December 16, 2010

What's New - Materialista™ Goes Holiday Shopping

This Materialista™ knows how to avoid the stress of gift giving and support our valued customers – by shopping where ASI materials are installed! Here’s where I’m heading for the family members (aka co-workers) on my gift list:

Mom, President – What do you get for the person who has everything? Opening Ceremony is the perfect store for the international business woman who likes to travel in style. Since my mom is constantly traveling all over the world to find the most innovative materials, I decided to get her the bright pink TUMI carry-on, after testing out the wheels on the Cork Flooring installed at the Ace Hotel location.
This gift will be a good way to get her to switch it up from basic black luggage (and avoid mix-ups at the baggage claim when forced to check her bag!).

My brother-in-law Andrew – As VP of National Accounts, Andrew works extremely hard and is always running to meet customers (like flying to Dubai and back in a day!). I took the 1 train to Times Square to find a comfy sweat shirt and sweat pants at Aeropostale. Maybe having the right outfit will help him relax on the weekends… Once I arrived at the new flagship, it was hard to keep focused on my search as I checked out all the cool applications of materials, from the Tin Ceilings above to Reclaimed Timber and Porcelain on the floors. I also got distracted at check-out by the beautiful (soon-to-be launched) Metro Tiles used for the feature wall behind the cashwrap. What a cool space!

Dad, CEO – My dad and I are going to Chelsea Manor next door to the office tonight so I can buy him a drink and marvel at the third incarnation of the bartop. Restaurants come and go in NYC, but Crystallized Glass Stone has a monolithic aesthetic and enough durability for it to be incorporated in each redesign! We’ll kick back and toast to the new year with our tequila (Patron is his favorite) straight up and chilled with a lime.

My sister Rachel, VP of Sales - I’ll be sure to head over to the main floor of Lord & Taylor to find fun new lipglosses and eyeshadows for my sister in their new cosmetics department. The “Ultimate Face-lift” was a renovation to make the area clean and inviting, with Eco-Porcelain flooring in almost-white installed throughout. The updated lighting is the closest it can come to natural light, which will be helpful when choosing the perfect make-up shades for Rachel’s new work look when she returns from maternity leave.

My niece Addison, future Account ExecutiveXSRE is a new store concept with the most fun novelty merchandise I’ve ever seen! My almost 3-yr old niece will go crazy over the purple bracelets I picked out. I couldn’t help but notice how amazing Ornamental Surfaces looked on the display tables I found the bracelets on!

Baby niece Lily, future Material Expert – I chose a new onesie for my newborn niece in the baby department at Macy’s – she’s so petite and they have a great selection there! A long time customer, Macy’s believes in ASI and consistently selects beautiful materials for all their locations; and Materialista™ believes it’s the place to find something for everyone else left on the list, even moi!

Close Friends – When I’ve finished all my shopping, I will unwind over dinner with friends at Novita and show off the beautiful ASI Hardwood Flooring. We’ll make sure to order my favorite dishes – the Melazane alla Parmigiano and Kobe beef carpaccio (delish!), which go down even better with a glass of Prosecco! Cheers!

Happy Holidays!

November 23, 2010

What's Now: Giving Thanks

With Thanksgiving this week (where does the time go?!) I pause to reflect on all I have to be thankful for. Coming off a flurry of hospitality events last week, including the BDNY tradeshow and our own Open House, put the idea of what it means to be hospitable top of mind – at home and at work. Whether hosting friends and family for holiday dinners, or entertaining designers in the showroom (have you been to a working lunch or one of our product launches?) the same rules of hospitality apply. Personally and professionally, I am thankful to have learned that when you are inviting, warm, gracious and everything looks fabulous, guests feel special and want to return again and again.

Photo courtesy of Richard Cadan
And speaking of learning, I was also thankful for the opportunity to again be part of the IIDA Hospitality Forum committee. My mom, errr.. boss, Nancy Jackson, forum moderator and co-chair of the event, may have enlisted me, but willingly! A star-studded panel of industry gurus (click photo on left to enlarge) shared their points of view on the phenomenon of fashion designer hotels, capturing the spirit of fashion and hospitality. It was interesting to hear whether they feel this trend has staying power – but I do aspire to checking in to the Missoni hotel one day, where I'd blend right in with the seasonal signature scarf I purchased on Gilt Groupe! Watch the Hospitality Forum's captivating introduction video by DMD Insight here.

