If you’re serious about helping the environment and reducing global warming, then don’t have children.
That's the advice from the experts—population growth is one of the biggest contributors to global warming. For that reason, when I was truly fortunate enough to become pregnant, I didn't take lightly the responsibility to raise a child in a way that's friendly to the planet. The best way I know to lessen the impact of bringing a child into this world is to create the most sustainably designed surroundings for my baby’s future life in Singapore, where I live.
You hear a lot about “sustainable design,” “non-toxic” merchandise, and “organic” products. Often these terms are used loosely and turn out to be inaccurate. My goal with this sustainably designed nursery was to leave a low impact on the environment, while creating a safe and low-toxic surrounding for the baby. This was inspired by using mostly regional, ethically-made or renewable resources, and using natural and organic materials, as well as up-cycled and vintage elements.
While it is possible to find GOTS-certified organic and low-toxic materials, in reality, toxins are all around us. Toxins can be found occurring naturally, and also with man-made chemicals used to make the things we buy and encounter on a daily basis. But we can attenuate toxins by researching and asking more questions of suppliers we buy from about their materials and manufacturing methods. That helps us purchase locally and ethically made goods as much as possible to support the circular economy.
One of my initial thoughts was that my child will wear cloth diapers and have little to no plastic in terms of toys etc. I was actually thinking about a "three toy policy" for any given time, but then I was convinced that might be a bit extreme for city living; I’m open to various methods of making and playing but not keen on any unnecessary plastic.
An Earth-friendly nursery
For this bright and cozy nursery, I wanted to make the most of what I already had and honor local and regional resources and artists in the overall concept. I began my search for up-cycled and vintage furniture for the main pieces. After much trolling on Carousell, an app for buying and selling secondhand goods, I found a beautiful French baby cot and solidly made changing table. I also got the delightful chance to meet new people at the various pickup locations across the island of Singapore.
For the changing table, I had laminated cotton, fern print inserts made. I took Ikea fabric storage boxes and had a Chinatown calligraphy artist, Jessie Ren, label them in Mandarin characters for “cloth diapers,” “tops” and “bottoms” to keep organized. The Singaporean locals who helped me with the translations made this a community effort.
The blue rocking dragon is designed by local designer Jarrod Lim. It's made of Sungkai wood from Indonesia, which is a plantation-grown, fast-growing resource. The design references old-school playground dragons, created in the early 70’s by Mr. Khor Ean Ghee, once found commonly in Singapore. Finding a suitable organic and low-toxic play mat—one that wasn’t made of synthetic foam but was still padded— was challenging. But the CorkiMat seemed like the best choice for my home: made of cork fill with a GOTS-certified organic cotton cover.
The blue paper collage and painting is by Burmese artist Min Zaw, depicting Inle Lake in Myanmar. The baby cot bedding and changing pad cover is GOTS-certified organic cotton printed with water-based dyes. The cot mattress itself is all-natural latex core from Bay Shop, which sources its eco-INSTITUT-certified latex from Thailand. It's covered in 95% organic cotton fabric. Latex, made through the Dunlop process, is a great choice for Southeast Asia, as it’s naturally breathable and cool to sleep on for the baby’s rest.
Hanging above the crib is a makeshift mobile formation, made from traditional, Singaporean lion dance marionettes found in Chinatown souvenir shops. The yellow “dancing ladies” orchids are potted in a blue and white ceramic vase found at Thow Kwang Pottery Jungle in Singapore. The Pottery Jungle was established in 1965 and operates the oldest dragon kiln (wood-firing kiln) on the island.
The lighting consists of a hanging bamboo pendant that was found in Hoi An, Vietnam. It was Scandinavian-designed and made by local Vietnamese women who taught me how it’s folded to create its arched shape. The globe floor lamp is a 90’s Art Deco reproduction made with inlay stone veneer, labeled in English and Mandarin, sourced at Tong Mern Sern Antiques, located in a pre-war shophouse in the nearby Tanjong Pagar neighborhood.
