Sunday, June 27, 2010

Colorways/ They call me mellow yellow!

In my eyes, mellow is hardly a word you would call yellow, When Donavan sang "They call me Mellow Yellow" in 1966, It was rumoured he was singing about smoking dried banana leaves, Maybe it was just a color that had popularity in the 1960's as soon after in the same year the Beatles released "Yellow Submarine" with Donavan's help, he was obviously into the color!

One of the oldest coffee shops in Amsterdam is called "Mellow Yellow", opened in the 1970's, but the latest significant yellow building in color is actually in Lelystad, Amsterdam, The brilliant design for the Theatre Agora by UNStudio in Lelystad, Amsterdam, Netherlands is part of the Master plan for the city center of Lelystad, was designed by West 8. Opened last year, the theatre has a forthright architectonical look, not un reminiscent of a more colorful, boxier Frank Ghery, It is a beacon of yellow happiness. UNStudio (UN stands for "united network") is an international architectural practice, situated in Amsterdam since 1988, with extensive experience in the fields of urbanism, infrastructure, public, private and utility buildings on different scale levels. Check out more at, They are truly an amazing practise.

My first impressions of yellow were formed largely through a "Sports Car" book that was given to me, The car that I immediately wanted to own when I grew up was a yellow Lotus, The "Lotus Esprit" produced by the English racing car company, "Lotus Cars" is arguably the ‘wedgiest’ production car to come out of the 1970s, It was angular, It was sleek, It was sexy. It looked like the future, I always loved the way the Lotus color could slip in and out of ranges from a process yellow to a slight hint of orange yellow. Later studying Art at school meant studying Van Gogh was mandatory, his yellow sunflowers capture their essence like no other, when you think of yellow sunflowers you think of him, As a flower of choice, Sunflowers had much popularity in the 1990's, They lost there way for a bit on the popularity scale but now I think it's time to embrace their brilliance again! Other contemporary artists like Jeff Koons also use yellow and has done in his balloon series, produced in stainless steel with mirror finish surfaces, I saw his "balloon dog" on the top of the Met in NYC a couple of years ago.

Yellow always captures your attention and that's why it is associated with the word "caution" and is the second light on stop lights, It can be used in less attractive ways such as cowardliness, aging and race description, but for me I try to see past those connotations! : ) I like most, see yellow as largely happy!

As a Stylist I love using yellow, It is a color that just jumps out at you, I have used it in many still lives, like the one above shot with Photographer Hallie Burton, I also own a collection of yellow Dansk pots and pitchers that I use regularly in kitchen stories to add some zest. "Zest" is the word to describe yellow, bring some back into your life!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Inspiring Icons/ Vera Neumann

For many years I have been an admirer of Vera Neumann’s work, I first discovered her when moving to NY and finding a collection of plates bearing her name at a thrift store, pretty soon I started to see her name pop up everywhere, It is the iconic signature that always grabs your attention, The Vera trademark also is a ladybug, which features on most of her designs, Apparently she chose it because of its symbolism for good luck and happiness. I love ladybugs so naturally I was drawn to her identity.

Vera was an Artist turned textile designer, She began the business at her 57th Street Manhattan apartment kitchen table in the late 1940’s, and by the 1970’s it was a $100,000 million dollar, worldwide business. For Fashionistas, think of vintage scarves and the name "Vera" instantly resonates, Scarves were actually her first product when venturing into business in 1946 when she and her husband, George Neumann founded Printex along with partner Werner Hamm. In the post- WW2 period, army surplus silk from parachutes became available cheaply and so she used this as her primary material.

Business grew quick and by the 1950’s Vera had expanded the business to include a team of designers. The teams of designers were responsible for taking the original design that was done by Vera herself in the form of a 36" scarf, and translating it into other products. She also increased her line to include clothing and also kitchen/ table/ bedroom linens and dinner/ plate ware and wallpaper. The plate ware and table linens, which I love, is which is mainly what I choose to personally collect. About 500-600 different designs a year were produced, Geometrics, especially dots, were very popular, as were bold florals.

