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Design

Many people back in the States have asked me what I’m doing on Thursday.

I’m working.  Thanksgiving is an American holiday.

If I had an oven/kitchen/apartment bigger than a shoebox, I would host a Thanksgiving dinner but on Saturday (which is what the majority of expats do here).

My future apartment will have more space and I will entertain more.

In the meantime, I can admire these lovely plates that would be perfect for my Thanksgiving dinners.

For an informal table:

The Marbury Dinnerware Collection from Crate and Barrel.  You can put a charger underneath with more color or a pattern.

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The Charlotte Street Collection from Kate Spade.  I had to have at least one white plate with blue trim.

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The Eclectique Dinner plate from Williams-Sonoma.   It’s a pretty dish made in France.

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For a more formal table:

The Renaissance Collection by Wedgewood.    A classic.

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Anmut Platinum by Villeroy & Boch.   One word… elegant.

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The American Dinner plate by Hermès.    The blues are gorgeous.

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Hmmm, not seeing a lot of variety here.

I do appreciate china with flowers but for my table I tend to keep it simple because my floral arrangements are colorful.  Also, I like to mix and match my dinnerware.  Having plates in a similar color palette makes the table more cohesive.

For those who are celebrating, I hope you have a fantastic and Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps I’m naive but I believe good design incorporates a space that functions well.

This is why I completely disagree with the finale (SPOILERS ahead) of the NBC show “American Dream Builders”.  Looking at their Facebook page, I’m not the only one.

Earlier, I wrote about why I enjoyed the show.

They should change the name of the show because there was nothing about Lukas’s beach house that worked for the clients.

The job of a decorator/interior designer is to address the needs of the client.  He did not do that.   All Lukas talked about was his vision. He is talented but Jay should have won.

On what planet is it a good idea to paint a beach house in SOUTHERN California black?  It’s not edgy.  A black shingled house in Maine, or Martha’s Vineyard, that could be cool.  Does Lukas know that that the light is different in New England compared to the Southern Californian  Coast? One of the judges said the house looked like it had been in a fire.

Also, Lukas did not deal with any of the design flaws of his house.  That kitchen was awkward.

This a beach house for a multigenerational family.  Their reaction at the reveal was priceless.  I adore mid-century design and would use it in a beach house but would mix it up.

Nate kept saying Lukas was forward-thinking.  Has Nate ever been to IKEA? I know he has traveled to Europe.  This beach house would work for a single person with no kids who never entertains.

Nate raved about Lukas’s $30 chandelier.   Again, this is in a beach house.  I go to a beach house to relax.   Who’s going to clean it and replace the light bulbs?  It’s not functional.

This room.  Where are the young children going to hang out?

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Nice to look at.  Wouldn’t want to sit there for a long meal.   What is that statue about in the corner?

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Not relaxing.  These chairs would be fab in a loft apartment, not at the beach.

View More: http://americandreambuilders.pass.us/adbif the Neighborhood Council voted for the finale winner, Jay would’ve won hands down.    Elaine was eliminated for her red family room because it didn’t fit the décor of the rest of the house, but Lukas can win the whole competition for this house?  Please.

If they didn’t want a home builder to win, don’t put them in the competition.

I don’t know if the series has been renewed for a second season.  It’s a shame that the finale was such a disappointment but I enjoyed the earlier episodes.

 

 

 

There has been great deal of press about the new Design Director of Tiffany & Co., Francesca Amfitheatrof.  She is the first woman to have this position at the storied American jewelry company.  The job had been vacant for five years. Ms. Amfitheatrof had some big shoes to fill.

Ms. Amfitheatrof, who trained with a master silversmith in Padua after college, has created pieces for Chanel, Alessi, and Fendi.  She was born in Japan to an Italian mother and a Russian-American father, who was a TIME bureau chief, and grew up in New York, Rome, London, and Moscow.

I love her new collection for Tiffany.  This bracelet is so simple and so chic.

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18 karat rose gold bracelet

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Narrow Wire 18 karat white gold bracelet

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18 Karat gold braclet

I have read some comments claiming that this collection is not all that.  It’s TOO simple, “Hello it’s just a T. My kid could do that.”   I cringe when I hear people make those kind of statements about any kind of creative endeavor.

The simpler something is, the easier it is to mess it up.  Look at Cacio e Pepe, not many ingredients but a difficult dish to execute well.  There are no bells and whistles to hide imperfections.  Every single ingredient has to be of excellent quality.

