• A Place To Hang Your Hat

    A client has recently asked me to help spruce up a petite master closet.  We have settled on the idea of using dark cabinetry in the space with brass rods and simple dark shelving.  We hope it will have a bespoke effect.   For lighting we plan to add a small chandelier and possibly some picture lights mounted at the top of each cabinet.  For the flooring a bold pattern axminster or cut velvet carpet will provide warmth and comfort.  A full length inset mirror will also play an integral role in amplifying the space and of course provided the grand dame a place to see all her outfits.  Above and below are a sneek peak at one of the more conceptual sketches and preliminary elevations done for the closet.
    More than any other room, your closet should be an extension of who you are and how you dress.  Don’t skimp on the details, as this is one space you will be confronted with day after day.  Depending on whether you are a slick fashionista or a natty gentleman about town, your closet should reflect that aesthetic quality.  Don’t be afraid to install photos, lamps, and memorabilia that help inspire your sense of dress.
    For the project below we integrated the wardobes along both walls of the master bedroom optimizing space and maximizing clothes storage.  The closets have integrated lighting powered by a jamb switch which are great for those early mornings.
    Master Bedroom Wardobes
    Closets in the open position
    Rear of headboard wall
    Integrated storage including cedar lined sweater cabinets and laundry bins
    For the sake of my relationship my partner and I have seperate wardobes in our dressing room but we share the shoe and coat closet.  My wardobe (below)  allows for double stack hanging, a valet tray for belts and what nots, two lower drawers for casual wear and has an ingenious space saving pant hanger.  A seperate chest of drawers does double duty as an island.  Shoes are stored in the mirrored cabinet to the right.
    Built in cabinetry, banquette and cedar lined cabinets for sweaters. 
    The windows are coated to prevent UV rays.
    Small projects like this are a fun way to let your imagination run wild in the wonders of small details. Closet rods for example…you can have chrome, brass, iron, steel, whatever the design aesthetic calls for.  Nailheads, window coverings, wallpaper, wall upholstery, drawer liners, and on and on.  Given that most closets are small the expense is usually manageable.  So have fun and start doing some spring cleaning and create the closet of your dreams.
    A few of my favorites from here and there:
    Alberto Pinto
    Collett & Zarzycki
  • The Power of Space

    I never cease to be amazed by stories of space and what an impact those spaces have in our lives. The spaces we work in, play in, and live in. Enjoy!

    Minka from Birdling Films on Vimeo.

  • Color Theory: Navy Blue and Mauve

    Mauve, Mauve Grays, and Navy offer the perfect blend of masculine and feminine, a balance I am always seeking when working with a color palette.  Simple, classic and very elegant.  The anglophile in me always associates this timeless combination of colors with all things British.  Whether its the feel of a navy silk velvet paired with a mauve felted wool or the color of cherry blossom blooms against a night sky.  This combination is cool modern and crisp but very restrained.
    A deep navy blue can be so much more interesting in a space or in a wardrobe than black.  It has a certain warmth and complexity that black seems to often fall short on.
    And while mauve and mauve grays often bring to mind bad fabric prints and leathers from the 80’s, when used in the right texture and in the proper context offer a rich backdrop for creating a warm inviting space.
    Bye for now.
  • Happy Chinese New Year!

    At midnight on the eve of January 22nd, Chinese families around the world will usher in 2012, with a New Year Celebration honoring The Year of the Dragon, the most powerful of all the zodiac symbols.  The celebrations will continue for fifteen days.  Now that is a party!  For those lucky enough to be born on this year, the sign brings with it promises of happiness, health, success, and wealth.

    In the bay area there will be much revelry given the large and rich tradition of Chinese culture.  Traditionally families will celebrate with rich foods, parades, and fireworks.  On this the most important nights families will .
    Dinner is usually a feast of seafood and dumplings, signifying different  good wishes.  Delicacies include prawns, for liveliness and happiness, dried oysters for all good things, raw fish salad or yu sheng to bring good luck and prosperity, Fai-hai, an edible hair-like seaweed to bring prosperity, and dumplings boiled in water (Jiaozi) signifying a long-lost good wish for a family.  It’s usual to wear something red as this color is meant to ward off evil spirits.

    Legend has it that the more dumplings you eat during the New Year Celebration the more money you will be able to make in the new year.  Like we need another excuse.

