Those with ‘It’: Pati’s House


Pati and her husband live in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles.  The empty nesters have a modern home with a fabulous art collection.  We met Pati, an interior designer, in Vancouver and had the opportunity to see her wonderful home in L.A. when we were invited to attend her annual Hanukkah celebration. Click on images to enlarge.

Pati asked me if I knew what the metal art piece on the left was. She felt because I was an Architect  I would know. I spend a good deal of time trying to figure it out. I saw it as a series of city blocks and streets but I apparently was wrong. What do you think?  Any ideas?

Those with ‘It’: Homes that must be seen-Leslie’s.

My friend Leslie has a home that must be seen. It is beautiful, and thoughtfully designed and appointed. Leslie’s poetic use of Indian sculpture and art, coupled with her husband Tim’s photography, make her place unlike anyone else’s. See for yourself.

My Dinner with Andrea

mailbox used in the kitchen for bills and paperwork.

Sculpture done by artist in Milan.

Last night I had an incredible Indian dinner at the home of my friends Barbara and Andrea.  I found myself spending a good part of the night snapping photos of their home on my iphone. Barbara and Andrea, originally from Italy, are in the process of becoming Canadians.  Andrea is an award winning Physicist and Researcher, and Barbara, who re-defined herself, left her former career as a lawyer, and is now a very successful Graphic Designer.  The two of them have an amazing sense of design manifested in their numerous, artfully displayed collections.  Many of the vintage toys and furniture are Andrea’s from childhood, brought over from Italy, others are from their students days living in Holland the US. They share their beautiful Kitsilano home with their two boys.  Enjoy the pictures.

self portrait by Luca

Rubber duck collection

Andrea bought this vintage screen from his mother and then had a metal worker repair the frame.

This bookcase was custom made to fit the stairs.

Birdie's Nest Light by Ingo Maurer

painting by Graham Smith

Heart sconce

Andrea's collection of vintage ships, all under 4" long.

Vintage learn 'multiplication tables' toy

Vintage pill box containers

Kitchen collection

Alessi pen holder

The Scarf.

Paisley scarfing it in Rome.

When I was 12 I received an orange and yellow fine georgette silk scarf, from an adult American family friend, for Christmas.  At the time I thought it was pretty but a really weird gift to give a kid.  As a self conscious 12 year old there was no way I was going to wear that scarf, but strangely, I have kept it to this day. Even then I could appreciate the quality and beauty of the piece.  Little did I know that this little scarf would turn me into a scarf collector; not systematically, like many collectors, but rather from a simple fundamental attraction when I see one that speaks to me.

I collect different colours of pashminas, and vintage travel scarves but my main love is the Hermes scarf, or if you rather, Les carrés d’Hermès.  These 90cm x 90cm silk works of art are truly exquisite and the process to produce them is lengthy and complex.

Beloved India, Hermes

The first carré d’Hermès was made in 1937. Since the late 1930′s, over 1,500 different versions have been made, and Hermès tends to work with a number of different artists every season. Most designs start with the painting of a motif, which then needs to be translated into a scarf.  Once the artwork is created, choosing the colour combinations is generally the next step in making a carré. Pierre-Alexis Dumas, the artistic director of Hermès, and the grandson of the founder of Hermès, describes their colour process as very complex. “Sometimes we discuss a single colour for a considerable time for a scarf that will include more than thirty (colours.) This research into colour is the work of incredible perfectionism. The palette is infinite, its variations at the limit of what the eye can perceive.” Leila Menchari, the director of the colour panel explains that “The work of colouring the Carrés takes time, because each design must be produced in around ten different colour schemes.” (from ‘Searching for Style’)

My fascination of these scarves led to me to join a number of ‘by invitation only’ on-line Hermes scarf collecting clubs.  Who knew they even existed?  I found myself learning about the designs, how to detect a counterfeit scarf, and the definition of colourway.  I also learned that collecting Hermes scarves is an obsession for thousands of women and many men. These collectors, from all over the world, meet regularly in New York, Paris and Toronto. They team up and hit the rare Hermes scarf sales in Paris and they have formed incredible friendships over their shared love of Hermes.  Some of these women are lawyers, doctors, and businesswomen, but all, regardless of origin or profession, are simply drawn to the feel, the beauty and artistry of these magnificent pieces of art. I entered a world few people even know exist.

My collection of Hermes scarves has grown to around 15 including a few duplications of some designs in different colourways. Most of my scarves are pre-loved, with only a few of them brand new because they are so expensive, even the vintage ones.  The good news is that they seem to retain their value. This sentiment is echoed by one of my Hermes ‘Scarfie’ friends, Jan Goode, who was interviewed by The New York Times.

Shoppers, turned out in droves on West 18th Street for a Hermès sample sale (from The New YorkTimes.)

“I used to buy Sirius stock to keep myself from buying more Hermès scarves,” said Jan Goode, who was wearing a coral one and carrying a tote she had made to showcase another one. Ms. Goode, who is in her 50s, considers herself a serious collector of Hermès scarves, but stopping just short of considering herself someone with a serious problem. It turns out her addiction proved more profitable then her ‘sensible’ purchases: “Now my Hermès holdings are much more valuable than my Sirius stock,” she said. “Sirius is at 90 cents a share. I should have been buying scarves all along.”

It is not hard to justify the price when you think of each scarf as a beautiful piece of art, carefully crafted and executed.  The only difference being that they are to adorn oneself instead of a wall.

I have passed down my love of scarves to my daughters who will one day enjoy my collection. Are scarves just for old ladies?  What an absurd notion. Just try one on at any age and you’re in love.  Let me know if you are, or might become a ‘Scarfie’.

Paisley wearing Hermes in Paris.

H. wearing Hermes In Paris

Hannah T. wearing Hermes In Paris

Oprah in Hermes

A.J. Donahue’s ‘Winnipeg Chair’

My husband, Graham, and I have always had an affinity for chair collecting.  Over the years we have found and gone through many chairs.  Usually we think we will recover them but often we don’t.  Eventually we give them away or ‘store’ them in friends’ cabins. Graham found this chair at our local ‘Sellution’ consignment store.  He was immediately drawn to its design.  We did some research and found out it had a name and a very interesting history.

The ‘Winnipeg Chair’, also known as, the Canadian Coconut Chair, was designed by an Architect by the name of A.J. Donahue.   A.J. studied at Harvard with Marcel Breuer in the 1940s and explored techniques of bent wood furniture construction. After Harvard, Donahue settled in Winnipeg to teach architecture. Donahue developed his lounge chair, according to Rachel Gottlieb’s book Design in Canada (Design Exchange, 2001), in the late 1940’s in his basement with the assistance of his students. Donahue only produced about 200 examples of the chairs and we happen to have one of them.

The Winnipeg chair bears some resemblance to George Nelson’s Coconut chair—which actually wasn’t introduced until much later, in 1955.  According to Tim Borys, founder of the new furniture company HutJ, which is reissuing the Winnipeg chair, “That’s a classic Canadian story. Here’s a great design that gets swept under the rug and then it gets knocked off five years later,” Borys says, before remembering his Canadian manners. “I’ll be careful where I push that story. I don’t want to offend anyone.”