Saturday, July 31

Lee Anderson Couture

I am in love with Lee Anderson Couture. In 1980, Lee Anderson established her design business in a townhouse just off Madison Avenue. The Lee Anderson collection was featured at Barney's New York, Bergdorf Goodman and fine specialty stores across the United States. Lee now designs her couture clothing from her new location on 988 Lexington Avenue. If you can't see her Fall 2010 collection in person, then be sure to visit her website.

Monday, July 26

Profile: David Oliver

A few weeks ago I was invited by my friend Elizabeth Blitzer to come to London to meet color guru David Oliver, proprietor of Paper and Paint Library. The occasion was Simon Upton’s photo shoot of David and Veere Grenney’s home for an upcoming issue of Veranda.

David and Veere have long been among my favorite talents. Christened the “Rock Star of Color” by the New York Times, the Australian native is equal parts talent and charm.

David has an amazing understanding of color and a wonderful library of vintage books filled with samples of wallpaper and paint colors from the early 1900s, that we were fortunate enough to browse. Each book, complete with rubbed binding and wear from repeated use, are little gems.

A lover of color, patterns and texture, David makes the process of selecting paint colors sound exceedingly simple and exciting. His paints are now available in the US through Stark Paint, under the label “Colours by David Oliver.” David also penned "Paint and Paper: In Decoration," a gorgeous book with stunning, colourful interiors. It is easy to see why he is the choice of such clients as Chelsea Clinton and Tony Blair.

Thank you to David, Simon and Dara Caponigro for allowing me to snap a few behind the scenes shots of the photo shoot.

What is your favorite luxury in life? 

A box of sharpened lead pencils or a blue fountain pen.

How would you describe your personal style?

Natural, loyal, confident, passionate.

What is your most prized possession? 

My eyesight. 20/20 vision I’m highly visual.

What is your idea of earthly happiness? 

Spring and watching my garden grow—unleashing it’s inner blonde and being summerlicious.

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without? 

My Camera 

What inspires your creativity and designs? 

People, art, cinema, travel, graphics in everyday objects.

Who are your style icons? 

Queen Elizabeth II - Jewelry

Robert Taylor - Architect

Billy Baldwin - Interior designer

Helmut Newton - Photographer

Pedro Almodovar - Film Director

Isabella Rossellini - Actress

Guru Danger - Showgirl

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project? 

The Prince of Wales

What books are currently on your bedside table? 

Prince Felix Youssoupoff—Lost Splendour
Caroline Moorehead—Dancing to the Precipice
Matt Albiani—Lifeguards on Duty

5th July 2010 The Royal Opera House Programme—Simon Boccanegra

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life?

Veere Grenney and my children Edward and Cosmo Oliver.

Interior Photos and Profile by Ronda Carman

Sunday, July 25

Salad on Sunday: Baked Feta and Walnuts

While surfing for a new recipe I came across MediterrAsian - a culinary journey exploring the wonderful and healthy cuisines of the Mediterranean and Asia. I fell in love with this rustic Greek-style salad with baked feta cheese, walnuts, mixed salad leaves, thinly sliced fresh radish and zucchini, tossed with a tangy lemon garlic dressing.

2 teaspoons plus 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 oz (180g) feta cheese, cut into small cubes
2/3 cup raw walnuts
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
6 cups mixed salad
2 radishes, very thinly sliced
1 zucchini, very thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Mix 2 teaspoons of olive oil with the oregano and black pepper in a bowl and toss through the cubed feta cheese to coat well.

Arrange the feta cubes on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Place the walnuts on a separate baking tray and bake for the final 3 minutes of cooking, then roughly chop.

Mix the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and salt in a jar with a lid and shake to combine. In a large bowl, toss with half the dressing with the salad leaves, radish slices and zucchini. Top each salad with baked feta and walnuts. Drizzle salads with the remaining dressing to serve.

