Toys From the Pleasure Chest We're in the final stretch gettting ready for the Cherokee Recording Studios LEED Platinum Lofts Showcase for Habitat For Humanity. Our loft is designed for the Rock Shock King and Brook's personal friend, Alice Cooper. In any showcase , it's all about reaching out to the community for donations to make the event a success, and no rock and roll show would be complete without a few sex toys. So we headed over to the Pleasure Chest for some props. Check out what you can get for $5,800. They even donated a spanker for the party, so if you've been naughty, make sure to come get yours! I like the sparkly ones! Brook the Gimp A whole lot of spanking going on... The next stop was Retropia for some chic vintage finds. Our newest interns Rob and Sara, always ready for the call, kept their eyes sharp and found a few pieces that will make Alice Cooper proud! Introducing Sara (left) and Rob (center) Alice likes em' dead If you're ready to party the Thursday before Halloween, put on your best outfit , come walk the red carpet at Cherokee Studios and see the greenest lofts in LA.
Yesterday I attended part three, Living Green :Sustaining Business with Sustainable Design Practices, of the California Mart's Designer's Forum 2009 Series. The lecture included panelist: David Hertz, Mariel Hemingway, Nathan Turner and was moderated by California Homes' Susan McFadden. The audience was packed with many of the old guard at ASID, eager to learn more about green design. David Hertz, who I've lectured with at my Alma Matter, the UCLA Interior Design Program, gave a riveting power point presentation and ending with a preview of the Wing House he has been working on for the last three years. I'm pretty certain this house will be remembered in history with the same relevance as the Glass House or Falling Water, only sustainable. Then it was Mariel Hemingway's way turn. Now I understand the draw of star power, and to be fair she has written some books on healthy living, but what that had to do with the business of sustainable design practices eluded me. These old guard designers left the CEU presentation thinking that, "slow down and eat right" was relevant information to their bottom line. Also speaking was Nathan Turner, an elegant retailer and designer with impeccable taste who runs a gorgeous little antique shop in West Hollywood. He did work on Entourage's Adrien Grenier's ultra green home. What bothered me about this presentation was that two of the most successful green designers in the business were sitting in the audience, Rachel Winokur of Etta Designs and me. California Homes must not have been paying attention to the design firm they named Best Green Designer, my firm, when they made decisions for the panel. Green design is a serious matter as the planet and people become sicker, resources shrink and energy costs rise. Educating designers and clients with applicable information would be a good start to help form real solutions. Wake up editors! A gracious thank you to Palecek, one of my favorite green retailers, for the following reception.
Badly needing a break from the book writing, I headed over to the festivities at the PDC for some inspiration. I'm currently on the "Living Rooms" Chapter which focuses on maximizing use of space, especially precious outdoor square footage. Luxe Magazine's gorgeous, garden party in the lower level lobby featuring stunning vignettes from all our favorite outdoor vendors couldn't have come at a better time. The wine was delicious and the steel drum band was a breath of fresh air conditioned air from the 102 degree fall weather outside. Michael Wollaeger, the new Luxe Editor at Large, never disappoints. Christian Liaigre at Holly Hunt Richard Frinier at Century Corbin Bronze at Sutherland Janus Et Cie Chinoserie at Robert Allen Janus Et Cie Richard Schultz at Summit In a town where we are literally running out of water, it was great to see Synlawnand Astro Chic make a green statement. I've noticed about five of these synthetic lawns on my nightly strolls, along with a lot of gravel and succulents. I'd like to say it's concern for the environment, but it looks like the water bills finally converted a few folks to the sustainable side. Synlawn at Fall Market Astro Chic Pillows, Ottoman and Lawn The first floor gave us a sneak peak of what was to come on the second floor open house. I especially loved these three sculptures made of everything green including cleaners of the kitchen sink. Cleaning Up at Fall Market Worm Hole by Lynn Aldrich A More Combustible Smoke by Greg MacLaughlin Broken Sofa by Jeremy Everett DJs were spinning and one piece was more interesting than the next throughout the second floor galleries. Green Wall at Pucci Love this Chandelier How much is that Horsey in the window?-Twentieth So sad....... mine is even better. Art by a USC Graduate? By this time the world's most stylish builder, Mr. So Cal Contractor, and Junior Designer Elle started getting a little sleepy...... but woke up for a bit more fun in the best installation of the night. Little Miss Elle obviously shares her Designer Mommy's love for graffiti art! Bravo to the PDC for another Fall Market success. Take that recession!
