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66 posts categorized "America the beautiful"

20 January 2009


President Barack Obama kisses first lady Michelle Obama after ...

14 January 2009

Muji at MOMA

In more good news for US peeps, I've recently discovered that New York's MOMA store (which is a great online shop anyway) sells a range of Muji merchandise online, so all is getting righter in my world. (Hope they get some of the fab Christmas merchandise next year).

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02 December 2008

Go Fug Your Room - Miles Redd

Or, Miles Redd - WTF? So, another super fashionable decorator with whom Americans seem to be incredibly enamoured is Miles Redd.  Domino describes him as the sultan of swank and his work is variously described as luxe, opulent, elegant, sumptuous, chic and glamorous, which all appear to be euphemisms for cluttered, ugly, muddled and like a dowager duchess on speed.

Like our dear friend Kelly Wearstler, he is another designer that I just do. not. get.  So, in the words of Rachel Maddow, I need you to 'talk me down'. Tell me just what it is that makes this guy so amazing and so worshipped.

Here are pics of his latest photoshoot in Domino.


{All photos by Paul Costello from the Domino website} 

I'm sorry, but this is ugly. The colour scheme of beige, grey, plum, pale blue, forest green and red is incoherent, dull and generally bleurgh and I don't like the over-emphasized symmetry; those lamps are pretty, but look all wrong here, and I'm really not keen on the arrangement of pictures of wall, which for some reason puts me in mind of space invaders.


{Photo by Paul Costello from Domino magazine}

I had to scan this picture in from the magazine as it wasn't on the Domino website, so you could see the far end of the room in all its ugly glory.  That picture is HIDEOUS, surely?  And I just find all the beige, grey and forest green deeply depressing; and no, it's not jazzed up by the 'witty' animal skin cushions, which just look try-hard and out of place here.


Inoffensive, dull, more 'witty' animal print, like a bad hotel bedroom.  Move on, there's nothing to see here.


Well I suppose this is better. Not so cluttered with junk and I quite like the colours, though I'm not entirely sure about shiny red patent leather in a bedroom context (or in any context aside from little girls' party shoes). The lamp and bedside table arrangement is OK though.



I like this kitchen as a concept. I'm not sure I'd like it so much in the early morning while fumbling for a cup of coffee with a hangover, or indeed if I was actually going to attempt some cooking.  The coffee maker is aces though.


And here's the man himself.  The Husband walked past my computer as I was pulling these pictures together and said 'he looks like a twat'.  Well, quite.  (I believe the North American equivalent of twat is 'douchebag', which is one of my all time favourite Americanisms).


10 November 2008

Mr President

OK, so I'll move off the election very soon.  (Is it my imagination or has everyone been a bit smilier this last week?)

First though, I thought you might like to see these fabulous images from artist Michael Murphy.




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The sketch above turned into this fabulous twisted wire sculpture


This image was created by an overhead light shining on nails.


Here's a detail


And here's the same image without the overhead light.

Do check out Michael Murphy's website for more fabulous pics.

05 November 2008

America the Beautiful



{image via Whorange}


Thanks guys. You played a blinder. Yesterday was the first and only time I've wanted to be a US citizen.  Just wish there was someone comparable in the UK.

Oh and read this, it's beautiful.

Just a few small points.

- Can you add a woman to that picture soon?  Say in eight years? (But PLEASE not Sarah Palin.)

- Pretty disgusted though by the Yes Vote on Prop 8 and by the anti-gay marriage votes in Arizona and Florida

- Michele Bachmann - WTF?

- Also Ted Stevens - WTF?

04 November 2008

Barack the Vote Again


I promise I'm not being paid to shill for Trophy Cupcakes, but I thought you might like to see some of the essential supplies I bought for tonight's election party. 

They told me they'd had over 1,000 pre-orders for the Obama cupcakes and were baking them at the rate of 50 every half hour and still selling out.  They weren't making any John McCain photo ones (this is Seattle after all), but did have some with sugar elephants on them which did not seem to be selling...

Barack the Vote


This was the genuine front page of the UK's Daily Mirror after the last debacle.  Guys, you know what you have to do.  Please don't let the world down again.

10 October 2008

More Lipstick on a Pig

In these troubled economic times (I'm starting to suspect that mirrormirror is not going to have a particularly good Christmas), I thought readers in the UK at least would appreciate this exemplar of learned political discourse from here in the US, as Americans go about the process of electing the leader of the free world.

To be fair, this comes from Fox News, which is not exactly noted for its unbiased opinions. For more sensible analysis and opinions (and proof that not all Americans are certifiably insane), this site is aces

23 September 2008

Go Fug Your Room (and Yourself) - Kelly Wearstler

Or, Kelly Wearstler - WTF?

