Archive for ‘design’

May 4, 2011

Alexander McQueen: Plato’s Atlantis video


Read the “Savage Beauty” exhibit review in The New York Times

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April 22, 2011

London Calling (The no imitation zone)

aControlledSubstance online exclusive:

Rick Shultz  photographs the London flat he and designer Jimmie Karlsson share with their cats  Christy & Phoenix. Then we play a game of “10 Questions with Jimmie.”


10 Questions with Jimmie

aCS: How would you describe your design aesthetic?

Jimmie Karlsson: Fun, unexpected and imperfect. A mix with old and new.



aCS: Is it/is it not particularly English?

JS: I think it is very London. But also quite New York, where we have a lot of clients.  Our furniture is defenitly not Swedish, although  both Martin and I are Swedish.



aCS: Do you consider yourself a designer, an artist, a furniture maker?

JS: I’m a furniture designer and interior designer. Some people think I am an artist. I paint on furniture, but I don’t really consider myself an artist.


aCS: What motivates you?

JS: Every day life. Positive people and my passion for interiors. 


aCS: What is your formal training?

JS: I haven’t  a design degree. I studied art in Sweden before moving to London in 1998. It was always a hobby that turned into an unplanned business in 1994. So here we are!


aCS: What bores you?

JS: Arrogance. Copycats. Pretentious people. Negativity.

aCS: The copycats are too busy being beige. You needn’t worry. Yet!


aCS: What is style?

JS: The freedom to express ourselves and shape the life we live.

aCS: An answer after my own heart, Jimmie!


aCS: What is luxury?

JS: To be able to do what you love to do and get paid for it.

aCS: Amen to that brother. Long live SWEA!


aCS: Who/what are your influences?

JS: It comes from every day life. The streets, news, art, people, music, travel… 


aCS: What is your favorite object to design/conceive/produce?

JS: My favourite thing is to do an interior design job for a client who gives us free rein  to create.

Jimmie Karlsson and Martin Nihlmar are the London based JimmieMartin  furniture design firm. The duo along with partner Sally Anne McCoy compose the interior design firm Jimmie Martin and McCoy

All images are the sole property of aContolledSubstance.com and courtesy of Rick Schultz at rickschultz.co.uk. They may not be used in any manner without express consent. All links must credit both parties above.

April 21, 2011

Under the Radar and Over the Top: In Chicago with Anthony Michael’s sneek peek at history in the making

Prior to this project, I had been working on more contemporary and modern residences of similar size, though my formal training is in the historical type and style exhibited here. Imagine my glee when  the client was adamant  that the project  proceed only if I agreed to design it.

Let me give you an aCS exclusive peek into the process I undertook to create what I call La Residence de Printemps dans l’esprit de Louis XVI.  Anthony Michael


THE exterior of this magnificent 30,000 square foot residence was inspired by a private residence just outside the gates of the palace at Versailles. The  materials used throughout this project required a whirlwind of excursions to secure both the quality and the highest level of design.  The floral, caryatids, and keystones were painstakingly conceived first in clay mockups and then in stone mock ups in Toronto. All architectural components required a study of light and shadow. The carvings above the series of arches  are designed to embrace the flora of spring and to soften the regimented appearance of this somewhat imposing residence.

The ornamental ironwork, every inch hand drawn and hand forged, was executed by one of the oldest and most respected blacksmith operations in North America, Historical Arts and Casting in Utah.The exterior of the original French residence is limestone. The climate in Chicago, however, made that a poor choice, so silverdale was selected because it has the same color and texture as the original French residence’s limestone. The silverdale was selected from a quarry in Kansas.  To ensure consistency an entire horizontal plateau was reserved and carved purely for this residence.

THE garden was  inspired by a private residence in Lake Forest, IL  and was executed by Craig Bergmann Landscape Designs, responsible for a considerable amount of work at the esteemed Morton Arboretum. More importantly,  Bergamann’s aesthetic appealed to me. Along with the client, all three of us worked in the design and execution of the gardens. The fountains alone require a filtration system generally reserved for full fledged swimming pools. The mature plantings were selected in order to instill a sense of permanence and time.


