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Latest Features

High Shine

What is the difference between high gloss and lacquer, if there is one?

There are two major differences between high gloss and lacquer: sheen and process. While both are glossy, reflective sheens, lacquer portrays an almost glasslike finish (think of a grand piano). A lacquer finish must be applied to a flawless surface free of bumps, cracks, and even dust. A blend of resins and solvents is then sprayed on; it dries quickly, creating a hard surface. High-gloss paint is a little more forgiving. It is self-leveling, meaning it can hide some imperfections and can be applied with a brush or roller. However, it dries much more slowly and doesn’t harden like lacquer.

What are the pros and cons to consider when using these finishes?

Both are easy to clean! That’s important when considering a finish for a bar or vanity. Lacquer is a very durable and hard finish that may hold up better over time than a high-gloss paint. Lacquer can be cost prohibitive because of the amount of work that goes into prepping the surface. It is also a specialized service that not every painter can offer, and the cost of lacquer is higher.

What are the benefits of using high-gloss or lacquer paint in an interior? How do you think it is best used?

Both finishes are highly reflective, so when used on walls, they enhance natural light during the daytime and create a lot of drama at night. Using a high-sheen finish on cabinetry draws your attention and adds dimension to the space.

How do you personally like to use this finish? Do you use it in your own home or design studio?

I tend to lacquer smaller spaces to add drama and interest. My go-to lacquer spaces are wet bars, vanities, and crown moldings that when lacquered, helps to enhance a painted or wallpapered ceiling. For full-room use, I would suggest a library or dining room with detailed wood panels.

How are your clients using this finish? Are there any trending styles?

My clients are all across the board—we have lacquered entire rooms, wet bars, kitchens, trim, and furniture! It all depends on how comfortable the client is with the effect and result. Some clients who are unfamiliar may think the look is too bold. However, it is my job to educate them and coordinate this process with the selected scheme and overall aesthetic we are trying to achieve.

In the end, my main goal is to create an elegant and timeless interior for my clients that is a reflection of their personalities, which both finishes can help to achieve. Fun fact: even George Washington was a fan of high-gloss walls!


A Library Grows Downeast

Simons Architects is working with the Jesup Memorial Library in Bar Harbor on a new addition to its historic 1911 building. The addition is the third phase of a four-phase plan for growth dating back to 2015, reflecting the library’s mission to “nourish minds, enhance lives, and build community.” Extensive restoration and rehabilitation work, as well as ADA accessibility and energy improvements, have already been made to the existing building.

This new 11,400-square-foot addition will almost double the size of the library and create three new entrances on two levels. A library is meant to be a safe harbor, so these new entrances are designed to be open and welcoming. The two-story connector to the existing building will have intuitive wayfinding and serve the community as an informal gathering space and viewing gallery. The lower level is community oriented, with a new multipurpose meeting room designed to seat up to 150 people and a makerspace classroom. The main level will house the relocated and expanded children’s and teen collections, with a storytime area, noisy/quiet study rooms, and directly adjacent restrooms.

The expansion also includes a new archive section dedicated to storing and maintaining historic maps of Acadia National Park as well as genealogical materials. There will be a classroom, public study area, archival research stations, and a digital lab.

The library has established environmentally responsible goals for a 100-year building for the addition, with a mass timber structure and a high-performance building envelope. The design will aim to minimize energy and water use as much as possible and provide the chance to reduce reliance on fossil fuels over time as systems are upgraded. Since the library is located in a moderate fly-through zone for bird migration, bird-friendly design strategies are being incorporated.

The new addition is “stepped back” from the existing library to celebrate its history and importance within the community while creating an inviting outdoor public space. Contemporary masonry and metal cladding were carefully selected to complement the existing building in their quality and materiality, but they are differentiated with the use of contrasting colors and large-format, contemporary glazing.   

Location: Bar Harbor

Architect: Simons Architects

Design Team: Scott Simons, FAIA, principal; Julia Tate, AIA, project manager; Matt Maiello, AIA, project architect; Sam Mellecker, designer

In collaboration with: Pamela Hawkes, FAIA, principal at Scattergood Design; Scott Whitaker, director of enclosure at LeMessurier (for existing building work) Mike Rogers, PLA, and Rob Krieg, PLA, at LARK Studio

Preconstruction Services: E.L. Shea Builders & Engineers

Construction Start: September 2023

Construction Completion: September 2025


Montblanc Meisterstück

My father, who worked in real estate, always had a gold Cross pen in his left shirt pocket. I learned at a young age that the type of pen you carry makes a statement. Like most kids in the ’80s and ’90s, I carried a Bic Cristal ballpoint (a pen with its own merits, but that’s for another Design Lesson). The pen of all pens was then, and still is, the Montblanc Meisterstück 149.

The fountain pens we know today became popular in the early twentieth century. They all use water-based inks (filling your pen with the wrong type of ink will ruin it) and have a reservoir for the ink. The reservoir can be built into the pen’s barrel, but today, a disposable ink cartridge is more common. The flexible metal tip at the end is the nib, with a tiny slit down its centerline, and it is tipped with a tiny ball made of an alloy of one of the
platinum-group metals.

The Meisterstück fountain pen was first introduced in 1924 by the company Simplo, which would later become Montblanc (after the name of the highest peak in the Alps). Meisterstück means “masterpiece,” and its design is luxurious: a black resin is used for the cap and barrel of the pen, “Meisterstück” is etched into the widest of the three gold rings that go around the base of the cap, and on the tip of the cap is the iconic white Montblanc emblem (a white star that represents the snowcap and six glacial valleys of Mont Blanc). The height of the mountain, which is 4,810 meters, is inscribed on the pen’s 18-carat hand-ground gold nib.

By the end of the 1920s, Montblanc was internationally known for its writing instruments. A lifetime guarantee was added in 1935 for the Meisterstück, and Montblanc began producing branded leather pen pouches, notebooks, and writing cases. Famous
Meisterstück users include President John F. Kennedy, Princess Diana, and President Barack Obama.

The final-year project for a young craftsperson training at Montblanc is to design a Meisterstück; it marks their transition from apprentice to master. Each Meisterstück 149 is individually crafted and can be customized with various point sizes and ranges of flexibility in the nib. The pen is 148 mm (5.8 inches) long by 16 mm (0.63 inches) in diameter, and it has changed little over the past hundred years, except for a specially developed resin that replaced the original celluloid. In 1994 the Meisterstück Solitaire Royal became the world’s most expensive fountain pen, adorned with 4,810 diamonds, each set by hand. Today you can learn even more about this iconic writing instrument by visiting the Montblanc nib-making factory and the Montblanc Museum in Hamburg, Germany.


