Thank You

Thank You

While some of you already know, I had to take just a brief moment to acknowledge those who nominated me for the inaugural Design Bloggers Conference Hall of Fame award. I am honored to be a finalist with such a great group in the best writing category. A grateful nod also to the judges for including me as one of the final five.

And without risking sounding like a beauty contestant, I do have to send a thank you to all the readers who let me know they have cast their vote. I am really so very appreciative. Congratulations to each nominee.…

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Happy Chinese New Year

Happy Chinese New Year

Today is the beginning of the new lunar year in China. As the most important holiday in the country, people there have already been celebrating Chinese New Year for a couple of weeks. And not just at parties. Here divers dance underwater at an aquarium in Beijing.

photo: China Daily/Reuters

This year we are celebrating the Year of the Dragon, marked by excitement, exhilaration and intensity. To the Chinese, the dragon symbolizes power, ambition, heroism, divinity, success, optimism and nobility which is why they have embraced the dragon in many art forms over thousands of years.

Ming Dynasty red lacquer Sutra box at the Metropolitan Museum

Unlike our western dragons which are frequently associated with negative qualities, eastern dragons are beautiful, wise, and kind, are worshipped and even have shrines devoted to them.…

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At the Movies

At the Movies

Considering my posts this week, you’ve probably guessed the feature today is a British film (even though Dark Shadows is American, the gothic residence had heavy English overtones). And in thinking about interiors, I considered many of the movies shot at grand castles and estates but decided on one with a more modest setting. Alfred Hitchcock’s Suspicion was one of my early introductions to the master. While not considered one of his masterpieces, I still always loved this romantic thriller.

Joan Fontaine, on the heels of her performance in Hitchcock’s spectacular Rebecca, earned an Oscar in 1941 for her portrayal of the shy bookworm Lina McLaidlaw.…

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British Style Bonanza

British Style Bonanza

Between the mania for Downton Abbey and the popularity of Will and Kate, it’s clear British style is making a comeback. It’s true in fashion – think of the 600,000 visitors who saw McQueen at the Met or the fashionistas watching Kate’s every move. I LOVED her here in Brit designer Alice Temperley at the recent War Horse premiere in London.

But it’s the realm of design that I think holds the most fascination. Downton Abbey writer Julian Fellowes had Highclere Castle, where the show is filmed, in mind when he wrote the series. He said he wanted a house “which spectacularly testified to the confidence and soaring optimism of the Edwardian period.” Perhaps with the last few years of economic restraint, people have been looking to their homes for a reassuring sense of comfort and security.…

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Dark Shadows

Dark Shadows

I knew it would happen eventually. With the vampire mania of the last few years, it was just a matter of time until someone resurrected the cult 60’s series Dark Shadows. As much as I have eschewed the current vampire offerings, I must offer full disclosure and admit that I was hooked on the show. I negotiated hard with my mother to let me watch every afternoon for the half hour after school. I think she relented only so that I wouldn’t be a social pariah, since it was the main fodder for daily lunchtime discussions in the cafeteria.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the show, Dark Shadows could best be described as a gothic soap opera.…

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The Invention of the Past

The Invention of the Past

I received many beautiful design and coffee table books for Christmas this year (a few admittedly from me to me). Some I have already reviewed here and others I hope to cover in posts to come. While most had received enough advance press that I knew what to expect, there was one that was a total revelation.

For some unknown reason, The Invention of the Past: Interior Design and Architecture of Studio Peregalli had not been on my radar. I’m not quite sure why since Laura Sartori Rimini and Roberto Peregalli’s work at Studio Peregalli represents everything I love about design and architecture.…

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Road Trip: Peter Fasano

Road Trip: Peter Fasano

I have long been a fan of Peter Fasano‘s appealing fabrics and wallpapers, so when designer friend Mally Skok (below) asked if I’d like to join her, along with Amy Dragoo, at his Great Barrington, MA studio last month, I was thrilled. Peter also prints Mally’s ever expanding delightful fabric lines, available in showrooms in the US, London and Australia.

Peter’s studio is in an unassuming building in this western Massachusetts town, now home to many creative types. In fact it was the Fasanos’ friend, the late textile designer, Alan Campbell, who originally lured them up to the area, nearby in Connecticut, where other design luminaries such as Bunny Williams also have homes.…

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Fancy Some Fondue?

Fancy Some Fondue?

It’s been a slow reentry after the holidays here. I’d become accustomed to the kids’ schedule – late nights playing games (liar’s dice was the obsession this year) or watching movies and lazy mornings sleeping in. As I put my older daughter on the bus back to school yesterday, I reluctantly acknowledged that vacation is over. Perhaps it didn’t quite feel quite right ending the holidays with such balmy weather. It left me wondering what happened to winter?

photo: Robert Huber for the Wall Street Journal

I know all you warm weather lovers are reveling in our temperatures but I do like a bit of seasonal change (I reserve the right to complain later).…

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Quintessential Guide to Champagne

Quintessential Guide to Champagne

In preparation for New Year’s Eve, everyone needs to know at least a little something about champagne. Long time readers may recognize some of this information, but since many of you are new to Quintessence this year, I am offering an updated version of this must-read guide before the holiday weekend!! Thanks to Wednesday Wine compatriot Terry Rogers of Horseneck Wines in Greenwich for the incredibly informative and insightful take on the history and making of our favorite festive drink!

What better way to enjoy the holidays than to get together to share a glass of the good bubbly with friends and family.  …

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Coupe or Flute?

Coupe or Flute?

This is the age old champagne dilemma – coupe, flute or tulip! Last year I wrote about Seth Box, director of education for Moet Hennessy USA, who, in the New York Times, discussed his preferences. Not only did he voice his opinion (which of course I agree with) that Americans drink too little champagne but he also had strong thoughts about what glass to serve it in.

He admits that although flutes are “great for presentation and showcase bubbles beautifully, from the tasting standpoint, the shape isn’t ideal.” He prefers something rounder on the bottom that tapers on top like this Baccarat Remy stem.…

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