Welcome to the third BEHIND THE Q, a monthly feature showcasing behind-the-scenes visits with select stylemakers. In entertaining venues, we explore, through both video (below) and editorial content, their style quotients and gain insight into their creativity. I am especially thrilled to introduce this month’s subject.

Photo by Brigitte Lacombe for Conde Nast’s House & Garden

Anyone interested in magazines and design is familiar with my guest this month. Dominique Browning is an iconic figure in the world of print. Well known for her long tenure (13 years) as the last editor-in-chief of House and Garden and as a writer for such distinguished publications as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Departures and Food & Wine, she is also the author of several books, most recently the best-selling Slow Love.

If you have not read this gem, you owe it to yourself to pick it up, especially now that it has been released in paper. You will find yourself nodding in recognition and laughing out loud. In addition to her articles for magazines and newspapers, Dominique is a regular contributor to the Environmental Defense Fund website, Women’s Voices for Change, Moms Clean Air Force and can be found blogging at Slow Love Life.

Dominique BrowningI had the pleasure of visiting Dominique at her home in Rhode Island last month, where we toured some local shops and galleries and had a chance to catch up at her lovely home on the water.

Those of you who have read Slow Love can imagine what a delightful weekend I had visiting with the insightful, design-savvy, smart and yes, funny author. Joining me was our mutual friend and doctor, affectionately known as Dr. Pat, my previous (and hopefully future) road trip partner. To set the scene, you can read about Dominique’s amusing preparations here. And to set the record straight, her house was exquisite and immaculate – the perfect amalgamation of eclectic chic, old and new, natural and sleek, and always unique, just like her – a fabulous mix of seasoned editorial vision!

My room welcomed me with special thoughtful touches, the sign of an attentive and considerate hostess.

Outside of Newport, Rhode Island is a somewhat under-the-radar New England destination. Having attended college in Providence, I have a special affection for this tiny state and its disproportionately large coastline. So does Dominique, as you can see in this little bonus video.

For further Rhode Island adventures, be sure to read Dominique’s piece in Travel and Leisure this month where she “wends through the small towns, quiet beaches, historic sites, and stylish hotels that make up Rhode Island’s secret coast”.

After stopping at an old fashioned local church fair in Little Compton, where I scored some amazing purchases, to be featured in a later post, and a delicious lobster roll at Commons Lunch, above, we arrived at Tiverton Four Corners. This quaint village of 18th century houses is also a local center for antiques, decorative crafts, art galleries, and charming shops, all within walking distance.

Dominique BrowningDominique knew I would love Nankeen. Designer Ann Page’s store is a collection of wonderful cotton accessories. It is a winning combination of contemporary designs made from an ancient traditional Chinese art form. “Blue nankeen” refers to the hand-dyed fabric of indigo hue in patterns made from hand-carved stencils. This meticulous, labor intensive process results in durable fabric of striking graphic appeal.

This imported fabric is then made into chic and functional bags as well as fashion and home accessories with great attention to design details. Note that you can also purchase some of the fabrics by the yard – we were all thinking what a marvelous tablecloth many of the designs would make! Dominique chose the large lily tote. It would make a perfectly chic beach bag or tote for traveling back and forth to a summer rental or home.

Our next stop was Tiffany Peay Jewelry.

In this workshop/gallery, Tiffany assembles her hand-selected gemstones into elegantly simple designs that look beautiful individually or layered for a more impressive effect.

Seeing Tiffany in her workspace surrounded by stones was like being in a candy shop of gems, with pieces in all different stages of completion. I loved how Dominique modeled these rings – it made choosing just one perhaps less difficult.

Tiffany frequently uses green or rose gold, enhancing the shade of the stones with delicate detail. After launching her first collection in Barney’s in 1994, Tiffany has been featured in numerous magazines and websites. Working with her on a custom piece would be a total delight – she is both knowledgeable and approachable, with a great sense of scale and color.

Gallery 4, our next stop, is just that – a gallery of four owners, combining art from their respective collections including Turkish textiles, wire-designed jewelry and art, and furniture and decorative art from China and Southeast Asia. It is from this latter collection, Bob Smith’s Wanderer Imports, that Dominique made her selection.

This tall two door beechwood cabinet from Shanghai of the late Qing dynasty would make a lovely addition to Dominique’s beautiful space. It’s spare yet exotic presence would easily mix with her chic collection of eclectic pieces.

You could just about furnish an entire weekend house at  The Cottage at Four Corners. This charming shop carries a thoughtfully curated selection of well known, more obscure and locally made products. From large pieces of furniture to tabletop items and smaller household accessories, this appealing store was teeming with temptation!

I wasn’t surprised to discover that founder Nancy Hemenway was a member of the elite alumni from Design Research, recently the subject of a new book. Her shop is typical of both the design conscious selection and enticing merchandising the iconic Cambridge store was known for.

From Janus et Cie wicker to Match pewter to furniture by local artisan Jim Stubblefield, The Cottage epitomizes the casual chic style of this lovely coastal community. Dominique found several ideas for a summer tabletop vignette.

