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!

Barbara

Ready for ACTION? Ready, Set, Go, NOLA!

The movement continues, as designers who attended BlogtourNOLA with Modenus principal Veronika Miller want to GIVE BACK and bring your ATTENTION to a city still rebuilding itself after Katrina. Thursday the 9th Veronika has organized for a  FUNDRAISER via a chat on Twitter (May 9 from 4-5pm EST #BlogtourNOLA) to raise funds via World Vision for Joe Robert.

Jo Robert with his wife, Gloria. Photo Credit: via Modenus

I introduced you to Joe and the plight of New Orleans people in my recent post. Please help him rebuild his home, his story is particularly touching as he has delayed rebuilding his home to donate his time to rebuild other Hurricane victims homes’.

His home:

Photo Credit : Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaJoe and Gloria’s home

A little bio:

Joe and Gloria Robert of New Orleans were newlyweds looking forward to a bright
future together when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August 2005.

Residing in their new house for just one month before Katrina slammed the city, the
couple lost everything when the levee behind their house was destroyed – one of 53
levees in the city breached by the storm surge – and canal water swallowed the home.
The Roberts evacuated the city, staying with various friends and relatives. When the
flood waters receded weeks later, Joe and Gloria moved into a pop-up camper in their
driveway for a while, but they’ve also been staying with Joe’s daughter from a previous
marriage.

Nearly eight years later, Joe and Gloria’s house is still uninhabitable. While a new
house has been framed out, the building lacks essentials including electrical, drywall,
flooring and plumbing. Because Joe is a contractor by trade, he has the skills to work
on his house, but he has generously donated much of his free time to volunteering with
St. Paul’s Homecoming Center helping to rebuild other people’s houses.

Joe works on his home little by little, but is often derailed by setbacks such as having
his house broken into and his tools stolen. Even though Joe was forced to save up until
he could replenish his tool supply, he has not lost his faith in humanity.

Fortunately, Joe and Gloria received some good news recently when Storehouse of
World Vision selected the couple and their house for a rehab project. A few weeks
ago Storehouse joined forces with the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA)
and St. Paul’s Homecoming Center to help rehab kitchens and baths in three houses
as a lead-in to NKBA’s Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS) held April 19-21 in New
Orleans.

While Storehouse and NKBA partners have donated materials, appliances and labor
for a new kitchen and bath in the Robert’s house, the rest of the unfinished home still
needs lots of TLC.

Please view this film by Kurt Wulff about the day of our visit to Gentilly, in New Orleans, with Joe, Connie Udo, and Efrain Perez, Jr from World Vision and so many more:

If you want to HELP, please click to give—> GIVE NOW LINK

Thank you so much for your support!

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.

2-New Orleans: Sustainable Gas Lanterns and Bevolo

The Gas Lantern is one of the signatures of the French Quarter in New Orleans. Our BlogtourNOLA group was invited for breakfast and a factory tour at Bevolo, a family owned business that revolutionized the production of gas lamps by developing a unique technique. In 1945, the French Quarter opened its doors to an Italian-American family owned business: Bevolo Gas and Electric Lights. Andrew Bevolo, Sr., who had worked in manufacturing  for companies such as Ford,  realized that by utilizing a hand riveting technique rather than making brittle soldered joints, he could create sustainable gas lights. He started working with architect A. Hays Town to develop a beautiful design. Thus was born the French Quarter Gas Lamp, inspired by the London street lights of the 19th century.

Bevolo Lighting in NOLA French Quarter.  Photo by Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Bevolo offers 500 types of lights, and we saw a good 40 styles displayed at the factory. These are offered in multiple finishes, but copper is the best seller, sought after for its beauty and durability. I learned that gas lights utilize very little energy and the cost to keep one lit is 7 to 10 dollars per lamp per month. They are “basically a pilot light with a fancy cover” to quote the third generation owner, Drew Bevolo. Due to their high efficiency, the gas lamps stay on day and night. They can be used indoors as well. Kitchens are seeing a big trend in large lantern pendants. Lights used indoors are equipped with a safety valve. All these lanterns can be made electric as well. Bevolo offers a lifetime warranty on broken glass: if it breaks, the glass will be replaced for free!