Form Magazine and Valcucine invited the who's who of interior design to their LA showroom this week to unveil the world's first 100%recyclable kitchen cabinet system, Invitrum. Of course the Dennis Design Group and Jr. Designer, Baby Elle, were in attendance. As always, we were surrounded by glamour: the cabinets, the people, the food, the fashion displays. I'd have to say it was one of the better events this year. Go showroom manager Reba! More about the cabinets- not only do they exude the sexy, sleek styling, which could only be Italian, but the contents are totally lacking in emissions. The Invitrum by Valcucine features recycled aluminum, sustainable wood, water based finishes, mechanical joints (so no glue is needed) and practically scratch proof, tempered glass. The cabinet fronts are half the thickness of normal systems which reduces the weight by 50% and extends the life of hinges, joints and the overall kitchen. When the time comes to recycle the components, they are labeled for an easy dismantle.
Last week my husband, daughter and I returned from a trip around the world to show the 6 month old baby off to her relatives throughout the globe. One of our stops was New York City where we visited with my side of the family. I had been reading about the Highlinerenovation in New York for about a year and to my delight we hit the opening at the perfect time. It was a Monday afternoon on July 5th . I don't know if I've ever seen a better summer day in the city, perfect temperature, clear skies with an occasional puffy white cloud floating by us. We started our journey on 12th Street between 10 and 11th Avenue in the meat packing district where the old railway, now converted into an elevated city park, begins. It's the lower Manhattan's answer to Central Park. But it has a few things Central Park is lacking: a clear view to the Hudson, no street traffic and a vantage point to city rooftops you would never imagine existed. On our walk there my husband commented, "Wow, they still sell meat here." It is a perfect example of urban civility when you see a Hugo Boss Boutique, next to quaint outdoor patio dining of a tasty bistro, with the Quality Meat warehouse in full view complete with blue collar guys loading sides of beef into cold trucks. In the mix is a sky scraping, modern condo sitting atop the Highline Park. The scene is sublime and even these great pictures can't tell the story... you have got to go to the city and check it out for yourself. See what I mean.
I admit it. I love fast food, especially the roach coach carne asada. Cheap, fast and yummy are high on my list when it comes to jam packed days. Having a four month old has made finding time to eat an even bigger challenge. Grabbing a quick bite at the Jack in the Box was a savior many times. Then I had to go and watch King Corn, the documentary about the way America grows engineered corn, feeds it to cows and manufacturers corn syrup which winds up in almost every food you find on a supermarket shelf. In addition to being inhumane to pen cows up their entire lives to fatten them up quicker, it's unsanitary (they pump them full of anitbiotics) and unhealthy for the cows to have a corn diet. You can only imagine how horrible it is for us to eat the meat. I remember 20 years ago when I was in Jamaica and asked a native why their cows looked anorexic. He replied," our cows are normal, your's are bloated with filler and chemicals." I didn't really understand what he meant for a few years, but I never forgot what I saw. Since this is a green blog we can't leave out the fact about how much methane those millions of penned up cows produce and how it affects global warming. For many years I've crossed chicken which is not free range off of my list of edibles. Now, it's beef (unless it's free range and grass fed). My husband, the burger lover, doesn't know what to do with me anymore. "WHAT? No more Carl's Six Dollar Burgers? No more Mini Sirloin Burgers?" I just can't eat them anymore knowing what I know. But I have no idea why Jack in the Box hasn't partnered with Whole Foods and developed a cheap, fast and green solution for us? Maybe it would be a few dollars more for free range, grass fed beef, organic buns, cheese and potatoes and soda with actual sugar in it, but I think there's a market. I became convinced of this when I was at the Pasadena Green Fair and saw a GREEN roach coach. All food on the green roach coach is organic and grown locally. The cups and plates are biodegradable, but they encourage you to bring your refillable cups and give discounts for doing so. Napkins are made of recycled paper. The truck runs on used, vegetable oil. I love the fact that they listed all the good stuff right by the organic menu, so you know why it's green and why it's good for you. In case you can't read it, the truck can be reached at www.greentruckonthego.com. It's brilliant. If there was one on every few blocks and they were open 24 hours, my problems would be solved. Until then, if you know someone who wants to open a drive thru, fast food, green burger joint, I'll give them half off on the design fee!
