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.

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

Photo credit: Barbara Hirsch | Chez Elza2013-07-17 11.29.53

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.






And Then They Were Three!

Children bring much joy into our lives. They also change the way we look at decor. Can we get this sofa in that type of fabric? Will it stain? Where can we store the toddlers’ toys in the main area? What kind of window treatments are safe to have around with our new baby? Those are some of the questions I get regularly from my clients.

Being a mom myself, I know how important these questions are. Each culture is different and every family is different when it comes to children and furniture. Some of us are very comfortable having children climbing on the furniture. Some of us prefer to postpone buying nice things until the children are older. A lot of us try to find the middle ground: maybe investing in nice pieces but with sturdier finishes. Sunbrella fabrics work great and so do stain resistant fabrics. Leather is a nice option and vinyl covered designer fabric for dining room chairs works wonders!

If you’re like me, you actually don’t want to wait until you’re 50 to get that nice sofa! I have more of a French approach when it comes to decorating and children. In my home country, children are taught early to respect furniture. When my boys were very little, we just kindly but firmly explained that some furniture is not meant to climb on, and food just needs to stay in the dining area. This has worked very nicely for our family.

One of the ways to make decorating for children a positive experience,  is to create delicious little bedrooms for them : cozy, magical and colorful. Play areas are also so useful if you have the room. Creating rooms for children is a wonderful way to give them a space that is theirs to play, explore and dream; a space where they are allowed to climb, draw on walls and throw pillows. A place where furniture is their size and they can entertain their friends.

In this post I will explore a few rooms and ways to create these spaces for children.

In this first image, London based architect Alex Michaelis was able to build a dream house planned to include his children. A luxury for some, but if you are in the building process, you may want to consider this amazing slide/staircase:

Alex Michaelis: slide staircase.Via

In this happy photograph by Melanie Acevedo, adding swings indoors completely transforms a space, creating whimsy and laughter for the lucky children:

Swings in rooms for childrenvia

In the image below, from my Pinterest images, a chalk wall was created using chalk paint. This is a very economical way of giving creative doodlers their own space, that is, if you can stand the grating sound of chalk against the wall!

How to create a play area or full room? Convert an unused bedroom or part of a finished basement or attic. Create an arts and craft area for little artists:



Or something like this little corner:

Via Pinterest, source unknown.

Children Art can be hung up in so many ways, consider string or wire and clothespins:


In the above photograph, a little girls’ space is created with very little. A magnetic strip to hang art, a big basket to store items, a little person chair and a fabulous decorative trick: a very wide band of color to create interest on the wall.

Getting a foosball table for older girls and boys is always a huge success:

Lots and lots of pillows are paramount. Get as many storage baskets and bins as you can. Do not be afraid of color. Create little nooks here and there for activities: reading, art, make-believe.

Let’s look at bedrooms now. Small can be perfectly charming:


In this boy’s bedroom, a trundle bed serves as a day bed. The sophisticated use of color and the built ins can be easily incorporated later when this child grows up:


In this girl’s bedroom, a pale candy colored scheme creates a soft feel and the pillows make the space cozy. The chandelier adds that je-ne-sais-quoi which adds immediate personality:


Keep books handy like this wonderful set up:


Consider bunk beds, a child’s dream:


Or as they grow older, more mature decoration themes:


And don’t forget work spaces, which need to inspire young minds as they learn and grow:


Or for a teenager:


Voilà, les amis! Enjoy your little munchkins, they grow up very very fast. My eldest turns 15 this Saturday! Have a great week…until next time!