All the Elements

When Elisa Castillo and Rob Solomon bought their East Boothbay property in 2019, the 15-acre parcel had sat on the market for a year. It was densely wooded, covered with scrubby growth, and run through with ledges that threatened to limit buildable lots; roads would have to be built, and electricity and water brought in. But the couple fell under its spell. “It’s a beautiful property with ridges, highs, lows, swamp, everything. We kept hiking through the property, and every time, we saw something totally different,” says Solomon. “It was disorienting. It was magic.” They purchased it and began to plan for a second home that would become a remote work location (Castillo is a psychologist and wellness dean at a public university, and Solomon is a solutions architect for a cybersecurity software company). Veteran travelers, they also wanted to put their Airbnb experience to use designing a home that could be rented when they weren’t using it. A hilltop offered the possibility of an ocean view, and they worked with Kaplan Thompson Architects to design a structure tall enough to see the water while conforming to local height limits. But as they spent more time on the property, they found themselves drawn to a different location: a grove of birch trees surrounding a large maple and spotted with vernal pools. They built a stone firepit there, set some Adirondack chairs around it, and changed their plan.

Putting their custom design on the shelf (for now), they began working with Kaplan Thompson’s sister firm, BrightBuilt Home, to customize a high-performance modular home. Site responsiveness was important to the couple, says Solomon: “I didn’t want a tabula rasa. I didn’t want to take an idea of a house and plop it down anyplace. I wanted to create something shaped around the place.” A modular home is, in fact, brought to the site largely complete, but that doesn’t get in the way of specificity, says architect Jessica Benner, who worked with the couple to modify the firm’s Sidekick model. With an eye toward matching the plans for the hilltop home, they switched the gable form for a shed roof and added clerestory windows under vaulted ceilings. The bedrooms were moved to opposite ends of the module to provide more privacy; the kitchen was converted to a galley. Most high-performance homes are south facing, says Benner, but in this case “the siting of the house has really beautiful views to the east, so we arranged the spaces so that all of that light and sun could come in on the east side.”

Once the design was complete, the home was constructed by KBS Builders in South Paris, while general contractor Mike White of Island Carpentry in Georgetown prepared the site. One of the efficiencies of modular construction is that the foundation can be poured while the walls and roof are being built, rather than in sequence. It can take only two weeks for the home to be constructed in the factory. Then, on “set day,” the home is delivered to the site and positioned by crane, under the supervision of the general contractor, who oversees a team of specialists. At that point, says Benner, 70 or 75 percent of the work is completed. “Once they deliver the module, it takes three months to finish these guys, on average,” says White. “If you build a house from scratch on a foundation, it might be five, six, seven months.” But for White, who has worked with BrightBuilt on around 25 homes, time savings are less important than resource conservation. Several years ago, motivated by the threat of climate change, he committed to building zero-energy homes, which produce all the energy they consume. “It’s the only thing I want to do. It’s the right thing to do, not only for the environment, but also for people’s pocketbooks. It saves money, particularly over a long period,” he says. Because modular construction creates cost savings, it makes zero-energy homes available to more people. “It’s been a mission of BrightBuilt to change the paradigm of modular, bringing high design to the modular industry. It’s meant to make the design and architecture and high performance more accessible,” says Benner.
“I firmly believe that modular is the construction method of the future.”

Finishing the home, for Castillo and Solomon, meant completing its ties to the outdoors. It is a small space—850 square feet—but they never imagined its walls as boundaries. Castillo grew up in Puerto Rico, where, she says, “everyone lives outdoors”; Solomon had a similar experience growing up in a Long Island, New York, beach town and had developed a deep love for the woods while attending summer camp in Maine. They worked with White to add an oversized deck and a separate structure that holds a sauna and outdoor hot tub, while designing a “forest garden” in the birch grove, using stones unearthed during construction. The interior design was “all about elevating natural elements,” says Castillo. They selected light wood trim, clear maple floors, a soapstone countertop, and a fireplace surround made of river stones to anchor the design in nature. Accents in a deep teal were matched to decaying wood they found on the property, which was stained by the green elfcup fungus. Castillo chose artworks that use elemental shapes—circles, squares, and rectangles—in playful ways, to create a calming effect. She hung round mirrors opposite the large windows to bring the forest into the interior and echo the moon motif that appears throughout the home.

The property, which carries the name Forest Spa Maine on Airbnb, was always intended as a retreat, but as construction proceeded during the COVID pandemic, it gained new meanings. By then, the couple had moved beyond camping out on the site: they had built a large platform topped by a Garden Igloo plastic dome tent, and they had also brought in a portable toilet and two-burner gas grill. “We came here every other weekend through that first summer of COVID,” Solomon recalls. “It helped preserve our sanity.” Castillo was heading up the COVID response at her university. “It was so intense,” she says. “We became very mindful of how hungry we are for retreat, escape, relaxation, and wellness. We wanted to create a space not just for us but for others to unplug, be with nature, go hiking, have that meditative experience that could be so healing.” Now that they have a space for themselves and for Airbnb guests, the couple is imagining next steps. They are planning their “third bedroom”—a small, off-grid structure that will expand the home’s capacity for guests. Perhaps they will take that model further, creating private areas for “glamping” around the property; perhaps they will create a wellness retreat. And there’s still that plan for the house on the hill. For now, Castillo says, they are deeply appreciating what they have built. “My favorite thing here is being in the hot tub, when you can see the Milky Way at night. It’s a small house, but you have access to the universe.”

Hide Away

Seamless storage options are key when designing a residence with a small footprint. This has proven true not only in our modern age of tiny living but for as long as boatbuilders have been crafting drifting homes and city dwellers have slept, eaten, and bathed in one compact space. From floating stairs to inventive built-ins to hidden storage compartments like the one shown above, Pretty Small: Grand Living with Limited Space (Gestalten, 2022) showcases residences that serve as inspired guides on how to set up a place of solitude with a reduced floor plan.

Here, architecture duo Claire Scorpo and Nicholas Agius of Agius Scorpo Architects took on a personal project to create a home for Agius in Melbourne’s historic Cairo Flats building. Designed in 1936 by Acheson Best Overend, the U-shaped building made up of studio apartments built around a central garden is one of the city’s most recognized architectural landmarks. Agius and Scorpo chose to maintain the ethos of Overend’s design—“maximum amenity at minimum cost and space”—while modernizing the unit and allowing two people to coexist with privacy.

Shown above is the studio’s “kitchen cabinet,” a multifunctional, transitional construction of recycled Victorian ash hardwood. Two doors—the left on a slide, the right on a hinge—open to reveal the kitchen and its various gadgets, tools, and ingredients, which, when the doors close, can all be tucked away while remaining easily accessible. A hidden moving panel above the sink, when opened, allows light to flow from the main living space to the bedroom, which is ingeniously made private by the kitchen’s sliding door.