I know that American design sensibilities are different from European ones.  Americans seem to like more fuss, clutter and ornamentation than Europeans are used to. I think this is because minimalism was a European thing and its philosophy of clean lines, simple shapes and less clutter seems to have permeated our culture a lot more, even if we wouldn't consider ourselves minimalists.

Having said all that, I just can't understand the American adoration of interior designer Kelly Wearstler.  An ex-topless model, champion of Hollywood Regency style, author of many books, and judge on interior design reality pogramme Top Design, she's probably the equivalent in status to a Kelly Hoppen or Tricia Guild in the UK (though with very different design sensibilities) and very much admired.

But I. just. don't. get. it.

Here are pictures from her recent spread in Domino magazine.  Am I really the only person who thinks this looks like a wealthy Arab just ran amok in an early 80s motel? (With apologies to all wealthy Arabs with taste). Isn't all the gold and shiny stuff and horrendous layered pattern and blocks of marble and overstuffed leather and fussy knickknackery just, well, hideous?  Can someone please explain what I'm missing here?






All images from Domino 

By the way, these are the ways she chooses to wear her hair, in public, nay, even on telly.  There doesn't appear to be any coercion involved. Thank goodness she's beautiful.




Image from (the amazing Project Rungay boys also blog Top Design).


15 September 2008

Lipstick on a Pig



This blog really isn't the place for political stuff, though some days it doesn't feel right to be wittering on about cushions and cupcakes.  Today is one of those days.

I used to work in the City.  I stuck at investment banking for about nine years until I worked out that I hated it.  And one of the things I hated most was this feeling that we were putting lipstick on pigs and never really admitting they were pigs. But today the chickens and the pigs as well are coming home to roost.

As an outsider to the American political process, it has been fascinating and terrifying to watch it from the 'inside'.  I had some idea when back in the UK that abortion was a big issue here.  I had no idea that even with so much negative crap going on, it would still be one of the most important issues on the agenda. People here don't believe me when I say that back in the UK I don't have a clue where top politicians stand on abortion, that it's hardly even mentioned.

Amazing as it may seem, I feel nostalgic for the British political process.  For discussion that, however sleazily or simplistically, still focuses on things like taxation, healthcare, education, the Iraq war and the environment.  Here, the discussion is all about abortion, teenage pregnancy, lipstick, guns and where Sarah Palin gets her glasses.

Americans, and the rest of the world, deserve better than that.

Here, for what it's worth, is some of the most insightful and funniest commentary so far. (Sorry I can't embed a video as NBC has had all the ones on YouTube deleted).

06 July 2008

Independence Day


Pic courtesy of James, who wasn't as drunk as he should have been

So around forty adults and an entirely unnecessary number of children under 5 climbed up to our roof deck one balmy summer's night.  And this is what they saw...




Top two blurry pictures by me.  Bottom sharp pic by James.


Drunk in charge of a camera again

I yet again had far too many margaritas to be safe in charge of a camera and also forgot to take any pictures of the food or of the extremely cheesy red, white and blue decorations, or of the Stars and Stripes and Union Jack fluttering gently together in perfect harmony. 

The Minx rushed around all night waving a Stars and Stripes and being taught to say 'down with the King' by our friends.  There will be beheadings.

Seattle excelled itself once again.  God bless America.

04 July 2008

Let them eat cake


Preparations are underway for what is rapidly becoming our traditional party to celebrate 'America's birthday' (which is how we explain things to the Minx) or Britain's liberation from the US depending on your perspective.

This year I'll try and stay sober enough to take a few pics. This is the only one from last year which wasn't fatally blurred.


20 May 2008

Britain v America - Book Covers

Here's our next look at British v. American design sensibilities.

Last time round we hugely preferred the uncluttered British approach to magazine cover design, though we did stop to note the American fondness for glitz and glamour, as exemplified by Gwyneth Paltrow in a ballgown on the cover. Immaculately groomed movie stars and celebrities are everywhere here, all over the TV and on the covers of every magazine.

The British on the other hand are notoriously bad at glamour and polish.  We can very rarely pull it off and so regard deliberate attempts at glamour with suspicion, resorting instead to cheerful eccentricity which often tips over into untidiness or even dowdiness. Brits like to call this 'reality'.

Compare if you will the UK and US covers for the book Petite Anglaise.

I got hooked on 'petite's' blog a couple of years back, just as she was leaving her live-in partner and father of her child for someone she'd met in her comments box.  The blog is hugely well-written and for a while was as suspenseful as a daily soap-opera. Petite (Catherine Sanderson) became globally notorious last year when she was 'dooced' for blogging at work - the first high-profile European blogger to whom that had happened. As a result though she managed to snag a big book deal for global publication of her story.

Until I came to live in the US I didn't realise to what extent books etc. are repackaged for different geographic markets. Sanderson writes amusingly here about how much the text has to be 'translated' from English to American. The covers are also COMPLETELY different. 

