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Lecture “Hearst the Collector” – Mary Levkoff

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My fascination with everything Julia Morgan has taken me to a series of lectures  presented by the California Institute for Classical Art and Architecture, California north Chapter in San Francisco.  The third in the series was Tuesday evening, ”Hearst the collector” , an illustrated lecture by Mary Levkoff.

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It was delightful to drive into the Presidio as the evening was falling and the view of the bay and the city skyline from near the Golden Gate Bridge was breathtaking.  The Disney Family Museum is in the buildings near Crissy field.  Here we met with the author for a reception and book signing in a space with “It’s a Small World” art work on walls and floors.

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“It’s a Small World” Wall Tile

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“It’s a Small World” Floor Motif

Ms. Levkoff , former curator for the LA County Museum of Art has studied Mr. Hearst’s collections extensively.  She credits him to have been the most outstanding Collector in America of European Sculpture, tapestries, silver and armor.


Janice and Ms. Levkoff at the Book Signing

Mary Levkoff shared with us her process, pouring over old interior photographs, to discover which outstanding pieces of his collection are now dispersed in museums throughout the world.

Perhaps I’ll have a long weekend this summer to enjoy the home of only a small portion of his collection at the Casa Grande, San Simeon, the Hearst Castle, designed by Julia Morgan for him.  For over thirty years she collaborated with him on his castle on the Enchanted Hill.


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Retreat, Relax, and Reflect

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Perhaps it is the light that makes this room my favorite. It filters through the grass woven shades to soften the cocoa and cream textures and brings healing to my soul like a warm frothy latte. My Francophile persuation is played to with the antique over mantle as a headboard, framed on either side by striped ombred silk. Here is where I grab my current read and snug under covers or on top of the forgiving matlesse bedcover.


I can indulge myself in the sentimentality of photos of the ones I love surrounded with fresh flowers sharing their happy colors and faces to my “altar of endearment.”


The pale blue ceiling gives my space a magical sky effect, to enhance the quiet solitude and beauty of my very own cocoon-like retreat. Here I can thank God for all He has provided in home and love while enjoying the rhythm of my restful breathing.

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The luxury of a crystal chandelier sparkles with reflection and candlelight to add the element of romance. It’s beauty greets me in the morning light as  I awaken in my bed below.


Small cherished artifacts add to the happiness my bedroom brings me. Like the small tatted bookmark cross handmade by a favorite great aunt.

This is where I like to be no matter the altitude of my moods. It is where I can let the rest of the world go by!

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Julia Morgan: California’s First Female Architect

Picture19Julia Morgan has been an inspirational talent in my design career since I was given the amazing opportunity to work on a project at the one and only Julia Morgan design house in Sacramento in 2000. The gorgeous historic home designed in 1918 breathes nostalgia back into Sacramento, has been owned by Sacramento State University since the 1960’s. Through research I knew the pioneering spirit of Julia Morgan. She was the first female licensed architect in California and she achieved this by receiving a degree from Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where she was the first female admitted as well. I thought it only fitting to pay homage to this remarkable woman by making a pilgrimage through the streets of Paris to see the school she attended and the places she lived.


During Julia’s five years in Paris she inhabited three apartments throughout the 6th androssiment. The first apartment was located at 4 Rue de la Chevereuse. The crisp white of the facade is contrasted by the large black paneled doors of the entry. Today the building is used as a satellite of Columbia University and works to establish partnerships between America and European scholars.  During Julia Morgan’s time the building housed American students pursuing their degrees in Paris.




Julia’s second apartment was located at 7 Rue Honore Chevalier. This building which was constructed in 1891 would have been less than a decade old when Julia Morgan lived in it. The rustic brick mixed with iron work exemplifies classic French architecture.



The third apartment Julia lived in was 15 Rue Guenegaud. The high gloss rich emerald green doors are flanked by tiny boutiques on the street level with apartments on the three floors above. This apartment is the closest to the school of the three and is within close proximity to La Siene river. I imagine this was Julia’s most treasured apartment during her stay in Paris.