The simple wooden stool is made of local wood, and once sold by roadside merchants from the Singapore "kampongs," or villages, after WWII. Atop sits a Taoist joss paper radio from a shop on Mosque Street in Chinatown. Joss paper is traditionally burned to ensure that the spirits of the deceased have good things in the afterlife. In this nursery, the paper radio could symbolize the songs and stories taught by past loved ones and act as a portal to imagine new ideas and sounds that mama and baby can sing together.
With the right combination of freedom and encouragement, I can envision the endless potential of this little one contributing to solving some of life’s many earthly challenges.
There's a heat wave in London, and by human making. I prepare to head out on the prowl to see what's on offer for decorative sustainable design resources in the city. Something that has been heavy on my mind: What is the relevance of creating or buying any object, in the year of 2018, that doesn't consider sustainability?
As the earth and climate continue to show alarming signs of distress, there is no better time than now to make the extra effort for the best possible, locally-available, sustainably-designed furnishings and materials for your lifestyle. Considering the global plastic crisis due to China refusing to accept the world's plastic, the lack of waste and recyclables management, the failure of Fortune 500 corporations to take responsibility for the plastic that they have created and peddled, and the critical mass of people continuing to buy packaged goods, what will the world decide to do now with 91% of global plastic piling up on land and being dumped by the tons into rivers and oceans?
Thankfully, good design shepherds and shop curators are raising awareness on the plastic crisis, and some are making small waves by doing what by-and-large isn't being done anywhere else—actually, recycling it.
Using an apartment near St. Paul's Cathedral as my base, I finish my porridge and jam and take the Tube to Portobello Road in Notting Hill. Among the floral-facaded homes and antique shops you will find Katrina Phillips, a beautiful selection of Vietnamese bowls, healing crystals, baskets and art. In this selection is a dining table that appears to be made out of earthly natural stone, but it's actually made from reclaimed plastic synthetics, refrigerator interiors and lawn furniture. The Melting Pot dining table, by Dutch designer Dirk Vander Kooij, is made through his house-developed extrusion process that's molten disposable plastic pieced together by a robotic arm. Color options also include a painterly monochrome and vibrant multicolor palette. No two pieces are the same.
The Melting Pot table at Katrina Phillips
Heading over off the South Kensington stop, near the Victoria and Albert Museum, I pass by an impeccably dressed man walking in the opposite direction, his arms linked with a young lady, as he says "...or we could move to the U.S.," and laughs out loud.
The sun is full on as I move slowly down pristine blocks of period row houses and take in the renovating sounds of a chop saw. I observe a painter carefully protecting a window box of pink flowers with translucent plastic sheeting. Rounding a gated park, there nests a very well-edited shop called Mint.
Mint is a great source for sustainable design interiors in London. One of the most impressive pieces is the Debris Lounge Chair, by Carmen V Machado, which is composed of an oak base and hand-woven textile made with reclaimed ghost netting and plastic monofilament. The artist has collected pieces of rope and fishing line from beaches in the UK and Puerto Rico. She isolates them by color within the textile in order to spread awareness about over-fishing and what we are doing to our oceans.
Other standout originals are intricately woven and crocheted textiles created with recycled plastic by traditional crafts artists in Mexico. The few magnificent pieces that Mint has left of the artist work can be used as table runners or hanging art. They could be styled gracefully on a piece of furniture.
Hopping off the Underground's Angel Station stop in Islington is lifestyle shop In-Residence. There hangs a mystic wallpaper called "Enchanted Garden" by Anna Surie for NLXL. The illustrative subject matter reminds me a bit of outsider artist Henry Darger. The shop owner leads me to her recent work.
Anna Surie's own brand has a new line of cushions, wallpaper and curtains that brings light to the darkness of the plastic epidemic and its impact on our environment. Her illustrations printed on wallpaper and organic bio-cotton manage to raise serious questions about our relationship with plastic despite a beguiling, whimsical style and feel.
The Anna Surie wallpaper depicting flower sprigs mixed with waste is called "The Eye of the Beholder."
