Thursday, June 21, 2007


What's that you say? You ask.
That's right, out is in and in is out! What part of that don't you get?
Ah...yes, there is a word or two missing in the title, and a thought or two as well.
Try this: What has been commonly used indoors, is now being used outdoors. Likewise, that which is commonly used outdoors, is finding its way indoors.
Okay? You say, yearning for more...
Fabrics! Its about the new outdoor fabrics, that's what I'm talking about! The technology for outdoor textiles has moved light years ahead of where they were even two years ago. We're seeing velvets being made of solution-dyed acrylic fibers, aka Sunbrella, aka outdoor fabric. You got it! Outdoor velvets.
And, try this one on for size: Embossed faux-alligator in a new outdoor leather collection. Not only does it come in the normal range of reptilian colors, its now available in metallic colors of gold-now referred to as dirty gold, silver-referred to as Smoke, copper-referred to as copper, and a hundred other variations of pastel and primary colors.
There are terrific outdoor suede's with a realistic nap to the eye and the hand; and chenille's that are so soft, they feels like your skinny dipping when you touch it. Dive in baby-these fabrics are here to stay!

Hey, these are outdoor fabrics! Uunbelievable that they are fade resistant, as well as mildew and mold resistant, and mostly dog-proof. When they're soiled, simply zip the covers off the cushions and toss them in the wash, but do not put them in the dryer on a heat seating! In some instances, bleach can be used, but first check with the manufacturers cleaning recommendations.
These fabrics are so refined (now here comes the out-in/in-out part) that our clients are using these virtually indestructible fabrics in their family room, the media room, the breakfast room, and even in the kids rooms. I mean, can you imagine if your parents had used the old fashioned outdoor fabrics inside the home? Those original versions were as hard and scratchy as sandpaper; or worse, they were made of a non-breathable vinyl that made you sweat at first touch; and don't forget how your sunburned legs would so easily stick to it. No, the old fabrics were not exactly of the skinny dipping variety. Praise the lawd!

Please note that there is a huge variety in the type of foams used in outdoor cushions, and the price varies wildly. I will incorporate more about this in tomorrows Design Guy.

Just two years ago, few design houses offered outdoor fabrics. Back then most of us shared a similar understanding of outdoor fabrics, mostly those under the Sunbrella brand name. The colors were mostly brights, but they offered some dull Hunter and Forest greens and browns to broaden their appeal. If you really wanted to put on the dog, you could order a solid color fabric and have the cushions piped in another color; you could even order stripes, if you dare! Woo hoo...

Today, the venerable house of Donghia, headed by Angelo's niece Sherry, offers some of the most sophisticated, and sumptuous woven outdoor fabrics, that you might rival a vintage tapestry in both workmanship and number of threads used in their production. The collection, aptly named Soleil, includes matching outdoor trims, tassels, and even Cabana drapery tie-backs. There are outdoor velvets; fabrics that look like woven African bark; fabrics that look straight of an old loom, as well as printed fabrics. After the death of her cousin, Angelo Donghia, Sherry hasn't lived on the lofty laurels of the company. She has moved the firm into the enviable position of being an industry leader in the development of outdoor textiles, whereas many of the other fabric houses have merely been interpreters. Donghia recently released a book on textiles, Donghia, The Art of Luxury And Style, which has sold out in both of the Santa Barbara and Mill Valley Cabana Home stores.

One of the hottest designers to emerge in this outdoor fabric renaissance is Nomi. She's a first name only gal, as in Madonna, but this California designer has taste, and tons of it. Her color sense is chic and confident and her combinations of color and texture are fresh and sophisticated. Notable is her pique-like fabric bordered in a Greek key pattern. Nomi was first known for her indoor textiles, most notably the painted Fortuny esque patterns in modern fabrics and color combinations. Unfortunately, she has limited distribution, and to the trade only, through a smaller, wholesale outdoor-teak manufacturers showroom.

Not to be outdone, Scalamandre and Stroheim are in the game, as is Shumacher, Kravet, Robert Allen, even Laura Ashley (can't we let this icon rest in peace?), B Berger, and Joe Rugerio for Silver State (a huge Sunbrella distributor).

