Category Archives: music

In Defense of Beyonce’s “Life”

I know it’s a random post title and Beyonce doesn’t need any affirmation from me, but bear with me for a moment. Beyonce as a public figure stirs up a lot of thoughts in my mind. I literally see news about something in her life everyday on the Brooklyn news which for me makes her fame and persona inescapable and slightly annoying. And as much as I love her music, once it catches on I hear it everywhere, which is why I’m usually about 2 years late downloading her albums though somehow I still know all the words. Go Figure. I’ve even had to semi retire my Freek’um Dress(es).

Because of that same bit of overexposure, I was a little reluctant to watch her documentary, “Life is But a Dream.” I don’t EVER deny her as being a musical talent. I, mean I have seen her in concert. That, folks is a SHOW. But the Promos for the doc, left me a bit underwhelmed. However, after reading several posts and articles about how she didn’t reveal anything and people saying she was weird but at least she curses, I decided to look at the movie for myself. I found both the posts, the people and I as someone prejudiced against her, wrong. While there was minimal gossip exposed (this was not an E True Hollywood Story or VH1′s Behind the Music), when it came to Beyonce the artist and business-woman she laid everything bare (without being weird).

Watching her documentary was enlightening, not because she is a world-class entertainer, but because at the end of the day she is both an artist and business-woman. Though the Dynastic wealth of the Roc may currently elude me, creativity and the struggle it brings with it do not.  Do you know how hard it is to be both artist and business woman? Not to mention that she is a wife, sister, aunt and daughter. Those titles all come with different responsibilities. Like many people, she’s made professional sacrifices sometimes at the cost of her personal relationships, but always in an effort to find her own independence and truth as an artist. I find that willingness to be so true to oneself to be admirable even though you see a bit of her questioning its worth in her eyes.

In viewing, “Life”, I saw the dichotomy between her work; as she writes and sings in the studio,where she artistically feels most at home, versus the business side as manages herself, declaring how things should be for a performance. Though this space is where she seems less comfortable this is where I saw the most growth. At one point during the doc, she says, “Why do I feel like no one is listening?” I uttered those same words on Friday at work. And guess what? In both cases, no one was listening to me or Beyonce. It was good to see that she too, struggles with being both shot caller and artist, as she lets go of being nice in an effort to be clear and direct when it comes to saying what she wants. She talks about the valuable lessons she learned about work ethic, drive and artistry from those most important in her life, including her father and Jay-Z just as easily as she speaks about needing the support of women, trusting her instincts and the injustice about being a woman in a male-dominated evironment. Yeah, she’s Beyonce and all, but I am sure someone has tried to talk down to her a time or two. And don’t the best lessons in life and business often come from those we look up to?

Like many women artists, balance feels hard to maintain. We want to be true to ourselves and art yet composed and respected in a room full of business people. Many of us struggle to say or ask for what we really want, whether it be money, the corner office, or a promotion, but somehow we find the guts to do it it anyway. In life we aim to not let the art consume us though it is an extension of our inner selves. In work , we as women want to channel our personal power, be respected for our talents and strategize our next steps by using our best business minds. And as we witness with in Beyonce’s “Life,” that work space can be equally lonely as we sometimes find ourselves competing with one another for no reason well as deeply fulfilling as we build and lead fantastic teams and inspire other women to follow our lead. While I don’t want to be Bey any more than when I started watching the doc, it’s nice to know, in art and business, creatively speaking, we share some common ground.

Now, I’m off to download her album. You know the one from 2 years ago.


Weekend Wishes: Music as a Design Muse

It’s been a great week in Design Wonderland. Last night was our client appreciation day at work, which featured dinner and a concert at Wolf Trap to see Natalie Cole. I admit I slept on her her vocal prowess. I knew a few of her 70′s hits because I listen to a lot of 70′s soul music (right now my mother is probably shaking her head. Hi Mom!). Yesterday,when I heard Ms. Cole live, I was transported to my happy place. Good music, especially, in the summer always makes me feel like I need to be close to the water. Growing up in Maryland, my family would head to the beach in a heartbeat and music was always a necessary element of those trips. Instantly I wanted to beach front in a room like this one, playing my music loud, laughing, and dancing.

Anyhoo, Let me tell you about the Filene Center at Wolf Trap. It is a GORGEOUS wood structure  in a beautiful park  (no water) that has perfect acoustics. There was this amazing breeze , like the warm wind coming off the shore and crazy me, amidst all this good music kept thinking about being waterfront. I’m sure the structure is supposed to be reminiscent of a barn, but all I could think about were boats.