Every year the PDC opens their doors for a fabulous three day party called Westweek. Showrooms host glamourous parties with entertaining lectures and tasty treats. This year I was delighted to see so much attention being to sustainable products and practices. The libation station hosted by Liebherr served up a refreshing organic fruit drink. When they handed me the styrofoam cup and offered me a plastic cap and straw, I proudly declined and said, "caps and straws are not great for the environment". I was so happy to hear the reply, "but these are 100% percent biodegradable and made of corn, even the cup breaks down". I had just been rereading Cradle to Cradle the day before and this was one of the solutions they offered. Talk about syncronicity. The PDC was the last place I expected to practice cradle to cradle theory. Go Liebherr. As I was sipping my delicious libation, I headed through the Green Building lobby and saw fashion and furniture collide in the Barbie/Student Designer exhibit. Cisco, one of my favorite sustainable vendors, provided this adorable campaign inspired seat. Barbie can fold it up into a suitcase and hit the road in her hybrid. My daughter Elle and niece, now 2 1/2 and three months old, made their first appearances at Westweek this year. Elle was much more impressed by the bagpipes at Edelman Leather than the Barbie exhibit. I always imagined she'd be a singer, so this was encouraging. Her smoking hot daddy carried her around in the Baby Bjorn. You can imagine all the attention he got! Stylemaker Thomas Lavin embraced green design with open arms. He's included an entire line of sustainable fabrics, Creation Bauman and featured Chista's gorgeous tables at Westweek this year. And as always, Thomas had the hippest flowers arrangements. They reminded me of something I'd see in the Jetson's living room. Brook Casey really loved them because they actually looked like his work. The show stopper was at Moura Starr, a wholly sustainable showroom which just relocated to the PDC after 14 years on Melrose. I can only imagine how they got this table into the showroom, it's enormous. The table is made from a fallen tree which was nearly impossible to win at auction and fabricate. You only have to look at it to know it was well worth the effort. I had admired Moura Starr's furniture for years without knowing about their committment to sustainability. Westweek was a hit and I now have another green showroom in my arsenal!
Southern Accents/ASID awarded us the best GREEN DESIGNER in the nation. The January/February 2009 issue is on newsstands now. And then California Homes/ASID awarded us the best GREEN DESIGN in California. What a year it's been!
Most often when people think of eco-friendly products, they think about what a certain product is made of. This is one of the elements, but there are many more. A product that is manufactured locally, and contains 75% eco-friendly materials should be considered more “green” than an item of the same size containing 100% eco-friendly materials that is shipped from China fully assembled. According to treehugger.com , a green product is one “that is both environmentally and socially responsible.” Here are some criteria they give to determine an items’ “green-ness”: Demonstrate care for the people who make, supply and use the product Demonstrate care for the ecological community in manufacturing Use materials which are reused, recycled, renewable or organic Products that address the use of energy in their production.Could the energy saved by their use be greater than the energy it took to create the item? Serve a useful purpose Use materials that can be recycled or are biodegradable. I’m seeing more and more businesses implement or continue the green practices that make products more appealing to those that care about the environment. Our firm loves Ikea. The fact that Ikea flat-packs their furniture means that costs are reduced because more of that item can be shipped to the store at one time. Also, consumers are able to order most items online. This means than rather than making a trip to the physical store, the items can be shipped directly to the home from the place of manufacture.If you do have to make a trip, the flat-pack concept allows a few rooms of furniture to fit inside your back seat! One trip! In other news, Wal-Mart is attempting some of its own packaging improvements. They have reshaped their milk cartons to be taller and rectangular-shaped for greater efficiency in shipping, which keeps consumer costs down about 20 cents a gallon. The new shape allows cartons to be stacked on top of one another, rather than packaged with lots of material separating rows of cartons. While some consumers love the new body shape, some are not so amused. Jo from Ohio said, “It is an utterly stupid design. You can’t use a paper towel, water and wipe it up every time you pour milk. They would need to give away a mini roll of paper towels or wet wipes to wipe up the old stinking milk on counters, coffer cups, bowls.... How green is the new design if we are wasting paper towels and running water after every use?” Hmmm, something to think about. A nice attempt though, I think.
