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Monday, March 16, 2015


Design writer Phyllis Van Doren on Ken Kellogg's architecture.  See below.
“...Seeking the personal and unique in home furnishings is delicious prospecting...”  --Phyllis Van Doren

HAPPY TRAILS—Magazine journalist Phyllis Van Doren is not shy and retiring, but last week she did retire from her day job, one she’s held for the past 35-years at San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles.  Recently, the staff of the slick 36-year-old shelter publication tossed a hail and farewell luncheon at the newly redesigned Oceana restaurant at the sunny Catamaran Resort on Mission Bay.  Publisher Mark McKinnon gladly picked up the check.
Phyllis Kessel a.k.a.
Phyllis Van Doren
Peter Jensen, an early editor of the magazine brainstormed with current managing editor Eva Ditler to comb the archives for literary gems penned by Ms. Van Doren (Phyllis Kessel in real life).
            They came up with enough so everyone seated around the table could read one ‘graf in Phyllis’ honor.
            When asked what she planned post deadlines: “I’m going to rest.  Do some traveling: Enjoy Paris, San Francisco, Upstate New York and where ever.
            “And in between I’m going to work on a website about my husband (the late, great jazz guitarist Barney Kessel), where readers can share his legacy and music (on CDs).”
            Whatever she chooses to do we will take for granted that she will do it with style, creativity and elan.  We will miss the sophistication of her writing in the magazine but take comfort that she is busy designing her well earned retirement.
            As soon as her Barney site is up, we will post it.
            In the meanwhile, enjoy a few design riffs by the Dean of Design Journalists on the West Coast:

Standing Strong
Some might call the architectural brutal.  It is certainly direct and dramatic.  The front of the house juts its jaw out in defiance of the elements.  The ocean is tough here.  Architect Ken Kellogg is apparently daring nature to knock this house down.

Life After Paris
A Bankers Hill cottage of flowers and France: Vintage sounds of concertina and plaintiff French lyrics waft through the jacaranda-shaded house and out into the brick-paved courtyard.  The faded barn-red exterior of the 1920s coach house where Hank and Lois Mathews live gives no hint of the memento-filled interiors with.  The voices of Edith Piaf, Charles Aznavour, Jacques Brel and Juliette Greco coming from a CD player are perfect counterpart to rooms overflowing with French antiques, blue-and-yellow Provencal fabrics and collections of china.

Art in the Pines
The air was crisp and clear, the meadows succulent with new green growth after the rains, and the distant hills and mountains seemed to have been dipped in indigo.

Happy Days
With her masses of blonde hair piled high, comfortable in the tie-dyed or hand-woven flowing skirts, coats and lots of beads, Carol Martin exudes creativity and charm.  She’s an original, sort of Lady Ottline Morrell meets ‘70s funk and flash.

California Dreamin’
Or is design going to be lost in translation along with Bill Murray?  A White Christmas—unlike the ones you used to know despite being snow-deprived, San Diegans can, on occasion, dream our December into a blanket of white.

Ode to Coronado
When elegance ruled Coronado princes called, mansions sparkled, and the Spreckles’ house saw it all:  In 1888, the Hotel Del Coronado was like a magnet pulling in the sporty and well-heeled.  Elisha Babcock stood at the bow of a small rowboat, legs braced against the chop of San Diego Bay, ready to jump ashore on a low dune—grass—whiskered spit called the Peninsula.  At the oars, H.L. Story looked back on a young New Town acros the bay somewhat obscured by the smoke of cooking fires curling from stovepipes.

Design Riffs
I took a  week’s  sweep  through  the  perennial  verdure,  Greek  Revival  architecture  and  Finger   Lakes  of  western  New  York  before  fall  painted the  trees  in  high  color.

Enduring Class
Antiques Roadshow is more than 30 years old and though television is overrun with pawn porn, picker slickers and the less discerning, heirloom antique are more precious than ever and mix so well with the new.

Fall Fashion
Like the political season it’s running with, fall fashion 2012 is downright sassy and outspoken.  Remembering for me, December is a month of dreams and memories.  Many of them rise, and then disappear like a puff of smoke from a childhood long past.

Homes of the Year
The somewhat vertical ascent up Mount Helix to this Home of the Year, owned by Susan an Lawrence McIntosh, feels a little like a trek up K2 without the ice.

Artistic Spirits
At home with arts patrons Maurice and Charmaine Kaplan they dine with Nakashima and Anderson, sit by the fire on Newman and contemplate Henry Moore.  They didn’t move to San Diego until 1985, but it is hard to know how we ever managed without them.

Over the ages the camera has been thought to capture a person’s soul.  In his own way photographer Tim Mantoani captures the soul of photography itself.

Chris Puzio
Tables and walls in the Barrio Logan live/work studio where he dreams his designs are filled with the miniaatures of his invention.  You can almost feel how the sharp geometric shapes and cellular ovals and circles, multiplied hundreds or thousands of times, breathe life into the organic whole of a shape yet to be built.

C’est Le Chateau
It was to become a place where dreams are stored.

The New Yorker editor David Remnick reminds The New Yorker’s biannual Style Issue is appearing this week.  The venerable weekly takes a look back at the magazine’s history of fashion writing starting in 1994.
            In that inaugural issue Adam Gopnik considered the question of why fashion matters. There’s money to be made, of course, but Adam decided that, in large part, fashion matters because it’s fun. “Pleasure is the one product always worth buying,” he wrote.  Other style shapers over the years are once again published this week are Janet Malcolm, Nick Paumgarten, Judith Thurman, John Colapinto, and others.  All get close to some of fashion’s foremost practitioners, and reveal its conscientious capriciousness as a serious business.

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