As I observed the soft glimmer of the gas flames, I was transported through time and charmed by the quiet and non glaring properties of this type of lighting.

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaSecond from right is the original 35 x 18 London inspired Street Gas Light. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Detail of 1/4 inch tubing used  for the gas line. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza.Detail of 1/4 inch tubing used for the gas line. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza.

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

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza.One of my absolute favorite lamp designs at Bevolo’s. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza.

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza.Entrance to the factory. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza.

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza.A coppersmith at work at Bevolo’s. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza.

 

Bevolo lamp -electrical version. Photo Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaAn electric lamp version. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

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

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaHere I am standing in the courtyard beween the factory and the museum part of Bevolo. Note the Bevolo lantern on the wall behind me. Photo Credit: Linda Merrill,  a fellow designer, holding the camera for Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

I will end this second chapter by sharing a few images of the streets where the store and factory is located.

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaFrench Quarter- Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaFrench Quarter. Literally felt I was in Europe standing here. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaFrom the first floor of Bevolo’s, looking out. Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaFrench Quarter- Photo Credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

I want to thank the Bevolo team for a fabulous tour and visit. I learned so much and as always, relish a factory tour!

Next on the list, I will share what I learned about the New Orleans community’s efforts to rebuild its homes. A la prochaine!

1-New Orleans: Architecture, its Crown Jewel

I am back after a formidable blogtourNOLA journey with the lovely Veronika Miller and an amazing group of designers/bloggers I had the pleasure of meeting.

I debated on what to share with you in this 1st chapter of my New Orleans adventure. I decided to begin with setting the scene. And what comes to mind is BEAUTY. Beautiful architecture abounds in this gorgeous city.

How can I even start to explain the beauty of New Orleans? There are no words, really.

We begin on a warm, muggy day in April 2013. Destination: The Garden District.

The Garden District was designated a national historical landmark in 1974. It is renowned for its beautiful 19th century mansions, some late Victorian homes and elaborate gardens. Greek revival, Spanish, French, British and Italian influences have come together to create an incredible architecture.

New Orleans Street Car on Charles Street- Photo: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaNew Orleans Street Car on Charles Street- Photo: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

Click on link below for a little film I took of the ride from the streetcar:

Link to Film of BlogTourNola-StreetCar

It will give a sense of the laid back, green and lush vibe of this city.

NOLA Garden District -Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

NOLA Garden District -Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

NOLA Garden District -Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

NOLA Garden District -Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

NOLA Garden District -Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

NOLA Garden District -Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

NOLA Garden District -Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

NOLA Garden District -Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

NOLA Garden District -Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

NOLA Garden District -Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

NOLA Garden District -Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

NOLA Garden District -Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza

NOLA Garden District -Photo credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez ElzaPhoto credit: Barbara Elza Hirsch | Chez Elza


At this point, I imagine and hope your are rendered speechless. Good! This is truly a trip I recommend!  Be sure to follow my blog posts on new Orleans over the next few weeks. A bientôt, les amis!

 

 

 

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:

Brizo FW-2013 146

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.

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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!

Brizo: Smart, Hot and Technologically Trendy

Dear Friends,

I am back from New York and Brizo Fashion Week was simply fabulous. I learned so much and met so many wonderful people!

 Brizo Team members, includes Industrial Designers, Product Marketing Managers and Communications and Events members. Such a friendly and genuine group! Photo courtesy Brizo Facebook Page.

The Brizo Faucet Line is part of the DELTA Faucet company and is aimed at a more fashion savvy clientele. “Glamorous”, “Elegant” and “Minimalistic” were buzz words used by Brizo members to describe the product lines. During the seminar we learned that Brizo is a “lifestyle”, and its mission is to inspire others to dream.