Dennis Design Group wishes you and yours the best the New Year has to offer! Thanks for making our firm such a success in 2008 and we look forward to working together in 2009.
I’ve driven by the Santa Monica Civic Center about a million times on the way to our design studio. This weekend, walking around while waiting for my car to be serviced, I got a closer look at what is arguably the hardest to miss piece of architecture this side of the 405. It will be the country’s first LEED-certified parking structure, a rating based on a green point system given by the US Green Building Council. You’ve never parked so eco-friendly until now, even in a Prius. If you’re wondering what could make a parking structure “green”, read on. For one, the structure’s roof is clad with Photovoltaic (solar) panels to generate electricity. These panels, in turn, provide shade for the vehicles parked beneath, reducing the amount of air conditioning a driver might use when they leave for their next destination. The steel used to build the structure is made of 68% recycled material. Electrical charging outlets are provided in 14 of the spaces for electric vehicles. The list goes on…. The only thing that could make this structure greener is to require locals to ride their bikes rather than drive to the Civic Center! In fact, the facility actually provides “mini garages” for bicycles to encourage a fuel-free ride to the center.
I’m often haunted by the images you see of tower-like piles of water bottles, soda cans etc. Sometimes it seems like it’s not enough if you were to do without. I still feel bad every time I’m forced to buy bottled water because of the circumstance, even if I’m the only one watching. The other alternative is the infamous Nalgene-eque water bottles which are often made out of Polycarbonate. This material contains Bisphenol-A (BPA’s), which research links to reproductive and developmental damage and several types of cancers. Even worse, ¼ of all bottled water is shipped internationally before it is sold, NOT GREEN! So where can a girl get a drink on the run? All these years I thought I was being good running around with my dishwasher-safe Nalgene…... Last weekend my husband and I were taking a yoga class at our neighborhood studio, Yoga Works. As we were waiting for our class to start, we noticed these statement-making water bottles by Sigg being sold right there in the studio store. Made out of aluminum, these water bottles let you sip in style while living light on the earth. They come with a $25 price tag, but think of it this way: the same price tag gets you 4 packs of plastic bottled water, which might last for about 3-4 months. American’s are still horrified of “tap water.” Though yearly studies show that the water in LA is more than drinkable and being responsibly treated for our health (this process is strenuously monitored), people still have tap-anxiety. Grab a filter, they don’t cost much but can do a lot to alleviate anxiety at the tap. The design is fun (other styles are available), they last forever, and I can refill it almost anywhere. I took mine with me to a client meeting today, and needless to say it wasn’t the Gucci sunglasses they were asking about.
The only thing better than the original Phillipe Starck Louis Ghost Chair was the introduction of its much more petite version, the Lou Lou Chair. Available in Kartell retail stores the Summer of 2008, the release party for the Mini Ghost Chair drew quite a crowd at the showroom on Robertson Blvd in Beverly Hills. Our gang had a great time. (from left: Galina, Brook, Lori and Jessica). The party was awesome and the showroom was filled to the brim with curious (and thirsty) Angelenos. Some even brought their kids, and it was quite fun to see them squeal as they tried the miniature chairs on for size. Philippe Starck, who never fails to thrill us with his elegant yet simple-minded furniture, has done it again. His furniture, known to be of “indestructible” quality, will last for many many years without having to be replaced (which expends new resources and puts old ones into our already-overflowing landfills). Available in a variety of colors like green, lilac and glossy black, these new chairs are a true crowd-pleaser.
