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Rosenthal Studio-Linie 50 Year Retrospective

Rosenthal is now celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary of it’s Studio Line collection.

I used to work for gift and tabletop stores in my youth, most notably Brielle Galleries in NJ. It was owned by Ira Jacobsen who used to teach me about design and beautiful things. It’s no wonder he would author a book entitled, A Quest for Excellence, The Incredible Story of the Most Beautiful Store in the World. One of the standout features of Brielle were the galleries featuring the art and craft from all over the Globe. Lalique from France, Herend from Hungary, Waterford from England and Ah, my true love Rosenthal from Germany. Oh, how I loved looking at all the new Rosenthal designs and even the packaging and signage. It was all a special surprise, so well thought out with every detail. It was during this time that the germ was planted for my love of Walter Gropius and the Bauhaus.
One of the unique qualities of Rosenthal was that the Studio-Linie(as it was called then) was a collection that was determined by a panel of world famous and influencial designers. The collections and dinnerware redined shape & form and then they collobrated to decorate the pieces with an equal critical eye for design. Last night, I had the pleasure to attend the 50 year Retrospective of the Studio- Line which has stood the test of time. They showed the brilliance of each innovative form on white, undecorated vases with design icons like Otmar Alt & Tapio Wiirkala. I was reminded of the original Studio Linie slogan…”Originals of our time”…which still holds. Happy 50th Studio-Linie!


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Following Artist Bridget Parris…as she creates & inspires for the MAD Museum

I have had the pleasure to know and work with artist Bridget Parris. She is a talented artist who works in many mediums. Her projects have been realized in partnership with a variety of manufacturers, in a wide range of materials including glass, metal, ceramics, wood, and resin. Recently holding the position of Home Hard goods Designer for Anthropologie Stores her work for Anthropologie has been featured in Oprah’s O Home, Domino, In-Style Home, Timeout New York, and Real Simple Magazines. Her extensive experience working with the materials and processes of fabrication are directly applicable to projects in many realms from Tabletop and Lighting to Furniture, Interior Design, Apparel and Large-Scale Public Art Projects. Commissioned by the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and the Washington D.C. Commission on the Arts, she has completed two highly publicized public art projects to date.

We caught up a few weeks ago and I was particularly fascinated by her works in porcelain since that is my passion. This past Spring/Summer, Bridget completed a very interesting residency beginning the first week in May and ending the first week in September at the Museum of Arts& Design, also known as MAD.

The main focus of the residency was sharing her work and the process of it’s creation with the general public looking on. She worked in the Museum studio every Sunday, sharing her work and offering an up close and personal understanding of how objects are created from start to finish.

Her primary project was a floor lamp that she had designed and used as an opportunity to demonstrate the process of plaster mold making and slip casting, a method used for mass produced ceramics. This involved model making, which was done in earthenware clay, and in oil based clay for various sections, making plaster molds from the models, and then casting with porcelain slip in the plaster molds, and finally firing the clay.

She also made a few small hand built shell shaped dishes.

Her inspiration for her design work came from the 18th century French Decorative Arts. In conducting research for her MAD residency, she focused on the idea that producing fantastic design and employing highly skilled artisans to produce need not be considered financially unreasonable as an approach for a business to take. She learned that the most elaborate porcelains that were designed and created at the Meissen manufactory during the 18th century were made and given as diplomatic gifts. The production of these fantastical pieces was paid for by the profits that were gained from the sales of the factory’s commercial work, and depended upon the steady income of these commercial interests to achieve their level of brilliance. The factory did not operate at any sort of financial loss, and gained positive “marketing” from the gifts they chose to make and give away. (This information comes from the publication: Fragile Diplomacy: Meissen Porcelain for European Courts ca. 1710-63 edited by Maureen Cassidy-Geiger and published by Yale University Press, a volume that was ever present with her in the museum studios). She sees this as an important historical precedent to keep at the forefront of our minds during this current time of economic uncertainty, and chooses to follow this practice in her own work. Thus she views her hand built sculptural porcelains as having been supported by her equally important commercial work, products designed for Anthropologie stores, Two’s Company, and Lenox.

I wasn’t only interested in seeing Bridget’s amazing works of art for MAD but in learning that she recognized two of the key points that face the TableTop & Decorative Arts field today. First, it is important to educate the public about the value of these works of art as she did at the museum, showing the techniques of production. It’s one thing to see an item on a shelf, but to see a product start from an idea and then blossom into a finished piece, offers a whole new level of appreciation, including an understanding of the amount of time and the level of skill that goes into producing each piece. Secondly, manufactories can make expensive works of art & turn a profit at the same time. There was a very careful and successful balance struck at the Meissen manufactory that could be repeated in business practices today. It would seem that in the contemporary market suppliers are often torn between producing high end art pieces and making a profit instead of pursuing both paths concurrently. Bridget and I discussed the idea that, much the way fashion designers support the overhead of their couture collections with ready-to-wear and licensing, the tabletop market could produce art pieces that are supported by the financial gains made in mass-marketed lines to bring new excitement into the industry.