It’s is the same thing with these bracelets (yes, I just compared high-end jewelry to a simple Roman pasta dish).

You can wear these bracelet with many different styles of clothing.  I think they are destined to become classics like some of Elsa Peretti’s pieces.   The Tiffany T bracelet is the very definition of Stylish Simplicity.

Photos: Tiffany

The American series AMERICAN DREAM BUILDERS started airing this week in Italy on the channel LEI.

Hosted by Nate Berkus, it’s a mash up between EXTREME MAKEOVERS and TOP DESIGN.  I have always wondered about the reality of the former.  They do a lot of structural changes.  How well was the construction, plumbing, and electrical work executed when they have only a week to demolish and rebuild?  Could the owners afford the increase in property taxes?  So many questions.

One thing I really like about this show is that two teams work on two houses from a similar era and/or style.  It’s compelling to see how the teams agree (or not) on an overall aesthetic for their house and then how the individual designers design their rooms.

There is a mix of designers, contractors, and landscape architects.  Of course, there are some strong personalities.  Reality TV would be boring without them.

We are three episodes in and so far it’s fantastic.  The show is entertaining and educational.  Décor is very subjective but it’s interesting to hear the judges explain why they believe a room doesn’t work.  Sometimes it’s a design issue.  For example, the team did not address the layout issues.  Other times, it’s about the décor.  Those debates get heated.

I cannot wait to see who wins.  There are some very talented designers on this show.

Halloween is a big deal in the States.  Here in Italy, we are starting to see more and more decorations but it’s a three day holiday weekend, All Saints Day and All Souls Day.

I have carved my share of pumpkins and ate my share of Halloween candy.  I don’t care what anyone says, candy corn should not be classified as a candy!

Perhaps I could ask one my friends who works at the American Embassy if the commissary sells Charleston Chews.  All of a sudden I have a craving for one today.  In the meantime, I will buy a few mini-pumpkins to decorate my table.

Leave it to Ms. Martha Stewart to take it to the next level with her squash version.

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Photo: Martha Stewart

Buon weekend a tutti!

I woke up today to the news that one of the most important fashion designers of our time had passed away.

Despite his five decades in the industry, de la Renta was not one to live in the past.  He made classic, yet contemporary clothes.  It is rare to see a designer dress society ladies, Fortune 500 ladies, movie stars of all ages, and women who are not famous nor rich but love beautiful things.

Born in the Dominican Republic, he apprenticed at Balenciaga, under Cristóbal himself (unreal), and at Lanvin under Antonio Castillo.  I know a lot of people dismiss fashion as silly.  Perhaps some people in fashion are over the top but to me fashion is very interesting because it’s a combination of art, craft, and commerce.

There are so many celebrities out here on these streets calling themselves designers.  Please.

De la Renta was truly a designer.  He made clothes.  Beautifully.

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Mr. de la Renta will be missed.

Anguilla is quite the A-list celebrity/VIP destination these days.  However, the small island has managed to retain it’s relaxed, quiet charm.

My most recent piece for FATHOM Magazine went live today.

 

ANGUILLA – I wish I could say I have always appreciated this beautiful island. That would be untrue.

When my family moved from New York City to the leafy suburbs of Verona, New Jersey, I knew I had to become a true American teenager. I was hampered by my parents’ insistence on raising their children as if we were a family living in the Caribbean.

My parents are from St. Martin (totally different from the Dutch side, St. Maarten) and both my grandmothers were Anguillian. Whenever we went to St. Martin to stay with my paternal grandparents, we ferried over to Anguilla to visit family and friends. When I was a child it, was fun to hang out with my cousins, go the beaches, and stuff ourselves on Johnnycakes, rice and peas, and salt fish cakes. But as for the stunning white beaches of the island, they were lost on me when I was older. I mean, I was a teenager. Visiting relative after relative while sitting on their verandas for hours drinking Ting was boring.

The final anti-island straw happened one night when I was walking back to my aunt’s house and a mongoose ran across my foot. I was done. I thought, “I could be chilling at the Short Hills Mall with my friends instead of being stuck on this tiny island.”

It wasn’t until my parents moved to back to St. Martin after retirement and I moved to Rome that I began to understand why those trips back home were so important.

To read the rest and see more pictures, click HERE.

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The beach at Cap Juluca with the island of St. Martin/St. Maarten in the background.

Photo: Me and my iPHone

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