30 November 2009

same old, same old (but it makes us happy)

every year on the weekend after thankgiving, maison21 has the same old feelings of anticipation and dread. anticipation because our faker than fake 'tree of a thousand balls' makes us happy, and dread, because hanging a thousand balls feels like hanging a hundred thousand...

still, it's not the holidays without a tree (even a fakedy-fake one, as m21 loves), so nothing to do but dive in! the resulting process takes several days- rearranging furniture, hanging ornaments, getting bored with hanging ornaments, taking a break and watching some bad tv, then repeating all steps until tree and room look like sumpthin'- but in the end, once the tree of a thousand balls is up n' pretty, m21 is always happy he took the time, because it really feels like the holidays now! all we need now is lots and lots of presents wrapped in silver paper tied with white ribbon to complete the scene! (better get busy with that, m21!)
(thank goodness we've been storing the chippendale dining chairs for a client, since there was no room for any of our own chairs with the tree!)

what does YOUR tree look like? m21 would love to see! do you like fakedy-fake like maison21? or are you a traditionalist? email a us a picture,and maybe we'll do a post of reader's trees!

28 November 2009

a really black friday

m21's black friday purchase:'course, it's turned into stupid impulse buy saturday, as in m21's late night haste to purchase at home depot, he didn't get his primer tinted. duh. trying to paint a dark color over a white primer is insanity. we're going to go to the paint store down the street where we buy all our benjamin moore and pratt & lambert paints, and start over with a proper a proper tinted primer- just as we'd do with a client, when planning, not impulse, is the name of the game.

what dark color are we painting, you ask? darkest possible! bottom of the swatch, jet black. yup. black. m21 is painting what he euphemistically calls his powder room, a water closet off his laundry room. it's teeny-tiny (literally, a toilet and that's it) but we have a dramatic little lucite chandelier, and a dorothy draper-esque mirror in there already, so shiny black walls will look good (we hope). m21 is a bit concerned because the walls while not rough, have some hand plastering texture, and if it were a client, he might hesitate- but it ours, and it's tiny, so we are willing to experiment. it's only paint, after all.

of course, we're putting the primer waaaaaaaaay before the horse- the walls are in dreadful shape, so we have all sorts of prep work to do first. watch this space for results, but don't expect anything soon- we hope to have it finished in time for a black christmas!

26 November 2009

giving thanks (a post in novel-length form)

gratitude. gratefulness. giving thanks. yup, that's what today is all about! besides of course, the good food, the gathering of family and friends, and for some odd folk out there- the football (freaks ;-). maison21 doesn't want to lead off this 'happy thanksgiving' on a sour note, and overlook any of those good things. but honestly? what m21 most grateful for today? is that the arrival of the thanksgiving holiday means 2009 is thankfully almost over. as years go, 2009 was not our best.

wow maison21, what a buzzkill... thanks...

but even if 2009 wasn't the best year on record for us personally (or for a lot of people out there, we're sure), there are still plenty of things to be thankful for, so that's what we're going to concentrate on: the good stuff! (...and bringing the mood right back up again!)

we are grateful. truly, truly, grateful. grateful to simply be alive and fairly healthy. grateful to have a roof over our heads. grateful to have food to eat, and grateful for a hot shower everyday. grateful, grateful, grateful for these simple basic things that each and everyone of us take for granted every day.

we are grateful to be spending the day with family- one member has had serious health issues this year and has made it through, so we're grateful, grateful, grateful.

we are grateful for our amazing friends, who brighten our every day and are such amazing support during the trying times, grateful, grateful, grateful.

we are grateful to still have a business in these tough times, and grateful to our clients- both the new ones we took on in '09 (for a while there, we were scared there wouldn't be any of those), and for the old ones who have kept in contact regarding future projects once the economy improves. grateful, grateful, grateful.

we are grateful to have fulfilled a dream in 2009, and had our work published not in just one, but in three magazines this year. grateful, grateful, grateful.

we are grateful for this (the blog), and for you (our blog friends- and if you visit here, even briefly, you are my friend). at the beginning of this year, when i think many of us designers were wondering "is our industry dead?", writing this blog (and visiting others) gave me something to focus on: "heck, no, this industry isn't dead- look how many wonderful people out there are still as passionate about design as ever!" with your positive comments left here everyday, you helped me hold on to my passion for design until things picked up (and thank goodness they did), so i am grateful to all of you. grateful, grateful, grateful.

