Monday, January 29, 2024

Discover the Hidden Gems of Las Vegas’ Architectural Legacy

There's more to Vegas than meets the eye and the 9th Annual Home + History Las Vegas heritage tourism festival provides a chance to see beyond the corporate casinos.

The four-day festival takes place from April 25-28 and focuses on the city’s hidden architectural treasures and captivating history.


Celebrating Southern Nevada’s iconic past, the event series features immersive, guided tours, educational seminars, community events, scenic drives, and speaker presentations that transport participants to the Vegas of yesteryear. In a town where uncovering historical hidden gems is no easy feat; the festival offers a glimpse into the meaning of Vegas cool with a unique opportunity to discover the Vintage Vegas treasures that have stood the test of time.

The festival is perfect for true aficionados of mid-century architecture and shows another side of the city. It provides a deep dive into the intricate details of the architectural landscape of Las Vegas, exploring neighborhoods that have lasted the test of time. Whether you’re fascinated by mid-century modern designs, iconic landmarks, or the evolution of architectural styles, the festival promises a captivating exploration led by passionate local historians. More information HERE.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

2024 Washington Antiques show events - Hillwood Splendor and Surprise!

This year's 2024 Washington Winter antiques show promises to be a good one with a slate of great events to start the new year.
Join me Saturday, January 13 at 4:30 PM for a lecture on our local treasure, Hillwood estate and gardens, with Kate Markert (Executive Director), Dr. Wilfried Zeisler (Chief Curator), and Ellen Charles (granddaughter of Marjorie Merriweather Post), "Splendor and Surprise: Hillwood Estate, Museum, & Gardens".  Purchase tickets for the event HERE.  
There are a lot of other events to check out, including a lunch talk with Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill, a design panel with India Hicks, Celerie Kemble and Alex Papachristidis (pictured above with Charlotte moss at a table he designed a few years ago at Hillwood), and a Sunday brunch with Chip Callaway, Sir Peter Crane FRS, and Calder Loth.  
The show has become much more interesting in the past few years and I wouldn't miss it.  Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

The Evolution of Architectural Design: Embracing CAD Technology


In the dynamic realm of architectural design, the shift from traditional hand-drawn blueprints to CAD drawings has marked a significant turning point. As we navigate deeper into the digital era, the significance of these tools in shaping our built environment is undeniable.

Let’s journey through the transformative influence of CAD technology, with a special focus on its profound impact on the architectural domain at large.

The Rise of CAD Drawings

The architectural world has witnessed a paradigm shift from the days when architects would spend countless hours crafting each line with utmost precision by hand. The introduction of CAD (Computer-Aided Design) software has revolutionized this process, offering a platform for creating detailed, accurate, and easily modifiable drawings.

The precision of these drawings ensures that construction details remain consistent, minimizing errors and the associated financial implications of rectifications. All of this is possible thanks to the DWG, recognized as the native file format for various CAD software applications, has emerged as the industry benchmark.

These files encapsulate design data, metadata, and other crucial information, making them indispensable for architects and designers. The ease with which CAD blocks stored in these files can be shared ensures seamless communication among all stakeholders in a project, fostering collaboration and alignment.

The Significance of CAD Drawings

The introduction of this technology has revolutionized architectural design methodologies. Unlike traditional hand-drawn sketches, these drawings are vector-based, offering a multitude of benefits:

  1. Precision & Scalability: Being vector-based, they can be scaled up or down without any loss of quality or clarity, ensuring designs remain sharp and detailed, regardless of size.
  2. Efficient Modifications: One standout feature is the ease with which changes can be made. Whether it's a minor adjustment or a major design overhaul, modifications can be executed swiftly and accurately.
  3. 3D Visualization: Beyond 2D plans, CAD software allows architects to craft detailed 3D models, empowering them to visualize spaces in a holistic manner and offering clients a tangible feel of a space even before construction details are finalized.
  4. Interactivity: Modern software offers interactive features, allowing architects and clients to walk through a virtual representation of the space, making real-time modifications and seeing immediate results.
  5. Integration with Other Systems: These drawings can be integrated with other software systems, such as Building Information Modeling (BIM), enhancing the depth of information available and aiding in more informed decision-making.

The Versatility of CAD Blocks

These pre-designed vector drawings of commonly used elements, from doors and windows to furniture and fixtures, offer several advantages:
  1. Time Efficiency: Instead of redrawing common elements, architects can simply insert these into their CAD projects, significantly speeding up the drafting process.
  2. Consistency: Using standardized blocks ensures that recurring elements maintain a consistent design and scale throughout the drawing.
  3. Customization: While numerous pre-designed options are available, architects also have the flexibility to create custom blocks tailored to specific project needs, ensuring uniqueness and precision.
  4. Database Integration: Many come with attached data, such as a window block containing specifications about its material, manufacturer, cost, and thermal performance. This integration of design and data streamlines the planning and procurement processes.

By harnessing the power of these tools, architects are equipped with resources that not only enhance their design capabilities but also streamline workflows, ensuring projects are both innovative and efficient.

