Writing Workshop Acclaim

 

Breakout groups at the 2014 IFDA design writing workshop get serious.

Breakout groups at the 2014 IFDA design writing workshop get serious.

Louis is a great writer and teacher of writing. I can almost guarantee that you will walk away with tips you’ll use in your social media content and strategy!S. Bradford Smith, President, Architectural Electronics, Inc. | Audio Video Design, Security Design Consultants & New Elements | Westwood, Osterville & Nantucket, MA & Portsmouth, NH | www.avdesigns.com

I took part in four of Louis’ workshops back in the fall of 2014 to better enhance my academic writing for the purposes of marketing in the architecture and design world.

Held in four separate locations, Louis’ workshops bring you into new locations centered on some niche in the world of design. Through a roundtable discussion on what you’re looking to improve on, Louis caters his questions to each member of the group, asking for their reasons on why they want to become a better writer. 

What makes Louis successful in this endeavor, is in encouraging you to find your inner voice, by participating a collaborative group setting with many different participants. In a setting where everyone learns from each other, Louis guides the writing process in a calm fluid manner over the course of two hours.

Louis emphasizes better writing through many different exercises, while acknowledging different styles and methods.

He will often ask people to read their exercises out to the group in a professional setting. The act of moving to a new location every week helps the creative juices flow.

Louis showcases his expertise by often encouraging others to close their eyes and imagine a setting where one has only been for a few minutes. Through hearing others reflections and Louis’ own, the act of creative writing becomes much less fragmented and has allowed me to slow down, flourish, and find my inner voice.

Thank you Louis! — Cameron King | Business Development + Outreach Coordinator | PAUL LUKEZ ARCHITECTURE |Somerville, MA | www.lukez.comContinue Reading

I attended all of Louis Postel’s workshops last year and it was fabulous to learn about the writing process from such a talented writer. I felt Louis provided a collaborative and supportive environment as we all shared ideas each week.

“By the end we had drafted a founder’s story, two project descriptions and two proposals. We learned what was unique about each of our businesses and how best to convey our stories clearly, concisely and with a little spice.

If you have trouble writing about yourself or your business, Louis will get you started in the right direction! — Marilyn MacLeod, Designer | Artist, Lee Design, www.leedesign.biz

As a photographer for interiors, I was encouraged to write about my unique skills in a way that would capture the interest of my target audience.

Workshop participants were reminded of the importance of rewriting and editing our work. I appreciated the individual feedback from Louis on my writing. This was a great workshop for me as I take my business to the next level. — Elaine Frederick, Photographer, Providence, RI

I participated in the 2014 workshop and am glad that I did. It was a marvelous opportunity to learn from Louis Pastel.

He helped to structure the writing and put my wandering thoughts in order. It was especially important for me being not a native English speaker. The workshop were intensive, very creative and used a lot of non-trivial teaching techniques.

Everything was tuned up to the specific auditors – mix of artists, architects, interior designers, decorators and web designers. However when my husband, who is a software engineer, joined the class for one of the sessions he found it useful and entertaining as well.

My feeling is that everybody found something new and interesting to learn.Tamara Wolfson | Muralist | www.aplusmurals.com

I attended a few of the writing seminars led by Louis Postel as part of an educational series offered by IFDA. Although each one was available as an individual session, after my experience at the first one, I wanted to attend as many as I could fit into my schedule.

Louis taught by using techniques that were easy to understand and remember. By creating an inviting and non-judgmental atmosphere, he was able to help each participant use simple strategies to enhance their own writing.

No matter what role a person has in a company, they have to communicate by writing. Louis is able to hone each person’s skills to make their emails, letters, and promotional literature more impactful.Beezee Honan, Designer Bath, Salem, MA

As a designer, I’m so focused on the visual part of my job and that is how I communicate with my clients.  There’s a lot of intuitive thinking about what I show people and what I don’t.  The hardest part comes when someone asks me to explain – in words! – how I came to that design decision and that’s where the writing workshop really helped me. 

I simply did not have the tools to organize my thoughts. Pathos! Ethos! Logos!  How to start at the beginning – the challenge – and get to a Solution. I didn’t realize I was skipping over steps.

The workshop really helped me analyze and then share in a much more confident way.  (I missed it when it was over!). — Susan Corson, Susan Corson Designs | www.susancorsondesigns.com

Linda Vantine at the IFDA 2014 Writing Workshop

Linda Vantine at the IFDA 2014 Writing Workshop

 “ Louis Postel’s Writing Workshop is a perfect launch, inspiring you to discover how  to express what has made you proud. It gave me the confidence to take the next step in writing a powerful, distinctly precise , yet natural statement. Louis guides us in ways to tell a story by what is important, with a feeling of appropriateness, happiness, and excitement. I highly recommend taking every class in the series. You will feel at home at each new venue, and you will learn from everyone in the class.”

 Linda Vantine, ASID

www.VantineInteriorDesign.com

I find Louis Postel’s writing workshops enormously helpful in framing the way to tell the story of my client’s projects and efforts. His experience and insight is an invaluable resource. And the fact that he is open-minded, witty and charming doesn’t hurt, either! I highly recommend Louis Postel’s writing workshops for anyone who wants to craft a better story and sharpen their narrative skills.

