Thursday, January 28, 2010

Neighborhood Beat: Ravenna/U Village

One of the hidden gems of Seattle stretches from 26th Avenue Northeast to 30th Avenue Northeast, along NE 55th Street.  Cozy shops and eateries bracket Ravenna Volvo, an institution since the mid-20th century, but the charming block between 26th and 27th Ave NE features a vintage brick mixed-use building, containing shops worth journeying to.
At the 26th Avenue NE end of the block, Mannings and Sons Upholstery has been assisting designers and the public create custom furniture and update tired but classic pieces for over 40 years.

Next door, Lauren Sloan of Lauren Sloan Designs can usually be found applying the finishing touches to one or another of her exquisite painted furniture designs or designing a fabulous trompe l'oeil  mural.  She also has some accessories in her small retail area and is warm and welcoming.

To Sloan's east, a new restaurant, Frank's Oyster House and Champagne Parlor, opened in 2009 and is owned by the same people who brought you Pair up the street.  Frank's serves gourmet comfort food like onion rings, french fries, individual Dungeness Crab Louie in shells of Bibb lettuce - you get the idea.  The drinks are great and the food delicious!

Standing at the corner of 27th Ave NE and NE 55th St is Altstadt Interiors, owned by Seattle interior designer, Tana Mattson.  Altstadt Interiors is half consignment shop, half interior design resource and lots of fun to explore.  There's almost always at least one of Ms. Mattson's three dogs in the shop waiting to greet visitors, tail wagging enthusiastically.  This store is a great place to find unique and well-priced gifts, furniture and lighting - as well as interior design help.  Check it out! 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Color Trends 2010/11

Many factors are influencing color trends now: our kitchen-centric lives, ecology, sustainability, global perspectives, and – high def TV!  We are so used to seeing the clear, crisp, saturated colors on our TV sets that it’s translating to more intense hues being found on our products.  
I just attended two different color forecasting seminars, one presented by Leatrice Eisemann of the Pantone Color Institute and the other by Parker Paint/Comex.
Pantone’s forecast was much broader (9 different palettes!) and, admittedly, intended for cross purposes: fashion, industrial products, even cars; Parker’s had 4 different palettes, and, being paint, is more geared toward shelter and furniture.  A common thread of both is the dichotomy between the organic world and the high tech world.  Both of them feature brighter palettes and lots of metallic, purple, greys, and green (even avocado) – where they diverge is Pantone’s generous use of Mauve.  Not the pale, greyed-out mauve we remember from the 80’s (ugh) but a more vibrant, intense tone.  Here’s the lowdown for 2010/11:

Pantone View Home 2010 Palettes

-         Greenmarket:  Think organic  – eggplant, avocado, heirloom tomatoes, wine, spices 
-         Resourceful: Natural world – aqua sky, ochre earth, deep rust – all mixed with orange and orchid
-         Transformations: Romantic – pink, beige, mauve, clear minty green, grays, gold
-         Ambiance:  Understated – pastels mixed with grey, deep black/brown, clear sky blue
-         Gatherings: African-inspired – warm, natural colors with a pop of mauve
-         Galaxy:  Night sky – deep blues and greens with gold and silver metallic
-         High Definition: Clear, saturated color – black, white & grey with purple, fuchsia, gold, and silver
-         Pastiche: Japanese anime-inspired – bright gold, pink, blue, Mimosa yellow (Pantone’s color of the year for 2009), with brown and grey added to the mix
-         Tinged Neutrals: Always a good bet – these, however, have a little twist with the addition of champagne iridescence, sage, and grey

Parker Paint/Comex 2010/11 Palettes

-         Fresh Revolution:  Neutral – very similar to Pantone’s Tinged Neutrals with greys, silver sage, and celery/kiwi green
-         Organic Imitation: Green, purple, metallic gold & silver with a jolt of deep teal and fuchsia
-         Reinvented Bloom: Brights with black, putty, sand, and a little sky blue thrown in for quirkiness
-         Glocal Mix: Ice cream shades - warm weather inspirations - along with faded out red/white/blue, with milk chocolate

These palettes are simply guidelines, not hard and fast “rules”.  Some of the most interesting and fresh color combinations I saw were purple/avocado and burnt orange/turquoise (Pantone color of the year for 2010!).

The most important thing is to use color that inspires and that you love!

Good Design can be found many places

Note:  This post was first published in the blog:  Piacenza Design.....

Recently, I was intrigued by the Restoration Hardware catalog that arrived in my mailbox.  We’ve all become used to the ubiquitous lighting, quality bedding in every color, window treatments and hardware, furniture and casegoods that RH is known for but this issue contained something new: a collection of reclaimed woods (elm, pine, oak, etc) that have been reborn as chic furniture and accessories.

Now, I’m a huge fan of good design whether it’s found at the Seattle Design Center in “To the Trade” showrooms or on the pages of the glossiest shelter magazines, but - Restoration Hardware?  Granted, they’ve upped the bar for most do-it-yourselfers with their collection of good-looking bath fixtures in a range of styles, and their bed linens and bath towels are quite wonderful…. But I wasn’t expecting this!

The October, 2009 Elle Décor features a short article about the Restoration Hardware CEO’s belief in taking his store’s goods upmarket in downward times because, “Nobody wants to waste money in an economy like this.”  Too true, but producing beautiful - as well as socially conscious - goods in “this economy” is so commendable!  Now, if they’d just increase their Designer discount……


Note:  This post was first published September, 2009 in the blog: Piacenza Design........

The September issue of House Beautiful is devoted to color.  In addition to some absolutely fabulous homes (!) that are amazingly bold and very beautiful, there’s a fun, interactive section called “What’s your COLOR personality?” 
In it, you’ll find a reading list, a color numerology quiz, (I’m Yellow – who knew?  “Cheerful, charming, magnetic, intelligent, confident, creative.  Somewhat psychic, and enigmatic.  A good leader and negotiator”  hmmmmm… )  and loads of other fun, informative, and interactive mini articles.
For those of you with iPhones, you’ll find a list of really cool color applications to download. For the spiritually-guided, there's a link to a website about angels and their particular color affinities......
It’s well worth it to pick up a copy of the magazine and/or browse it online ... House Beautiful
Color is an interesting thing:  intensely personal, emotional, and transformative.  How many times have you picked up a paint brush to update the color of a room, and then - stood back in awe at the change?  It's a great feeling.
As a designer, color is a passion.  It’s an inspirational moment when a color palette is decided upon with a client - and then the fun begins!  

Friday, January 22, 2010


I started musing about the symbiosis between fashion design and interior design (the colors, the textures); the connection between interior and exterior (a plethora of fabulous outdoor fabrics and furniture that look great indoors); a shrinking planet; and the inspired design of some new restaurants  - bingo!  The inspiration to create a new blog.

I'm thrilled to have you join me in an exploration of all things exquisite!