{the filene center at wolf trap}

I always think of these things in reference to the concept of home. Then I saw this waterfront home on Dwell, which recalls the structures of both a barn and boat. Something like this is what I had in mind…

I actually have two dream home fantasies. One is a farmhouse and the other a waterfront home. Did I mention that they need to be in a city? And by city mean bustling metropolis. I know crazy, but that is why they are fantasies. I also daydream about design boat interiors.  In the meantime I’m storing this home in my reference files. I wonder how the acoustics are…hmmm.

If you get a chance, listen to some music that moves you and dream of home. I’m firing up Rufus and Chaka,  Minnie Riperton, classic Pointer Sisters and of course, Natalie Cole.  Happy Weekend!

xoxo, Jessica

My Favorite 1960′s Lounge Suite

I would never condone the wearing anything with the word lounge in it, no matter what decade. But when it comes to lounging in the Knoll Platner collection,  I definitely recommend you have a seat.

{image via knoll}

My deep and profound attachment started when I saw the image of them in Betsey Johnson’s’ pretty-in -pink home.

After that I just found myself compulsively drawn to Platner’s sculptural vision.

{image via knoll}

{image via pointclickhome}

Designed in the 1960′s by architect Warren Platner, the chairs, both the lounger and the armchair,  come in two finishes bright nickel or a painted bronze, adding an industrial element to any room. And by lending itself to different types of environments, it never comes across as too masculine or feminine.

{image via pointclickhome}

{image via spacecraft}

The rooms shown here are a range between electic, traditional and modern and this chair just slides in seamlessly, whether used indivudually or as a part of the suite.  Believe me, there are not to many furniture pieces that can do that without looking out of place. Personally I’d love to have a complete dining set with raspberry upholstery with a nickel finish.  Or maybe, plum upholstery with a bronze finish. It’s so hard to decide! Hmmm…perhaps this calls for a joyful trip to my local Knoll showroom.

Exciting News and Eye Candy

First the exciting news…

Design Wonderland made it to House Beautiful’s Sites We Love page!! It’s so awesome I almost don’t know what to say! I could hardly wait to share it with you!

And Now Some Eye Candy

While perusing YouTube, I saw these two videos both sharing an 80′s sound and vibe. Though they are very different, I’m loving the sets and styling in both of them. It’s amazing what one can do with simple sets and cool lighting.

I don’t know much about singer MPHO, but I liked what I hear so far.  Yes in the video she’s imprisoned but she is quite feisty and energetic and I love the “you can’t box me in” bravado. I can’t wait to hear and see more from her.

And then there’s the video below Pearl’s Dream from Bat for Lashes. Clearly its not beating anyone over the head with expensive sets, but the concept is cool and the execution works perfectly with Natasha Khan’s haunting voice. Plus any video with wolf and a glam furry jacket is a winner in my book.

Enjoy and Happy Tuesday!

Weekend Wishes: Haute Coco

Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions. – Coco Chanel

A couple of years ago I took my first trip to Paris. Until then the only city I had ever loved besides DC, was New York. But going to Paris had been a dream of mine since I was a child and the city completely stole my heart. It was like a torrid affair and I found myself swept up in the sights, the sounds and the delicious food. It also helped I could see the Dior store from my hotel window and that the hotel was also around the corner from the Chanel store on 31 Rue Cambon ( I did not know that when I booked the hotel). While I’m not a label snob, I do appreciate the history of those particular fashion houses. Ok, yes and the clothing too. But it’s Coco Chanel that I find most inspiring.

Bonjour Chanel! This is a pic from my favorite vacation.

With Chanel in mind, I’m inspired by luxury, beginning with a video tour of Coco’s apartment at 31 Rue Cambon.

Here’s a few more images from her apartment:

{image via not cot}

{images via flickr}

And the beautiful mirrored staircase:

This staircase allowed her Mademoiselle Coco to see what was going on from any point.

{image via not cot}

I’m not sure why I’m feeling so luxurious today, but I know that I needed a bit of a weekend escape. In reality, I don’t want to live this way, but my fantasy life screams out for this. And I love that Chanel’s opulent luxury is the complete antithesis of Carine Roitfeld’s minimalist luxe apartment from Monday’s post. Coco Chanel’s apartment has all these Baroque and ornamented elements that contrasts so much with the modern woman she projected to the world , her modern designs and how she lived her life. Maybe she was more traditional than we knew.

I’m really excited about…

The movie Coco Avant Chanel. I can’t wait to see it!