How fun are those reusable melamine “paper plates” – ants included!! The acrylic version of the classic French tumblers are in the perfect shade of summer green accompanying the beautiful Belgian Libeco linens – all set for an al fresco meal with some fresh local produce and delicious home-made ice cream from Gray’s across the street (Dr. Pat and I can personally vouch for the quality of their tasty product).

I was so sad for our wonderful girls’ weekend to end. I got to experience some slow love first hand, enjoying my morning coffee (Dominique makes a mean cappuccino) overlooking the water from her terrace. We have vowed to find another excuse to get together, hopefully soon. Be on the lookout next week for my picks from our outing and perhaps another bonus video!! Thank you so much Dominique – what a special treat!!

55 thoughts on “BEHIND THE Q

  1. How fantastic is this? I adore Miss Browning’s Slow Love Life blog and read it avidly. She writes about things that are not often said and turns subjects into wisdom.
    By the looks of it you had a wonderful time in Maine and the shopping experiences and goodies you found were terrific.
    Congrats on this new adventure…I give it a thumb’s up my dear!

  2. I admit that when I saw that this morning’s post was another “behind the Q”, I said out loud “oh, good!” but who doesn’t love Dominique Browning? Having giggled over her worried preparations, it was lovely to read your side of the experience.

    Thanks for yet another fantastic post, Q!

  3. I am so glad you profiled Dominique Browning’s blog– it is one of my favorites and I loved her book. I have given it to friends for hostess gifts and I want more people to read her.

  4. My immediate thought was, “I want more!!” and then you answered with the bonus video! Loved this Behind the Q; and even after the bonus I was hoping for more with Dominique. What an honor to be grouped with these amazing “Behind the Q” women!
    PS, “Slow Love” has been difficult to get my hands on… sold out at three different bookstores! Amazon is my next click. :)

  5. What a funny coincidence I just began reading Slow Love on Tuesday. Thank you Stacey for a wonderful glimpse behind the Q and for introducing me to the Slow Love blog…I didn’t know Ms. Browning was writing one.

  6. Behind The Q gets better and better. What a great girls weekend and a perfect place to visit. I love Rhode Island – it has a beautiful coastline and many treasures! A wonderful piece on Dominique Browning – I really enjoyed hearing talk. Loved it!

  7. what a treat! I am a big fan of hers and have always missed reading her column. Thank you for sharing some of the highlights of your weekend. I guess I am living under a rock, because I am not familiar with her book, thank you for showing me the light.

  8. For years, Dominique’s H&G letter from the editor was one of my favorite monthly reads. I think she was on to Slow Love way before she even knew it! A wonderful Behind the Q! I loved the bonus video and can appreciate Dominique’s words about reconnecting with the ‘seasons and light and moon and sun’… living by the water here in MA. Rhode Island is charming! Need some Belgian Libeco linens from Cottage!! ox

  9. Thanks for taking us along on your wonderful girls’ weekend! I think this is my favorite “Behind the Q” yet. Dominique Browning is so inspiring. I absolutely loved her book and it’s fun to get another glimpse at her lovely life. And I’m not sure what I want more, the tote from Nankeen, a gorgeous ring or the “paper” plates with ants included. Such fun.

    I’m looking forward to the next Behind the Q adventure!

  10. I too have a great respect for Dominique and had the pleasure of meeting her last year. What a wonderfully detailed profile of her Stacy and incorporated with your travels makes for a great read. Dominique’s book is wonderful and touching and a “must read” Happy August S — xo tamara

  11. Now we know what you’ve been up to!! I have long admired Dominique’s work and hearing her today, in a new chapter, is so inspiring. I think we’re all adjusting and evolving — and her philosophy of Slow Love really resonates with me. I find I am much happier when I take a little time to enjoy the simple things in life.

    So well done, Stacy!!!!

  12. Thanks for linking to Dominique’s funny posting on preparations — the spiderweb between the chairs is a picture worth a thousand words. And Dominique’s writing is as enjoyable as when I read an excerpt in a review of Slow Love. I’ll look for the book. Thanks for sharing your weekend — the shopping looked like fun, too.

  13. After this summer, I’m in love with Rhode Island, this lovely post, really just sealed the deal for me! Always a treat to go virtual shopping with you Q!

  14. Thank you for this great choice! For years I would tear out her editorial pages and have them safely tucked away as my inspirational reads – and it seems I am not the only one that so appreciated the thoughtful words she would share with us every month.
    House & Garden is definitely one of the great tragedies of the recent changes in Print media…

    I am feeling another road trip in my future: your Rhode Island finds are great!

  15. Stacey- this was an amazing Behind the Q! You really captured so much in this post- Dominique’s charm + wit, the beauty of Little Compton and all of the gems and shops. Great job! xo Suysel and Anne

  16. This is such a wonderful post, the interview with Dominique is wonderful. I loved her hat, and especially liked her comment about “slowing down and finding moments throughout the day,” that very much resonated. I am such an Ann Page fan, seeing things from her store was a treat!

    Another fabulous job!