Sanderson's book is half about her dissatisfaction with her day-to-day 'metro, boulot, dodo' routine, her unsatisfactory  relationship and the difficulties and sometimes loneliness of bringing up a young child.

This is the half of the story which the British cover very clearly focuses on.  Have you ever seen anything more mumsy and dowdy?  You just know that there's going to be dog poo/poop (see how good I'm getting at this English/American translation business!) somewhere in that picture. Note the flat shoes and huge nappy/diaper bag. And I bet her nail varnish is chipped and her legs are hairy. And yes I know that's how most mothers dress, but do you really want to see that on a book cover? And no sign of the various menfolk in the book.  Indeed it's unlikely, despite appearances, that the woman on the cover has ever had sex.

The dowdy, old-fashioned, feel carries through into the design.  Note all the sugary pink, serif fonts and pretty pretty flowers. Though maybe the layout, aside from the fussy illustration, is, in true British style, a little cleaner.


UK cover art for Petite Anglaise 

The other half of Sanderson's story on the other hand is about the illicit thrill of flirting on the Internet via blog comments and emails, meeting this stranger in real life and her subsequent mad affair. Her blog at the time this was happening fairly crackled with sexual excitement. And guess which half of the story the American cover focuses on?



US cover art for Petite Anglaise 

Look at those heels! Is she even wearing any clothes? Note the cinema posterish layout. On this cover Petite has been turned into Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt is lurking behind the Eiffel Tower.  This woman has sex all the time, NEVER has chipped nail polish and probably doesn't know one end of a stroller from another.

And yes, I know real life is not like this, but really, if you're feeling mumsy and badly put together, do you need to be reminded of it in a book cover? The only thing I don't like about this cover is the actual title where the curly font and fiddly border reminds us of the American love of excessive ornamentation.



Which cover would you buy?

UPDATE:  I'm intrigued that people seem to be preferring the UK cover - would love to hear your reasons in the comments.  

20 April 2008

Britain v America - Magazine Covers

Ever since I moved from London to Seattle, I've noticed that there is a very different design sensibility between Britain and the US, not just in interiors but in every aspect of life.

So I thought it would be fun to launch a series of posts where we can compare and contrast everyday elements of British and American design and just have a chat round the differences.

First up, here are the May 2008 covers for British and American Vogue, which to me exemplify the two different design aesthetics (even though American Vogue is famously edited by a Brit).


May 2008 cover of British Vogue featuring Natalia Vodianova

The cover of British Vogue is simpler and cleaner, with far fewer words and simple fonts (though note the use of the serif font).  Colour though is brought into the typeface.

The focus is very much on the model. Note it's a model not a celebrity - celebrities do appear on the cover of British Vogue but comparatively rarely.  Though admittedly the lines get a bit blurred with celebrity models such as Kate Moss, who seems to be on the cover of British Vogue all the time.  The colours are very bright, clean and fresh and to my eyes very English.  The whole thing seems much more uncluttered and spare.


May 2008 cover of American Vogue featuring Gwyneth Paltrow

American magazine covers - and this is no exception - seem to have a lot more going on.  There are more words and more different font sizes (though only one sans serif font is used throughout).  There are more emphatic caps and italics and a quote is included. All the words mix lower case and upper case. 

The image used is much busier (and more obviously photoshopped?) - more Gwyneth, more dress, more background. There's a lot more Hollywood glamour - a movie actress, big hair, silver and sequins. And with the mask, even obvious movie product placement (for the Iron Man movie, starring, you guessed it, Gwyneth Paltrow). The colours, though, are more muted and soft than on the British cover.

So, which one do you like best?  Which one would you buy? Do you prefer the cover from your 'home' country?  Does the other cover seem very different and/or strange?  Does the British cover seem scarily uninformative and gaudily bright? Does the US cover seem more old-fashioned (as it does to me)? Or does the serif font on the UK cover look old-fashioned to American eyes? If you're neither British nor American which one stands out for you? Am I the only person who thinks Gwyneth look strangely like she's been carved out of wax?


(Just adding a poll, because your answers are intriguing me.)

So the thing that's intriguing me, is that not a single person has said they prefer the US cover, but surely Anna Wintour et al must do focus groups and stuff about this sort of thing? And must think that the US-style cover will sell best? Can anyone out there explain?

By the way is the poll working properly? I've had all sorts of trouble getting it up.

25 February 2008

Oscar Thoughts

One of the nicest things about moving to the US is being able to watch the Oscars as they happen at a sensible time of the evening instead of pinching oneself to stay awake into the wee small hours.  I do miss Jonathon Ross's snark though.

I have to say though, that I've never seen such a boring collection of Oscar frocks in my life. Mile after mile of vacuous starlets parading in slimline silhouettes and fishtail trains, their breast implants squashed into strapless or assymetrical off- the-shoulder necklines.