and of course, as ever, i am grateful to the two little friends who share my life, mona and richard, so in their honor, i'd like to reshare my first thanksgiving post, made when my blog was less then a month old (to those of you whose eyes are glazing over because you've read it a dozen times, i give you permission to go eat some turkey or watch some football). it's funny, looking back on this post- the style is so different to my eyes: m21 hadn't developed into quite the persona "he" has taken on ('the third person whine', as one of my detractors put it), some of the references are pretty dated, and the players have aged- richard is no longer a kitten, and mona is officially an older lady (deaf as a post, and a bit arthritic, but still happy and active overall); but the sentiments expressed in the post are exactly the same- i am SO grateful to have them in my life, and with mona aging, every thanksgiving 'anniversary' we share at this point is just added bonus gratitude...

so happy turkey y'all- i hope your day is a wonderful as mine will be, and i hope each and every one of you have more to be grateful for in your lives then you could possibly list. now, you can read on if you have the stamina- or if not, go grab some turkey and another glass of wine, and enjoy the holiday!

oxoxox- m21

giving thanks ('07)

this thanksgiving, i have so many things to be thankful for- great family and friends, a beautiful home, the ability to earn a living doing what i love- the list goes on and on. but hands down the thing in my life i am most grateful for are my two happy little furballs, mona and richard:

day in and day out, they provide so much affection and amusement, i couldn't be unhappy if i tried. an example: i'm one of those people that wakes up grumpy, and it takes a while for my mood to lighten and the happy maison21 to appear. well, grumpy isn't strong enough a word, my whole life, i've woke up pissed off- ready to bite the head off the first person unfortunate enough to cross my path. well, since mona came around, it's been rather hard to maintain the black cloud of doom every morning. being the good girl that she is, she never wakes me, but on the first signs of my stirring, she goes on high alert- if i yawn and stretch, she starts to quiver with excitement, eager to start her day. then, she comes to the head of the bed, smiling like crazy and showering me with hot, stinky dog breath to complete my wake up process. if i proceed to actually sit up or make signs of getting out of bed, pandemonium ensues as she can't wait to start her day! up and down off the bed about a dozen times- she can't wait to go outside and smell good stuff! she can't wait to get that same old bowl of dry food she gets everyday! of course her enthusiasm wakes her little brother richard the cat, who has no clue what all the excitement is about but thinks it's probably a great time to play (he's 18 months old- he always thinks it's a great time to play) and even more chaos follows. the black storm cloud of my morning mood lifts to partly cloudy with a chance of clearing before i've even left the bedroom.

mona came into my life 8 years ago the weekend before thanksgiving- she was initially supposed to be a purebred french bulldog- not a corgi with a highly suspect bloodline. i had made up my mind to finally get a dog several months earlier, and my heart was set on buying a french bulldog puppy. like pretty much every decision in my life, my choice of dog was based purely on aesthetics, and i thought french bulldogs were the cutest things going. my then roommate was aghast that i would buy a dog and insisted that i go to the pound to rescue one instead, but there was no way i was going to give up on my dream of a cute little frenchie. instead, i made an appointment with a french bulldog breeder while hatching a devious plan to satisfy my roommate and keep peace at home, but still get my way and get my designer dog. my plan was to go to the pound just once to shut him up- i'd report back that there was nothing there but german shepard-rottweiler-pit bull mixes, and since i needed a small dog for our apartment with no backyard, it just wouldn't work out and off to the breeder i'd go, obligation met.

well i put in my one-time-only visit to the pound and you know what? there really was nothing but large breed pitibull mixes, so i wouldn't even have to lie about it! but what i hadn't planned on was that they were all such sweet large pit-bull mixes, so excited to see a human, wagging their tails and pressing their faces to the chain link of the cages to get a little affection. just like that the plan changed, my heart melted, and i canceled my appointment to buy a purebred dog. i was now committed to decidedly non-designer mutt ownership.

