DwellStudios: Designer of the Month

19 03 2010

I would have written up the intro on Christiane myself, but everytime I started it just didn’t seem to be as good as the bio that I read on DwellStudio’s website.  So…here it is.

“The founder and Creative Director of DwellStudio, Christiane Lemieux studied art history and fashion design before setting up shop in 1999. The Canadian native is inspired by travel (most Canadians are; it’s so cold up there they’re always on the road in search of sun), literature, the art world, and anything and everything to do with design, from flea markets to estate sales, design magazines to reality television. Lemieux’s most important role — also an endless source of inspiration – is that of mom: to two kids and Jake, the big lumbering lab who commutes to the office with her every morning. Seeing the world through the eyes of her kids and attempting to balance adventures around the globe with stability at home has helped Lemieux refine and redefine what DwellStudio stands for — and though juggling the roles of parent, spouse (she happens to be married to her business partner Josh), and working woman is a challenge, it’s one she adores.”

Just a little background to get us started.  Back when I made my first purchase from the line the company was known as Dwell Home Furnishings.  I purchased a set of bedding for my full sized bed.  A bed that I don’t have anymore yet can’t seem to part with the sheets since they were so fantastic.  Back then they were known for their innovative lines of bedding, but quickly expanded their collection to include everything from tabletop to baby and kid accessories.  In 2007, the company was renamed DwellStudio as an overarching brand to unite the various lines they had started to include.

Just so you all know, this wasn’t my bedding but it is some that I wouldn’t mind having!  The brand has quickly become known for their signature use of color and their commitment to the highest quality goods.  As they have mentioned, “every season we gather inspiration from all over the place-fashion, architecture, travel, flea markets and we post it all around the studio until our ideas become concrete…it’s a visual feast.”

When describing how she comes up with her concepts for a collection she said it was pretty spontaneous.  The concept usually comes together organically just the way it did for the Abstractions line.  She was on a trip to Paris and everything she saw was fluid, handmade and looked very fresh.  From the windows at Yves St Laurent to an art show at the Musee D’Orsay-people were soft of over computer artwork.

DwellStudio Private Label retails in over 300 stores nationwide that offers some amazing graphic designs.  You can also order them online if you don’t have a store near you.  Here is a few of the items they have designed to show you how amazing their stuff really is:

As Dara Caponigro (formerly the style director for Domino Magazine) once said, “Christiane figures out the trends before everyone else does.  She delivers modern designs to people who don’t even know they want modern designs.”  This success at being a trendsetter is what led Target to offer her goods in their stores.  They saw the mass-market appeal  in Ms. Lemieux’s brand of modern designs and wanted a piece of it.  Here is a sampling of what DwellStudio for Target includes:

These days you can find DwellStudio designs in any price range.  At Target you can get a 200-thread count crib set for $79.99, while a similarly designed 300 thread count set at specialty stores retails for $385.  Both lines include the same geometrics, abstract florals and fresh interpretations of old-world motifs as you can see.  There is even an option for stationary at TinyPrints.com.

As you can see from the multitude of options DwellStudios offers you can certainly find something to fall in love with.  I will leave you with a advice that Christiane has given to people who feel “stuck” when it comes to decorating a space: MIX IT UP.  There are no RULES.  Your personality will make for the best space.


Jonathan Adler: Designer of the Month

12 02 2010

Front and center on Jonathan Adler’s company website:

Our Manifesto

We believe that your home should make you happy.
We believe that when it comes to decorating, the wife is always right.
Unless the husband is gay.
We believe in carbohydrates and to hell with the puffy consequences.
We believe minimalism is a bummer.
We believe handcrafted tchotchkes are life-enhancing.
We believe tassels are the earrings of the home.
We believe in our muses: David Hicks, Alexander Girard,
Bonnie Cashin. Hans Coper, Gio Ponti, Andy Warhol, Leroy Neiman,
Yves Saint Laurent, and Madonna.
We believe in the innate chicness of red with brown.
We believe in being underdressed or overdressed always.
We believe in infantile, happy emblems like butterflies and hearts.
We believe celebrities should pay full price.
We believe in rustic modernism: Big Sur, A-Frame beach houses,
raw beams, and geodesic dome homes.
We believe in Palm Beach style:
Louis chairs, chinoiserie, Lilly Pulitzer, The Breakers circa ’72.
We believe our designs are award winning even though
they’ve never actually won any.
We believe in Aid to Artisans.
We believe dogs should be allowed in stores and restaurants.
We believe in mantiques – suits of armour,
worn chesterfield sofas, heraldic tapestries.
We believe you should throw out your Blackberry
and go pick some actual blackberries.
We believe colors can’t clash.
We believe in blowing your nest egg on our pots.
We believe our lamps will make you look younger and thinner.
We believe in irreverent luxury.