3. LARGE HANDCRAFTED MAPLE CUTTING BOARD Block Brothers Custom Cabinets //




7. YOLK 2023-10 Benjamin Moore //



Design Wire May 2023

A new modular piece of playroom furniture made from recycled olive pits called the NONTALO STOOL allows children and parents to change the shape of the seat to suit their mood or activity. Developed by design duo ENERIS COLLECTIVE and Barcelona-based biomaterials company NAIFACTORY LAB, the chair is composed of REOLIVAR, a biocomposite made from olive pits, which is then formed in molds to reduce unnecessary waste. Inspired by children’s construction sets, the Nontalo stool is made up of six parts: three large, P-shaped pieces and three long rods that slot into the central opening of the other pieces to hold them in place. Designed to bring play, spontaneity, and sustainability together, once it has reached the end of its life, the stool can be composted or returned to Naifactory Lab to be recycled.


Think a plaid, checkerboard, or tartan car could only exist in your children’s effervescent drawings? Think again. BMW’s latest concept car, the I VISION DEE, is equipped with programmable and customizable color-changing body panels and hub caps. Using 32 colors of E-INK—a technology most recognizable in e-readers like the Kindle—BMW believes its electric vehicles will soon sport this chameleonic characteristic, once they’ve figured out how to ensure the panels can withstand rigorous driving, as well as the bumps, pebbles, and bugs a car encounters on a typical drive. According to an article published in Fast Company in January, BMW’s concept is far from landing in dealerships, but the customizable ideas are beginning to take shape in some production vehicles.


EAST PINE, the Portland-based interior plant design company known for their design, installation, and maintenance work with high-profile clients like Austin Street Brewery, Après, and SeaWeed Company, has joined forces with HAY RUNNER, a Portland design, construction, and real estate firm founded and led by SHANNON RICHARDS. Services include not only residential and commercial interior plant design but also repotting (what East Pine founder AMALIA BUSSARD and plant care specialist SARA KOSICKI refer to as a spa day for weary-looking plants) and recurring plant care services to keep clients’ plants looking beautiful and healthy in their own spaces.


MAINE ARTS ACADEMY, a charter school for the arts currently located in Sidney, recently purchased a 69,615-square-foot building in Augusta from Maine Veterans’ Homes. According to Mainebiz, the new location, on 8.9 acres near the Capital Area Sports Complex and Viles Arboretum, is about six times larger than the MAA’s current facility. The free public high school that focuses on music, dance, theater, and visual arts and educates students from over 30 districts statewide, will move in after its lease in Sidney expires in June, with one of its goals being to grow from 225 students to 400.


Move over old, mismatched Tupperware. HELLERWARE, the iconic, stackable 1960s dinnerware, has returned to market. Originally designed by architect MASSIMO VIGNELLI in 1964 and manufactured in Italy using bright yellow melamine resin, the colorful and compact plates, bowls, and mugs were licensed for production in the United States by ALAN HELLER, who introduced a range of bright colors for mixing and matching. Last year, after being bought by John Edelman, Heller made plans to bring back the iconic dishes in white, the rainbow colorway having been mostly out of production since the early aughts—until now. MOMA DESIGN STORE has relaunched the collection in six vibrant colors available in six-piece sets. According to the design blog In Unison, the inspiration for the Compasso d’Oro Award–winning design came to Vignelli when he saw a client using plastic molds to make Mickey Mouse ashtrays. The plates and mugs are made with straight sides and a small lip on the bottom, creating a straight, tall stack that maximizes storage space.


BUREO, a company based in Oxnard, California, that makes all of its products—including sunglasses, surf fins, and even Jenga sets—out of recycled fishing nets, has launched a first-of-its-kind skateboard. THE MINNOW, a 25-inch cruiser made with Bureo’s NetPlus material and 30 percent veggie oil wheels, is manufactured in Chile with the support of local Chilean fishing communities. The manufacture of each board prevents more than 30 square feet of PLASTIC FISHING NETS—proven to be the most harmful form of plastic pollution—from entering our oceans. By creating an incentivized program to collect, clean, sort, and recycle fishing nets into reusable material, they also have created employment opportunities for local workers and funding for community programs. Other industry-leading companies like PATAGONIA are jumping on board, incorporating Bureo’s material into their own products.


The restaurateurs behind Mi Sen Noodle Bar and the former Cheevitdee have opened MITR, a new, 20-seat restaurant on outer Congress Street serving grilled Thai street food. Cofounder WAN TITAFAI, who lived in Thailand when she was young and has resided in Maine for many years, designed the space herself with both classic Thai and modern New England interiors in mind, such as high ceilings and dinnerware brought in from Thailand paired with crown mouldings and pop art painted by her husband John Paul. “We used antique furniture alongside some furniture and booths that we custom-made,” Titafai says. “I believe once people step into the space, they will feel the love that we put into everything.” As for the food, Titafai recommends ordering the homemade curry paste with rice, salmon, and Thai herbs, wrapped in banana leaves and grilled.


After three years, researchers from MIT and Harvard University, alongside laboratories in Italy and Switzerland, may have discovered the answer to why ancient Roman concrete structures, such as the 2,000-year-old Pantheon, have stood the test of time while our modern concrete structures crack and crumble just a few decades after being built. The secret? It’s a combination of one ingredient—calcium oxide, or lime—and the technique used to incorporate it. According to Fast Company, the study was recently published in the journal Science Advances. Professor Admir Masic, an MIT professor of civil and environmental engineering and an author of the study, explains, “When lime clusters are mixed with cement and water at a very high temperature, the water around them evaporates, and the clusters, which would have otherwise dissolved, remain embedded in the material.” This means that when water later seeps into the cracks, as it eventually will, instead of causing more corrosion, the lime clusters dissolve and fill in the newly formed cracks like glue. Thanks to this discovery, a new deep tech start-up called DMAT launched in the United States at the end of last year. The company’s core product, D-LIME, a self-healing concrete, is made with the ancient technique in mind, adapted for modern times.

Antique Chic

“This house was a gut renovation. The living room pictured here was all drywall before we went in and created the paneling. We came into the space and thought, what is needed? And we went from there, making it up piece by piece. The fireplace surround, for example, used to be brick, and we thought about different options and came upon slate, which we had done by Sheldon Slate Products in Monson. We worked around things. We’d make a decision and then see what fit from there. It was totally intuitive.

“We’re lucky that we have the same eye for things. It’s funny, but we weren’t antique dealers before we started working on this house. It completely changed our lives. It’s midcentury, initially designed by a friend of the original owners, architect Norman Klein, and that’s how we got interested in midcentury modern antiques. The midcentury modern furniture is, of course, really at home here. It’s nice to be able, as far as restoration and renovation, to stay within the time period. We fell in love with antiques, learning about the history behind things and the people who made them. They’re full of stories, and it’s nice to have that history throughout your living space. Many of the pieces you see here are from yard sales and antique shops, and the chair we bought at Modern Underground in Waterville. We also worked with a furniture maker, someone we found from our days going to Thistle Pig in South Berwick. We always sat at this one table, and when we asked who made it, it turned out he was located right down the street.