Now, we keep bating the Sunbrella name around, so here's my understanding of what it's all about. It's actually a process that is used on the actual fibers that make up an outdoor fabric. First every strand of fiber is solution dyed, before it is spun into a yarn and woven into a fabric. In this process, every fiber is treated the same. This is opposed to first weaving the fabric and then dyeing it in the solution dye. So, as in the brand names Coke and Kleenex, Sunbrella is the catch-all name for outdoor fabric. Truth is, most outdoor strands of fabric are solution dyed by Sunbrella, but they may be woven by any number of mills for hundreds of designers and manufacturers and sold under their own labels.

When a designer designs an outdoor fabric pattern, that design goes to the Sunbrella technician, who will analyze and dissect the design into fiber counts; he then specifies x number of fibers needed for each color in the design and pattern. The fibers are then solution dyed, and sent to the mill for weaving. So, that's my crash course on Sunbrella!

Whew, that was fun! See my Design Guy blog tomorrow for, THE INDOORS GO'S OUT!

Good night moon.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

FATHER'S DAY---Whats in a gift?

Today is Father's Day 2007. Based on the title, you can surmise that today's article is about gifts, which some of us who are fathers have undoubtedly received. Oh, there are some Dad's who aren't receiving gifts from their ungrateful offspring? Off with their heads!

Personally, I think that we have all received the ultimate gift, that of becoming a Father. I received a card this morning with just that sentiment, not from my off-spring but from my wife. The hand written message was this: "Today we honor you and one of the single most important accomplishments in a persons life--being a parent". She nailed it! Being a Father is the most important accomplishment in my life, (just slightly ahead of getting my wife to marry me). I acknowledge that the ultimate gift for me is that of being a parent.

To borrow a concept from The Lion King, I have always felt that to be a parent was an essential part of completing the circle of life. Your born; you grow into a man or woman; you marry; you have off-spring; you raise and train them; they grow up and leave the home; they marry, have their own off spring. Then one day, sooner than later, your off spring return to you, bringing the love, patience and caring that you once showed them. You're comforted as you ease into your special place in life, that place where so many fathers have gone before us. Yeah, being a Dad is an accomplishment, the ultimate.

The Make you feel old gift...

Now, here's a fashion lesson: I know, I know, this blog is tinging on clothing fashion--but alas, what can I say? My daughter loves clothing (the leaf didn't fall far from the tree). She gifted me with a pull over, zip-front, micro-fiber sweat shirt, with a zippered pocket on the upper sleeve for I presume an IPOD. This gift came with legs I tell you, as in the kind in a new business concept.
"That plastic wind breaker jacket thing you wear, and matching pants have to go!" Declared my daughter.
"They're NIKE!", I protested.
"They're too old-man, Dad" She retorted, with a slight roll to her eyes, as she looked toward her Mom for support.
So, here are the legs to this gift. My daughter was updating my look and my wardrobe with a single article of micro-fiber clothing. The new sweat shirt was just the beginning! Do I remember giving a gift with legs to my Father? Sure, do! But why would I care if Dad looked a little out dated? After all, he was old and wasn't stylish anymore! What was his age when I attempted to update his wardrobe you ask? One year younger than me, 48. Uuooo...that hurts.
Enough of that!

The make you cry gift...

I want to share with you another gift that I received from this same off-spring of mine, her Fathers day card. She wrote the most incredible note to me on the left inside cover of the card. Tears quickly welled up in my eyes as I read her words. It wasn't the first time that she had written a note from the heart to me, and I'd felt the sincerity and love in her words before, but nothing prepared me for these last eleven words in her card:
...and I feel honored to be your daughter. I love you!
Now, that is a gift.


Good Night moon

Friday, June 15, 2007

Packages aren't always Gifts!

I know I'm supposed to talk about dressing as it relates to the home, but I've just come from the gym, and well, maybe there should be fashion police. Come on guys...whats up with the spandex. And, for that matter, you gals ought to consider a check in the three way mirror before leaving your digs. No, gentlemen, the gym is not the place to show your package, no matter the content. And ladies, just because spandex is available in plus sizes, it doesn't mean its a good idea.
Now you see? No one's sacred. Me? I wear baggy basketball shorts over my tighties. I know what I've got, and I' good with that. You, spare us the pain and cover up.

Today is a work day, and there's plenty to do. Do? What do I do you ask? I'm an editor; a guide; a sympathetic ear-a listener; sometimes marriage counselor; sometimes therapist. I'm a traveler; an observer; a researcher; a shopper; a thinker. Sometimes I'm impatient; rude; thoughtless; and I hate to admit-a little mean. Words hurt. They hurt us all when used offensively-intended or not.