i started visiting the l.a. county animal shelters, and the local humane society kennel every weekend. i really did need a smaller dog but this was pre-paris hilton lapdog mania, and there weren't many small dogs available. when they were up for adoption, there would be a waiting list- at one point i was number 13 on the list for a little chihuahua mix! i began to despair of finding a dog until one day at the humane society, i was trying to sweet talk the girl at the front desk into calling me first the next time they got a small dog. it must have worked a little, as she replied that they had smaller one right now, but she didn't think it was available- it was in the cat room as the other dogs were picking on it. the guy in charge didn't want to let me see it, as he said the dog was "unadoptable" but like with the french bulldog, i was going to figure out a way! eventually the nice girl volunteer and i wore him down, and he brought out a filthy little medium-sized dog, who cowered against the wall, running away in a panic if i even made the slightest move towards her. i thought maybe he was right and i wouldn't be able to adopt her after all, but just then a new visitor opened the door to the waiting room, and in her blind panic, she ran over to shelter against me, and when she realized where she was, proceeded to pee all over my shoes . well, it was love at first pee and we've been inseparable ever since.

over the years, mona has blossomed from a dog that wouldn't let anyone near her, and who perpetually wore an expression of terror on her face, into a dog that does nothing but smile and who thinks that everyone was put on this planet for one purpose- to pet her and praise her. there is no nice way to put it- she's turned into an attention whore in the worst way, and i love her even more because of it. when i think that this sweet little girl was given up by her first owner and was considered to be "unadoptable" it literally brings tears to my eyes but it also makes me forever grateful that she entered my life that fateful pre-thanksgiving weekend 8 years ago. thanksgiving really has a special meaning for me now.

so this year, if anyone out there reading this post is thinking about becoming a pet-parent, i urge you to give thanks for the abundance in your life and share it with a pet from a shelter or rescue group. take a look around and though you won't see the wagging tails in action like i did at the pound, you won't be able to resist the cute little faces staring out at you from your computer screen. even if you can't adopt a pet, or aren't ready yet, perhaps you could think about donating to an animal rescue group. i think that rescuers have received a bad rap lately because of the whole ellen debacle, and that's not fair- they really are a selfless group who devote huge amounts of their time and money to rescue animals in need, so they could really use some extra donations right now.

lest anyone think i'm ignoring mona's little brother, richard the cat, here's his story: one hot, sunny los angeles sunday, my former neighbor and i decided to go out for a refreshing beverage in west hollywood. after parking, we cut through an alley only to spot a little gray ball of fluff, followed by two more. instead of an afternoon spent ogling boys, we instead spent it bathing and flea combing kittens- not quite as festive, but far more rewarding. richard's two sisters were adopted almost immediately but no one seemed interested in a boy cat, so he ended up hanging around, completely winning the hearts of both mona and myself and was soon a permanent member of the family. he's grown from a tiny ball of fluff to a 15 pound behemoth of fluff, equally adept at making us laugh and making us cry when he destroys something we love (but we wouldn't have it any other way- fabric can be replaced, but the love he gives us is priceless). when he and mona wrestle and play, it's a sight both heartwarming and horrifying- mona caught in a headlock, and richard mock-ferociously gnawing on her ears, but all the while, mona is smiling and wagging her nubbin at a fever pitch, having the time of her life. at the end of the day, with richard on one side of me, purring like a diesel engine, and mona sighing in delight during a never-ending pet session on the other, i am truly contented.

god, i love them so, and am so very grateful to have them in my life. now go to petfinder, already! and have a happy thanksgiving!

25 November 2009

science geek chic (and it could be yours)

spotted a contest to win a free, and completely mathematically awesome, raimond lamp from moooi in the @LATimeshome twitter feed. go to y lighting to enter!

ps: speaking of contests, have you gone to velvet & linen to cast your vote in the brickmaker's table contest? since m21's role as an impartial judge is over, he officially now a shill for katie d.'s room and thinks a crime will be committed if she is not a winner. really, who likes crime? so GO VOTE!

