July 4th - Nantucket Style! by Gary McBournie

The gardens at our Nantucket home.

The gardens at our Nantucket home.

Summer has finally arrived in Nantucket!  The weather on the island typically lags about thirty days behind the mainland but the trees have now leafed out, the gardens are blooming and the beach is calling.  One of our favorite ways is kick off the summer season is to  host an annual July 4th "Lobsterfest" for visiting family and close friends.  The evening is all about cocktails, lots of "catching up" conversation, lobsters, wine, and laughter. 

We typically start planning for the July 4th holiday sometime in April/May.  Discussions begin in our family as to who can make it, where they will sleep (we only have four bedrooms) and how long they will stay.  From there we move on to regular group of island friends to see who might be available.  Once the list is finalized, I start to work on a Paperless Post electronic invitation.  I think the formal invitation helps to reaffirm the festive nature of the event and the email format makes it easy to send/receive.  Paperless Post also has a great selection of invitations and they are easy to customize.  You can check it out at https://www.paperlesspost.com. Here is our invitation from last year:

Nantucket Party Rentals is usually my next call.  NPR provides folding tables and chairs, linens, china, silverware, glassware, tents with fold-down sides and even heaters (which can come in handy if the fog rolls in and the temperature drops).  We like to arrange the tables into one long banquet table and cover it with blue and white tablecloths and white napkins.  One or two folding tables are set up for serving the food and another round table is perfect for a bar

As it is a "Lobsterfest", procurement of the "lobstahs and steams" is key.  We have been using Glidden's Island Seafood for years.  Glidden's is a family-owned market and has existed on the island for generations.   They will both cook and crack the lobsters to make it a little easier (and less messy) for the guests.  I usually order 2 - 21/2 pound lobsters to ensure that everyone has their fill.  The clams are delivered raw and we have a family member who likes to steam them right before we are ready to eat which is a real treat for everyone!

Gary holding a platter of freshly cooked lobsters.

Gary holding a platter of freshly cooked lobsters.

What would a Nantucket event be without some floral arrangements from Flowers on Chestnut?  We like to place burlap covered baskets filled with red, white and blue flowers- and, of course, a few American flags- down the center of the table.  For the bar/hors d'oeuvres table, Flowers on Chestnut fills and old wooden bucket that we purchased years ago with a colorful spray of blooms.  

To personalize the dining table we like to accessorize a bit.  Blue and red swirled enamelware bowls from Golden Rabbit are placed around for discarded lobster and clam shells; finger bowls filled with lemon water are set next to each dinner plate; small Nantucket baskets hold votive candles; and lobster bibs from G.S. Hill are folded and ornamented with place cards affixed with small clothespins.  The clothespins serve double duty as they are also used to hold the bib around the neck.

Once the lobsters and clams have been consumed, plates are whisked away and dessert is presented.  Blueberry and apply pies from Petticoat Row Bakery are sliced and supplemented with hearty scoops of vanilla ice cream.  As guests depart, each is presented with a large cellophane-wrapped cookie shaped like lighthouse, lobster or a whale as a remembrance of the evening.  More than one guest has told me that the cookies make a great breakfast the next morning. 

So on the eve of another Independence Day, remember that the best recipe for a festive 4th always includes fun, friends, and some good food.  Gary and I send our best wishes for a safe and happy holiday!

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

MANUS x MACHINA, Fashion in an Age of Technology by Gary McBournie

HOUSE OF CHANEL, Karl Lagerfeld WEDDING ENSEMBLE (back view), Autumn/Winter 2014-15 Photo by Nicholas Alan Cope

HOUSE OF CHANEL, Karl Lagerfeld
WEDDING ENSEMBLE (back view), Autumn/Winter 2014-15
Photo by Nicholas Alan Cope

Traditionally, the distinction between the haute couture and prêt-à-porter was based on the handmade and the machine-made, but recently this distinction has become increasingly blurred as both disciplines have embraced the practices and techniques of the other. Manus x Machina challenges the conventions of the hand/machine dichotomy and proposes a new paradigm germane to our age of technology.
— Andrew Bolton, Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute

Last week, Gary and I had the opportunity to visit the "Manus x Machina" exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  Launched earlier this month with the much celebrated Met Gala, the exhibition explores how fashion designers are reconciling the handmade and the machine-made to create both couture and ready to wear.

The métiers or trades as outlined in Denis Diderot and Jean le Rond d’Alembert’s famed Encyclopedia, or Systematic Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Crafts, serve as the framework for the exhibition.  Embroidery, featherwork, artificial flowers, pleating, lacework, and leatherwork are separately examined in the evolution of their respective technologies.  Traditional hand techniques are discussed alongside innovative technologies such as 3-D printing, computer modeling, bonding and laminating, laser cutting, and ultrasonic welding.  "Manus x Machina" features more than 170 examples of haute couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear, dating from the early 1900s to the present

While I don't typically identify myself as a fashion person, I was fascinated by the exhibit.  The descriptions as to how the fabrics and materials were treated and handled to create the beautiful garments were intriguing.  I also think that the handmade versus machine-made dialogue is relevant to interior design where we constantly choose between readily available stock or the luxury of custom-designed, handmade items.  It is also interesting to consider how often we incorporate dressmaker details into our interior design projects using anything from pleats and gathers to custom trims to lamination.

The following is a photographic tour of the exhibit with details in the caption space.  If you have the opportunity to see the exhibit in person, I would highly recommend you do so.  "Manus x Machina:  Fashion in the Age of Technology" is open from May 5th through August 14th at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

HOUSE OF CHANEL, Karl Lagerfeld WEDDING ENSEMBLE (front view), Autumn/Winter 2014–15, haute couture The scuba knit wedding ensemble, which greets guest as they enter the exhibition, is a superlative example of how the handmade and the machine-made are both used to create a beautiful couture item.  The pattern on the train was hand-painted with gold metallic pigment, machine-printed with rhinestones, and hand-embroidered with pearls and gemstones.

HOUSE OF CHANEL, Karl Lagerfeld
WEDDING ENSEMBLE (front view), Autumn/Winter 2014–15, haute couture

The scuba knit wedding ensemble, which greets guest as they enter the exhibition, is a superlative example of how the handmade and the machine-made are both used to create a beautiful couture item.  The pattern on the train was hand-painted with gold metallic pigment, machine-printed with rhinestones, and hand-embroidered with pearls and gemstones.

The ornamented train was initially sketched by hand, then manipulated on the computer to create the appearance of a "pixelated baroque pattern," then hand-painted with gold metallic pigment, then machine-printed with rhinestones and finally hand-embroidered with pearls and gemstones. It took 450 hours of workmanship to create. 

The ornamented train was initially sketched by hand, then manipulated on the computer to create the appearance of a "pixelated baroque pattern," then hand-painted with gold metallic pigment, then machine-printed with rhinestones and finally hand-embroidered with pearls and gemstones. It took 450 hours of workmanship to create. 

