Raphael's School of Athens

The Renaissance Book Club

  I’m on the Acela to Washington, D.C., my favorite way to reach the capital from New York City. The dining car is so crowded there is only one seat left—the one across from me. A man approaches to ask if he can take it and I answer, “Of course!” As he settles himself, he […]

Bernardaud produces the Marie-Antoinette pattern of porcelain

Dining with History

A month from Sunday, I’ll be winging my way to Paris to attend Maison & Objet, and I’m thrilled to say I’ve been invited to Limoges to visit the Bernardaud factory while I’m in France. This invitation from the porcelain manufacturer means so much to me because I will be able to see, in person, […]

Three children painted in the Elizabethan style.

Narratives That Illuminate Design

  Narratives That Illuminate Design If you believe that design-centric coffee table books contain nothing more than visual surveys of portfolios, I am out to change your mind today by presenting my choices for narratives that illuminate design. What has prompted this quest? Two intelligently written books in Rizzoli’s holiday catalog—both of which were published […]

John, Jr., playfully tugs at one of the three strands of Jackie’s famous simulated pearl necklace

One Special Summer with Jackie O

  Hegel’s caveat “history teaches us nothing” may be relevant in cultural and philosophical realities but in the design world the statement is far from succinct. No one knew this more resolutely than Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, or as we have come to affectionately call her Jackie O.     One Special Summer with Jackie […]

Painting Pauline as Daphne Fleeing from Apollo by Robert Lefevre

Musing Through Classical Mythology

  As I was strolling through the National Gallery of Art a week and a half ago, I couldn’t help but marvel at the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses involved in their adventures and the beautiful architecture of the museum that served as the perfect backdrop for the stories of classical mythology they represented. I was […]

Whistler gilded the walnut latticework forming the shelves.

The Peacock Room à la Whistler

  The most recognizable painting by artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler might lead you to believe he was as Puritan as his upbringing. The fact he could render such a realistic homage to piety in Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (Portrait of the Artist’s Mother)—better known as Whistler’s Mother—does seem to further the […]

The painting "Three Tahitian Women" by Paul Gauguin.

Paul Gauguin in Tahiti

  Seeing the luscious colors and splashy patterns in the summer issues of the top shelter publications (“Big, Bold Blooms” an Elle Décor Trend Alert and “Imperial Red” the month’s Color Crush featured in House Beautiful) I was reminded of an exhibition staged at the Tate Modern I was lucky enough to see on opening […]

Darryl Carter's Room 21 at Kips Bay

Kips Bay Show House

  “The house is one of the greatest powers of integration for the thoughts, memories and dreams of mankind,” wrote Gaston Bachelard in The Poetics of Space. What if that house is a mansion with excellent bones? And what if the person integrating its elements is a talented designer? Might normal dreams pale in comparison? […]

Conservatory at NY Botanical Garden on a bright summer day

Beatrix Farrand Gardens

  Powerful things happen in a garden. Beyond the miracle of riotous color and the vibrancy of burgeoning life, momentous occurrences have transpired on the garden bench through the ages—marriage proposals uttered, business alliances formed, treachery divulged, fatherhood revealed and affairs of the heart commenced (or terminated).   Beatrix Farrand Gardens As time telescopes into […]