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Design Log
Spring 2008

White Webb Selected to Design Room at Kips Bay Decorator
Show House

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New York, April, 2008–White Webb will design a room at the Granddaddy of them all — the Kips Bay Show House in New York City. Opening this April at Manhattan House, a location quite different from past years, the 2008 Decorator's Show House is sure to be a stand-out. Rather than the 19th century, gilt-edge townhouses of past years, Manhattan House is a 1960's white brick apartment building, famous for being an early New York home of Grace Kelly.

With an eye toward paired-down, but exotic style, Matthew White and Frank Webb along with their design team will create a chic, modern bedroom suite. With sculptural antiques and sleek upholstery, the room will be swathed in calming tones of oyster, pewter and gold, blended with silver-leaf and the polish of acrylic. This spa-like bedroom suite will provide visual warmth and creature comforts while appearing to float above the rooftops of the urban landscape.

The Kips Bay Show House is widely considered the national interior design event of the year. Attending it is simple, and by doing so one supports a worthy cause while seeing world-class interiors by the world's top designers. Click here to purchase tickets. For a peak at our sources, click here.

Lilacs — Springtime in a Vase

Lilacs symbolize first love, and after one whiff of their heavenly aroma, it's easy to see why. But these romantic flowers never last as long as we would hope after being cut (3-5 days). Click here to read about ways to enhance their beauty and lengthen their life indoors.

Architectural Models —
A World in Miniature

Sometimes in our “bigger is better” world, we tend to overlook the little things that offer a new perspective. From an interior design point of view, the big picture is essential to any successful room. But one should never ignore the details — those little objects that give a room its texture and charm. When it comes to objects that play with proportion, our favorite object is the architectural model.

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Photo: Steven Nilsson

Architectural models originally were (and still are) tools that architects used to show a building's design for approval by a client. Many of the world's greatest buildings, from antiquity to the modern age, were first built in a small scale for this very reason. The delight of those tiny buildings made them wonderful objects in their own right. Eventually, miniature architectural follies were created simply to delight the eye, or perhaps to serve as a tiny temple. This early 19th century gilded Italian tempietto (above) fit that latter category, but now sits on a library table in a sun-drenched room. With its elegant gothic arches and dome reminiscent of the Duomo in Florence, it allows one to see historic architecture from a different point of view.

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Photo: Andrew Twort

Because of our great admiration of classical architecture, we designed a table based on one of the most recognizable buildings in the western world — the The Parthenon is the most important surviving building of ancient Greece. Built on the Acropolis as a temple to the goddess Athena (goddess of wisdom), in later centuries it became a Christian Church and an Ottoman Mosque. In 1687 it was used to store ammunitions, which were ignited during an attack. The resulting explosion destroyed much of the building and many of its sculptures. In 1806, the 7th Earl of Elgin removed some of the remaining sculptures, which came to be known as the Elgin or Parthenon Marbles, now available for viewing at the British Museum in London.Parthenon. Cast in rich, patinated bronze and set on a painted wood plinth, a sleek piece of heavy glass creates the table surface. Our Parthenon Table gives even a very modern room an injection of architectural antiquity.

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Photo: Loyal Sewall

The western world isn't the only place where a passion for beautiful architecture in miniature is admired. The Taj Mahal has been endlessly and beautifully reproduced in carved ivory for tourists for centuries. The piece above, however is not a copy of that splendid monument, but perhaps was inspired by it. The elegant columns and Indian dome protect an ancient head while blossoms in simple glass cups create a spring-like garden on the floor of the piece.

Such models give us a glimpse of architecture that we could only otherwise see if we were the fifty-foot woman. These Lilliputian structures are historically interesting, visually delightful and add a great architectural interest to the rooms lucky enough to hold them.

Room to Grow

What is it about spring that makes our hearts fill with hope? Is it that tender green tendril that breaks through the snow? Maybe it is the tiny blossoms that cover previously bare branches, or baby birds safely ensconced in down-lined nests. Whatever it is, spring is about all these little growing things — it is a macro season with a micro point of view.

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Photo: Matthew White

Children are like spring — they are in the beginning of their lives, and like soft, new blossoms need encouragement and protection. Whenever we are called upon to design a room for a fortunate child, we try to capture that feeling of unscathed optimism. In this little girl's room, we designed a fantasy bed worthy of the fairy-queen Tatiana in the spring before her midsummer night's dream.

With soft tones of lilac, pale green and crisp white, the room feels like spring itself. We hand-painted the walls in a subtle, random pattern of scrolling vines and created a folding screen that functions as an enormous bulletin board — a place for drawings and youthful mementos.