23 November 2009

maison21, america's next top model (sunset magazine photo shoot)

this past september, maison21 had the fun opportunity to be a model for a sunset magazine photoshoot! one of the editors at sunset saw the palm springs house m21 helped his bff, rudy decorate, when it was published in ty pennington at home magazine last june, and rented it as a location for a holiday party feature. they then asked rudy if he had any friends who would be interested in being photographed as party guests: the magazine would feed us and liquor us up, and in return we'd laugh and have a good time, plus get our pictures published in a magazine- a no brainer! and for maison21, it was a triple no brainer: have fun, have a project he worked on photographed and published, and get a blog post out of it too? you'd have to pay to keep him away!
the intolerably cramped dressing room. (supermodels from left: jamie, jane, brad, yvette, jeff and will)

but all was not fun and games, and we have a new respect for models- modeling is hard, hard, work!

the problems began when the editors didn't read m21's contract- we were supposed to get our own private dressing room, stocked with the three C's of a supermodel's diet: champagne, cocaine and cigarettes; but somehow we ended up sharing a room with EIGHT other models, and being forced to survive on a steady stream of home made taquitos, chips, salsas and guacamole, along with yummy mexcan themed hors d'oeuvres, and all washed down with frosty cranberry margaritas (everything freshly prepared and served to us by chef/food stylist, valerie aikman-smith, mind you). well, it was inhuman and demeaning, and the nightmare of being forced to consume all that delicious food and drink will stick with us for a long, long, time... (all recipes available in the december issue of sunset, btw- on newsstands now!)
lots of downtime on the set- two of the models jane, and jamie, discuss techniques for snagging rockstar boyfriends.

now maison21 knew from intensive watching of america's next top model that a good model, like an actor, emotes for the camera by playing a role, and tells a story to the camera with only his or her eyes. m21 kept hounding the sunset staff for his motivation to emote for the camera, and they just stared at him blankly! do they even watch tyra & co? i mean, how could i know what story to tell, and emotion to project, without some sort of direction? so masion21 reached deep into his soul (or his inner tyra), and came up with his own character and backstory: maison21 would be "happy guy at party with drink". we think the results were incredibly successful, and the emotions expressed with my eyes alone will leap from the page and sear into your soul...
more downtime- two supermodels, sam and mona, discussing emoting with 'only their eyes'...

by far, the most grueling part of the day was having to pretend we were having fun hanging out with a bunch of other models- i mean, four whole hours hanging out with witty and engaging friends, eating awesome food and and having drinks practically forced down our throats? while relaxing and observing the workings of a entertainment feature photoshoot, and not having to worry about styling it or making it look good ourselves? it was brutal, we tell ya, brutal, and we will NEVER work under such onerous conditions again!
even more down time- the photographer and her assistant set up a shot, while supermodel rudy points out he "has a party to go to- can they speed things up?" and supermodel alison is just languorously bored.

in all seriousness, as you can tell, the shoot was a blast- the staff from sunset was great to work with, everyone had tons of fun, and the results speak for themselves (below). we will model again in a heartbeat, if asked! (exotic foreign location shoots preferred, of course)...

the finished product, from the december issue of sunset magazine
(feature produced by laura dye lang & amy machnak, photos by andrea m. gomez & styled by miranda jones)
the money shot- a double page intro to the article
supermodels (from left): jane, yvette, rudy, moi, alison, jamie, will and jeff

supermodels jamie, rudy and yvette, pretending to like each other...

supermodels jeff, jane, m21 & alison- can you feel me in my role of "happy guy at party with drink"? i totally nailed it!

now run to the newsstands and buy the magazine! the photos shown are just part of the feature- there's lots more about holiday entertaining, including decor ideas and recipes (trust us- it's worth buying for the cranberry margarita recipe alone), plus all the rest of the "best in the west" you expect from sunset magazine!

VOTE! (brickmaker's table contest finalists @ velvet & linen)

by now, we are sure you are familiar with the brickmaker's table givaway over at velvet & linen- one of the most spectacular blog contests ever! i mean, who gives away 3 peices of furniture in a blog contest? brooke giannetti of velvet & linen, that's who!

anyhoo, brooke received an overwhelming 170 photo submissions for the contest, so she asked some blogger friends for help in selecting their top five photos so 10 finalists could be selected for her blog readers to pick the winners... cut to maison21 spending friday night, glass of wine in hand, peeking into the living rooms of 170 homes across america. talk about a kid in a candy store! the entries ranged from "wow, that room is awesome, and the brickmaker's table will really make it sing" to "sorry honey, your room needs more help then a mere table could ever provide- here's my card. call me- i can help". ;-) good, bad or merely indifferent, maison21 is grateful to all to entered, thereby making contest that much more fun!

and a big thank you to brooke for all the hard work she put into this contest, and for asking maison21 to participate! 3 of our top 5 picks made into the 10 finalists, so now you- the readers of this blog, brooke's blog and the 26 other blogs participating- have to go vote for the winner! you have until sunday, nov. 29th at 8 am to cast your ballot!

go vote today!