Cheryl Savit

PR/Marketing Coordinator

Feinmann, Inc.

Owner, Savvy Words

 “Louis Postel’s guidance in his Executive Writing Workshop helped me to uncover and to become comfortable with my own mission statement and founder’s story. I can tell the long form of that story as background while a client is selecting one of my textile creations, or can easily access the “elevator speech” version as I hand out my card.  My mission is clear in my mind, so it can be clear to a client.  Thank you Louis!”

 Lauren Teller

www.silverlininglifestyle.com

www.happyhead.today

Writing for Results with Louis Postel

Writing for Results with Louis Postel

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When Clarity Meets Creativity

Louis Postel in white shirt leading a writing workshop at the Boston Design Center last year

Louis Postel in white shirt leading a writing workshop at the Boston Design Center last year, sponsored by the International Furnishings and Design Association of New England

When Clarity Meets Creativity

Introducing Writing Workshops for Designers, Architects, Makers, and Builders with Louis Postel, Contributing Editor and Writing CoachContinue Reading

♦  Louis Postel is available to travel nationally from his Lexington, MA home base.

If you are interested in booking Louis Postel for a presentation or workshop, please contact Broadview Marketing at info@broadviewmarketing.com

Or call Jennifer Driscoll at 401.965.8237.

Over the years Louis Postel has written and/or produced feature articles, columns, captions, custom magazines, niche magazines, blogs, blurbs, advertisements, and even a few films.

Credits include: Showboats International, New England Home, Robb Report, Wynn, Boston Magazine, Worth, and Design Times.

Designed expressly for Architects, Interior Designers, Builders, Suppliers and Marketers in the design profession, Louis Postel offers workshops that teach the essentials of academic and professional writing.

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Postel’s Latest Trade Secrets

Louis Postel by Rockwell, Mixed Media

From Trade Secrets by Louis Postel published in New England Home

Back in April, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston introduced a show called D is for Design (through February 22). The curators juxtaposed works on paper from its own collection, a refreshing and synergistic mix  of design, art and architecture — disciplines that in our specialized, super-efficient world feel unnaturally compartmentalized.  Each practitioner was awarded a letter, just for fun — L for stained-glass-window maker John Lafarge, and R the architect Aldo Rossi, who gave us the Alessi tea kettle. 

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Steinberg Feb 3 2014-61

Kitchen designer Sarah Steinberg of Maine is liking Quartzite.

Excellent idea, but why stop there? Why not alphabetize everything.  New England 2014 certainly merits a letter designation, at least its first two quarters — namely, a capital U for  highly Unusual weather.

Who can forget the Polar Vortex of January and February clipping us from the Artic flip side of global warming? It was so cold for so long, many of our heartiest designers, builders and architects, among others, took to constructing custom igloos in their backyards. How do we know this? When the snows finally melted, emptied bottles of Sam Adams and Grey Goose began to appear on lawns from Portland to Hartford.

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The Design Comedy

First published in New England Home May/June 2014 | Trade Secrets by Louis Postel

Deep in the dark woods of design Dante first described in the Inferno 1308-1321.

Deep in the dark woods of design a professional might easily find herself lost in mid-career. After all the meetings and memos, calculations and re-calculations, what does it all mean? What do I really want?What do my clients want? What does the world want?

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She (or he) was so sure for so long…and now not so sure, despite all her successes. Like Dante on the slopes of 13th century Florence, she’s about to embark on a journey through the inferno. But not alone.  She has modern day spirits to guide her wherever her work life takes her Bar Harbor, ME; Lake Winnipesaukee, NH; Little Compton, RI; Boston Garden where gathering shades of designers past crowd its paths.

Trade Secrets is no such visionary spirit guide, no poet Virgil, but we did take it upon ourselves to ask for some direction about where the industry is headed. We began with all 67,443 members of LinkedIn’s Interior Design group and 25,491 members of its Architecture + Interiors group. Where we asked lay the future of design?

“In tranquility, simplicity, and naturalism,” said Pari Ya Bahmani, who studies architectural engineering in Zanjan, Iran. “In imagination,” said designer Andrea Houk in Washington, D.C. Jeanette Cataldo, closer to home in Saugus, MA heartily concurred. “In functionality,” said Lim Pay Shin, an interior designer in Singapore. “In awareness,” said Monique Menard, a designer in Montreal. “Awareness of our clients’ basic needs and aspirations and at the same time to be aware that we need to be doubly creative in our designs respecting the environment.”

Beth Marie Robinson

Beth Marie Robinson

“In authenticity,” advised Orange County, CA designer Paula Oblen. “It drives me crazy when you see these young couples on TV home shows. As long as they’ve got a granite countertop and some stainless steel appliances—that’s it—they’re happy. No thoughts about layout, storage, lighting, traffic patterns. I guess it’s our job to educate when we can.”

“In a Renaissance,” said designer Dibby Flint of Kennebunkport, ME and Milton, MA, “which is to say in  renewed respect for classical design coupled with creativity infusing every space.”