Vera worked nearly up to her death in 1993. After that, the company was bought and sold, actually the artwork and 20,000 scarves ended up sitting in a warehouse in Georgia and it was not till 2005 that purchased assets of Vera’s were starting to surface and being were used again to produce new lines available again. The evidence of this can be seen with the new “We Love Vera” collection at Anthropologie. The clever bunnies at Anthropologie have licensed some of Vera's one of kind designs and are using them in a collection of clothing, bedding, and tableware. There is also a great book available there called “Vera, The Art and Life of an Icon” by Susan Seid, who is the driving force behind reintroducing Vera to a new generation. It is published by Abrams, New York.

You can check out more at, also another great site is to read more about Vera.

As a Stylist I admire her taste and drive for design, Pictures of her homes in the book are amazing and awe inspiring, I hope you become as inspired by her as I.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Decorating Test 1

In between a flight from Toronto and a flight to Chicago, I managed a day of testing with Photographer William Geddes,, It was a big production and a project William and I had discussed many months ago, It was great to finally realize it! With testing it's often hard to find the right moment to do it. If it works out both timing wise and on a creative level however, Testing can be wonderful source for renewing your identity as an artist. It helps the keep the creative spirit alive and makes you understand why it is that you love what you do in the first place and from it can spark ideas for even other commercial projects.

My inspiration was Dorothy Draper meets modern day, I can't say I delved into books of her work, but since seeing a retrospective of her work in NYC in 2008, She amongst other famous decorators left an imprint in my mind. I am a sucker for the 1950's and the palette seemed to evoke this period also.

Wikepedia says: Dorothy Draper (born Dorothy Tuckerman November 22, 1889, died March 11, 1969) was an influential and innovative American interior decorator of the early to mid 20th century. She helped inspire a generation of home improvement devotees with her 1939 book Decorating is Fun!, subtitled "How to Be Your Own Decorator" Her style was big, brash, bodacious, bold, and bordered on what some would consider gaudy, shocking both men and women of her day. You can check out more at

I also love the idea of the "age of the decorator" in general, We look back at the past with Dorothy, Elsie de Wolfe, David Hicks, Terence Conran and Sybil Colefax amongst others and to now with Kelly Wearstler, Jonathan Adler, Ilse Crawford and Tricia Guild. The tools of a decorator, measuring tapes, shears, fabric, flooring and wallpaper samples, paint chips and plans found there way into the shoot, I discovered a great vinyl floor sample box from the 1960's at the Flea Markets the weekend before and they become a key prop. Thanks also to fellow stylist Robyn Glaser, and Co at Lost and Found Props, where I found a majority of the fine fabrics used. As well as Julie Patterson at Cloth Australia, who still continues to inspire across the waves.

Decorating Test 2

Here are some more examplesof my Decorating Test with William Geddes, be inspired!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Colorways/ Orange Cool!

Orange is one of those colors, some people embrace it with relish, for others it frightens them, Too much a slap in the face perhaps, orange is not shy. In my world of styling orange is actually used more than you think, It’s one of those colors that sells magazines, When at Real Simple, Orange was a core color, Think of T Mobile Orange, CB2 or Alessi, Orange also sells products! In all honesty though I am not sure that people know really what to do with it with confidence in real life. Personally I love it but I can’t really live with it, same with Lime or Bright Yellow, hits of it are great, but if I had to live with it on mass, it would feel like drowning in a big bottle of Fanta for me.

I really like the combination of orange with other colors, For instance pink and orange conjures up images of an Indian Summer, Everything looks sophisticated with gray, but especially orange! Of course orange can slip into “rust” as well which always looks great, the rusty orange of a Greek urn for instance paired with black can be very chic. In the States orange is probably the official color of Fall, In the months leading up to Fall jobs, for me orange goes into overload mode, like the Holidays/ Christmas, the smell of tinsel can upset my stomach, only because I have to deal with it on mass.

Orange always occurs best in nature, pumpkins, cumquat's, clementines, a rusty sheet of metal, Japanese carp fish, even the orange mould and fungi growing in your bathroom can be alluring, trust me!

In terms of an era, you would have to say the 1970’s spoke orange than most from shaggy rugs to cool hotted up cars, In London’s Brick Lane, I spotted a sporty number, compact, cute and very 70's “New Avengers”, I almost imagined Joanna Lumley’s fish netted leg to come poking out. Orange is racy and it’s loud, embrace but control it, otherwise if in a race it’s likely to overtake the color world like that fungi in your shower!.