  17. Does that hat have a pink underside? Genius idea. Always makes the skin look better :) I’m on the edge of my seat to see what you found at that church sale – that would have made my weekend! While I keep very busy, working long days, I take lots of breaks and we try to lead a slow life. We take long moments to stop, to look and to appreicate. I think it makes all the difference.
    I always enjoy these posts :)

  18. How fun! I have always admired Dominique ‘s writing and have read all of her books. She used to live in my town, Pelham, although I did not know her.
    I wish I knew Dr. Pat! Lucky you. She sounds like an amazing physician. Is she taking new patients?
    I will go read he Travel & Leisure piece since my son is starting at URI this fall. Great new feature.
    Xo, Lynn

  19. This certainly was a special treat! I really enjoyed following along—this place would be wonderful to visit… and indeed, it does look like one could quite easily relax in such a serene environment. I enjoy the video touch that you have added—makes it even more interactive :)

    Well done!

    Hope you have a fun weekend planned…
    xx, Sarah

  20. What an amazing day you enjoyed with Dominique! You captured her message of a slow life elegantly. Your photos are a design delight, too.

  21. I love this series. What a wonderful treat for you. It all looks and sounds totally delightful. I have never read her book but sounds like something I would enjoy for sure. Will pick up a copy to finish up my Summer reading at the lake. Congratulations on your 1 year anniversary. Hope you celebrated well. Have a great weekend. Mona

  22. I love Rhode Island it offers so much for such a small state. This is a wonderful series and really enjoyed getting to know a bit more about Dominique.

    Enjoy your weekend!

  23. Thank you for this wonderful treat! Beautiful images – both still and video, terrific interview segments. Having a peek inside Dominique’s house was a thrill….too brief for me, but a thrill nonetheless. It is so informative to see how one of the greatest design editor’s puts everything together: her thought process, her assemblage of interesting pieces juxtaposed with her modern, light filled house. Any chance we could see more?

    This is truly what makes Quinitessence and Behind The Q unlike any blog in the blogisphere. Bravo!

  24. This was just wonderful. I loved all the images and especially the little video showing where you were and the interview with Dominique. I went to a talk that she gave in Santa Monica about her book and really enjoyed it. She is so inspiring!

  25. Wow what an amazing weekend you had!
    I hung on every word and every picture and felt like I was right there with you!! I’m dying to experience the east coast like that one day…
    In fact I was just telling my husband that one day we should rent a house there for a few weeks and act like locals!!
    The grass always looks greener from the other side :)
    Looks like you summer has been nothing short of delightful!!
    Thanks for sharing your idyllic weekend

  26. Oh my gosh… I love Dominique!
    She is lovely and I’m going to get her book today!!!
    Wonderful interview with great questions.

  27. Well I apologize for not making it to this fabulous blog sooner…. Thanks for your lovely comments on mine… I have a shop so I am sometimes the “late bloomer” . I will investigate further as this post is a tempting “carotte”. Thanks!!!!!! Maryanne ;)

  28. What a wonderful photo tour of Rhode Island shops. When we lived in New York, I fell in love with Rhode Island with a girlfriend of mine. We had no itinerary, we just drove with out kids up and down the coast. It was such a special time. Your weekend was so enjoyable to read!!

  29. Yes, Matthew introduced me to the girls. They are gorgeous. I should have thought to ask you for your tips, but it’s not too late! Any ideas for clothes? Nothing too expensive or designer but have tried Zara, Gap, B Rep, Ann Taylor, Lilly P , nothing much. I will hit the dept stores today after the D and D building. Speaking of which any suggestions for must see homewares shops apart from the obvious? Looking for nice little independent retail shops that can give me business ideas and inspiration. Was going to head downtown Soho way later this week. Melx

  30. This was a great read and a superb distraction since i’m at the doc’s office in the waiting room. Very eloquently written and gave a great intro to Dominique. I’ll have to look for the book when I next go to Barnes n Noble.

  31. S~
    I throughly enjoyed every bit of this, a big congratulations on a fantastic launch of “Q”!!! Your interview and videos were the icing on the cake with the always inspiring DM. Thanks for the tour of a place I am unfamiliar with and the shopping? I LOVE those rings!

  32. Now, that is a perfect summer day! Two stylish ladies taking time to enjoy one another and life is gift. I read every single word of your time together…how fun!!

  33. I can only imagine what a fabulous time you girls had! How fun. I have always loved Dominique’s writings. I still have a New Years piece she wrote from 2000 that I read each and every year (and in between too;), it’s “that” profound!
    I really enjoyed the interview, but was sad she was wearing sunglasses as I would have loved to see her beautiful blue, blue eyes!
    Thank you so much! Loved it!!

  34. Stacey,
    This is absolutely wonderful! I’ve never seen or heard a more delightful way of recording such a fine day with two fabulousley stylish friends! And then to share it with us is such a nice gift.
    Thank you, thank you for taking us Behind the Q to meet Dominique Browning!

  35. You have truly managed
    to encompass the
    Four Corners vibe with
    your post & captured
    some great photos. Please
    come back soon!

  36. thank you for this feature. you are both lovely as always. we appreciate dominique’s perspective. it is in keeping with richard’s (frinier): “Take a five-minute vacation. Every day.” – ox – catherine

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *