Sunday, October 21, 2007

House & Garden Design Happening Shows Savvy Form & Function

House & Garden launched Design Happening 2007 this past week, turning a potentially stuffy celebration of tables and chairs into an all-out, hipper-than-now assault on preconceived design notions. Uniquely entertaining programming loaded with art celebs galore revealed that design influences everything from the movies we love to the furniture that cradles our behinds. Two design chats in particular showed that substantial beauty, tasteful whimsy, expert craftsmanship and an eye for storytelling are elements vital to shaking up today's dangerously cookie-cutter design sensibility.

Cristina Grajales Illuminates Brazilian Modernist Design
At my new fave furniture gallery Espasso (superbly run by the artistically daring, impossibly charming Carlos Junqueira), brilliant advisor Cristina Grajales presented the cultural influences inherent in Brazilian design. Passionate about the important architects and designers of the region, Grajales has a deep and resonating connection to the beauty of Brazil's constructed classics. Learning about structural integrity combined with natural form and materials, a standard in the country's design philosophy, from a master like Grajales made for an evening of aesthetic illumination. Visit the remarkable Cristina Grajales Gallery at 10 Greene St. (near Canal).

Kristi Zea Turns the Lens on the Design of Cinema
What do the design elements of the Oscar-winning Goodfellas and Silence of the Lambs have in common with the look of thrillers like The Brave One and Changing Lanes? They benefit from the production design genius of Kristi Zea, whose keen eye for authentic environments has fulfilled the artistic vision of cinematic luminaries like Scorsese and Demme. At the famed Tribeca Cinemas, home of the Tribeca Film Festival, Zea took us through precise film moments where every element of production design coalesced perfectly to create screen magic. After showing the famed Goodfellas scene where Henry and Karen enter the Copacabana, Zoe commented, "Marty sure knows how to make movies." What a privilege to hear first-hand from the designer that collaborates on such art.

Bonus: Running into dynamic interior design talent Amy Lau at the Espasso event in all her redheaded glory, along with learning from Grajalas of so many notable female designers from Brazil. And at the cinema, hearing of Zea's next project Confessions of a Shopaholic and learning of how such creatures display their collections. Sounds like she could do research at my apartment.

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