SAINT LAURENT, Yves Saint Laurent WEDDING ENSEMBLE, Spring/Summer 1999, prêt-à-porter

SAINT LAURENT, Yves Saint Laurent
WEDDING ENSEMBLE, Spring/Summer 1999, prêt-à-porter

HOUSE OF CHANEL, Karl Lagerfeld WEDDING ENSEMBLE (back view), Autumn/Winter 2005-6, haute couture "I covered it entirely in camellias.  It's like a giant bouquet.  Quite funny, no?  No one is working with flowers in this way." - Karl Lagerfeld

HOUSE OF CHANEL, Karl Lagerfeld
WEDDING ENSEMBLE (back view), Autumn/Winter 2005-6, haute couture

"I covered it entirely in camellias.  It's like a giant bouquet.  Quite funny, no?  No one is working with flowers in this way." - Karl Lagerfeld

Detail shot of the camellias- CHANEL's signature flower.  Each flower takes up to ninety minutes to complete.  It took twenty-five hundred of these white flowers to embellish this couture dress.

Detail shot of the camellias- CHANEL's signature flower.  Each flower takes up to ninety minutes to complete.  It took twenty-five hundred of these white flowers to embellish this couture dress.

LOUIS VUITTON, Marc Jacobs DRESS, Spring/Summer 2012, prêt-à-porter Dress:  machine-sewn blue silk-polyester crinkle organza, hand-embroidered with laser-cut white and blue plastic flowers, grommeted with clear crystals and silver metal studs, hand-finished; Slip:  machine-sewn white polyester organdy with machine-made broderie anglaise flowers

LOUIS VUITTON, Marc Jacobs
DRESS, Spring/Summer 2012, prêt-à-porter

Dress:  machine-sewn blue silk-polyester crinkle organza, hand-embroidered with laser-cut white and blue plastic flowers, grommeted with clear crystals and silver metal studs, hand-finished; Slip:  machine-sewn white polyester organdy with machine-made broderie anglaise flowers

HOUSE OF DIOR, Raf Simons, Karl Lagerfeld DRESS, Autumn/Winter 20112-13, haute couture Machine-sewn white silk organdy and blue silk net hand-embroidered by Hurel with blue, clear, and yellow sequins, clear bugle bead, and crystals; machine-sewn ivory silk crepe, tulle, and chiffon, hand-embroidered by Lesage with gold metal thread, pearls, pink crystals , and hand-cut pink flower petals; hand-finished

HOUSE OF DIOR, Raf Simons, Karl Lagerfeld
DRESS, Autumn/Winter 20112-13, haute couture

Machine-sewn white silk organdy and blue silk net hand-embroidered by Hurel with blue, clear, and yellow sequins, clear bugle bead, and crystals; machine-sewn ivory silk crepe, tulle, and chiffon, hand-embroidered by Lesage with gold metal thread, pearls, pink crystals , and hand-cut pink flower petals; hand-finished

Gareth Pugh DRESS, pret-a-porter  "Every straw was cut by hand...They were attached individually with metal hardware- a little twisted jewelry fitting that hooked onto the fabric base.  On the runway, you could hear them before you saw them.  And they moved beautifully- like feathers caught in a gust of wind." - Gareth Pugh

Gareth Pugh
DRESS, pret-a-porter 

"Every straw was cut by hand...They were attached individually with metal hardware- a little twisted jewelry fitting that hooked onto the fabric base.  On the runway, you could hear them before you saw them.  And they moved beautifully- like feathers caught in a gust of wind." - Gareth Pugh

HOUSE OF DIOR, Raf Simons EVENING DRESS, Autumn/Winter 2015-16, haute couture Machine-sewn, hand -finished, gray silk tulle and organza, hand-glued with blue, orange, purple, brown and black rooster feathers by Lemarié

HOUSE OF DIOR, Raf Simons
EVENING DRESS, Autumn/Winter 2015-16, haute couture

Machine-sewn, hand -finished, gray silk tulle and organza, hand-glued with blue, orange, purple, brown and black rooster feathers by Lemarié

SAINT LAURENT, Yves Saint Laurent DRESS, Spring/Summer 1983, haute couture "The big difference between couture and ready-to-wear is not design.  It is the fabrics, the handwork and the fittings.  The act of creation is the same." - Yves Saint Laurent

SAINT LAURENT, Yves Saint Laurent
DRESS, Spring/Summer 1983, haute couture

"The big difference between couture and ready-to-wear is not design.  It is the fabrics, the handwork and the fittings.  The act of creation is the same." - Yves Saint Laurent

Norman Norell EVENING DRESS, Ca. 1953, pret-a-porter  Machine-sewn silk jersey, hand-embroidered with ombré gelatin sequins; machine-finished, hand-hemmed

Norman Norell
EVENING DRESS, Ca. 1953, pret-a-porter 

Machine-sewn silk jersey, hand-embroidered with ombré gelatin sequins; machine-finished, hand-hemmed

Detail of the hand-embroidered ombré gelatin sequins

Detail of the hand-embroidered ombré gelatin sequins

Iris van Herpen DRESS, Autumn/Winter 2013-14, haute couture Machine-sewn black cotton twill, hand-painted with gray and purple polyurethane resin and iron filings, hand-sculpted with magnets

Iris van Herpen
DRESS, Autumn/Winter 2013-14, haute couture

Machine-sewn black cotton twill, hand-painted with gray and purple polyurethane resin and iron filings, hand-sculpted with magnets

"(This) dress has a base made from cotton fabric.  Then there is a rubber component- a soft rubber- in which we place metal powder.  When you mix everything together, the rubber has a few minutes when it is still wet and soft.  We pour the rubber onto the cotton fabric.  then we place magnets above and below, and you see the metal powder grow piece by piece- in a matter of seconds before it sets.  The coloration is exquisite because while the rubber is still wet and soft we add a very thin enamel powder that has iridescent qualities." - Iris van Herpen

"(This) dress has a base made from cotton fabric.  Then there is a rubber component- a soft rubber- in which we place metal powder.  When you mix everything together, the rubber has a few minutes when it is still wet and soft.  We pour the rubber onto the cotton fabric.  then we place magnets above and below, and you see the metal powder grow piece by piece- in a matter of seconds before it sets.  The coloration is exquisite because while the rubber is still wet and soft we add a very thin enamel powder that has iridescent qualities." - Iris van Herpen

(l) HOUSE OF GIVENCHY, Hubert de Givenchy DRESS, 1963, haute couture Hand-sewn red-orange cotton Mechlin-type lace hand-embroidered with red-orange glass beads, tinsel, and pieces of coral (r) ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, Sarah Burton DRESS, Spring/Summer 2012, pret-a-porter

(l) HOUSE OF GIVENCHY, Hubert de Givenchy
DRESS, 1963, haute couture

Hand-sewn red-orange cotton Mechlin-type lace hand-embroidered with red-orange glass beads, tinsel, and pieces of coral

(r) ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, Sarah Burton
DRESS, Spring/Summer 2012, pret-a-porter

Details of the Alexander McQueen nude silk organdy and net dress which has been hand-embroidered with red-orange glass beads, freshwater pearls, pieces of coral, and dyed shells.