I was excited to read about LA’s latest landscaping partnership.LADWP (LA Department of Water and Power) and Million Trees LA are teaming up this month in an effort to get more water-wise trees into our Angeleno soil.Million Trees LA will donate up to 7 free trees (delivered right to your door) to residents willing to plant the trees themselves.A free online tutorial is available, and it takes less than 30 minutes to learn how. There are 30 varieties of LA climate-friendly plants and trees to choose from, take your pick.This includes the beautiful Pink Trumpet tree, seen above.The trees, planted thoughtfully, will shade a home and result in lower energy and cooling bills and less use of water.Don’t forget the joy of watching the beauties leaves change colors this fall.Not sure yet?Here are some cool facts about just how much you can benefit by planting: -AC use and associated costs reduced up to 20% -Shade outside AC units, helping them to operate 10-15% more efficiently -Create barriers to the wind to keep winter heating costs down -Act as a sponge by removing the carbon from CO2 (a greenhouse gas) -Providing shade to the lawn, whichin turn will require less watering -Increase property values by 5-20% (compared to non-landscaped homes) -Add color and character to our community (not to mention the free fruit if you choose a species of fruit tree!) Though our city is already very abundant with foliage, it never hurts to plant more, especially if it will selfishly lower a personal bill and make the façade more attractive. This sounds like a fun Sunday afternoon project to me!Shovel not included. http://www.milliontreesla.org http://www.ladwp.com/ladwp/cms/ladwp009614.pdf
This past Sunday I had fun, fun, fun at DIFFA's Dining by Design Table Hop & Taste at the LA Mart . Designer's and Sponsors get together, decorate tables and serve up yummy food to raise money for AIDS. About 15 of LA's top eateries like Wilshire, Vanilla Bake Shop and Crustacean served up tasty treats while the glamourous crowd checked out the amazing table designs. Benjamin Moore delighted with a colorful table decorated with the most interesting use of paint chips I've ever seen. The added bonus, was the use of discountinued color chips- reuse at it's most inventive. My favorite dinner setting was this horse dominated table. Imagine the fun you could have at this soiree. I also liked the fact that the center piece is a living plant, so you don't have to continuosly replace the center piece with fresh cut flowers. You could also plant parsley to pluck after dinner for fresh breath. New kid on the block, Preston Lee's table made me smile when I saw two paintings by artist Robert Ivers which were made for us a few months back. Unfortunately they were too tall for our space and consequently we couldn't use them. It was so nice to see Preston take these babies to an entirely new height! My favorite breakfast spot was this Swedish inspired setting by Bliss which proves you just can't take the girly out of this girl. There wasn't anything particularly green about it, I just thought it was very pretty. Lexus and Kelly Laplante were responsible for this tacky mess of a table. The greenest of all, with chairs from Craigslist, table top covered in Innovations Environments, a horrible, tiny mirror- lost on the wall, organic "crafty" wall paper and a pathetic excuse for floral arrangements (water badly in need of a change), I couldn't have been more disappointed. With every other table in the place making a grand, gorgeous statement, this one put our "green can be glamourous" campaign at the back of the line. All in all the event was huge success which raised money for a great cause! I'm glad I went.
Wind power just went glam, thanks to Starcks’ ingenuity and eye for design. These so called windmills are part of "Democratic Ecology", a line that Starck is developing with the Italian Industrial group Pramac. It’s part of what we love so much about his designs - the marriage of beauty, function and responsibility. “Ecology is not just an urgency of the economy and protection of our world but also creativity and elegance” – Philippe Starck. Made from the same transparent material used in the very familiar Louis Ghost Chair, these clever contraptions are able to generate 20—60% of a home’s energy needs. In addition to looking like a piece of Gucci jewelry, they are relatively inexpensive (about $630 US dollars). With the cost of energy (and everything) on the rise and on the loose, people are more willing than ever to make “good investments” that cost a little bit now and save a lot later. They should be available for purchase in the US early next year. Something to think about then next time you get that letter on the pretty yellow stationary from Mr. Edison. Keep an eye out for the solar panels and the Prefab Green House that are both under prototype now to be released after the Wind Turbines.
