Sisterhood of the World Blogger’s Award

 

Recently I had the honor of being nominated for this award by Gloria Sollecito of Artful Kitchens. Gloria is a lovely lady: smart, talented, and a kitchen specialist. She’s also an artist at heart. I so enjoyed meeting her on the BLOGTOUR-Nola a wonderful event I attended in New Orleans back in 2013. I know Gloria will understand that between kids at home in the summer and one off to college, and a thriving interior design practice, it took me a few months to actually take her challenge and answer all these questions!Gloria

Without further ado, here are my answers to the ten challenge questions Gloria submitted to her nominees. At the end I will post a list of my own questions and nominees.  Here goes!

1) What is the most inspiring book you’ve ever read and why?

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery is one I recently admired. If you can, read it in French, that’s the version I read but I am a native speaker so that does not count! I have a hard time commiting to one single book! I loved the complexity of the characters, the class consciousness theme, the juxtaposition of two very different cultures (French and Japanese), and the references to art contained in this book. I found this book very inspiring as it is very thought provoking and beautifully written.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

2) If you could bring just one make up item with you on a trip what would it be?

moisturizer but I’d hide mascara in a backpocket.

Moisture Surge™ Extended Thirst Relief

3) What dish are you known for?

I make a mean gazpacho soup! Garlic is vital and fresh fresh basil from the garden a plus!

4) What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you and have you paid it forward yet?

The kindest thing someone has done for me is to love me unconditionally, and the first person to have done that is my mother. I have repaid her forward and hopefully many people in my life! 

5) What is your trade mark design feature?

A refined sense of color. 

6) What is the biggest misconception about you?

That I am an extrovert. I’m really a nerd with a sense of style, and do well in smaller groups! A dinner with a few close friends and good conversation is what makes me happy. Music and dancing with a glass of Prosecco are swell as well! I’ve been known to start dancing in my kitchen with old friends while peeling veggies!

7) What is one food that you detest and would not eat for love or money?

Beef tongue. A dreadful culinary reminder of some childhood dinners with relatives in France.

8) What celebrity living or dead in the last hundred years would you like to chat with? Why?

Ray Eames for being a woman designer in a time when it was difficult to be respected as a woman entrepreneur.

Ray-Bernice Alexandra Kaiser Eames (1912 – 1988) was an American artist, designer, and filmmaker who, together with her husband Charles, is responsible for many classic, iconic designs of the 20th century.:

9) Do you believe in ghosts?

Yes, of course. Don’t you?

10) What aspect of the design process is your favorite?

Creative brainstorming and preparing visual mock ups once all items are selected and the client can finally see them together and visualize what they will look like in the space. 

Here are my nominees, a few special people I totally respect in my industry, wether they blog or design:

Yvonne Blacker , of Design Vignettes

Marilyn Russell, of Marilyn Ashley Design Associates

Richard Rabel, of Richard Rabel Interiors + Art

Lisa Peck of Lilu Interiors.

Here are my ten questions:

1/What do you love about blogging?

2/What is your favorite film?

3/Are you a dog or a cat person and why?

4/Which is your favorite interior designer and why?

5/What are you cooking/eating tonight?

6/Who is the person in your life who most inspired you professionally?

7/What do you have on your nightstand right now?

8/Share a favorite travel destination.

9/Tell me your favorite room to design or blog about and why.

10/Do you think vessel sinks are in or out?

You can answer the questions but if not, I totally understand and just want you to know that I am a fan and consider you a sister/brother in the World of Bloggers!

Kindly,

Barbara

Brizo In Memphis and a Powerful Partnership for Children

This summer I had the opportunity to gather with an extraordinary group of people, all “alumnis” of the Brizo Blogger19. As you may remember from my January and February blog posts, I had the fantastic opportunity to attend a workshop organized by Brizo-creators of stylish plumbing fixtures- in New York during Fashion Week, where we also discovered Jason Wu’s glorious designs. Since 2010, Brizo has been inviting an elite group of designers, architects and influencers, which has since grown to include nearly 130 leaders in their fields, and from all over the globe. While diverse in their aesthetic, the Blogger 19 are all united by a shared experience at New York Fashion Week, hosted by the premium faucet brand Brizo.