Details of the Alexander McQueen nude silk organdy and net dress which has been hand-embroidered with red-orange glass beads, freshwater pearls, pieces of coral, and dyed shells.

HOUSE OF DIOR, Christian Dior "JUNON" DRESS, Autumn/Winter 1949-50, haute couture Machine-sewn, hand-finished pale green silk faille and taffeta foundation, hand-sewn pale blue silk tulle embroidered with opalescent sequins, hand-appliqué of forty-five hand-cut pale blue silk tulle and horsehair petals, hand-embroidered with opalescent, blue, green, and orange gelatin sequins.

HOUSE OF DIOR, Christian Dior
"JUNON" DRESS, Autumn/Winter 1949-50, haute couture

Machine-sewn, hand-finished pale green silk faille and taffeta foundation, hand-sewn pale blue silk tulle embroidered with opalescent sequins, hand-appliqué of forty-five hand-cut pale blue silk tulle and horsehair petals, hand-embroidered with opalescent, blue, green, and orange gelatin sequins.

Detail of the hand-embroidered opalescent, blue, green, and orange gelatin sequins.

Detail of the hand-embroidered opalescent, blue, green, and orange gelatin sequins.

HOUSE OF DIOR, Yves Saint Laurent "L'ELEPHANT BLANC" EVENING DRESS, Spring/Summer 1958, haute couture "All too often, we forget that embroidery is still done by hand, just as it was in the eighteenth century.  We can succeed in completely covering a dress with millions of sequins or beads placed one by one by fingers that, especially in our mechanical age, seem as though they come from fairy hands." - Christian Dior

HOUSE OF DIOR, Yves Saint Laurent
"L'ELEPHANT BLANC" EVENING DRESS, Spring/Summer 1958, haute couture

"All too often, we forget that embroidery is still done by hand, just as it was in the eighteenth century.  We can succeed in completely covering a dress with millions of sequins or beads placed one by one by fingers that, especially in our mechanical age, seem as though they come from fairy hands." - Christian Dior

(l) ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, Sarah Burton DRESS, Spring/Summer 2012, pret-a-porter  Machine and hand-sewn nude silk lace bonded with laser-cut black patent leather hand-sewn godets of nude silk tulle, hand-appliquéd with nude silk lace motifs (c) Iris van Herpen DRESS, Spring/Summer 2015, pret-a-porter  Machine-sewn, laser-cut, bonded navy patent leather (r) Iris van Herpen DRESS, Spring/Summer 2016, pret-a-porter  Machine-sewn, bonded nude silk twill and cotton plain weave with overlay of nude cotton lace handwoven with laser-cut nude leather appliqué

(l) ALEXANDER MCQUEEN, Sarah Burton
DRESS, Spring/Summer 2012, pret-a-porter 

Machine and hand-sewn nude silk lace bonded with laser-cut black patent leather hand-sewn godets of nude silk tulle, hand-appliquéd with nude silk lace motifs

(c) Iris van Herpen
DRESS, Spring/Summer 2015, pret-a-porter 

Machine-sewn, laser-cut, bonded navy patent leather

(r) Iris van Herpen
DRESS, Spring/Summer 2016, pret-a-porter 

Machine-sewn, bonded nude silk twill and cotton plain weave with overlay of nude cotton lace handwoven with laser-cut nude leather appliqué

Details of laser-cut leathers

Details of laser-cut leathers

Irish WEDDING DRESS, Ca. 1870 Hand-crocheted cream cotton lace with three-dimensional motifs, including roses, lilies of the valley, hanging fuchsias, morning glories, buds and berries, and flat and folded leaves and ferns

Irish
WEDDING DRESS, Ca. 1870

Hand-crocheted cream cotton lace with three-dimensional motifs, including roses, lilies of the valley, hanging fuchsias, morning glories, buds and berries, and flat and folded leaves and ferns

Iris van Herpen DRESS, Autumn 2012, haute couture 3-D-printed (stereolithography) dark orange epoxy by Materialise, hand-sanded and hand-sprayed with a technical transparent resin

Iris van Herpen
DRESS, Autumn 2012, haute couture

3-D-printed (stereolithography) dark orange epoxy by Materialise, hand-sanded and hand-sprayed with a technical transparent resin

ATTRIBUTED TO CALLOT SOEURS EVENING DRESS, Ca. 1920, haute couture Detail of hand-sewn inserts of antique ivory bobbin-made tape lace with needle-made fillings

ATTRIBUTED TO CALLOT SOEURS
EVENING DRESS, Ca. 1920, haute couture

Detail of hand-sewn inserts of antique ivory bobbin-made tape lace with needle-made fillings

HOUSE OF DIOR, Christian Dior SUIT, Spring/Summer 1963, haute couture Machine-sewn white cotton organdy with overlay of machine-embroidered cutwork hand-stitched with machine-embroidered guipure lace; hand-finished

HOUSE OF DIOR, Christian Dior
SUIT, Spring/Summer 1963, haute couture

Machine-sewn white cotton organdy with overlay of machine-embroidered cutwork hand-stitched with machine-embroidered guipure lace; hand-finished

Detail of machine-embroidered cutwork hand-stitched with machine-embroidered guipure lace

Detail of machine-embroidered cutwork hand-stitched with machine-embroidered guipure lace

HOUSE OF DIOR, John Galliano ENSEMBLE, Autumn/Winter 2005-6, haute couture Machine-sewn nude silk satin, hand-stitched white polyester batting, hand-draped and hand-basted nude silk net and hand-pieced-dyed blue silk taffeta, hand-embroidered with clear glass beads, opalescent rhinestones, blue and ivory chenille, and silver metal cord and strips

HOUSE OF DIOR, John Galliano
ENSEMBLE, Autumn/Winter 2005-6, haute couture

Machine-sewn nude silk satin, hand-stitched white polyester batting, hand-draped and hand-basted nude silk net and hand-pieced-dyed blue silk taffeta, hand-embroidered with clear glass beads, opalescent rhinestones, blue and ivory chenille, and silver metal cord and strips

(l) COMME DES GARCONS, Rei Kawakubo ENSEMBLE, Spring/Summer 2013, pret-a-porter  Dress:  machine-sewn ivory cotton twill and canvas with white elastic and hand-gathered and hand-sewn attachments; skirt:  machine-sewn hand-pleated ivory twill (r) VIKTOR & ROLF ENSEMBLE, Spring/Summer 1998, haute couture  Machine and hand-sewn white cotton calico with hand-sewn folds and pleated attachments.

(l) COMME DES GARCONS, Rei Kawakubo
ENSEMBLE, Spring/Summer 2013, pret-a-porter 

Dress:  machine-sewn ivory cotton twill and canvas with white elastic and hand-gathered and hand-sewn attachments; skirt:  machine-sewn hand-pleated ivory twill

(r) VIKTOR & ROLF
ENSEMBLE, Spring/Summer 1998, haute couture 

Machine and hand-sewn white cotton calico with hand-sewn folds and pleated attachments.