Seaweed is a waving aquatic sea vegetable that has lingered along coastal waters since the beginnings of early folklore. With over 10,000 varieties, it has commonly been used as food, nutritional supplements, herbal medicine and as an ingredient for numerous beauty products. However, there are more uses that seaweed provides than we likely have fully realized.
Today, seaweed is being further utilized and turned into biofuel, animal feed, fertilizer, pharmaceuticals and even biomass that can power cars. This fast-growing agricultural product and economy is becoming steadily cultivated in the U.S. with leaders such as Sea Greens Farms and research and development is increasing across the world. There are even new studies underway focusing on seaweed's ability to sequester carbon emissions in the atmosphere. Seaweed and kelp varieties are diverse and unique to various regional waters and people are tapping into other innovative ways to use this plentiful resource for a more eco-friendly planet.
LOLIWARE has an edible straw, LOLISTRAW, made of seaweed in development that you can reserve to buy for August delivery, when you can test them out for yourself for an end of summer celebration. These hyper-compostable straws come in clear, black and flavorful vibrant colors. If you don't feel like eating the straw and it ends up in the ocean, like so many plastic straws plaguing the oceans, the straw will biodegrade into nutrients for marine life.
Beaches and oceans are becoming inundated with plastic everything. This year, China has refused to continue to accept the world's plastic recycling. Plastic particles are ending up in the fish we eat, in the water from our home taps and also seeping into water in the plastic water bottles that we drink out of. Skipping Rocks Lab has created Ooho, which are edible water pouches that serve water in a thin circular membrane made of brown algae from seaweed. While they are developing the idea further, it is a promising alternative to the plastic water bottle.
FOOD and PRODUCT PACKAGING
Evoware is a company out of Indonesia that has a variety of seaweed-based packaging including food wraps, single serve coffee and seasoning sachets and soap packaging. All of their packing is 100% biodegradable and even works as a natural fertilizer for plants. Restaurant owners, soap makers and instant noodle, spice and coffee manufacturers take notice—this is environmentally-friendly packaging for your business.
Danish firm Vankunsten design-built a house using timber-frame panels with dried seaweed packed into nets as insulation. A layer of roofing felt was then added and the roof and facade was cushioned with the stuffed seaweed nets as exposed thatching. The seaweed does not rot, mold or attract pests and the house is expected to last as long as any other house. The project was inspired by the eelgrass seaweed-thatched houses that were prevalent on the island of Laesoe since the 1600's. It would be great to see more of these structures built in similar regions.
Researchers at Spain's University of Seville partnered with Glasgow's University of Strathclyde to produce an unfired brick made with clay earth, seaweed extract and wool fibers. These bricks proved to increase strength while using less energy because the bricks are not fired. They have yet to be manufactured commercially.
Bioyarn is a new textile component made of kelp that is being developed by AlgiKnit out of New York. They are working to make bio-based textiles including t-shirts and even sneakers out of the bioyarn. It doesn't dissolve in water, flexes and it can eventually biodegrade in a compost environment.
Emirates airline is using seaweed-infused pajamas for their first class passengers. The pajama fabric is pressed with seaweed capsules and then moistures the skin, which is typically prone to becoming dry during flight. The moisturizing effect only lasts for up to 10 washes.
DYES, FURNITURE and PAINT
Another designer who is researching ways to use seaweed to make natural dyes and algae yarn is Nienke Hoogvliet. The dye colors she extracts from the seaweed includes greens, browns, greys, pinks and purples. She also uses handwoven seaweed yarn to make furniture and then uses the waste from that process to make a paint.
Professor and designer Julia Lohmann creates many works of art with seaweed, including furniture as well and has spearheaded a Department of Seaweed at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Additionally, Jonas Edvard and Nikolaj Steenfatt created a chair seat material made of paper mixed with seaweed harvested from the beaches of Denmark.
If you have any products that you are working on, we would love hear about them. With all of these innovations using the power of seaweed, it is only imaginable what could come next.
When carefully considering design options for the kitchen, more and more homeowners are stepping away from the idea of gas flames and turning on their induction cooktops. The energy efficiency and easy-to-clean capabilities are certainly the strength of the appeal, yet there are even more reasons to go the induction route. Check out a quote on my perspective for Karen Elder's piece for SCHOTT glass on why designers love induction cooktops for their clients— link here.
