Notes Inspirations Flowers, Lewis Miller Design
441 East 12th St, NYC, +1 212-614-2734

Class Act

I had the pleasure of teaching again at the Flower School New York a week or so ago. This time we created lush, layered arrangements using bold foliages such as horsetail reeds, black-berried hadera, horizontal umbrella fern and spiral rosettes of galex leaves. These graphic clumps of greenery were softened with the most beautiful locally grown lavender and purple anemones, chartreuse green ranunculus and the best of all – delicate checkerboard Fritillaria meleagris.

The resulting arrangements were a style that I am fond of – at once structured and graphic, yet soft and overgrown. It strikes a refreshing balance between the loose and tumbling style so popular right now and it’s very rigid and manipulated counterpart.

If you live in the New York area or are visiting from out of town, check out the Flower School. It’s a great way to jump in, get you hands dirty, learn from great floral designers and create with the most beautiful flowers that are usually not found at a store near you.

 The Flower School New York

www.flowerschoolny.com

(212) 661-8074

The Jet’s Set

The design of a Bar or Bat Mitzvah requires the same attention to detail and precision as a wedding or any other major life event however, the process of arriving to that final ah ha moment is a heck of a lot more fun!  Even more so when working with the State of the Art team.

You might be tempted to say that sports is not generally the forte’ of an event designer and you’d be right!  However, in this case thankfully, no one is asking us to dribble a basketball or explain the intricacies of baseball.  What we’re asked to do instead is to create an explosive visual interpretation of the theme; in this particular case it was football.  Unlike the expert fan who might notice a sweet passing play we see the patterns on the field, the stripes on a referee’s t-shirt, the colors of the flags, the way the thousands of spectators create one giant painting of color and shape against a blue cloudy sky.  It’s these observations that help to bring the vision to fruition.

And this time we went literal…with a vintage twist.  From the squares of raw grass holding friendly little sports gnomes to the repetition of stripes on the table linens, pillows and again in larger than life format on our incredible custom designed dance floor to the sports signage on tailored made chalkboards to the hand painted bars and beyond.

We’ll let the photos do the talking for us…

Special thank you to Arthur Backal and Leslie Mastin of State of the Art Enterprises, www.stateoftheartnyc.com

 

 

Tutto Per Se

The changing season had not yet shown its true color and as we peered out from the forth floor of the Time Warner Center, Central Park appeared green and bright despite the date.  Nonetheless this late October wedding was warm, intimate and decidedly fall.

The venue is a well-established New York City restaurant (with its own look) where food and presentation take precedence over all else.  How to transform an already decorated space into something fresh and chic and more importantly how to bring a specific vision to life, was the number one question of the day?

The Answer: a soft infusion of metallic glazed linens, mirrored surfaces, fragrant blooms, seasonal foliage, candles and a color palette of golds, creams, bronzes and emeralds.  The result was an Art Deco inspired look; understated and elegant.

 

Pierre Bleu

The celebrated Pierre Hotel in our very own New York City, restored to showcase its classic bones and at the same time revamped to incorporate a slightly more modern perspective, was the supreme backdrop for rich, romantic, sophisticated, timeless décor.

This wedding had a European feeling, still life inspired and formal, where layers and contrasts played a crucial part in the construction of the décor.  We’re not talking only literal layers of fabric but also layers of light and of color and of texture.  The ceremony space, evocative of a secret garden had its moments of composed, quiet beauty and others of more unkempt wild growth; creamy roses closely gathered together, fall foliage extending its reach beyond the confines of the room.  The dining room showcased long glowing landscapes of tumbling jasmine and pewter bowls filled with fruit, iron urns massed with autumnal blooms.  French ultramarine linen tablecloths box pleated with bright cobalt and Indian block print napkins with varying motifs added an unexpected, fun element.  This was after all, a celebration of a young couples love.


Orange Crush

 

What a whirlwind of a summer. We ended it on a good note before plunging directly into the madness of the fall wedding season by designing a Labor Day party in East Hampton.

The design concept of this event was to feel like a “Pop Up Party” so to speak: simple, bold, graphic and modern – extending the house and surrounding landscape with a giant open-walled, clear span tent. To further integrate the house with the tent, I suggested we extend the patio with temporary decking which we then painted in wide gray and white stripes. You know how I love stripes, so this of course made me very happy, and was quite chic in contrast to our color palette of oranges and whites.

Handwritten projections and graffiti instructed guests to EAT! DRINK! and DANCE! Hand-painted bars in white orange and white stripes, giant tissue paper flowers and umbrellas, and several cans of spray paint later the interior of the house was thoroughly violated. That was fun!