HOUSE OF CHANEL, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel SUIT, 1963-68, haute couture

HOUSE OF CHANEL, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel
SUIT, 1963-68, haute couture

Machine-sewn ivory wool bouclé tweed, hand-applied navy and ivory wool knit trim hand-braided with interlocking chain stitch

Machine-sewn ivory wool bouclé tweed, hand-applied navy and ivory wool knit trim hand-braided with interlocking chain stitch

HOUSE OF DIOR, Raf Simons ENSEMBLE, Spring/Summer 2015, haute couture

HOUSE OF DIOR, Raf Simons
ENSEMBLE, Spring/Summer 2015, haute couture

Detail of pleating

Detail of pleating

MIYAKE DESIGN STUDIO, Issey Miyake "FLYING SAUCER" DRESS, Spring/Summer 1994, pret-a-porter  Machine-garment-pleated, machine-sewn polychrome polyester plain weave

MIYAKE DESIGN STUDIO, Issey Miyake
"FLYING SAUCER" DRESS, Spring/Summer 1994, pret-a-porter 

Machine-garment-pleated, machine-sewn polychrome polyester plain weave

Mary McFadden DRESS, Ca. 1980, pret-a-porter  Machine-sewn and "Marii" machine-pleated red polyester charmeuse, hand-stitched with hand-embroidered trims of sequins, bead, and gold metallic thread

Mary McFadden
DRESS, Ca. 1980, pret-a-porter 

Machine-sewn and "Marii" machine-pleated red polyester charmeuse, hand-stitched with hand-embroidered trims of sequins, bead, and gold metallic thread

Detail of the sequins, bead, and gold metallic thread

Detail of the sequins, bead, and gold metallic thread

Noa Raviv Dress, 2014, pret-a-porter

Noa Raviv
Dress, 2014, pret-a-porter

(l) COMME DES GARCONS, Junya Watanabe DRESS, Autumn/Winter 2015-6, pret-a-porter Machine-sewn, heat molded black polyester satin  (r) Pierre Cardin DRESS, 1968, haute couture Machine-sewn, heat-molded brown polyester Cardine (Dynel)

(l) COMME DES GARCONS, Junya Watanabe
DRESS, Autumn/Winter 2015-6, pret-a-porter

Machine-sewn, heat molded black polyester satin 

(r) Pierre Cardin
DRESS, 1968, haute couture

Machine-sewn, heat-molded brown polyester Cardine (Dynel)

HOUSE OF DIOR, Raf Simons DRESS, Autumn/Winter 2013-14, pret-a-porter  Machine-sewn black silk taffeta with overlay of black cotton-synthetic mesh, hand-embroidered with leather artificial flowers and black beads

HOUSE OF DIOR, Raf Simons
DRESS, Autumn/Winter 2013-14, pret-a-porter 

Machine-sewn black silk taffeta with overlay of black cotton-synthetic mesh, hand-embroidered with leather artificial flowers and black beads

Detail of hand-embroidered leather artificial flowers and black beads

Detail of hand-embroidered leather artificial flowers and black beads

HOUSE OF DIOR, John Galliano JACKET, Autumn/Winter 1997-98, haute couture Hand-cut and hand-pieced white leather, machine top-stitched, with hand-sewn wire frame

HOUSE OF DIOR, John Galliano
JACKET, Autumn/Winter 1997-98, haute couture

Hand-cut and hand-pieced white leather, machine top-stitched, with hand-sewn wire frame

Detail of leather cutwork

Detail of leather cutwork

Paul Poiret COAT, Ca. 1919, haute couture Machine-sewn black wool rep with white fur collar, hand-appliquéd with white kidskin cutwork, hand-sewn hem and silk binding

Paul Poiret
COAT, Ca. 1919, haute couture

Machine-sewn black wool rep with white fur collar, hand-appliquéd with white kidskin cutwork, hand-sewn hem and silk binding

Detail of the white kidskin cutwork

Detail of the white kidskin cutwork

HOUSE OF DIOR, Raf Simons DRESS, Spring/Summer 2014, haute couture "In the haute couture you can take the lightest weight transparent silk and the atelier will bring the shape up.  They don't do it technically; they do it with their hands." - Raf Simons

HOUSE OF DIOR, Raf Simons
DRESS, Spring/Summer 2014, haute couture

"In the haute couture you can take the lightest weight transparent silk and the atelier will bring the shape up.  They don't do it technically; they do it with their hands." - Raf Simons

The underdress has been embroidered with clear plastic crystals, red glass seed beads, and clear and white plastic flower-shaped paillettes while the overdress has been embroidered with white rayon florettes, red glass seed beads, iridescent flower-shaped paillettes, and small pieces of blue, black and white silk fabric.  The cutwork was realized by hand and finished by machine.

The underdress has been embroidered with clear plastic crystals, red glass seed beads, and clear and white plastic flower-shaped paillettes while the overdress has been embroidered with white rayon florettes, red glass seed beads, iridescent flower-shaped paillettes, and small pieces of blue, black and white silk fabric.  The cutwork was realized by hand and finished by machine.

(l) HOUSE OF DIOR, Christian Dior "VILMIRON" DRESS, Spring/Summer 1952, haute couture Machine-sewn, hand-finished white silk organza, hand-embroidered with artificial flowers in green, pin, yellow, and white silk floss, hand-painted cotton, silk twist (r) HOUSE OF DIOR, Christian Dior "MAY" DRESS, Spring/Summer 1953, haute couture Machine-sewn, hand-finished white silk organza and net, hand-embroidered with artificial flowers, clover, and grass in green, pink, and purple silk floss

(l) HOUSE OF DIOR, Christian Dior
"VILMIRON" DRESS, Spring/Summer 1952, haute couture

Machine-sewn, hand-finished white silk organza, hand-embroidered with artificial flowers in green, pin, yellow, and white silk floss, hand-painted cotton, silk twist

(r) HOUSE OF DIOR, Christian Dior
"MAY" DRESS, Spring/Summer 1953, haute couture

Machine-sewn, hand-finished white silk organza and net, hand-embroidered with artificial flowers, clover, and grass in green, pink, and purple silk floss

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Weekend in Manhattan by Gary McBournie

After a whirlwind few months of non-stop travel, Gary and I decided to spend the weekend at our pied-à-terre in New York City.  We took the Amtrak in from Boston (a trip I am learning to enjoy) and soon found ourselves surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city.  Upon arrival at our apartment, we were greeted by both the comfort of familiar things that we have collected through the years and the dust that comes with our infrequent use the place which can make it look a little lifeless.  The best remedy?  A quick trip to the market to purchase some orange tulips which immediately added some fresh color and a sense of presence.

