Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Photographer I Admire: Vicki Topaz

Rare and Romantic French History:  The lost colombiers of Normandy captured in heart-breaking beauty by San Francisco photographer, Vicki Topaz

In her gloriously poetic new book, ‘Silent Nests’, photographer Vicki Topaz presents stunningly beautiful hidden dovecotes, the historic architectural marvels of Normandy. Topaz devoted five years of her life to recording these beauties—and has captured a sense of lost lives and history with her lens. Come and meet Vicki and view her superbly sensitive images.

Several years ago, during a brief stay in Normandy, photographer Vicki Topaz spotted a large, isolated structure in a farmer’s field off a back road. Curious to learn more about it, she perused books in the local librairie and discovered that it was a pigeon house, or colombier, and possessed an intriguing history. These unlikely birdhouses, abandoned relics of the past, thrived from the 13th century until the French Revolution.

Drawn to their melancholy nature and historical significance, she set out to photograph these unusual buildings. As she learned more her initial reaction to their physical beauty merged with a feeling of loss. She returned to Normandy many times, and eventually to Brittany, to seek out these long forsaken structures scattered across the French landscape.
Her photographs have recently been published in a very special book, ‘Silent Nests’ (see below for more information).

I recently sat down in San Francisco for a chat with the great Vicki Topaz to uncover her motivation, her inspiration, and her obsession with dovecotes:
DDS: What was your attraction to these rare architectural discoveries?
VT: I am drawn to projects like ‘Silent Nests’ that take many years to complete, and my interests lie in topics that attract me on every level...emotionally, spiritually and intellectually. ‘Silent Nests’ falls loosely into the category of landscape...the landscapes of northwestern France in which the colombiers once thrived, the French countryside that reveals remnants of other eras. 

DDS: You spent many winters in France to capture these beauties.
VT: I photographed this project over a period of about five years. During this time I visited Normandy and Brittany often, with each visit around 5-6 weeks, mostly in fall / winter, and some in spring. I needed this amount of time to feel my way around this extraordinary region of France, to fill up my imagination of how life might have been over the centuries when colombiers flourished.

DDS: Why did you photograph in winter? It's so moody, with such a sense of history and eras past.
VT: I photograph in the winter months, as well as early spring, primarily for the quality of light. The luminescence of the light in the region, and the barren, still landscape provided a perfect backdrop for the colombiers. During this time of year, with the sun low in the sky, I was able to best portray these once prominent dwellings without the interference of the harsh light and shadows of the summer sun. I found the solemnity of winter was evocative of time passing, eras long gone, a certain sadness, and a sense of loss. 

Wintertime in rural northwestern France is quiet, only a few people on the roads, especially when snow is falling. That suited my purpose photographically and personally. I was seeking some time alone, and was delivered such an unexpected gift with the discovery of these amazing buildings, solitary in their landscapes. 

I felt the aura of medieval France in the stillness of winter as if transported back in time. It could have been any century.

DDS: What are you working on now?
VT: My current work, entitled ‘Silver: A State of Mind’, is a series of portraits of women who possess one of the most distinctive outward signs of aging--silvering hair. The project deals with the transformative and challenging aspects of aging and aims to reveal the core energy, vitality and allure of these women and how they are moving through this time in their lives. I find the silvering of hair is an entry point to a diversity of thoughts and ideas on the subject. This is a different sort of "landscape"--women who are aging and the vistas they inhabit.

“Upon arriving at one of these dwellings, usually tucked away in the countryside, or perhaps still part of an original estate, I was always struck by their silence and stillness,” said Vicki Topaz. “ They feel haunted by their past histories. At the same time, colombiers are very captivating and retain some of the sweetness of their former occupants, of their characteristics—gentleness, loyalty, social instincts, and ability to hone in on home. These qualities are sometimes represented by a heart mosaic pattern still visible on the facades of a few brick colombiers. Occasionally, some are still inhabited by a few pigeons.”