Special thanks to the wonderful team who pulled off this party:  Leslie Mastin and Julie Manheimer from State of the Art (event planning), Igor from Allen Party Rental (tent, decking and dance floor) Peter Callahan Catering, Ira from Levy Lighting and DJ David Chang.

 

Raising the Bar

There are a lot of different types of parties. There are the weddings and  the corporate summits,  fashion shows and after-parties,  product launches and the editor’s breakfasts, the publisher’s dinner,  exhibit openings, and those occasions at home.

And then there are the Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, otherwise know as the birthday party us protestant kids could only dream about. And what fun they are! They are a blast to plan and produce – an opportunity to create a sophisticated and fun event that celebrates the child becoming an adult. It’s the best of both worlds.

I’ve done quite a few mitzvahs in my few years as an event designer in New York. As a product from the west coast, I will admit this was not something that I had much exposure to. It didn’t take long after moving to Manhattan to quickly realize that they were commonly regarded as either lavish-over-the-top-verging-on-gauche productions or silly theme parties with football helmets stuffed with wheat grass and surrounded by personalized M&M’s. Neither concept holding any interest to me.

And then my friend Melissa (svelt and sexy mama of triplets and one singlet) came to me to produce the party for her triplets. Melissa led to Margot, led to Sheryl, led to Amy back to Margot… so on and so forth. These are a kicking group of upper east side women who like to have fun, have amazing taste and don’t take things too seriously. We get along just fine.

The point is,  apparently there is a market for the sophisticated mitzvah. And apparently when they say “…something different” they don’t necessarily mean “avante garde”, “jazzy” or “thinking outside the box”. I don’t need to say “all terms which I hate” because that’s obvious, right? They want it to be beautiful and chic without pretense. They want it to be festive, creative and well styled without ostentation and silliness.

Obvious or subversive, every party has a theme. I prefer subversive. “Under The Sea” in the whale room at the Museum of Natural History simply means that if you have a 30′ wale overhead, you might as well work with it. For me, this translates to Atlantic blue cloths and mirrored covered tables with all organic material specifically chosen for its form and vague resembelance to something that might sprout from the ocean floor. “Urban and Organic” takes inspiration from city developments and their symbiotic relationship of architecture, nature and public art. And “Girly and Happy” in Central Park matures into  Lewis Carolle meets Lauduree.

While these are events that celebrate the birthday of a 13-year-old, in my humble opinion it is best to regard them as young adults instead of kids. These guys act in the manner that is expected of them. When a party is planned that allows them to have fun but also act like a grown-up, they rise to the occasion. Push them off to the side, stuff them full of cheap candy and give them dumb decor, well, what do you expect?

We have several good ones coming up this fall – “Tree of Life” at the Four Seasons Restaurant (I can’t even begin to describe this one) and “Andrew’s Sport’s Bar” at Guastavino’s. Think Bruce Weber images – vintage inspired benches and lockers – canvas slipcovered lounges, hunter green varsity letters, vintage loving cups and trophies…maybe a Golden Retriever…

A Bat Mitzvah at Tribeca Rooftop.The ceiling was tented with yards and yards of fabric and ribbons. Lush pink peony and carnation centerpieces surrounded by pierced ceramic lanterns and tissue votive cups. Hand painted chair covers reflect the paisley design that was on the invitations and table number signs.

A triplets Mitzvah at the Museum of Natural History. The escort card display played off of the Cabinet of Curiosities theme – especially effective with the dinosaur looming overhead. The dinner space was transformed with long tables and organic material specifically chosen for their resemblance to underwater plant life.

At the Bowery Hotel – the kid loved hockey and the theme was simply ice. Mirror boxes with candles and shattered glass rocks decorated tables and the room was surrounded by huge arrangements of snowy branches that sparkled with thousands of glass beads.


A glamourous party that evoked the spirit of the legendary El Morocco. Zebra linens and chair covers, palm trees and simple arrangements of gorgeous Yves Piaget roses.


At Guastavino’s. The mother was Chinese American so it was important to bring in an Asian undertone to the design. We kept things masculine and rich – with a sharp color scheme of chocolate, brown, rust and shades of burnt umber. Antique Chinese elements were used with more modern table lamps and the flower material was chosen for it’s unusual and textural quality.

 

 

 

Simply Red

The day before Mother’s Day we decorated a party thrown by a couple of siblings for their mom’s 60th. It was a surprise party – and under the cultivation and foresight of Elizabeth K. Allen Events it was an intimate event with posh tendencies.

Occasionally we do these jobs – never meeting the client, with one sentence as direction – and off we go. This time our direction was simply “Her favorite color is red”.