A primary sponsor of fashion designer Jason Wu, Brizo believes high-style applies not just to the clothes we wear but is a lifestyle that extends to our aesthetic at home. Hence their innovative creations in stylish plumbing!!!

It was quite moving to be reunited all together at once, and we met many peers we had only spoken to long distance, via social media. I cannot stress enough the importance of a community in the Design Industry. We help each other grow, learn, think, exchange, and everyone benefits.

Memphis, as seen from Peabody hotel | Chez Elza                

View of Memphis from my Peabody Hotel bedroom. Photo credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza

This trip was particularly meaningful to me.

We learned about Brizo’s ongoing partnership with Memphis’ St Jude’s Children Research Hospital : Since 2010, Brizo has been a national sponsor for the St Jude Dream Home Giveaway, donating more than 1 million dollars to date in furnishings and fundraising efforts.

We were invited by the Brizo management to visit the hospital on site.

A few notes about the hospital:
-St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® opened in 1962 and was
founded by the late entertainer Danny Thomas.
Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza
A small exhibit on Danny Thomas is hosted inside the Arabic inspired cupola. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch
Photo Credit Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza
Thomas was of Lebanese origin and Lebanon was extremely supportive of his project. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch
PhotPhoto credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza
Beautiful detail of the cupola where we listened to speakers and had breakfast before the tour. Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch 
-St Jude’s mission is to find cures for children with cancer and other deadly diseases through pioneering research and exceptional care.
-No family ever pays St. Jude for anything.
-In 1962, the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer, was 4 percent. Today, the survival rate for this once deadly disease is94 percent, thanks to research and treatment.
-The daily operating cost for St. Jude is $1.7 million, which is primarily covered by public contributions
-St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and from around the world
-St. Jude is the first and only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted to children.
-St. Jude researchers are published and cited more often in high impact publications than any other private pediatric oncology institution in America.

We spent a day visiting the hospital with Brizo managers and employees, touring the facilities, even meeting with patients and families.

It was hard. It was moving.

http://www.stjude.org/stjude/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=4f7df38c84209310VgnVCM100000290115acRCRD

The hospital’s multidenominational chapel.

All of us have been touched by cancer directly or indirectly: to witness the spirit of St Jude’s daily battle and incredible tenacity and optimism is truly a gift. Nobody wants to hear about illness or dying, but the reality is, it’s part of life.

As a designer reporting about the hospital, I tried to also approach this visit from a design perspective. Color and architecture, space planning and art were central elements all around the hospital.

Some say design is superfluous. It’s not. It is a central element in our surroundings. Appealing and inviting spaces make us feel loved and comfortable.

I commend St. Jude hospital for designing facilities that make being sick a little less grey and scary:

Photo credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza

A colorful playgroundPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

rbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Art tables await much anticipated artistic expressions.

Photo credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza

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Photo credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza                  

Above : Hallway exhibits, murals and messages abound at St Jude’s Children Research Hospital. Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch.

Below, common rooms and family apartments at Target House, where some of the families are lodged:

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo credit : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza

Above: The Brad Paisley common room. The artist donated the room and its decor. Like many artists, celebrities and sponsors, everyone becomes part of St Jude’s  community. For example, artists will come regularly and spend time with the children, or play music outdoors for the families.

Photo credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza

An outdoor common area at St Jude’s. Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch.

Photo credit : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

The Shawn White Family Room. Photo credit : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza.

Photo credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza

Messages of hope abound at the Target  House. Photo credit : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Later, we were allowed to interact with some of the children patients and their families to work on an art project. Understandably, photos were not allowed to respect the families’ privacy.

This was truly a very awe inspiring visit and experience and I felt privileged to  have toured such a unique research hospital.

Thank you, Brizo, and thank you, St Jude.

 

 

 

 

 

New Orleans: Clicking Snapshots of a Unique Culture

New Orleans’ culture is rich and multi-layered like a complex and very refined cake. While on tour with the wonderful BlogtourNOLA gang, I snapped a few images of some of what makes this city’s heart beat faster.

