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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Island Inspired!

March is the time for daydreaming about hot sun, endless beaches, and the chance to spend a week restricting decision making to the list of specialty cocktails at the swim-up pool bar....martini or margarita? A client of ours coined her yearly pilgrimages to the tropics as her ‘Annual Flake and Bake’, and the phrase says it all. A getaway to the Caribbean can be sublime rejuvenation for the spirit, and for the design-minded, a sunny source of inspiration. Through this recession, tap into those airmiles, and it may be worthwhile to take advantage of some of the specials your travel agent has to offer!

Photo courtesy

I received an email this week advertising some reduced rates for a destination that's definitely worth consideration. Atlantis, the luxurious resort in Paradise Island, Bahamas, is an upscale oasis for families with children, eye candy for designers, and a little slice of heaven for everyone else. Considered the largest island resort in the world, Plato’s lost Continent of Atlantis is the inspiration for this complex, a place of harmony and abundance. Guests would concede even Plato himself would be inspired by developer Sol Kerzner’s tropical masterpiece. Most of the photos of this destination are my own, so the beauty is au natural, no retouching needed!

An aerial view of Atlantis. Photo courtesy

The friendly staff at the Balinese-inspired Mandara Spa offer endless packages to pamper both men and women.

Premium indoor shops such as Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci, Cartier and Versace are located here.

The multiple amenities within the 171-acre resort include 23 restaurants (including 2 eateries run by celebrity chefs), 20 beach/swimming areas, a 30,000 square foot Balinese-inspired spa, an action packed casino, hip lounges, luxe shopping, the world’s largest open-air marine habitat, a world class marina, and a unique state of the art ‘Aquascape’ waterpark.

The stunning entrance to The Cove, one of the newest additions to the resort.

The original buildings depict the mythical Atlantis, with elaborate sculptures and rococo details, grand architecture and murals. With the vision of interior architect Jeffery Beers, Phase III of the Atlantis resort epitomizes the ultimate chic resort lifestyle with contemporary architecture. Opened in May of 2007, ‘The Cove’ is a 22- storey building with 600 suites. The strong , clean architectural lines, exotic woods, glass, smooth plaster and stonework combined with a luxurious neutral palette result in a space that is sumptuous modern relaxation.

lounge area in the lobby of The Cove.

Check your reservations for The Cove and enjoy this interesting wall of lights in the lobby.

Need a break from all this excitement? Come and relax!

Restaurant within Phase III of the resort.

Lastly, beyond the outstanding beaches, entertainment and accomodations Atlantis offers its guests, one of the features that must be mentioned is the fantastical modernist glass art of sculptor Dale Chihuly. Mr. Chihuly began his prolific career in the 60’s, and his work revolutionized the studio glass movement, as well as dramatically impacted the world of contemporary art with his organic, colourful, room-sized glass sculptures. His pieces embody the current modern trend of using bold colour, large scale, light, and organic shapes. Developer Sol Kerzner commissioned Chihuly to create 4 outstanding pieces for the resort, and they are here for you to enjoy....note the scale of these pieces is massive! To admire more of Dale Chihuly's work, click here.

Temple of the Moon
Crystal Gate, my personal favourite! Photo courtesy of

Temple of the Sun

Atlantis Chandelier, which Chihuly describes as a departure from his typical work. Photo courtesy of

If you're contemplating a visit to Atlantis Paradise Islands, click here.
If the Bahamas just isn't exotic enough for you, don't despair, there's more.....

How about Dubai? Sol Kerzner has just completed Atlantis 'The Palm', a second resort located in Dubai, which opened this past September.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Spring, will you ever get here??

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr.
For those of us here in Canada, it has been, to say the least, a long, harsh winter. We are all tired of being sick, and sick of being cold! More snow is scheduled!! I tried to simulate some Spring this past week, to remind myself of warmer, cheerier days and sunshine that lasts longer than a few minutes. I believe Martha Stewart would agree: the perfect pre-spring brightener is to force a few branches.

Photo by Robin Standeger and Stephen Aleschof from Roman Williams.
Somehow, seeing these sparse stems with the budding growth are encouraging - give me some green!!! This is a little project that doesn't cost anything if you have a few interesting trees nearby to obtain a few branches from. The best branches are forsythia, magnolia, curly willow,
pussy willow, flowering dogwood, flowering crab, and quince.
Photo courtesy of Habitually Chic.
This photo of this gorgeous, simple arrangement is from the home of Valesca Guerrand-Hermes.
Sometimes, I cheat a bit, and put in a few artificial (but very realistic-looking) branches with sparse buds and blooms on them, amongst the real branches, to keep the arrangement looking healthy. I found some gorgeous but minimalist-looking forsythia branches at Pottery Barn a few years ago, so look around for some. It's important that any synthetic branches or florals used look very real.

If you have no branches in your yard to clip, the flower department in your local grocery store will often have branches that are used as fillers for their arrangements. They're generally inexpensive and sometimes quite lush, as with this vase full of branches in this photo above from Kenneth Brown Design.

Pussy willows are easy to work with, stand tall in a shallow vase if supported properly, and are quite sculptural.
In this photo from Martha Stewart's blog, it appears as if the view of the snow outside is intentionally being hidden by these huge arrangements (these people must be as tired of looking at the cold and frozen scenery as I am!).
Arrangements of branches are also stunning as a centerpiece, as in this Martha Stewart photo.