19 November 2009

the LA advantage (launch party for kelly wearstler's 'hue')

we'll keep this brief, because we are a just a little bit tipsy, and more then a little bit tired- and not that we want to rub it in or sound cocky, but sometimes it's nice to live in los angeles.

ok- picture sucks- you'll just have to take our word. (or go to wire image)

m21 just returned from the book release party for kelly wearstler's new 'hue' (ammo books) at the avalon hotel, and it was kinda awesome... lots of beautiful people, including kelly (in a short, short, black dress and black boots- hawt as ever), her handsome husband, brad korzen, and their two adorable boys; as well as a random assortment of LA celebs (and if we watched more TV or went to more movies, we'd probably even know their names!), and of course, the usual interior design industry suspects (like moi). one celeb we did recognize was gwen stefani, along with what looked to be most of the other members of no doubt- she sure is purty in person, and smelled good too! (we got stuck behind her for a minute in the crush of the crowd, that's how we know about the smell part). one random sighting was morgan spurlock (supersize me) and his handlebar mustache- kinda weird, but also kinda LA- you never know who will be rubbing shoulders with whom...
added 11/20- image of a redesigned avalon hotel pool/dining cabana, stolen completely without permission from the kelly wearstler inc. facebook fan page (go for more party pictures).

the party also celebrated kelly's redesign of the avalon, with louise nevelson-esque screens and dramatic large scale memphis-esque totem sculptures in the lobby; along with an updated dining area around the pool, with geometric murals and large, round lacquer mirrors inside the cabanas. the avalon was trés chic when it opened- ground-breaking even- but the upgrade was needed after all these years, and of course, the fantastically talented ms. wearstler didn't disappoint with the spruce up- we look forward to cocktails around the pool this summer!

ok, that's it- we 're off to bed. 'nite!

17 November 2009

fabric paradise (and a brief twitter primer)

orli ben-dor, senior editor of house beautiful, tweeted this picture of the brunschwig & fils showroom today, and we thought it just too pretty not to share with those of you who are twitter impaired. truly, an ikat lovers paradise- we want to use them ALL.

and to those of you who are twitter impaired, we suggest you give it a go. yes, it can be a random grab bag of useless trivia "i'm making pasta for dinner- you?" but it is also a tremendous resource for disseminating information and resources. we can't tell you of the number of interesting sources for interior design products we've bookmarked since we started tweeting this summer. we are hooked, and you should be too! now we know, we know- who has time for one more thing? FB, blogs, twitter- too much, too much! but why not give up one hour of reality TV a day, and tweet instead? trust moi- it's better for your brain- you won't find pretty new fabrics while watching RHONJ...

m21 recently sent this quick primer to fellow blogger, grant k. gibson, when he was starting to tweet, but by the time we sent it, he'd pretty much figured out everything on his own. so waste not, want not and voila! an upcycled blog post!