On Friday, we took to the streets and set out for the Interior Design Building on 61st and 2nd to visit some of our favorite design resources which include John Rosselli, BK Antiques, Liz O'Brien, Duane, CJ Peters, Eric Appel, Lee Calicchio, Balsamo Antiques and Roark.  Many of the furniture pieces in our Nantucket Home, featured in the May issue of House Beautiful, were found in this building.  After a quick lunch at Fig & Olive where we enjoyed a selection of their delectable crostini, we visited the John Salibello showrooms on East 60th to investigate his latest collection of vintage lighting.   It could not have been a nicer afternoon.  The city just felt like it was in bloom and bursting with color.

Saturdays are always a fun day for us to take a break from work and visit museums for some inspiration.  This weekend was no exception and, given that we live on the Upper East Side, we decided to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and see the current exhibition featuring the work of Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, 1755–1842),  one of the finest 18th-century French painters/portraitist.  Vigée Le Brun was a court favorite of Marie Antoinette and she achieved success in France and Europe during one of the most eventful, turbulent periods in European history.  This is the first retrospective and only the second exhibition devoted to Vigée Le Brun in modern times. There are 80 works on view from European and American public and private collections.  The portraits are amazing and show her development as an artist as played out against the story of her early life in France, her escape during the French Revolution and her ultimate return to her native country.

There could be not better follow-up to a visit to the museum than a stroll through Central Park. Created by legislation passed in 1853 and expanded in 1873, Central park consists of 843 acres of land in central Manhattan.  As winners of an 1858 competition, soon-to-be famed national landscapers and architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux were chosen to design the park and their work fostered what was to become an urban park movement in the country.  Central Park was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962 and is currently managed by the non-profit Central Park Conservancy.

1460982117307.jpeg

Central Park is home to over 25,000 trees and many of the flowering trees were in bloom.  The park has a stand of 1,700 American elms which, due to their isolation, have been protected from the Dutch elm disease that devastated  many of this tree in its native range, including our favorite island of Nantucket.  The park maintains a website (www.centralparknyc.org/tree-guide/) which provides all kinds of helpful information to identify various trees in the park.  Can you this identify the beauty pictured above?

Conservatory Water was originally constructed as reflecting pool for a glass conservatory which was never built.  The water body then evolved into the popular model boat pond, inspired by those in Parisian parks.  On pleasant days, a variety of model ships, most remote-controlled, glide across the water. The sailboats are either privately owned or rented at a cart provided by the boathouse.  It is at this spot that E.B. White's beloved character Stuart Little sailed his model sailboat to victory.  

The copper-roofed boathouse features a cafe with a variety of light snacks and beverages, a delightful patio with beautiful, seasonal perennial planting beds.

Birders also like to gather at this location to searc for signs of the famous Fifth Avenue red-tailed hawks.

On Sunday, with weather that turned out to be even more glorious than the day before, we decided to finally walk on The High Line, one of Manhattan's newest public parks.  The High Line  is built on a historic rail line elevated above the street on the West Side.  It runs from West 34th Street to Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District.  The High Line provides a great viewing platform to watch both the activity on the river as well as the evolving skyline on the lower West Side with all of its creative architecture.  

When we disembarked, we explored the Meatpacking District.  An interesting dynamic has developed during the last twenty years as designers, architects, artists, restauranteurs, and corporate headquarters have moved in alongside existing meatpacking plants.   With the success of the The High Line, top-tier hotels as well as stores, restaurants, bars and boutiques have risen up to serve the many new visitors to the area.  In 2015 the Whitney Museum, one of the City’s most well respected art institutions, made it's home in the Meatpacking District.  It appears that this area will continue to develop and evolve, making it one of the most interesting parts of the city.

As the day came to a close, we made our way back to our apartment for the rare treat of a home-cooked meal after which we began to pack for our next adventure.  A clue as to where we are headed....Cheerio mates! 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Valentine's Day by Gary McBournie

“Love, and you shall be loved.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

So here we find ourselves on the eve of another Valentine's Day, a day to celebrate love- particularly of the romantic sort.   What is it about this emotion that is so powerful that it compels us to write, read and even sing about it?  No matter where you turn it is hard to escape someone emoting about new love,  unrequited love, everlasting love or lost love.  I think that, despite our best efforts to convince ourselves that we are all fearlessly self-sufficient, the plain and simple truth is that love is as essential to our souls as food and water are to our bodies.  

Love, though, involves much more than just being loved.  It is as much, if not more so, about giving love.  In this fast-paced world where we are directed to feed our own needs at every turn, true love includes attending to someone else's needs which  involves a deeper level of commitment than the commercially-advertised form of love that we witness in the media.  While this truth certainly applies to romantic love, I believe it also applies to our relationships in a larger sense.   Since my now-grown daughters were very young, I have tried to teach them that if you want people to care for you that you have to first care for others.   

While this all sounds so simple, I had my difficulties with this whole love thing.  More than once, love has gone wrong and left me to lick my wounds and scratch my head in wonder.  Fortunately I met my match almost fifteen years ago.  He is equally strong-willed, determined and challenging but has also shown me love and kindness of unlimited proportions.  I can only hope he feels equally bestowed.  Don't misunderstand, we can still drive each other completely mad but  there is no one else with whom I want to end every day knowing that the adventure will continue with the morning sunrise.  This Valentine's Day will mark our fifth anniversary.

So, as we all head out into the world tomorrow, I hope that we do so with a renewed spirit of generosity and kindness in our hearts.  I really do believe that the secret to love is to first give love.  

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

Saturday Afternoon at the Winter Antiques Show by Gary McBournie

Visitors to the 2016 Winter Antiques Show were greeted by a stone peacock at the entrance.

Visitors to the 2016 Winter Antiques Show were greeted by a stone peacock at the entrance.

Yesterday Gary and I visited the Winter Antiques Show, now in its 62nd year, at the historic Park Avenue Armory in New York City.  The Winter Antiques Show features the “best of the best” from Antiquity through the present and provides collectors, curators, dealers, and design professionals with opportunities to view and purchase exceptional pieces showcased by over 70 exhibitors.  The Show’s exhibitors are specialists in Americana, English, European, and Asian fine and decorative arts.

The Winter Antiques Show is also an annual benefit for East Side House Settlement, a community resource in the South Bronx.  At East Side House, programs focus on education and technology as gateways out of poverty and as the keys to economic opportunity.  Revenues from the show’s general admissions and the net proceeds from the preview parties and other events go East Side House and contribute to its private philanthropic budget.  

As I wandered through the show, I snapped items that I found interesting and have assembled them here for your viewing pleasure:

Elle Shushan's booth appeared to have a Dorothy Draper edge.  Painted black antique chairs were placed on a black and white floor and black and gilt wood framed paintings and photographs decorated the pretty pink walls.

Elle Shushan's booth appeared to have a Dorothy Draper edge.  Painted black antique chairs were placed on a black and white floor and black and gilt wood framed paintings and photographs decorated the pretty pink walls.

This modern miniature surprises with a contempory photo portrait.