Peter Wooding

Peter Wooding

“In value, but also in beauty and function as part of the creative process—those have to take a high priority,” said Peter Wooding of Providence, RI. “We have a strong conviction that aesthetics is not cosmetics, but something that goes much deeper to the very heart of the way people experience an environment.” A professor at RISD, an interior designer, as well as an industrial designer, Wooding’s flatware for Dansk, lighting for Nessen, and seating for Jofco might inspire anyone to find his way out of the dark wood where mid-career design doubts linger.

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More Trade Secrets

We defended "An appeal to the Great Spirit"
Louis as Dante by Valery Rockwell, Mixed Media

Louis as Dante by Valery Rockwell, Mixed Media

On the New MFA wing and More

from Trade Secrets by Louis Postel first published in New England Home

Art or office park?

♦ It is not for us to argue that taste is a moral issue.

Still, what’s with this handful of nervy designers knocking Boston’s spanking new, $500 million dollar American Wing at the MFA? What side are they on in Boston’s bid for cultural supremacy and tourist dollars? How will their critiques brace us for the brutal battles that lay ahead for the honor of hosting blockbuster shows of Monet, Mummies, and Mapplethorpes?

The anti-Wing designers’ argument boils down to this: the new wing is a lost opportunity, an unexceptional box interchangeable upscale malls, hotel lobbies and corporate headquarters anywhere in the world.  They say Guy Lowell who master-planned the 1907 MFA would have croaked had he foreseen that such an anonymous structure would someday force itself upon his neoclassic Palazzo.  We can certainly understand this position, but can equally sympathize with the pro-Wing designers insistence that it’s time to abandon the pretentious, musty and pseudo-aristocratic Palazzo fantasy  and move on.

One anti-Winger recalls how as a young girl habitually late for her art class she was scampering along the MFA’s palatial five hundred feet of freezing, wind-blown granite facing Huntington Avenue. The Indian, the Great Spirit of Creativity beckoned her with outstretched arms. Up the marble steps to John Singer Sargent’s luminous rotund she sped. In the rotunda she found herself entranced, marveling at how she had been transformed from a shivering waif in Boston’s February dusk to an Italian princess! It was magic.

No such magic was in store in the MFA’s New Wing for our princess waif. This particular anti-Wing designer/architect complained bitterly about the stairs leading to the new galleries brought her to an inauspicious set of fire doors and a tight landing where she was to confront the steely jaws of a freight elevator. This was nothing she would even dream of doing. “Creating a welcoming transition from one space to another is an essential part of the design vocabulary,” she explained.

Now let’s transition from this pro and anti Wing controversy – this tempest in a Paul Revere teapot  — and consider how design vocabularies are extending themselves to the home.

What a challenge: creating change from room to room, outside to inside, public to private that is warm, welcoming and rational. The pressures on built space to perform per every square foot, to “maximize its potential” are huge.  How often are we going to descend palatial staircases in ball gowns, anyway? The design vocabulary keeps changing to reflect these realities.

Jeff Stein is currently on sabbatical from his position as Dean of Architecture the Boston Architectural College.  Like Thoreau, Stein quips, he’s now mainly at home by Walden Pond with some months to think and write.  Stein, for one, heartily approves of the transitions and treatments of space in the New Wing. “It’s not like the usual faceless, darkened galleries with stuff in them. I enjoy its scale – how it allows for many different views.”

“A transition is not like slicing an apple in half. Now you are in one place and then you are somewhere completely different. It needs to evolve.  You recall that house we did for your folks in Cambridge: front yard, porch, house reaching out, inside a place to take off your boots. The black and white tiles made it a little formal. It was welcoming but did not presume an instant intimacy. A curved staircase brought you to the second floor living area over your mother’s studio. The staircase itself was narrow. There was a feeling of compression going up. Then it opened on this brilliant space filled with light from a long, exposed south wall. You were a different person than when you were outside a minute ago.”

An appeal to the Great Spirit before the MFA

An appeal to the Great Spirit before the MFA

After an arduous decade turning around a spy satellite company, Carey Erdman changed careers five years ago to interior designer.  Guests transitioning to his roof deck in the South End are often amazed at what they find — a lush container garden Erdman created “like a whole extra floor.”  In his clients’ homes, he has used botanicals in other ways to mark transitions:  One example: “We can alter the perceived depth of the space by placing dark, coarse plants in the foreground beckoning you into the room and fine textured, lighter plants on the far side.  Some coarser plants might be a large fiddle leaf, split leaf philodendron or even a hybrid banana; the more finely textured, lighter leaves might include dracaenas or aralias. We can signal a change of purpose or energy in a space with botanicals, as well: grouping lush, tropical plants around a soaking tub for a spa-like, private feeling; or bright, blooming plants in a breakfast gazebo to provide a sense of fresh energy as you start your day.”

Wendy Valliere and friends

Designer Wendy Valliere has offices in Stowe, VT and Nantucket while spending a lot of time in Europe. “We just did a large apartment on Boulevard St. Germain in Paris and now we’re totally restoring a Georgian castle on a 1,000 acres outside London.” Valliere offers her own way of creating a welcoming transition: “I love to introduce a home with a ‘view corridor.’ That is to say, a clear visual trajectory from the front door to a significant feature: a beautiful outdoor space, a grand staircase, a fantastic fireplace. From there, it’s important to have flush thresholds throughout the home, so as not to punctuate the space unnecessarily – as well as to have consistent surfaces. Colors and textures work best when they move quietly from room to room, all the while propelled by a common thread (such as an animal print, crewel, a wild shade of green) that harmonizes with the feel of the entire home.”