m21's quick twitter primer

  1. sign up at and then pick one person you know- perhaps @maison21- and go though the list of who they follow, selecting anyone that sounds interesting. you can always unfollow your selections if they turn out to be a bore, or an over-twitterer. once you start following people, they will often in turn follow you back, but it's not automatic; if they don't, no biggie- it's not an insult or anything. (same thing if a tweet goes unanswered- there is a lot of stuff out there).
  2. start sending tweets- they can be just like what you'd post as FB status updates, or they can be related to design or whatever you want them to be, just under 140 characters. RT or retweeting is a great way to establish a presence- if someone tweets something you found interesting, simply copy the whole thing with their handle (@maison21 for example) and add RT in front. it's like linking to other blogs, and a perfectly acceptable way to spread info while making your twitter presence known. in fact, retweeting is what makes twitter really work. (btw, hootsuite does this automatically for you, see #4)
  3. another way for people to find your tweets is by use of #hashtags, ie putting #decor or #dogs or #foodie at the end of your tweets. people searching for those topics then find your posts. it sounds complicated, but it's not- swear.
  4. m21 strongly recommends registering with a 3rd party interface to organize and schedule your tweets- the interface at just isn't very user friendly. we use hootsuite and give it two big thumbs up (it's FREE). you can set hootsuite up to automatically tweet your latest blog posts, use it to shorten any links you might want to post (the 140 character thing means most links are too long) and also organize the people you follow into groups, then view everything all at once, all on one page- an impossibility on the real twitter site, and perhaps a reason people don't "get" twitter at 1st signup (we didn't for sure, and took us months to figure out the appeal)
  5. watch as the numbers of people who follow you grow! m21 started tweeting in may, and now 6 months later we have over 300 followers (some of whom are admittedly spam/marketing followers- a fact of life on the twitter, but we try to weed them out). we aren't very aggressive about collecting followers either, so 300 peeps is pretty impressive in our book. you'll gain followers too, if you tweet- simple fact. but you have to interact if you want them to start following... we find tweeting is a great way to interact with people who we might not otherwise have any contact with- there is no invite system like facebook, so you can tweet with a surprising number of people you never would speak to in real life. they probably won't answer (for example, anderson cooper has yet to respond to our declarations of love), but hey- if andy ignores you, who cares! plenty of other people won't.
  6. for you bloggers, we find tweeting more of a conversation then a blog post is, so it's an awesome way to speak with your blog community; plus the 140 character thing keeps interactions short, sweet and to the point! m21 now finds he gets a lot his news and entertainment from twitter too, so in a way, it's not a waste of time at all, since we don't have to visit a bunch of different websites- just click when we see something interesting! it's one stop web info shopping!
so see ya on twitter! or the fabric showrooms, or simply here, on decorative but not serious...

16 November 2009

points for personality (williams-sonoma home event)

the williams sonoma home store, wearing its holiday best

last week, m21 had the pleasure of attending a design panel/reception co-sponsored by interior design magazine and williams-sonoma home, to highlight both WSH's holiday collection and their design trade program. m21's friend, heather, over at habitually chic had profiled monelle totah, WSH's VP of home product design, awhile back, and was gracious enough to introduce monelle and m21 via email; then the nice PR people at WSH coordinated it so m21 meet with monelle, as well as her WSH design cohort, kirsty williams (also a VP of home product design) to chat with them a bit before the event- m21 actually ended up feeling a bit guilty about that, 'cuz pretty much every question m21 asked was later covered in the panel discussion by moderator edie cohen (deputy editor of interior design magazine), but monelle and kirsty couldn't have been sweeter or more personable, and m21 got to take some pictures of the newly holiday-decorated store, so all was not lost...

monelle and kirsty (right) smiling at m21- or perhaps laughing at m21- as he attempts to inconspicuously take a photo without flash. sorry about the blur- we really should have used a flash...

the evening was a success on many levels- first, it was packed with over 200 rsvps, and the discussion was standing room only. 2nd, the store was freshly turned out with the holiday program introduced that evening, and was an excellent advertisement for the brand- pretty and sparkling, with candles lit and a fire blazing in it's hearth, and just enough holiday decor to enhance, yet not feel like santa's workshop. kudos to the visual team- you've almost put m21 in the mood for the holidays! almost.

by far the biggest success of the evening though, was getting to know the personalities behind the product- everyone on the WSH team was delightful, and monelle and kirsty are excellent ambassadors for the brand; their commitment to, and love of design was apparent from the brief conversation m21 had with them beforehand, and again, in the evening's main event discussion. topics covered were wide ranging: monelle and kirsty discussed their inspirations, including bi-yearly trips to europe; both to shop the paris shows as well as draw inspiration for upcoming new designs- look for an eastern influence in 2010/11 as they recently returned from istanbul, and had raves about what they discovered there. (note to the CEO of maison21 inc- please send your head designer on bi-yearly inspirational jaunts to europe- thank you).

loving the needlepoint!

the ladies also talked about their inspirations and favorites from the current holiday season- monelle loved the crewel and needlepoint textile products (me too), while kirsty was inspired by her scottish heritage for the tartan mini-collection (a great way to add holiday flair without seeming too theme-y). when asked how they predict trends, and if they were working with shorter lead times, like the trend in the fashion industry, both women responded quite emphatically that the WSH brand was not fashion oriented and trendy, but rather classic and seasonal, as befitting a luxury retail brand, so production times to introduce new product of a year, to a year and a half were standard. m21 found this interesting, since both crewelwork and needlepoint seem to be most definitely having a moment right now, yet the current WSH collection was conceived quite some time ago! guess monelle and kirsty are either psychic, or they really know what they're doing!