“These buildings were framed long ago, by their time, their usage and their placement in nature,” said Vicki Topaz. “I have discovered them in their final phase of existence, that of beautiful, deserted, and sometimes-forlorn structures. The era they represent, a composite of medieval tapestries and art, of inequitable power and political revolutions, of scientific discoveries and fantastical beliefs, has long since disappeared.”

Lesser structures have been built to worship gods, let alone to commune with birds. – Scott Martin Kosofsky
“The fate of these once prestigious structures compelled me to attempt to reveal the way they embody the loss we all experience through life changes, decay, and the death of loved ones,” said Vicki Topaz. “The colombiers’ survival represents the continuity of objects long after their builders have gone. I find this thread of continuity provides a measure of reassurance, a silent affirmation of our shared history.”

‘Silent Nests’, Photographs by Vicki Topaz
Published by Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany.
Essay by Doreen Schmid & Gilles Boussard
Hardcover with dust jacket

English / French
ISBN 978-3-86828-077-7
Distributor/US: Consortium / Perseus Distribution

Where to find the book:
I recommend buying it from small independent booksellers, photography galleries and design stores. It can be ordered through any bookshop. It is available in San Francisco at William Stout Architectural Books, Nest store in Pacific Heights; Zaragoza, San Anselmo and Photo-eye Bookstore (online bookstore) http://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/
Amazon.com is also very convenient. 

Vicki Topaz is a San Francisco-based photographer whose interest in cultural and social history, memory, and the passage of time informs the imagery in her work. Her monograph,’Silent Nests’, published by Kehrer Verlag, is the first photographic investigation into a little-known niche of France’s rich cultural legacy—the pigeonniers (pigeon houses) of Normandy and Brittany. Topaz’s other photographic series include 'Interiors' and 'Pastorale'. Her work is widely exhibited and collected by the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The Getty Research Institute, Fidelity Investments, Musée de Normandie, the Joy of Giving Foundation, and the Paul Sack collection, among others. Her current project, ‘Silver’, is a series of penetrating portraits and interviews of women who share their experiences about growing older in society. Topaz is a co-founder and board member of PhotoAlliance, a premier non-profit organization dedicated to presenting photography in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

All photography by Vicki Topaz, used with express permission of the photographer.
Tyler Jacobsen © 2010

Vicki Topaz has a darkroom and does all film developing and printing herself. She recently had three images enlarged and printed digitally (38" x 38"), by Urban Digital, and noted that they are really gorgeous. 

For further information: www.vickitopaz.com

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dreaming of Istanbul: A romantic stay at the Park Hyatt Macka Palace hotel

Turkish Delight: Istanbul is pure discovery. A chic new hotel, romantic palaces, jewels, and bazaars offer an insight into a culture and make Istanbul a magical excursion.

Follow me for a stylish new hotel discovery—and shopping tips from trend-setting designer Madeline Weinrib.

I recently went to Istanbul for a rather spontaneous and brilliant and brief visit.

My best decision, after diligent research, was to stay at the stylish new hotel, Park Hyatt Macka Palace. I chose it because it’s in a stylish section of the city—and the new hotel was created inside the shell of a former royal palace.

There’s history and grandeur to this hotel—but it’s executed with a masterful modern architectural approach.

Best of all—it’s very worldly in feeling, while honoring its Turkish heritage and handsome palace architecture.

Architecture and interior design for the Park Hyatt Macka Palace in Istanbul was by Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel, a multi-cultural design firm that had been working in Turkey’s largest city for many years and understood the significance of the strategically placed historic site.
I loved the Park Hyatt Macka Palace because it is located in an elegant neighborhood with style shops, cafes, and a lovely park nearby. It's also ten or fifteen minutes by car to historic sites like the Aghia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the famous cistern, and the Grand Bazaar. The hotel’s location, Nisantasi, is sometimes described as SoHo-esque, but I’d say that with Cartier and Gucci and Hermes boutiques it is more like Rodeo Drive, Turkish style. I prefer to stay at a hotel where I can walk out the front door and be in the middle of an interesting section of town. That’s my ideal.