THE extraordinary floor of the foyer was inspired by Pierre Yves Rochon ‘s design for the  George V  Four Seasons in Paris. The stones I used here include combrune, blue de savioe, juane de siene ( very, very rare) and versailles. I personally examined every inch of space to ensure adherence and consistency in the installation and execution. The stone floors were water jet cut and assembled by the fabricators in France.  Epoxy along with specialized netting was fastened to the back of each and every cut and the floors were packed and flat shipped via container and brought directly to the job site. Once installed ten grindings were executed with various “pads/screens” to ensure seamless and uniform installation throughout.

After 18 months and several trips back and forth to Paris and the northern regions near the Pyrenees, I hand selected each and every piece based on consistency of color, movement of veining patterns and depth. The overall goal was to select stone which in all its nuances would create a sumptuous floor pattern that would mesmerize the viewer.


THE client’s request for the kitchen was that we maintain a sense of  “coziness” within the grand scale of the space and as well as a sense of tradition. By using different finishes and wood species, we managed to provide a timeless and elegant kitchen which is reminiscent of a bygone era.

The kitchen is actually composed of a series of rooms, each unique for its purpose and the function. For example, a room is dedicated strictly to the high temperature grilling, because the grill is unsightly and somewhat loud. The grill room located beyond the stove/oven space manages to leave the kitchen area less cluttered, emphasizing instead the 21st century appliances.

To the right of the stove/oven space, I designed a kitchen manager’s office. This space is dedicated to meal planning and shopping. It also serves as a  message center and provides sweeping views of the rear gardens. Who wouldn’t want to plan an elegant feast in this bespoke room?

 THE staircase required 9 moths to produce at a cost well into the six figures. It is inspired by the famed Musee Nissim de Camondo in Paris and features 22 carat gold and bronze details. We designed the staircase to accommodate a rather tight rotunda along with  differentiated heights on each level.

I poured over 5 years of my life into designing every detail of this commission of a lifetime. I logged well over 300 hours per month in the creation of an extraordinary home which takes up 7 contiguous city lots in one of Chicago’s most elite neighborhoods and includes  staff quarters, a 5000 plus wine cellar, 12 plus baths and a separate catering kitchen designed to accommodate 500 dinner guests. In terms of dollar per square foot, it is currently unmatched by any residence in the USA. Not since the institution of the income tax in 1921 has anyone designed and built  a residence  such as this one. I am honored to be an integral part of this beautiful project.

Anthony Michael is the principal and founder of Anthony Michael Interior Design in Chicago. See more of his work at AnthonyMichaelInteriorDesign.com You can see his design for a Trump Tower pied-a-terre in the current issue of Modern Luxury’s Interiors Magazine.

April 17, 2011

Ashleigh McIvor and the 2012 Acura Commercial

“It works with people. It works with cars. Aggression in its most elegant form.”

This is a brilliant post-feminist car commercial. When did you ever think you would see that?

You’ve seen plenty of commercials implicating  women’s sexual desire with  a man’s desire to “drive.” You’ve seen all the models at car shows used as bright shiny objects to bring the boys “into the showroom.”  You’ve even seen the grounbreaking ads with Martina Navratilova and Subaru.

What you probably haven’t seen is a car ad pitched to men that shows a good deal of respect for women. Especially one that acknowledges that aggression and femininity are not mutually exclusive; that  power and beauty–and the desire for them- is as unproblematically inherent to women as it is to men.

I call it a post feminist commercial because a purely feminist commercial would  feature Ashleigh McIvor , the member of the Canadian national ski cross team and  the first gold medal winner of women’s ski cross at the 2010 Winter Olympics, solely on the slopes, equating her aggression with her style of skiing and not her style in an evening gown. That said–and given the times we live in where world class male athletes like David Beckham and Rafael Nadal unproblematically trade on their sexuality and good looks for Emporio Armani, for instance— this is still a very smart and thoughtful ad.