Everyone seems to be catching on to the green trend in techniques and materials for buildings and homes. Something people rarely think about is the way they clean these spaces. It doesn't matter how much effort goes into the design and execution of your project if you don't maintain the property in a green way. Think about this the next time you clean your windows with a toxic product or wash your whites with bleach. The amount of toxins that go into your space is alarming. What we've been taught to think of as a " fresh, clean" smell is actually pretty bad for our bodies and the environment. This hit home on my recent trip to a friend's newly constructed condo. We walked in the door and the new paint fumes (off gassing) hit me like a truck. I told her she needed to open the windows for at least a week before bringing her 2 1/2 week old infant to live in the space. She looked at me like I was crazy and said, "but I love the smell". Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day are my favorite cleaning products. With smells like lavender, basil and geranium, cleaning is as fragrant as cooking a meal. I scout Ross and Marshall's for Mrs. Meyer's on sale because it's not cheap. I also came across greenhome.com for great deals on healthy, earth friendly cleaners. Just be careful, buying a bunch of stuff isn't very green and this site is full of goodies!
So now that you've changed out all your incandescent bulbs for flourescent, get ready for LED lightbulbs which have hit a home run in light quality and savings. Flourescents seemed to be the answer to our energy and environmental concerns. The price is right, I've seen them on the shelf recently for 99 cents a piece, and they're easy enough to screw into existing lamps. The big problem is the small amount of mercury, a neurotoxin which is especially dangerous for children and fetuses. We haven't come up with an effective way to recycle them. "The problem with the bulbs is that they'll before they get to the landfill. They'll break in a home or containers, or they'll break in a dumpster or they'll break in the trucks. Workers may be exposed to very high levels of mercury when that happens," says John Skinner, executive director of the Solid Waste Association of North America, the trade group for the people who handle trash and recycling. Skinner says when bulbs break near homes, they can contaminate soil. Are LED bulbs the answer? The new solid state designs will be twice as efficient as the touted flourescent bulbs and ten times as efficient as incandescent bulbs. To put it in perspective, current models can deliver 12 hours of light per day over an entire year for only 80 cents. They last ten years and NO MERCURY problem. Over the bulb's lifetime they should provide a consumer $370 savings (per bulb) in energy costs. One additional benefit of LED lighting is color. Solid state lights can produce a richer more full color than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. This can not only help with visibility, but has been shown to psychologically improve mood among many. I'm all for better moods! This fall the Department of Energy (DOE) will begin certifying LED designs with its Energy Star certification. Maybe the coolest thing (to me) about LEDs is that LED are my initials!!!
Check out this little video of some of the Dennis Design Group and our antics in the last few days. Fun fun fun!
When I tell people that I'm an interior designer the first thing they usually say is, "Oh how fun! You must really love your job. It's so glamorous." I often reply that the beginning and the end of a project are what I love and everything in the middle is like solving the Rubix Cube puzzle! One of the greatest things about being a successful designer is being invited to the parties. This is the time to dress up and behavior like a socialite. Fortunately the spirit of these parties in the last few months has been one of generosity. As we drink the finest champagne and preview world class art, accessories and furniture we guests are expected to give to others. Enjoy the photos and remember being green is all about sustainable products as well as behavior and generosity of spirit. Will and Grace star Eric McCormack and his lovely wife Janet with Glabman Home and Los Angeles Magazine host a silent auction for Project Angel Food. At Hastens the mattresses cost $50,000 but they are as eco friendly and comfortable as they come! Jean De Merry, Elle Decor and Veuve Clicquot hosted a wonderful party with the very best hors d' oevres by Michelle & Co. His La Cienega store has some of the most beautiful things I've ever seen including a series of acid etched glass panels from a 19th Castle in Belgium adoring the entry. Good design that lasts is inherently green and using something a few hundred years old in your interior is about as green as it gets. Toto unveils their Neorest green toilet at their Robertson Store. Barclay Butera and Elle Decor host an event benefiting Children's Action Network. Barclay and the guest raised over $30,000 on this night for the charity. So there you are, have fun and be green!
Lori Dennis is a top Interior Designer, speaker, best selling author, star of HGTV’s The Real Designing Women and co-founder of Design Campus.