The food:

Chez ElzaAll photos and layout by Chez Elza The food is to die for and -literally- has visitors commenting out loud with their mouths full: “I’ll diet as soon as I get back home!”

 The music:

Photos and layout by Chez ElzaAnd the good times:

Photos and layout by Chez ElzaAnd what a fabulous night life, with artists in markets at 11 PM!

Photo by Barbara Elza Elza HirschAt the Frenchmen Art Market. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Chez ElzaNOLA 1962Artist photographer Andy Levin holding up some of his work. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Chez ElzaArtist jeweler Krista De Joseph and her wonderful smile in front of her handmade jewelery.

Chez ElzaCheck out her work by clicking on the link above! Photos by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

We had a blast, thank you, Veronika of Modenus! Organizer extraordinaire:

V and daughterA lovely mother-daughter duo… Veronika at right. Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

 

3-New Orleans: A Strong Community Rebuilding Itself Needs Your Help

Our BlogtourNOLA trip to New Orleans was not just about interior design. Our organizer, Veronika Miller, wanted us to have the opportunity to understand New Orleans as a community that has and continues to suffer. We were invited to visit with neighborhoods deeply affected by Katrina and witness their rebuilding efforts firsthand.

Photo Credit : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Our first tour is organized by the Storehouse of World Vision, a network of six storehouses which supply donated goods such as building materials, school supplies, personal care items and clothing from corporate partners to more than 2.2 million people annually in low-income communities. As part of the upcoming National Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS) which took place in New Orleans April 19-21, World Vision partnered with  New Orleans St Paul’s Homecoming Center and the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) to help three deserving families rebuild their homes.

We are invited to tour these homes in Gentilly, a neighborhood located near the levees that has seen only 60% of its homes rebuilt. Efrain Perez, Jr., Corporate Relations Director of World Vision explains how his organization partners with companies to donate products to help those in needs. New Orleans continues to need all the support it can get: corporate donations are essential in this reconstruction.  Connie Uddo, director of St Paul’s Homecoming Center, explains how her local community was affected: “100 000 trees were destroyed by salt water and 80% of homes flooded”. Connie tells how contractor fraud had affected the already demoralized inhabitants. When the government money came in, people started hiring contractors. Unfortunately, some of these contractors profited from the situation and took the money and ran.

It is hard to transcribe here the level of raw emotion, determination and courage the locals shared with us as we visit with them.

Connie guided St Paul’s Episcopal Church effort to offer the post-Katrina community a place where they could find volunteer help, housing, tools, computer access, mental health and much, much more. She speaks in an energetic, focused and dedicated manner about her community: “We just held each other up, pulled ourselves by the bootstraps and we continue to today”. Gentilly’s middle class neighborhood was under water 8 years ago. It has been a very slow process to rebuild. Connie works tirelessly with volunteers like Joe Robert, a contractor whose home was entirely destroyed during Katrina.

Joe Robert and Connie Uddo of St Paul's Homecoming Center -Photo Credit : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaJoe Robert and Connie Uddo tell us their story in front of one of the homes being rebuilt in Gentilly. Photo : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Joe was in the process of rebuilding when all his tools and floors were stolen out of his house. He owns one of the homes currently being helped by donations from World Vision, and which he helps rebuild, along with other homes, after his workday.

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaA team of volunteers from The Home Depot help construct the Davis’ family home, as their daughter explains that her father so wanted to meet with us but is currently in the hospital. This family did not have flood insurance. The little money they got for their contents was stolen by a fraudulent contractor who ran off with $32,000. Photo : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaA special ceremony is underway. White doves will be released in the sky to symbolize the rebirth of these homes and give strength and courage to all. Photo : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Everyone holds their breath as the doves are about to be released. The owner of the birds explains what will happen.