Monday, July 19

Profile: Barry Dixon

This past year I had the good fortune to spend several days with the enormously talented Barry Dixon. While I have long been an admirer of his work, I only first meet Barry and his charming partner Michael Schmidt earlier this year. Both men are so gracious and interesting; it’s difficult to not to be smitten. In all honesty, they are two of the most gentlemanly people I have ever met. As fate would have it, Barry and I recently ended up on the same flight to Venice. In fact, I was one seat behind him until they pulled that damn curtain. Once we arrived he offered to share a water taxi. And, being true to style, he refused to let me contribute to the cost.

The son of a metallurgist, he spent his childhood in such places as India, Korea, New Caledonia and South Africa, where he graduated from high school. His design aesthetic is clearly influenced by a lifelong interest in global cultures and a love affair with intriguing objects. His passion and insight has garnered legions of fans (and clients) worldwide; including Diane Sawyer and former Senate majority leader Bill Frist.

Never one to sit still, Barry launched his own furniture line with Tomlinson/Erwin-Lambeth in 2005, his rug collection with Megerian in 2009, and his fabric collection with Vervain debuted at Maison&Objet in Paris in January 2010. His collaboration with Fortuny continues this year with new showrooms and his next book with Gibbs-Smith Publishers hits the bookstores this winter.

If his first book Barry Dixon Interiors published in 2008 (now in its third printing) is any indication of what’s to come, I can’t wait for winter.

How would you describe your personal style?
Hailing from the American South, my earliest influences were warmly traditional with a reverence for the past. I inherited from my Tennessee family an appreciation for things passed down, not just the rarefied but also things that were simply loved, cherished & touched by earlier generations, things with spirits and stories. Growing up we lived all over the world and I fell under the spell of myriad exotic influences. If I have a personal style, it’s some layered pastiche of all these elements, a filtered traditionalism that, in the best instances, emanates warmth and welcome.

What is your most prized possession?
At first blanch, I’d say my health and sanity, though there are those who’d argue that I possess the latter. If one can actually “own” an old house, I’d say Elway Hall, my home in the Virginia countryside. But somehow, as a steward of such an old property, I suspect that it possesses me, much like Ellie, my wire-haired terrier.

What is your idea of earthy happiness?
Knowing that all in my sphere are well, including family, friends and farm animals.

What inspires your creative designs
Nothing is more inspiring than the natural world beyond the window, the father/mother of all artful creation. That, and the rich history of ornament & decoration that is the legacy of generations of gurus and geniuses who inhabit and define the continuum of design.

What is the one thing in life that you cannot live without?
Travel. It educates the mind, sparks the imagination and nourishes the creative soul. I’ve never taken a trip that didn’t affect me in some profound way. I can’t live without travel, or Masterpiece Theatre.

What is your favorite luxury in life
Time, life’s rarest treasure.

Who are your style icons?
Where to start? Van Day Truex, David Hicks, Albert Hadley, Rose Tarlow, Francis Elkins, Renzo Mongiardino, William Morris, Jacques Grange, Billy Haines and Mariano Fortuny… to name a few.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project
Any excited and engaged client who brings something special, something original to the collaboration, whether it’s a quirky collection or a point of view (and who treats my truly wonderful staff well!)

What books are currently on your bedside table?
Redeeming Features—Nicky Haslam’s juicy biography
The Help by Kathryn Stockett—haven’t I known all of these characters intimately in my super-southern half-century?
Harper Lee’s unparalleled To Kill a Mockingbird—always worth a revisit and, of which, a first edition copy remains perpetually at the top of my Christmas wish list.

Past or present who has most influenced the direction of your life
My incredible father, M.E. Dixon, an insightful, Hemingwayesque character whose sage counsel convinced my career-addled collegiate brain to change an ill-fated future in the practice of law to a fated one in design. He thought I would be “good at this,” “happy doing this,” and that it was my “nature.” Aesop could not have said it better and my life has been somewhat of a fable ever after.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Sunday, July 18

Salad on Sunday: Red Quinoa Salad

I am crazy for quinoa (KEEN-wah) and have recently started searching out more recipes using this ‘super’ food. Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It also contains the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair, and is a good source of manganese, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorous.