This modern miniature surprises with a contempory photo portrait.

This toothy teapot greeted guests as they entered Michele Beiny's space.

This toothy teapot greeted guests as they entered Michele Beiny's space.

A colorful blown glass piece by Dale Chihuly evokes a tropical moment on a January afternoon.

A colorful blown glass piece by Dale Chihuly evokes a tropical moment on a January afternoon.

This vignette by Robert Young Antiques incorporates a graphic early banner form weathervane and two antique carved bowls placed atop an unusual banded single plank tavern table.

This vignette by Robert Young Antiques incorporates a graphic early banner form weathervane and two antique carved bowls placed atop an unusual banded single plank tavern table.

Once a play toy, this carved wooden horse would make a great decorative accessory in a family room or library. 

Once a play toy, this carved wooden horse would make a great decorative accessory in a family room or library. 

I loved the sophisticated combination of the photograph of Andy Warhol and the antique pottery vessels found at Maison Gerard.

I loved the sophisticated combination of the photograph of Andy Warhol and the antique pottery vessels found at Maison Gerard.

One could not help but be impressed with this illuminated manuscript on parchment from Les Enluminures.

One could not help but be impressed with this illuminated manuscript on parchment from Les Enluminures.

A folk art engraved powder horn featuring unusually relief carved geometric forms, king's head, tree of life and rabbit's head from 1732 was shown by Nathan Liverant and Son, LLC.

A folk art engraved powder horn featuring unusually relief carved geometric forms, king's head, tree of life and rabbit's head from 1732 was shown by Nathan Liverant and Son, LLC.

This vignette by Elliott & Grace Snyder featured a wonderfully colored antique hooked rug and a faux-grained blanket chest.

This vignette by Elliott & Grace Snyder featured a wonderfully colored antique hooked rug and a faux-grained blanket chest.

This antique oak cutlery box with it's bold rope carving was a favorite of mine.  The nautical nature of the piece calls for a new home in Nantucket!

This antique oak cutlery box with it's bold rope carving was a favorite of mine.  The nautical nature of the piece calls for a new home in Nantucket!

While I do not typically focus on jewelry, this stunning sapphire and diamond piece from Didier Ltd. caught my eye.  Didier specializes in jewels by leading Modern Masters, painters and sculptors who are recognized internationally for their art, while the fact that they also created jewels comes as a surprise.

While I do not typically focus on jewelry, this stunning sapphire and diamond piece from Didier Ltd. caught my eye.  Didier specializes in jewels by leading Modern Masters, painters and sculptors who are recognized internationally for their art, while the fact that they also created jewels comes as a surprise.

This captivating wall cabinet by Paul Evans is crafted of steel, gilt wood and bronze.  The red vertical striations in the lithograph by Adja Yunkers are a perfectly compliment to the brutalist piece.

This captivating wall cabinet by Paul Evans is crafted of steel, gilt wood and bronze.  The red vertical striations in the lithograph by Adja Yunkers are a perfectly compliment to the brutalist piece.

Tillou Gallery offered a pair of J. F. Bloudin Patent Ice Skates, circa 1860.

Tillou Gallery offered a pair of J. F. Bloudin Patent Ice Skates, circa 1860.

This ceramic kneeling warrior is actually a Pre-Columbian Mochica vessel available from Throckman Fine Art, Inc.

This ceramic kneeling warrior is actually a Pre-Columbian Mochica vessel available from Throckman Fine Art, Inc.

I was immediately drawn to Kelly Kinzle's booth by the patterned green wallpaper and was further interested by the high chest of drawers and the framed sheath and sling.  The carved alligator prevented the scheme from getting too serious!

I was immediately drawn to Kelly Kinzle's booth by the patterned green wallpaper and was further interested by the high chest of drawers and the framed sheath and sling.  The carved alligator prevented the scheme from getting too serious!

With ties to Nantucket, I could not resist this antique map of the Gray Lady offered by The Old Print Shop, Inc.

With ties to Nantucket, I could not resist this antique map of the Gray Lady offered by The Old Print Shop, Inc.

Gemini Antiques Ltd. showcased an amazing collection of antique metal toys.

Gemini Antiques Ltd. showcased an amazing collection of antique metal toys.

An extraordinary circular shirred rug with a stylized urn of flowers, circa 1840, was displayed by Frank & Barbara Pollack American Antiques & Art.

An extraordinary circular shirred rug with a stylized urn of flowers, circa 1840, was displayed by Frank & Barbara Pollack American Antiques & Art.

S. J. Shrubsole Corporation showcased an amazing collection of early American silver pieces.

S. J. Shrubsole Corporation showcased an amazing collection of early American silver pieces.

Glass Past offered a wonderful selection of mid-century Italian glass.  This stunning blue and gold vase was designed by Ercole Barovier, circa 1940.

Glass Past offered a wonderful selection of mid-century Italian glass.  This stunning blue and gold vase was designed by Ercole Barovier, circa 1940.

This charming lidded green vase was designed by Vittorio Zecchin, circa 1925

This charming lidded green vase was designed by Vittorio Zecchin, circa 1925

I found this captivating bronze sculpture at Bowman Sculpture.  The piece is entitled "Mask of Perseus" and was crafted by Sir William Reid Dick.  

I found this captivating bronze sculpture at Bowman Sculpture.  The piece is entitled "Mask of Perseus" and was crafted by Sir William Reid Dick.  

 I am a box collector so I was naturally drawn to this extraordinary decorated pine box at Old Hope Antiques, Inc..  The box was crafted in Maine, circa 1830, and has a wonderful wallpaper lining.

 I am a box collector so I was naturally drawn to this extraordinary decorated pine box at Old Hope Antiques, Inc..  The box was crafted in Maine, circa 1830, and has a wonderful wallpaper lining.

"The Dragonfly" lamp by Tiffany Studios, circa 1910.

"The Dragonfly" lamp by Tiffany Studios, circa 1910.

Barbara Israel Garden Antiques showcased a selection of carved sandstone garden ornaments, including this cormourant.

Barbara Israel Garden Antiques showcased a selection of carved sandstone garden ornaments, including this cormourant.

Wooden case pieces in a vignette from Hyde Park Antiques are made even more special with the cobalt blue walls. 

Wooden case pieces in a vignette from Hyde Park Antiques are made even more special with the cobalt blue walls. 

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

A Little Detour - Part 2 by Gary McBournie

1461810625189.jpeg

Curiously enough, Gary and I had another relatively recent connection to Louisville.  A friend of ours now has an interest in a booth at Antiques at Distillery Commons, an antique mart housed in what was formerly one of the largest whiskey warehouses in the world.  Antiques at Distillery Commons houses over 30 independent dealers offering antiques to the design trade and the general public.  It came as no surprise that Mary knows the owner Alan Thompson and she was happy to add this stop to our agenda.  Alan also owns A. P. Thompson Antiques and Restoration, another business in the Distillery Commons complex.  His personal philosophy on collecting antiques is:  “If a young person is interested in antiques, invest in a single quality piece per year instead of several mediocre pieces just to fill a space.”  Gary and I spent an hour or so perusing the stalls and left with a small collection of antique wooden boxes- some for clients and, of course, a few for our own collection- and a Staffordshire figure of a sailor which now graces the bar in our New York apartment.  

