Two Jaw Dropping Museum Collections in Boston

Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaThe Harvard Museum of Natural History is a wonderful gem  located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo credit:  Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

With a mission to enhance public understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the human place in it, the Harvard Museum of Natural History draws on the University’s collections and research to present a historic and interdisciplinary exploration of science and nature.

I try to go once a year to take in some of my favorite museum collections. Today I am sharing two of my favorite permanent exhibits. What is really wonderful about these is you can see them anytime, they never go away…

The Ware Collection of Glass Models of Plants are the most delicate and exquisite glass models of botany ever seen. These unique pieces were commissioned by Professor George Goodale, founder of Harvard’s Botanical Museum, who wanted life-like representations of the plant kingdom to teach botany in his classrooms.

From 1886 to 1936, father and son glass artisans team Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka of the Blaschka Studio, Hosterwitz, Germany, made these beauties entirely of blown and fused glass, with wire reinforcements hidden inside the glass as needed.

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaRows and rows of plants in gorgeous polished wood and glass cases adorn the exhibit. Above, a glass banana plant and fruit. Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaAbove, a glass water lily. Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

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

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

Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaTools of the trade used to make the glass plants. Colored glass was used for many pieces and, in some cases, some plants were enameled with a thin wash of colored ground glass or metal oxides and heated until the material fused to the model. Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

In another room, is the extraordinary museum collection of rocks and minerals. This renovated gallery displays thousands of rare minerals and sparkling gemstones in both rough and cut examples, including a 1,600-pound amethyst geode from Brazil. Exhibits highlight new research and offer a broad overview of the dynamic processes and events that formed our planet and that have shaped its continuing evolution.

To visit this room for someone in love with nature, color and texture, is equivalent to dying and going to heaven:

Photo credit: Barbara Elza HirschPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

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

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

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

Photo credit: Barbara Elza hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza HirschPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch

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

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did! Happy weekend!


Boston’s Very Own Junior League Show House

I recently had the opportunity to visit  the Junior League of Boston Show House in Newton, MA.

A bit of history: the JLB was created in 1906 by women wanting to make a social difference in the Boston Metro community. They built their structure on the model of New York’s Junior League and went on to create diverse committees of interest (help to the poor and sick, entertainment for children, etc) and raise funding to assist charities and people in need. The Junior League has aligned itself with women’s changing roles over the years. It is composed of modern women who work but also want to volunteer and show initiative in diverse areas: education initiative, wellness, diet, etc.

The Show House runs from October 16th till November 18th at the Potter Estate, an 1867 property located on the grounds of the Jackson-Walnut Park Schools in Newton. The estate grounds and interiors have been updated and completely re-designed by 35 prominent local design firms who have donated their time and materials. The proceeds from the Show House will go towards the mission of the Junior League.

Potter Estate in Newton, home of the Junior League Show House 2012

Getting through Newton is always tricky for me: all that meandering, u-turning to get on the right direction of traffic, I just can’t seem to orient myself! I have to tell you, this Show House was well worth the detour! I was simply amazed at the hard work and creative genius and variety on display. I am proud of my Boston design peers!

Let me share a few photos I took of designs from local designer friends:

Elizabeth Benedict of Elizabeth Home created The Green Room, “a behind -the -scenes space for a mother to decompress…and recharge between tasks”. Creating a very organic feminine decor with soothing harmonies of greens and mauve, Elizabeth nailed the space, making it inviting and cozy.

Elizabeth Benedict‘s Green Room with framed Manuel Canovas fabric (doubles as a headboard if needed!), Stray Dog fixtures, custom paneled walls and ottoman.

More detail from the Green Room with beautiful rug by Landry and Arcari and chair upholstered in one of my personal favorite fabrics by Brunschwig & Fils.

Designer Kristen Rivoli, owner of Kristen Rivoli Interior Design smartly decided to create a romantic bedroom for an imaginary client: a well traveled couple that wishes to bring into their home design aspects from their travels to Paris and Morocco. A sumptuous canopy was created over the bed with a Moroccan lantern hanging from its heart.

Master bedroom by Kristen Rivoli with Poliform Arca Bed.

Facing the bed, was an inviting daybed with an array of pillows covered in Mally Skok textiles, and gorgeous side tables from Montage:

 Note the wallpaper with “hammered nails” effect by Phillip Jeffries, the soft grey purple velvet covering on the French bed by Charles Spada and the fabulous blue hide rug by Kyle Bunting.

Speaking of Mally Skok, she created a spunky and lively Young Woman’s Bedroom using a plethora of her very own gorgeous line of fabrics Mally Skok Design:

Mally shows her sense of humor with this warm and colorful interior. Love that window treatment! Wallpaper and all fabric on the bed are by Mally Skok.

Laurie Gorelick of Laurie Gorelick Interiors created a little jewel box she called “Inner Sanctum”. A “restorative space” for busy women, where one can meditate, refresh and enjoy. A earthy palette of greens and oranges grounds this small room and makes it extremely inviting:

I loved the Raoul Textiles lambrequin adorning the window as well as the built-ins and the desk area. Indirect lighting from a dropped ceiling creates softness throughout the space.

Another angle of the room with a custom daybed and lovely Schumacher and Seema Krish fabrics. The grasscloth wallpaper is by Schumacher. The rug is by Landry and Arcari.

Cecilia Walker of Cecilia Walker Design dressed up a very challenging back entrance and hallway with lovely little vignettes, bold wallpaper and light fixtures:

On site, I had the pleasure of meeting a few designers I did not know and who gracefully allowed me to photograph their work:

Janet S. Gaffey of Santini & Co created with the help of muralist Natalie Gardener a lovely tree-lined wall with accents of gold, copper and silver to showcase the very high second floor stairway. Note the incredible marbled like design she installed in the diamond shaped window:

Here is Janet in her space:

Frank D. Hodge of F.D. Hodge Interiors created a calming room he called Frank’s Study. I enjoyed the layering process he used, mixing both antique and modern furnishings:

Venetian plaster walls contribute to the taupe color scheme derived from the damask fabric.

Finally, Gerald Pomeroy of the Gerald Pomeroy Design Group designed a Conservatory in collaboration with Dessin Fournir, which gave him access to furniture pieces and fabrics from the same showroom:

I enjoyed the classic composition of this console table skirted by Gerarld in a Rose Cummings fabric:

This Show House opportunity should make Newton and Boston very proud!

Congratulations to my Boston Designer Colleagues!




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!