    In San Francisco the festivities will culminate with the traditional Lantern Festival and Parade on February 15th.

    Gong Xi Fa Ca!
    Bye for now.

  • The Goods: Tansu Furniture

    One of the aspects of interior design I enjoy so much is the depth of design knowledge to be found from every culture that enriches the lives of client and designer alike.  I have recently been working  with Japanese tansu furniture for a project and have found them to be a real insight into the Asian arts and culture.

    Japanese tansu are much more than items of furniture. Extraordinary and versatile wooden cabinetry, dating as far back as 7th-century Japan, tansu represent a rich folk heritage unique in the world. Although created primarily for function and portability, these pieces of furniture reflects equally the masterful craftsmanship and aesthetic sensibility found in the finest Japanese art and design.  Furniture as an expression of art and way of communicating ones trade and status.

    Tansu have been traditionally fabricated from fine woods such as chestnut, elm, cedar, kiri, and sipo (similar in property to mahogany).  There are many different categories of tansu ranging from pieces that would have been used as staircases, in the kitchen, for clothing storage, sword storage, and merchant inventory.  Functionally and visually the common thread they all share  in addition to the beautiful woods and fabrication are optimal storage solutions, and beautiful hardware that serve an aesthetic and functional purpose. 

    A contemporary  four-step tansu (Kaidan-Dansu)
    Courtesy of Eastern Classics (
    A modern interpretation of the tansu concept

    I am struck by how the German Biedermeir movement might have drawn inspiration from the tansu tradition.  Simplicity, utility, and masterful craftsmanship also being the hallmarks of these equally intriguing pieces.


    Birch Biedermeier Secretary
    2nd Quarter 19th Century
    Courtesy:  Christie’s


    Mizuya-dansu being used in a ktchen designed by Michael S. Smith


    Mizuya-dansu (kitchen cabinet)


    tansu as bed side storage

    While antique tansu furniture may be out of reach for many design projects, companies like Eastern Classics specialize in authentic high quality tansu fabrication that can be customized to meet your specific storage and design criteria.

    Bye for now.

  • The Sunday Stroll: SOMA-San Francisco

    This weekend I took a stroll through the neighborhood of San Francisco’s Financial District which overlaps with the SOMA neighborhood .  In addition to the wonderful galleries, museums, hotels in this part of town, there is a wonderful crispness in the air and a certain palpable optimism and energy.
    One of my favorite discoveries was the 2002 Cesar Pelli designed J.P. Morgan Chase Building at 560 Mission Street.  This has to be one of the finest examples of how corporate architecture can add to a neighborhood in a positive way. From its low hung eaves, to its perfectly selected dark forest green steel structure lends it a wonderful organic feel and softens what could be an otherwise imposing structure.  The building also features a  tailored and art filled courtyard designed by Hart Howerton Architects which is inset from the sidewalk and provides an uxpected respite from the busy street.


    2002 Ceasar Pelli
    560 Mission Street, San Francisco

    J.P. Morgan Chase Headquarters

    560 Mission St. Courtyard, San Francisco
    Design:  Hart Howerton Architects



    550 Mission Plaza features Human Structures by Jonathan Borofsky


    550 Mission Plaza features Moonrise Sculptures by Ugo Rondinone

    The always busy Salt House ( with its lovely industrial rustic chic interior is worth a visit for a little nibble and a well deserved cocktail.


    Custom light fixtures at the Salthouse


    Bye for now.
  • The Goods: USPS Commemorative Issue

    If you haven’t already don’t forget to support the USPS and pick up your commemorative set of stamps:  Pioneers of American Industrial Design.  They are really quite lovely and a nice touch for those upcoming holiday cards.

    Art director Derry Noyes selected objects designed by 12 of the nation’s most important and influential industrial designers to feature on this colorful pane of self-adhesive stamps.
    Each stamp includes the designer’s name, the type of object, and the year or years when the object was created. The pane’s verso includes a brief introduction to the history and importance of American industrial design, as well as text that identifies each object and briefly tells something about each designer.