“The house layout is one of the most thoughtful we’ve ever seen. That triangular window, for example, is so sweet on its own, but it’s also planned perfectly. In certain moments you can see the moon through it or get a glimpse of the sun setting through it; it’s interactive and constantly changing.

“One playful element we added was to have Carisa’s father, Rick Salerno, who is a carpenter and a builder, design a bunch of hidden panels and doors. Here, one of the stone birds is hiding an electrical panel, and there are little storage areas throughout the house where the paneling completely blends in around them. Rick spent seven years rebuilding this house, commuting from Bristol. There’s no way we would’ve been able to do this without him. He is just as focused on details as we are. For example, those boards next to the fireplace are completely unbroken—they go straight to the ceiling. He called the mill to make that happen, and it was a huge endeavor. He is a very patient man.”

—Carisa Salerno and Aaron Levin, founders of the Maine House Hunt and Maine Antiques Hunt on Instagram

At Home With an Expert

Jorge Arango is in the kitchen, stirring a pot of richly scented soup, when I arrive at his Portland apartment. This in itself is unusual. Homeowners don’t often feed me when I come for tours, but Arango is different from most magazine subjects. He’s a design writer, too. He knows the routine we’re about to undergo because he’s done it hundreds of times himself. He knows the questions I’m going to ask about styling a home, because he wrote the book on it. “I’ve published 13 books,” he tells me as I examine his bookshelf, plus he’s had bylines everywhere one could imagine, from Elle Decor to House Beautiful. “I’ve been doing this a long time.”

And yet, despite his years of experience in our shared arena, Arango isn’t intimidating in person, nor does he boast of his accomplishments. He states them quickly during our walk around his home before directing me to sit at an old, uneven dining table covered in scratches, where he’s placed a vase of yellow tulips that are lolling appealingly about in their vase. “I know Portland has a lot of great restaurants, but I hardly go to them because I love to cook,” he says. “I really love to host and feed people.” Tonight he’s throwing a dinner party for a group of his closest friends or, as he calls it, “members of my pod.”

I imagine it will be an intimate event, that all gatherings at his place must be. The kitchen is also the dining room, which is open to the living room and the “disaster zone” of a mudroom, as he calls it. (I peeked inside; it’s not that bad.) His bedroom opens into the living area and the hallway, and across from it lies the apartment’s sole bathroom. “It’s the biggest bathroom I’ve had in any apartment,” he says. “I just love it. It’s enormous and has this exposed brick wall. And of course, it was brand, spanking new when I moved in.” It’s why he chose this place—the bathroom, the newness, the blank slate of a new home for a new life.

Arango moved to Portland in 2019 after a divorce from his longtime partner. While he has always loved old buildings and old things, he didn’t want to buy another fixer-upper. This Munjoy Hill apartment fits both his needs and his aesthetic sensibilities. The exterior of the building dates back to the early 1900s, but in 2017 a fire tore through the center of the structure. The damage was considerable. Then-owner Kate Anker oversaw renovations. “She’s the one who designed the interior,” explains Arango. “Since it’s a rental, I can’t change a lot.” This doesn’t appear to be a problem: “Kate made some bold moves, like painting the wall in the kitchen black. It really works. And it came with beautiful hardwood floors and built-ins, which are something I have loved since I was a child.” The fire spared the cabinets on the walls and did no lasting damage to the lovely exposed brick. Anker’s redesign relied largely on neutral colors: black, white, and touches of gray-blond wood. “She made some really thoughtful choices, like the light fixtures,” Arango adds. “They’re all different, but you can tell they were designed by the same person.”

It’s a bachelor pad, but unlike the ugly, faux-industrial-chic ones you’ve seen on television, this small home is full of warmth, color, and texture. “I could tell you a story about every object in here,” he says, before opening a drawer to reveal a collection of vintage flatware. “Everything in this space means something to me. Even the sofa, which I bought at Baker Furniture, was something I chose knowing that it would last me decades. I want to have it for years; I want it to last.” Arango’s never been one to worship the new. He believes in the power of antiques and sees the layered, complex beauty of a dinged-up cabinet, a worn leather chair, an almost-grungy patina on a basic wood table. He also knows that, with some effort, many thrift store finds can be transformed, reborn through a baptism of paint stripper and furniture wax. He’s a frequent patron of the Flea for All and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

On a slightly more highbrow level, he’s also become a repeat customer at Greenhut Galleries. Over the past few years, Arango has formed a close friendship with founder Peggy Greenhut Golden. Through his work writing art reviews at the Portland Press Herald, Arango has come to know many members of the local arts community, and he particularly likes supporting contemporary artists. “Jorge has a wide appreciation for all genres,” says Golden. “I don’t know what pieces he will find attractive—he surprises me! But I do know that he can decipher a well-made painting and takes pleasure in acknowledging good craft.” Studio visits “inform and delight Jorge,” and Golden believes his conversations with artists have resulted in a rich appreciation for their works. It makes sense, then, that Jorge chose to hang many of his pieces in a salon style, “coating the walls top to bottom like the Barnes [Foundation] collection in Philadelphia,” explains Golden. “It maximizes the art you can exhibit.”

This is a tricky look to pull off, since every piece needs to make sense in its own context. There needs to be visual harmony in how the works are hung; one must pay close attention to framing and spacing; every element in the grouping must speak to the others. Eclecticism is the goal, while chaos is the pitfall. Arango’s collection is wide-ranging and features landscape paintings, folk art sculptures, collages, photographs, and textile arts. While he has art in every room, usually arranged in groupings, the white living room wall is where he’s created a salon-style experience using miniature American landscapes in gold frames, intricate vintage East Asian and Indian paintings and drawings, a tiny, collaged painter’s rag work by Damariscotta artist Jaap Helder, and two Indonesian wooden puppets that lean out above the matching lamps with nickel bases. While there are many different styles and techniques on display, the art is held together by the overall warmth of the collection, with its tones of gold, rosewood, scarlet, and brown, and by the Lilliputian sense of scale. Even the bigger works ask viewers to look closer at their careful details. “I’m drawn to artists who are obsessive about their work,” he explains. “And obviously, I love Asian antiques and art.”

This appreciation for craftsmanship is on display in his bedroom, where Arango has hung seven framed textiles in a closely spaced arrangement above his pillow-stacked bed. They were a gift from friends Margaret Minister and Stephen Peck, he explains. “They both had been lugging around these scraps of fabric for years because they were so beautiful, and intended to make them into cushions but never got around to it,” he says. Arango knew what to do with them; he took them to Greenhut Galleries and got them precisely framed in rosewood with beige mats. They tone down the busyness of the bedroom with all its various patterns and give a sense of order, as do the matching side tables topped with almost-matching ceramic lamps (one is white, the other seafoam). On the floor, a simple navy blue rug grounds the space. “I got this for a song at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Kennebunk,” he says. “They have the best stuff.”

