I’d kill for a set of Morrels…

At Maison et Objet in Paris—the mind-bogglingly huge, biannual world decor show— this year I was enamored with the work of Frédérique Morrel, the co-partnership of married couple Frédérique Morrel & Aaron Levin (shown below in full regalia).

Based out of Paris—where Frédérique was born (Aaron, originally of Topeka, Kansas)—they create these elaborate, whimsical pieces made of any combination of foam, fur, tapestry and horn. They “like [to use] materials that tell stories of simple, ideal happiness, and that have been caressed by many hands” and are inspired by “Adam & Eve, The Graden of Eden, Temptation, Original Sin, The Fall of Man, Paradise Lost, Deluge, Apocalypse, Noah’s Ark, Redemption, Re-birth, Vanities, and Veneration.” My kind of people!

Bergdorf Goodman featured several of their pieces in their holiday windows this year (shown far below in my previous post about NYC holiday window décor) with MIU-MIU and Oscar de la Renta.

The creative duo, Frédérique Morrel, has solo shows coming up this year in the Galerie Art to Design in Bologna and at the Galerie Libertine in Brussels.

Shagreen & Ivory: stuff dreams are made of

This Chiffonnier by Andre Groult is still one of my favorite pieces in The Museé Des Arts Décoratifs (also my favorite museum) in Paris. The ultra-feminine piece is an Art Deco twist on the bombe style (referring to it’s bulging design) that Groult designed for his “Chambre de Madame” (shown below) at the 1925 World’s Fair in Paris. The chiffonier is veneered in the most stunning, cream-colored shagreen, applied in a radiating pattern over a beechwood & mahogany structure, and completed with ivory fittings. It lives in a non-prominent corner of the museum, and if you’re not looking for it, you could actually miss it!

Many creatives have found inspiration in Groult’s work, but none more literally than that of designer Marc Newson. In 1987 he designed this “Pod of Drawers”—with fiberglass-reinforced polyester resin core and blind-riveted sheet aluminum—that is such an affirmation of appreciation for Groult’s 1925 piece.

Clever Craftsmanship in Outer Sunset



Am loving the work of Jay Nelson (pictured above in his studio), an artist whose work I spotted in a few places in Outer Sunset Beach in San Francisco last summer and again recently. His work is so playful and actually functional! I particularly love his Golden Gate electric Camper (above) which currently resides in the Mollusk surf shop in Outer Sunset Beach. Click here to see more of Jay’s incredible vessels/structures—they will blow your mind: Treehouse (shown below), Camper Boat, Camper Scooter, Mollusk Store Submarine Design (in the Missionin San Francisco).

Jay also constructed these fabulous jewelry displays (below) for General Store, a delicious little collaborative shop just blocks from Mollusk, (created by duo, Serena Mitnik-Miller and Mason St. Peter, business partners of Two Birds Fly) which features carefully curated items from both new and vintage sources. Local artisans and craftspeople contribute to the mix of everything from furniture to small electronics… “a little bit of everything useful!”

General Store has a gorgeous little garden out back with greenhouse by Jesse Schlesinger that is definitely worth a peek too. It will make any east-coaster (this one included) wish they had an all-season garden.

WINTER WHITES

This year, curb the urge to use your old red and green holiday decorations. Instead, keep it chic. Use these entertaining ideas to help break your old habits and embrace a new palette
Story, Styling and Stationery by me, Meredith McBride Kipp
Floral Design by Anne Miller  ·  Photography by Roey Yohai
Flanking doorways and the fireplace with preserved juniper trees will make a large room feel more intimate. Potted topiaries like these are also a chic alternative to a traditional Christmas tree and a great solution for small spaces.Add dimension and a punch of color at each table setting with a sculptural piece of seasonal produce like an artichoke or pomegranate.Adorn the table with a few beautiful, unexpected objects, like these antique silver pheasant salt and pepper shakers that I found at an estate sale.

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and setting the tone for such a sentiment is all about creating great atmosphere. When it comes to holiday decorating, the hardest part is staying away from the expected. Resist the temptation to use all of your saved decorations from years past. Instead, try something new: Pick a color palette and stick to it. What doesn’t fit the bill goes back to the attic or gets a fresh coat of paint. This year, think white. White is the epitome of modernity, elegance and balance. Mixing snow white with traces of green, black and silver is on trend and très chic.

To bring greenery and life into your dining room, New Jersey florist extraordinaire Anne Miller of The Little Flower Shoppe in Ridgewood recommends hanging an oversize wreath. Decorate it with items found in nature such as pinecones, acorns and berries to enchant guests. Flank the hearth and doorway with preserved juniper topiary trees for an instant dose of warmth and intimacy.

For your holiday table, choose crisp white linens and layer them with a wide, black ribbon or runner down the center of the table and across at each place setting. This will add dimension to the table and visually anchor each setting. When it comes to flatware, glassware and china, you don’t need to have the best; you just need to know how to use what you’ve got. Don’t be afraid to mix like-colored pieces—whites with off-whites, stainless steel with silver and mercury glass or crystal with glass. (For a lesson from the experts in mixing it up, stop into Michael C. Fina in NYC) Place your white china on a clear, silver or white charger—layering adds dimension to the table. To add sparkle, use clear glassware and stemware and mix styles to vary the height and look. For centerpieces, Miller says to keep the botanicals simple and seasonal. The velvety texture of Vendela roses and silvery grey Tilandisa is warm and wintry and helps create the mood for a luxurious cold-weather soiree. For an intimate dinner party, keep the arrangements under 12 inches high so as not to disrupt the festive repartee.