    The Peter Müller-Munk stamp features a photograph of the “Normandie” pitcher, introduced by the Revere Copper and Brass Company in 1935. The photograph is from The Liliane and David M. Stewart Collection at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal.
    The Frederick Hurten Rhead stamp features a photograph of two pitchers from the Fiesta dinnerware line designed for The Homer Laughlin China Company in 1936. Denis Farley photographed the pitchers for The Macdonald Stewart Foundation.
    The Raymond Loewy stamp features a photograph of a pencil sharpener prototype created in 1933. The photograph is from Christie’s Images.
    The Donald Deskey stamp features a photograph of a table lamp that Deskey designed around 1927–29. The photograph is from Wright, the auction house, in Chicago, Illinois.
    The Russel Wright stamp features a photograph of a fork, knife, and spoon from the “Highlight/Pinch” line of flatware designed by Wright in 1950. Sally Andersen-Bruce photographed the flatware for the stamp.
    The Henry Dreyfuss stamp features a photograph of the Model 302 Bell telephone introduced in 1937. Sally Andersen-Bruce photographed the telephone for the stamp.
    The Norman Bel Geddes stamp features a photograph of the “Patriot” radio, designed for Emerson Radio and Phonograph Corporation in 1940. The radio is part of the John C. Waddell Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, New York.
    The Dave Chapman stamp features a photograph of two sewing machines from the Special Collections Research Center at Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York.
    The Greta von Nessen stamp features a photograph of the “Anywhere” lamp, designed in 1951 for Nessen Studio, Inc. The photograph is from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, New York.
    The Eliot Noyes stamp features a photograph of the “Selectric” typewriter, which was introduced by IBM in 1961. Sally Andersen-Bruce photographed the typewriter for the stamp.
    The Walter Dorwin Teague stamp features a photograph of the “Baby Brownie” camera, introduced by Eastman Kodak Company in 1934. Sally Andersen-Bruce photographed the camera for the stamp.
    The Gilbert Rohde stamp features a photograph of a clock created for the Herman Miller Clock Company in 1933. The clock is part of the John C. Waddell Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, New York.
    The stamps on the Pioneers of American Industrial Design pane are being issued as Forever® stamps. Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.

    Bye for now.

  • The Goods: Bolon Flooring

    A flooring product that I find versatile, fun, easy to install and eye catching is Bolon Flooring from Sweden where it is widely used  in kitchens, bathrooms, and other high traffic, spill prone areas.  The product is impervious to water, and has a great look that works in both contemporary or more traditional settings.

    The flooring lays flat right from the get go, so if you are sprucing up a rental this is a great option to use which you can install yourself and not have to pull up the flooring underneath.

    Bolon allows you the flexibility of sourcing the product in rolls or in tiles.  Ideal uses for the product are really any space where you want to introduce some texture and a soft look but are concerned about durability or spills.  Commercial and retail settings are also ideal.


    Bolon Flooring at the new Capellini showroom in Paris


    Sisal like weave


    A more modern custom installation

    To see more of Bolon, visit

    Bye for now

  • Happy Labor Day

    A day of rest…
    Vintage 1956 US Postage Stamp



    Last chance to wear those summer whites…


    and a good excuse for something off the grill…

    Bye for now.

  • Gentleman On the Go: California Bespoke Exhibition

    Recently my studio was engaged to design an exhibition showcasing a variety of artisinal product designed and fabricated in our great state of California.

    This sort of design project always is exciting to me, as it is more conceptual and poses a challenge to the space but allows for great creative freedom, not unlike the Dreamscape installation I wrote about some months back.

    As I began developing the concept and how I would showcase the varied products such as furnishings and textiles to stationary and soup bowls….even surfboards designed by the incredible Thomas Meyerhoffer (

    I decided that the answer, at least part of it, was in the beauty of California’s natural landscape.

    Half Dome in Winter
    Yosemite, CA


    Joshua Tree, CA



    Big Sur, CA


    With the concept set we began developing a space which would simultaneously provide a neutral backdrop being curated by our friends over at The Editor at Large (, and at the same time force you to engage some aspect of California’s beautiful landscape through either imagery, greenery or through the artisinal quality of all the various products.
    It was an absolute pleasure collaborating with the producers of the exhibit (Merchandise Mart Properties), as well as the entire team at the Los Angeles Convention Center, not to mention having an opportunity to meet many of the very very talented artisans producing so many beautiful things that have the ability to inspire us in all aspects of our lives.


    California Bespoke
    Photo: Jim Harris
    California Bespoke
    Photo: Jim Harris



    California Bespoke
    Photo: Jim Harris



    California Bespoke
    Photo: Jim Harris


    Bye for now.