loving the doggie silhouette displays, too. there's the 'could be holiday, could be year round' tartan, too.

m21 was happy to hear that williams-sonoma is now offering COM (customer's own material) for their upholstery in the los angeles store, and will be rolling it out to the rest of the chain for in-store sales. customization is a huge factor in appealing to repeat business from designers, so this a always a welcome feature. it's also especially welcome for those of you decorating your own homes, who may not have access to custom upholstery work rooms- if you have a WSH near you, well, now you do!

one of the moments that most impressed m21 during the evening was a discussion about sustainable design- both monelle and kirsty were emphatic that yes, they used sustainable hardwoods (and reclaimed lumber when possible), but their real commitment was to the people behind the product, and developing relationships that empower rather then exploit the artisans employed in producing WSH's product line. it's one thing to read about responsible labor practices in a dry corporate press release, but another thing entirely to hear two people passionate about it in person, and witness the visceral horror on their faces when speaking of walking out of factories with poor working conditions, and the pride when discussing building relationships with artisans, which often can keep whole villages afloat. quite refreshing to hear in a time of global job contraction, with so many corporations racing to the bottom in cutting costs...

glassware produced by henry dean for WSH- pretty stuff, and the price point is excellent for the quality. m21 wouldn't mind finding some under his tree! (the white and b&w especially, santa)

last, we mentioned that the turnout was excellent- higher then we'd normally see at an event like this. that was probably due to the interior design magazine subscriber tie-in, but also quite possibly because of the WSH featured designer series- many of the attendees were probably hoping to follow in the steps of our friend habitually chic (and thomas o'brien, and carolyn roehm), and be included in an upcoming catalog! sadly, they announced that the next series of designers had already been selected, so we'll just have to wait for the spring catalog to see who they are!

11 November 2009

less then perfect

ya know how you look at some people, and think that everything is perfect in their lives, and comparing their life to your own, can make you feel slightly depressed and more then a little inferior? but then you find out their dirty little secret- like a hidden drinking problem or a bad case of obsessive/compulsive disorder- and suddenly you realize your own life isn't so bad after all?

thank you twitter for giving me that moment today- at least m21 doesn't live with serial killers:
"little bloody mouths"- i just don't know if i can feel safe around a martha stewart craft project, ever again... ;-)

10 November 2009


antique & modern.

two great tastes that taste great together (actually, maison21 thinks they taste greater when combined in a room, then when used separately- it's all about the tension of opposites). so when we spotted the evolution credenza designed by ferruccio laviani (available through property, new york), it was instant love. maybe not for everyone (we imagine the price isn't for everyone either), but m21 thinks it's a brilliant antique & modern mash-up.

m21 also recommends you take a spin around the property website - it's a cutting edge design lover's dream store... (via interior design magazine)

09 November 2009


yeah, i know- similar posts lamenting the loss of metropolitan home are going to be on every blog in the blogosphere, but the loss of met home hit me today personally like a blow. i can't say i've been terribly fond of it's editorial direction as of late- it seemed to be trying a little too hard to be zany, and to be what it's sister publication, elle decor, was not, rather then be what met home historically is (or was)- but that's ok, we all go through periods of being unsure of our voice and rediscovering it again. sadly, met home won't be sharing it's voice with us after december, and to me, that feels like losing an old friend...

you see, metropolitan home is the first design magazine i truly *loved*, and the first magazine i think i ever actually subscribed to. it launched in the 80's, right as i was transitioning from kid to adult, so we came of age together, it's modern sensibility was the antidote for stuffy upscale mags like architectural digest, or magazines my mom would read, like better homes and gardens- neither of which a budding 80's hipster would be caught dead thumbing through! during it's 80's heyday, it was THE home magazine- chronicling both cutting edge high design, as well as realistic interiors you could model your own home after- heady stuff for a broke wannabe adult. outside of spending my week's food money on an imported issue of domus or abitaire, it also was the only place i could find pictures of the cutting edge italian design, so important to me at the time. i literally worshiped at the altar of met home- it was my design bible- and i would read every issue front to back, and then start all over again.

to this day, met home had a viewpoint unlike any of the other shelter mags- it was modern, and inspiring, yet always retained a feeling of accessibility, not exclusivity. you could picture yourself in the homes they featured- if not now, then one day- and you wouldn't have to necessarily win the lottery to do so. it also focused on modern design, which many other magazines ignore, and brought modern design to us in a warm and user friendly way, which other more 'design' oriented magazines simply don't.