In this photo from Metropolitan Home, branches were used as a chandelier. This piece
was equipped with tiny lights and actually functioned as a light fixture.

Forcing branches requires a few steps:

1. Clip several branches from trees and shrubs outdoors that have small buds on them.

2. Clip the branches again indoors on the diagonal, trimming all small branches about 6- 8" above (where the branch will be submerged in water).

3. Place one large branch in a vase in a few inches of hot water, until it cools down to room temperature.

4. Fill the vase with more lukewarm water, add the rest of the branches, and place the arrangement in a bright, cool place. Try to avoid direct sun.
In a few weeks, you should see blooms!
These arrangements for a spring wedding included a mossy nest.

Photo courtesy of Habitually Chic.
This gorgeous hall arrangement is from talented New York designer, Steven Gambrel.

Photo from Habitually Chic.
Kelly Wearstler's dining table arrangement is flanked with some symmetrical arrangements of branches.
Photo from Steven Gambrel Design
Another favourite 'Spring fix' is to buy several large green Granny Smith apples or pears and place them in a modern bowl. It's a great healthy snack for the kids and that hit of juicy green feels fresh for this time of year. How can you get better than that...low cost decor and nutrition all in one? In my house, the fruit is gobbled up before I can appreciate the look of it , so I buy extra!
If you're not snowed in this weekend, hope you have a chance to bring some Spring into your home!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

IDS 2009 Review- White Hot!

Design was definitely inspirational in Toronto at the Direct Energy Center last week.
Here are some of the highlights of the 11th Toronto Interior Design Show (IDS09):

A Swarovski crystal lighted swing amidst a dark ethereal metal forest was the creation of the talented firm Munge Leung as a 'Crystal Clear' display sponsored by Audi and Allure Magazine.

Powell and Bonnell created this synthesis of water, light, metal and
Swarovski crystal for the 'Crystal Clear' display.

Hot colour combinations - fuschia, orange, red, against white. White with pop colours was
a prevailing theme in this year's show.

'Red Lounge' area sponsored by Grand Marnier, buzzing with inspired visitors on Trade day.
The Warp chair by Atelier Jacob.

Ikea's room displays reveal the chic versatility of their products.

Another white display in front of the Krups Stage at the show.

The elaborate Chair Source display reveals their fabulous selection of chairs, and once again, we see the chic modern look of white on traditional chairs with geometric prints. Below, a gorgeous
display of products from Casa Life.

Nudesign, a synthesis of Aya Kitchens, Glen Peloso design and Wolf/Sub Zero have banded together to create this fabulous kitchen!

Over the top design by 64th and Queen, part of the 5 X 5: 5 Designers, 5 Inspired Spaces.
It was a spectacular show this year! Stay tuned for highlights of conversations I had with five top designers on renovations!

Monday, February 2, 2009

IDS09: Anticipation for Inspiration

It's that time of year again, when the wicked doldrums of Winter have taken their toll, and we are all in need of some freshness. In a few days we are off to Toronto's 2009 Interior Design Show, an annual event displaying new and notable contemporary design trends. We've attended this show every year since it began 11 years ago, and despite that it seems each year to take up less space and have fewer sponsors, there are still loads of ideas to be gleaned. After attending interesting seminars, discovering new suppliers and innovative products, we leave Toronto armed with an arsenal of hot ideas, and the snow seems insignificant.

Guest speaker Ben Van Berkel is proprietor of UNstudio and an award-winning architect from Amsterdam, Netherlands. Wallpaper Magazine has named Van Berkel as 'one of architecture's most active star professionals'.

Of course, we'll see Lynda Reeves, the everlasting face of House and Home, strutting her stuff all weekend.

French (as in Paris) Designer Christophe Delcourt will be showcasing his furniture design for
Roche Bobois.

Here's a sneak peek of the products that will be featured:

Bookshelf by Christophe Delcourt from Roche Bobois 'Legend' Collection in burgundy oak.

The Legend Collection by Christophe Delcourt for Roche Bobois.

The Ripple Table, from Groenart.

New seating from Italy by Frini Furniture.

A highlight of the show will be the new products from Ecosmart. These sleek fireplaces are environmentally friendly with ethanol, and they're flueless, so they can be placed just about anywhere.

Here is Ecosmart's new 'Tower', a sculpture and fireplace in one....and when used outdoors, it becomes a very modern luxe tiki torch! See below!

Zeta by Ecosmart - This reminds me of my laptop, and what it would look like if I set it on fire. This thought crosses my mind some days, like last week when my email was down!

Oli modular furniture by Giorgetti.

Rugs from Design Doctor Finland, in cotton chenille, design by Elina Helenius

'Celine' Tile from Mettro Source

Lighting from Tansy and Co.

Plastidermy sculpture by Science + Son

Sculptural storage by Dudley Mack.

Check back to find out what other interesting finds we discover...this is just a tidbit!

The 2009 Interior Design Show is held at the Direct Energy Center on the Exhibition grounds in Toronto. The show runs from Feb. 5-8, and the public is welcome on Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $17. Will you be attending?