After leaving Julia’s third apartment I journeyed to Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts where Julia received her degree in Architecture. Just beyond the gates to the school you are greeted by ancient architectural ruins displayed in the courtyard.


The grand courtyard transitions students and guests from the street and into the glass ceiling space of an interior courtyard.


The colors and motifs of this space are inspired by Pompeian architecture.


As I was walking up to the front gate of the school I was delighted to see three architecture students, two of which female, with projects in tow. I talked briefly with these students and was truly inspired to see young and eager designers pursuing their passions.


My adventurous spirit was stimulated as I followed in the footsteps of the inspirational talent, Julia Morgan. With Julia Morgan’s legacy of over 700 designed buildings in California and her treasured design located on our T St. here in Sacramento, her designs will be forever remembered as harmoniously classic architecture.

“My buildings will speak for themselves” Julia Morgan


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Global Interior Designer Andree Putman (Dec. 23, 1925 – Jan. 19, 2013)

On my first trip to Paris I traveled with a group gathered from our many friends from Sacramento and Los Angeles who were interior designers and architects. One of our private audiences was at the studio of Andree Putman. The year was 1995.

How impressed I was by her individual style and presence as we reveled in a designer of her stature and global influence taking time to meet with our group! She was an emissary of Parisian chic culture and rediscovered forgotten 1930’s French Modernist furniture found in the flea market chic which she then marketed through her own Ecart International. Ms. Putman’s designs favored simple lines and a few good pieces that enhanced an otherwise hushed, monochromatic environment. “Good design is pure and simple, and I am interested in the kinds of things that will never date.”

Guest room at Morgans Hotel (

Guest room at Morgans Hotel (

Her career changing commission came in the early 1980’s when the NYC hotelier Ian Schrager hired her to design the interiors for his new Morgans Hotel. This became the prototype of the new boutique hotel, a small artistically designed answer to standardized mass-market hotels.

Andree Putman and daughter Olivia (

Andree Putman and daughter Olivia (

Now, as I celebrated my own milestone birthday in Paris this past January, I was saddened to read that this legend in interior design had passed away. I immediately went online to read more about her firm and how her daughter Olivia had become the artistic director at her expressed wishes in 2009.

The notice of her death gave the time and location of her service at St. Germain des Pres. Arriving as the church bells rang, I watched as her simple wooden casket was received by the classic black hearse. Andree’s stunningly attractive daughter, Olivia, with her three sons received condolences from a cluster of black cloaked friends and colleagues. Multiple flower memorials were coordinated in white flowers only. The mourners walked a few steps across the street to Café Flores upstairs for the reception. It was as simple and elegant as the designer herself. I was gratified to have witnessed and whispered my own goodbye. Her influence on my profession was profound.

To learn more about the amazing Andree Putman visit her website:

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Le Jules Verne Restaurant, Paris

1126Boasting the best views over Paris, Jules Verne is an iconic high end restaurant located at the top of the Eiffel Tower. The restaurant is named after the French writer Jules Verne who was the pioneer of science fiction. He wrote such famous novel as, “Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” and “The Journey to the Center of the Earth.”

1129The restaurant’s interior has many intriguing design elements that takes the words of Jules Verne and transform them  into Interior Design. The new age linear design pairs well with the structural elements of the Eiffel Tower that you can see while seated in the restaurant. 1128The space offers a strange mix of futuristic and organic design. The pattern found on the ceiling and plates seems to reference the molecular structure of elements. 11301131 The out of-of-the-box design continues to the smallest details like the simple linear silverware, custom made in Portugal for the restaurant. 1137The color of the space is limited to accents of golds and pinks. Golden hues are found on the leather dining chairs and the glow from the light placed on each table which seems to represent protoplasm. 1135The base of the glasses on each table are a soft pink hue and the simple “J/” that is the Jules Verne logo also is in a soft shade of pink. 1145Unlike the commonly used concept of the “open kitchen”, where diners can view their food being prepared while sitting at the table, Jules Verne gives a glimpse of the kitchen activities through a large window as you are leaving the restaurant. Getting to see the people who just prepared my amazing meal through the window was a rather unexpected touch. They move through the kitchen with such precision that it looks almost like a choreographed dance. 1144

Jules Verne is very intriguing space with 360o views of Paris and an inspired science fiction inspired interior that left me feeling satisfied with exquisite food and design.