Creating the new luxury hotel began with an authentic restoration of the neoclassical Macka Palace, built at the turn of the 20th century, and inserting a new lobby, restaurants and bars all with a modernist simplicity.

The design philosophy was to maintain the building’s interaction with the neighborhood, and to add facilities that are very up-to-date.

From hotel windows and balconies, guests can view significant landmarks along the Bosphorus. I loved that. At night, Istanbul is magical, with towers and minarets and palaces all lit up poetically in the misty Bosphorus atmosphere.

Guests enter through a discreet side entrance, and are whisked through the lobby and into the historic Macka Palace, where escalators zip up to the ninety large guestrooms.

The designers have given the rooms an updated neoclassical style inspired by a certain Istanbul taste. Light fixtures are all reproductions of fixtures found in the original building. The ceiling above the bed features extremely detailed carvings. 

One of my jet-setting friends choose the Macka Palace for its cosmopolitan bathrooms. They are superbly designed. A curved-glass enclosed wet room, nearly 250 square feet, the bathrooms are so detailed that I hardly set foot in the hotel’s spa. 

In Istanbul, East meets West, so several different cultures are present in the bathing room. I love the hammam (Turkish bath) tradition, and in this sybaritic bathroom there are also a splash tub, a rain shower, light color therapy, a steam shower, as well as the traditional Turkish bath.

The bathing experience is designed so that guests can recover from long-distance travel, rest, refresh, soothe the nerves, and enjoyTurkish bathing culture. I arranged for a masseuse to come to the suite for a private treatment, post-bathing. Delicious.

I loved the discretion and quietness of the Macka Palace. It has the perfect combination of tradition and modernity. When I set off to visit friends, or to cross the Bosphorus for a very special dinner, or to take a private tour of the Dolmabahce Palace, the diligent and thoughtful assistance of concierges and guest relations staff arranged a driver. They checked on opening times of Topkapi Palace, advised on restaurants, even found a special private recital of Sufi dancers.

The hotel staff is surprisingly cosmopolitan. I met a Tibetan manager who had trained in Switzerland, a chic French concierge, a Turkish receptionist, and my masseuse was Swedish.
One concierge recommended a special private tour by vintage yacht along the Bosphorus. I wanted to re-visit the yalis, the quirky and romantic historic summerhouses suspended over the water. They also double-checked that the Topkapi Palace private harem (with superb Iznik wall tiles) and the Topkapi jewel rooms would be open for a private visit.

Park Hyatt Macka Palace hotel: Highest recommendation. Tesvikiye Bronz Sokak No. 4, Macka Palas, Istanbul, Turkey. www.istanbul.park.hyatt.com.

“Istanbul was Constantinople

Now it's Istanbul, not Constantinople

Been a long time gone, Constantinople

Now it's Turkish delight on a moonlit night

Every gal in Constantinople

Lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople

So if you've a date in Constantinople

She'll be waiting in Istanbul.”
–Lyrics by Jimmy Kennedy, music by Nat Simon (1953)

I always recommend getting travel tips from friends. Consider jet-setter friends your trusted experts and advisors.

Before I headed to Istanbul, I asked my dear friend, New York-based Madeline Weinrib, for her shopping tips. Check THE STYLE SALONISTE archive for my earlier feature on Madeline in Jaipur.  She's an international shopping expert.
Here is Madeline’s fabulous list. Print it, load it into your iPad, and keep it in a precious travel file, ready for your next trip to Turkey.

The Bazaar Experience

I commented in a Paris feature recently that in Paris I was more passionate about only-in-Paris experiences that buying things. In Paris I want to keep shopping (except for Clignancourt and Drouot) to a minimum.