The Future: Beyond Traditional Methods

The horizon of technological advancements promises a plethora of opportunities for CAD technology. Integrations with virtual reality, collaborative tools operating in real-time, and AI-driven design recommendations are just a few of the groundbreaking innovations we can anticipate. As we cast our gaze forward, it's evident that this technology will persistently redefine architectural paradigms, challenging and expanding the limits of design possibilities.

In wrapping up, the transition to this kind of tools has indelibly marked the architectural landscape. From the unparalleled accuracy of DWG files to the streamlined efficiency of CAD blocks, these technological tools have equipped architects to design with heightened creativity, precision, and vision. As the digital age continues to unfold, CAD technology's pivotal role in sculpting architectural marvels remains unquestionable.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Washington Winter Show 2023 - "Bunny Beyond the Garden"

I think it's fitting that my first blog post after a long absence (and following my last post on Bunny Mellon) is to announce and welcome you all to the Washington winter antiques show - particularly the Saturday night lecture "Bunny Beyond the Garden" with Oak Spring Garden Foundation president Peter Crane and Bunny's grandson, Thomas Lloyd, for which I'm a cochair, at 4:30 PM, Saturday January 14, 2023. 

Bunny Mellon’s legacy favors her reputation as one of this country’s greatest self-taught landscape designers. Her unwavering, talented eye for beauty, however, broadened that public recognition as one of the twentieth century’s most understated icons of interior design. Public figures (and friends) such as Givenchy and Schlumberger knew her well but many others did not. This lecture by her grandson, Thomas Lloyd and Oak Spring Garden Foundation President Peter Crane, aims to reveal a more personal side of Mrs. Mellon. By sharing beautiful personal pictures of her beautiful houses, interwoven with personal family stories, a deeper appreciation can be garnered as to what tenets influenced her unique style and aesthetic.

I hope to see you there! Admission to the antiques show is included with purchase of your lecture ticket HERE. Also be sure to check out the other lectures and events HERE.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

FINALLY! Bunny Mellon Style is here.

I am pleased to announce the book so many of us have been waiting on has arrived: Bunny Mellon Style by Linda Jane Holden, Thomas Lloyd, and Bryan Huffman with forward by Tory Burch. Just in time for gift season with a drop date of December 7, 2021 from publisher Gibbs Smith,  this book finally shares with us the personal homes of style icon, Bunny Mellon.  

While books released in the past few years have been great, they left me wanting more, even the stunning Sothebys auction catalogs. This book answers that need. I remember thinking "Wait, what about their Paris apartment?" -now there is a chapter and personal photos devoted to the spaces.  

The book is an intimate look at Bunny told by those who knew her best. Through interviews and letters you get a look inside her family homes as well as her closet.  Above, Bunny is in her Sunday kitchen at Oak Spring in a photo by her grandson, Thomas Lloyd.  The perfect painted floor and white kitchen!

We all have become acquainted with Bunny's gardens through previous books and while briefly discussed in this book, it focuses more on the houses and collections themselves. 
I love this shot from Thomas Lloyd of Bunny giving a tour of her Basket House (now part of the Oak Spring Garden Foundation). 
A close up shot of the sink in her famous garden room by designer Bryan Huffman gives a close up look of the trompe l'oeil work of artist Fernand Renard. 
One of the many personal photographs from Thomas Lloyd of Bunny at home at Oak Spring Farm above. Tory Burch, now a style-setter herself,  writes a fascinating foreword about what she's learned about style from Bunny as the now owner and steward of the Mellon's Antiqua estate.  See more about that from Vogue in 2018 HERE

I cannot stress how much I enjoyed this book, I nickname it the Bunny Bible!  With everything you could possibly want to know about her secrets on home and entertaining, Bunny Mellon Style is truly the gift of the season and a must for any design library. Pre-order your copy today!

Cover image courtesy Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.  Used with permission of Isabelle Rey.  All other images from the book by Thomas Lloyd with the exception of  the image of the garden room by Bryan Huffman, and the Antiqua garden structure by Daniel Sutherland.  

Monday, September 20, 2021

Thomas Proctor: Classical Houses book signing this week!


Live events are back! This Thursday, 9/23/2021, the WMA_ICAA is hosting Thomas Proctor from Los Angeles for the release of his new book: Thomas Proctor, Classical Houses from Rizzoli.  

Copies of the book will be available for sale from Politics and Prose.   Proctor will be signing them following a brief presentation and refreshments will be served. Given the central location stop by for a drink and a copy of Proctor's excellent new book prior to dinner out on the town! 

Tickets for this FREE event are available HERE -hope to see you there! 

Many thanks to Compass Realty for hosting this event!