Sandy Lawton is a Builder and Architect with Arro Design as well as a teacher with Yestermorrow Design/Build school in Warren, Vermont. Lawton is part of the avant-garde that is using tough fabric in which to pour concrete for architectural structures instead of the hard-to-recycle, rigid plywood forms we are used to seeing.  One fabric-formed house Lawton is doing with students on the Yestermorrow campus was uniquely curvaceous and inviting, even half-finished. What stood out in particular was the transition from outside to in, marked by the front door casing.  Lawton or his students had imprinted a Baroque, burnt out velvet into the fabric form itself, perhaps on a simple whim – but the pattern left behind was as welcoming as concrete has ever been.

PRISM Award-winning designer Michael Cebula sees less concrete and more color:  “When transitioning from one room or space to another, it’s important to maintain certain similar elements, particularly regarding color and lighting. In terms of color, repetition of key hues creates an atmosphere of comfort and calm. A color-scheme evolution can maintain a feeling of continuity by featuring the same colors in different aspects. For example, if a foyer was painted in an earthy red tone, an adjacent room could present that same red in a printed fabric or decorative accent piece. This technique ensures harmony between the studies, while allowing them to be part of a larger progressive plan.

“In much the same way,” adds Cebula, “lighting choices should sustain a level of relevance to each other, not only in style, but also in degree of brightness. A steady, soft light makes differences less jarring and eases one into a new design environment. It’s also advisable to illuminate some chosen art pieces. This method of presentation not only creates a mood in the space, but its continued use throughout the rooms will tie the design concepts together.”

In addition to color, lighting and art, Kristin Drohan’s design vocabulary accentuates French doors.  “They’re a relatively inexpensive way to communicate a transition, yet feels luxurious,” says the Concord, MA based designer.  “French doors define the space and diffuse sound without visually shrinking the dimensions. This can be done in unexpected places.  Recently, I added double French doors inside a master bedroom to define the sitting area from the sleeping.  The doors also served as one extra threshold this mother of four little girls could use to escape the household mayhem.  On another project, we installed French doors in a wide upstairs hallway.  Doing this in a hall feels quite grand and again diminishes noise.  I regularly install French doors at an entrance to a finished basement. Adding light accented art beyond the door beckons one to explore something special on the other side. “

IFDA Rising Star Rebecca Wilson of Needham, MA starts with first impressions: “When I’m designing the entryway, I keep in mind how it will set the tone for the rest of the home.  It should be warm and welcoming, and to create that mood I imagine what a guest would need in the space: adequate lighting both general and soft lamp light,  a good quality rug to absorb moisture and spare the floors, an umbrella stand, a place to sit and take off wet or snowy boots, a surface to put a purse or gloves on when removing coats, a mirror to check hair and makeup.

“When transitioning from the first to the second floor I look for ways to draw the eye up – an art series along the stair wall, a piece of furniture, a painting or a pretty mirror at the top of the stairs.  This gives the sense of being carried along from one level to the other. “

 

Indeed, Ms. Wilson a pretty mirror would work to draw the eye up. From that perspective, it’s a simple step to imagine transitioning from floor to floor by way of the MFA’s Grand Staircase. One’s eye is inexorably drawn up by Sargent’s MFA murals: Orestes and Hercules, Science and Philosophy unveiling Truth. Or, as fans of the New Wing might prefer, one can step up to the unaffected and perhaps more honest transition of fire doors and a freight elevator.  Taste, after all, is not a moral issue.

 

NEW AND NOTEWORTHY

 

Residential Architect magazine short-listed Hutker Architects this January in its first-ever tribute to “Architects we Love.”  We are fine with this as long as it’s remembered that we loved him first, naming Cape & Islands- based Mark Hutker to New England Home’s Hall of Fame way back in November.

 

For the second time in two years, Nantucket-based interior designer Kathleen Hay won “Best ­International ­Interior Design” in the 2010 International Property Awards.  The World’s Best awards – sponsored this year by Bloomberg Television, Google UK, Kohler, Maserati, The ­International Herald Tribune, and The New York Times – had over 60,000 entries from 110 countries in the twenty-one categories. A glance at Hay’s “Off-Shore Breeze” project with architect Lisa Botticelli in the September/October 2009 New England Home bears out designer’s “World’s Best” title. http://www.nehomemag.com/article/offshore-breeze

 

Let no one accuse Habitat for Humanity International of giving out easy grades or honors. Of its 1500 US affiliates just two a year receive Habitat’s Clarence Jordan award.  This year one of the coveted Clarences  went to  Green Mountain  Habitat for a passive house project in Charlotte, VT. Design credits go to architect JB Clancy of Boston’s Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects where NEH 2007 Hall of Fame inductee James Volney Righter is  senior partner.

 

 

 

2007 Hall of Fame inductee James Volney Righter

James Volney Righter is the senior partner of

 

Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity has won a national award for its first home under construction in Charlotte, honoring the home’s innovative character, creativity of design and affordability.

Habitat for Humanity International gives the Clarence Jordan award annually to just two Habitat affiliates — offices serving a specific area –out of about 1,500 in the United States.

