Sunday, September 12, 2010

Something has Changed in the Design World


After visiting the international exhibition MAISON & OBJET in Paris it’s obvious to me that something has deeply changed in the design world: consumers are moving toward  something more natural with more value and more meaning:  recycled, sustainable and ethnic. These three words summarize the current trend. 



Rattan Raffles Four Drawers Chest at gratcom


Hand-loomed fabric in milk protein fiber, produced in Mali.




Traditional linen embroidered curtains from Morocco



Petrified wood natural “sculpture”

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Lost Art of Ironing


The notebook pictured below is the work of  a school girl that dates from the beginning of the 20th century.  Each page illustrates the techniques of ironing and the methods of folding the various items that are part and parcel of the household linens.  A separate page is devoted to each individual item (sheets, pillow shams, tablecloths, napkins,  shirts, handkerchiefs…..) opposite its own written page of explanation.  Clearly a significant amount of time was relegated to not only the maintenance but also the beauty of presentation of these seemingly ordinary objects!

The first two pages below describe how to iron a handkerchief:

  1. spread out the handkerchief  face down with the monogram and  the selvaged edge at the top
  2. fold such that the bottom selvage exactly meets the top selvage
  3. double one more time bringing the fold to the selvage
  4. if the monogram is on the left, fold from the right to the left
  5. fold in four and iron the hem on the face of the fabric



The three pages  below illustrate a variety of styles for folding a dinner or a tea napkin. Each image is carefully described on the facing page.


The steps to follow for ironing a dinner napkin


A variety of decorative examples for ironing and folding tea napkins.  The monogram is always in a position of prominence.


The page below describes how to iron and  fold fancy pillow shams. The way the sham is folded depends on the location of the monogram such that it’s visible and highlighted once the sham is folded.


Ironing and folding one’s nightgown



Ironing and folding a man’s dress shirt


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Monday, May 24, 2010

Gardens in the City: Paris in Bloom


In big cities gardens have a special meaning as they bring a feeling of natural beauty and peace into a harsh environment.  In the northern hemisphere May and June are often optimal months for city gardens.  I just returned from a quick trip to Paris and its gardens, big or small, were breathtaking!  Before such luxury it becomes instantly clear why so many people love Paris. 



The Eiffel Tower in uncommon garb – jacarandas in full bloom! 



The “Palais Royal,” is located smack in the middle of the crowds and traffic jams of Paris.  However, nestled inside its 18th century buildings there is a beautiful and peaceful garden where the noisy city seems far away.   This garden, virginal in its appearance today, was nevertheless in the 18th century a torrid center of debauchery!



Luxembourg Gardens is one of the favorite promenades for Parisians who live in the 6th arrondissement, one of the most chic quarters of Paris. As soon as the sun comes out the crowds arrive, but if you wander a little off the beaten path you will find many hidden oasis of calm such as the one pictured above. And if you want to learn how to prune your fruit trees, you’ve come to the right place:  not only are there more than 200 species of apple and pear trees alone, but there’s also an exclusive school located in the middle of these gardens for pruning fruit trees. 



In May, when it’s time to buy potted plants and flowers for your terrace, there is no scarcity of selection.  At Moulié, Place du Palais Bourbon, you won’t be disappointed!  As elegant a florist as one would hope to find, Moulié is located just a stone’s throw from the French Parliament and adds some light and color to a square otherwise dominated by blue uniformed policemen.





  One of the oldest places in Paris to buy flowers and plants is Quai de la Mégisserie, right in the heart of the city and just along the Seine.  






Happy are those who live in this house, peeking out behind the red tulips and just between the Musée des Arts Premiers and the Eiffel Tower. This neighborhood is one of the most luxurious in Paris. This quaint house in the middle of the Bercy Gardens is named the House of Gardening. Even those who live on a barge like to have their own private tiny garden. 

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