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I *heart* Giraffes

Zebra patterns were discussed here recently, so I thought we’d explore the Giraffe a bit today. When I thought of them as a motif years ago, I pictured the straight-off-the-Serengeti living rooms of the 80’s, decorated with Africian masks, hide throws galore, and lifesize giraffes carved from wood, in deep reddish tones (like this). Some people still dig safari style and they have every right to enjoy it, but I was never a fan of the look. I’m just not big on themed rooms as a rule, and cringe at the thought of all those themed kitchens of the past complete with wallpaper borders, usually sporting a rooster or a hen. So when I think of bringing animals into a space, whether it’s a cute owl or a graceful giraffe, less is really more. True, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and we all have our collections, but a word of caution here: avoid the dreaded theme park decor because it can go from sleek to cheap the more you pile it on.

Outside of the Serengeti, giraffes are a constant trend for the nursery, mostly in yellow or orange… And I dare to break my own rules here and say that for baby, you can go with a little theme if you wish, but again, proceed with caution. You want to make sure to keep that baby of yours happy, and this may sound snobby, but you also want the room to fit your home. I’ve been in places that had these ultra swank interiors, and immediately upon stepping into the nursery, you question what they were smoking when they designed the nursery.

As motifs go, you have the owls, turtles, trees, you name it — they’re all center stage at the moment. Even the little koi has his day. But what about the giraffe? Should this leggy beast be limited only to the safari look or a nursery? Or can we bring him out into the living room, dining area, even the kitchen? When I think of adding a little giraffe action to my home, I picture lighter, brighter colors, vintage wallpaper silhouettes, a playful pillow, and Jonathan Adler and his amazing lamp. Oh that lamp, what a charmer he is. Let’s now look at it inside the home of a stylish twentysomething designer. Oh, Lena? Where are you?

Ah, here she is. Textile designer and illustrator Lena Corwin, successfully incorporates the giraffe lamp from Jonathan Adler into her largely mid-century modern flat in Brooklyn. Very grown up, this doesn’t read ‘safari’ or ‘nursery’ at all. It reads hip and fun.

I love Lena’s space, but that lamp adds an extra spark that completes the room for me. It’s a bit of a quirky, unexpected touch that tells us that Lena has personality, she’s a bit playful, doesn’t take design too seriously, but also has exquisite taste to be able to mingle a giraffe lamp into a room with tree wallpaper, contemporary art, and mid century furnishings. But enough gushing about Lena. We don’t want to make her uncomfortable. :)

Okay, maybe one more gush. Lena designed a travel plate with a giraffe on it that shows how well one can use this animal in an adult space. Unfortunately though, we don’t see enough of the giraffe in adult rooms, and I think it’s a shame because we’re limiting this beautiful animal with the silhouette of a super model. And when we see the giraffe pattern used in decor or fashion, it’s always in either deep brown and white or black and white.

Please designers of the world, let’s allow the giraffe to mature a bit, while keeping him modern and playful. Let’s show his pattern in chartreuse against a pale blue background for textiles, I’m thinking of this pattern from Judy Ross, only with a close-up view of the giraffe hide. Let’s bring that Adler lamp into an adult space a little more, and for fashion, let’s see the giraffe pattern in hot pink against white, turquoise, lime, for handbags, dresses, and the interior lining of luggage. C’mon — let’s turn up the dial and see what fun can result.


Joy by Mel Lim wrote to me last week about her newly expanded line of paper products that have actually grown into a collection of gift wrap, children’s clothing, t-shirts, and pillows that I’m 100% in love with. Joy turned things up by using her imagination, seeing this leggy beast in a different way. She enjoys incorporating fish, ducks, and our tall friend in her designs, and I enjoy seeing it. Immensely.

Of course, seeing the giraffe on paper is never a bad thing. Especially when done right, like these Sweet cards from Elsewares, the personalized stationery, journal, and enclosure cards from Rock Scissor Paper, and cards from Five Fold Ink and Mini and Emma.

Next, you have these stretch canvas prints by Avalisa, again, more for the kids than the grown ups, but it’s still pretty cute and I love all the colors that it’s available in.


How cute is this mini print from Repro Depot shown in two colorways, giraffe mania! I can’t see this working as pillows or curtains (eek!), well except again, in a child’s room, but it is a terrific little print.

