Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ten Simple Lovely Things

(Click HERE.)

Thank you to Joslyn over at Simple Lovely for her post on some of my most recent favorite things. It was an honor to answer her questions.  And I return the girl crush!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Maryam Montague: Marrakesh by Design

Los Angeles was injected with a exciting dose of exoticism last week.

Uberblogger Maryam Montague was in town for a whirlwind visit to promote her brand-new book Marrakesh by Design.
(Photo by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti)

I've been impatiently waiting for this book to come out ever since Maryam told me about it over dinner at her house in Marrakesh, back in December 2009.  It's absolutely everything I hoped it would be and more: a step-by-step distillation of Maryam's own Moroccan-inspired style and magical way of living. The photography is breathtakingly gorgeous and Maryam took all the photos herself -- is there anything the woman can't do?!
(Available HERE.)

Last Tuesday, I spent a lovely day driving Maryam around to a few of my favorite stores and then met her again at her book signing on Thursday. It was held at Downtown, one of LA's most stylish antique furniture shops, and it couldn't have been more perfect. Owners David Serrano and Robert Wilson went the extra aesthetic yard to make sure Maryam felt completely at home.
(Oy. I wish I had noticed that price tag when I took the photo.)

The space was brimming with gleaming mirrors and brass lanterns and colorful wares, not to mention a lovely traditional spread of Moroccan hors d'oeuvres and drinks.

Maryam had lots of fans there and they were all pretty fabulous. I had a great time chatting with Nicki Clendening and Callie Jenschke, the talented co-owners of Scout Design in NYC. They are sexy, bohemian girls after my own heart and their website is beyond.
(Vivaciousness x 2.)

And oh, Maryam's book! It's bursting with wonderful design ideas and projects for incorporating a little bit of Moroccan style into your life and adding beauty and versatility to your home.
(All Marrakesh by Design photographs by Maryam Montague.)

There are chapters on Moroccan architecture, color and pattern in which Maryam elegantly lays out the key elements of Moorish style. 

Once you've learned the basics, she takes you on a room-by-room tour of all of her favorite spaces and tells you everything you need to recreate the same feeling in your home. (Make a coffee table out of a Moroccan window! Create an Moroccan-inspired seating area!) 

The last section of the book focuses on where to shop (both in Morocco and online) and how to determine quality and expertise so that you can be confident with your purchases.

Below is a photo of us on the night we met sitting by the flower-laden fountain in her bewitching home/boutique hotel, Peacock Pavilions. Beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows stretches her olive grove and above it the impenetrable North African sky. It was after midnight and we were talking in rapid hushed tones, the way you do when you know the evening is winding down and you still have so many things to tell each other. 
(Me with Maryam. December 2009, Marrakesh.)

 Fingers crossed, she's planning on coming back to Los Angeles in the fall. If she does, I'm throwing her a dinner party.
(Maryam Montague and Lisa Borgnes Giramonti.
May 2012, Los Angeles.)

Monday, May 14, 2012

How To Be Happier

Happiness doesn't come to those who sit back and wait for it.
It comes to those who fight for it.

1. Unless you make make being happy a priority, it might pass you going in the other direction without you ever realizing it.
(Lake Pichola, India. 2007. All photos by LBG.)

So start small. Do something positive for yourself tomorrow morning, whether it's fixing yourself a healthier breakfast, talking to someone gently instead of grumpily, or just closing your eyes and thinking about nothing for ten minutes.
(Home, 2012.)

2. Try your best not to get caught up in the ridiculousness of life. 

It's easier than ever these days to get sidetracked by meaningless pageantry and unnecessary drama. All it does is surround you in a fog of confusion and obscure you from your goal. When this happens, step away from the mist and focus on what matters.

(Rishikesh, 2007.)

Think of the funny way your dog sighs when he's sleeping. Think of the delight on your friend's face when you gave her those wildflowers. Think of how few ingredients you really need to make a simple delicious meal. 

(Home, 2012.)

3. Remember that chaos is in the eye of the beholder. 

This is a photo of a peaceful morning in India.  
(New Delhi, 2007.)

And this is a photo of hardly any traffic to speak of.
(New Delhi, 2007.)

Chaos only becomes frustrating when you choose to look at it that way. Change your attitude and who knows what you might discover? (Penicillin, Post-Its, Velcro and chocolate chip cookies, for starters.)  

Even better, start collecting chaos. But limit it to the stuff that really speaks to your soul. You'll be surprised what you learn about yourself.  
(Home, 2012.)