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaAnd there they go! Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Our last stop is Joe’s home. His property abuts the levee and he tells a heart wrenching story. Since his home’s destruction 8 years ago, he and his wife have had to live with a family member. Their home rebuilding project is finally on the right track. He is torn between moving back here, to a neighborhood he and his ancestors grew up in, and his wife’s fear that the brand new levee will not protect them in case of a another disastrous storm.

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaNote how the homes’ levels are elevated and have doors at every floor: this is the new approach to re-building homes in the area.

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza hirsch | Chez ElzaIn Joe’s driveway, we ask for permission to walk to the newly constructed levee and are struck by how eerily close to the homes these are.

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza hirsch | Chez ElzaI climb on a ledge to take this shot and assess the water level. Joe’s house is 50 feet to the right of this view.

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza Joe lifts his arm as he tells the story of how high the water went. Later he will show us a street sign, about as high as our tour bus. The water reached that sign’s  level. We can still see the water stains. Photos : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Inside the home, boxes of donated items are ready to be opened. A kitchen that for most of us is a simple commodity is a luxury long awaited for here.

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza Corporations who donated to this project should feel proud:

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza hirsch | Chez Elza

It is time to say goodbye. Tears are shed. We leave our new Gentilly friends behind with a heavy heart. The mood in the bus is morose as we grapple with all we’ve seen and heard.

Next stop is another neighborhood, the Lower 9th Ward, a historic working class community which was also hit hard during the hurricane. 1,200 people perished here and only 20% of the original population has returned.  When Brad Pitt visited New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward two years after Hurricane Katrina, he was shocked by the lack of rebuilding progress in this community. Pitt decided to help rebuild in the hardest hit area of the city and created Make It Right, which is committed to building high-quality, sustainable homes designed by architects for communities in need. All Make It Right projects are LEED Platinum certified and Cradle to Cradle inspired – meeting the highest standards of green building. The homes are sold at a very low price and buyers need to be previous neighborhood residents. 90 homes have already been rebuilt. 350 people have been brought back home thanks to Make It Right.

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

The homes here are designed with the architect according to the homeowner’s taste and preferences. Each is unique. The U.S. Green Building Council named Make It Right‘s work in the Lower 9th Ward “the largest, greenest neighborhood of single family homes in the world.”

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Credits:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaMany renowned architects have designed homes for this project, such as Frank Gehry’s pink house above. Photo Credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaAn empty park awaits the return of its children. Photo Credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaWell ventilated homes, built to optimize light and shade, as well as bright colors are a signature of the Make it Right  homes. Photo Credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Help from corporations and individuals is key to the success of the Make It Right project and companies such as Benjamin Moore, Cosentino (owner of Silestone) and Shaw Floors are active partners in this reconstruction.

We visit one home where one older woman has reintegrated her neighborhood. She is happy and loves the new space. Two members of Make it Right can’t seem to agree on whether her home was designed by a Japanese architect or a Chinese architect. Is it really important at this point ? I don’t really care. I’d much rather meet and hear the locals.

This afternoon visit to the Lower 9th Ward feels very different than Gentilly’s tour. Having someone like Brad Pitt bring attention to this area is like a double edge sword. It is a wonderful initiative, yet many of us can’t help feeling there is something surreal about the whole thing. Is it because we are shown around in a very rapid and business like manner, making this feel less about the local people than about the design concept behind these green designed homes? Something is missing. Suddenly the amount of publicity brought to this area feels very unfair compared to what we saw in the morning. Would we have felt differently had our day started in the Lower 9th Ward?

The truth is, I am not from New Orleans. I only visited two neighborhoods. I am sure the reconstruction initiatives and the politics behind these are more complex than what they seem.

One thing is for sure: New Orleans is still not out of the woods. People are still suffering.  I am hoping to plan a trip to Gentilly with my family and help hammer and paint.

How can you help?

  “Everyone can help us rebuild, even families with children who want to come visit and help out”, says Connie. St Paul’s Homecoming Center is a “boots on the ground” program.

As explained on St Paul’s website, each volunteer group is matched with a project suited to their unique qualifications. When skilled construction workers are here, they may do carpentry, drywall, roofing etc. If a group of unskilled people are here to work, they might be asked to do landscaping, painting, or community-related improvements. Because of the variety of needs in the New Orleans area, St Paul’s is able to provide a project for any group, regardless of age or skill level – they even have families that come to New Orleans and work for a few days during their vacations.