Most importantly, I am always thankful for my family, however enmeshed I feel they are in my life – if you work in a family business, you know what I mean! And we are happy to welcome our newest member, my niece Lily Blake :)

Wherever your travels may take you, have a Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy all the hospitality that comes your way!

October 22, 2010

What's New - Trends in Fashionable Materials

Who influences whom - Fashion designers or Interior designers? Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference! The inspiration for fashion and material trends are often interchangeable. As you know, Materialista lives in the Big Apple, and at the close of International Fashion Week in New York, London, Paris, and Milan - the fashion capital of the world - I have been spotting the trends of the season on the street and in the places I go: faux fur/animal prints, the mixing of prints & patterns, and military chic.

Top reasons to love faux fur? It’s easy on the wallet, animal friendly, and oh-so-soft! Personally, I’m a sucker for anything leopard. Whether it’s a coat, a skirt, or an accessory, classic animal prints are en vogue this season. Even my 2 and 1/2 year old niece rocks her leopard leggings around town. Some of these gorgeous prints, with the plush feel, are part of a new product collection being introduced from ASI, Ornamental Surfaces. The applications are endless – feature walls, ceilings, furniture, window displays and visual merchandising elements to complement even the faux fur apparel!

The trend of mixing prints and floral patterns can be tricky, but playing with different textures and colors is all part of the fun, whether you’re getting dressed or designing a space. Balenciaga reinvented the school girl uniform this season by using a floral motif so similar to our contemporary Floral ceramic tile, where you can also mix and match tile and grout colors. When contrasting colors click, the result is an artful collage!

While shopping the stores to update my work wardrobe, I saw a military jacket with amazing silver metallic buttons that I’m dying to have. It will go with everything. And so will the Domes from the Metallic Mosaics collection that look just like those buttons! The mesh-backed tiles in edgy stainless steel and black colorations will suggest the on-trend Military look when refreshing a retail environment or creative corporate office. This style continues to reign as it marches into fall with army green jackets and coats, cargo pants and lace- up boots.

Fashion and interiors is such a hot topic, it’s the theme of this year’s IIDA Hospitality Forum – Designer Hotels! Be a part of the discussion on the influence of Fashion & Branding on Hospitality, November 15th.

October 5, 2010

What's Now: Materialista™ takes off to Santo Domingo!

Last week I had the pleasure of accompanying Nancy Jackson, the President of Architectural Systems (and my mom!), to the grand opening of our distributor’s showroom in Santo Domingo featuring Architectural Systems.  What an exciting trip!  Here’s how this collaboration came about…

 Sandra Abreu Rishavy, a talented designer with an exceptional aesthetic was surfing the web for a hospitality project, the renovation of Hotel Lina, when she discovered ASI’s website.  Not only inspired by ASI materials, our family business model was an idea Sandra and her husband/ business partner wanted to emulate in the Caribbean.

During our visit to the Dominican Republic we went to the Hotel Lina and were able to see firsthand how beautifully Sandra incorporated ASI materials into the design.  It was really amazing to see how the materials were used for such creative applications. 

I especially loved the Tropical Organic Wall Mosaic’s Circular Teak pattern used as a table top under a piece of glass in the Cigar Room.  The blue and silver Perla™ film created a continuous wave around the curved bar in the Piano Lounge and made you want to enjoy a cocktail – even at 10:00am!
The business center was surrounded with Sculptured™ panels painted a glossy white, leading you into the main restaurant ‘B delicious.’  This was truly the highlight!  Where do I begin?!  Iridescent vinyl tile on the walls, more Sculptured™ panels (painted brown) running parallel along both sides of the dining room; black and white stone mosaic tile as the bar front for each buffet station.  Tin ceilings painted silver.  And last but not least, the “iguana green” Perla™ film applied to a vinyl tile was used as the back feature wall – complimenting the lime green fabric on the chairs!  It was a fantastic experience to view this harmonious execution of finishes.