There are several items in this manifesto that speak to me as a designer as well as a consumer.  “We believe that your home should make you happy…We believe in the innate chicness of red with brown…We believe in being underdressed or overdressed always…We believe celebrities should pay full price (doesn’t it make you crazy when they don’t)…We believe that dogs should be allowed into stores and restaurants…We believe colors can’t clash (just check out he’s design of Barbie Malibu pad, you’ll die)…and so on.

Overall it says, if you are interested in what I am about / can offer / my creativity, then come on in–I am sure we will be GRAND friends!!

Jonathan is a potter at heart.  You heard me correct-a potter.  You say, why am I featuring him on an interior design blog as my first ever designer of the month?  Well, he has turned his flair for all things pots into a budding career as a designer for high profile jobs.  I personally like him because he had a humble start, slow-fast rise, and just is a spectacularly fun and flairly (if that is a word) kind of a guy.  He found that he liked doing pottery during his high school years, went on to college to study semiotics and art history, but really never got over his first love of pottery.  When he graduates college in 1988, he tried his hand at a couple careers before realizing in ‘94 he couldn’t stand his job.  So he quits.  The sheer fact that he quit is astounding to me (it takes a lot of guts to quit your job and head into the unknown.)  But quickly he groups, putting together some pieces to show buyers and amazingly gets an order to spend the next couple years pumping out pots for the super store known as Barneys New York!  In 1998, he finally opens a store of his own in Soho, expands in 2001 to LA and today has 12 stores nationwide.  During his high growth years he also expands from ceramic goods into furniture and  starts taking on interior design projects.  Once he is introduced to interiors he also expands his collection to include home goods.  Most recently he has become the lead judge for Bravo’s reality show Top Design and has gotten married to his partner of many years, Simon.

What I really like about him is his wit and how he brings it to his interiors.  His website says, “Your 24 hour a day pot dealer.”  He is selling to a high, high-end clientele and just has a knack for flamboyant abandonment.  When I first saw the Barbie Dream House, I will admit I was a bit shocked.  Pink, orange, red…oh my.  But on closer inspection, it was really well done.  I have attached a couple pictures to feast your eyes upon.

While it is a bit bright, to say the least, it has a lot of really great detailing.  Like the Barbie circular art on the walls (made out of a ton of Barbie dolls), a modern lavender kitchen (first one I have ever seen) and shiny, pleather couches.  And back to the color, what did you expect from Barbie?!

Other work that he has done is more sophisticated perhaps, but just as vibrant.

If you are interested in learning more about Jonathan and his work (I highly suggest that you do) you can pick up a copy of his book, My Perscription for Anti-Depressive Living from which all the prior picture were taken.

I am going to close this post with  his 15 Fabulous Design Tips:

  1. Mix and match with panache. Don’t be tentative with patterns. If you keep your color scheme restrained, you can approach patterns with wild abandon.
  2. When in doubt, repeat, repeat, repeat your patterns.
  3. Don’t fit in. Scale is the most under-considered piece of the decorating puzzle. Put a Gothic throne in a studio apartment.
  4. Paint your floors white. You’ll feel carefree.
  5. Orange is the poppiest color and the answer to most decorating conundrums. Lacquer your front door orange. Pique your neighbor’s curiosity.
  6. Layer, layer, layer. Unexpected touches are the soul of the MAXIMALIST HOME: A painting hung on a bookcase, a chandelier in a closet, a brass lion’s-head door knocker in a modern apartment.
  7. If you’re a clean modernist, try white grass-cloth for a little warmth.
  8. Chocolate brown and baby blue are perfect together. They’re uptown, they’re downtown, they’re classic and fashion forward.
  9. Replace white walls with unexpected neutrals like camel, olive, or baby blue.
  10. Put regal furniture in your bathroom.
  11. When in doubt, add mirrors for extra glamour, put a piece of mirror on top of a cabinet to make it sparkle or in a niche to create the illusion of depth.
  12. Primary colors are happy colors – use them abundantly.
  13. Let go of coordinating colors. Colors can’t clash. However, when in doubt – brown is your foundation. Brown with red is innately chic.
  14. Go for grandeur with a giant chandelier.
  15. Make your own – Personal style means having a space that’s comfy but filled with stuff that has meaning to you. It should hold things created and inspired by passionate people. Personal style should make you happy and happiness is chic.