Cash Donations are welcome and I have affixed a direct link here to St Paul’s Homecoming Center here as well as on the right of my blog, where it will be part of CHEZ ELZA’s ongoing effort to help rebuild New Orleans.

If your corporation wishes to donate to The Storehouse of World Vision, please click here.

To donate to Make It Right and help bring more sustainable homes around the world, consider donating here.

Make It Right is committed to hiring and training local workers in green building practices. Because of this commitment, they don’t use volunteers for daily construction work. They do sometimes ask for help with landscaping, gardening and light maintenance around their construction sites.

I urge you to consult the Make It Right Library here. It offers free resources about green building.

Everyone should have a home they can call their own. New Orleans decided to expand on its swampy areas to grow the city centuries ago. We cannot, as some suggested 8 years ago, just eliminate entire neighborhoods that have been home to families for generations. We need to make sure levees are rebuilt appropriately and drainage is set in place all over the area. New Orleans is part of this country’s unique history and I believe Americans should come together and help rebuild and preserve its beautiful heritage.

Blogtour NOLA, New Orleans, Me Voilà!

I am cramming. Cramming for a good cause. I am off to New Orleans next week for an exciting week of discovery, design education, socializing and sight seeing.

Favrot

New Orleans photo via Courtney Price Design

Trying to juggle all clients before my departure plus the organization of my upcoming show house in Maine, with a sick child who ended up staying at home the end of the week after almost breaking his toe and a rush to X-ray Wednesday, I admit I feel wiped out. But this cramming and exhaustion serve a good purpose. It’s 1 AM and I am writing with some news I have to share before I leave!  I have been generously invited to a very special event called Blogtour NOLA, organized by Modenus. Veronika Miller is the founder and CEO of Modenus the leading interior design resource in the US and UK. For the past few years now she has been partnering with sponsors to invite trend setting bloggers and design minded individuals to Blogtour events.

Definition of a Blogtour organized by Modenus: bloggers are invited to scout the world for great design and report back live from the world’s greatest cities and the most recognized design trade shows.

Blogtour NOLA is taking us to KBIS 2013 this month, a Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, which will be held in New Orleans this month. KBIS is a huge industry event which allows industry professionals to connect, exchange ideas, learn and discover new products and technologies. I look forward to learning a lot, and adding many new design tricks to my practice! I am particularly interested in new technologies, materials used for surfaces, and plumbing design.

This trip could not be possible without the generous sponsorship of KBIS, The NKBA, Mr. Steam, TOTO USA, Blanco America, Poggenpohl USA, Silestone USA, and Duverre Hardware

I will be writing more about these brands as I discover them firsthand.

I love that Veronika conceives her blog tours as not only opportunities for bloggers to learn a lot about all the latest trends at these trade shows, but also as an opportunity to discover  the culture of the area they are traveling to. In this case, I am really blessed to travel to New Orleans, a city I have never had the pleasure of visiting. I am looking forward to learning about ” the effort to rebuild many parts of the city and hear stories of how people have coped with the emotional and physical devastation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The mere fact that this is still a topic today, eight years later, made it clear that BlogTour needed to share the latest with its readers” (in Modenus’ own words).

And sharing we will, Veronika!

I could not resist to leave you with a photo of the hotel we will be staying at. My readers know my love for hotel design :-)  !

Photo of a room at the Renaissance Arts Hotel, located in the heart of New Orleans warehouse district.

New Orleans, this Frenchie is ready! Beignets? Oui, avec grand plaisir!

Jason Wu’s Glorious Creations and a Brizo Fiesta to Remember

The last day always come. And so it came.

Day 3 we had one last breakfast meeting with Brizo. We worked hard and all sat still as white envelopes were distributed throughout the room. THE Jason Wu invitations. Braided in sexy black leather straps, they whispered the promise of something extraordinary:

Brizo FW-2013 301We were whisked away in black SUVs as slushy and frigid raindrops (Nemo had arrived) riddled the cityscape with streaks ans spots:

Brizo FW-2013 309Photo: Elza B. Design.

