Friday, January 28, 2011

Design Dinner

The design world has provided me with some great friends. Last night John and I had David Weeks, Suzanne Tick and Terry Mowers over for dinner.

John made "Malfatti," ricotta and chard gnochi, from a recipe he had pulled from the NY Times magazine ages ago. Having folks over is a great time to use all the beautiful things we have collected - note our amazing Harri Koskinen hurricane lamps.

The dinner group had all contributed to our apartment re-design. We have a new David Weeks lamp in our living area and a Suzanne Tick designed (Terry Mowers procured and installed) carpet in the bedroom. And nothing says thanks better than a plate of Malfatti. Pics of the new space are coming soon - it was just shot for Plaza magazine.

Unfortunately David's wife Georgie couldn't make it because of the snow. David, Georgie and I started planning this dinner back in April when we were stuck in Italy due to the Icelandic volcano. Remember that? Well, from ash to snow ...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Siu + Pigs

An industrial designer friend from Pratt, Masato Hasegawa, who now lives in Tokyo, sent me this photo of his cute little dog, Siu, in front of a window display featuring the "Bank in the Form of a Pig". She seems a little disinterested if you ask me.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Marie Claire Italia

Our Birds on Wire for Covo featured in Marie Claire Italia.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


If you are attending the Maison & Objet show in Paris this week, look for Harry Allen Design products at the following stands:

Areaware Hall 8A, Stand L39

Covo Hall 8A, Stand H28

Skitsch Hall 8A, Stand F27

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Our Money Tree Xmas card is featured in the Korean Interiors magazine this month ...

Friday, January 14, 2011

Museum Pig

It is official, Bank in the Form of a Pig, our iconic piggy bank has recently been acquired for the permanent collections of both the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (below).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Argentine Reality

A friend spotted a Mixed Fruit Bowl, part of my REALITY line for Areaware, in the shop of the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA). Apparently he was scolded for taking this picture with his phone, but it is much appreciated ...

It is amazing to me how well traveled my products are; they end up all over the world. In addition to store displays, this blog will be featuring products in all stages of their life. I'm interested in how they get used and loved. Please keep the pics coming.

Monday, January 10, 2011

You say Lenado

After LA, John and I headed to Aspen for some snowboarding. I know, I know, I should be back in the studio working, but the snow called, and Aspen delivered. Despite all of the hype, it is a real town with great mountains. I highly recommend it. Nothing to report from the slopes except my amazing iDiom pants, and a full recovery from my collarbone break last year.

However, the little hotel we discovered a few years ago deserves a design shout-out. It is called the Lenado and it was designed by Harry Teague, an architect in his own right, but also the son of Walter Dorwin Teague, the great early twentieth century industrial designer. It was completed in 1984 and it looks like it. I hated post modernism when I was in school, but this charming incarnation is really fun, and proves that post-modernism had a practical side. The building works beautifully, and offers a unique design perspective.

Everyone knows it as the "hotel with the blue windows," and it is sort of kooky. I am sure it was built on a budget, so don't expect the starchitecture of today. It is an unpretentious hotel that has its priorities right - great staff and service, a hot tub on the roof with a view of Ajax mountain, a building that anticipates the needs of its user, and lots of quality design details to marvel at. Like the shuttered rooms with woodburning fireplaces ...

... the array of geometric windows facing the slopes ...

... the little curved staircase ...

... and the rough hewn columns and classical references.

All over the building you can see the hand of the architect.

Buildings like the Lenado make me realize that even though one does not like a particular style, it is best to give the benefit of the doubt. There are always things to learn, preconceived notions to break, and beauty to find.

I first encountered Harry Teague in the 90s. Chris Hacker was working with him to design the Aspen store for Steuben. Much later I stumbled upon the Lenado. Harry Teague Architects was founded in 1978, so this must have been an early commission. I made a quick visit to his web site and learned that Mr. Teaque has been very busy since he designed the Lenado and has evolved from his post-modern roots.

Friday, January 7, 2011

LA 3

Last day in fantasy land. Despite some rain, the Desert Garden at the Huntington Library and Gardens blew us away.