In fact, there are only a few pieces that Arango didn’t get secondhand, including the living room sofa and coffee table (both from Baker Furniture) and a floor lamp from All Modern. He says he expects the sofa to become worn and show signs of age, because that’s what functional objects do. It’s part of why he has dedicated his career to the world of things. After we tour his apartment, and after we’ve finished eating soup and salad, our discussion turns briefly toward the personal. We talk about the importance of having a spiritual life, the impact friendships can have on us, and our shared interest in making meaning out of everyday objects. I tell him why I like his home, and he calls my attention to the wobbly table, then to a Hitchcock chair. “Isn’t this special?” he asks. It is.

Later, after I’ve returned home, I open my computer and find an email from Arango. He had been thinking about things after I left, he said, and he wanted to expand on our conversation. I can’t think of any better way to conclude than by sharing what he wrote:

“At some dimension of reality, all mystical traditions acknowledge there is no fundamental difference between the table, the fork, the painting, and us. All of reality is made of the same thing. We could debate what that thing is. But from this perspective, it’s easy to see that if everything is one, then the things we love and own speak some aspect of ourselves back to us. They are, literally, part of us. We don’t have to carry all those things through our entire life. There’s a lot of unnecessary stuff we can certainly shed, about our things as well as ourselves. And as we grow and change, some things lose meaning, so we let them go. But it boils down, at some level, to ‘my cherished possessions, myself.’”

Peachy Keen

It may be months before peaches appear at farmstands, but spring blossoms have us daydreaming about all the pretty pastel colors, especially pale peaches. Named for the fruit, peach is a tint of orange, but it is closer in color to the flesh of a white peach than the classic yellow peach.

As an interior color, peach has many sides. It’s a little unexpected yet versatile; it is lively yet calming. “Peach can be a cool or warm neutral, and it is soft and approachable like the inside of a seashell,” says Krista Stokes, creative director of the boutique Maine hotel group Atlantic Holdings. Pale peach brings a subtle pop of color to a space, but it’s still neutral enough to complement any aesthetic, from Victorian to midcentury modern.

Plus, peach casts a flattering glow wherever it is used; it’s just a matter of finding the right peach for the room you’re decorating. Peaches can range from a pale, almost white hue (gorgeous on walls) to a richer, bolder color that reads pink-orange (perfect for accents). We spoke to designers to find out how to find the rich hue for you and use it in your home.

Peach is on trend.

The interior design world is primed for peach right now. After nearly a decade of “millennial pink” accents, peach is a fresh alternative that’s still soft and warm, but a little less expected. Likewise, peach is a lighter shade of trendy terra-cotta. Two years ago, interior designers’ favorite paint company Farrow and Ball launched a collection with in-demand designer Kelly Wearstler that included Faded Terracotta, which is really a deep shade of peach.

Think of it as “nude.”

Decorators, including the pros we spoke to, often encourage homeowners to think of pastels like peach as a neutral, but if you’re having trouble thinking of pale orange as a noncolor, perhaps think of it as “nude.” Writing in her book Living with Color, textile artist Rebecca Atwood makes an apt analogy: “This creamy version of orange is like using a nude shade of nail polish; it’s pretty and soft, but subtle too.”

Pair it with cool tones.

Interior designer Vanessa Helmick, the owner of Fiore Home in Yarmouth, notes that, because Mainers love their blues, she often uses small amounts of peach tones to break up the coolness. “Orange and blue are direct complements on the color wheel, so using the more muted pairings is always gorgeous,” she says.

Get peachy art.

If you’re looking for a way to bring peach into a cool-scheme room, look to art, Helmick adds. “I use peach and other warm tones in art to balance the blues,” she says, specifically noting that she loves the work of Maine artist Nina Earley, who dyes silk with avocado pits to get a peachy effect. A color that is often found in nature, peach is also often found in seascapes, portraits, floral still lifes, and abstractions.

Go deep for sophistication.

Lorna Gross, an interior designer based in Maryland, likes to play with deeper shades of the hue in formal rooms. “A palette based in peach and corals adds a soft touch to an elegant dining room,” she says. “Adding in metallic finishes retains a refined aesthetic.”

Imagine a fruit salad palette.

“Nature is masterful at coloration, because nature is nuanced,” says Catherine Wilson of Catherine Wilson Interiors in Atlanta, Georgia. When choosing peachy hues, she recommends, “Think of all the fruits in the peach, pink, and coral families: peaches, pink grapefruits, guavas, and pink lady apples.” Mix them up together for a room that’s energetic and delicious to look at.

Recreate a garden palette.

Peach pairs naturally with shades of green and other nature-inspired hues. For example, when reimagining the color schemes for the Claremont Hotel in Southwest Harbor, Stokes and interior designer Laura Keeler Pierce of Boston’s Keeler & Co. were inspired by the garden. In one room, they opted for a headboard upholstered in a trailing floral by William Morris and pulled out the peach accents on pillows and a lampshade. “The peach woven into the headboard and pillows was the perfect bridge to all the other hues in the color scheme,” she says.

Try it with teal.

Peach also pairs beautifully with blue-green shades like turquoise. Louise Hurlbutt of Hurlbutt Designs in Kennebunk tweaked a complementary scheme with a turquoise faux-bamboo headboard layered over pale peach walls (Benjamin Moore’s Peach Parfait) in a Kennebunk home. Vintage seascapes that feature teal waters and peachy sails and skies further tie the palette together.

Work with woods.

Designer Cortney Bishop, whose firm is based in Charleston, South Carolina, paired peach and pale woods in a recent bedroom project. “A peachy, blush palette and natural wood tones create a soft and balanced foundation,” she says, noting that the soft color allows for other textural touches and fabrics to be easily layered into a space.

Warm up a whitewashed room.

Interior designer Karin Thomas, who is based in Camden, knows the power of white paint, and she used it liberally in a project in a Maine island home. However, for the walls of a guest bedroom, she opted to pickle the existing wood paneling in a pale shade of peach instead of the usual white. The subtle tint gives the room a warm glow and makes the white-painted furniture look even crisper.

Don’t forget texture.

One way to ensure that pale peach hues don’t look washed out or saccharine is to layer in lots of texture and contrasting materials. For example, in a recent dining room design, New York–based interior designer Emily Butler opted for peach walls, but in grasscloth instead of paint, and paired the soft color with textured rattan chairs and shiny brass accents.

Are Peach Bathrooms the Next Big Thing?

Plumbing manufacturer Kohler sure thinks so. As part of the company’s 150th anniversary celebration, Kohler is reviving some of its vintage hues. Kohler asked their customers and industry pros to vote on six heritage colors to bring back into production in 2023. After more than 100,000 people shared their opinions, Peachblow and Spring Green won the most votes, edging out four other colors including Avocado and Pink Champagne.