The bleak weather forecast did not dampen our spirits as this shot of  Yvonne Blacker and Jordan Bahler of Brizo can attest:

Brizo FW-2013 306Photo: Elza B. Design.

Thankfully VIP treatment was highly welcome as kind umbrella men opened our doors and helped us out upon arrival:

Brizo FW-2013 311Photo: Elza B. Design.

Excitement is in the air as we wait in line:

Brizo FW-2013 315Designers and bloggers Laura Bielecki, Katrina Stumbos with Kristen Baum and Laura Brooks of Brizo.

Meanwhile, behind the scene preparation of models for the Jayson Wu Fashion Show:

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Photo by Jayme Thornton for Brizo.

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Photo by Jayme Thornton for Brizo.

The show’s venue is dressed up with one glimmering, extravagant and astronomical chandelier which reflects on the glistening black and white cutout of the floor…that will later be touched up by hand a few moments before the show actually starts:

Brizo FW-2013 325Photo Elza B. Design

And the show begins as models belted in snakeskin, lace, fur, leather, silk and wool crepe ensembles sashay across the room at lightning speed :

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 A rapid succession of black and white silhouettes punctuated by a shot of red here and there and one glorious violet gown brings the crowd to applause as we all stand up stunned by the rapidity of the show.

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All Fashion Show Photos by Jayme Thornton for Brizo.

While a Fashion design student in Paris in the late eighties, I had the privilege of attending quite a number of fashion shows, such as Jean-Paul Gauthier and Thierry Mugler. The Jason Wu show is just as professional and clearly the work of a highly gifted fashion architect, capable of teasing fabric and materials into elaborate and perfectly wearable confections.

Brizo FW-2013 346A photo of part of our fabulous group gathered after the show under the spectacular chandelier.

The rest of the evening is spent rushing back to the hotel and donning an evening outfit in preparation of the Jason Wu private cocktail party. We brave the enormous, silent and hurried white snowflakes and gather up in the New York Penthouse for the event.

Brizo FW-2013 362Previous Jason Wu creations keep us company as we enjoy drinks and each other’s company. Elza B. Design photo.

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 Our group posing with the talented celebrity stylist Brandon Cannon, who was the first to introduce Jason Wu to Brizo and is a good friend of the designer. Photo Jayme Thornton.

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Marilyn Russell and I pose for the camera. Jayme Thornton photo.

Jason Wu braves the snow storm and traffic, and arrives quite tired after his show and the numerous interviews he gave immediately after. He is gentle, charming, humble and very very smart. He graciously answers a few questions from Cannon which my old computer refuses to transfer into a video that can be saved without crashing the whole unit…and  I’ve just given up. You’ll have to settle with Jayme Thornton‘s great snapshot:

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Thank you, Brizo, it was a trip to remember! Below, the Brizo group with Jason Wu photgraphed by Jayme Thornton:_H1U8427.JPG

“Ce n’est qu’un au-revoir”, as we say in my mother tongue. Until next time, dear friends. Thank you for the memories!

Bare Toes to Gourmet Cooking | A Brizo Adventure

I almost missed going to the Brizo Event. I received an email on a Sunday, which I cast aside for later and did not open. Thankfully, I was called early in the week by the Brizo team, and had to have them repeat what I was hearing:

Me: “Um, excuse me, did you just say I was invited to learn about your products and to see the Jason Wu Fashion Show, all fees included? Hotel and trip?”

The rest is history. I breathlessly figured out logistics to escape my clients and family life, and then shopped desperately for New York worthy outfits.

D Day started with bare toes in the sunshine, driving back home with sticky nails, and imploring my husband to drive me to the airport:

Brizo FW-2013 129He said yes, Whew! And, no, for the record, I’ve never bared my toes in 35 degree temperature before. This was an “EMERGENCY”! Photo Elza B. Design.

