Category Archives: Designer Spotlight

Designer Spotlight: Marimekko’s Mika Piirainen

On Friday I walked over to the Marimekko flagship on Newbury Street to meet Finnish designer Mika Piirainen, who was in town to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Marimekko’s iconic “Unikko” print. You know, the oversize mod floral that immediately springs to mind when someone utters Marimekko.

Mika Piirainen, who graduated from the Lahti Institute of Design and Fine Arts in Finland, is celebrating his 20th anniversary with the company. He snagged a position with Marimekko back in 1994, after the head of women’s fashion for the brand saw his final student presentation at Ravensbourne College in London.

He says, “The Marimekko people came to critique the show, and afterwards, they told me to call them. I had an interview within a few days, and got hired as a design assistant in the middle of the first meeting.” Then he adds, “I was lucky.”

That fateful collection was inspired by milkmaids in the Finnish countryside, and he reprised it just three months after starting at the firm. He says, “I redid the milkmaid collection in black, navy, and white, using the same shapes and materials. They sold quite well.”

Piirainen worked on staff at Marimekko for several years, and then transitioned into a freelance role, which has been good for both him and the company, which has almost 20 freelance designers on tap.

He says, “At this point I’ve done everything—women, men, kids, umbrellas, towels.  I used to do lots of kids, but I’m done with that. Now I concentrate on women’s clothing and bags. “As for how many pieces he puts out, he recalls, “One year I made 140 pieces, now it’s more like 20 to 30.”

He favors simple silhouettes that let the textile designs speak for themselves. And although he sometimes designs his own prints, he also likes to use those created by young designers. He’s also been using lots of archival prints for new pieces he designs. After all, Marimekko has about 3,000 prints in its archives.

Piirainen explains, we have to check in with copyrights, talk to them about scale and color. Some like to have input, others say we can do whatever we want.”

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Mika Piirainen and I chatted on the lower level of the Marimekko store.

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Then we went upstairs so he could show me some of his designs. Piirainen designed this Silvi dress, as well as the actual textile pattern, named “Sato.”

Mika Piirainen Textile Design Marimekko

Piirainen prefers a neutral palette. With “Sato” he used black & white, playing with the positive and the negative. He hand draws his textile designs, rather than designing them on a computer. He makes big swishing motions with his arm to describe the movements he used in the studio while putting these freeform lines to paper.

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Marimekko celebrates the 50th anniversary of its “Unikko” floral this year. Love the Unikko bean bags.

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S H O P  M A R I M E K K O

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Just In: TRADHhome Early Spring 2014

The digital edition of Traditional Home, called TRADhome came out last week. This is an online only version of the magazinef that features less established and up-and-coming designers. In 2012′s TRADhome, I wrote about a home designed by Palmer Weiss—my blog post here—and in the 2013 “Great Kitchens” edition, I wrote about designer Liz Caan’s color-filled dining room, blogged here.

TRADhome 2014 extensively showcases homes designed by these four designers: Tamara Kaye-Honey, Charles de Lisle, and Joe Lucas and Parrish Chilcoat of Lucas Studio, and Taylor Borsari. The theme is color, and as you’ll see, there’s plenty of it.

TAMARA KAYE-HONEY
Photos by Michael Garland

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tamara-kaye-honey-trad-home-bedroom

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CHARLES DE LISLE
Photo by David Duncan Livingston

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JOE LUCAS & PARRISH CHILCOAT
Photos by Karyn Millet

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TAYLOR BORSARI
Photos by Karyn Millet

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I blogged the best photos of
TRADhome 2013
Part I & Part II

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Shop classic and colorful home decor at Serena & Lily >

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Designer Spotlight: Laura Jean Floral and Design

Saturday night Didriks and Local Root owner  Jonathan Henke and his team invited me to a dinner where we talked about business and design. It was held in the Observatory Hill neighborhood of Cambridge, near his shops, at Austin Architects.

Didrik’s visual merchandiser, Alexandra Boeri, organized the nuts and bolts of the event and was the force behind its creative vision. She picked out all the tableware, and worked very closely with Laura Jean of Laura Jean Floral and Design, who did the flowers, and jewelry designer Nicole Rueda-Watts,  who provided some beautifully styled decorative vignettes.  Nicole is Laura Jean’s business partner in the new shop Observatory. (Check out Nicole’s old loft here.) Taryn Collins, who works at the shop, cooked the delicious meal. It was a such a nice evening, filled with good food, good flowers, and good company.

Here are some of my Instagram photos of the room, table, and meal, as well as some images from Laura Jean’s floral design portfolio.

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Peek inside the portfolio of Laurel Jean Floral and Design:

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Shop wines & spirits at Fortnum & Mason >

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Covet: Magritte Sky Tray

Cloud Tray Magritte MOMA

Magritte Sky Tray
$34, MoMA Store

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Designer Spotlight: Stephan Alexandr’s Painted Skulls

Portland-based artist and designer, Stephan Alexandr, got in touch recently with photos of his newest work, two-toned zebra skulls, which he  describes as “a modern take on taxidermy.” His uses animal skulls, bones, and other natural materials to create one of a kind wall mounts, decor and functional objects. It’s a natural history lesson for sure!