Peachblow is a blush-peach color that was first introduced in 1934 and stayed in production until 1973. It’s a throwback for sure, but after decades of all-white bathroom fixtures, the hit of color feels surprisingly modern. Plus, designers always suggest painting a bathroom blush or peach for the flattering glow it casts, so if you’re feeling bold, why not take the color a step further? A selection of Kohler’s most popular products will be available in the peachy hue (and Spring Green) for a limited time this summer. Oh, and if you’ve got a vintage bathroom with a colorful tub and toilet, maybe think twice before tearing it out. As the saying goes, “Everything old is new again.”

For a cheery bathroom in a coastal home, Santa Monica–based interior designer Sarah Barnard used peach tiles to “evoke natural corals and enhance the warm tones of the terrazzo countertop and flooring made with real seashells.” Pink undertones in the wood further what Barnard calls “the joyful effects of pink shades.”

In China, the peach is a symbol of longevity, and peaches are often depicted in paintings and on porcelain.

Palette Picks

Light Up Your Home With These Editor-Approved Fixtures

Anyone with a background in design will tell you that layering light is essential when planning out a room. Effectively combining the big three—ambient, task, and accent lighting—creates depth and dimension, giving your home a balanced feel without harsh glares or spooky shadows. Layering light also makes it easy to transition your space from day to night: with just the flick of a switch, a bright office transforms into a moody, entertaining area. From iconic lamps to modern chandeliers, these 15 editor’s picks will light the way to a well-designed home.

Table Lamps

YAMAGIWA | Jakobsson Table Lamp

Carpenter-turned-lighting designer Hans-Agne Jakobsson’s fixtures are known for their organic shapes and natural materials. This table lamp, reproduced by traditional Japanese craftspeople, is made from thin European pine wood, casting a warm red-orange glow when illuminated.

Shop It: Good Neighbor


Designed by Danish architect Arne Jacobsen for the SAS Royal Hotel in Copenhagen (along with AJ cutlery), this classic table lamp’s timeless design and multiple colorways make it a great task light for any aesthetic.

Shop It: Louis Poulsen

KELLY WEARSTLER | Senso Large Table Lamp

This modern table lamp from American designer Kelly Wearstler features a ziggurat form reminiscent of ancient Mesopotamian architecture. The linen shade and brass diffuser add a touch of warmth to the structured design.

Shop It: Kelly Wearstler

Wall Lights

BLU DOT | Filter Sconce

Two perforated metal discs add dimension to this dual-bulb dimmable sconce, available in playful colors like Blush, Oxblood, Marine Blue, and Ochre.

Shop It: Blu Dot

FLOS | Foglio Wall Lamp

Italian designer Tobia Scarpa found inspiration for this contemporary wall lamp in the cuffs of his dress shirts. The light, which is often found in pairs, offers indirect illumination and midcentury modern vibes.

Shop It: Flos

NEMO | Nuvola Wall/Ceiling Light

“My ‘cloud’ designed to illuminate the office might today be thought of as a prescient allusion to Steve Jobs’ vision of the cloud,” writes Mario Bellini of his dreamy, dimmable Nuvola collection. 

Shop It: Nemo

Floor Lamps

REJUVENATION | Altadena Glass Shade Floor Lamp

Light up any space with this Art Deco-inspired statement lamp featuring a strong nickel or aged brass metal base, an opal glass shade, and vintage pull chains.

Shop It: Rejuvenation

FLOS | Arco Floor Lamp

Inspired by the common streetlight, Italians Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni designed this dramatic floor lamp in 1962 (it has since appeared in classic Hollywood films like The Italian Job and Diamonds Are Forever). The lamp’s adjustable arc and swiveling shade offer overhead lighting without ceiling suspension, and the Carerra marble base features smooth, beveled corners along with a finger hole for easy lifting.

Shop It: Design Within Reach

ARTICLE | Gira Floor Lamp

A stylish pick reminiscent of Greta Grossman’s iconic Grasshopper, this floor lamp’s minimalist tripod frame and conical shade direct light exactly where it’s needed. 

Shop It: Article


MITZI | Sodsai Pendant

Scalloped detailing and a natural linen shade make this charming pendant light a great option for adding a subtle hint of personality to any room. 

Shop It: Mitzi

HERMAN MILLER | Nelson Saucer Bubble Pendant

George Nelson, considered a founder of American modernist design, created this organic UFO-inspired light in 1952. One of the most well-recognized lighting fixtures in design history, the Nelson Saucer Bubble Pendant offers a soft glow and comes in four different sizes.

Shop It: Lumens

SCHOOLHOUSE | Luna Cord Pendant

Combining the elements of line and light, this versatile hanging pendant is a simple fixture available in 15 different finishes and a variety of cord lengths. The Luna Pendant’s opaque glass shade gives off a moon-like glow for your task lighting needs.

Shop It: Schoolhouse

Ceiling Lights

ARHAUS | Paloma Chandelier

Bring natural fibers and textures into your home with this tiered, handwoven rattan shade. Available in two sizes, the attractive chandelier adds an organic element to living and dining spaces.

Shop It: Arhaus

2MODERN | Melt Chandelier by Tom Dixon

British innovator Tom Dixon’s contemporary Melt collection, created in collaboration with Swedish design collective FRONT, “is evocative of molten glass, the interior of a melting glacier, or images of deep space.” The dynamic chandelier, which features a cluster of orbs attached to steel tubes, is now fitted with an LED module for longer life expectancy, better energy efficiency, and improved performance.

Shop It: 2Modern

VISUAL COMFORT | Talia Semi-Flush Mount

New Orleans designer Julie Neill believes in the transformative power of lighting. Her Talia series, created exclusively for Visual Comfort, offers a new take on traditional globe fixtures by incorporating artisanal glass that imparts a feminine, whimsical touch.

Shop It: Visual Comfort

Design Wire March/April 2024

Multidisciplinary designer GERE KAVANAUGH, who turns 95 this year, is finally seeing her signature chair concept come to life thanks to a collaboration with Detroit-based sustainable furniture company FLOYD. The original GERE EASY CHAIR prototype, which Kavanaugh designed in the mid-1970s, featured an interior structure made from plywood and Sonotube; today’s version offers a sturdier engineered wood frame wrapped in contemporary, semi-recycled upholstery from CRYPTON and KVADRAT. The unique circular swivel chair offers a comfortable, generous back angled toward the sitter’s knees and retails at $880, making it far more affordable than comparable signature chairs like the Eames lounger.

World-renowned architect FRANK GEHRY once again partnered with the iconic fashion brand LOUIS VUITTON on a set of 11 limited edition handbags unveiled during MIAMI ART WEEK. The unique collection is organized into three themes: architecture and form, animals, and material exploration. Architecture includes pieces inspired by several of Gehry’s popular buildings including the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the IAC Building in New York, and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. The animal-themed handbags designed by Gehry are informed by a fish-shaped light feature created for the Foundation Louis Vuitton, a crocodile sculpture designed for a London restaurant, and the artist’s Bear with Us sculpture. Glass-like resin, multilayered calfskin, Plexiglas, and screen-printed leather, among other materials, are showcased throughout the collection.