The award, named after a man who built affordable homes in partnership with poor families in Georgia in the early 1970s, is unique because winners are chosen by vote of Habitat’s other affiliates, making it an acknowledgment by peers who know the work involved.

Architect J.B. Clancy of Albert, Righter & Tittmann Architects Inc. of Boston developed and donated the home’s design in partnership with Schneider and Green Mountain Habitat. After the home’s modular structure was delivered by Preferred Building Systems in September, a network of volunteer individuals and businesses continued to donate work, materials and money. Green Mountain Habitat Passive House

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Has Traditional Marketing Hit a Dead End?

Jerry Danzig, Postel-Ink Copywriter
by Jerry Danzig, Postel-Ink Wordsmith

Jerry Danzig, Postel-Ink Copywriter

Upscale, discriminating consumers zip through TV advertisements.

Listen to commercial-free online and satellite radio.

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Check Caller ID before answering a telephone.

Deploy ever more effective pop-up blockers and spam filters.

That’s why one old/new form of marketing has proven so valuable at breaching the shields put up by today’s hype-weary and hyper-wary shoppers.

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The Value of Editorial Solutions

Louis Postel has a Trade Secret

Louis Postel has a Trade Secret

Custom editorial strategist Louis Postel and direct response copywriter Jerry Danzig have an animated conversation about the value and history of custom publishing, design and editorial.They discuss copy length, the quest for credibility, and why it makes sense to take extra good care of your very best customers.Continue Reading

Jerry:         

Jerry Danzig, Postel-Ink Copywriter

Jerry Danzig, Postel-Ink Copywriter

                       For years in direct response, I would hear people say, “Why is this letter two pages or four pages or whatever?  Why does it go on so long?”  Because it works.  I mean, people scan, but when they’re interested in something, they will read.  So on the net today they say, “Chunk something, put it in chunks.”  So there are small pieces on the page; you don’t frighten people away.  But your best prospects will click on those chunks and read and read, because they want to make an informed decision before they buy something.  And that is as true today as it was 50 years ago. I think we were talking yesterday about David Ogilvy.  Ogilvy was from his earliest days a great proponent of direct response and long copy, and in fact, he was the guy who wrote a famous ad for Rolls-Royce.  I wonder if you remember this one from way back when; it had a very long headline.  I think it had 16 or 17 words in the headline, which is unusual.  And the headline read something like, “At 60 miles per hour, the loudest sound in a Rolls-Royce is the clock ticking”. Louis:         

"Portrait of Louis Postel by the Water" by his wife, Valery Rockwell. Mixed media 2012  Valery Rockwell,  mixed media, 2912

“Portrait of Louis Postel by the Water”
by his wife, Valery Rockwell. Mixed media 2012
Valery Rockwell,
mixed media, 2912

                      Oh yeah, right. Jerry:                                It was a huge success for them.  Obviously, not everybody goes and buys a Rolls-Royce every day of the week.  You have to have some pretty good reasons (and a lot of cash!)  And this was really a startling fact, and apparently it was true.  But back in the 60s, you may also recall that Shell Oil was one of the earlier proponents — or practitioners — of custom content, with their Shell Answer Guide campaign, which I believe Ogilvy was instrumental in creating.  How does one gas station, one chain of gas stations, differentiate itself from another?  Well, they gave useful information.  Here’s how to prepare your car for winter.  Here’s how to keep the tires running the longest.  Here’s how to get the best gas mileage.  All that kind of good stuff. It was very cheap for them to make these little booklets, and you may remember these.  These were small and yellow — they had a bright yellow Shell color — and we all know that yellow is the marketer’s favorite color!  There was a whole series of these.  And obviously it was cheaper to print these and give them away at the stations than to give dishes or bronze sculptures or whatever else somebody else might have been giving — or green stamps.

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Bath Bling for Showboats

by Louis Postel | Showboats International, July 2015

Cate Blanchett

Wed the spirit of water to the spirit of light and out comes a mega yacht! Or a custom faucet. Or to look at it from another perspective, if a yacht is indeed a woman, jewelry for the bath can make or break her presentation.

Especially when counter-poised with stripped-down minimalism. Case in point: last year’s Academy Award appearance of Australian actress Cate Blanchett — how her understated, low-key  dress set off a show-stopping bling bib by Tiffany, a statement piece studded with diamonds, aquamarines and turquoise, that captured  “the effect of sunlight reflected through water,” according to the New York Times.

guerin basin set largePlaying with Dolphins. As baths become hyphenated into bath-spas, bath-retreats, bath-sanctuaries, and bath-gyms, it’s good to have a constant companions like these to share in its many delights, even if they occasionally run hot and cold. Dolphin Basin set, sand cast, hand-chased brass finished in antique 24 caret gold plate at P.E. Guerin’s New York foundry, from P.E. Guerin, Item #10201, $10,285.