I landed to New York and was pleasantly picked up by a chauffeur and zoomed to the Eventi Hotel (read more about the hotel here)

This is what my room looked like when I first came in:

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A glamorous little nest for sure. Photo Elza B. Design.

Drinks followed with the Brizo team that evening and we all got to mingle:

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Brian Nobbe, Brizo Marketing Director with fellow bloggers Todd Vendituoli and Marilyn Russell. Photo Elza B. Design.

Brizo FW-2013 158.editedFrom left to right: Fellow designers and bloggers Marilyn Russell, Yvonne Blacker, Adele Young and the one and only, Judd Lord, director of Industrial Design for Brizo. Photo Elza B. Design.

Bright and early the next day we attended a presentation of the Brizo lines:

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The lovely Laura Brooks, Senior Brand Manager for Brizo. Photo courtesy Jayme Thornton.

 

Designers and bloggers hard at work. Obviously good students, seeing from the level of participation! Photo courtesy Jayme Thornton.

Later that day we went on a tour of the Hearst Tower and attended a presentation by  ELLE DECOR‘s editor Amy Preiser:

Brizo FW-2013 226Sorry for the fuzzy photo, Amy. You were extremely charming and bubbly. Note to self: take photos with a regular camera once in a while. I-Phone not always optimum.

Beautiful Hearst Tower view:

Brizo FW-2013 218Photo Elza B. Design.

Did you know the Hearst tower is not not only the heart of numerous famous magazines, it also hosts the Good Housekeeping Institute Office!

Brizo FW-2013 239Famous Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval is delivered here, in the heart of New York city! Photo Elza B. Design.

The tower offers an ideally sound proofed auditorium, its own Cafe, an art gallery space, a sculpted water fountain, and a 70 feet high fresco hand painted by artist Richard Long with mud and water.

Brizo FW-2013 229Fabulous architecture inside the building. Photo Elza B. Design.

But what I found most fascinating about the tower’s recent addition is its exemplary environmentally conscious and breathtaking diagonal grid construction. Designed by British architect Norman Foster, it features among many things: the fastest elevators of New York, high efficient glass construction, rain water collection and recycling, and it is made of 90% recycled steel. Click here to view a video and learn more.

The day was topped off with a fast speed and mouth watering cooking class at Sur La Table with the Brizo team and guests. We cooked three main courses and then sat down to eat

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My fabulous teammates, Brian Nobbe and Judd Lord of Brizo and designer and cooking buddy Susan Jamieson. Photo credit Jayme Thornton for Brizo.

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The art of folding pasta…Photo courtesy Jayme Thornton.

Brizo FW-2013 278 copy edited

My teammates and I made this pasta!!! I love this photo. It makes me happy! Photo Elza B. Design.

The whole Brizo group before dinner:

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Above and directly below, photos courtesy Jayme Thornton for Brizo._H1U7233.JPGBrizo FW-2013 288.copyOne of our delicious creations, fresh tomato pappardelle with ground beef and scallions. Photo Elza B. Design.

I will share the Jason Wu Fashion Show later this week. In the meantime, I leave you with this telling photo of how everything came to an end:

Brizo FW-2013 125Landing at Boston Logan Airport with Yvonne Blacker, we had to come back to reality! Hello, Nemo! Goodbye fairytale!

Crushing on the Eventi Hotel Design in New York

When Brizo invited a bunch of designers and bloggers for Fashion Week, they chose to lodge us in a hotel they have grown fond of over the years: the Eventi Hotel in Chelsea.

I can see why. As soon as you arrive, you know this is an unusual space. Glorious and over the top decor surprises you in the shared spaces of the hotel, part of the Kimpton Hotel and Restaurant Group. In 1981, Bill Kimpton pioneered the boutique hotel concept in the United States. His idea was to create welcoming and stylish spaces for guests. Thus was born the Kimpton Concept.

Without further ado, let me present the brilliant Eventi Hotel:

Photo courtesy Jayme Thornton.

The lobby’s dramatic entrance with velvet drapes revealing a hidden painting. Eventi Hotel photo Elza B. Design.