Tory Burch has giraffe bags in her latest collection (not shown), but these box totes from Neimans’ are adorable. I’d put magazines in them and tote them around my house. This $4 giraffe business card holder, handmade by Etsy seller Mirkah is super cute for your handbag, I like the lemon yellow with the tiny white grapics.

Cute dress (imagine this print somewhere in the home, wow!), pillow, little juma, and glasses from Anthropologie. I really can’t take my eyes off of that dress. The print is exactly what I’m picturing when I think of a more modern take on the giraffe.

And from Etsy: A very funky patchwork toy from While She Naps, a Veronica Press wood book, Maxine Dear tote, and an Okins mid century plush.


Of course, it’s back to the kiddies again with a slew of softies, but they are a bit hard to resist… Even for a grown up space. Dwell Baby pillows from Giggle are super cute (and huge) and another plush from Zid Zid Kids with a Moroccan edge.


Wallpaper giraffe silhouettes, available in a gadzillion patterns from Inke, really appeal to me. But I don’t know if I’d use animal silhouettes like this in my childless abode, on a wall. Although strangly enough, I can see it in a kitchen somehow. Don’t ask me, I just can. But of course, I have a very modern, white and light blue interior in mind, a space that reads very contemporary and cool. In the right pattern, this giraffe may rock it behind a bistro table with this capri genie pendant.


I think these Inke patterns would work in an adult space, they feel a bit more grown and polished to me.

More giraffe love (not shown): Here’s a giraffe lamp from Illums Bolighus, retro badges from Fluffington, and coasters from Kate Black.

Are you a fan of the giraffa camelopardalis? Do you have any in the home? What are your thoughts, hot or not?

Posted in trends on April 11, 2007

Trina Turk – Inspiration from Fashion

Trina Turk has attitude. I love browsing her collections for inspiration, each season brings stronger, more beautiful prints and fabrics than the last.


Interior design trends are constantly evolving, strongly influenced by both the fashion industry and the art world, so enjoy color and pattern in whatever form it takes – a dress can inspire the color palette of your living room, a pattern on a scarf can lead you to painting that same pattern on your wall. Let your imagination roam freely. It’s no longer sticking to the straight and narrow that matters, it’s about pulling together a home full of character inspired straight from your book of life.

Spring 2007 – Vibrant pastels are strong this season for interiors, too.


Summer 2007 – Deep blue paired with lighter tones, along with white, and egg yolk yellow as an accent, are popular trends for summer fashion but also for interiors. Bold, graphic patterns make cheerful additions to the home. Watch for large geometric prints in chocolate paired with white, too.


Can’t you just imagine some of these looks as a room?

(images from trina turk)

Posted in fashion + accessories, inspiration, trends on April 02, 2007

Zebra Patterns – Do You Approve?

Nothing inspires us like nature, which is why we so often gravitate towards patterns that resemble those found outdoors. If you’re thinking of adding maximum impact to a space, look no further than the stylish Zebra (please, go faux). And along with the Chinese ceramic stool craze we’re seeing, Zebra rugs are a big hit too, making a continued appearance in some of today’s hottest interiors. Need a bit of inspiration before you decide to add a bit of safari chic to your space?

If this image from Domino doesn’t make you see Zebra prints in a new and exciting way… I’m afraid there’s no hope. :)

Nothing inspires me like a deal and of course, going faux. You can find a Zebra pattern stenciled onto a hairhide rug for $515 from Horchow. Of course, it’s still from an animal and some of us aren’t into animal hides at all (like me). If that’s you, opt for something in wool, like this one from Home Decorators ($129-299). If you need something smaller for an entry or beneath a sofa table, this 5×7 rug from Urban Outfitters is perfect, and a budget find at $69. It’s cotton, so we know animals weren’t hurt for this little guy, and your wallet won’t feel a thing.

When I think of Zebra rugs, Jonathan Adler ($875) always springs to mind. With his dare devil bolder-than-thou designs, I admire how perfectly he works such a bold pattern into his interiors. Having all that color courage, coupled with extreme self-confidence from his ‘been there done that’ experience in the design world, Adler is super contagious. He has a happy virus that more of us need to catch. Explore! Dare! Yes, go there!

Designer Jan Showers gives us more eye candy, helping us see the pattern in a variety of settings… A more ‘medicated’ approach to Adler I must add, but beautiful and certainly more friendly to the neutral fans out there.