Thursday, May 6, 2021

The Porcelain Flowers of Vladimir Kanevsky at Hillwood

I'm back here at the blog to let you know about an amazing exhibit that has recently opened in Washington at Hillwood, the Marjorie Merriweather Post mansion turned museum.  I've written about Hillwood on numerous occasions and also about the artist whose amazing work they are currently featuring: Vladimir Kanevsky
I last wrote about Kanevsky in conjunction with Hillwood 3 years ago HERE when he did a lilac centerpiece on the table of designer Alex Papachristidis, similar to the lilac to be found in the library today.    These are no ordinary blooms however.  They are the most convincing and charming FAUX flowers you have ever seen, created out of copper, porcelain, and paint. 
The nice thing about these faux flowers, other than their lack of maintenance, is that they can be displayed throughout the mansion without a lot of fuss: no drips.  See the Amaryllis in the living room above naked without a drip plate!
I would like to think if Post were still living she would be a collector of Kanevsky's work.  
Part of the charm of these flowers are their imperfections similar to real flowers - holes in leaves, etc.  
The only thing missing is the scent: the lily of the valley seen below would be most fragrant!
Other than the lilac, I think my favorite piece may be the dandelion, warts and all. Weed as art!
This humble thistle may be a close second. 
The fun thing about creating these flowers is one gets to play with scale - the tulips shown on the breakfast room table below are simply ENORMOUS. 
The piece de resistance of the whole exhibit is to be seen in the dining room where about 1/2 of the collection is displayed. 
Cheek by Jowl, they are almost hard to study individually...
Though the morning glory does its best to reach out to the viewer! 
Given how difficult dahlia are to grow I think a Kanevsky version is a sound investment. 
And Washington's famous but short-lived cherry blossoms are no match for these stems.
Ordinarily Hillwood is full of fresh flowers from the garden, much as during Post's time at the house. The lack of real blooms allows one to focus on the details where you realize, flowers are depicted everywhere, even on the curtains!
Even the dining room sconces feature fruit.
The breakfast room still does sport a large collection of orchids in the bay window, no fear. 
Spring is a glorious time to visit Hillwood for the gardens, but please do visit and enjoy the magic of Vladimir Kanevsky as well.
The Porcelain Flowers of Vladimir Kanevsky is on view NOW through September 5th, 2021 throughout the mansion at Hillwood.  
Reservations are required so don't plan on stopping by without one!

All photos used throughout this post are my own.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

I wanted to drop by to wish you all a Merry Christmas, from my home to yours.  Simpler garland on the mantel this year but the stockings look at home on the new mantel. 
I wanted to share these LED lights with you as well that I got from Target last year. Made by Philips they change from white to color with the push of a button depending on ones mood.  The photo of the colored lights appears much more blue than in real life! 
I do love that the 1,000 lights on the tree use less power than one small string of old incandescent lights and don't dry out the tree with heat -I leave them on 24/7!

Friday, December 18, 2020

The most beautiful mantel in the world

As so often happens with blogging, time gets away from you.  As time builds you think the next post has to be really spectacular to explain the absence. Well 6 months have passed but in Covid time that doesn't count as much, right?   This post has grown from an initial image because I start to research and before you know it the one picture post becomes a minor history lesson! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 
This all started when I saw the most beautiful mantel of all time (undebatable!) in an advertisement in House & Garden UK magazine (top image). If you don't subscribe you should, the Brits produce the only remaining reliably good, hard-copy magazines! I wasn't familiar with the London antique dealer Westland London but am so glad I know of them now from an advert in the magazine. 
The chimneypiece was salvaged from the ruins of Dalquharran Castle in Scotland.  Seen above, the castle was designed by, of all people, Robert Adam.  I'm not sure about you but castles like this are not what I associate with Adam but apparently he designed quite a few!  However, it appears the forbidding façade hid a delightfully neoclassic PURE ADAM interior.  Sadly that is all long gone. 
Above is the plan of the castle complex by Adam, designed around 1785 for his sister and her husband, Thomas Kennedy of Dunure.  It was completed in 1790 when the old castle was abandoned as a ruin.  Sadly enough this "new" castle was ruined itself in 1967 when the roof was removed to avoid local taxation.  Karma?
Above is the mantel before being removed from the tower library and below a stunning aerial shot of the castle today in ruins.  I imagine the library was located in the large tower as the curvature of the mantel is minimal. 
Westland states that the chimneypiece, designed by Robert Adam, was carved by the renowned Dutch stonemason Pieter Mathias van Gelder.  The central panel features 2 sphinx flanking a globe.  The endblocks feature classical lyres and husk swags above fern corbels. This is pure perfection to my eyes, all day long. 
A closeup of the panel below. 
While not designed by Adam sadly, I will share an antique mantel I picked up in Middleburg, Virginia, earlier this year and had installed in my living room. I had wanted a Georgian style mantel like this and love the old Pine - beautifully restored for me by David Clair.  I believe it dates to the 1920s or there abouts.  The honed Italian slate helps to bridge the gap between my overly small firebox and the size of the mantel -when in doubt go black! 
Images of the Dalquharran mantel from Westland London, while images of the castle come from Wikipedia. Naturally the image of my fireplace is from my trusty iphone