moravola — medieval modernism

While I admit to an unhealthy fascination with hotels in general ( a la distance), and hotel bars in particular (in close proximity), there are very occasionally a few hotels that break through my hazy, pro-hotel glow and beg me to book a flight and a room. Moravola is one of those hotels.

Architect Christopher Chong and his wife, designer Seonaid Mackenzie bought the 9th century Torre di Moravola in 1999 — after it had been abandoned for 50 years.


Before the restoration


The torre is obviously lovingly restored in a sort of  ”medieval modernism”. The website for the hotel has, unexpectedly, a charming  overview of the design process, and shows the work that was required to reconstruct ceilings, add stairs, and smooth walls; an intimate, behind-the-scenes touch that seems to presage an equally intimate stay. It’s only open seasonally, but honestly, did you really want to go to Umbria in February?

Some images to wet your whistle:

2 3 4 5 6 7  9 10 11 12 13  Torre-di-Moravola-03-1-Kind-Design-600x400 Torre-di-Moravola-04-1-Kind-Design-600x400 Torre-di-Moravola-12-1-Kind-Design-600x400 Torre-di-Moravola-26-1-Kind-Design-600x400 Torre-di-Moravola-30-1-Kind-Design-600x369 Torre-di-Moravola-33-1-Kind-Design-600x369

rue magazine: lisa baird

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My friend and business partner, the inveterate adventurer Lisa Baird, recently had her home featured in the latest issue of the always beautiful Rue Magazine.  The spreads were art directed by Maia McDonald of Design Conundrum fame, and photographed by frequent Rue contributor and SF-based talent Cooper Carras.

Lisa lives in a neo-gothic historic building in downtown Oakland, abundant in fantastic architectural detail. Couple that with Lisa’s playful and confident style with her interiors ….well…is it any wonder we hijacked the two flagpoles on her terrace and turned the whole gorgeous confection into the Coléoptère international headquarters?

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Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 9.19.49 AM LISA BAIRD BEDROOM Screen shot 2013-06-07 at 9.20.43 AM

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collaboration with

I’m very excited to be collaborating with over at Pinterest for next few weeks. Check out my picks for the stylish man, curated from both 1stDibs and around the web.  See you over there!




Klop (The Bedbug) by Mayakovsky, illus. George Kovenchuk, 1974

the good life — no. 3

It’s easy to fill one’s house with stuff. I’ve plenty of things purchased “just for right now, because I need a xxxxx right now.” But then I find myself looking at/using the blasted thing years later. (In fact, I’m looking at a very hated floor lamp purchased in desperation as I type this.) Now, I make a very conscious effort to buy objects mindfully. I need to love it, and, hopefully, I know who made it — and how — and where it came from. I like my things with stories. And no, “I was standing in the check-out line at Ikea and decided that I absolutely needed a new set of Klåppnøtt placemats as well as this 6-pack of cinnamon rolls” is not a particularly good story. At least not anymore.

Kena & Jennifer of Brika

Kena & Jennifer of Brika

What’s interesting about Brika is the amount of emphasis they place on the makers. It’s, well, a lot. I can just buy something pretty, of course. But if I want to learn more about, say, what motivates Victoria Vu of Paper & Type, well, Brika spends a fair amount of time introducing you, dear purchaser, to what makes Victoria tick.

I like it.


Victoria Vu at work

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Thank you note

Some thoughts from Jennifer Koss on what the good life means for them.

Kena and I met serendipitously a few years ago, and it was at our first coffee date that we realized we were destined to do something entrepreneurial and creative together.  After a decade of working in corporate jobs, we started a new journey with BRIKA – telling the stories of passionate, inspiring and talented Makers and bringing their gorgeous products straight to our customers inbox.  We believe the good life is about following your passion, igniting your creative spark and inspiring others to do the same!

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Mox Grey Boots


Black hand-stamped clutch

Black hand-stamped clutch


Shield Necklace

Shield Necklace


Fire escape pillow

Fire escape pillow 

i heart luxe

I tried to warn you about the new, schizophrenic nature of this blog. One minute, ruminations on the sublimity of the North; the next, effusive love for my absurdly stylish social media comrades-in-arms.

Take Aaron de Simone, for example. Not only does he have the kind of name that I want for myself, (I’m still miffed I don’t have a “de” or “y” or “von” knocking about somewhere in my own moniker. I’ve been cheated.) but every week, he also curates his favorite and most sophisticated finds for the week in his I Heart Luxe newsletter. I, naturally, have it delivered directly to my in-box. It’s one of the few e-newsletter I actually bother to open. Every week, and almost without fail, Aaron introduces me to something new. (Dear Aaron: I occasionally steal your hotel finds and pin them on my own boards. There. I admitted it.)

Recently, and thanks to Aaron, I found the lovely shop Plümo. And since I’m lazy about digging up recipes on the internet,  I love that he pointed me toward a gluten-free berry pie that will be going into dinner-party rotation in the coming weeks. And what about this beautiful little ornament? I’d use it year-round.

So you can imagine how flattered I was when he asked me to serve as guest editor on the next issue of I Heart Luxe. Here’s a sneak peak of one my finds:

1930s Orange & Sequin Ornate Oriental Hairpiece

To see the rest, however, you need to sign up before the January 20th publication.


You’d want to sign up, anyway. Honestly; the man’s got some serious style.