Fish Tales

I am in awe of the latest gallery showing at the Mixed Greens Gallery in NYC. The show Super Uber presents the latest and greatest artist Dirk Westphal’s work. What I’m loving are his jolie laide photographs of the overbred, mutant goldfish found in his Chinatown neighborhood. Yes, maybe it sounds crazy, but the photos are stunning.

Dark Secrets, 20" x 24", c-print

Eliot Wilhelm Redux 2005-2008, 50" x 40", c-print

Dirk Westphal shoots them with a large-format camera, uses a special aquarium and sets these unconventional beauties against a white backdrop, highlighting the their bold color and iridescent scaly texture which  would be lost on the naked eye alone. With this technique an ethereal transformation takes place; these goldfish no longer swim through water, but float through the air.

Silently I Begged 2005, 24" x 20", c-print

Silently I Begged 2005, 24" x 20", c-print

Sturm and Drang 2008, 40" x 50", c-print

Super Uber encompasses more than Westphal’s photgraphs of the secret lives of fish. According to the Mixed Green’s site, the show marks the end of these photos in their current incarnation. But artisits are a tricky lot and I’m wondering if he’s got something else a little fishy up his sleeves. Whether he does or not, I can’t wait to see more of his art. If your in NYC, the show runs through April 18th. Check it out if you get a chance.

{Colorful}Weekend Wishes: Brazil Edition

It has been a great week in design wonderland, I’ve met new friends and have new readers! With that in mind I’d like to  extend a big thank you and welcome to everyone who’s been reading. I’m happy you’ve joined me on my design adventures.

Today, we are off to Brazil by way of the New York Botanical Garden’s Orchid show, Brazilian Modern. Clearly I’m overdue for an NYC trip (leave it to the New York Times to remind me) and can’t wait to see the show in person.

a rendering of the show at the new york botanical garden

Designed by landscape architect Raymond Jungles, the show is inspired by his former mentor, the late Roberto Burle Marx a Brazilian artist and landscape designer. And like Burle Marx’s hanging gardens in Brasilia,  orchids will be hung architecturally in the show transforming the plants into works of art.

the show promises to highlight the orchids lush colors in a tropical setting.

the show promises to highlight the orchids lush colors in a tropical setting.

I decided to to look up Roberto Burle Marx and found his work, ranging from tapestries and landscape design, to be quite inspiring. A champion of the use of native plants in his work, Burle Marx’s designs were inspired by cubist and abstract art.

a garden design by burle marx in rio de janeiro.

a garden design by roberto burle marx in rio de janeiro.

a sidewalk at copacabana, a beach in rio, also designed by burle marx

a sidewalk at copacabana, a beach in rio, also designed by burle marx

a tapestry by roberto burle marx, who was also a painter.

a tapestry by roberto burle marx, who was also a painter.

The Orchid Show will be on view at the New York Botanical Garden from February 28th through April 12. By the way if you go opening weekend, you can see live Brazilian musical performances. I hope to head up in March to find colorful inspiration in this beautiful fantasy world. If you decide to check it out let me know!

(all images from the New York Times)

Happy Weekend!



The Love List: Haute Couture Confections

How could I talk about love and not talk about one of favorite loves?  What’s that, you ask? You see, In addition to design, I’m all about Paris. I went a couple of years ago and fell in love (with the city) and I have been trying to get back every since. If I had the opportunity I would run off, live there and of course blog about my new adventure. As usual, while looking for all things Parisian, I stumbled upon the fabulously, sexy luxury food shop Fauchon. What better place to buy lovely pastries and confections for your Valentine?

a view of the shop

Designed by architect/designer, Christian Biecher, the store has a bakery, a caviar bar, cafe and a wine tasting area called The Counter. With a mix of materials, including woods, metals for reflective high shine and some haute pink and polished finishes, Biecher has all the ingredients for any foodie’s gastronomic adventure.

this is the haute-est bakery i've ever seen.

ready for wine tasting at "the counter"?

But wouldn’t be great to have a beautiful Valentine’s day meal? Think about grabbing a meal at Fauchon’s chic restaurant with your sweetheart. A setting like this,in Paris no less, is enough to spur anyone’s romantic appetites. Well, at least mine…

i can't even describe how much I'm craving all this gloss and high shine.

there's something about these chairs that I love.

By next Valentine’s Day, my plan is to have run off to Paris to share confectionery delights at Fauchon. I just have to see this place in person. Maybe I will see you there. In the meantime, going to run off and have tea and a chocolate croissant.

