Design Show at the Javits

Not only was there art all over NYC this year there was also new furniture designs.  What is great about these shows is that you can see the trends.  What I saw (and I did not stay long and do the whole show) was lots of new outdoor furniture that started a few years ago in the European furniture shows.  Color, steel and new flexible materials.  Plenty of new lighting and very much geared towards custom.

tab;esWhat I really went to see was Rock Paper Robot, Jessica Banks company.  I love these brilliant tables that pull out and lock in place with only legs at the at.  They come in the basic frame on the left.  Then you can add any material on top and over a course of a life can continue to change it based on your needs and likes.

This chair is the partner.  Check it out.  So insanely cool and comfy too.

malenebI bumped into Malene B who I had met a few years back when she pitched at an event.  I was thrilled to see that she was still boot strapping her company and growing.

funidingtablesHere are some tables that I thought were cool.

christianlooThese too.

steelHere is steel that can be used as walls, or separators or anything.


Some outdoor furniture.

fermobMore outdoor furniture.

More than anything it was great to see Rock Paper Robot with a never ending crowd looking at the furniture.

Being in constant contact

imgresThere was an article this past weekend in the Style section in the NYTimes about the tyranny of constant contact.  I still remember the days when a phone/mini-computer was not an extension of our hand.

I text and call my kids.  I don’t want to be in their face because I don’t want to crowd their life but I want to be engaged.  It is a balance.  This past weekend I was supposed to connect with our oldest daughter. I had not heard from her after texting the night before and then into mid-morning.  I was concerned because she has always been an early riser.  I was getting a bit concerned.  She finally called me late morning after a late night she had just woke up.

In the land of the past I would have never had that opportunity to even worry because there was not that state of constant contact.  I could have noticed on her Instagram that she was out late but I find myself rarely looking at Instagram these days unless I have some idle time in a taxi.  God forbid I should just watch the scene outside the car window because absorbing myself into the abyss of social media is much easier.  Twitter is a go-to for that.  The best media platform out there.

Sometimes that constant is just so overwhelming.  Sometimes the constant is comforting.  Just as I do try hard to balance the in your face with my kids (who are essentially adults) and the feed of the world that keeps coming at us.  As summer is upon us it is the perfect time to think more about disconnecting.


Frieze, Nada and Contemporary African Art Fair

I made the rounds to all three art fairs in NYC this past weekend.  The Frieze was overwhelming but really good.  More sculpture this year and and more than a handful of artists who are working with fabrics.  Lots of color too.  The African Art Fair although small was really worth going to see.  I was really intrigued by much of the work there.  Nada was a total disappointment.

ee5Bh81DDYWzmbNox52QrNOrp6MIJRTHDzSf-RbBtU8Ian Cheng.  Photography meets 3D meets technology.  Very cool.

artHighlights from the day.  This is from the Freize.  Sadie Laska.

watermelonsNatalia LL from Warsaw.

kentisaKen Tisa

yinkaYinka Shonibare

monirsculptureMonir Shahroudy

nathancarterNathan Carter

flowerscultpureLarge outdoor sculpture.  Missed the artists name.

itsnotwhathappensJohn Giorno

philipallenPhilip Allen

aimempaneFrom the African Art show.  Aime Mpane.  All chiseled by hand.

peterclarkePeter Clarke.

That’s the show.  I am exhausted.


Art, art, art

imgresChristies grossed $1.726 billion this past week in the art auctions.  The first fine art auction started at Christies in 1766.  The majority of art auctions, essentially a bidding frenzy that takes place in the secondary art world, has been taking place for around 250 years.  Christies commissions range from 12% and 35%. The beneficiaries of this was the auction houses and the owners of the art, period.

I am thinking about the weekend of art.  I am also thinking about how technology is changing the art world.  Years ago if you were interested in something you would be given information and small photos of the work.  Today each gallery has an iPad with photos of work from each individual artist in their gallery.  You can scroll through the the iPad to see past work and the gallery will send you a jpeg while you think about the piece.  That was a big move for galleries.  Now it is business as usual.

Then sites starting cropping up.  As Jen Bekman of 20×200 says, “art should be available to everyone”.  That has always stuck with me.  You don’t have to spend a huge amount of money to have art on the wall from artists.  No doubt that buying art can be walking into a mine field.  It is important to educate yourself.  I have been watching Kollecto where for a small fee you can educate yourself, connect with an online art advisor and begin to collect.

