Inspiration from the Runway: Chanel

This week, we were inspired by the ethereal nautical theme from Chanel’s Spring 2012 RTW collection. Never short on inspiration, Karl Lagerfeld transformed the Grand Palais into a magical underwater world to complement his dreamy collection. We’re certainly ready to get on board that ship!

No.1* Utopia Sailor/Pirate Bowl / No.2 Decorative Brass Sailboat / Outfit image from Chanel Spring 2012

*Denotes an item in our online shop

Voyage: Jaipur, India

Being a company that works with designers and artisans from all over the world, we’ve been able to travel to some pretty incredible places near and far to meet artisans, draw inspiration and simply absorb and appreciate new and different cultures. And since we love sharing stories, we decided to create a weekly post called “Voyage” to share a travel photo every Friday of places and experiences that have inspired us.

This week’s voyage takes us to Jaipur, India where we learned about the block-printing process from a skilled artisan there (and even got to do a bit of block-printing ourselves!).

We’d love to see the people and places that have inspired you, so we invite you to submit your own travel photos to us at to be included in our “Voyage” column. Please be sure to include the location and source of your photo!

A tidbit from our travels.

A tidbit from our travels.

happy friday! we’re dreaming of somewhere off the beaten path…

happy friday! we’re dreaming of somewhere off the beaten path…

A little piece of paradise. Happy Friday!

A little piece of paradise. Happy Friday!

Inspiration from the Runway

Design inspires design. We love drawing decor inspiration from fashion and vice versa. One of our absolute favorite trends this Fall is unapologetically bold colors, like the ones from this red and hot pink look from Prabal Gurung’s Fall 2011 collection. SJP wore the gorgeous look to the “Late Show With David Letterman” last month.

Here’s how we incorporate this bold trend into our own lives. We love the vibrant colors of Tessera’s ikat pillows, which add the perfect pop of color to any room.

Adding a pillow, throw or runner to your home is an easy way to mix it up and feature your favorite fashion trends without breaking the bank. What’s your favorite fashion trend this fall?

Decor from across the pond: Eccleston Square Hotel, London. Loved the grey and white chevron flooring.

Decor from across the pond: Eccleston Square Hotel, London. Loved the grey and white chevron flooring.

Farm Fresh Inspiration: Outstanding in the Field

The local, organic, gourmet food movement in New York is in full swing with CSAs, farmers markets, and farm to table restaurants galore! (We ♥ Blue Hill at Stone Barns.)

This past weekend, I experienced a whole new style of organic dining with Outstanding in the Field, a roving farm-to-table restaurant that tours the US and Europe. They organize farms, chefs, wines, and guests in each locale, hosting dinners on farms as well as wineries and beach coves (sign me up!). We ventured to Happy Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania where farmers Tom Colbaugh & Jean Nick raise organic, free-range, and very boisterous chickens, ducks, turkeys, sheep, and goats. They sell great tasting organic eggs and meat into local markets and high-end restaurants in the region.

The day began at 3pm with a reception featuring wine from nearby Pinnacle Ridge Winery, paired with Happy Farm chicken croquettes, duck liver terrine, James Beard sandwiches, and tomato tarts. Next, we took a tour of the farm, where it became clear why the event was called Outstanding in the Field… we were literally out standing in a field (note to self, wear rain boots, not high heels!). Dinner was the highlight of the day, featuring a colorful decor of plates (guests are asked to bring their own special heirloom, or choose from an offering of antique plates) and a four-course gourmet meal prepared by Chef Lee Chizmar of Bolete Restaurant in nearby Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

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Guest Storyteller: Cristi Ambroson of Tessera

We caught up with designer Cristi Ambroson of Tessera to learn more about her incredible collection of ikats and suzanis that she handpicks in Uzbekistan from local markets and artisans’ homes.

What inspired you to start Tessera?

Tessera’s inspiration comes from a long-standing Ambroson holiday tradition. My parents and I take turns giving the others the travel books for the location of our next visit the following year. It is always the last gift opened and usually a surprise. The rest of the family may think they know where we will go, but usually there is a twist. Once we have all arrived at our destination, mom, dad and I regularly meander very far “off the beaten path.” But no matter how much we have wandered, we have learned that many truths are universal: we all laugh, cry and love our children dearly.

The photographs of the places we visit and children we meet are my most treasured souvenirs - along with the objects and artifacts that we have collected over the years. Over the past few years, I began seeking an endeavor that would bring these passions together. Tessera was conceived.

Can you tell us about the history behind the suzanis and ikats that you have collected from Uzbekistan?

Hundreds of years ago, the Uzbeki women created embroidered textiles in different shapes and patterns as decorative items and as protective covers for their possessions. Weddings were the seeds of amazing accessories. Traditional nomadic wedding ceremonies included a patchwork ceremonial cloth and head ornaments for the bride’s camel. The bride carried her dowry pieces in a plain colored cloth embroidered with a triangular pattern on two opposite corners. The pattern, symbolic of the evil eye, offered protection.

The dowry pieces were called the “Suzani”, a Persian or Farsi word for “needle”. They were an integral part of a woman’s artistic expression for hundred’s of years. Tradition stated that once a girl was born, her mother would start embroidering the Suzani for her; as the daughter grew older, she would join in the process. Considered treasured possessions, the Suzani were only used for special occasions, and depending on the wealth of the family, a dowry included about ten Suzani. An average Suzani is said to take two to two and a half years to complete.

The word “ikat” means “to bind” and it has come to describe both a very ancient weaving technique and the vibrant fabrics that are created through this special craft. These exquisite textiles were once used in ceremonial dress, to decorate the entrances of homes, and to symbolize wealth and prestige. Today, they are considered a form of art.

What is your favorite thing about visiting Uzbekistan?

I love meeting and seeing all the people and children.  I also enjoy the hunt of finding new treasures.

Check out our collection of Tessera’s handcrafted ikat pillows here, inspired by the antique ikats that Cristi discovered in Uzbekistan.

Chris Benz’s SS2012 Andy Warhol-inspired collection. Loved the big hair, candy lips and crazy prints.