April 17, 2011

Why I love CB2

I’ve long called CB2 the happiest place on earth. Just walking into the original concept store many years ago would put a smile on my face and eventually a dent in my wallet. The CB2 aesthetic is bright, colorful and thoroughly contemporary design. Taken as a whole, you can think of the look as “my first apartment chic,”and while light years away from that, I can still find pieces there that mix in well with what I already have (eclectic mid century modern). Last summer I decided to “redecorate” by moving most of the artwork in my home to other rooms. WOW.

Smartest and cheapest thing I’ve ever done. But it left some “holes” I needed to fill in the furniture department and almost everything I bought to do that came from CB2.

If you live in a condo with a limited outdoor area, like I do, the “tie-1-on” grouping of sectional pieces is the perfect solution. And as it happens, it’s THE hot look right now in Milan. Overscaled squooshy bean bag chair in over the top red ties together in ever-changing social arrangements. Tie two chairs for a loveseat, three for a sofa. Super weather-friendly cover in heavy-gauge, water-resistant polyester with protective PVC lining. Tie on optional tie-1-on ottoman, and voilà, a stretch lounge…or how about an ottoman “table” tied between two chairs?

Did I mention that the pieces  store easily and are portable enough for a weekend excursion to your favorite nearby beach getaway?

Tie-1-on sectional pieces $99.95 – $199.00. Buy now at Cb2.com

April 13, 2011

Bochic: The Lady from Shanghai

One of the great joys in my line of work is meeting talented people whose artistic vision I respect. David at Bochic is such a person.

Here is  an exclusive short film featuring his new designs,  inspired by the cultural cross-roads of 1930’s Shanghai. The production captures the zeitgeist of a city whose eclectic styles easily mixed east and west.

Just let the film and the jewelry transport you. No need to complain about the prices. One does not go to a museum to complain about prices, now does one?

And with today’s political landscape who knows if you too may be coveting the Erickson Beamon earrings I bring to your first magazine cover shoot only to find yourself wearing Bochic at your first State Dinner as First Lady. Could happen. Just ask me.

If you need me to hook you up, I’ll be more than happy to do so.

Click on the image below to start the film.

April 12, 2011

Savage Beauty, Savage Marketing

The Beauty of McQueen

See inside Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, courtesy of New York Magazine slideshow, an exhibition celebrating the extraordinary creations of the late fashion designer, set to open at the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute May 2, 2011.

Not be missed by anyone serious about art.

To coincide with the museum opening, reports Page Six,  “style queen [Daphne] Guinness and Barneys are collaborating on a six-week exhibition, “Fashion as Art,” where Guinness will conduct several performances — one of which will be the fashion muse prepping for the gala in full view of shoppers and passersby. The installation will also include items from Guinness’ wardrobe, including pieces acquired from style icon Isabella Blow, and a short documentary on Guinness.”

Not to be missed by anyone serious about public relations.

April 11, 2011

Calculating Geometry

Op Art inspires me. Let me count the ways.

Josef Albers, Homage to the Square, 1951. albersfoundation.org

Raf Simon’s 5th anniversary collection Spring 2011 for Jil Sander.

April 11, 2011

Spring Kitchen Aid

Nothing says SPRING more than a fresh new look for your kitchen.

The clean thermofoil cabinets, slick quartz counter top, cool glass backsplash and low maintenance porcelain floor make this eco friendly, contemporary galley kitchen a dream to work in and gentle on your budget.

The possibilities are endless and the creativity is non-stop when you engage Refind Interiors to design your dream kitchen.

Contact Refind Interiors for a complimentary consultation, and see your kitchen SPRING to life!
April 9, 2011

Brunch at Balsan at the Elysian Hotel Chicago

I didn’t get to have a clown for my birthday, but I did have the exquisite mascarpone and citrus French toast for brunch at Balsan. It’s better than having  Santa Claus and the circus come to town on the same day. Thank you so much KT.