To all my dear readers/friends,

I wish you a very Sweet and Happy Valentine’s Day!!



{Colorful) Weekend Wishes: Absolutely Bejeweled

Whew…Friday is finally here. I’m so glad the weekend is here I can barely type. But I’ll try…

Next week I’m thrilled to be going to a lecture given by jewelry designer Alexis Bittar. I actually decided to see him speak before I knew what his designs looked like but was fairly confident that the Corcoran Gallery of Art would not steer me wrong. Usually, I leave jewelry to my friend at the The Art of Accessories, but I love hearing other designers talk about their process and inspirations so I signed up. After viewing Bittar’s designs, I fell in love. And right before Valentines Day, no less. I’m a lucky girl!!!

images from alexis bittar

a jewelry collage (images from alexis bittar)

images from

bittar's beautiful brooches (images from

Bittar handcrafts his jewelry from a variety of materials including, Lucite, semi-precious stones, sterling silver and vermeil, resulting in divinely bejeweled and colored baubles (that would look fantastic in my jewelry box when I’m not wearing them). With that in mind, today’s rooms are inspired by the colors in Alexis Bittar’s Jewelry, turning his statement pieces into statement rooms.

(image from marie claire maison)

(image from marie claire maison)

(image from

(image from

(image from marie claire maison)

(image from living etc)

I wanted to show rooms, that like Bittar’s Jewelry, are an ode to both modern and vintage sensibilities but are not shy about using bold colors. In these spaces, its the jewel-toned hues of the furniture and accessories provide the panache to simple backdrops. But though they are simple the rooms all offer lots of light, a very important factor when deciding go for bold color (and don’t forget a bit of metallic shine to reflect light). One doesn’t want to live in a dark cave in the name of being daring .  These living spaces are full of life, and not for the faint of heart, similar to the woman I imagine is wearing Alexis Bittar’s designs.

bittar's own living room (from the new york social diary)

a view of bittar's living room

For fun I included a pic of Alexis Bittar’s own room. The art piece above the sofa reminds me of his designs as well.  If you would like to read more about Bittar and see more images of his designs, studio, and Brooklyn home, check out this interview from the New York Social Diary. I am absolutely delighted to see Alexis Bittar next Wednesday. Maybe I’ll see you there…

Happy Weekend,

xoxo, Jessica

Bound by Design

This is not the blog post that I wanted to write for today but last week I read this article in The Washington Post talking about the effect our economy was having on shelter magazines. At least four that I read, Blueprint, O at Home, In Style Home and my beloved House and Garden have folded within the last year and the article hinted that my FAVORITE magazine, Domino was in deep trouble.  Then I received a terrible article via email stating that magazine was indeed folding. According to the Post article these magazines don’t fold due to lack of readership and subscriptions but rather the lack of advertisers. And you could see the effect; this month’s issue of Domino barely had any ads in it.

i still miss h+g

say it aint so domino!

say it aint so domino!

So today I had to figure out to turn this gray cloud over Design Wonderland into a glimmer of sunshine. Well, today’s idea is actually a tip from Oprah Winfrey herself via O at Home. Buried deep in this article, it mentions that the wonderful Ms. O has a collection of bound vintage fashion mags. What a great idea If your are a design addict/magazine junkie like me!  So today’s suggestion is to bind your magazines into a classy collection of books. This immediately transforms your stacked pile of favorite magazine into volumes of periodicals (see sounds better right?) fit for the shelves of your personal design library. This is a fantastic way to organize, declutter and is also a beautiful alternative to magazine files. Your magazines can bound in the material of your choice and if you wish, embossed.

Oprah's home Library

Oprah's Home Library

Clearly times are tough and we all aren’t blessed with Oprah’s cash, so I would advise taking on this project a little at a time as opposed to doing the whole magazine collection at once. A simple google search turned several up several bookbinders in my area so you can indeed price different vendors to see who offers the best quality at the best price. If you are more the DIY type, there are tons of book binding lessons on the internet and I even found a book binding class at Paper Source (if you know me, you know I love a class). This allows your magazines to continually introduce color, style  and inspiration to your home long after the publication ends.

examples of bound periodicals

The demise of the shelter magazine is so sad, especially if you have a career in interior design or have a serious passion for it but it actually mirrors what is going on in design, industry-wide as designers lose jobs all around. For many, these magazines are one less inspirational resource to use but those magazines employ editors, freelance writers, photographers, stylists and designers who have lost a source of income. Like so many who have lost jobs recently, hopefully with their gifts, talents and passion they will land or their feet very soon.

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