Interview with Tanvier Lee of New York’s Casa Diseño

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Tanvier with Nate Berkus

Tanvier Lee is a New York interior designer who started her own thing and never looked back. Casa Diseño LLC has evolved over the years into what it is now, but has always been a place where clients can get professional, clean and innovative design from somebody who knows what she’s doing. She proves that by keeping her blog updated with the latest design trends that inspire her and you can see that it definitely translates to her work. Tanvier is a magnetic person and I don’t think there’s any reason that she won’t have a very successful firm, television show or something else none of us could even imagine.

eRoom: What is it that you and Casa Diseño do for your clients?
Tanvier Lee: Casa Diseño LLC is a New York City based company that provides interior decoration and design services to residential clients. I am my client’s interpreter (translate their visions into a reality), planner, personal shopper, stylist and coordinator. It is my job to make the process of updating their home as seamless as possible :o)

eR: As hard as it may be to put your art into words, can you describe your personal design style?
TL: Oh what a good question! For me, my design style varies by room as I believe each space should reflect its intention. I don’t think there is one design style that best represents me as there isn’t one personality trait to define my character. I love a country-inspired kitchen and bathroom because it’s comfortable and relaxing. I enjoy a minimalist style in the bedroom that incorporates earthy hues, wood and rich textiles (love patterns). There are many nights where I do not go to sleep until 3am so I need a room that will focus more on winding down vs. modern stimulation. I love mid-century furnishings in social areas like the living room as it has a tailored look that is classic without being gaudy.

eR: Why did you pick and how did you break into the admittedly competitive industry of interior design?
TL: To be honest, I was always a child that wanted to do everything lol. From becoming an actress to tornado chaser, I loved various aspects of multiple careers. One thing that always seemed to stick was my attention to detail, love of color and need to organize. I can remember being five years old and rearranging my room every Saturday morning. When I went to college, I thought I was going to study architecture but became lost in the technicalities. As a result, I gravitated to art history where I studied the historical aspect of an artist/architect, past experiences that shaped their style, and its impact on the surrounding community. While in college, I worked in sales both at a design center and kitchen and bath showroom which I guess was my start. From there, I went on to work with clients building homes in the Washington D.C. area and helped builders style their model homes.

In 2008, I decided to take a chance and moved to New York City to start my own company. I had no clients, no associates and no pre-established resources. Most people would say that I was nuts, but I knew that New York is the design capital (both in fashion and design) in the nation and therefore carries credibility. Not having a trained background in design, I knew that only prayers and hard work would push open doors. Within a few weeks of forming Casa Diseño LLC, I started gaining clients in Manhattan, Brooklyn and parts of New Jersey. My career took a bit of a shift in late 2009 as I began to focus the majority of my efforts into running my blog ( Who knew that a love for design would turn into a passion for writing! I now enjoy my time as the executive editor, but still take design projects from time to time.

eR: Are you noticing any trends starting to build in interior design that might be big in the coming year?
TL: Yes, there are a few goodies :o) The two biggest trends I have noticed are a global influence, and stronger use of color. In addition to offering eco-friendly products, many companies are looking overseas for innovation. Handmade textiles from artisans in Ethiopia and India (just examples, there are more) have become the upholstery fabric of choice. The global style is so eclectic that it offers something for everyone and brings a little piece of the world into your home. As I mentioned before, I love color! Color is being used in a bigger and brighter way. I think people need a little more excitement and visual optimism in their lives in a time of economic uncertainty. Fall and winter collections have started to incorporate more colors into their collections. The days of having pinks in the spring and fuchsias in the summer are now over! You can now taste the rainbow year round.

eR: What are three ways people can add value to their home without spending too much money?
TL: If you have a little patience and willingness to get your hands dirty, you are perfect for a diy project. Take a weekend and surf the internet for great and affordable ways to update your home. Simple fixes like installing new lighting fixtures or reupholstering dining room chairs can really go a long way. If you are still a little strapped for cash, try to make your big pieces work. A sofa can look brand new with a few accent pillows and throws. Add some inexpensive wall art (posters in a new frame) to make the room feel more cohesive. If all else fails, add color by painting your space. Paint stimulates the senses and can turn any drab space into a new wonder. There shouldn’t be a white wall in your home.

