Hot & Hip
Our New York editor shares fab fabrics, cool carpet, and news from the latest designer home tours.
|This is not your grandmother’s chintz—Manuel Canovas new, more refined Amita designs even work in modern decorative schemes.|
InterfaceFLOR’s square carpet tiles are the hot new plaything in New York, and I can see why. They’re like a craft, but for grown-ups. Design your own grid, plunk them down wherever (they’re backed with a small peel-off adhesive dot to prevent slipping), and you’re good to go. The floor system got a boost from Dallas favorite son Todd Oldham, who in a recent New York magazine cover story showed how he used the tiles in his financial-district loft. Cut tight, with a dense industrial surface, they come in 16 designs—more, surely, in the offing—and a wide range of colors. You can install them on just about any floor surface. I recently saw a thick-and-thin design for a reception room; it was brilliant! Specialty home stores will have the tiles soon, but you also can go to the web site and order the tabloid-sized catalog that provides a comprehensive guide to designing, measuring, and ordering.
Some people solve a bad day with several bowls of cereal; I wander the D&D building and look at fabrics. I must say that the reintroduction of chintz has been a great comfort. Gone are the hydrangeas, roses, and peonies of the Mario Buatta era, and in their place are large, stylized, India-inspired blooms. These new chintz fabrics are more refined, richer in coloration, and work as well in a modern setting as a traditional one. Chintz lovers will be particularly enamored of the Amita and Devi designs, inspired by a 19th-century Indian tree-of-life motif, in 100-percent poplin from Manuel Canovas; they introduce a bold color infusion and are available in three colorways. Arabella from Cowtan & Tout is my favorite. Derived from Indian block prints, this tree-of-life design is large, airy, and graphic.
Another source of delight is the rediscovered Alan Campbell line. Alan spent the 1960s and ’70s traveling through Asia. When he returned, he started using the traditional weaving and dying processes of India, Japan, and Indonesia to create amazing batik prints “in his bathtub. His bright, graphic panels caught the eye of Sister Parish, who made pillows from his prints, and Halston, who created caftans out of the fabric. Quadrille is re-issuing the Alan Campbell line in linen, cotton, and”this is smart”sunbrella. It’s got a primal vibe, sort of reminiscent of the wide-eyed Marimeko prints that came out in the ’70s and are now back in vogue. These happy prints are upholstering their way into chic specialty hotels and the houses of Page Six-types.
|Flooring and Fabric: InterfaceFLOR’s carpet squares bring new meaning to the term do-it-yourself. Use the guides in their catalog to create any number of rug designs.|
Best of Show
This year’s uptown Kips Bay Designer House Tour on Manhattan’s east side featured six private residences belonging to up-and-coming designers and their clients. Diane Alpern Kovacs 30th-floor apartment was filled with antiques, sea grass, and chintz, creating a cozy cottage feel that was a wonderful counterpoint to the sweeping city view below. A few blocks north, A-list designer Eve Robinson meticulously transformed a dreary 6th-floor townhouse into a spacious, airy, and elegant home. She outfitted the kitchen sparingly with stainless steel, textured glass, and wenge, all scaled to accommodate the owner’s height (a former basketball player?). With harmonious neutral taupes and greys and repeated lighting in the form of stylish drum pendants from Stephen McKay Studios, the townhouse flowed with a modern grace rarely seen in 1950s townhouses. Andrew Petronio of Kenneth Alpert Associates 550-square-foot ground-floor apartment (about the size of a Dallas mudroom), was a charmer, with deep, rich tones throughout to set off his extensive art collection. The deep browns drifted back into a small, unexpected garden with chairs and tables for quiet socializing. Small is beautiful when you mix Keith Haring, Picasso, a Regency table, and a brown-suede deco armchair—and park a red Vespa in the hallway.
Another worthwhile stop on the local house tour circuit was the American Hospital of Paris Foundation International Designers Showhouse. In its eighth year, this designer showhouse is a major fundraiser for the hospital in Paris that was founded in 1910 to serve Americans living abroad with familiar English-speaking doctors and American-style medicine (love it). It was all good, but the work of Giulia Leoni, an Italian decorative painter, was the standout. Working with composite plaster made from marmorino, marble dust, and casting-stone powder, she created remarkable relief stencils for the stairwell that not only looked great but also felt good—everyone was compelled to run their hand over the wall. I can easily envision this technique on new Dallas construction with great success (use sparingly, please).
Say It Ain’t So
The are-you-kidding-me award goes to National Geographic, who at the Home Textiles Show here in New York revved up the High Point introduction of their home collection. Eight manufacturers have signed on to produce more than 2,500 items, everything from accessories, bedding, and tabletop to photographic prints. (Okay, prints I can understand.) The magazine explains that these …collections were inspired by our own explorers personal residences and world travels. They shared their homes and the items they have collected from around the world, helping us develop this eclectic collection. National Geographic duvet covers? It’s a mad, mad world. Until next time.