 

Solid stainless from Italy

Solid stainless from Italy

Your Stainless Key to Outdoor Showering Sensuality

Everyone knows that showering outside in the hot sun can be better than sex. But who knew that in the area surrounding Lake Maggiore, there’s a flourishing faucet industry? And who knew that most stainless steel faucets are brass or cast metal with only a stainless steel coating? That truly solid stainless steel’s non-porous surface has a natural protective coating of chromium oxide that insures its hygienic qualities practically forever?. Which is to say – if it’s ever damaged, it the chromium oxide coating allows it to heal itself pronto? So leave it to Marcello, the entrepreneur, his friend Giulo, an industrial designer, and Stephen, a Swiss manager, to forge a fixture business called MGS in 1997, which taps into the utility, eco-friendliness and industrial chic of solid of stainless steel right there at the very foot of the Alps.  http://www.mgstaps.com/

 

Fleur de Lotus handwheel by Serdaneli

Fleur de Lotus handwheel by Serdaneli

Beware your guests may never leave. These lotuses are certainly tempting to touch, but the great mega yacht captain Ulysses had a real problem getting them out of the hands of his sailors gobbling up the fruit on an enchanted island. One bite, said Homer, and the men forgot all about going home. Ulysses had to literally drag them back to the ship. Fleur de Lotus from Serdaneli, Paris with hand-carved, crystal, amber-colored hand-wheels with gold-plated brass faucets, 2620 euros.

 

Luxbrass by THG

Luxbrass by THG

We’ll glow when you go. In 1960 big money from the Pentagon fueled the invention of the Internet. In October of last year, a leading French atelier for the bath, THG, leveraged the yachting world’s huge resources to made a comparable breakthrough in bath bling, partnering with M/Y designer Remi Tessier (Kahalani 54m, Salute 56m) and Baccarat to create LED- illuminated hand wheels. Beckoning like candles, THG dubs its new collection Beyond Crystal. “We wouldn’t attempt these innovations on our own,” says THG’s Sophie Durand. “but yachting demands it and is willing to pay for it — innovations such as this — integrating electricity and water flow is far above the level of a five star hotels.” http://thgstyle.com

 

Turning on the Hi-Line with Mark Zeff and Watermark

Turning on the Hi-Line with Mark Zeff and Watermark

Hot, Cold and Zeff right. The depth and breadth of designer Mark Zeff’s impact would appear fathomless — from his richly-appointed M/Y Fathom 45m to luxury homes, from  a boutique hotels to restaurants to condos to furniture, and most recently most recently to faucets. In collaboration with Watermark Designs, a Brooklyn-based manufacturer, Zeff’s new H-Line collection does what Zeff does best:  creating a narrative that links classic luxury with modern aesthetics. The handles feel weighty, even sexy, the stamped H and C on the base of the handles comfortably familiar, while at the same time the escutcheons are positively sleek and low-profile. http://www.watermark-designs.com/news_events/

Chinoiserie basin from Sherle Wagner

Chinoiserie basin from Sherle Wagner

Best Caption Contest Runner-up. He’s saying: “Forget your husband! Come for a ride in my junk and she’s saying “I’ve heard about you and your junk.” From Sherle Wagner International, based in New York City, hand-painted sinks in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Shown here: an under edge china basin in blue with gold-plated levers.

http://www.sherlewagner.com

 

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Deliberating a Lifetime in Design

Home in Harmony's Christa O'Leary

Home in Harmony’s Christa O’Leary

Trade Secrets by Louis Postel | New England Home July – August 2015

If you were to design your own life — not someone else’s house — what might it look like, when you’re over fifty, or sixty, or seventy plus? It’s nice to think about walking the shoreline, the sandpipers scooting away, then quickly resettling.

How to readjust oneself in midflight to inevitable change?

Keep going, but cut back? Try something altogether new, or quit altogether? One could walk all the beaches of Cape Cod, the coast of Maine and even do a turn around Lake Winnipesaukee without arriving at The Answer to what comprises the Well-Designed Life. Quitting altogether in favor of grandchildren may be attractive, but giving up on the connections and creativity of the design world could be a deal-breaker.

Travel, golf, volunteer, back to school, second career — all of which involve slowing down a lifetime in design, and cutting back and may not be a fit, at least not yet, if ever. As Bob Grossman of Wolfer’s explained at a recent IFDA/New England Home cocktail at Wolfer’s showroom in Brighton, MA — even contemplating retirement is hard to do, especially for Grossman just now as design, lighting technology and the economy have combined to create the perfect wave.

What’s more: if you’re a designer, or architect, builder, vendor, artist, craftsperson who has dedicated your life to instilling timelessness in everything you touch, is there any real cut-off point that doesn’t seem totally arbitrary? Timelessness means timelessness — a virtue that can follow generation after generation quite literally. William Hodgins once remarked when approaching the conventional retirement age “when you’ve done the houses of the parents and their children, and now the children of those children who want help, I can’t see turning them away.”

haydelPerhaps the well-designed life is a life in which there’s space and time to even contemplate what it means — a space as long and as airy as one of New England’s aforementioned shores along cape, coast and lake.