We are collectors and have been since graduating college.  The first piece we own is one of the first things I see when I come home every day.  I still love it.  Surrounded by books and art is a privilege that is available to everyone.  Artists are creators.  A little bit like entrepreneurs who create companies and can’t stop thinking about new ideas but artists think imaginatively about what they want to create.  It is an extension of what is going through their own head.

When I see those prices are Christies I am blown away but I also believe that technology has to invade that space.  The artists should be benefitting from those transactions too and sadly they are not.  That is why I am such a fan of Artlist.  There are pieces on the site that are in the million dollar range and the few thousand dollar range.  When each piece is sold (and you can make an offer vs just paying full price) 5% of the proceeds goes to Artlist and 5% goes to the artist.  So if the Andy Warhol up for sale on Artlist goes for the $1,250,000 then $62,500 will go to the Andy Warhol foundation.  If the Danh Vo sells at the listed price from the seller at $480,000 then $24,000 goes to Danh Vo.  He continues to be paid for his brilliance.  That is powerful.

Globalization has also changed the art world.  People get on a plane and travel to ends of the world at a drop of a hat.  They also can use the same art sites that are in London and the US when they are in Brazil.  If you are a collector you can collect from your kitchen.  You can educate yourself on artists that you are following.  People who are purchasing pieces at Christies for $680m are obviously not your typical collector but decades ago the changes were that the majority of people at the auctions were not as international as they are today.

I have written about this before but seeing that Christies number just made me think more about how powerful the art world is and how important it is to continue to pay back our artists who give all of us the ability to experience their work.  They should benefit from their success just as other artists do such as actors with residuals or entrepreneurs who build companies that sell or go public.

Change is afoot everywhere.  There are a few places where technology hasn’t changed much but the art world is just starting to see more change and I for one think that is a very good thing.


Solar Puff built by Women Entrepreneurs


I met the entrepreneurs behind Solar Puff at the Women’s Entrepreneur Festival two years back.  They came to the one after that too and am pretty confident that they will be at the next one in April 2016.  The festival has a super high return rate of women which says something powerful about the community.

They showed me their solar puff.  I thought it was a really interesting opportunity that could be transformative for communities in need of light.  I saw their opportunity in the non-profit arena more than the profit world.  Just my opinion.  Their product should be distributed in countries of need across the globe.

They are wrapping up their Kickstarter campaign in the next two days to bring light to Nepal.  The Solar Puff is a solar powered lantern that lays flat and pops out into a light.  What they are doing with their light by bringing it to Nepal after the tragic earthquake is wonderful.  A little ray of light is sorely needed there.

So far they have had almost 5800 backers and have raised almost $400,000 when they only wanted to raise $25K.  This is the type of campaign where the more the raise (see the gifts – one for you, one to Nepal) the bigger impact is made.

Please take a look at their campaign and give the gift of light to an area that is sorely in need.   I am thrilled for these two women entrepreneurs, Alice Min Soo Chun and Stacy Kelly, who have built something that is making a difference in the world.  Their impact is about to change the lives of many.

A Week in LA

titosI was out in LA this past week working on a real estate project.  Projects are great because there is a beginning and an end.  It was a crazy week but incredibly exciting.

We saw a bunch of friends who came over to see the grand finale.  Being able to see everyone was a bonus because we were only in LA for a few days.

tacosAlthough there are a few things that must be done when we are in LA.  Tacos, sushi and the Big Chill.  We had lunch at Tito’s Tacos in Culver City.  What a spot.  Cash only.  We had a bit of everything but the Tito’s Taco with cheese was the best thing.

tunaEchigo is my favorite sushi in LA.  The place has zero ambience.  Over a decade ago the chairs were white plastic outdoor picnic furniture.  They have upgraded to wooden chairs and tables.  The sushi is always excellent.  The rice is warm and there is always a few specials.  They get you in and out which I love too.

big chillThe Big Chill is the best.  Cash only and always a line. We have been coming here as long as my brother and his family have lived in LA.  Eleven years.  A variety of frozen yogurts with toppings.  They carry a bunch of random cookies and salad dressings too.  A goldmine.

The week was quick but it was nice to be back.