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Creamsicle Zebra Kkull
Mellow orange and white, two-toned zebra skull and jaw.

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Pink Lemonade Zebra Skull
Bright yellow and hot pink, two-toned zebra skull and jaw.

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Lavender Zebra Skull
Green and lavender, two-toned zebra skull and jaw.

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More Acid Please
Orange, lilac and gold Baltic Roe Deer from Lithuania.

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Holy Buffalo
Massive buffalo. White skull with golden horns.

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Turquoise Candy-Dipped Shark Jaw
Hi-gloss turquoise shark jaw wall mount. 

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Warthog Mount
Bright green hi-gloss African Warthog mount.

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Goat skull
White goat skull.

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Blesbok Skull Plate
Seafoam with gold horns. Regal, regal, regal.

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Elk Skull
 Yellow hi-gloss elk skull.

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Blueberry White Tail Deer
Blueberry hi-gloss whitetail deer skull and antlers.

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Almighty Moose
Alaskan Moose skull plate and antlers, dusted with gold leaf.

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Gold Metal Mouth Shark Jaw
Metalic gold dipped shark jaw.

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Copper Metal Mouth Shark Jaw
Metalic gold dipped shark jaw.

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The Titan
Chrome painted antlers with leather wrapped skull cap.

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Just In: Jessica Biales Signet Rings

I’ve long considered my friend Jessica Biales to have impeccable taste. I learned to cultivate the art of minimalism from her, back in college. She had almost nothing in her closet, yet she always had everything she needed. On the walls hung posters of architectural renderings by Frank Gehry and Phillip Johnson, mounted on foam core rather than taped to the walls. And her duvet was plain black.

Hardly the stuff of college dreams. When I need to cull, I channel that dorm room, which only one year before was laden with images of Monet’s Giverny, an inspiration board laden with Calvin Klein’s ponytailed models and Christy and Linda in Chanel, and a double mattress topped with a floral comforter; home to moi. Jessica was the New York City sophisticate incarnate. And now, reigning queen bee of the style world, Jenna Lyons, has confirmed what I always knew—Jessica Biales has style. 

J.Crew, which has been experimenting with collaborations with all sorts of cool kids—including CFDA winners and other under-the-radar labels—has picked up two rings by Jessica Biales. It’s the company’s first offerings in fine jewelry. They are carrying a limited run of two solid 18-carat gold signet styles—one yellow gold, and the other rose gold bedecked with pavé emeralds.

I gave the collab a shout-out in Sunday’s Boston Globe, as “The One Thing” in the  paper’s new “Enthusiast” section. Jessica’s work has gotten a ton of press over the past six months. Let’s have a look.

Jeassica Biales Candy Signet Ring J.CrewJessica Biales “Candy” Signet Rings
Available at Hu’s Wear in D.C.,  Good in Boston, and online at  J.Crew
All pieces also available at JessicaBiales.com

Jeassica Biales Candy Signet Ring J.Crew

 The Boston Globe, June 16, 2013

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 Vogue, February 2013

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Jessica Biales Rose Gold Slice Rings

Jessica Biales “Slice” Rings
available in white gold, rose gold, and yellow gold
plain or with pavé white or black diamonds 

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Harper’s Bazaar, February, 2013

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Jessica Biales “Slice” Rings
in rose gold with tsavorites,rubies, sapphires


[I have the slice ring with tsavorites. I wear it between two rose gold rings by Melissa Joy Manning that my husband gave me for my birthday a few years ago; also from Good.]

 

Jessica Biales Sterling Signet Ring

 

Jessica Biales Block Signet Rings
in sterling silver at Good and 18-carat yellow gold at J.Crew

Jessica Biales Gold Wave Rings

Jessica Biales Wave Rings
small and large in rose, white, and yellow gold

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J E S S I C A  B I A L E S  J E W E L R Y
a v a i l a b l e  a t
Hu’s Wear in D.C.   |    Good in Boston
online at  J.Crew |   and 
at JessicaBiales.com

See my Instagram photos of Jessica’s rings here:
Shopping Trip: Good Boutique 


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Designer Spotlight: Snowbound Pottery by Anna Kasabian

Anna Kasabian, a local artist on the North Shore of Massachusetts working under the name Snowbound Pottery, emailed me in January with photos of her work. I was instantly taken with the delicate shapes and natural feel. The pieces are sweet but not precious or cloying. The white vases and and bowls themselves resemble flowers, with uneven scalloped edges and petal-like feet. I was unsurprised to learn that she makes everything by hand, without a wheel. When I responded to her mail saying I loved her work, she graciously sent me a tiny dish so I could see it and feel it. Her work is even more lovely in person.

