Thursday, November 29, 2012

Decoration by Sandy

Many people were hit much worse than my family, but I thought everyone might be interested in seeing what 40" of water does when it goes through a house. My family beach house in Mantoloking, NJ was right in the path of Sandy. As you can see in the aerial view below it was a hard hit area. The water breached from ocean to bay across the barrier island about three blocks north of our house.

The day after a friend sent me the image below. The house was still standing, and someone had even gone over and raised the flag up the flag pole. It was an inspirational image at the time.

My mother never invested much money in the house - it is a true beach house - sandy and uncomplicated. Mom was raised on the NJ Shore and knows the hazards of shore life - she lived through the 1962 hurricane and is aware that building houses on sandbars is not the best strategy. The house, however, was filled with memories. 

When we were finally let in it was a surreal scene. These pics were taken on that first day. Note the water line and markings from all of the floating debris and furniture along the wall.

It was odd how some things survived while others completely disappeared. You can see from the images that the house fared pretty well structurally. It's still on its foundation and is pretty much intact. 

The water blew out some of the the windows and doors on the ground floor. The day we went down was beautiful - sunny and clear - and all was calm in the house, so it was hard to imagine the water at the height of the storm, rushing in and out of rooms, but it had left its trail.

Not much was disturbed above the waterline. So things on the mantle went untouched, hats on hooks stayed in place, and pots an pans hanging on racks were ready for the next meal. Upstairs the beds were still made and everything was in its place. Eery.

Who knew that refrigerators floated?

The soft goods like the pull-out sofa and rugs were disgusting. They were the first things to get dragged out.

It was just amazing where things ended up, and what made it through unscathed. Note the antique hutch that is on the floor in two pieces in the image below - filled with glass and china - the only thing that broke inside was one martini coup. 

The damp silt that gets on everything is unimaginable.

This chair floated out, around the house, and ended up in the entry to the crawl space below the house - as did many books and other things. It was hard to figure out why and how things travelled where they did.

The the rear deck floated about six feet north.

Mom's car in the garage ended up perpendicular to doors, banged up and waterlogged.

Every drawer in the kitchen, and bowl under the counter was filled with bay water.

40" of water.

Three trips down with my Mother and my Brother and it is pretty much cleaned out. 

"There they are!"Our dining chairs ended up three houses away - in the neighbors trash pile.

Others fared much worse. These images were taken on our last trip down and the Army Corp of Engineers had been hard at work filling in around collapsed houses to preserve the island, but you can see the devastation was huge. Many houses collapsed and others are just gone into the sea.

For my family there are many decisions to be made, yet many opportunities ahead. Thankfully this was not a primary residence, but we are worried about mold, and raising it against the next flood, and it needs a new kitchen, bathroom, and electrical - at least. But it made it through the storm, and I might say that is a testament to its simplicity. It is an old heavy wooden box - no insulation, no sheetrock, and honestly most of the furnishings that made it through the storm were antiques. The house started its life as a garage  in the early part of the 20th century and has weathered many storms. In fact, on the day that my parents bought it in 1979 there was a hurricane that brought the bay into the street and right up to floor level, but no water went into the house, and my father closed on it! We always knew this was a possibility, but I have a new appreciation for the reality of flood damage, and my heart goes out to all who lost their homes in the storm.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Ted Maines

Love this postcard for an open house that Ted Maines Interiors in Winter Park, FL sent out.

They look like a fun bunch, and it seems they like our products!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Look What I Made

We're loving the plaid-on-plaid styling of Harry's full-page spread in Interior Design's Market Tabloid. What better way to show off his latest creation, the Paperwork Lantern, a combination of low-tech papier maché and high-tech LEDs.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Color Report: Oxydendrum is the Diana Vreeland of Autumn


Just imagine Diana camouflaged in a grove of these maaarvelous blood orange trees.

Must see movie! Must see tree!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Columbus Discovered

A few us from the studio took a field trip uptown to see the Discovering Columbus installation. Artist Tatsu Nishi built a living room around the sculpture and it is free to all.

