designers i admire: ilse crawford


seating for eating by ilse crawford for de la espadaI have long admired the career and work of Ilse Crawford. She designs the most extraordinary rooms that look like nothing else you've seen. She does that magic mix of country and Scandinavian and traditional that turns my head every time. She's a scholar and a former magazine editor. I formed my opinion about her long before I had ever heard her speak. Well, tonight I heard her speak. What I am here to say is: move over Ben Pentreath, I have a new mentor. 

"If you've got a broken heart, if you've had a terrible day, your environment's not going to make that much difference, but it can change a lot...I try to think of the human spirit first of all as my starting point."

one house, two owners

So, this is kinda fun. It's the same house, published twice. First time it was published in ELLE Decor when the homeowner was Steven Gambrel. The second time it was published in Martha when owned by Jill and Daniel Dienst. So interesting to compare.


DienstGambrelDienstGambrelDienstGambrelDienstGambrelDienstGambrelDienstWhich do you like better?

chair crush: saarinen executive

Here's a chair I quite like. It was designed in 1957 by Eero Saarinen and is called the Saarinen Executive chair. I've seen it many many times in print, but only just recently experienced it in real life. The other day I enjoyed a lovely lunch at Mildred's Temple Kitchen here in Toronto. The dining room features a flock of these lovelies.

The lunch company was excellent -- a very charming exec from Benjamin Moore and her crackerjack NYC PR team. We lingered and lingered and lingered. I assure you that in a business as crazy and deadline-packed as mine is, long leisurely lunches are by far the exception rather than the rule. Fact is, some days I'm lucky if I can choke back a peanut butter granola bar while fighting cross-town traffic scouting. But I digress. The point I'm trying to make is that I think that the comfort of the chairs played as much of a role in the enjoyment and length of this lunch as did the excellent food and company. The comfort of a dining chair is no small affair. Interestingly, as you may have guessed from its name, the Executive was designed for the workplace. Can't you picture it in the offices of Sterling Cooper?


It's an incredibly versatile design. The Exec fits our modern preference for a fully upholstered dining chair.  It has clean and simple lines but is heaps more interesting than the ubiquitous Parsons. The armchair version is easily moved from dining table to lounge area and back to suit the occasion. And speaking of moving, the little peak-a-boo in the back is no accident -- it's the most discreet "handle" ever designed -- he was a smartypants that Eero! And not to worry if metal legs are just a little too chilly looking for you, wooden versions are an option. And if you did want to keep it in the office, it also comes in an adjustable version with wheels. What's not to love? 

sources: 1, 5: knoll studio. 2: mildred's. 3: dwr. 4: met home via elle decor.

Peaceful palette. There's nothing like white to cleanse your design palette - white can tell so many stories. Here are a few I am escaping with tonight...

inspires me to decorate a party with white balloons. One of my wedding showers had white and silver balloons as decor -- I still remember it and love the idea.

currently loving bare blond floor, trestle tables, all things Scandi, the idea of a loft.

Holy bread stack batman -- a styling wonder! also love the perfectly pressed creases in the linen towel in the background - no detail missed.

with ceilings this high and architecture like this you don't need much more. you can even get away with a crate bedside table. White canvas above bed -- loves.


a bit of nature and randomness plus a gutsy lamp. nice.

somewhere I'd like to make my tea every morning.

great envelope + simple furniture = stunning result.

wicked cool chairs - and waste basket.

a pretty jumble. have been under that chair's spell for years now. great painted floor boards.

trestle base gets me again. would love a white phone like that.

(drat, promised myself this blog wouldn't be just a bunch of stuff borrowed from others but found these on emmas designblogg and they are just too breathtaking not to share, mea culpa. see her blog here...).