Bridget is currently working in the industry as a consultant. She also teaches Product Design and Drawing at Parson’s The New School for Design. She has taught in programs at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, The Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Arts and Design, and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She continues to make one-of-a-kind porcelain pieces.


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The Home Trend & Lifestyle Show, observations, trends & my picks…

This past week, I attended the NY TableTop Show in New York or as I wish it was called, The New York Home Trend & Lifestyle Show. (ok, that’s my made up name but its sounds much more interesting!)

It’s actually not the first show that I’ve attended where I thought to myself that the industry should start connecting itself with others. I’d like to see the category of tabletop shown & aligned with all types of decorative arts, home design and the culinary arts industries. In the past, we had a wide array of publications that boosted the industry through glamorous print editorial which sadly are now a small handful. Just before this TableTop Show it was announced that Conde Nast would be closing Modern Bride, Gourmet and Cookie Magazines. There was also big announcement that the oldest and most prestigious German manufactory of porcelain, Meissen would not longer have a wholesale showroom in the US. I have spend over 20 years of my life and career tracking these luxury tabletop companies and even with all of the above, they still continue to produce and manufacture products with great artistry, quality and inspire those who will attempt to make it cheaper.

Over the next year eTableTop plans to bring you, our customers & industry friends, closer to these masterful collections. We are dedicated now more than ever to the mission of educating and featuring designs that will be future heirlooms to the next generation, whether it’s mouth blown glassware from Prague, sterling silver from France, porcelain from France, Italy & Germany. We ask that you visit us monthly for new ideas and read our blog for trends and inspiration. Whether you are a customer or an industry partner, get involved in the discussion. We want to hear from you!

Ok, so speaking of trends & inspiration, check out some of my personal favorite pics & some overall trend spotting in the market.

Favorite Product: Reunion Vase from Rosenthal
Why? It’s a clever design created by an intern, Pieke Bergman that shows both current forms like Magic Flute with and discontinued Rosenthal like Century & Romance. It’s nice to see these old forms again and hey, if anyone at Rosenthal is listening, “bring back Romance & Century dinnerware!” Another thing I observed as that a few historic companies were showing objects that showed many old & new patterns together for consumers…perhaps there is a nostalgic trend on the horizon. A way of connecting to these manufactories rich history.

Favorite Dinnerware: Kelly Weastler for Pickard

Why? A few reasons. I like that Pickard is a US company, remaining relevant and competitive in a shrinking market. They provide US jobs and supply both the White House and Heads of State with beautiful dinnerware to be proud of. I like Kelly’s collection because it show’s that you can indeed make an ivory, more traditional form modern and chic. She has done a nice job creating modern, yet warm & inviting dinnerware to the table. The collection is currently exclusive for Bergdorf Goodman but eTableTop will be carrying it this Winter.

Best New collection: The New English
Why? It’s all in the name. I’m told by it’s creator Paul Bishop it represents both thier innovative approach to design and manufacturing in the infamous Stoke on Trent, the birthplace of UK cermanics for over 250 years. I personally am thrilled that they revitalizing some manufacturing in to Stoke on Trent whose industry have been devastated…connecting young, creative students with the manufactories. They are seeking genuine trends in art & industry and translating that in the “art for the table”. They are slated to appear in Liberty of London and the hippest design shops on Rue St. Honore in Paris.

HOT MINI TREND ALERT!
What’s a mini trend exactly? It’s a trend that I pick up on after four days of scouting the show for new product. This year, I noticed that alot of the products had rough edges in both shape and pattern. The vibe is alot more playful and dare I say “casual” for the table. “Casual” was the buzzword and is evidenced in the declining sales of more formal style dinnerware. We could say that the market is going “cheap” and “casual” but I think not. I think it’s changing to a more “casual style” in both the items that we use on the top of the table to the patterns/shapes that are most popular. As we approach the Thanksgiving holidays we can and should bring that casual style into your home entertaining. While we can’t just throw out our dinnerware and start over, you can bring in elements of a trend to your table. Consider having a new dessert service or a serving platter for cocktail hour that is adorned with varietal cheeses and fruits. Here are some examples of designs that have more unfinished, urban chic edges.


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Come inside… for a sneak peek at rooms & tablescapes inspired by Dexter, The Tudors & Weeds…

Interview with Designer Paul Latham

Interview with Designer Paul Latham

The innovators at Metropolitan Home have once again partnered with Showtime Networks for the ultimate multimedia showhouse, creating modern living spaces inspired by the award winning, original Showtime series-Californication, Dexter, Nurse Jackie, The Tudors, United States of Tara & Weeds.