Snowbound Pottery Anna Kasabian Vases With Purple Flowers

Snowbound Pottery Anna Kasabian Gold Rim Bowl

Snowbound Pottery Anna Kasabian Tiny Bowls

Snowbound Pottery Anna Kasabian Vases Bowls

Snowbound Pottery Anna Kasabian Vases On Windowsill

Snowbound Pottery Anna Kasabian Strawberry Bowls

Snowbound Pottery Anna Kasabian In Progress

Snowbound Pottery Anna Kasabian In Progress

Snowbound Pottery Anna Kasabian Plate

Snowbound Pottery Anna Kasabian Lotus Bowl

Snowbound Pottery Anna Kasabian Outdoors

Style Carrot Snowbound Pottery* * * mine * * *

 

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Designer Spotlight: Samantha Faye Jewelry

Samantha Freedman, a Newton girl whose family is in the  jewelry business (Downtown Crossing Boston diamond shop Freedman Jewelers is her dad’s), actually started out as a corporate lawyer before pursuing design. And even then, she did it on her lunch hour. I profiled Samantha (“Sweetest Charms”) in the Boston Globe Magazine earlier this month.

SAMANTHA FAYE FREEDMAN JEWELRY DESIGNER BOSTON

Samantha’s first charm was a clothing hanger. After people bought them right off her neck, she designed five more fashion-inspired pieces which comprise the Closet Collection: a button, a zipper, a key, a knot, a pair of lips, and a bow. All seven are still in production, and the bow has since become one of her biggest sellers. She does all her pieces in sterling silver, gold plate, and rose gold plate.

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Samantha-Faye-in-Globe-Mag

Boston Globe Magazine January 6, 2013
photos in the magazine by Dan Watkins

 After the closet came the Menagerie Collection, which today includes 20 different adorable animal charms, all available in large and small sizes. She started making the animals and matching mini mes when her friends started having kids, thinking they’d be cute mommy/daughter accessories. (She makes charm bracelets too.) They were a hit, but with an even broader audience. Sorority sisters, and all sorts of ladies loved them.

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Samantha-Faye-Owl-Pendants

If the large and small lobsters aren’t telltale signs, the Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket island charms, plus the anchor, making up the Islands Collection, gives Samantha away as a New England girl.

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Samantha’s newest collection Modern Classic, includes nature-inspired shapes, good luck charms, and other whimsical silhouettes. Again, all available big and small in three finishes.

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Samantha behind-the-scenes at the Globe shoot at Succara on Beacon Hill, the showroom that represents her line.

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BOSTON GLOBE MAGAZINE COVER JAN 6 2013

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Designer Spotlight: Seema Krish Bombay Glitz

Textile designer Seema Krish emailed me a couple of weeks ago with details about her new collection, “Bombay Glitz.”  The colors are more subdued than those of her first collection. These designs are done in eggplant, persimmon, maize, and jade, as well as silver and gold metallics. The effect is rich and sophisticated.

Inspired by the Bollywood pop culture’s glamour and glitz, the textiles, which are available as fabric by the yard, are hand block printed, embroidered and woven. They’re composed of natural fibers–linen and linen/ cotton blends, and produced in sustainable environments.

Metallics
Hand block printed & embroidered on a metallic linen.
Available in 3 patterns & 2 colorways:
pali hill – silver or gold glitter bandra – silver or gold glitterati – silver or gold

Bandra
Hand block printed & embroidered on a linen/cotton blend.
Available in 4 colorways: brinjal purple, goa sand, haveli red, monsoon blue.

Juhu
Hand block printed & embroidered with tie dyed thread on linen/cotton blend. Available in 4 colorways: badal gray, brinjal purple, goa sand, panna green.

Founded in 2010, Seema Krish fabric line is dedicated to producing artisanal textiles created by a select group of Indian craftspeople. The textiles reflect a fusion of influences and ethnic traditions paired with a modern sensibility. Their mission is to enhance the lives of both the users and producers of the products.

You’ll also like: 
Inside Seema Krisha’s Studio
Seema Krish’s Debut Collection

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Designer Spotlight: Dror Benshetrit

I’ve been to New York several times recently to interview industrial designers for Design Milk’s “Where I Work” series. Today we published the profile of Israeli designer Dror Benshetrit, founder of Studio Dror (and cousin to fashion designer Yigal Azrouel—swoon). You can read the full interview and see the official photos on Design-Milk, but I wanted to share the Instagram shots I took on my iPhone while I poked around.

Dror Benshetrit at his desk in his Garment District studio.

His preferred sketching pens.

Front studio/showroom space with oversize QuaDror structure.

Peacock chair in felt (Love!)

detail

Volume.MGX lamp

In the workshop

more QuaDror supports

Stainless steel mezuzah for Alessi

necklace

Photos by StyleCarrot

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S H O P P I N G 

Try It Trivet for Alessi, $100 at Studio Dror.
Volume 60-10-12-3-12 Sculpture, price upon request at Studio Dror.
Vase of Phases for Rosenthal, $120—$325 at Studio Dror.
Tron Armchair for Cappellini, price upon request at Studio Dror.
Connection Mezuzah for Alessi, $80 at Studio Dror.
QuaDror Wall, price upon request at Studio Dror.
Peacock Chair for Cappellini, $7,174—$10,308 at Studio Dror.

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