If you’re heading to Canada anytime soon, keep your eyes peeled for Stella, a 35-foot-tall sculpture located near the new bridge at the MADAWASKA LAND PORT OF ENTRY. Designed by Pennsylvania artist RALPH HELMICK, Stella depicts a five-pointed star that represents the Acadian peoples’ unique heritage and strong connection to France; the same star can be found on the current Maine flag as well as the state’s original 1901 flag design. Helmick’s sculpture, which is illuminated at night according to the International Dark-Sky Association’s guidelines to reduce light pollution, is part of the U.S. General Services Administration’s ART IN ARCHITECTURE program that encourages American artists to create public works displayed at federal buildings across the country.

COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY’s Philip and Cheryl Milstein Family Tennis Center sits on the northern Manhattan waterfront, making it particularly susceptible to extreme rainfall, storm surges, and flooding over the next 100 years. The team at architecture firm PERKINS AND WILL kept this in mind when designing the new facility, which features an elevated first floor with a network of vents that will let water flow into the building, through the lobby and locker rooms, and out via the tennis courts. Waterproof lockers and mechanical equipment are raised off the ground, and the concrete slab under the structure is only 6 inches rather than the standard 12. The building houses six indoor and six outdoor tennis courts for the university’s men’s and women’s varsity teams along with meeting spaces, training facilities, locker rooms, and coaches’ offices.

Argentinian architect DANIEL GERMANI drew inspiration from Dutch artist PIET MONDRIAN’s primary-color, geometric paintings to create a modular outdoor kitchen for DANVER’s new Cosmopolitan Collection. The weatherproof, stainless steel design features bold horizontal and vertical matte black lines alongside red, yellow, and blue soft-close drawers and slatted shelves that can hang from the top rail or attach to the bottom shelf. Additional outdoor kitchen appliances like drop-in grills, induction stovetops, and electric cookers integrate seamlessly into the Cosmopolitan Kitchen, which is ideal for outdoor spaces with size restrictions or cooking limitations.

A $35 million housing and office space project in downtown Waterville, known as the HEAD OF FALLS VILLAGE project, will kick off its first phase with the demolition of four buildings on the 1.7-acre site and the removal of contaminated soil from the area. Developed in partnership with Portland-based RENEWAL HOUSING ASSOCIATES and NORTHLAND ENTERPRISES, the project’s 63 housing units will provide relief from the recent housing shortage while adding beauty to the city’s downtown streetscape. A Front Street–facing building will feature a ground-floor boutique market offering prepared foods, beer, and liquor along with 45 market-rate apartments on the upper floors. The other building, facing Temple Street, will offer 15,000 square feet of office space as well as 18 rental apartments funded partially by MAINEHOUSING. Architect Jesse Thompson from KAPLAN THOMPSON ARCHITECTS, landscape architect Nick Aceto of ACETO LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE AND URBAN DESIGN, and civil engineer Adrienne Fine from TERRADYN CONSULTANTS are working together on the multiuse project.

Celebrated furniture company KNOLL commissioned a playful project from Chicago artist NOEL MERCADO that combines the interests of automobile aficionados and chair nerds alike. Using found objects from junkyards, body shops, and car washes, Mercado creatively modified three classic Knoll chairs while highlighting the mundane, repetitive aspects of driving a car like putting on your seatbelt and adjusting the rear-view mirror. The collection’s first piece, called Junkyard Dogs, features a deconstructed Wassily chair (designed by MARCEL BREUER in the 1920s) reupholstered with layered seatbelts. The second piece, named Little Trees, is a Cesca chair (also designed by Breuer) made of see-through boxes filled with colorful air fresheners. For the final piece, Noise Violation, Mercado took the popular Spoleto chair and replaced the seat and backrest with salvaged speakers connected to a radio.

For over 30 years, architects and designers from around the world have been coming to Portland to present at ARCHITALX, a series of lectures that broaden awareness and understanding of architecture, landscape architecture, and design while fostering dialogue between the design community and general public. This year’s lineup brings four outstanding individuals to the stage, including WILLIAM O’BRIEN of WOJR in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an organization of designers who consider architecture to be a form of cultural production; MARTHA SCHWARTZ of Martha Schwartz Partners, a leading international design practice situated at the intersection of landscape, art, and climate adaptation; HILARY SAMPLE, cofounder of the award-winning architecture firm MOS Architects in New York City; and JEFF DAY, founder of internationally recognized Actual Architecture Company based in Omaha, Nebraska.


Chili Crisp Tahini Cascatelli with Fried Shallots

The combination of spicy, savory chili crisp and nutty tahini makes an incredibly delicious, satisfying sauce, but we take it to the next level with the addition of oniony crunch in the form of fried shallots. And here you see the many properties of cascatelli, the pasta shape I invented, on full display—the sauce sinks into the canyon between the ruffles, which I call the Sauce Trough, and all the shape’s edges and ruffle tips grab bits of chili crisp and fried shallot. You won’t have trouble getting all the components of this dish together in one bite! 

We call for Lao Gan Ma brand chili crisp, one of the original and best-known varieties, but you can use whatever kind you like. Just note that they vary in spice levels, so taste before you add the full amount.

Serves 4 to 6  //  Total time: 45 minutes

Developed with James Park


  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup tahini (see note)
  • 3 tablespoons Lao Gan Ma chili crisp, plus more for serving (see above)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or rice or white wine vinegar)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 pound cascatelli (or reginetti, casarecce, gemelli, or radiatore)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large shallots, sliced into very thin rings
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Bring 4 quarts of water and the salt to a boil in a large pot. 

2. Line a plate with a double layer of paper towels. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a medium heatproof bowl. 

3. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, combine the tahini, chili crisp, vinegar, and soy sauce and whisk until fully combined. 

4. Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes, less than the low end of the package instructions. Reserve 2 cups of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta. Immediately return the pasta to the pot, cover, and set aside. 

5. Whisking constantly, pour ½ cup of the hot pasta water into the tahini mixture and whisk until completely smooth; set aside.

6. Heat the oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the rings, until deeply browned and crispy, 12 to 15 minutes. Carefully strain the shallots and oil into the prepared bowl, reserving the skillet, then transfer the shallots to the prepared plate and spread them into an even layer (see tip). 

7. Return 3 tablespoons of the shallot oil to the skillet, add the garlic, and cook over medium heat, stirring, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tahini mixture and cook, stirring, until fragrant and thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the pasta to the skillet along with ¾ cup of the pasta water, 1 tablespoon of the reserved shallot oil, and the pepper and toss until the pasta is evenly coated, 2 to 4 minutes. (The sauce should cling to the pasta but still pool slightly at the bottom of the pan. If it seems too thick, add more pasta water 2 tablespoons at a time.) Remove the pan from the heat and stir in half of the fried shallots. 