The 14,000 square ft. showhouse located in two deluxe penthouses at the Tribeca Summit featured top designers like Marie Aiello, James Biber, Joannah Kornak for Holly Hunt, & Kara Mann to name a few.

Showhouse hours:
Weekend Tour Schedule
9.12.09-10.18.09
Tribeca Summit Lofts
415 Greenwich St.
Tickets- $20.00 per person.

Here is a sneak peek at the creativity inside…

Livingroom by Marie Aiello

Did you know that Marie Aiello was a film producer before doing interiors? My favorite thing in this room is the neon light fixture she custom made for the space.

Weeds inspired tablesetting by Designer James Biber

Designer James Biber has been involved in the design of the Gotham Bar & Grill, Bolo and Mesa Grill in NYC. The dinnerware on his Weeds table is the Forest Leaf collection by Tabla Tua and he cleaverly found painted insects from Ted Muehling. Did you know that Biber was also the designer for the National Millennium Time Capsule now ensconsed in the National Archive until 2100?

Designer Holly Hunt & Christina Norsig, eTableTop CEO

Holly Hunt & Christina Norsig
Design guru Holly Hunt and I discuss her new project the redesigning of The Little Nell in Aspen Colorodo.

Nurse Jackie Inspired Triage Garden by APD Workshop
The designers of APD Workshop, Andrew Kotchen and Matthew Berman won the Sustainable Design Competiton for New Orleans sponsored by actor Brad Pitt and Global Green USA, for helping to rebuild the city with their work on a 120-occupant, eco-friendly housing project. I really thought the Nurse Jackie inspired canopies in the outdoor garden were a stroke of genius.

More Nurse Jackie Inspired Triage Garden by APD Workshop

I took this image with my cellphone but I thought the hanging IV bags with flowers was also a very creative idea in sticking to The Nurse Jackie theme.

United States of Tara, Multiple Personality Room by Kara Mann
Designer Kara Mann was recently included in Metropolitan Homes “Design 100″ and from her work you can see why. I snapped this image of an Erickson Beamon chandelier. I used to be a huge collector of thier custom jewerly which at the time was really “art to wear”. This single object may have been my favorite from the Showhouse.

Deborah Burns, SVP The Luxury Group & Eric Michael Anton, Executive Managing Director/Principal Eastern Consolidated

These are two of my favorite people and I love listening to thier great ideas!

The Tudors inspired chair
The Tudors dining room and terrace were designed by Piero Lissoni and Nicoletta Canesi. Thier clientele include Allesi, Kartell and Elie Tahari. Architectural projects span the globe from Tokyo’s Mitsui Garden Hotel to Jerusalem’s Mamila Hotel and the redesign of the historical Zanin pastry shop. This particular chair was created by Martin Albert interiors.


c/o Maidstone

invite yourself for the weekend to your very own Hampton’s House

This summer, my family went to a gem of a place in East Hampton, NY. It’s called the Maidstone formally known as the Maidstone Arms. It was newly renovated this past winter by Swedish hotelier Jenny Ljungberg. The exterior of the iconic property remains traditional but we knew instantly on our approach this was a unique and special place.

The grand front porch overlooking the lake and plush green landscape was decorated with modern, clean Grythyttan garden furniture adorned with plush grey furs. Upon entering the hotel, we were struck by the turquoise walls (which also happen to be the color of my daughter Olivia’s room!) and Scandinavian textiles immediately created a modern, chic ambiance.

One of the focal points is the lounge area where Jenny used reclaimed furniture and covered it in Josef Frank textiles.

The look was completed by colorful, upholstered ottomans covered by Scandinavian serving trays from Svenskt Tenn. The ottomans and trays were such a simple idea for anyone to add a punch of color to a den or living room. The walls of the hotel all showcase local photographers and is intended to be a revolving gallery for patrons to enjoy and even collect.

The lounge has double doors to a delightful garden filled with perennials where you can sit and enjoy their delicious “Plain-T” brand of teas or partake in a relaxing yoga class.

The hotel restaurant is called The Living room, and has a warm and inviting décor. The menu focuses on simple and fresh ingredients, highlighting natural flavors. Executive Chef James Carpenter uses the slow food process to cook with the seasons and delivers mouth watering cuisine he calls “new American with a Scandinavian twist.” They use some of their own garden herbs and vegetables in their cuisine when available which was a nice touch. The compliment to the food is a wine cellar with more than 200 vintages from around the US and Europe. This winter they plan on closing to renovate some of the cottages and make an open kitchen in the restaurant.

If you are looking for your very own Hamptons house for a day, weekend or as long as your pocketbook allows, I strongly recommend The Maidstone. It’s a wonderful retreat located close to the Village shops and beaches. My personal thanks to the entire staff, including Liz Belson, our new found friend.


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