Public art offers not a literal shore but certainly wide space to deliberate on one’s life, and one’s life specifically in design. In that spirit, we rose to the seventh floor of Mass Art for a discussion entitled “Public by Design” sponsored by the Fenway Alliance and IFDA in conjunction with Design Week in March

Panelist Murray Dewart of the Boston Sculpture Group remarked on how Augustus St. Gaudens’ bronze bas-relief of the Civil War Colonel Robert Gould Shaw leading the 54th Regiment of African-Americans spoke to him at an early age, awakening a passion to do public art. “St. Gaudens was for sculpting only Shaw, the martyred hero,” said Dewart, “but Shaw’s mother insisted that the blacks be in the picture.” He also mentioned Robert Lowell’s poem “For The Union Dead” — how, touchingly, permanent art becomes subject to constant change, as in the building of the garage under Boston Common:

 

a girdle of orange, Puritan-pumpkin colored girders

braces the tingling Statehouse,

shaking over the excavations, as it faces Colonel Shaw

and his bell-cheeked Negro infantry

on St. Gaudens’ shaking Civil War relief,

propped by a plank splint against the garage’s earthquake.

Two months after marching through Boston,

half of the regiment was dead…

Timelessness then can be captured in bronze, or in a few lines of a poem, or lately a series of design-inspired, temporary installations by Boston designers reviewed at the “Public by Design” program. One standout was “Sparkle and Chime” by architect Jean Kim of Shepley Bullfinch, an installation which did much to help define the Fenway Cultural District last year.

Fellow panelist, architect, and director of the public design initiative SHIFT/Boston Kim Poliquin described Jean Kim’s “Milky Way of tiny dancing stars” in a recent post: “His concept was simple– he affixed a lightweight web of stainless steel cable and fishing line between trees and from this network the team suspended hundreds of reflective disks—hardware parts from old Shepley computers to make the chimes.”

Whether retiring or just getting going, finding someone to delegate to can make a critical difference.  That person can sustain growth, as well as succession. Justin Zeller of Red House Custom Building in Barrington, RI works at the top of his field with designers such as Patti Watson and Kim LaFontaine. Part of that success rests on his ability to delegate tasks to employees such as Eric Marchand, who just became a CLC, or Certified Lead Carpenter.

“I have found that Project Managers aren’t in a position to take ownership, while a Lead Carpenter assigned permanently to a single project is invaluable. He goes home thinking about my client’s project and that’s it. A CLC like Eric can do everything I used to do. This includes scheduling, collecting payment, fielding questions, managing subs. There are just so many moving parts, which explains why so many contractors have earned the reputation for not returning calls. They just don’t have the time,” says Zeller.

“At the same time, CLC’s don’t necessarily have to have the skills of a finish carpenter. Organization, honesty, a focus on customer service — that’s what really counts.”

As we walk the beach contemplating our next chapter, we can delegate more, and we can mentor in the design field as a whole. Designer Eric Haydel, the incoming President of ASID/NE considers mentorship as key goal in insuring that design in New England not only survives but thrives.

“We can’t just sit back and say to emerging professionals ‘well, you just have to earn your stripes.’ While celebrating the accomplishments of established professionals is a good thing, we need to focus on developing a platform for people coming along.”

“And, frankly, mentoring is not a matter of creating competition for yourself. The whole idea of competition is an idea of the past. Which is to say, if people have been going to you over a long time, they’re going to you for a reason.”

Lucky are those who have designed their lives — and careers — to be unique in this way.

Designer Christa O’Leary, based in Hingham, MA finds herself coaching clients on the good life more than anything else. Her new book “Home in Harmony: Designing an Inspired Life” became an Amazon bestseller in the US, UK, India and around the worlde. Trained in psychology, O’Leary brings that knowledge to her clients’ homes which should be, in her words, “a recharging station — a space that nurtures as well as supports.” The good news is that not only women, but men too, are becoming open to this notion of supportive space. “They are no longer happy being relegated to the man cave. They actually want a voice. This can express itself in a more industrial look, heavy canvas, nailheads and so on.”

But what’s energizing to O’Leary and so many others in the field is this shift. With men becoming increasingly involved in design decisions, and with other issues such as sustainability, aging in place, healthy design, community vs. private space growing into major importance, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would not feel energized or be in a rut. And if not stuck in a rut, one can imagine how tempting it would be to keep working till the sands of time run out for real.

On the other hand, if there is one thing that can get people to retire early, it’s working in a state of constant contentiousness. “The build community and the design community don’t play nice together,” says Charlie Allen of the Design-Build firm Charlie Allen Renovations in Cambridge, MA. “And this makes the owner into a referee, even though he doesn’t know the business.”

“We used to have Housewrights that would design and build, but lately we’ve divided those functions and now it seems one of main roles of the American Institute of Architects is to protect homeowner from contractors. And I understand its concerns. There’s nothing about calling yourself a Design/Build firm that guarantees either good design or good build. Indeed, our industry has many blemishes, but tearing someone’s house apart to renovate it is pretty scary to begin with, let alone asking him or her to judge between the architect and builder.  We have AIA architects on staff, and we collaborate between disciplines from the very beginning of a project.”

If constant contention wears us down, a static, unyielding state in which nothing ever happens can send us running to retirement equally fast. Architect Michael T. Gray of Carpenter & MacNeille, based in Essex, MA reminds us not to worry — because there is a new and welcome culture of ideas and feedback coming from clients who have already done their homework.