A friend once said to me, Does it need to be said? Does it need to be said by me? Does it need to be said right now? Wow! Good words, but how can I be all or even a part of the adjectives listed above, if I live by those questions? Humm...

I'll bring the world of design to you as I experience it, from my own unique perspective. So, here's another thing we need to get straight from the get go...this blogs not for everyone. If your hip, slick, and cool; or your not and you want to be; or just here for the entertainment value, and some of you are, then stay tuned and hold on to your Aeron chair, because we're going to roll with it. If it needs to be said I'm gonna say it; and I'm gonna say it now. I'll try to be nice, I really will. But mean guy might show up, uninvited every once in a while, and I'm sure you'll let me know about it. Bring it on, lets Watusi.

Its not just about clothing fashion, though the last two postings were about over-the-calve socks, and proper gym attire. This blog is for your A list. Hang on to it because your home is next. We're going to talk about that, a lot. Be here or be...wherever the hell you want to be (ah, its mean guy talking now).


Good night moon.

New Design Blog---Live Well with-Design Guy

This is day one, dia numero uno, for Design Guy. The blog for living well, living right, not living whatever hell; with or without grace , doing it well- with the Design Guy.

The Design Guy is a self-taught, self-made man of style. Opinionated, oh yeah. Say it like it is-chips will fall. The truth may hurt, but hey, this is one guys opinion that you've got to love because he wants nothing from you. Make your way though the unlimited choices of living well, in everything you do. The blogs fun-you've been warned. Yeah, Its fun, intriguing and leaves those of the conscious type wanting for more-sorry, not a blog for the unconscious-a blog for you and me, the Design Guy.

Lets get this straight from the get-go: When I say its great, interesting or good-who gives a damn. But consider this, what is good? To me its an opinion of value, worth only what and how one values the issuers taste or opinion.

Take the Stock Broker who thinks a company's stock is a buy because they are about to roll out a new product, one of an esoteric nature. Now say I know this guy. Perhaps he's in the lucky sperm club, smart, maybe Ivy league, but he doesn't wear over the calf socks with his business suits. If he didn't wear socks at all with his suit, that'd be cool. Wearing short socks that show his hairy calve's when he crosses his legs in a business meeting is well, just bad. "Whats wrong with that?" he protests. Answer him? I don't know, If he doesn't understand why this is bad, well what the hell does he know about an esoteric product? He can't dress himself; do I value his esoteric opinion? Ah...

Alas, a blog is born to help us navigate the good, the bad, and the not so attractive. A blog about your home, my home; the way its done; why I bought this one over that one; why I sold the last one; maybe even about why I should keep it. Blogging about the way to do your home, inside and out-that's my business and I'll take you through the process, answer your questions or point you in the right direction. I'm not known for mincing words, so if you ask, are you ready for the answer?

I'll take you to the most incredible furniture, design, antiques and art markets in the world. You will walk the flea markets of Paris, Aretzo, Brussels, Pasadena and Round Top with me. Some of it you can buy while I'm standing in front of the Vendor with a pocket of expensive Euros. If I'm there-your there, but you have to be here first.

With digital camera in hand, and a quick upload, you'll see what I'm seeing. Photo quality not guaranteed, but you'll get the picture.

We'll look at interior fabric collections from the top design houses in Europe and the US.
Perhaps we will do the largest textile show in the US and really see the goods first hand.
China is high on my list-what is going on over there? I like the Maison & O'bjet show in Paris; maybe we should add the Madeira Exhibition in Valencia? We will do the New York Gift Show, the biggest home furniture show in the world in High Point, and we'll do the Atlanta market because there are so many damn Decorators there that the Vendors are out in full force.
Art Basel, either in Basel, Miami or both; perhaps the Armory Show, LA Fashion Week, the Concourse d' Elegance in Pebble Beach. Cannes, the crowds, but Sundance-still cool.

Sports? Try this: The Kentucky Derby, Indy 5oo, Neiman Marcus Last Call; Cowboys in the Super Bowl, the Razorbacks in the Cotton Bowl; Americas Cup, Polo in Santa Barbara, Napa Wine Auction, Natchez Trace; the Clinton's bedroom.

At market we head straight for the temporaries, the manufacturers and designers that don't have permanent showrooms who fill vast exhibition halls with fabric cubicles, bringing their goods and collections from around the world. This is for the the one-of's, the unique.

More? Check me tomorrow.

Good night, moon