Not to worry. These are the times when we at LMD really love our job. We can be democratic with our aesthetic selections and show that parties can be chic and cheerful – mixing the fancy with the humble. And since the details have not been excruciated ad nauseum (except in house, of course), the project dosen’t lose it’s sense of exuberance or spontenaity.

Hundreds of  yards of wide paper ribbons, ruby crystal rental chandelieres, oversized red helium balloons,  cotton rental linens with crisp white linen runners edged in cerise grosgrain, silk butterflies, votives wrapped in cheerful Italian printed paper and tied with cotton cording, compotes of fresh strawberries and glazed ceramic pots planted with perky red geraniums and quippy cocktail napkins provided by EKA – all contained in the pristine box of an event space know as the Glass Houses.

It was good fun and a perfect example that one can get a fabulous party at any price. Of course under the caveat that the design direction is limited to one sentence and that one has a confident party planner. ;)

 

 

(Not) Too Cool For School

On the evening of March 3rd, I had an enjoyable time teaching my first flower arranging class at Flower School New York. Head mistress Eileen Johnson had invited me a few weeks earlier, and how could I refuse? With a faculty that is a veritable “Who’s-Who” on the New York posy playground – it was an honor to be asked.

In my usual fashion, I showed up and bumbled my way through the class. It was good fun and the students were great sports (apparently they go to ALL the classes – learning tips from the masters:  Olivier Giugni, Michael George, Charles Masson, Matthew Robbins and Meredith Perez) - so it was a bit intimidating.

Thanks to the champagne served at the end of the night, I felt like I did an amazing job. ( Tongue firmly planted in cheek.)

And it’s going to happen again – this time on May 5. My course is titled “The Poetry of Flowers” – based on the works of Charles Baudelaire. Apparently Baudelaire took a dip on the dark side – influenced by the Romantics but ultimately producing a piece called Les Fleurs du mal – in English know as  The Flowers of Evil. Even before our very first meeting, Madame Johnson  had appointed me to this category.  I just flashed a smile and said “That sounds great!” – but thanks to Wickipedia, I now realize that she had aimed that pince-nez right into my very soul.

So with this newfound knowledge – get your pretty from another class, because kids, on May 5th, we’re going dark. And rich. And intoxicating. (And gorgeous.)

 

Flower School New York   www.flowerschoolny.com

Fake It Till You Make It

It has been an long, cold winter here in New York,  but in early March we transformed the Bowery Hotel into a abundant spring garden for the launch of Bulgari’s Mon Jasmine Noir.

The Bowery Hotel is a favorite venue of mine simply for the fact that it is one of the few event spaces in the city that instantly evokes another time, another place. And albeit for some silk palm trees stuck in the corners, it’s well done.

We pushed the illusion a bit further. The party was an introduction of the perfume, with cocktails and dinner, for 80 of Manhattan’s bright young(-esque) things. We turned the space into a Mediterranean garden for one night – making the room more intimate with tall box hedges and lush plants and replacing the offending faux palms  with 15′ tall bowers of blooming camellia. In the cocktail space, several small tables were styled with the various elements so that the guests could experience  a “hands-on” interaction with the perfume notes. Dinner was simply one long crocodile covered Parson’s-style table that was lined up with vine-wrapped gold candelabras, tangles of jasmine blooms, heaps of fresh Meyer lemons and airy ‘Garden Snow’ floribunda roses. In conjunction with the hotel’s tile floors, iron chandeliers and the aforementioned hedging and plantings that we installed, the effect was quite lovely – lush, verdant and abundant – complete with the sounds of birds chirping throughout.

Another time, another place – it certainly wasn’t Manhattan in the slushy early days of March.

SALE AWAY

SPRING CLEANING!

We have unbelievable amounts of STUFF – and it’s time for a big ass sale.  Art books, novels, globes, stone garden urns, Venetian summer andiron, alabaster ganesh, lamps, McCoy pottery, a pair of 1930′s tennis court benches, display cases…and first edition SIGNED copies of “Grace” by Grace Coddington for $500. (By the way, these are also available at Amazon from $1,250.00 to $3,000.00 each UNSIGNED if you prefer the convenience of online.)

AND SO MUCH MORE! THESE PHOTOS ARE JUST THE BEGINNING OF THE ALL THE STUFF WE ARE BRINGING OUT.

Sale starts at 12 NOON, FEBRUARY 14th.

441 East 12th Street between First and Avenue A – the double gray doors – close to Avenue A.

We will be here until a least 6.30 every evening. Call ahead if you need a little more time. (212) 614-2734.

Tell your friends!

Visa, MC and AMEX accepted for all purchases of $50 or more.