Did I mention my other conference partners? My sister Aubrey lives in LA and is the one who told me about the conference (thank you, Aubs!). She is so talented and creative and up on the latest in technology and social media! Aubrey is also a talented writer and has her own blog, as well as a custom shirt business. I've had trunk shows for her at Maze.
Cindy Galvin, Aubrey Thorne
We're not sure what to call her - multi-media marketing manager, or mmmm? - but Sara Kratz joined me at the conference and soaked up all the techie stuff.
Cindy Galvin, Sara Kratz
Tuesday evening we attended a wrap party sponsored by Traditional Home and hosted by Joe Lucas and Parrish Chilcoat at their shop, Harbinger, on La Cienega. What a hoot Joe is! The place was wall-to-wall people and wall-to-wall absolutely to-die-for fabrics, rugs and more.
One thing that immediately caught my eye was this handsome leather chandelier by Ralph Lauren.
Bunny's Beeline lamps were on display in all their colorful glory, along with gorgeous finials by Hillary Thomas.
We ran into Eric Ameil, vice president of Holland and Sherry, who graciously walked us through their collection of exquisitely detailed, embroidered fabrics made in Germany. Divine!
He even opened "the secret box" containing samples of designs they'll be introducing in May. No photos unfortunately, but trust me they were all gorgeous!
This custom bed by Holland and Sherry is over-the-top exquisite!
Not to be missed were the wall papers from Kate Ridder and Les Indiennes (the big paisleys).
Back at the hotel we were much too exhausted for a sit own dinner - suffice it to say the Biltmore's room service is excellent.
On Wednesday, it was time to get serious and do some shopping! We hit one of my favorite fabric warehouses and found lots of great things for a variety of projects (traditional, global, modern, they have it all).
Guess who we ran into there! Jason Oliver Nixon and John Loecke, owners of Madcap Cottage and fellow blogger conference participants. Jason is the most colorful guy (witness the pink sweater and orange shirt!) and John is sharp as a tack. I'm determined to collaborate on something with them. Not sure what yet but I'll come up with something.
Jason Oliver Nixon, Cindy Galvin
Aubrey met us at the warehouse and we headed to lunch at a place nearby. Delicious paninis and sweet pea tendrils that were out of this world.
By this time it was late afternoon and we were feeling a little drowsy - it was either going to be a local coffee shop or a little retail therapy to prop us up, so we opted for some Fred Segal!
We quickly learned that the Fred Segal on Melrose is now owned by Fred's nephew, Ron Herman. It feels like a small department store, yet each area (shoes, denim, handbags, etc.) is leased by individual vendors.
I must say the shoe vendor did a fantastic job! Their "Crystal Section" was especially enticing . . .
. . . as well as especially funny!
Fresh from our therapy session, we headed to Tavern in Brentwood for dinner with the Giannettis. Brooke and Steve were so generous in sharing their knowledge and experience publishing books, building a blog, online auctions and social media in general. I can't thank them enough!
Unfortunately we didn't take photos at the restaurant because there was a movie star (or mogul?) sitting at the next table that we couldn't quite identify so it felt funny snapping pictures! Apparently Tavern is a celebrity hot spot - it's one of Reese Witherspoon's favorites. Darn, wish I had left one of our Oscars key rings there for her.
(Photos courtesy Tavern)
An evening with Brooke and Steve was a wonderful way to wind up our trip to LA. If you are a blogging designer, I highly recommend you attend this conference next year. Not sure I can wait that long before heading back to La Cienega!
See you soon,