Wednesday, June 28, 2017


Frank Lloyd Wright at MoMA

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The f Word

I caught the end of Gordon Ramsay's cooking show The f Word last night and was reminded that I had not yet written about last week's conversation at STORY on Women in Food, at which the f word got dropped a bit in a wide range of topics masterfully moderated by proprietor Rachel Schectman: 

fresh story
food & wine magazine
jack's wife freda
front door
follow your heart

I loved co-founder Maya Jankelowitz's expression that part of the recipe behind Jack's Wife Freda's success is the dedicated daily practice of empathy, generosity and hospitality.

For her, everything starts at the front door, where a connection with the visitor must be made and a tone set for an environment in which to recognize the guest.

She learned this during her arrival to New York from Israel and initial stint as hostess at SOHO's iconic Balthazar but I have the impression that it is simply who she and Dean are as human beings.

Maya's instinctive and adept focus on the guest was beautifully exemplified at STORY.
Upon pulling up in a cab outside for pre-event set up, she noticed a few of us early bird attendees starting to wilt in the heat on the sidewalk outside (or maybe we were whining about it just a bit...)

"Do you need any help?" we asked her and her husband as they set down a large plastic thermos and several paper shopping bags on the sidewalk.

"No," she declined." Then, as she slipped through the store's front door, she turned to us.
"I will bring you a glass of lemonade once we set up, " she said.

The doors to the store opened for us a short time later and we fashionable foodies filed inside to collapse into seats, sighing in relief at the blast of cool air that greeted us.

We then noticed a small bar area and as made our way there, I overheard Maya saying to one of the store team, "There she is."

As I stepped toward the counter, she expertly navigated the crowd to hand me a glass of ice cold minted lemonade.

"Oh no," I smiled, "please don't do that."
Making eye contact and smiling back, she replied matter of factly, "You were first to arrive outside. I promised."

As a lifelong merchant who has spent a few years opposite the customer myself, my heart warmed to this genuine gesture and laser sharp focus on the art of intuitive hospitality.

The lemonade was as magical as the moment Maya created for me.
The recipe below was perfectly printed on STORY's vibrant mural wall: 

When Maya signed my cookbook following the talk, she asked me if I had been to the restaurant.

"Yes," I replied, "I have visited them both, once with a friend from Vienna who loved the cafe ambiance." I promptly named the lavender waffles as a breakfast I had tried and loved.

Of course, this delicate dish, included in the new cookbook, is officially called Rose Water Waffles and has nothing to do with lavender.  It is inspired by the floral distilled water preparation used in the Middle Eastern pastries Maya knew growing up. 

I attribute my flub to the high heat and to my small shopping frenzy involving the purchase of the cookbook and happy discovery of the restaurant's signature striped t-shirts offered for sale by STORY (more fab than Comme des Garcons, I exclaimed to Maya), and the complimentary issue of Food & Wine presented to us by powerhouse Editor in Chief Nilou Motamed and finally, to my being slightly starstruck by evening's f-antastic end...

Apologies to Chef Julia!  

Jack's Wife Freda cookbook, Food & Wine Magazine...
(event photos are mine, STORY mural by Claudia Pearson)

Sunday, June 18, 2017

boy meets girl

Dear Dad,

I am so glad things did not work out with that Smith or Holyoke girl you dated before meeting our Mary through Christy and John Rinehart in the spring of '57!

Happy Father's Day! Thank you for your grace, elegance, intelligence, humor, style and hard work!

Sunday allowance was always something I loved about you, too....


Bob meets Mary, Georgetown, 1957

Saturday, June 17, 2017

calm, cool, collected

One of the season's highlights in class with design historian and tastemaker Daniella Ohad was our visit to the SOHO Studio of Miami born, New York based, artist and author Michele Oka Doner.

If you have traveled through the American Airlines terminal in Miami, you will be familiar with her large scale mosaic work A Walk on the Beach, or you may know Radiant Site in New York's own Herald Square or Celestial Objects at the Museum of Natural History.  

Perhaps you know of her recently published Intuitive Alphabet, or of her collaboration with Steuben Glass, or her furniture, sculpture or jewelry designs.  Her body of work is seamless and all encompassing.

A former educator and firm believer in embracing one's inherited knowledge and place in the universe, Michele spent time with us generously sharing the story of her life's journey to date. She invited us to explore her studio and library, explaining that from the beginning, she has made it her mission to craft her life, ceremoniously, making the things that she needed with the materials around her.  As it happened, she found that others wanted what she made, for enjoyment or for use in their own lives.... 

Raised at the beach, Michele possesses an innate reverence for the natural world and its primal wonders.  As a young student of design and art history in Michigan, she was influenced by Saarinen, Bauhaus and Cranbrook and acknowledged the "tools from masterful people," that helped her to discover a vocabulary and language with which she was comfortable and which defined her own way of life. 

In the light filled studio where she has resided since the early 1980's, work and life are integrated in a plan that she pointed out is not a grid but a series of circles and zones, "an open footprint" as she called it, like a piazza, in which space is differentiated by use, a space in which you are free to flow.

"Proceed as way opens," Michele quoted a Quaker saying at one point in the intimate narrative of her travels to other cultures and respect for her New York life, encouraging all of us to focus on and to foster a spirit of gratitude toward our surroundings and the possibilities revealed to us along our own paths.

Daniella's blog captures the essence of this magical studio visit and places it in the fuller context of New York and global design. I happily refer you to the link as it also exemplifies the passion, curiosity and sense of discovery she tirelessly shares throughout her program:

Here's to a summer of infinite wonder! 

SOHO studio of Michele Oka Doner

(photos deborah bush) 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

pink and green

or green and pink... 

Elisabeth Garouste sofa, Granzioli X Collection Venitian glass 
 at Ralph Pucci International, west 18th street... 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Absence \ Presence

"My clothes and the spaces they inhabit are inseparable - they are one and the same. They convey the same vision, the same message, and the same sense of values."  (Rei Kawakubo 2017) 

body meets dress, dress meets body
Rei Kawakubo, Art of the In-Between... 

Saturday, June 3, 2017

in a Chelsea garden...

Each week in Daniella Ohad's Design and Decorative Arts in NYC class series is a study in periods, styles and expressions of modern and contemporary design. On Wednesday, we were transported, literally, to a Chelsea garden to discover the work of Polish born, London based Marcin Rusak in his first U.S. solo show.

Here, the welcoming French gallery founder Renaud Vuaillat has staged the Flora furniture, decorative objects and lights in his residential studio setting.  As if stepping into a still life, we were met with a towering armoire installation of locally sourced flowers assembled by the artist/designer's sister that both introduces and accents the interior display and focus on floral imagery.

As Daniella highlighted, the strength of Rusak's designs is in their surface, infused resin over meticulously placed preserved flowers, leaves and grass collected by the artist and given form with materials such as aluminum, brass and steel.  

Each piece successfully merges art with design for dramatic effects, both solid and transparent, voluminous and sculptural. While contemporary pieces, they evoke a certain mood of ephemerality too, perhaps from the play of light and dark on flora and fauna within the subtly luminous forms.

Flora Noir is on exhibit at Twenty First Gallery through June 16th. 

Chelsea morning, outside Twenty First Gallery...