“Due to the explosion of social media, they’re coming in to see us a lot further down the road than they used to. And there’s definitely some push-back for smaller, more efficient design in the 2,500 square foot range, as opposed to the 4 to 6,000 square feet of not long ago. Whatever the size, they’re insisting that what we do is people friendly and personal.” Gone, in other words, is the big cathedral ceiling with the Palladian window meant to impress from the street, but too often vacuous when you get inside.

One of Gray’s clients coming from the UK just bought a 1740 Colonial in Newbury. She wanted Carpenter & MacNeille to renovate while making the house look like it had always been there. There was considerable back and forth, a dance between historical accuracy and modern building codes. But the dialogue also proved fruitful in unexpected ways that makes design dynamic and worth staying in as long as possible.

The client had bought two leaded glass, decorative windows in the UK that she just happened to like but had no idea where they would go. “We had originally designed a standard water closet with no windows — we were able to use her windows to dramatic effect.”

Now as we gather stones along the beach, we can skip them to represent every option. How much will we miss engaging with clients? Will we miss them only for one skip or an infinite number? And how about the joy of creating public art and the proper settings for it, the satisfaction of mentoring the next generation of designers in of non-competitive collegiality, the pride in harnessing technology to save energy — (and maybe the planet), and the generous act of making spaces where both women and men feel at home and can age there gracefully. How many skips over the glittering waters do these portend — only a few left, or an infinite series at the close of summer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ahoy to Hollywood

by Louis Postel for “Boat Life” in Showboats International | July 2015

beyonce and jay z on yachtWhen visiting the homes and yachts of mega stars, how aware we become that for these lucky few they’re always on stage whether they like it or not.

As soon as you cross the threshold, or step off the tender, the stars’ personae seems to grow on their own volition, setting aglow every space and surface, every table and chair, every rug and bedsheet. Such furnishings, in fact, can make our hosts as well as their guests appear effortlessly and extraordinarily mahvelous — and in so doing the we are inspired to return the favor, leaving  a trail of fairy dust on these their loyal possessions.Continue Reading

At the risk of prying, we’ve taken note of certain of these mega star effects — effects that have worked great magic staging their domestic set.

Like it or not.

beyonce leapingFor Knights at Sea

beyonce.tableIf you missed the YouTube of a frolicsome Beyoncé Knowles bounding off an M/Y in a weenie bikini courtesy of her rapper husband Jay Z, you can always Google it. If you want to set your laptop on a surface just like the one the couple purchased for $70,000, simply click the Hudson Furniture link below. Designed by Barlas Baylar, the live-edged, walnut and cast-bronze  “Knight Base Table” captures Baylar’s eminent style, a minimalist riff on art deco.  The scene-stealing stainless steel “Mother Chandelier” is by Baylar, as well. Table: 108” long x 36”-40” wide x 30” high. https://hudsonfurnitureinc.com/Furniture

 

brad.pitt.chairSit with Pitt

Not to be outdone by Ms. Knowles, Angelina Jolie famously posed on her and her husband Brad Pitt’s M/Y Xposure  sporting her signature black cap paired  with black and white drawstring shorts. What is less known is Pitt’s serious and deep commitment to design. Hence the limited edition, polyurethane CC-2 club chair above, part of a line of furnishings that he designed with furniture maker Frank Pollaro, with whom he happened to share a sketchbook full of his ideas. Prices on request. http://www.pitt-pollaro.com/

 

sotheby.navajo.rugFor Chieftains Only

Singer Andy Williams took us all for a soul-voyage with his universal hit Moon River by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer: Moon river, wider than a mile / I’m crossing you in style someday / Oh, dream maker…

What was less known, at least until the Sotheby’s auction in May of 2013 was the extent of Williams’ collection of antique Navajo blankets from the American Southwest. Like other tribal weavings, the blankets’ designs are uncannily compatible with modernist interiors. Designed for a chief in soft, finely woven handspun churro and raveled wool with alternating bands in ivory and shaded brown, overlaid by four pairs of parallel stripes of indigo blue. 53” by 67” the hammer fell on this one for $221,000.

http://www.sothebys.com/en/departments/american-indian-art.html

 

clooney.amal.peter-reed-nuns-pleatingGet Thee to Nun’s Pleating

To set the scene for romance and lend a whole new meaning to the expression “ahoy, there, mate” we recommend Nun’s Pleating products from Peter Reed in the UK, the duvet cover (325 GBP) and flat sheets (158 GBP)  Why? Because if the world’s most celebrated newlyweds, actor George Clooney and civil rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin finally choose to settle down in the estate they’ve been eyeing to such fanfare, set in the middle of the Thames, called Aberlash House, they will find that Nun’s Pleating already in use as the established bedding of choice. www.peterreeed.com

 

agave_superior_caramelSizzle My Sisal

At 6’ 1” tall, former Victoria’s Secret Angel Karlie Kloss has a long way to look down to where her feet  meet her Agave Superior carpet from Merida Studio.  And so it is tempting and charming to look along with her. Merida Studio deserves attention as well. Based in Fall River, MA in what was once the heart of the U.S. textile industry, Merida has emerged as the dominant player and major innovator in weaving sisal from the agave plant. Using the whitest, and longest of these rapidly renewable, super strong fibers,  Merida rugs are highly unlikely to ever unravel, or lose their particular sheen worthy of a stunning lingerie model such as Karlie Kloss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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