Saturday, February 27, 2010

Burmese Days ....

Ever since my high school days when I read George Orwell's Burmese Days, I have held romantic notions of a country where time stood still, a country of such diverse ethnic groups, a land where legend tells us that Guatama Buddha once went to teach the people of Dhannavati in the Rakhine region of Burma, a country where the most remarkable monasteries and Stupas were erected.....a country in the cruel grip of a formidable military junta with no respect for human life or rights.

While traveling, we felt the deep fear in everyone around us. Universities were shut, no cell phones allowed, no internet access, very few foreigners. Away from the main cities of Yangon (f/k/a Rangoon) and Mandalay, the people whose path we crossed were kind, gentle, and with a sad tale to tell when they could find remnants of French or English words.

Aung Sang Suu Kyi, from her house arrest in Yangon for the past 18 years, has asked the world to stay away from Burma and to continue its full embargo (including no tourism) against the government. Although I have considerable admiration for Aung Sang Suu Kyi and understand her view that tourists spending money in Burma only benefits the regime, I don't agree with her in this limited sense: People should see Burma so as to witness the terrible hardships imposed on the country's deeply spiritual people, and to let them know that the outside world has not forgotten them.

We also went to see Burma's magnificent heritage and landscape. Via a french organization, I found a french speaking guide to expedite transportation and other matters, and off we went to this beautiful country that has touched the chore of my soul.

The taxi driver is holding the book of his life from which he read to us and
pleaded us to remember and tell his powerful tale of suffering ....
these words were all he had left of a previous life of learning, family and friends.

Bagan, the golden land with more than 2000 temples and pagodas built in the 1000s to 1200s

Mandalay in Upper Burma, once the center of Burmese culture and Buddhist learning during British colonial rule.

Below, a monastic life.... we were warmly welcomed in this monastery near Mandalay. A very old monk gave me a pamphlet on meditation...a five minutes guide to meditation... which is always on my night-stand.

Village life will transport you back in time

The villagers sending their children to the local monastery in hope that they will succeed as Buddhist monks or nuns

A fishing life on Inle Lake..Floating gardens are cultivated around houses built on stilts in the center of this beautiful lake.

Market day on the shore of Inle Lake

Forms of transportation ...

Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, its age unknown, its origin lost in antiquity. Pure golden architectural marvel. Its lower stupa is plated with 8,688 solid gold bars, its upper part with another 13,153. The tip of the stupa is set with 5448 diamonds, 2317 rubies and saphires, 1065 golden bells and at the very top a 76 carat diamond... This temple exudes a soft golden glow at sunset and you will immersed in its serenity....a magical moment.

Ngapali, a small fishing town on the Andaman sea. Unspoiled beaches...pristine water

Sunset on the Irawaddy river.....A bientot Burma

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What Might Have Been....

Last fall, Linda O'Keeffe - then Creative Director at Metropolitan Home - , photographer Antoine Bootz and I worked on a photo shoot for what would have been featured in a Spring 2010 issue of Met Home. Alas, days after the shoot, HF-USA announced the closing of Met Home. The designers whose projects had been shot and slated for later publication were able to purchase the images for their respective shoots. Below are a few of the photos taken of my client's very special duplex apartment in West TriBeCa complete with wrap around terraces that loom above the Hudson River.

Originally our client had retained the incredibly talented Clodagh to design the space. A few years later, she called me at my design studio for a meeting to discuss a new interpretation she was envisioning for the space. After many long meetings we were able to re-interpret the space and redesign the main rooms to create a soft, harmonious, sexy feel.

The first time that I ever agreed to sit for a portrait
for a magazine project photo shoot

Living room: it took us close to a year from concept to installing the wool
and silk rug. I was inspired by a photograph I took of rippling water.

The chaise was custom made in walnut, it is
now part of our Interieurs esprit collection

The bedroom was envisioned as a spiritual retreat.
We designed the bed with soft silk chenille textile.

Custom daybed designed to echo the feel of the bed

We kept Clodagh's original bathroom
because it perfectly reflected our sensitivity

Daughter's bedroom

The inspiration behind this media room came from a photograph
of my son and I sitting in a common room of one of my favorite hotels
in the Palmeraie of Marrakech. The silk rug was custom made as
were the sofas. The pillows were cut out of antique shawls.
The chair is from l'Eclaireur in Paris.

The following detail shots were not part of the Met Home spread. They were taken by Michael Grimm for our own records. Most objects are tribal artifacts, and I actually carried the antique alabaster statues of Buddha in my bag from a trip to Burma.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Kreativ Blogger Award (Modified): 7 Places I Love

Back in January, lovely Borjana who writes Green and Stylish nominated me for my second Kreativ Blogger Award. Borjana, thank you for your support, it means the world to me.

In a previous post, I have already revealed 7 things about myself and cannot possibly think of anything else to add that could be of interest..... so, I am taking the liberty to modify the rules a little bit and take you on my self absorbed reminiscence trip back in time to the 7 places in the world where I have experienced pure joy and bliss.

-1- Blackcombe Mountain, British Colombia (view of Blowhole Chute).

