more daybed love

Just wanted to drop by to draw your attention to these two cuties. I won't wax on again about my longstanding love affair with the daybed, but if you are unfamiliar you can hop over to this post to get up to speed. 

First up is this fantastic piece from West Elm. It's part of the Parsons line of furniture -- which is all genius. The styling here is very pretty as well (except for those lame cushions on the floor on the left -- what's up with those? How come nobody in creative said -- what's up with those, let's photoshop them out.) But I digress. I could also see this done up with some pretty block prints. the lovely Chatri quilt and sham combo from John Robshaw. And speaking of block print quilts I've got a little beef with West Elm over its discontinuation of almost all of its print quilts. Makes me sad. If you are quick you'll still find some for sale on the web site.

And here's the Parsons daybed all naked so you can see the bonus -- a trundle bed. Yay, so perfect! 

And then there's this excellent piece, the Jamie daybed, from West Elm's sibling PB Teen. I don't mind revealing that it's a bit of a favourite secret source. No need for kids or teens in your life to find good stuff there. The task lighting, carpets and some of the bedding all have appeal beyond the teen demographic. Mind you, the styling here definitely says "teen".

It's much easier to imagine the possibilities of this thing -- and to see its virtues more clearly -- when it's stripped back. Love that it has a back (so much better if you need it to do double duty as a sofa) and because it's upholstered and slipcovered it looks a bit more substantial than the WE version. This one comes in full (shown) or twin size. 

For the record, one of my favourite daybeds seen in editorial:

This is the NYC studio of Ellen O'Neill. The daybed is upholstered in a muted toile but what I really love is the undoneness of this styling. We in the print biz can't often get away with this sort of thing. But O'Neill is a styling superstar. Trust me, if you consume design you've seen her work often and her own homes even more. I tip my hat to her, to photographer Thomas Loof and to House Beautiful for this wonderful editorial. You can see the rest of it here

PS. Just in case you were wondering, this is not a sponsored post. No posts here are sponsored, ever. I take no advertising and I write what I like. That's all.



rest in peace lillian bassman


The world lost a great talent today. Photographer Lillian Bassman passed away at the age of 94.

I was so thrilled to have the chance to interview her about 12 years ago. Her work was truly the convergence of art and commerce: Fashion photography to sell and promote garments that seem an afterthought at best and are utterly undistinguishable at times. It's an observation made by National Post writer Nathalie Atkinson, who just reviewed Bassman's latest book, Lillian Bassman Lingerie, in the Saturday paper. It's an observation also made by editors at Harper's Bazaar when Bassman was shooting for the magazine in the '50s and '60s – and the fodder for many disagreements, as she told me. As a longtime magazine editor I considered Bassman's story a cautionary tale. I imagine the editors with advertisers breathing down their long fashionable necks, "Who is this you have photographing my dress. I can't even see it in the photo. How is my customer supposed to recognize it and find it at Saks?" And yet then there is the work – the utterly breathtaking work. Sometimes the art must come first, the commerce will take care of itself.

Bassman's art began with obviously incredible skill communicating with extraordinary models. I don't forget their role. She mastered light to get a shot, but the click of the shutter was far from being the completion of her task. Through darkroom manipulation and, later, Photoshop, Bassman explored every nuance of light, shadow, fabric, shape.

One of the stories Lillian Bassman told me that stuck with me over the years is that the rule of publishing at the time dictated that any model being photographed in lingerie, or any state of undress should have her face partially obscured in the interest of modesty. Look again at these photos. It's fascinating to do so once you know this. I recalled this story reading a post Jane Flanagan did a while back on Faceless photos. They are so dreamy and often a bit sad. And a variation on this idea, I also find Jen Gotch's defaced self portraits haunting.

But back to Lillian Bassman. I leave you with just a few of my favourites from her vast body of work. I just hope someday to own one. Someday.

I turned a version of the one above (notice how the model's neck is extended and chin up in mine) into a silhouette for my former apartment (displayed it with a famous Man Ray portrait of Coco Chanel that also got the silhouette treatment) PS. UGH, I friggin' hate that this was shot with the lamp on - forgive me Lillian Bassman!:

A postcard of this one – the promo for the exhibit which was the occasion for my interview with her – lived on my mantel for a time (notice that the image is flipped for the postcard):

rest in peace Lillian Bassman. Thank you for your art.


just like conan

Last weekend I saw one of those hipster graphic prints (you know, the 21stC version of Successories). Well, the print said "Work hard and be kind to people." It's not poetic or clever. There's no rhyme or play on words. It's the kind of advice a grandparent gives: old fashioned, simple, wise. I internalized it immediately. It stuck with me so I made a remark about it on Facebook. That's when my friend Noreen pointed out it was taken from Conan O'Brien's last Tonight Show. Of course! I had seen it but forgotten. Had you forgotten? If so, here's the link:

"Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen." 

Watching this clip over I felt a kinship for my tall ginger hero. Conan made these remarks at a time of transition from his dream job. Despite farewell circumstances that were unpleasant, Conan took the opportunity to give thanks for the many great years he had with his soon-to-be-former employer. Hmmm, rang a bell with me. 

As many of you will know, I recently left STYLE AT HOME magazine. Some of you have been coming here to see what I have to say about the whole thing. So finally, here it is. My thoughts are much like Conan's. I feel lucky and thankful to have had so many fantastic experiences. What a thrill it was to help build an upstart into a contender. I feel particularly proud to have styled/art directed shoots that have graced the last 5 covers of STYLE AT HOME. I call that ending on a high note. 





To that chapter I say "So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye" 

Now opens an exciting new chapter

philippe starck in his own words

I was cleaning up digital files today and uncovered a gem. It is a transcript from an interview I conducted a few years ago with the one and only Philippe Starck. He was in Toronto to discuss his collaboration with local developer Peter Freed on a condo project at 75 Portland. I sat in a small office in Mr. Freed's penthouse suite and met face to face with one of the world's greatest design geniuses. A career highlight to be sure. He is everything you imagine him to be. Before you begin reading, promise me you will do so in a Fench accent. When you see the word designer, please read it as deee-zine-air. When you see lover, read it as luuu-vair, every the must be read as zee...So, without anymore fanfare here it is, copied and pasted below.

et voilà:

"For me to be comfortable I need only the person I love the most. I don’t need things. I don’t need a car, I can walk. I don’t need new shoes, I have some already.

If you design a chair and it is not comfortable, then it is not a chair it is a sculpture and you are an artist. Me, I am not an artist I am a designer. When I design something it has a clear function. Sure not all designs are as successful as we would like.

I always work in extremes – never in the middle. I think diagonally. I may design a 200 million dollar yacht or a 2 dollar baby bottle. The yacht will be fabulous and the baby bottle will be better than the others. When I work on the yacht it is like a laboratory. During that work I experiment with materials, ideas and ways to do the other projects. It’s diagonal thinking.

I believe in democratic design.

I design these places around the world for my tribe, people who like me who believe in good design. I think of it as helping people who are making the most important purchase of their lifetime – a place to live. Toronto is a lively city. It is cosmopolitan

I believe in intelligence and humour. In humour there is great intelligence. It’s humour that sets us apart from the rest of the animals. We came from a single cell and now we are the smart monkeys and who knows what next. But in humour there is everything – all emotions, life and death.

What is my greatest project? The one that comes next. What’s next is always the biggest and the best and the most exciting."