If you can’t find red quinoa don't worry, white quinoa works too. Mixed with a few vegetables, fresh herbs and a handful of feta cheese on a bed of mesclun, it makes for a perfect summer salad.

2 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup quinoa, red or white, rinsed

3 green onions, chopped
10 sundried tomatoes, reconstituted, thinly sliced
1 English cucumber, diced
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Assorted, young salad leaves (chervil, arugula, lettuce, spinach, endive)

Bring the water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quinoa and cook on medium heat until the quinoa fully cooks and the water cooks off, 15 – 20 minutes. Allow quinoa to cool slightly.

Mix vegetables and thyme in a large bowl and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk in the Balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard, slowly adding in the olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir the quinoa into the vegetables, add the vinaigrette and gently stir in the feta. Serve atop assorted, young salad leaves.

Makes 5 cups

Photo courtesy of Kitchen Parade

Wednesday, July 14

New Website and Blog

Another website and blog to love. Jan Shower’s has completely revamped her website and it’s beautiful. One of the most exciting aspects of the new website is that every antique in her showroom is now online. Of course, the entire JS Collection is available too, along with an interior design section. If you have not seen Jan’s new blog, you are in for a delightful escape.

Tuesday, July 13

Alexis' Napa

I love Alexis Swanson Traina (and I LOVE her family's wine). There is little doubt that Alexis is talented, knowledgeable and very busy. A wife, mother of 2 young children and creative director at Swanson Vineyards, where she has worked with her father since graduating college, she keeps pushing the creative envelope.

Most recently she has overseen the development of the vineyard's new website and blog. If you want the best tips for all things wonderful in California's wine country, don't miss Alexis' Napa.

Thursday, July 8

Off to London

I am off to London for a few days for business and pleasure. I will return on Monday. While in London I will be visiting the home of David Oliver, Design Director of Paint & Paper Library, working on a profile. I am also very excited to finally meet Dara Caponigro, Editor In Chief of Veranda. More great profiles to come! Stay tuned...

Decor Demon

If you are not familiar with my friend Brian Patrick Flynn (aka Décor Demon) you are missing out! Brian just posted an amazing spread on Betsy Burnham’s Los Angeles home. A must see. I will be profiling Brain on All the Best very this space.

Tuesday, July 6

Profile: Frank de Biasi

This past April I had the privilege of meeting Frank de Biasi at a dinner in New York. We were first introduced by designer and author Michael Leva and then a few weeks later by my friend Christina. After meeting Frank and seeing his work, I knew that he would be a perfect fit for All the Best.

Distinctive, colorful, quirky and curated are all words that wholly describe the diverse interiors Frank has created across the globe. He began his career at Christie’s New York in 1987 where he forged his passion for contemporary art and the history of design, appraising fine art and antiques for the auction house. After twelve years as Head of Interiors for world-renowned architect Peter Marino and then Michael Graves, Frank de Biasi Interiors was launched in 2006.

While working for Peter Marino he directed and designed several major projects throughout Europe, including, 16th Century half-timbered farmhouses in Normandy that were dismantled and rebuilt on a new site; a 19th Century Loire hunting lodge; and a 1970’s modern house built by Oscar Niemeier on Saint-Jean Cap Ferrat.

Frank’s bespoke interiors are a fusion of global cultures developed through his extensive travels and shopping trips. His work has been featured in World of Interiors, House Beautiful, Home & Design, Vogue, Italian AD and New York Magazine.

Current projects include private residences in Miami, Bal Harbour, Palm Beach, Aspen, Tennessee, New York, East Hampton, Long Island, Paris, and Morocco.