In the spirit of the Winter Olympics, this heavenly spot will be first on my list

This is the place, where lying in the snow, in tears of joy
following one of my best deep powder run down blowhole,
I contemplated leaving everything behind (except husband
and kids) and stay in Whistler for good.

-2- Chamonix, France

This is an authentic mountain destination where life itself is intricately linked to the unpredictability of the mountain. I am an avid reader of adventure stories taking place in Chamonix

The 1st Winter Olympic Games were held in Chamonix in 1924

-3- Mount Everest, Tibet

Pure love of God's creation, elated, humbled to
take in such a sight after arduous efforts

-4- Sahara Desert, Morocco

Saharan Dunes, Perfect peace, endless horizon...

-5- My Connecticut Garden

My Garden is both my refuge and my therapy.
As Candide (Voltaire) said:"We must cultivate our garden.."

-6- Tanjung Puting National Park, Kalimantan (Borneo) Indonesia

Deep in the rainforest, I feel so absorbed and at
peace by the sheer beauty of nature

-7- Clermont Dessous, my small village in South West France

Where it all started....


Early in the morning, I love reading your blogs. I have already nominated Dumbwit Tellher, French Essence, Timothy Allen Photographer, Things That Inspire, What Were the Skies Like, Hirondelle Rustique and Aspirations of a Southern Housewife. Now I return to my blogroll to identify other equally (and indeed more) deserving candidates than myself for this Award. Please know, this was not an easy decision process because every blog I follow is remarkably creative and entirely deserving of the award.

On this occasion I nominate:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I'm so sorry for the long silence...

I've just returned from the Maisons & Objets Salons trade show in Paris, followed by my "Industrial salvage collection" purchases in the south of France.

I have been attending the French "Salons" for more than 10 years and am always in awe of the creativity, the perfection of displays, all under one giant roof. My typical buying trip is spending my first day, since i usually land in the very early morning, dropping by to my favorite spots in Saint Germain where I always stay.

Cafe de Flore, on Blvd Saint Germain
my lunch: warm goat cheese on toast divine

Modenature showroom at 59 Rue de Seine

My dearest friend Henry Becq owns Modenature. Interieurs would not be what it is today without its long relationship with Henry and Modenature. Our professional relationship has become a very strong frienship. We actually discovered after a few years of working together that we both come from Lot et Garonne in South West France

La Maison Rustique
My favorite bookstore on 26 rue Jacob for design and garden books

I cannot end the day without crossing the Seine and
admiring the Louvre and its stunning glass pyramid

During the Furniture Salons, my typical day's schedule is quite grueling, up at 6:30 AM, catch the RER train by 7:30 for an hour's ride to the convention center not far from Charles de Gaulle Airport; early meetings at the "Club Maisons et Objets", then walk, look, talk, walk, look, talk... always, always, always looking out for new ideas, products and vendors. At 7pm, rush with thousands of maddening and maddened people back to the RER station, while trying to avoid being crushed by the crowd of commuters all hoping to catch the next train back into cental Paris. Wait, and wait some more, usually under freezing rain, for the next train, too often facing either the occasional and suddenly announced train strike, or a bomb alert (which was the case this trip that almost caused me to be crushed by the crowd after a 2 hour evacuation delay for a train.... Finally, by 9 pm, the the thought of the taste of my entrecote keeps me going. Then its time to wait yet again in line with hordes of diners all begging for a table at Le Relais de L'Entrecote.

Le Relais de L'Entrecote where the only two menu choices are
steak, either saignant (literally, bleeding) or a point (medium).

My husband believes he's cracked the secret of the restaurant's famous
sauce, a long and very closely held family secret and the real story
behind the small chain's amazing success.

This year, glitter and shine seemed de rigueur at the shows, it is not my cup of tea but still, it was refreshing and uplifting

I love this simple installation, very bucolic

I also noticed touches of humor in contemporary designs and enjoyed the colors, the whimsical chances that these designers were taking.

Some of the new pieces and collections I purchased for my (soon to be moved) Interieurs Showroom

A Sofa from the New Paola Navone Collection


Overall, I felt that everyone in france, feeling the impact of a high Euro and decline in sales were playing it very safe; the mood was not very uplifting.

One of my favorite parts of my work in France is catching the TGV to Avignon where I spend a couple of days working with Bernard on our industrial pieces for the next container. As I mentioned in a previous post I love looking for industrial pieces to salvage and transform. It is such a fun challenge to give a new purpose to these industrial discarded "obsolete" pieces... such a part of history and the Industrial revolution.

Luke, my husband, came along for the ride and I showed him the Provence I love where we hopefully will ultimately live for at least part of the year.

Gordes, an old city in the Luberon section of Provence

Then on to my family village for a few days with my parents and extended family. A surprise feast prepared by my cousin Gaby awaiting us and all dearest cousins Andre, Francoise and Marie Therese were there to welcome us. These moments spent with the ones you love are really what is important in life...the so you might as well work with passion and try to find time for yourself, your friends and family... I believe that we too often tend to forget that in the States...

Clermont-Dessous, my 12th Century village

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