And the colours - or lack thereof. Last night there were apparently only three choices available - black, red,  or white/silver if you were really feeling rebellious.  If you're going to go to all the trouble of wearing a posh frock, then why would you choose black? However intricate the actual dress is, it's never going to stand out in a crowd.  And no, midnight blue is not really a much racier choice.

Though it did make me laugh to see all those girls who really thought they'd stand out by wearing red all queuing up in a long line like London buses. 

heidi_klumIf you must wear red, do it like Heidi Klum.  Despite being completely addicted to Project Runway, I'm not a big fan of the robotic Frau Seal, but there's no denying that her Galliano dress is absolutely spectacular.  It's apparently up for auction for charity, if you've still got some Christmas money left over.












Another contender for Best Dressed, despite being nearly three times the age of some of the vacuous starlets was Helen Mirren.  Oh she makes me proud to be British. 
















If you're going to do the fishtail look then why not go the whole hog and turn up dressed as a mermaid a la Best Actress Marion Cotillard in Gaultier.  I was so thrilled with her win. La Vie En Rose was one of the few other movies I went to see last year and her acting was an absolute tour de force.


Worst dressed was difficult.  Normally this would have been a slam dunk win for Tilda Swinton, who decided to turn up wearing a black bin liner.

tilda-swinton-oscars-2008-02However, it was such a relief to see something a bit different from all the strapless fishtails that I'll give her a pass on this one, also because one has to respect her Bowie-esque fierceness and the fact that she manages to live with both the father of her children and her handsome toyboy.  Though even given all those things, black really isn't the right colour for you if your complexion is that pale.

The Husband, who saw Michael Clayton recently, reckoned she deserved her win, but I was sad that the Oscar didn't go to 13-year-old Saiorse Ronan who managed to act everyone else off the screen in Atonement (not so difficult when you're up against Keira Knightley, more so when it's Vanessa Redgrave).

At least she managed to look ethereal and age appropriate (*cough* Miley Cyrus *cough*) in Alberta Ferretti, though the hair was a bit too severe. We will forgive her much for actually wearing a colour other than black red or white though.


One of the only people other than Tilda, who managed to stand out amongst the personality transplants was Diablo Cody, who won the original screen writing award.  Again, I wouldn't normally advocate tats and leopardskin, but it worked, because that is clearly who she is.


So who wins the mirrormirror Worst Dressed Award?

I'm sort of confused by Nicole Kidman's effort. Pregnancy has clearly befuddled her brains sufficiently that she decided to turn up wearing a bib made of diamonds.  It sort of looks OK here, but much worse when she was actually presenting her award as the necklace had got all askew and tangled by that stage. But at least she was trying something different.

She absolutely wins the 'worst face' award though.  She really couldn't move it for Botox when making her little speech.  She appears to be morphing rapidly into Lady Penelope.





Sadly my girl Jennifer Hudson, of whom I have been a great fan since American Idol days and who quite often looks fab, was again let down badly by her Oscar stylist.  After last years horrific bolero, she wore a frock that made her ample boobage look deformed.  Even the Husband remarked upon it (we know now where he looks when it comes to clothes).  It seems that designers and stylists are completely flummoxed when they have to confront a pair of real breasts. As a woman of ample boobage myself,  I'd love to see her in something plunging and uplifting and in yer face which would get all the fishtailed starlets crying into their implants.  But for the moment though, she's a strong contender for Worst Dressed.


Actress Daniel Day-Lewis and wife Rebecca Miller attend the 80th Editing to say that, now I've found a picture of it, this creation undoubtedly wins the Worst Dressed award.  What on earth was Rebecca Miller thinking?

19 February 2008

Go Fug Your Room - Betsey Johnson

This next room should please the 84% of you who thought that the Kelly Hoppen-designed room was too bland and soulless and lacking in colour and nicknackery (which begs the question how on earth is Kelly H so successful?).

US fashion designer Betsey Johnson's maximalist apartment was featured in last August's UK Elle Deco and has since garnered a surprisingly positive reaction around blogland.

I have no real idea who she is, beyond what I've read on Wikipedia though I did like what I saw of her last collection.  She looks like she's trying to be 'zany' in a Zandra Rhodes-ish sort of way and 'more is more' is definitely her byword, when it comes to home furnishings at least.

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I do like the mix of romantic French and vintage mid-century pieces and love the idea of accenting pink with yellow, but surely this is TOO pink? It's not even a tasteful pink but bubblegum pink.  Mixed with fuschia.  With a pink shag carpet.

And am I the only person feeling sorry for the person who does the dusting? And who is getting mightily bored with Arco lamps? (Though I presume Betsey might have acquired hers from Andy Warhol rather than Ebay).

Is this room fugly?