The entrance to Antiques at Distillery Commons, housed in what was formerly one of the largest whiskey warehouses in the world.

The entrance to Antiques at Distillery Commons, housed in what was formerly one of the largest whiskey warehouses in the world.

A glimpse of the over 12,000 square feet of open, bright and inviting display space.

A glimpse of the over 12,000 square feet of open, bright and inviting display space.

For our first evening in Louisville, Mary planned a wonderful dinner party with a guest list that included democratic Congressman John Yarmuth and his wife Cathy, new Director of the Speed Museum Ghislain d’Humières and his partner designer Nicolas Raubertas, President of Louisville Public Media Donovan Reynolds, and historian, biographer and journalist Sam Tanenhaus and his wife Kathy Bonomi.  Recent events, including the latest local election, the national debates and the re-opening of the Speed Museum, made for lively and engaging conversation.  Also, Sam had been chosen to interview John Irving the following night so I was eager to gain some insight into his perspective.  

The next morning, Mary delighted us with a lovely breakfast and details of our morning adventure which was to be a Segway tour of the re-vitalized Louisville waterfront.   After meeting with our instructor and donning our helmuts, we watched a mandatory video detailing how easy it would be to severely injure oneself on a Segway.  Despite our initial trepidation, the Segway proved very easy to master.  With my unshaven face, black jacket and matching black helmut,  I have to admit  that I looked like some kind of an enforcer in a futuristic movie.  Our guide gave us tour of the local Lincoln Memorial, the Great Lawn, and then we rode over the Big Four Bridge crossing the Ohio River from Kentucky to Indiana where we learned about the devastation caused by a major flood in the 1930's.

Gary with helmut on and ready to Segway

Gary with helmut on and ready to Segway

The Big Four Bridge which crosses the Ohio River 

The Big Four Bridge which crosses the Ohio River 

That afternoon, Mary was eager to show us two of Louisville's best interior design shops.  Lee W. Robinson offered many wonderful accessories and Lee himself- very charming and friendly- stepped out of a meeting to greet us.  It was a nice surprise to see our book "Living Color:  A Designer Works Magic With Traditional Interiors" displayed prominently on shelves and tabletops.  Gary happily autographed the unwrapped copies.  Bitters, a much larger operation,  was founded in 1854 by Gustav Bittner, a German immigrant, as a cabinet shop.  His high quality craftsmanship became well known and the business developed into a full-blown showroom offering residential and commercial design services.  Gary and I were very impressed by the overall community interest level in arts and design. 

"LivingColor" in Louisville

"LivingColor" in Louisville

As evening approached, it was time for the main event- the Author Forum with John Irving at The Kentucky Center in downtown Louisville.  Irving achieved major success in 1978 with his novel "The World According to Garp".   Further success followed with "The Cider House Rules" in 1985, "A Prayer for Owen Meany" in 1989 and "A Widow for One Year" in 1998.  Five of his novels have been adapted to film and he won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1999 for "The Cider House Rules".  Irving's latest novel, "Avenue of Mysteries", had been released just one week prior to the Author Forum event.  

Sam Tanenhaus opened the interview and there was a discussion about the conception of "Avenue of Mysteries"- which started out as a screenplay- as well as the plot.  I won't spoil your read but I found several of Irving's comments very interesting:

Irving says he always thinks about a novel for a long time before he starts to write and he never begins writing until he knows the ending.  From that point he develops a plot and any subplots but all lead to the pre-determined finale.  Our design practice operates in a similar manner.  We present our client with a finished concept and, once work commences, our efforts are driven to that end.  

It was also intriguing to learn that the upheaval and other traumatic events in his novels are driven by Irving's own fears.  In another recent interview he was quoted, " In general, I’m very attracted to writing about children and adolescents between the ages of 12 and 15.  It’s a formative age.  If something cataclysmic happens to you, it will mark you as the adult you become.”  He continued, “Being a father not only was but still is the most terrifying event in my life. The anxiety, the fear of something happening to one of my children or grandchildren - that’s where my novels comes from.” Irving, now 73, said that earlier in his career he had the time and energy to write not only about those fears but also to write stories to satisfy his interest in how and why people change - or don’t - over time.  These days he is content with a shorter novel.

At the conclusion of the interview, we were invited to join Mary at a private dinner at the nearby Michael Graves-designed Humana Tower where we were introduced to John Irving.  We also had another opportunity to chat with Sam Tanenhaus about his thoughts on the interview.  It was a fabulous end to a wonderful evening.

We entered the theater as the stage was still being prepared for the interview.  The library-themed set was designed and provided by Bittner's.

We entered the theater as the stage was still being prepared for the interview.  The library-themed set was designed and provided by Bittner's.

Mary Moss Greenebaum, Gary McBournie, John Irving and me at the conclusion of the evening.

Mary Moss Greenebaum, Gary McBournie, John Irving and me at the conclusion of the evening.

As Gary and I waited for our Uber car to drive us to the airport the next morning, we discussed how sometimes the best things that happen in life are the result of the little detours we make.   We enjoyed our time in Louisville and all of the new people we met and the things that we learned.  We are also very grateful to Mary and her husband John for their generous hospitality.  As a side note to Mary, we may be free for that little horse race in May.

Gary posing  at the Churchill Downs shop at the airport as we were leaving

Gary posing  at the Churchill Downs shop at the airport as we were leaving

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

A Little Detour - Part 1 by Gary McBournie

Photo by NA/PhotoObjects.net / Getty Images
Photo by NA/PhotoObjects.net / Getty Images

One of the many benefits of our life in Nantucket is the opportunity to meet and interact with so many interesting people from so many different parts of the country and even the world.  Over the last several years I have developed a friendship with a woman named Mary Moss Greenebaum who is a true force of nature.  Although she was born a New Yorker, Mary has spent most of her adult life in Kentucky where she founded and produces the University of Louisville Kentucky Author Forum, a non-profit, nationally-recognized literary event.   The Author Forum concept is to pair an author and an interviewer with their conversation taking place at The Kentucky Center in Louisville before a live audience.  The event is also taped and distributed by Kentucky Educational Television and airs on PBS member stations across the country.  Mary had been trying to lure me to Louisville for some time but this year she baited the hook with an upcoming Author Forum event featuring John Irving, one of my favorite authors, who would be discussing his newest novel "Avenue of Mysteries".   And so on a rainy November morning we left Manhattan and flew to Louisville.

As a little background, Louisville is home to the Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Louisville Slugger, the University of Louisville and American whisky maker Brown Forman.  It is the largest city in Kentucky and is situated southeasterly between the border between Kentucky and Indiana which is the Ohio River.  Although technically a Southern state, Louisville is often referred to as either one of the northernmost Southern cities or as one the southernmost Northern cities.