It is everything a garden should be - amazing colors, beautifully laid out, large established specimens, and a huge variety of plant material. The plants of the desert are so refreshing to my east-coast eyes; surreal and sculptural.

The Aloe were all in bloom. John Holm, the Gardening Editor here at Harry Allen Design News Blog commented that Aloes hail from Southern Africa and because the seasons are flipped they bloom here in our winter. He also noted that there are a huge variety of aloes. The Huntington had some nice specimens both large and small.

After Huntington, we stopped by the Gamble House, but arrived a few minutes late. They were very unfriendly, and they would not let us in. Craftsman is not really my thing anyway, and it allowed us more time with our friends Chris and Will in their hillside Neutra-designed gem. Here Chris prepares tea - as lovingly as he restored the house. Please note the Banana Bowl on the kitchen counter, and the indoor/outdoor perspective of the house.

Chris who now runs the Global Design team at J&J and has been a great supporter of my work. Over the years we have worked on many projects including packaging for Aveda and the First Aid Kit for J&J. Will Thomas, his partner, is a very talented musician. So often we see an ideal depiction of modernism in print; it is great to see a modernist house lived in and enjoyed.

There could have been no better way to conclude our trip to LA than a visit to The Dresden with Barney Brown. The restaurant is a wacky throwback to the 70s, and Barney is a throwback to every other decade since the 1920's. Check this place out ... each white banquet is backed by a screen of floor to ceiling wooden beams.

Look at this drama.

And this drama ... here Barney, who just turned 90 (or 89, or 88, no one is really sure) wields his iphone to take a pic of our friend David. Barney still paints, enjoys life to its fullest, and is a true inspiration to all of his friends. I'll post a pick of the papaya painting he gave us when I get it up.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

LA 2

On New Years Day we thoroughly enjoyed the fantasy that is LA. Starting with Mel's Diner.

We continued with a tour of the Disney Hall. I often feel Gehry's design overpowers its function, but I have grown to appreciate the architectural experiences his irrational buildings offer up. Walking up and around through the building is an exhilarating experience. All of Gehry's curved and tilted walls make me sort of sick to my stomach which in itself is sort of amazing - architecture that affects your sense of equilibrium. There is a walkway that leads you up and through the rafters - that I guess it is always open, because the main bulding was closed for New Years Day.

Here my friends Roland Lee, Peter Vitale, and John Holm make their way up the stairs.

There are some amazingly artistic moments. Eat your heart out Richard Serra.

And at one point the sleek metal facade gives way to reveal the inner structure. It is incredible what goes into building the curved walls. No simple post and beam here.

We also drove by the Eastern Columbia Building. I have not paid so much attention to art deco in a long time, but take a look at this beauty, all clad in color tile. It makes a very strong statement.

LA 1

John and I headed to LA for the birthday of a dear friend Barney Brown, and rang in a very chilly New Year, by LA standards. Happy New Year all! The fantasy begins at the airport.

And the fantasy continues at the hotel. We played rock star at the Sunset Marquis which totally delivered in an understated way. They have their priorities right - good bed, excellent service, beautiful grounds, and tons of privacy. We did however pull a "New Yorker" and sat by the pool fully clothed to get some sun - not too cool, but it felt so good.

Day One we just strolled down La Cienega. Everything was closed but I spotted this amazing dragonfly fabric in the window of Downtown.

We also ran into our friend Dragan Mrdja, a New York transplant and architect-turned-shoe designer, who was manning his pop-up shop. I forgot to get a pic, but the shoes are beautiful.

We started New Years Eve at the apartment of our friends Peter and Harry, who just moved into an amazing art deco building on Fountain. Peter Vitale is an amazing photographer, and their apartment is picture perfect. The elevator was fantastic - you might call it "hand-made- machine-age". At the end of the day even the most futuristic designs need to be crafted, and very often the vision is way ahead of the manufacturing technology.

In their living room they made a distinctly 21st Century move and painted the deco molding in white. The rest of the apartments' details remained gold and silver, but I loved the update even more. It is OK to tinker with history.