Friday, September 18, 2009

The House Beautiful Color Institute Event

A few weeks ago, I received a special 'press' invitation to attend the House Beautiful Color Institute Event at the Atlanta Design Center. The big event was yesterday; when I arrived, I had a name tag that identified me as the author of the 'Things That Inspire' blog, and it was great to meet some of the designers, fellow bloggers, and magazine editors whom I have featured over the past two years!

Image via House Beautiful

The keynote speaker was Stephen Drucker, editor of House Beautiful Magazine, and on the panel were design luminaries Suzanne Kasler and Eric Cohler. The topic: color! Stephen's presentation was wonderful, and he illustrated color use through the decades with a representative picture for each decade from the House Beautiful archives (there were two pictures selected for the 90s, which Stephen noted was all across the board from a design perspective - as are the 2000s!). The 80s had a richly decorated room by Mario Buatta - I thought about Joni from Cote de Texas when appreciating the complexity of his look, and Stephen gave a nod to the true artisty that went into creating such a multi-layered room. It was interesting to hear Stephen's take on the color trends of the 2000s - from the juicy and youthful colors that he called the 'Sex and the City' look, to the complex textured neutrals accented with metallics (particularly in the gilded furniture and mirrors) so often seen in Atlanta decorating, and my favorite, the subtle neutrals that often pick up the colors of nature, particularly greens. There were some striking rooms from recent years done so beautifully in colors like purple, and Stephen identified an emerging trend: dark, bold rooms done in black and rich, deep blues. He commented that doing a black room is about as bold as one can get with color! I did not take notes, so this is all from memory, but it was great to get a perspective from a magazine editor who is so clearly passionate about his work and about color.

Eric Cohler Design, photo by Francis Smith

Next in the line up was Eric Cohler, who has a wonderful sense of humor and also a passion for design and color, especially the color blue! I always love to see work from NYC designers, because their challenges and the architecture they are dealing with is so different than the architecture and design style of Atlanta. I particularly appreciated the stunning museum quality contemporary artwork that many of Eric's clients own, and that he incorporates into his design schemes. Eric's humor and humanity made him the ideal panelist for this event, and from what I understand, he had to make quite a journey to get to Atlanta; we had terrible thunderstorms the night before the event, and Eric had to land in Alabama and take a taxi to Atlanta to make it on time.

Eric said that he feels like an artist when composing a room, with the balance of form, scale, and color. I loved this analogy, because I when I see a beautifully put together room, I truly feel as if I am looking at a unique three dimensional piece of art.

Finally, Suzanne Kasler revealed her color approach on projects, and specifically discussed her thought process behind several rooms that are well known on the blogosphere - the one that stands out in my mind is the richly colored dining room that she created in an Atlanta home (I posted on this home last year when it was on the market). Suzanne often paints an entire room in the same color - walls, trim, and ceiling - but in different finishes, glossy and satin (upon examing this picture, it looks like the ceiling was not painted in the same color as the walls, but the trim and walls are painted out in the same color, as are the windows). She introduced another color in this dining room - the green on the back of several of the dining room chairs - and the rug has the green tone that is on the back of the chairs.

The lacquered look on a wall came up quite a few times in Suzanne's presentation; she often uses three layers of glossy paint to achieve this look, and said that in the bathroom in her newly renovated home in Buckhead, she intended to do Venetian plaster walls but ended up loving the look of three layers of glossy paint so much that she went this route instead. Suzanne was a great speaker and presenter, and it was amazing to hear her design approach on some of my favorite rooms from her portfolio. It was noted that Suzanne has a book coming out in October: I was able to have a sneak peek earlier this week, and it is stunning (there is a kitchen in there that is the most beautiful kitchen I have ever seen). You can pre-order it on Amazon.

I had the opportunity to meet designer Melanie Turner Benecki, Southeast designer of the year, whose home I featured in a post last month; blogger Jennifer Boles of the Peak of Chic; and Clint Smith, editor of Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles. All around, it was a great day for design in Atlanta! Thank you to House Beautiful for hosting this event, and for the special invitation.