Farro Salad

farrosalaCharlie Bird makes a killer farro salad.  I was there earlier in the week and was inspired to make it myself.  I found the recipe on line (of course) and then played around with it myself.  The key is that they cook the farro in apple cider.   Farro can be a little bit like a kitchen sink.  Just pile it in based on your likes.

Here is my farro salad

2 cups farro (make sure to rinse it several times to get rid of the starch)

2 cups apple cider

1 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt

4 cups water

4 bay leaves

1 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup chopped basil

1 cup chopped mint

8 large radishes thinly sliced

1 cup shaved parmesan cheese (use a vegetable peeler)

1 1/2 cups chopped pistachio nuts

5 roasted golden beets cut into small cubes

Sea salt for finishing

In a large sauce pan add the farro, apple cider, water, salt, bay leaves and 4 cups of water to boil and then down to a simmer.  A little higher than simmer or it will take forever.  Then let this hang out on the stove for about 40+ minutes or until all the liquid is gone and the farro is done.  Let this cool and then take out the bay leaves.

Whisk together and olive oil and lemon juice (add a pinch of salt for flavor).  Then pour this over the cooled farro and mix.  Add the cheese and pistachios and let this sit to let those flavors come together.   I let this hang out a room temperature for 4+ hours.

Right before serving I added in the rest; beets, mint, basil, radishes and sea salt.  Mix and serve.  You can eliminate the beets and add cherry tomatoes sliced in half.  You could add in anything that rocks your boat.  Sliced asparagus?

Great spring/summer salad.

The mother worrier?

imgres-1There was a great editorial in the NYTimes this week named Mom:  The Designated Worrier.  The author 

I do believe that there is more of a shared parenting situation that has taken place over the past few decades.  It is refreshing to see.  More men staying home is one that feels good.  Yet there is always one person who has eyes in the back of their head and a head exploding with the details that need to get done.

I remember a few times that Fred wasn’t paying attention to the kids not out of anything but not thinking.  The time that Emily came down the water slide and he wasn’t exactly right there when she ended.  Our brains think differently.  I was never a worrier but more of someone hyper aware of what had to get done.  He is the worrier.  Worrying has never been part of my DNA.  I think it is a waste of time.  You only create angst by worrying about something you have zero control over.

What does happen is that once you have children with someone that roles begin to take place.  Both of you can’t be ordering the weekly groceries, making sure the kids after school activities are booked.  One person has to take the rein.  Then as time moves forward you start to fall into separate responsibilities around the house.

I would be fully shocked if I came home one day and Fred had prepared a meal for the family.  It just wouldn’t happen.  I took that under my wing a long time ago.  Roles are good.  It makes for great partnerships.  Setting them up from the beginning is important.  Getting lines crossed and blurred can create frustration and resentment.  Truth is, it is like a company, everyone plays a part and roles become more defined as the business grows.

It is interesting seeing our younger friends get married and have kids.  They are the next generation and the lines are more blurred but at the end of the day the roles become defined.  You just have to be happy with your job description.  Someone has to be the organizer, someone has to execute, someone has to worry, someone has to pay the bills, someone has to etc, etc.  Just be clear who has what covered.

Dinner Party!!

soupThere are so many things I miss about having the kids rambling around the house.  One of them is definitely the family dinner.  Sitting around the table, sometimes for a short meal and sometimes for a long meal is something I pine for.  We still have them and in many ways they are even more special now.  The other thing I miss is cooking.  I love to cook and bake.  I find it relaxing and insanely enjoyable.   We had a few good friends come over for dinner.  The conversation flowed, the wine flowed and I loved the whole preparation.

I will post some of the recipes over the next week or so.  Here was the menu.  Asparagus Soup to start.  Snap peas arugula herb salad with Burrata, Farro Salad and lemon herb whole fish (one per person).  Lemon Ricotta bars and a platter of fruit.  It said spring is here.

The soup was so simple and delicious.  I made enough so that one person went home with tub of soup.

4 lbs. asparagus (take a vegetable peeler and clean up each stalk from the top down and then cut off the bottom.  I took 12 of the top and cut them off for decoration on the soup.  Slice the rest into 2″ pieces)

1 large sweet onion chopped

4 leeks cleaned and chopped (white part only)

8 cups Chicken Stock (you could use Vegetable Stock and go completely vegetarian on this)

8 tbsp. flour

8 tbsp. butter

In a large stock pot cover the bottom with olive oil.  Add in the onions, leeks, salt and pepper.  Saute until soft and even a little browned.  Then add in the asparagus and saute for a few more minutes.