Brizo gave detailed presentations on current product lines. From traditional to contemporary, and everything in between, the company offers a plethora of bathroom or kitchen faucet designs. Imagine they shipped these cumbersome displays from their Indianapolis offices:

Display of some Brizo Faucets Presented at the Meeting

An example of a more traditional kitchen faucet:tresa kitchen Faucet

 Tresa Faucet system by Brizo for the Kitchen. Photo courtesy Brizo.

An example of a more contemporary faucet line:

siderna bath Faucet

Siderna Bath Line by Brizo is a personal favorite. Photo courtesy Brizo.

Brizo has been working on some pretty impressive  technologies. From SmartTouch Technology where you

SmartTouch  

Photo courtesy Brizo.

can operate the faucet by simply tapping it, to H2OKinetic Technology:

 

Typical
Shower
H2Okinetic Shower
Typical Droplet Size H2Okinetic Droplet Size Droplet Size:
Larger water droplets offer a more massaging shower experience.
Typical spray coverage H2Okinetic spray coverage Spray Coverage:
A dense shower spray offers a more drenching blanket of water coverage.
typical thermal dynamics H2Okinetic thermal dynamics Thermal Dynamics:
Larger water drops and a dense spray pattern results in a warmer, more consistent showering experience.

Comparative drawing from Brizo showing difference between a regular shower and the H2OKinetic Shower Technology.

Another technology of interest is Temp IQ, or Temperature Sensing Technology , which is water temperature information given to the user via a strategically located faucet light.  It turns blue for cold, pink for medium and red for hot. There is also an internal sensor which stops the hot temperature from going too high.

Brizo-Wu -faucet

 

 

The Jason Wu Faucet at left is lit in the red (hot) position at base of faucet neck. The little medallion on back is there for demonstrating purposes of the display.

 

 

 

 

 

The little handle on right of this model shows no screws at all. It is smooth as a snake and incredibly nimble to operate:

http://imageserve.deltafaucet.com/is/image/DeltaDynamicWeb/BeautyShots/65675LF-PC_002.tif?fmt=jpeg,rgb&wid=476&hei=350

Shown here in the Odin chrome and in mid swerve of the handle. Note the little light at base of faucet. Photo courtesy Brizo.

The handle is ingeniously activated by a series of magnets and internal attachments and rotations unveiled here in this clear handle used to demonstrate the complexity of the design (graciously held by Jon Dartt, VP of Sales for Delta, who gave me his permission to take a photograph):

Mechanics of Odin_edited-1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of the beauties of the Brizo lines is how invisible screws are on the faucets and handles: this creates smooth, elegant product lines.

Brizo truly taught us so much and I am so grateful for the lovely invitation to join them!

I will blog more in the next few days to share more from my trip.

A bientôt!

 

 

My Latest Houzz Top 20 Guest Picks: Wood for the Soul

As some of you know, every month since last year, I contribute to Houzz by writing a piece on 20 Top Guest Picks that I research and group according to a theme. It could be 20 pillows one month or 20 items to decorate a room.

This month’s special selections are all about Wood.

Enjoy!


When Fashion Intersects with Art…

Happy New Year, friends! May  2013 be THE year for you!

I was recently stunned by a few creations I wanted to share here with you.

First, Marit Fugiwara, a simply brilliant textile artist. Her creations are wearable and incredibly crafted:

Here is a photo showing the detailed work on this elaborate dress:

Marit Fugiwara (detail)

 

Another wonderful creation by Marit Fugiwara, photo courtesy Trendland.com.

Detail of previous dress by artist Marit Fugiwara.

The paper dresses by Annex, pictured below,  would make an extraordinary art statement on your wall, framed in a clear plexiglass or glass shadow boxes.

Annex Paper dresses on hangers. Dresses are 90 centimeters high.

 Hope these inspire you to work and create with passion again this year, whichever your field!

A bientôt!