Touring each area of the property made us work up an appetite!  The Rishavys graciously welcomed us into their beautiful home for a traditional Dominican luncheon – the whole spread! Filled with rice and beans, chicken, sweet plantain, salty plantain, and (thankfully) salad.  It was authentic and satisfying. I love the 2 hour lunch concept!  Lucky for us, we got in on a great tip from Sandra’s design partner, Maggie and self- proclaimed Merengue dancer; have a big lunch and a light dinner everyday to stay fit. And, if you indulge too much, just dance longer at night!!

Now for the main event – the grand opening and ribbon cutting of the showroom!  Designers and architects, family and friends came from all over Santo Domingo for the celebration!  Nancy and I were fighting off the paparazzi.  Every newspaper in Santo Domingo was there to photograph the event (and us!).  We posed with TV personality, Jatnna Taraez (the Oprah of Santo Domingo), who was there as the master of ceremonies.  Cutting the ribbon with James and Sandra and their children was very special.  It is exciting to see another family business evolve!  We wish them the best of luck; mejor de las suertes!

August 30, 2010

What's Now - It Must Be Love

One of my favorite events of the year is the US Open in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Everyone in my family is an avid tennis player and fan alike. I am proud to say I took home the ladies’ championship in our local charity tournament this year, and my dad won the men’s. Giving back and winning continues to be a family tradition!

I have my tickets for the Women’s Finals and Men’s Semi-finals on Saturday, Sept 11, but am definitely disappointed that Serena will not be playing on the circuit this Open. I'm sure she'll be there to support her sister, but maybe to promote her newest business venture too – a chain of nail salons where the polishes are named after tennis terms! As a weekly manicure maintainer myself, I’d like to try all the colors, like 'Match Point', 'Love All' and 'Strings'.

So what does any of this have to do with materials? Well, it was really exciting to have just supplied materials for the USTA permanent booth. The booths on the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center grounds house a (tennis) shopper’s dream of apparel retailers. Polo Ralph Lauren is the sponsor again this year – need I say more? I can't wait to shop there next weekend - you know it's important for this Materialista to look at the top of her game!

It’s always fun to work on projects that hold personal interest, and the tennis connection started with the refreshed USTA headquarters, where they selected Porcelain flooring. Collaborating on the booth project made me appreciate the challenges and effort put into designing a space that has to perform well, but will only be open for 2 weeks a year.

Christie Kratzer, Design Principal of Reztark Design Studio, explains the design vision for the USTA booth, which will serve as the prototype for the other locations around the park:

“The USTA asked to unify their strong brand image in their retail locations creating a sophisticated and memorable experience with a new, fresh, sustainable face to compete with the high-end retailers on the grounds. The first phase was to renovate the Octagon which is a walk up store. All materials needed to be very durable and able to survive in a non-air conditioned space and promote the USTA’s green initiative. We used the Ecolinea wood veneer as a soft accent to represent he wooden rackets of old. The veneer has helped to bring the store to life.”

Tennis anyone?

August 10, 2010

What's new: ShoeWoo (Woo-hoo!!!)

ShoeWoo HOOOOO!!! Who needs the Land of Oz when there is the land of shoes. Stilettos, peep toes, ankle straps - oh my! With Susan McCoy, Vice President of Store Design and Shop Development, heading up the design, Jones Apparel Group has executed a wonderful concept to merchandise their brands (Nine West, Anne Klein, Rachel Roy, to name a few).

I have to admit I was so distracted by the shoes I could barely focus on the materials in the shop. But luckily for the Materialista, the whole entire retail space is eye candy! There is almost 1,000 square feet of porcelain in a beautiful cream color installed on the first floor with splashes of hot pink, lime green and purple accent colors on the walls and chairs. And, did I mention the fabulous swing next to the 20-foot tower of shoes? This shoe store is designed to be what every woman dreams about!

On the second level you discover the "attic", with all reclaimed wood armoires, half painted walls and signs that read, "These shoes are made to woo" - all to inspire you to buy and buy.