Pour in 8 cups of stock.  Bring to a boil and then down to simmer.  Let this simmer for about 15 minutes.  The asparagus should be very soft.

Ladle out 4 cups of broth and set aside.

Take the asparagus and the broth left in the pot and use a food processor to puree.  It takes a few rounds.  Set this aside in a separate bowl until completely done.  Then return this to the original pot you used.  Wipe down the pot so there are not any tiny pieces floating around first.

In a medium sized saucepan over a low heat add the flour and butter.  Stir this constantly for about 2 minutes until it become thick.  This is a warm roux.

Whisk in the reserved broth to this roux.  Then turn the heat up to medium and continue to stir with a wooden spoon until this thickens.  About 5 minutes.

Slowly whisk this in to the pureed soup.  Bring to a simmer over a medium heat to blend the two.  Add salt and white pepper to taste.  I turned everything off at this point.  Rewarmed the soup right before serving.

I took the tops that I had set aside and quickly sauteed them in a small pan with butter.  I did this earlier and set those aside for later.

Ladle the soup into a bowl, put two asparagus tops on the soup for decor.  Serve.

Really delicious and simple.  Great starter for a spring dinner or even lunch later in the week.


02ce8338117e3efb3ab9d19118bd7bf32475b0b7_julie-_-ian-formals-0280The other day someone asked me what I thought about companies pivoting.  Pivoting is one thing and if you have to do it then by all means go for it.  Evolution is another.

I have been privy to more than a handful of companies where I have literally been the first dollar in and then part of the evolution into something bigger than the original concept.  It is exciting to be part of.

Corie Hardee, the entrepreneur at Little Borrowed Dress, now Union Station, is leading the charge on an exciting evolution.  Corie is one of the most data driven human beings I have ever met.  She has analyzed her business like no other.  She engages with her customers.  She runs a tight ship.  She has built something quite large on very little money.  She understands her business inside and out.  She is exactly what you want to invest in.

This past week Little Borrowed Dress changed its name to Union Station.  All the components of the business are still there but it is now bigger and broader.  We rent bridesmade dresses.  Seems like a simple business but trust me it is not.  Building a brand, building a following, understanding the analytics and the importance of making sure each customer thrilled is not something to be taken for granted.  It takes time.  We are now on a small rocket ship but getting there is never easy.

Now we are not only about renting a dress but we are about the groom as well and making it super simple for a couple to plan and execute on their wedding.  Watching Corie go through this process was a learning experience for me too.  Corie dug into the reasons for the name change and evolution of the company like nothing else I have ever seen.  She also shared this with her customers (see below).

I am super excited about Union Station and even more excited about the place the company is in now.  There is nothing else like seeing something grow.  I first met Corie for coffee where she pitched me on her business.  She brought along three dresses to show product.  It took a few meetings until I said yes.  I look back and am insanely happy that I took that leap into her unknown.  No longer unknown.

                                       Dear brides and grooms:

 About four years ago, we saw a big problem that we knew we could solve. After being bridesmaids ourselves and facing the high price tags and questionable fits and numerous alterations, we knew there had to be a better way. So we created one.

Then something interesting happened along the way. After working on thousands of weddings, we started to really see what it was like to be a bride. That, beyond the stress you’d expect when putting on a big, very personal event, there was actually just a lot of extra pressure. Pressure to spend a ton of money. To perfectly mimic the magazines. To know how to arrange everything. Basically, to turn your real life into a fairytale. And so many times, the fun — and the reason behind it all! — would get lost.

We think it’s time for a change.

So we’re excited to introduce Union Station. (The name “Little Borrowed Dress” has served us well, but now it’s a bit too small for our big ambitions.)

It’s our mission to make it easy, fun, and affordable for you and your partner to have the best day ever. Whether you’re going all out or having it in your backyard, hanging onto traditions or throwing them out the window, we’ll help you plan a wedding that reflects your style and personality—without all the pressure and stress. Because, to us, there’s no right or wrong way to get married.

We’re ready to change what it means to plan a wedding, just like we did with bridesmaid dresses. And we’re so excited to share the beginnings of our vision.