Catwalks, Cookies, and Life Advice from Bonnie and Clyde

Sorry I did not post yesterday. I was doing my Coco Rocha impression and modelling spandex at the club.

Of course, my new pal the Workout Goddess was modelling a string bikini, post four children. (She is not to be confused with the Supermodel. Oakville is like that: all the women are six feet tall, size 0 and gorgeous. It's depressing. I seek my solace in Girl Guide cookies.) I was busy trying not to split my outfits since we ate lunch (and I had a nip of dutch courage) before the show. But it was all good fun and, despite Vegas odds, I did not become fashion roadkill.

On Tuesday, I attended a fabulous design talk at SOFA. Janette Ewen and  Jef Hancock of Parker Barrow were there to talk about using art in design. I thought it might be about where to source art and what height to hang things but, boy, was I in for a treat! I should have known that this duo channeling Bonnie and Clyde would shake us up a little.

Janette is a magazine editor, television goddess, fashion and home stylist and the "Hunter S Thompson of design." Jef is a bad-boy Maker of Things like this Gurney Art Table.

Oh, and he's had stuff in the Guggenheim.

They started the presentation with a quote from Camille Paglia:

“A society that forgets art risks losing its soul.”

I know. Seriously good.

Then they urged us to ban beige.

I wanted to stand up and cheer.

The talk was not on using art in design per se, but how to bring more creativity into the design process. Janette remarked how high-end hotels are to design, what couture is to the fashion: what we see in hotels will eventually trickle down to the mass market. Thankfully, hotels are no longer the stark places they were in the 90s and early 2000s, but are more opulent and fun. She highlighted the Faena Hotel in Buenos Aires, where the Philippe Starck-designed El Bistro has giant unicorn heads on the wall and the pool has a giant gold crown.

And the g hotel in Galway, designed by mad milliner Philip Treacy


Not sure if it's colourful enough for me.

They talked a lot about what practices are helpful if you want to become more creative. The great thing is, this advice also helps you have a fabulous life. They were things like

See something new by 3pm, every day

Embark on a new adventure (like travel to a great city alone)

Make something once a week

Zig when others zag

Be fearless

As they pointed out, life is too short not to be lived with fun and passion. I'll have to keep reminding my kids of this when they question some of my wackier outfits on the playground tarmac (of course, a black dress, quilted biker jacket and stiletto booties are appropriate when one has just come off the runway...)

It was just so fantastic to hear. Sometimes I feel like it's daunting to embark on a new career in my 40s. And it feels daunting to go to a highly artistic decorating school when I'm a suburban mom. But after this talk, I thought about all of the experiences that have given me that fearlessness and sense of humour I need to make it in this business.

- doing stand up comedy
- filming for TV
- seeing my experiences with post-partum depression translated into part of a documentary

- having an essay in a book with rockstar authors
- sailing to Nelson's Cay and swimming in a hammerhead breeding area (who knew?)
- flying in a private jet and eating shrimp cocktail
- traveling alone
- getting robbed of my Louis Vuitton money in Paris (well, that's basically everybody)
- driving a Lamborghini Gallardo
- seeing Mark Walhberg's abs in person
- meeting Mark Burnett
- navigating divorce
- writing obituaries for the local paper as a teenager
- filing a police report (not to be repeated, I hope)
- hanging out with Harvey Keitel
- volunteering at TIFF
- taking Ballet at the National Ballet School as an adult
- buying a Chanel bag at Rue Cambon
- losing a lot of money and starting anew - twice
- getting an MBA in finance after dropping math in grade 11
- selling or giving away most of my furniture
- painting and sketching a portfolio to get me into design school
- buying a house in secret

See why I need a sense of humour?

Now, I love whimsical, fun design and use it all the time in my own home (House of Hackney pillows, ceramic dogs, and an in-progress 1960s palm beach-styled garden house inspired by a curb-side find) but the question I asked them at Q&A time was how to bring clients - especially Oakville clients - along for the ride. It's one thing to get people to buy into a fun idea on paper, but on install day, how do you keep them from bolting to Pottery Barn for a do over?

I loved the answer:

 Told you they were great...


  1. DEAR JEN!

    What a fun blog you have, full of a variety of thoughts and images. Thank you so much for coming by to comment! Have a fun week. Anita


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