eR: What is the hardest part of the job?
TL: Learning when to end my day. I truly enjoy what I do and find it difficult to “punch out.” There have been weeks (even months) where I average 4-5 hours of sleep because I am doing something for my company. I am learning the importance of a healthy balance and slowly am starting (or trying) to shed my workaholic ways. I am getting better :o)

eR: What is the most rewarding part of the job?
TL: The most rewarding part of my job is the daily readers who enjoy my content. As a blogger, you try to produce interesting and relevant content so it’s nice to know people like it. The same thing applies if I am designing a space. To know that a client is happy with my work signifies that I listened to their needs and produced their wants.

eR: Favorite piece of furniture?
TL: Button-tufted headboards!

eR: Oooh, good call! Favorite room to decorate?
TL: The bedroom. It’s personal, intimate and a client’s most coveted space.

eR: What inspires your work?
TL: Color. The right color can have a lasting impact on your emotions and how you interact with a space. Decorative accessories and furnishings will fall into place, but a good color palette is important.

eR: What advice do you have for people wanting to break into interior design?
TL: I am no expert by far, but always believe in following your dreams in anything you do. There is no formula to success, just hard work and will power. To quote Winston Churchill,”destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice;casa desino logoit is nothing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

You can get in touch with Tanvier through any of the following resources:
Casa Diseño LLC
The Casa Diseño Blog
Casa Diseño on Facebook
Casa Diseño on Twitter
Tanvier on Twitter

ICosi by Afroditi Krassa for Bonaldo

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

Supercharging Bonaldo’s artistic portfolio of designer modern furniture and contemporary furnishings with extolling visual, ICosi modern side table by Afroditi Krassa pushes the boundaries of modern design through its sensational stature, minimally proverbial geometry and a pervading sense of naked simplicity that can easily be reinvented in different environments through repetition or singular placement.

Icosi Designer End Table by Afroditi Krassa for Bonaldo

Icosi’s grid-like silhouette is an eye-catching and highly vivid metaphor of its name, which translates from Greek as twenty.  With availability in matte white, coral red, anthracite grey, dove grey, and powder pink colors, by design, Icosi is constructed using bent, painted rods repeated 20+ times in parallel schematics, resulting in a pattern that deviates from its begetting components.  Often used as an occasional table, Icosi’s multi-purposeful demeanor extends into modern shelving when the tables are stacked one on top of the other.

Icosi Modern Side Table by Afroditi Krassa for Bonaldo

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Susan Jablon Mosaics – Crafty With Tiles

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Since the time of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs, mosaics have always been held in high regard for both their aesthetic appeal and the competent craftsmanship required to put them together. It is in this spirit of timeless class that Susan Jablon Mosaics – founded by its namesake Susan Jablon – designs and installs its gorgeous displays. From functional, pleasant mosaics adorning the sides of hot tubs or sauna walls (evoking ancient Roman baths), to intricate and elaborate pattern displays in living rooms, Susan’s mosaics are always custom-tailored to suit the client’s specific decor.

FOX’s popular culinary reality show Hell’s Kitchen is probably Susan’s most well known client, having prominently featured her intricate tile designs in its kitchens and dining areas for the past five seasons. The show, in which famous chef Gordon Ramsey uses his notoriously hot temper and dietary expertise to help transform novice chefs into competent artisans, has proven to be a satisfying challenge for Susan and her  team. For the set of the show’s main kitchen, they laid down a Bijou 1″ tiled counter and wall which was solid red on the left side and solid blue on the right side. This vibrant contrast was meant to evoke the strong polarization evident in the show itself, both in terms of the two teams of young chefs competing against each other (“red” and “blue” team), to the marked difference between Chef Ramsay’s bouts of anger in the kitchen and the sublime calmness of patrons enjoying high-quality meals out front. More than perhaps anything else, this synthesis of form and atmosphere is a hallmark of Susan Jablon’s distinct design style.

For those with a more D.I.Y. attitude, Susan also sells individual glass tiles with a huge variety of colors, patterns, and materials among them. By custom-designing and installing their own mosaics, homeowners can not only create patterns or designs as they see fit, they can also engage in a fun and rewarding activity for the whole family.