An enthusiastic Mary,  still somewhat in disbelief that we took a break from our busy work schedule and made the journey, greeted us at the airport.   She had guessed that we would not be served lunch on the plane so she had made a reservation at Jack Fry's, a well-known local restaurant established by a man named Jack Fry and his wife upon the end of Prohibition in 1933.  Jack's love of prize fighting and ponies was immediately evident by all of the historic photographs covering the walls of the interior.  Local lore is that Jack was also known to conduct his bookmaking and bootlegging affairs discreetly from "the back room".   My grandparents used to take me to places like this when I was young so I immediately felt at home.  After enjoying a delicious meal, it was no surprise to learn that Jack Fry's, which has changed ownership through the years, has been recognized by "The New York Times", "Bon Appetite", and "Southern Living" and has been consistently awarded a "Best of Louisville" award by "Louisville Magazine". 

Street view of Jack Fry's

Street view of Jack Fry's

Re-embarking on our tour,  Mary drove us through the large stone gateways marking the entrance to Audubon Park, a small city surrounded on all sides by Louisville and named after wildlife painter John James Audubon.  Audubon Park was developed in the early 20th century and, once Louisville Gas and Electric laid gas mains and installed streetlights, it was estimated that a new house was begun every two weeks.  The charming homes, on straight tree-lined streets named mostly after birds, appear to have all been designed by architects as opposed to many of todays builder-designed subdivisions.  Styles include Neo-Classical, Dutch Colonial, Neo-Federal with a Craftsman house here and there.   The city was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. 

One of the large stone gateways marking the entrance to Audubon Park

One of the large stone gateways marking the entrance to Audubon Park

Our next stop was the  21c Museum Hotel Louisville which opened in 2006 and was built by contemporary art collectors Laura Lee Brown- great-granddaughter of George Garvin Brown who co-founded the liquor company Brown-Forman- and Steve Wilson who has worked for four Kentucky governors.  The husband and wife team wanted to reimagine and rehabilitate a series of 19th century tobacco and Bourbon warehouses along downtown Louisville’s West Main Street into a boutique hotel and a contemporary art museum.  They engaged  New York architect Deborah Berke to help execute their vision.  The result is an innovative hotel which oozes of Southern hospitality  and is "all anchored by world-class contemporary art by today’s emerging and internationally acclaimed artists".  The readers of Conde Nast Traveler voted the Louisville hotel among the top hotels in the world in 2009, 2010 and 2011 readers’ choice awards.

Of particular interest to me was "Wheel of Fortune", a site-specific installation by artist Anne Peabody which is a physical record inspired from her memory of the tornado that leveled much of Louisville on April 3rd, 1974.  The work consists of broken eggs, flashlights, dolls’ heads, turkey basters, and batteries made of wood as well as found objects that swirl together that form a massive funnel cloud in the hotel atrium.  The artist has said of the installation, “I wanted to look at the clash between devastation and beauty, and the unexpected consequences of disaster. I started from my own childhood memories of the 1974 tornado, which left my house untouched but my neighborhood devastated and my yard filled with other people’s possessions. While Wheel of Fortune grew out of events in own my life, I want to speak to the experience of anyone touched by the bizarre dislocations of calamity.”

The entrance to 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville

The entrance to 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville

The Red Penguin sculptures that are exhibited throughout 21c were commissioned for a public art project at the 2005 Venice Biennale

The Red Penguin sculptures that are exhibited throughout 21c were commissioned for a public art project at the 2005 Venice Biennale

A bronze sculpture at the Proof on Main restaurant 

A bronze sculpture at the Proof on Main restaurant 

A piece from the exhibit "Hybridity: The New Frontier"

A piece from the exhibit "Hybridity: The New Frontier"

"Wheel of Fortune" by Anne Peabody

"Wheel of Fortune" by Anne Peabody

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

And so we begin... by Gary McBournie

"THERE IS NO PASSION TO BE FOUND PLAYING SMALL- IN SETTLING FOR A LIFE THAT IS LESS THAN THE ONE YOU ARE CAPABLE OF LIVING."

― Nelson Mandela

Born just outside of Boston towards the end of the period that defines the "Baby Boom" generation, I grew up with traditional middle class values.  Most of my grandparents were first generation Americans with humble beginnings.  My paternal grandfather left formal education behind in the eighth grade and went to work in a leather tannery where he spent most of his working life.  Years later when he sent his first son (and my father) off to college I think he was as proud of himself as he was of his son.  But because these family "successes" were still new, they were fragile.  Somehow I came to understand that risk was something to be avoided and safety was to be found in the path they walked.

As I grew up in the 1960's and 70's, I was thirsty for knowledge of the world beyond my window.  Nothing would make me happier than to spend an afternoon with my grandparents' set of Compton's encyclopedias from the 1930's.  I would pore over every page, my imagination taking me on all sorts of adventures.  For birthdays and holidays I would always ask for more books, more music and more art supplies.  In school, I studied multiple languages in anticipation of a life of travel.  I also enjoyed spending time with older people and eagerly listened to stories of their lives and accomplishments.

The oil crisis during the latter part of the seventies put a severe economic strain on the country and also dampened my dreams.  Instead of going away to school, my further education was to be found at the nearby state college where my language program was cancelled after the first year.  I also spent much of this time working in a grocery store to earn money which served to make me somewhat self-sufficient and garnered me a small sense of freedom.

When college ended and I was awarded a degree in Business Education,  I succumbed to my own fear of risk and failure and embarked on a very "safe" and traditional path- a career in insurance and a marriage doomed to fail before it began.  

Fifteen years later I found myself in a very unhappy relationship with three daughters who deserved something better.  The ensuing divorce was acrimonious and took years to resolve.  I found myself questioning how my life could have gone so wrong.  What did I need to change about myself to produce a better outcome and enable me to be a better father and role model to my daughters?   With some help, I was able to drill down and identify the work I needed to do.  Self-esteem and confidence in my own inner dreams were key.

I would like to say that my situation resolved itself as easily as one might turn on a switch but that is not reality.  What did happen though is that I discovered an inner strength to steer my own ship and become the master of my destiny.  In the process, I surrounded myself with people who shared my interests and developing passions and met a man who ultimately became my partner and spouse.  Eight years into our relationship we decided that our situation would become stronger if I changed careers and joined his interior design firm.  With a huge leap of faith- on both our parts- I did exactly that.  We now work on projects together around the country and beyond.  Creativity and travel have become staples of our life.  Together we wrote and published a book about my partner's passion for color and how he uses it to transform houses into homes.  We have also become partners in a small Caribbean-themed fabric company which serves as another creative outlet.

As a father, I believe I am showing my daughters that happiness comes from pursuing your passion.  One of my daughters has chosen a career in advertising and communications while the youngest recently started as a design assistant at our firm.

In future posts I plan to share some of our travel experiences, our design inspirations and once in a while a few serious thoughts about life.

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required