so goodbye old friend- i will miss your high and low features, (my fave) and your annual design 100 issue, introducing us to architects, designers and products we might have been unfamiliar with; i'll miss your regular reporting from milan (still with the italian design after all these years), and all the rest of your great features focusing on modern design in a way the other shelter magazines just don't. i especially will miss looking forward to getting you in my mailbox every month as i have for the last 25 years- you will leave a void that will not be filled-not by the internet, not by blogs and certainly not by a new print magazine- those days are gone.

again, goodbye metropolitan home, and thank you- though you may be gone now, for this designer, you will never be forgotten...

08 November 2009

animal crewelty

the atelier, sunday, 12:36 am...

pardon the pun, hon.

03 November 2009

"if i could turn back time"

"i'd make it go a-wa-ay"

*(with apologies to the immortal cher for the paraphrasing)

the ikea xmas tent, 11/03/09.
too much, too soon.

kick the can!

m21 would like to take a moment to discuss one of his pet peeves: can lights (also known as recessed lights).

we hate them. a lot.
can lights provide harsh and unflattering down lighting wherever they are used- lighting that would be much prettier if replaced with the ambient lighting of a chandelier, pendant, wall sconce, floor lamp or table lamp (or preferably combinations of all the above). in fact, combinations of the above will provide more then enough lighting in almost any room, so why use recessed lights? the only place can lighting is ever even necessary (in m21's opinion) is the kitchen where bright, direct light (not ambient) is sometimes needed- even then, other light sources should be included: pendants, sconces, under counter, etc. m21 thinks a can light is occasionally ok in a bathroom; and if you own a picasso, maison21 will generously permit you the discreet use of a directional recessed light to highlight your masterpiece- but other then those exceptions, m21 says kick the can!

now please don't take this post personally if you already have recessed lighting in your home- most of us do- and don't call out a plasterer because your favorite style dictator m21 said so! we are mainly addressing this issue to remodels and new construction, where we find ceilings are often so riddled with recessed fixtures that they end up looking like swiss cheese. yuck.

the swiss cheese of which we speak. we ran across this picture somewhere on the internets, and decor issues aside, we we're shocked by 22 visible ceiling lights in the photo, yet nary a table or floor lamp, nor chandelier or pendent in sight. just two lonely sconces to provide ambient lighting. m21 imagines that being in this home at night would be oppressive, not to mention the impossibility of simply sitting in chair and browsing through a magazine. no good.

we aren't sure why architects include so many recessed lights in new construction plans, perhaps they just think their clients expect them. we DO know why contractors include them in home remodels- they are inexpensive to purchase and install, so a generous mark-up can be passed on to the homeowner. multiply that mark-up by as many as a dozen in a single room, and the profit is pretty nice (and every contractor reading this blog, is making a m21 voodoo doll right now). in fact, when maison21 is involved in the planning stages of a construction project, the first thing he'll do is x out all the unnecessary can lights on the blueprints- hopefully justifying the added expense of bringing in a designer at the early stages of the project! of course, m21 will probably immediately use up the savings by adding j-boxes for extra ceiling fixtures and wall sconces, as well as floor outlets for table and floor lamps (nothing worse then lighting the edges of a room but not the central seating areas)- but hey, those kinds of pretty and appropriate additions, are why you bring in a designer in the first place!

now if you don't believe m21 about recessed ceiling lights being verboten, try this simple test: open up the latest issue of elle decor or house beautiful magazines, and count the number of recessed lights shown in rooms that aren't kitchens. you won't get very high in your count- try it!

so what are your thoughts on the usefulness of recessed lighting? kick the can? or should m21 have more of a 'can do' attitude?

01 November 2009


when m21 was a kid/teen, i used to wither with embarrassment when my father would shamelessly mug in an attempt to get a baby or toddler to laugh; wherever we were- the grocery store, the mall, the bank- if there was a baby within 100 yards, my dad was making funny faces and noises in an effort to elicit the child's laughter, while i rolled my eyes and pretended i had never seen the weird old man causing the scene, ever before in my life.

well, you know what they say:

the fruit doesn't fall far from the tree...
hope y'all enjoyed your halloween weekend!