How would you describe your personal style?
Born in Virginia, I always had a love of history and art, but knew there was a world outside of the American South. I began to travel a lot and in fact spend a lot of time now abroad, mainly in Europe and North Africa. This has influenced and informed my style without question. For me, style should be a very personal thing, which is why each project I decide to take on (including my own) is specific to that client’s location and project and dreams. My personal style might be very different from what a client wants, but I strive to make each project appropriate to their dreams and therefore very unique. I love the challenge of bringing my art history background and travels to each of my projects which is why, I guess, my projects are so extremely diverse.

What inspires your creativity and design?
My obsession for finding artists and artisans who are still creating wonderful things, be they textiles, furniture, glass, ceramics, whatever – I love to commission them incorporating their work into my projects. For example, I once saw the embroidery detail on a Marni blouse collar, which be came the basis for curtains at a home in Florida. Sometimes by seeing a beautiful painting, or even a stylish person, it can be the start of an inspiration for a room. And more broadly, a house is like making a movie - setting the stage for client's lives—that's a fun challenge!

What is the one thing in life you cannot live without?
Most people would say it’s my Blackberry. And, I’d unfortunately have to agree – being a decorator means you are always connected to your friends and business but having a pda means I can travel almost anywhere and be in touch. Strangely, it doesn’t get great reception in the Hamptons, Aspen or Connecticut, hmmm...hello, T-Mobile. Luckily, though, it works perfectly in the Paris Metro and the medina in Tangier!

Who are your style icons?
Certainly, Yves Saint Laurent would be my number one style icon both for his personal style and his decorating - I've had the fortune of seeing some of the homes he created and they truly take your breath away. His homes and collections were always site specific and yet they were each uniquely his - this to me is true style. For women, Bunny Mellon and Marella Agnelli are two that come to mind that decorate and live in a uniquely personal way - in their high/low way of mixing objets. In a more contemporary vein, I love the style of my friend, Amy Fine Collins and her beautiful art filled apartment in which she constantly layers with new colors, patterns and textures.

What is your most prized relationship?
My partner of 15 years, Gene Meyer, a true friend and supremely talented designer – we’ve worked together on many decorating projects that I will always treasure.

Who would you most like to collaborate with on a project?
Auntie Mame – she’s always redecorating – and I really believe in her motto of “Live, Live, Live!” a home should be enjoyed and used – not some stage piece that never evolves with time – I try and stress that with my clients!

What books are currently on your bedside table?
The Glitter and the Gold, an autobiography of Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan, an out of print book someone gave me – and – Redeeming Features, an autobiography of Nicky Haslam – both of these people really knew how to live and enjoy their surroundings!

What is your favorite luxury in life?
Time to travel to new places, I seem to have less and less of it these days. I have a list of places I really want to see – and every time I go some place new, I usually find local crafts, of antiques that I may be able to incorporate in to my decorating – maybe not literally, but somehow the essence of them will be inspirational for a room.

What is your idea of earthly happiness?
As much as I love to travel and explore, I’m probably most happy when I’m giving a dinner party at home for friends – it combines everything – interior and table top design, cooking, flowers, music, socializing, and seeing the results in a few hours which is not usually possible with my job.

Past or present who has most influenced your direction in life
Architect Peter Marino, for whom I worked for 12 years, was the major influence on me, especially his striving for artistic perfection on every level and his insistence on finding the absolute best artists and craftspeople. Though less and less, there are still people and places in the world that take pride in their craft. It is this part of the job that I most treasure.

Profile by Ronda Carman

Sunday, July 4

Salad on Sunday: Heirloom Tomatoes and Mozzarella Salad

Normally I make potato salad on the fourth of July. However, this year I was inspired by this photo taken by my friend Miguel. This is one of the simplest salads and so delicious. Everything about it says summer. If you want to know what potato salad I usually make click here. Happy 4th of July!

2 tablespoons white Balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 lb mixed heirloom tomatoes, quartered
1 lb yellow cherry tomatoes
1 lb lightly salted mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups loosely packed small basil leaves

Whisk together vinegar, mustard, salt, sugar, and pepper in a large bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly until dressing is emulsified. Add tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil and toss well. Season with salt and pepper.

Photo Miguel Flores-Vianna