Even though here at Design New England we are completely prepared for spring, we realize the lingering winter chill does make it a bit tough to leave our beds in the morning. If we were spending the night in the stylish guest rooms interior designers Amy Pierce, Amber Wilhelmina, and Kelly Taylor brought to life around Thos. Moser’s Vita Bed in Selections in the March/April issue it would be all that much harder. With cozy beds on our minds, we’ve assembled guest room accessories that make us want to spend the night.FULL ENTRY
Kudos to the editors of Saving Cambridge: Historic Preservation in America’s Innovation City for understanding that persuasion not preaching will earn support for their mission. Good writing also helps. If the aim of the book, published by the Cambridge Historical Society, is to raise the awareness of everyman to the significance of preserving historic touchstones, it has a good chance of succeeding.FULL ENTRY
What was it like to be inside the Big Dig? Find out when photographer Peter Vanderwarker gives an artist’s talk Sunday March 2 at 1 p.m. at the Addison Gallery at Phillips Academy, in Andover, Massachusetts. He will revisit the days he spent, over the course of some 15 years, documenting the construction that was hidden deep beneath the streets and harbor. As the daily lives of commuters were interrupted and re-routed, man and machinery labored out of sight in dark tunnels. Vanderwarker’s raw imagery insures their work is not forgotten.FULL ENTRY
With marvelous homes throughout New England’s vast variety of glorious settings — ocean, lake, island, city, country — our March/April issue (in homes and online next week) delivers on its “Location, location” theme, and then some. The view from the kitchen of this seaside house in Newport, Rhode Island (“From Moonscape to Eden”), for example, looks out past an alluring infinity pool to the ocean. Hard to imagine the lot was once just a pile of schist. To prime the pump for gardening season, we found a highly structured topiary garden in a country setting, and a brook and small pond returned to their naturalized state in Brookline, Massachusetts. We also have a special photo-essay on that New England Icon, the antiques juggernaut known as Brimfield, some stylish ideas on how to dress up a guest bedroom, a preview of Boston's first-ever Design Week, and an architect's remake of a tiny East Boston worker's row house. For all this and more, read the issue next week!
The Cinderella moment came five years ago for Woonsocket, Rhode Island, when it was featured in the Lasse Hallström movie Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, starring Richard Gere. Hachi is the story of a dog that walked his master to the train each day and greeted him upon his return every evening. When his owner suddenly dies, the dog stands sentinel at the train station until his own death 10 years later. So, another star of the film is the Providence & Worcester Railroad Station.FULL ENTRY
Along a dead-end dirt road in rural Effingham, New Hampshire, are two wooden houses. One is a simple farmhouse while the other is a grand mansion. The pair offer the sort of serendipitous discovery that makes the quirky Granite State such an unending delight.FULL ENTRY
Cheryle St. Onge
Nature and beauty are what drive New Hampshire photographer Cheryle St. Onge. A contributor to Design New England (a stunning gallery of her view of the Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show will appear in our upcoming March/April issue), St. Onge photographs architecture, animals, and her family and friends. But pieces from “Natural Findings,” her collection of photos that document the intrigue of nature, is what’s making its way into art exhibits this winter.FULL ENTRY
Our article on a unique cohousing venture in the January/February 2014 issue struck a chord with many of our readers. Working closely with three couples, all long-time friends who are at or near retirement, architect Rick Renner and his associate Teresa Telander of Richard Renner Associates of Portland, Maine, designed a handsome structure that combines three individual units with shared common space. It is case study in how thoughtful design can deliver form and function despite a demanding and complex program.
Beyond physical design challenges, our readers found the cohousing concept fascinating. Not all are willing to jump on the shared space bandwagon, but many are ready to applaud the participants in our “All in the ‘Framily’” scenario. (The homeowners had been such good friends that their relationships verged on family — hence they called each other ‘framily.’)FULL ENTRY
Here’s something lavish to cheer up those winter blues: a high-class Newport, Rhode Island, auction with relics from Villa du Soleil. The Italianate mansion, boasting formal gardens, handsome balconies, and a pink pebble driveway, is still on the market for $3.9 million (down from $4.6 million), but some of the fantastic art inside, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, glassware, china, and furnishings are being sold by Mid-Hudson Auction Galleries at The Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina Saturday, January 18 starting at 11 a.m. Here’s a preview of the some antiques (and a perspective of how much they are worth) that we predict will sell like hotcakes.