Spring is the ideal time to bring a little beauty into your little-one's life. But perhaps bringing comfort to a child that has very little could come first. Here are some children's organizations that we love. Young & Healthy provides uninsured and under-insured children with free healthcare in the Pasadena area. New Yorkers for Children gives a leg-up to foster children through mentoring, tutoring programs and networking opportunities. Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club offers health, education and recreation to disadvantaged youth in the greater New York area.

Winter is over; celebrate spring by creating beauty and by helping a child in need.

Object Lesson — Displaying Small Items for Big Impact

Accessories, or in the antiques trade, “smalls” have always presented an interesting challenge for those interested in design and the decorative arts. Should one aspire to have pristine tables for a minimal look or an assortment of pieces that delight the eye and spark conversation? What objects are the most collectable and how are they best displayed? Thankfully there's no one answer, as it all depends on personal passions and the desired effect.

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Photo: David Phelps

In general, we hate (yes, hate) pointless clutter. If one is overtaken by framed photographs, one should get albums. If friends notice one piece of Waterford on your table, watch out, you may soon find yourself bombarded by similar pieces as gifts. Soon you will have a house that resembles the gift display at a department store … pointless clutter.

Instead, we prefer objects that have at least two of the following attributes: 1) personal meaning, 2) undeniable beauty or interest, 3) historic or collectable value. Note: Beany Babies, in spite of the questionable collectability factor, are not up for discussion! How to show one's edited treasures is another question. Here is how we've done it in a few of our past projects.

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Photo: Fred Licht

On an 18th century commode in this foyer (above), we placed a 17th century Italian sculpture next to an EmpireThe Empire style is one of strict neoclassicism from the early 19th century. It is generally linked to Napoleon who became Emperor of France in 1804, but the style extended far beyond France into Northern Europe and even America. Its prime influence was the style of Imperial Rome., gilt-bronze basket. In the mix stands a crystal vase overflowing with yellow tulips. This is clearly a very traditional grouping, but the key is the variety of materials and shapes. This elegant ensemble creates a pleasing, first impression and welcomes all who enter.

Not all beautiful objects need to be precious or expensive. On one of the tables from our Clearly Classic Collection, we placed an inexpensive, (but very chic) Japanese sake set and combined it with a small bowl of grapes (above). This simple tabletop pleases the eye, the taste buds and the pocket book.

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Photo: Steven Nilsson

Most people have specific ideas on what the word “accessory” means, but they shouldn't be so quick to ignore other options. Surprising “found” objects inject energy into a room that even the most stunning antique often cannot. Here is a collection of vintage Japanese doll heads that we found at a flea market and clustered together on a table. Their spirited expressions and soulful eyes are delightful and surprising. Found objects, not originally intended to grace a tabletop, can be just the ticket for sparking up a room.

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Photo: Art Gray

Rather than static design statements, tabletops should be viable surfaces for everyday use. The secret to making them attractive is to pair necessities with decorative objects to create appealing arrangements. For an afternoon tea, we placed this witty and chic tea set from 1930's Austria on a sleek, modern coffee table. To add height, color and depth, we paired it with a tall, dramatic blossom and a pair of early-20th century sculptures. When the party was over, the tea set went into hiding, and the stage was cleared for a whole new round of possibilities.

Finding interesting objects can be a wonderful pastime whether the search takes place at tag sales or a Christie's auction. Experiment and combine pieces so they compliment or contrast in size, shape, color and texture. Tabletops are the perfect playground to express your interests and design savvy — and your mood at the moment.



The WoW Factor by White Webb

Instead of just a fad, going “green” is truly becoming a family affair. When learning how small changes can make big differences, why not get the little ones involved as well?

For the Birds
Every kid loves a penguin, especially since the heartwarming film, March of the Penguins. Real life in the Antarctic, however, is a lot more challenging given the expanding impact of climate change. Why not engage your kid's love for the animal and do something good for the planet by adopting one in your child's name? Check out changingthepresent.org.

Paint it Green
If your kids gets more paint on themselves than the canvas, it oughta be green. To protect your little ones from harmful toxins, try the natural vegetable paints and beeswax crayons from Zia & Tia. Who knows? Maybe great heart will lead to great art.

A Spoonful of Sugar
Learning can be really fun when it's in the guise of a video game. Keep them interested and teach them how to save the earth with this innovative video game from Monkeybyte.

Is a Light Bulb Going On?
By now you'd need to have your head in the sand not to know that changing your light bulbs to compact fluorescents will use less energy and reduce greenhouse gases. But have you done anything about it? Why not get the kids involved and have them help with the changeover. It's a great opportunity to teach them about being less wasteful in general. After all, an empty room with the lights on shows only that no one is home.



Happy Spring from White Webb!




Acknowledgements:
We want to thank our clients for their generosity in allowing us to show their projects. Each one represents a wonderful experience for us. Thank you!

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