Nothing can take humans away from the primal appeal of cooking over an open flame completely. To get your fix, there are always outdoor fire pits.
Inspired by the Paul Hawken bestseller Drawdown
With global warming and greenhouse gases climbing to levels never before experienced by humankind, the good news is there’s still hope yet.
Recently, I heard Paul Hawken speak at ABC Carpet & Home about the collective nonprofit coalition that created the book Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed To Reverse Global Warming. The book has some surprising—and encouraging—insights on what those solutions are.
Beyond recycling and composting, here are five things that you can do in your home to help reverse global warming:
You Don’t Really Need All Those Groceries
How often do the spinach and arugula go bad in your fridge? You had great intentions at the grocery store, but didn’t get around to making all those salads. You’re not alone when it comes to wasting food. If food were a country, it would be the world’s third biggest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the U.S., according to Drawdown.
One solution is to buy fresh perishables in smaller quantities for planned meals. Additionally, food is often perfectly fine to eat after expiration dates and best-used-by dates, and some wilting produce can still be used in the juicer.
If you can't shop for less more often, a great product to prolong your food's life is FreshPaper. Add these sheets made with organic spices to your fruits and veggies in the fruit bowl, existing packaging or fridge drawer and save them 2-4x longer.
Challenge Yourself—In The Shower
Many Americans don’t realize how abnormally long we stay in the shower compared with the rest of the world. I remember getting a firm lesson from my high school German teacher, Herr Cody, on how to shower before my first trip to Europe:
Turn shower on; wet yourself.
Turn shower off; soap yourself.
Turn shower back on; rinse yourself.
Create a fun challenge for yourself and your family by limiting showers to five minutes. This can reduce water use by 7-8 percent a year.
And if you want the best showerhead developed with aerospace engineering—it’s almost here. The Nebia showerhead atomizes droplets, producing more droplets dispersed over five times the area of a regular showerhead. It is thirteen times more thermally efficient, so you feel the heat on that body more. It reduces water use by 70 percent compared with conventional showerheads—even 60 percent more than the WaterSense showerheads available.
Upgrade Your Toilet—Yes, Your Toilet
It’s not a glamorous upgrade to make but we do really need to go there. Low-flush toilets are the best way to cut water use in your home, by up to 19 percent. “The U.S. EPA estimates that if one American home out of every one hundred switched an older toilet out for a new, efficient one," Drawdown says, "the country would save more than 38 million kilo-watt hours of electricity—sufficient to power 43,000 households.”
Here’s the list of comps on the EPA-approved WaterSense toilets. Keep in mind that 0.8 GPF (gallons per flush) is the lowest water use of any toilet on the market. According to Best Toilet Guide 1.28 GPF is a sweet spot for performance and water saving combined. A smart one I’ve found that uses the least amount of water in any single flush is Niagara Stealth, which at 0.8 GPF uses patented Stealth technology that makes for a quiet flush—meaning that you get the added bonus that no one can visualize your bathroom business.
Find A Water-Efficient Washing Machine For You And Your Dirties
Let’s call this clean living for your clothes, your thoughts AND your environment. Choosing a water-efficient washing machine in your home can save up to 17 percent in water usage, and by washing only full loads of clothing it can save up to 7-8 percent of your water use over a year. Washing with cold water helps save energy even further.
When comparing the ENERGY STAR most efficient large capacity front-loading machines, the Kenmore #4116 has one of the lowest annual energy and water use for its size category. You can get more comparisons for your ”dirties” here on the ENERGY STAR site.
Don’t Screw Yourself On Lightbulbs
There’s no excuse anymore, since LEDs have made big advances in achieving warmer incandescent-like color temperatures. LEDs use 90 percent less energy, and that means saving money as well.
There are great energy-efficient bulbs available including options by Cree. A big favorite is the Cree 9.5 Watt Warm White bulb that you can dim as needed. You can start phasing in LED lighting in a room you spend the most time in. Layer lighting, so you use light only where you are when you really need it. Some smart home technology can sense this as well, but if you can't go all high-tech, you can simply create smart LED mood and task lighting where you can. No one needs to see everything and everyone overly lit all the time. We're overexposed most hours of the day as it is.