8. Transfer the pasta to a serving dish or individual bowls, top with the remaining fried shallots, and serve immediately with chili crisp. (This dish will thicken quickly. If you have some left in the pan and go back for seconds, I suggest you put the pan back over medium heat for a minute or two and mix in a splash of pasta water to loosen it back up.) 

NOTE: I like Soom or Villa Jerada brand tahini, both of which have incredible flavor and are silky smooth, so they’re easier to work with. Because the oil is usually separated when you open a new jar of tahini, my mom likes to transfer all the contents to a bigger container, emulsify it with an immersion blender, then return it to the jar, where it stays emulsified for months. She also likes to store tahini on its side because she says that makes it easier to mix. (Letting it come to room temperature before you work with it also helps.) My mom has put a lot of thought into tahini storage and handling, which I respect. You can also use smooth, unsweetened peanut butter in place of tahini in this recipe. 

TIP: Store any leftover shallot oil in an airtight container at room temperature and use it for fried eggs, sauces, dressings—anywhere you’d use olive oil!  

From the book Anything’s Pastable by Dan Pashman. Copyright © 2024 by Dan Pashman. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

A Collector’s Guide: Incorporating Artwork Into Your Home

As director of the Portland Art Gallery, Emma Wilson is responsible for curating the gallery’s artist roster and working with clients to identify new pieces for their collections.

What goes into pairing fine art with architecture?

The whole process is about discovery, so the architecture and style preferences of a client are such a great starting point. They’ve already made these really informative decisions, like the architecture of their home, the location of their residence, and their identity with the space. The furnishings are another aspect that we take into account because the general style of a client’s home speaks a lot to where their interests lie, where they connect emotionally, and what brings them joy within their space. It could be the view out of a specific window, the flow of the kitchen, or the way the light hits something—all of these pieces help inform the next steps of artwork selection.

How do you get a feel for a client’s art preferences?

There are two ways we interface with clients. The first is if they come into our gallery space. We commit to having a work on view by each of our represented artists every month, so the initial step is to walk with them through the space and see what might speak to them. We also have a computer station set up where we can look more specifically into artists that clients know they like.

The other option is our online inquiry button, where people can let us know they’re interested in a piece they saw on our website. That gives us a great starting point because they’ve already spent some time browsing through some of the artwork we have available. We can provide additional images along with virtual installations, and we make sure that the digital quality is strong so that people have as good of an idea as they can about a certain piece. 

Ultimately, the best way for us to learn about a client’s preferences is to listen to what they say and reflect back what we’re hearing. Then we can start to explore and see what pieces gain a reaction, whether it’s positive or negative. The secret sauce is finding something a client responds to on an emotional level that they feel confident committing to.

How do you work with interior designers to supplement a homeowners’ collection?

We have longstanding, solid relationships with members of the interior design community, and we try to make our partnership with them as easy and fluid as possible. It’s all about facilitating; we can arrange for artists to be at the gallery to meet a client, and we can deliver the work while remaining respectful of a designer’s relationship with their client and determining what they need from us. A lot of what we do is supporting them on the logistical end, like by making sure they have updated images when new work comes in. Interior designers are juggling a lot—
I have so much respect for all the different things they’re taking into consideration at once—so if we can help take a few items off that list, then we do.

Wilson and a client (along with her dog, Finley) look at the Portland Art Gallery website to learn more about her newly acquired painting Red Hay Rake by artist Jean Jack.

What is the process behind curating the artist roster at Portland Art Gallery?

We currently represent 62 artists with a very intentional range of media—encaustic, oil, acrylic, watercolor, photography, mixed media, sculpture—and styles ranging from the abstract to realistic to impressionistic. We change over our installations every month, and I’m always looking for conversations that go on between the art pieces. They might have a complementary use of light or color, or maybe the mood, texture, or tone makes a statement. These are the kinds of things people notice when they’re viewing work, even if they don’t have the vocabulary for it. I also look to create moments within the gallery space. We curate the artist roster as a whole, but we’re always identifying what individual artists bring to the gallery. It’s a constant dialogue and discovery of new things you wouldn’t expect.  

The Real History of the Wisteria Lamp, Designed by Clara Wolcott Driscoll

Most of you have seen this lamp. The Wisteria lamp is probably the most recognized of Tiffany lamps, other than maybe the Dragonfly. Despite what has been written in the annals of design history, it was designed by Clara Wolcott Driscoll, not Louis Comfort Tiffany. 

Since we’re focusing on the lamp’s design history, we won’t spend much time on Tiffany. It is, however, important to note that he was the son of jeweler Charles Tiffany of Tiffany and Company. He had the money and status to start a successful glass business, unlike Driscoll, who came from a humble farming family in Tallmadge, Ohio. At age 21 she left with her sister to find work at the Tiffany Glass Studio in New York City, and while away she wrote hundreds of letters to her family back home. 

If not for these letters, discovered only in 2005, Driscoll’s impact on design history would never have been brought to light. In one of her 1901 letters, she proudly informs her family that the Wisteria lamp she designed is a success (by March 1905, some 123 examples had been made). Driscoll designed for Tiffany Studios over three separate tenures, from 1888 to 1909. Why three? Women were not allowed to be employed while either married or engaged. In 1892, Louis Comfort Tiffany made Driscoll the head of the women’s glass-cutting department. Unfortunately, he also took full credit for her designs. 

Driscoll led a staff of 35 women who called themselves the Tiffany Girls. They selected and cut each tiny piece of glass that would make up these colorful shades. Women were believed to be better suited for this work because of their smaller hands and, it was said, better sense of color.

Each Wisteria shade is composed of 2,000 pieces of glass and, at the time, sold for around $400; it’s valued today at $600,000. At the beginning of the design process, a cartoon drawing of the design was made to create an 18-inch-diameter shade adorned with a crown of bronze branches. The cartoon was then laid over carbon paper (this process was the same for every lamp made). Next, shades of blue, purple, white, yellow, and green glass were selected, and copper foil and beeswax were cast on the individual pieces. Only men were allowed to work with the heating tools, so they did the soldering. Finally, the entire shade was electroplated. 

The bronze base of the lamp was always in the shape of a tree. The shade’s floral forms and naturalistic coloration reveal the deep influence of the art nouveau and Japanesque aesthetics that were popular at the time. Wisteria was known as the “blue vine” in Japan, symbolizing long life and immortality. 

In 1909, after more than a decade of friendship, Driscoll married Edward Booth. It was around this time, while in her late forties, that she developed chronic headaches and failing eyesight. She finally left Tiffany, moving to the Jersey Shore and later to Florida. Last year, the New York Times published Overlooked No More: Clara Driscoll, Designer of Visions in Glass for Tiffany. (Overlooked is a series of obituaries about remarkable people whose deaths went unreported in the Times.) 

If the opportunity arises, visit the fourth floor of the New-York Historical Society and experience the beauty of light passing through the curtain of dripping wisteria blossoms created by
Clara Driscoll.  

Maine Home + Design

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