First up is a 1917 Steinway baby grand piano (above), which was reworked at the Steinway factory in New York into a salon piano in the ornate Louis XV style in 1985. Starting bid is $5,000. Estimated: $10,000 to $15,000.
Thirty-three years ago, the opening of the Hartford Seminary building created quite a sensation. Its designer Richard Meier was then an enfant terrible of modern architecture, a member of a group of New York architects labeled “The Whites” for their adherence to a near-monochromatic reinterpretation of the work of Le Corbusier from the 1920s. The seminary’s severe geometry and stark white porcelain-enamel cladding coupled with Meier’s use of modular grids and shiny metal walls was, at the time, jarring to most people, but the building has held up visually and structurally.FULL ENTRY
There is a haunting aura of emptiness in each of the 12 portraits Maine photographer Trent Bell made for Reflect: Convicts’ Letters to Their Younger Selves. Bell, a regular contributor to Design New England, took a break from his mainstay work, architectural photography, when crime and punishment touched his own life. A friend, whom Bell describes as a smart and loving father, was sentenced to 36 years in prison. The shock and finality of the situation filled Bell’s daily life. How is it, he wondered, that people make choices that lead to prison time. Curious, he reached out to Maine State Prison in Warren, Maine, where he was allowed to connect with inmates, who, he says, have “hardened themselves to survive.” He asked them to write letters of advice for their younger selves and to then sit for his camera.
The result is Reflect, which will be on exhibit at Engine, a gallery in Biddeford, Maine, January 10 through February 22. “The reaction has been one of amazement or just stunned quietness,” says Bell about the photographs and the idea behind them. “Usually goosebumps when I share it with people.”FULL ENTRY
Michael J. Lee
The January/February issue of Design New England is full of great products and ideas for the kitchen and bath. Here are some others worth considering for your next K+B update.FULL ENTRY
“A great knife can change your life,” says Adam Simha, for whom that is an understatement. He has put great knives in the hands of great chefs (Think Sharp, Design New England January/February 2014) and found his true passion along the way. The one-time drummer, MIT physics major, restaurant kitchen worker, baker, and furniture maker took a course in welding at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston and immediately had “an overwhelming sense of rightness and belonging.” That was in the mid 1990s when, working with his teacher JD Smith, he learned blade smithing, a skill he has been perfecting ever since.FULL ENTRY
As we look forward to the New Year and all the exciting plans we have for Design New England, we’re thrilled to be starting it off with our January/February Kitchen + Bath issue (in homes and online next week). The “Rustic Chic” kitchen of a family that traveled the globe before settling down in a suburb south of Boston brightens the cover with a gleaming white palette. And it’s just one of many stories with gorgeous photographs that mix comfort and functionality with style and sophistication. Read the issue next week for more! Happy New Year!
corbettphotography.net/The Preservation Society of Newport County
Christmas trees, twinkling lights, and gift-laden sleighs pulled by imaginary horses made of moss combine with the opulent architecture of the Gilded Age mansions of Newport, Rhode Island, to create a lavish, yet sentimentally charming holiday scene that would delight Scrooge himself (even before the ghosts arrived). The Preservation Society of Newport County, caretakers of the historic houses built by the Vanderbilts and their contemporaries, pulls out all the decorating stops to bring the spirit of the season to The Breakers, The Elms, and Marble House. The Design New England team recently paid a visit to The Breakers to see for ourselves. From the iconic 15-foot-tall red poinsettia tree in the Great Hall to the dining tables set with period silver and china to the (new this year) gingerbread models of five of the society’s mansions created by local pastry chefs, we relished it all.FULL ENTRY
Photographs by Kelly Davidson
No matter how many times we visit the Boston Design Center, and we’re there a lot, there’s always something new. It could be as straightforward as a showroom opening (Romo’s fabrics and wallcoverings are pattern-heavy and stunning), as logistic as a location change (Icon Group settles into its new spot on the other end of the fourth floor), or more design-inspired such a new collection to ogle (designer Sarah Richardson’s fabrics are now carried at Kravet and Carlisle Wide Plank Flooring announced its Oyster Bay and Sunapee Lake collections, which have muted hues for wood floors with names like Afternoon Nap, Weathered Rope, and Soaring Eagle).