And did you catch the lovely Zebrine wallpaper in Domino magazine from Rose Cumming? It’s making another appearance in interiors with it’s bold, whimsical charm. It makes a definite statement in crisp blue and white, doesn’t it? This image is of Ashley Whittaker’s home, courtesy of Domino, 4/07 and The Peak of Chic.

The Peak of Chic loves Zebrine wallpaper and tells us, “Glamorous pedigree aside, this print is certainly a stylish but bold statement. I love animal prints, but one has to use them with restraint. All other design elements of a room- furniture, artwork, and accessories- have to be toned down when paired with such a gutsy pattern.” Photo from Robin Bell’s living room, courtesy of House Beautiful, 1/05 via The Peak of Chic.

Inspiration from Domino and Living Etc. There’s even a Zebra ottoman in the mix, and a chair, below. For me, if I’m going Zebra, there’s nothing I like better than combining the color turquoise with a crisp black and white faux Zebra print rug.

So tell me… What’s your take on it as either a rug, wallpaper, textiles, etc.? Do you approve? Have a little love/hate? Run screaming?

Posted in trends on March 26, 2007

Chinese Ceramic Garden Stools – Yes or No?

Domino (April) arrived over the weekend and I couldn’t help but feel left out of the hip ‘n trendy Chinese Garden Stool Club. Michael Bargo had one in a lovely green, the amazing Lulu de Kwiatkowski sported one in her home (in what appeared to be orange), Tom Scheerer incorporated a perky lime stool into the drinks table arrangement that he pulled together (in classic Scheerer style), and Jennifer Marsico had two white ones in her living room alone. But no worries my fellow design addicts. For as little as $69 USD, you can join the Garden Stool Club, too.
Here’s a floral ceramic stool used by Burnham Design in one of their rooms, it looks inspired by the Chinese garden seats, just a bit more dainty and detailed. I wasn’t able to find an exact copy of it, but if you spend some time on Google, I’m sure you’ll find something like it. Check with your local antiques dealer, too.

Why so appealing? They can do it all – the true multitaskers. They fuction as a foot rest, small table, plant stand, place for kitty to sit, or just for a little eye candy – a bright burst of color. They are also small enough to not give commitment phobes a showroom freak out, it’s just one itty bitty stool. Slightly larger than throw pillows. About the same price. We love a good ole barely-break-a-sweat purchase.

Also know as ‘tea stools’, ‘chinese stools’, and ‘porcelain garden seats’, the big sellers seem to be those in solid colors, circular, with intricate, but spare, cutouts (vs. the ornate hand-painted or square varieties). Although, I have to say that I love the hand-painted stools in blue and white, like the one shown a few images down from Wisteria for $179.

My #1 stop, Oriental DestinAsian on eBay. Prices range from $69-119 for solid colors in blues, greens, yellows, and of course, white. With a flat rate shipping anywhere in the U.S. for only $35, you can’t go wrong for a repro. Keep in mind that just like anything else, you can pay more and find something really unique and one-of-a-kind straight from artisians in China, or you can opt for reproduction pieces inspired by traditional Chinese garden seats if you’re on a limited budget.

Although the stools I’m seeing in magazines and designer’s portfolios aren’t nearly as ornate, if you love to mix things up, opt for handpainted or these cutout floral patterns from The Company Store ($108), or Mecox Gardens. For a one-of-a-kind seat, Red River Trading Co. in Boston’s South End has imported stools straight from Hunan, China. The two shown above in teal were handmade and fired in a kiln which means that are totally worth $350- each.

Try these gorgeous stools from Wisteria in your space. I can’t help but think they’d add that perfect touch. Or for ones with a bit more detail, go with these from Gumps of San Francisco.

Additional Ceramic Garden Stool resources: Tonic Home, Clipper Trading, even Pottery Barn is in on the trend with a Jade green stool for only $99. You can google for “Ceramic Garden Stools”, “tea stools”, “chinese stools”, and “porcelain garden seats”, and find hundreds of other sources. Use those as search words on eBay, too.

Can you spot them in these rooms? Some are much less obvious than others…

From: Domino, KWID, Kelly Proxmire, Todd Romano, Timothy Whealon, Kemble Interiors, Burham Design, and Kenneth Brown Design.

So what do you think – Are you into these, or do you run screaming in the opposite direction?

Posted in trends on March 26, 2007

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