There’s a lot more advice where those five came from. The Drawdown book lays out 100 substantive solutions gathered by leading peer-reviewed scientists and policymakers around the world: solutions that have the ability to reverse atmospheric carbon buildup in 30 years. There are hands-on practices that are available now. There are technologies that exist now. Project Drawdown encourages us all to make use of these solutions and to seek others for our "reimagination of the world."
We have the opportunity to draw down the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by starting in our own homes. The motivation is simple: becoming a part of the solution to save humanity and our one, true home.
When the first booking came in for Willow, the raw event space I worked on in downtown St. Louis, it was for none other than former St. Louis Cardinals hero, David Freese—and his gorgeous wife Mairin.
Now, if you were lucky enough to be following Major League Baseball postseason in 2011, it was arguably one of the best series of all time.
Apparently, David Freese has always been a big fan of the food at Bailey's Restaurants. We were honored that they chose Willow for their wedding celebration with friends and family. Willow was designed with whimsical branch chandeliers, wood and white metal seating and a warm Benjamin Moore Glacier White color that becomes a fresh canvas for any personalized event design.
Freese now plays for the Pittsburg Pirates but he will forever be a St. Louis legend. We wish him and his wife the very best— they're always welcome home!
Photography by the talented Katie Roberds of Vein + Vessel.
Honored to contribute to Krista Gray's story for BRIT + CO, among other fascinating small biz owners, on what I love about being a #Girlboss. Check out the full piece on what these women love about their jobs— here
“What I love most about owning a small business is that each project is as distinct as the individual/s that I work with, be it for a single client, a family or partners in a business,” Brynne Rinderknecht, the designer and force behind From the Inside shares. “I enjoy being a conduit in revealing their story and ideas and connecting that life to their surroundings of their home or business."
When it comes to her work, she finds motivation in the meaning behind how she spends each day. She spills, “I want the things around people to mean something to them. If I’m helping a client select a piece of art, I want them to feel it for themselves before buying it into their home. If I’m guiding a client in selecting a chair, I want it to be something that makes sense for their lifestyle and educate them on fantastic vintage pieces that can be reupholstered or more eco-friendly choices available. Most of what I actually do is help people tap into their own creativity that sometimes they never know they had. I believe that we are all creative beings when we give ourselves the opportunity and explore the space of the present moment — to listen to our inner voices.” —Krista Gray
How about some Cajun food from some Gulf Coast guys that know how to serve it up proper? Great to collaborate with The Gumbo Bros for their Louisiana fare restaurant located in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn featured in The New York Times
We’re all guilty of it. Buying crap for our home we don’t need and then, after it’s too late to return, regretting it. Sometimes the purchase feels like it stems from an altered state or some deeply seeded coping mechanism that’s beyond our control. The lies we tell ourselves. There’s a lot of focus on decluttering our homes, but how do you prevent these unnecessary and unhealthy things from getting into your home in the first place?
As an interior designer, I find myself talking clients out of buying things as much as I advise them on what they should buy and invest in. I’m not an enabler ;). At times I’ve had to scold clients for buying things that were superfluous, environmentally toxic or just plain wrong for them and their home. Don't even get me started on the taxidermy elephant from Africa that supposedly "died of natural causes." Or the thing that looks just like the original at a ridiculously unbelievable price. If they don’t know it at the time, they'll eventually realize their bad decision.
Or will they?
Recently, I watched The Century of the Self, a British television documentary that came up at an event called "Mindfulness for Creatives" that I attended last month. The TV doc told the story of Edward Bernays. He was Sigmund Freud’s nephew, and he used Freud’s theories to teach corporations and advertising companies (even politicians) how to manipulate consumer behavior. His theory was that consumers are essentially brainless, merely slaves to the subconscious persuasion of their selfish desires. The idea is that our primitive desires can be manipulated and that we are not at all in control of what we buy.