New is normal, but the exquisite furniture crafted by Hellman-Chang available to the trade at Webster & Company is extraordinary. H|C was founded by Daniel Hellman and Eric Chang, friends since age 10, who design and craft beautiful tables, desks, bookshelves, and chairs at their studio in Brooklyn, New York. To photograph and interview the design duo for our “et al.” department in Design New England’s November/December issue, we visited them at the Webster showroom, the first in New England to carry the line.FULL ENTRY
A 12-by-8½-inch bas-relief I came across in an antique shop in Thomaston, Maine, was not to be mine. (It was priced at $3,500, so no thought of my ever owning it.) But I was haunted by the seeming collusion of two geniuses of American art in this small piece.
Winslow Homer’s place in the pantheon of American artists seems forever secure. The young Bostonian made his name as a war correspondent for Harper’s Magazine during the Civil War. Afterward, Homer painted Tom Sawyer-like boys playing snap the whip or pretty young women doing farm chores or promenading along the beach beneath parasols — an attempt to regain a lost national innocence or a sublimation of seen war horrors? Homer also was an amazing water colorist, depicting hunters in the Adirondacks or tropical scenes in the Bahamas.FULL ENTRY
It might be enough that purchasing gifts from shops like the inventive Gateway Arts store in Brookline Village, Massachusetts, is essentially giving twice: once to the receiver of the gift, and once to the maker of the gift who keeps 50 percent of the sale price. Gateway’s artists, who deal with diverse challenges ranging from psychiatric illnesses to spectrum disorders, work in paint, clay, jewelry, and textiles, and this year, we are cheering about their gift to thrifty shoppers who want unique, high-quality, fun, usable presents under the tree — for less than $30.
For art lovers and lovers of brain-teasing puzzles, Gateway has turned the intricate artwork of Rebecca Levy into a 500 piece puzzle (pictured above) that the whole family can work on — all year. $25.FULL ENTRY
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and, this year, Thanksgiving at the department store of your choice. Ugh. Glad they are behind us. My idea of holiday shopping isn’t fighting the madding crowd for some uber deal on a flat screen or a pair of sox. I like to take my time and look for those special gifts not found in the discount flyers — the right gift for the right person, preferably an item he or she might not discover on his or her own, but will be thrilled I found for them. For instance:FULL ENTRY
Weighing just a tad under two pounds, Brown University: The Campus Guide (Princeton Architectural Press, $35) is not really a portable guidebook. Rather, it is a beautifully written architectural history of the Ivy League university in the Rhode Island capital.
Brown University is one of the hottest of hot colleges and this guide reminds us of just how much the school’s inherent appeal is physical. How a campus looks cannot be divorced from its educational mission and the way the Providence campus has grown and evolved in a quarter of millennium demonstrates that it is not the result of a branding campaign. Brown, author Raymond P. Rhinehart argues, offers “a magical urban tapestry that evokes a special sense of place.” Rhinehart, a Brown alumnus, makes his alma mater’s patrimony (“a textbook ensemble of American architecture, from colonial times to the present”) accessible through nine walks, supported by maps and luscious photos by Walter Smalling. Rhinehart is a consummate storyteller; his comprehensive history of the building arts at Brown offers good tales and delightful anecdotes.FULL ENTRY
An insider's look at must-have products, fresh trends, and inspired spaces from the team at Design New England magazine.
Gail Ravgiala is editor of Design New England and a fan of both the region's historic architecture and its growing inventory of modern houses and public buildings.
Courtney Kasianowicz is associate editor of Design New England who scouts the area for new design, charming products, and local artisans both innovative and daring.
Jill Connors, Design New England's editor-at-large, is an antiques maven and design scout and will post about trends and discoveries in the field.
Bruce Irving, Design New England's contributing editor for architecture & building, is a renovation specialist who will share his insights on design and construction.
Estelle Bond Guralnick, Design New England's style & interiors editor, will post about interior design and interior designers and her favorite finds.