Bring the black-and-white theme from your mailed invitation through to the place card and menu—it’s really chic and your guests will appreciate the detail. Keep the design simple and modern, and make things easy for yourself by having your local stationer do them for you. Place a menu on top of each napkin, then wrap the napkin and menu with ribbon or a paper strip that matches the invite. Top it all off with a fresh artichoke to add unexpected texture, dimension and a punch of color.

Lastly, make sure the lighting is just right—if you don’t have dimmers on your fixtures, just use candles (always unscen-ted around food) aided by the glow from an illuminated room nearby. Cluster large mercury glass pieces and other silver objects together to bring a little sparkle to darker areas of the room. Carry elements of this onto your table by way of mercury glass votives and a few small silver objects, and you’ll have plenty of sparkle to go around during this festive season.

1 The Little Things
  Something simple like a sachet full of lavender or a bag of homemade cookies makes a nice gift for your guests. Tie it off with a ribbon and an ornament and place it on their chairs.
2 Get Centered  A dramatic flower arrangement is a great way to wow your guests. You can bring your own vases to the florist and have him or her create arrangements that work for your table. If flowers are out of the budget, cluster like-colored objects of varying heights in the center of the table.
3 Keep it Coming  Always keep your guests’ water and cocktail glasses filled—your service is very important and much appreciated.
4 Put it on Paper  Despite the multitude of e-mail and Web-based invite options these days, it’s a nice gesture to send guests a printed invitation to your party. Use the same style in your place cards and menus to create a consistent theme.
5 Easy Does It  Food, especially desserts, that you can prepare beforehand (or buy) will save you time. French macaroons are always an elegant supplement to your homemade desserts, and they come in a multitude of colors to fit any theme. (Coordinating your food with your color palette will add impact and elegance.)

Click here to download my 2.5-hr Chic Party Playlist (on the iTunes store) to round out the evening. Held together with hints of weighty Bossa Nova, orchestral flair and bluegrass, this sexy, hip (yet classic) mix blends many genres to create the perfect background for an intimate dinner party or a laidback evening of cocktails.

Click here to download a PDF of the story.
Published in the Health&Life family of magazines. Circulation: 275,000

Space-age Sips



On Rue Saint-Honoré in Paris, one of the most fashionable streets in the world, the somewhat-modest-looking (from the outside anyway) Mandarin Oriental has a gorgeous bar (Bar 8) worth popping into for a cocktail. You’ll walk in along a corridor of suspended lights that look like rain (well, dream-rain, from the future). Centered in the room is a large marble bar, with a sculpted brass ceiling that bows to meet it. Glass-top tables dotted with tiny lights are filled with ambiguous bourgeoisie and the wooden walls are inlaid with Lalique crystals that glisten in the dim lighting. You swear there is a record deal happening but feet away in the enchanting, tree-filled courtyard… but wait…huge headphones are an accessory these days, aren’t they…

When you think you can be awed no more, you’ll sip from your husband’s specialty cocktail (that the bartender made love to while you watched and  properly torched the sugar and absinthe before dusting the top with gold leaf tear drops) and wish you hadn’t saved the $2 by ordering a $38 glass of prosecco. (To offset the cost of this extravagance, we recommend absconding with the olive skewers and cocktail napkins—which, by the way—my husband is now using as a pocket square. Seriously…)

Thankfully (for our wallets), Sur Mesure, Thierry Marx‘s (you may recognize him from Top Chef) incredibly gorgeous restaurant on the premises was closed that night, but it’s also definitely worth a peek, if they’ll let you. It’s a minimalist, modern cocoon of a space and I can only imagine the mind-blowing flavors, sounds and smells that fill it on a busy night.

Chic, Playful & Mobile Vaca Trailer…


DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS)
just announced their 30 for 30 online auction to raise money for DIFFA and to commemorate their 30 years of fighting AIDS. There are some great (tho pricey) pickins in there—including lunch consultation with Kelly Wearstler—so check it out.

I saw this Great American Woody (designed by Brad Ford) at Dining by Design this year and they are auctioning it off. It’s GORGEOUS and would be a great mobile vacation home for 2 or mobile party for many! At least check it out—it’s so cute and chic! Think tailgating at the Hampton Classic next summer…

DIY Decorative Wall Treatment

Less is More! This is a simple and easy concept for a wall treatment—perfect for rooms that already have enough going on.
I cut rough 8″ squares of reclaimed wood, whitewashed them with matte paint, laid them out on on the floor to make a template and then nailed them right through the center into the wall with 3″ nails. I left the nails protruding (by 1–2″) to give the overall look a little more texture—the shadows at different times of the day give it a little depth and movement.

DIY Window Valances

Dress up a room and give it more visual height with window valances.
I built these out of 1/2″ ply wood, batting and the same fabric (or an extra panel) as the drapes. Tools used: pneumatic nail gun, wood glue, staple gun (with heavy duty staples), glue gun, L-brackets (to securely attach the valance to the ceiling in 3 places) and a cordless drill.

Adare to Dream

I had the pleasure of visiting Adare Manor, a Gothic Revival Country Home in Limerick County, Ireland that was built in the 1840’s and designed by architect James Pain.

It sits on 840 acres of parkland, including formal French gardens laid out by P.C. Hardwick. In 1987, Adare Manor was acquired by an American family, who restored the entire building and added one of the top golf courses in Ireland and turned it into a 5-star hotel and golf resort. Though I didn’t get to stay it’s definitely worth a look. With great gothic interiors, ornate wood-trim details and exotic taxidermy, I would have really enjoyed a fireside Guiness here.