Brizo FW-2013 073Lobby photographed by Elza B. Design. Eventi Hotel.

 Brizo FW-2013 016Lobby photographed by Elza B. Design. Eventi Hotel.

Allow me to walk you to the 2nd floor, home to the lounge and dining area, a 60’s/70’s  inspired space with over-sized lighting and a disco vibe :

Brizo FW-2013 046.copyLounge area Eventi Hotel. Photo Elza B. Design.

Brizo FW-2013 042Heron statues greet you in the lounge area. One of the dining area hostesses thought I was crazy photographing all the spaces. They are sooo ugly, said she

Brizo FW-2013 031Lounge area abuts the heated patio. Photo Elza B. Design.

Brizo FW-2013 114Heated patio. Photos Elza B. Design.

Brizo FW-2013 347Brizo FW-2013 0924th floor common area with art by Barbara Nessim. Elza B. Design photo.

4th floor meeting area . Elza B. Design photo.

Glorious view of New York from top floor of Eventi. Photo Elza B. Design.

I am curious what you take away from this post. Did you enjoy the spaces? They are not for everyone, however, I found them well suited for the Chelsea neighborhood vibe. Would I decorate my house this way? No. But who wants a stay away that looks like home? Hotel spaces are unique. They are meant to intrigue and transport you.

I am not ready to forget this fabulous hotel design. Eventi’s sense of scale, color and grandiosity nurtured me and left me feeling inspired and energized.

I left New York with a big smile and creative sparks popping inside my coat pockets…

Thank you, #InStyleTour for a fabulous event!!!

Yesterday I attended the well awaited #InStyleTour event I was telling you about in my last post. I had a lovely time, enjoyed great conversation and food at Villa Francesca, where the cuisine is truly divine.

Villa Francesca private dining room offers the perfect cave atmosphere. Low ceiling with exposed beams, brick walls, dim lights. Notice the wine cellar gates are LOCKED. Mmm, wonder why?

Fellow designers take the pose! From left to right Elizabeth Benedict, standing, Andie Day, and Michele Cortizo.

Three happy designers enjoying dinner to come at Villa Francesca. Linda Merrill, Laurie Gorelick and myself. Photo courtesy Linda Merrill.

After dinner, we all walked through Little Italy cobbled streets to Giovanni DeCunto‘s studio.

Delicious spreads of Italian desserts expected us. I don’t think anyone could beat the scrumptious locally made tiramisu .

Amazing portrait of artist and rapper TUPAK by Giovanni De Cunto. Painstakingly executed dot by dot -à la Seurat, this black and white painting actually changes to color when the lights are turned off. Special effect glow in the dark paints allow this process to occur.

Painting by De Cunto.

One of my favorite paintings along with TUPAK was this one:

Transmission 21 by Giovanni De Cunto.

A business card drawing for prizes occurred and Laurie Gorelick won a small abstract painting by De Cunto! Laurie wins at every of these events, I swear!!! As she says, she needs to play the lottery now! Michele Cortizo won a BLANCO faucet:

Christy Emens of BLANCO presents Michele Cortizo with her prize, a faucet by generous event sponsor BLANCO AMERICA.

As for myself, I won a …um, yes, embarrassing but true, hickey kiss on my right cheek (yes, a hickey!) from the artist himself, Giovanni De Cunto! Giovanni, I know I am irresistible, but please, no more unsolicited hickeys! Next time, paint me a kiss on a canvas and I will gladly accept it :-) !!!!

I cannot part without thanking dear Andie Day and Todd Vendituoli! They put in a lot effort behind the #InStyleTour event creation and implementation!

They’re gonna kill me cause it’s a poor shot (why is there no WHITE EYE correction on my Photoshop??) but I believe it will give you an idea of how happy and friendly this bunch is:

Lovely Andie Day stands in red top, Michele Cortizo-laughing as always-shows her back, seated center is Christy Emens from Blanco (voted best haircut of the evening), Todd Vendituoli is seated in front of his partner in crime, Sidney, shown taking photos. These folks were laughing so hard and moving so much, I just could not take a good shot!!!

A bientôt!