Here are three questions to ask yourself before buying that shiny, new thing you just have to bring home—and that will help you snap out of those mindless impulses!
#1: “Do I really f**king need it? Why do I really need it?”
Without the expletive, you’re not seriously asking yourself the question.
#2: “Does it feed my inner spirit?"
If it does feed your spirit, let it be a valid thing that aligns with your values and enriches your life in an artful or intellectual way.
#3: "In the future, will others admire my reasons for buying this item into my world?"
Basically, is this object something that someone, somewhere down the line, will appreciate you supporting and perpetuating? When you buy, consider things for you and your home that are antique, vintage or innovative—well-designed or quality-crafted things made with materials that support your society, human beings and the environment.
We are all curators who collect things of our times into our homes, and we will eventually be judged by future generations. What will they think when they start digging into our archeological site? Could our habits become a posthumous embarrassment? Do you care?
We will buy the things that appeal most to our base emotional impulses. In a nutshell, that's what Edward Bernays believed.
But what if you could prove Edward Bernays wrong?
Get ready for some mysterious creative energy tonight during the black moon! The black moon, which is given its name when the second new moon occurs in a single calendar month. However, like most occurrences within space that we attempt to define, there is some debate and additional meanings for the term "black moon." A new moon occurs typically every 29.5 days and then disappears from the sky as it passes between the earth and sun. The illuminated side is faced away from us during the new moon.
As the sky becomes dark tonight, there is more focus for reflection—from the inside—to allow your creativity to flow. Whatever your outlet may be, it's time to brainstorm your next project or start experimenting and making your individual magic.
Here are some of my go-to paint and pigment colors that create a backdrop or accent for inner reflection.
The next black moon that disappears from our view twice in one month will occur on July 31st, 2019.
When I moved to New York, I wanted a chance to spot Bill Cunningham. Then one morning, walking down Fifth Ave a few years ago, that chance came. He was in his usual blue worker's coat, smiling, off his bicycle and making his natural observations with his camera on the sidewalk. He appeared effortlessly unaffected by narcissism. He's the kind of person who had a documentary made about him but apparently never bothered to see it before his recent death. What he did see was nuance in pattern, rhythm, detail, color, cut, line, historic reference and distinction in fashion and in the people who became the subjects of his photographs.
Of course, I was mortified by the unremarkable outfit I was wearing when I saw him. What a missed opportunity. I knew I could have dressed better for him. Not that it mattered. I could see him; he didn't really even see me. I was sure to keep my distance in slow motion and just enjoy watching him.
I will miss knowing that he's no longer out there, using his keen eye to observe our world, our streets and ourselves. He was truly independent.
It’s probably easier to score drugs in New York than it is to get your hands on a good rare house plant. When I say “rare,” I mean anything other than a fiddle leaf fig tree, whose over-exposure in photography and interiors has been well noted for some time. I’ve been guilty myself of pushing the fiddle leaf fig in the past, for production shoots and interior projects. I get it—they have a beautiful, organic shape, a leathery leaf texture, and they remain addictive to buyers in the house plant market. But what if there was a different kind of plant out there for you to consider?
In recent months, I’ve been actively changing things up in the interior botany department for my clients, and I often find myself at the 28th Street flower market between 6th and 7th Ave. I search in and out of the shops and I wait for a unique tree or plant to roll off the trucks. I go early in the wee hours and I go later before most of the plant places close up at 3pm. I go multiple times during the week sometimes and even ask the dealers to show me what else they have in the off-site grow houses. But it takes time and patience to find a meandering, distinct specimen that speaks to me and my clients for just the right spot.
It is certainly clear that supply is still meeting demand for the fiddle leaf fig, aka Ficus lyrata, originally from West Africa. If you have one already, there is no shame—continue to love and care for it. However, there are other species out there that can help you with your next interior oxygen fix.
Here are some gateway alternatives, hit or miss, straight from 28th Street:
#1 Olea europaea Manzanillo, street name: Manzanillo Olive
*Arbequina Olive is a nice variety as well. The olive tree is one of the earliest known cultivated trees and rich in symbolism.