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Interior Design Trend: Zebra Print in a New Yet Old Way


While at a The Design Bloggers Conference in L.A. this past week, I had an opportunity to stop by the Pacific Design Center(the Blue Whale) and the new emerging design showroom hot spot on La Cienega boulevard. I get inspired every time I visit a new city and get to see their interpretation of design. The windows of Scalamandre caught my eye with dancing zebras.


Zebra print is something that we’ve seen for decades, but Scalamandre is bringing back a classic idea inspired by one of their wallpapers they designed in 1945. This zebra print features zebras prancing on a red background while arrows float through the air around them. The graphic contrast and movement of the fabric make it very striking.

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Inside the showroom the print was found not only on fabric but wallpaper and Lenox china as well. The motif has also been redefined with a multitude of modern color ways.


The most refined print inspired by the original 1945 print in my opinion was the yellow and black version that plays with the idea of positive and negative, and actually puts yellow stripes on a zebra.


On my return flight home, my suspicions of a zebra print trend were confirmed. I opened the Currents section of the New York Times to find a brief article about the Zebra print I had just seen in the window at Scalamandre’s showroom. The article revealed to me that they are using this print for human and dog bedding alike.


Photo from New York Times article “Bedding Basic Zebra Commands: Sit, Stay, Roll Over, Sleep”


Photo from New York Times article “Bedding Basic Zebra Commands:Sit, Stay, Roll Over, Sleep”


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Interior Design Inspiration- Pierre Frey Fabrics

Pierre-FreyWhile I was in Paris, I had the amazing opportunity to see the Pierre Frey archives. For those of you who may not know, Pierre Frey was founded in Paris in 1935. Ever since then they have been creating beautifully elegant fabrics, wallpaper, rugs, and even furniture. Pierre Frey is known mostly for their exquisite fabrics which are inspired by people, cultures, and ideas from around the world. Patrick Frey is convinced that textiles bear witness to the period in which they were created and encapsulate a wealth of social, aesthetic and technical information. In 2003 Pierre Frey started an archive of fabrics which date back to the 16th century. They formed this archive not only as a resource for themselves, but also for the general public as well. Lorraine Frey expressed her feelings on the importance of having an archive. “It’s important to make way for a younger generation, but we must never lose the sight of the French Dimension, or the importance of historical traditions and craftsmanship.” The archive includes all of the companies four collections as well as pieces they’ve acquired from private dealers, auction, and antique dealers. Today the collection has over 30,000 designs, fabrics, and carpet samples. Patrick Frey also commented on the archive by saying, “Luxury is about accepting that creativity takes time, respecting history…this heritage includes the company’s extensive archives, a treasure house of inspiration and expertise. While its roots are centuries old, this[textile design] is a timelessly modern art form which draws on ancient and contemporary techniques of the 16th century to the present day.”

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I had the opportunity to tour the archives along with a group of Interior Design students from Iowa State(small world). Sophie was our wonderful tour guide for the day. Sophie, who was a former French museum curator, handled the fabrics with the utmost care with white gloved hands. The fabrics are stored in a series of acid free metal drawers where the fabrics are wrapped in conservation paper. Sophie went through the drawers giving us a variety of patterns, colours and motifs to view. As I viewed the variety of fabrics I began to see how the fabrics represent the aesthetic of the time they were created and how in turn that influenced the Interior Design of that time. I left the archive inspired by the people who designed and meticulously created these gorgeous fabrics over the centuries. I took as many photos as I could during the tour, but there were so many it was hard to keep up.  If you want to learn more about Pierre Frey Fabrics go to their website, or better yet visit Paris!

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