4. Remember that a ray of light is easiest to spot when it's surrounded by complete darkness. 

Don't let tough times get the best of you. This is easier said than done, I know. But don't give up. Put your trust in something bigger than yourself, turn on some good music and keep looking for the light.
(Rishikesh, 2007.)

You can start by practicing at home.
(Home, 2012.)

5. Remember that even a palace garden is sown and nurtured one square inch at a time.
(Udaipur, 2007.)

Every dream starts out small and fragile and a tiny bit scared. That's why you're there -- to water it and feed it and encourage it and never lose sight of the ultimate vision. There will be a million steps along the way. Take pride in checking off each little one.
(Home, 2012.)

6. In India, they have a saying, "Everything will be all right in the end. So if it is not all right, it is not yet the end."*
(Jaipur, 2007.)

*Line stolen from "The Exotic Marigold Hotel" trailer, which I absolutely cannot wait to see.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Little Augury on One Kings Lane

One of my favorite bloggers, Patricia Gaye Tapp, is having an exclusive Tastemaker Sale tomorrow on one of my favorite websites, One Kings Lane. Her blog Little Augury is on my shortlist of places to visit whenever I need to feel a dose of style and beauty that's slightly off the beaten path. 


Here are a few previews of what's up for sale:

1.  A fine European trophy racing cup from the 1920's. So perfect for your fancy desk pens. Or your not-so-fancy toothbrush. Or as a bud vase. Or next to the kitchen sink to hold your wooden bristle brushes.

This is what race car drivers in the 1920's looked like. Wonder if the cup belonged to someone like her?
 (The alluring Hellé Nice. Via here.)

2. A vintage French grey-painted step back bookcase and two drawers in the Louis XVI style. It would make a great bar cabinet, don't you think? (I would put a silver tray with spirits and liqueurs on the main shelf, stack glasses and accoutrements on the two shelves above, and hide not-so-pretty mixers behind the doors.)

And don't think this wouldn't fit in with modern furnishings. See photo below for proof that Louis XVI gets along with everyone.

                       (photo from September 2011 Lonny)

3. A 19th century Swedish settee purchased in Paris with original paint and gilt.

I'm a sucker for any kind of long bench like this because I really do feel that you can put them everywhere. At the foot of your bed, against the bottom of the staircase or at your dining table, like I do in my house (see below).
(Photo by Marcia Prentice via Apartment Therapy.)

The sale is live at 8am PST Thursday. See you there!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Getting Wordy

I'm no good at math, but I have always loved word puzzles. When I was a kid, I could take a 24-hour road trip from Michigan to Florida with just "The Big Book of Cryptograms" to occupy me. (Five children and two adults crammed into a 1970's Ford station wagon -- whoo hoo, good times.)

Don't you find it interesting that no matter how much time passes, the stuff that fascinated you as a child doesn't ever really fade, it just becomes more pronounced?

For instance, right now I'm on a pangram kick. A pangram is a sentence that contains within it every letter of the alphabet. Here's the most famous one (you probably remember it from typing class): 

"The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog."

Well, I've started writing and embroidering a series of pangrams about 21st century life. Say, for instance, Queen Elizabeth were to drink one glass of tipple too many and start fantasizing?

(Study for Pangram "Queen Elizabeth", 2012, by Lisa Borgnes Giramonti.
Cotton, thread. 8"x 10". SOLD.)

The work above was part of the recent "Incognito" show at the Santa Monica Museum of Art. (I'm working on a bigger version now.)  Future pangrams waiting to be embroidered include subjects like Isabella Blow, Michael Fassbender, Gwyneth Paltrow, Balthazar Getty and more. (And maybe Nicky Minaj too -- she has rather a good name for pangrams because it takes care of 'j', 'k', and 'y' in one fell swoop.) 

I sold another embroidery in the "Incognito" show as well. Talk about the past pushing its way into the present -- this one is based on a word puzzle I came up with in college and have been playing ever since. The goal is to transform a four-letter word into its exact opposite by changing just one letter at a time. To challenge myself even further, I set myself the task of having each new word along the way add to the meaning so that it's not just a string of nonsense, it's a poem.

Here it is. It's called "The Journey From Love to Hate":
(By Lisa Borgnes Giramonti, 2012. Cotton, thread. 8"x 10". SOLD.)

There's going to be an embroidered series of these "Four Letter Words" too. (My next upcoming group show is in July at the Marine Contemporary Gallery in Venice -- details to come.)

Do you have any word games that you like to play?



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