#2 Kalanchoe beharensis, street name: “Velvet Elephant Ear”
*This is one of my favorites due to its shape and rusted look of the edges. It seems to have its own history.
#3 Dracaena marginata, street name: “Red-Edge or Dragon Tree”
*Every space can likely handle a touch of red.
#4 Euphorbia lactea, street name: “White Ghost Cactus”
#5 Beaucarnea recurvata, street name: “Ponytail Palm”
*Look at this ponytail—sexy.
#6 Podocarpus gracilior, street name: “ Weeping Podocarpus, African Fern Pine or Buddhist Pine”
*The vibrant green bushy tree is back!
#7 Fortunella japonica, street name: “Marumi Kumquat”
*They have white blossoms, which then turns into edible fruit and brings good fortune.
#8 Bucida buceras, street name: “Shady Lady or Black Olive”
*The right kind of shady lady.
Few people seem to exist along this mystic coastline. Is it the dangerously skinny highway on the steep edge of the unknown that prevents people from coming in droves? Or the fear of spotty cell service; the silence that would make people confront their own thoughts?
It was becoming dusk, as a last min tent purchase was being built on a cliff clearing that blurred into the overcast Pacific Ocean, only to realize during the pitch that it was a very small pup tent. In order to be outstretched, my head would need to be poked outside the zipper door, under the stars, to sleep. Thankfully, there didn’t seem to be many critters.
When Jack was 15 years old, in Brooklyn, he ran away from home to join a traveling rodeo: The mere beginning to his ramblin’. Johnny Cash once said, “He’s got a song and a friend for every mile behind him.” I wanted to see him play banjo. And there he was outside on the intimate library grounds storytelling.
One spare tree peered over us listeners among all the greens. Was that Henry? He and Jack both have had a special June. Amber light darkened into blue.
As the show broke up, I was approached by a traveling poet who offered me the choice of a joke or poetry, in exchange for a donation. Not a fan of on-the-spot jokes, I opted for poetry. He finished a meandering slam with good spirit. I reached in my bag and found a twenty-dollar bill that was his for his hustle. The poet invited my companion and me back with him to hang out and share a meal. We followed him with a few others, trustingly, into a tucked away camp, where we fired up a pit to cook quesadillas.
The starry night surveyed us. A musician, Dan Kahn, played one of his songs, Coney Island, on the ukulele, as half-lit faces tuned in closely under towering sequoias. The unexpected late night conversation between converging strangers still lingers, sparking at moments and then disappearing, like rising embers into the dark.
Under the forested canopy of Big Sur and on the hidden pockets of isolated beach, is a place where one can easily feel to be on the brink of discovering new life or surrendering to the crudity of the earth. For me, it’s the sense of solitude that is possible and the pulse of the ocean that feels like a god breathing to me something essential that I need to know, now.
Another takeaway from Highway 1 : Remember to give back to the traveling poet.
It was such a pleasure to be part of the Open House blog for NBC New York.com. Check out the video piece and see how to stretch one room into two spaces for flexible NYC living.
Recently, I was shopping for a rug for a client's daughter and came across this fun, watercolor, sheepskin rug by AELFIE out of Greenpoint, Brooklyn. It reminded me of a trip that I made last year with my husband on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry Ireland, where these particular painted sheep kept us company while hiking Mt. Brandon. The dyeing or pearl dip of the sheep is for tracking and is also used as a way to tell when a ram mounts an ewe.
Clearly, Ireland sheep live the good life.
From many stories above, overlooking the East River, one can see and feel myriad movement. For my client, we wanted to create a place to sit and enjoy it.
To add color and warmth to the apartment, the rug was a crucial element. It's the piece that grounds the space and can influence the rest: artwork and soft accessories, such as Kevin O'Brien pillows; French vintage armchairs upholstered in a grey velvet; a vintage brass coffee table with graceful legs from NY Showplace. They all take the edge off anything too new. A fitting drawing from Rachel Glittenberg, All Day I Think About You, acts as bejeweled foliage and water imagery for the wall. Fresh lilacs and Dutch peonies bring the room to life.