As we go into the height of the holiday season we’re preparing for new projects and a new year. A natural way for us to hit the reset button is by returning to our fundamental philosophies. An ongoing theme in our thought process has often been the balance of opposites.

Whether it be light and dark, masculine and feminine, rough and refined, or modern and ancient, the tension of contrasting elements is the surest way to highlight the best qualities of each end of the spectrum. With a nod towards subtlety, the friction of contrasting counterparts subsides, and the combination both stimulates and soothes.

We’re looking forward to all the next year has to offer. May you find rest in the times of balance, and growth in the times of tension. Hope you enjoy these last few thoughts and recommendations in 2018, as well as the perspectives of three different artists and artisans with whom we work and whose process we admire.


Northeast of Milan, Bergamo is known for its cobblestone streets, tall Venetian stone walls, and rolling hills. As you can see from these few snapshots from a recent visit it is rich in old world charm and expansive natural scenery. For lodging, Ralais San Vigilio is a favorite, and for a bite the Ristorante Donizetti doesn’t disappoint.


My design philosophy is to keep things simple; I like to use no more than two or three elements. For example, I’m partial to a great textural piece such as wood or moss and a single variety of flower. My preference is designs that are simple, clean, dramatic, and strong. Texture is very important to me and I never hide from unusual pairings such as tropical flowers with Dutch flowers.

For holiday, I recommend keeping it simple. You can still go big and festive in scale if you want but I recommend sticking to the two to three element rule. I don’t like flowers that consume a table setting, so I do multiple containers of single variety of floral, botanicals scattered across a table, or a bunch of fruit and vegetables tossed about. Of course, candles are always important, but I like to keep their vessels nondescript. And I love a scatter of antlers or glass globes during the holidays.

Lately my classes and workshops have become increasingly popular. All are welcome from beginners to professionals, and it’s one of my favorite times to connect with the creative spirit of people.


It was my understanding of interiors that inspired me to develop my line of plaster chandeliers and sconces. Plaster is unique in that it is a very soft finish, especially in a white color in a white room. So often chandeliers are composed of hard materials, whether that be glass, crystal, or metal; they can be so shiny and bright with a tendency to scream for attention.

The plaster finish is more matte and melds into a room with subtlety. Often the walls in a space are matte, and the wood is matte, and a lot of the metal is matte, with soft accents of upholstery and carpets. The black plaster finish doesn’t look like metal, in fact it almost looks like a shadow, and so it doesn’t draw too much focus and it tends to integrate smoothly. I find the black plaster lighting to be deep and dense with a sense of awe and calm.



The way I work with my materials for my metamorphic encaustic series I consider to be a form of dialogue. I try to capture their essence, and I wait for them to inform and guide me as to what they want to do. It’s really a process of discovery, and I generally don’t really know where it’s going to lead. It’s through this ongoing investigation that I end up making a more formal aesthetic composition. I try to embrace the surprises that come up along the way and integrate them as they present themselves.

It’s through expansion and contraction, and through embellishing and taking away, that I find the balance between minimalism and a strength of presence. It can be easy to get carried away, so it’s always a matter of reducing the piece to just the right amount of information. I have found that keeping a neutral color palette has been a straightforward way to minimalize information and draw the focus to the inherent qualities of the material.


Many designers and bloggers have long commented on Nancy Meyers’ film sets, yet they continue to be a timely and relevant ongoing source of discussion at our office. Thanks to this Francophile’s je ne sais quois and her penchant for timeless design, our clients still regularly reference these interiors as sources of inspiration. Whether it’s Something’s Gotta Give, It’s Complicated, The Intern, The Holiday, The Parent Trap or What Women Want, we’re looking forward to cozying up over the holiday to enjoy a few of these uplifting classics and their blog-worthy spaces.

The Parent Trap

Something’s Gotta Give

The Intern

The Holiday

PHOTO SOURCES | Hamptons fireplace by Costas Picadas | Mike Hines Epoch Floral website | floral photos by Doug Human | Tracey Garet Apsara Lighting website | Lonney White website | set photos one, two, three + four |