The scaffolding was beautiful, and I have a touch of vertigo that adds to the excitement to any climb. Turns out the black protrusions on the column are the Nina the Pint and the Santa Maria.

The views from the center of Columbus Circle were also nice.

And getting up close and personal to the great explorer (even though he did not discover America, and only brought disease and destruction to the natives) was a unique experience. The scale was fun, and I loved the intimate access to a usually inaccessible NYC landmark. I'd love to to see Mercury, on top of Grand Central, up close.  

I did not, however, get the living room scenario. I know that is Tatzu Nishi's schtick, but it was not great design and did not really contribute to the dialogue. In fact, I felt it detracted from the experience. I would have preferred a gallery setting, a nice white box.

Poor Columbus. He's a victim of acid rain, and desperately in need of restoration. Which he will get soon!

Sunday, October 7, 2012


You may not agree with my politics, but you must admit I made a handsome sign for our house in Pound Ridge.

At 4' x 4' it is what I think a political sign should look like. I just hope there are no regulations against a large expression of freedom like this and/or rowdy GOPers that pull it down. Sign painting is not my forté, but I managed with some Sharpies and house paint. It features my favorite quote from the campaign and has been stopping traffic on Long Ridge Rd all morning!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Pink Jalk Project

Twenty leading interior designers, architects and design icons were asked to customize the Grete Jalk GJ Chair. Bid now for a one-of-a-kind chair to benefit The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Auction closes on October 31st.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Silicone Key Keychain in Elle Decor Italia.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Gardener's Party

The annual Gardener's Party at Wave Hill is one of the high points in our social calendar. We were invited by Adam Rose and Peter McQuillan, who are very generous in their support of all things horticultural.

Drinking and shopping is a great fundraising formula so they hold a plant sale and silent auction during cocktail hour. I admired this Jackpot at the silent auction, designed by Jack Lenor Larsen for Seibert and Rice and planted up with an Agave plant.

John and I bought this little Hydrangea Sargentiana at the plant sale / cocktail hour. It will go in the garden this weekend.

When the party moved inside for the dinner and live auction, I was very impressed with the clear plastic tent - so expansive under the twilight sky. 

This Marten house was on the block. Made of wood reclaimed from the garden it also sported a green roof.

Reckless bidding was encouraged, and the auction supports the garden. John and I bid on some tree work but were quickly bulldozed by someone with more money (and sicker trees, I imagine).

On our way out, the greenhouses glowed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Paperwork Lantern

As seen in The New York Times, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012.

By Arlene Hirst: Harry Allen deals in twisted household archetypes. The New York-based designer's continuing Reality series includes a fruit bowl cast from a bunch of bananas, a coat hook shaped like a hand, and a roller skate playing the role of a door stop. For his latest project, Paperwork lanterns for Hive, he has transformed an old barn lantern into a ghostly light fixture. Cast in papier-mâché and mounted on black or chrome steel, the collection includes a table lamp, floor lamp, and chandelier, all designed to hang from hooks attached to an armature. The lights are illuminated with LED Bulbs. A single lantern costs $350. Information: (888) 889-9005 or

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Paris Seen

I spent the weekend in Paris for the Maison et Objet show where Hive was launching our Paperwork lamps, and Gaia & Gino was exhibiting our fashionable little Gaia vase. Paris is a fantastic mix of old and new, high and low, home and garden, and fashion and design. It always provides a unique design perspective, and although I was taking it pretty easy, I stumbled upon many beautiful things. For instance, these folded tables at the Tools gallery ...

... a green wall tucked away in the Bastille ...

... a mix of rustic Americana ...

... and colorful, electro-community at Merci ...

... these folding LED fixtures at Triode gallery ...

... a classic display of macaroons at Ladurée ...

... the public bike system ...

... more garden-as-adornment atop a contemporary shelter ...

... Giverny, the original green muse ...

... the Docks building along the seine ...

... that housed the exhibit NOW! le OFF, a show of young design that included these smart little self-adhesive folded paper lamps by Well Well Designers (paper was everywhere BTW so our Paperwork lamps, after five years of development, were right on trend) ...

... not to mention the food, sunshine, and people-watching at the cafes ...