My favorite piece is the six-foot stiletto shoe statue hanging from the wall. You just have to see it to believe it. Once you've filled your shopping bag, you can't help but to return, of course, to get that other pair of shoes you just can't live without.

Prepare to be wooed!

July 14, 2010

What's Now: Fashion26 A Wyndham Hotel With Style

My family and I are always looking for a new place for lunch.  So when we found out that RARE was opening up in the new Wyndham concept, Fashion26 Hotel, we were thrilled!

Designed by Glen Coben, the dark hardwood flooring off the lobby guides you to a dramatic curved staircase leading to the downstairs seating area of the restaurant RARE. As you pass the glamorous bar area, it feels like you are walking down the catwalk to get to your table (though any real model would skip the bun :).

The soft yellow walls with the bright red accents and fabulous light fixtures gives you a sense of your destination – this is not your typical burger joint!

I really liked the application of the light and dark luxury wood vinyl installed in a parquet pattern in the dining area.  The fact that a natural hardwood flooring was used in the main hotel lobby and its cost effective and easy to maintain counterpart (vinyl simulation) were only steps away from each other show just how striking and complementary these two wood materials are! 

Rare is not only a great place for a burger (with a side of the amazing parmesan truffle fries) and a perfect venue to entertain customers, it's also the space to be for industry sightings!  At lunch the other day we spotted George Scammell, the Vice President of Global Design for Wyndham Worldwide, dining with the director of Food & Beverage, who was making sure everything was up to par! Anthony Simon the Senior Project Designer at TSC Design Associates was also seen having a bite with fellow colleagues.

Walking into the hotel always makes this Materialista feel like a Fashionista.  From the decor to the food, RARE is very well done. (Pun intended!!)

June 24, 2010

What's New: The next generation has arrived

For all you iPhone fanatics out there (count me among you), the day we have waited for is finally here. Apple's latest smartphone went on sale today and I would love to upgrade mine when my contract is up on my soon to be "vintage" 3GS!

Did you have a chance to preview Apple's commercial, announcing this generation of iPhones?  It got me thinking of the next generation of materials.  Especially because as you can see on the photo above I noticed the sculpted headboard.  I am proud to share that my parents were the first to introduce sculptured panels in North America over 10 years ago after we visited the Batimat tradeshow in Paris. (Do you believe how lucky I was to go along?)  And now, just like the iPhones, technology has created a new generation: sculpted panels wrapped in a variety of natural and synthetic finishes including wood veneers and stone simulations and metallics.

In fact, just last night I went to the Retail Design Institute event at Maison France, which was sponsored by the French Trade Commission to showcase the latest in French design.  This is where custom luxury met savoir-faire.  My favorite was a hand crafted sculpted panel with wood floating in resin.  Just like the iPhone, the applications are endless!

June 23, 2010

What's Now: Life in the Limelight

Have you heard about the new Limelight Marketplace in New York City? Family friend James Mansour designed the space in the former church, then nightclub, and created an indoor market inspired by outdoor European bazaars. I’ve been there dozens of times since it’s opened, and my favorite stop is the candy store, IT'SUGAR. The shimmery pink materials framing the doorway and encircling the center display get my mouth watering for sour watermelons – my weak sweet spot! With the Havaianas booth right in front, I was inspired to pick up a new pink pair to add to my flipflop collection – a must for my 15 block daily commute.

It’s amazing how some white paint and the clean lines of the black and white stone flooring transformed this dark and dreary (and almost creepy!) place into a fun escape for gift buying and summer treats. It’s a refreshing addition to Sixth Ave, with a little delicious taste of glamour thrown in.

June 21, 2010

WHAT'S NEXT: At the beach on summer solstice

The first day of summer! It’s a beautiful start to the season here in New York and it has me looking forward to long days on the beach. I love the timelessness of sand-swept landscapes, and I think it's cool when retailers simulate that sun-blanched look and feel in their stores. It might not be the real thing plucked from a house in the Hamptons, but the available engineered hardwoods certainly capture the antiquity of driftwood without the creaking! Now, if they could only bottle the smell of the salt air…