In Istanbul, however, going to the Grand Bazaar, meeting the rug dealers and antique experts, and sitting down for a sip of mint tea with jewelers and craftspeople—is an essential and exciting aspect of life in Istanbul. I love meeting designers and artists, sitting in their studios, and seeking out textiles specialists and Turkish taste-setters.

Madeline’s List:

Trend-setting Madeline Weinrib, the great textiles and rug designer, travels often to Turkey for research and inspiration. She loves taking time to meet rug dealers and artists and fashion designers face to face, and always buys pieces for her personal collections.
After dozens of visits, she knows all the best galleries and shops.

Madeline creates glorious rugs and textiles, and her much-admired studio (madelineweinrib.com) is located on the top floor of ABC Carpet & Home the grand Manhattan emporium of all things design and style.

Madeline Weinrib finds antique and vintage fabrics in Turkey and makes one-of-a-kind purses that extremely beautiful and rare. They are available at her studio  in New York. (see credits below)


Curkurcuma is a beautiful neighborhood for walking. It’s also filled with great shops. I especially love Dodo Antiques (Cukurcuma Faik Pasa Yokusu No 12/A; 90-212-292-84-49), where you can still find a bargain, and Samdan Antiques, as well as Serif Ozkilic for pillows and slightly kitschy portraits of sultans.


Sofa Art & Antiques, just outside the Grand Bazaar, is usually the first store I visit. It is beautifully curated, with a mix of antiques and contemporary art and objects. Antiquing can be tough in Istanbul because of the good fakes on the market; at Sofa you are buying the real deal. NuruOsmaniye Caddesi No.85; (90) 212-520-28-50; www.kashifsofa.com.

I check out Dervis for luxe bath accessories like the vintage copper hammam dishes and huge, plush towels.” Keseciler Caddesi No. 33-35; (90) 212-514-45-25; www.dervis.com.

I flip over the ceramics at Iznik Classics. Colorful dishes are everywhere in Istanbul, but it’s very, very hard to find ones like these that are lead-free and have such beautiful painting. The new designs are based on old patterns and are expensive. Ic Bedesten Serif Aga Sokak No. 18/21; (90) 212-520-25-68; www.iznikclassics.com.

I like Gerson Souvenir for antiques, miniatures, books, old icons, and carpets.” Cevahir Bedesten, Serif Aga Sokak No.115.; (90) 212-527-79-17.

If you love old Ottoman textiles, you have to visit the Topkapi Palace. It has the most amazing collection. If that whets your appetite, go to Doktor Antik to buy very beautiful, very old—and very expensive—Ottoman textiles, suzanis, and caftans.” Cevahir Bedesten, Serif Aga Sokak No.9-10 11-12; (90) 212-522-75-49.

Visit the Spice Bazaar for little gifts like rose water, dried figs, saffron, and organic Turkish apricots. I always bring back caviar from Istanbul. The trick is to use cold packs that chill perishables for 24 hours. Carmi Medani Sokak, Eminou.


Mehmet Cetinkaya Gallery in Sultanahmet is the place to buy old suzanis in perfect condition—with high prices that reflect the rare quality. I have one that’s so old and worn that only the edges are left; it looks like an abstract color-field painting.” Kuckayasofya Caddesi, Tayukhane Sokak No.7; (90) 212-517-68-08; www.cetinkayagallery.com.

Visit Karavanart in Sultanahmet. For primitive carpets with a modern look, my pick is Karavanart. Binbirdirek Mahallesi, Ucler Sokak No. 9/1.

Gonul Paksoy is a Turkish icon. She collects antique Anatolian textiles and Ottoman embroidery and stitches them into clothes and carries a fabulous selection of cookbooks, as well as antique Ottoman towels that she hand-dyes. She has two stores in Tesvikiye, across the street from each other—one for clothes, one for accessories. Aytiye Sokak No. 6A; (90) 212-261-90-81.

For contemporary fashion inspired by old Turkish garments, I love Art Butik in Tesvikiye. I’ve bought caftans and Ottoman-style pants there. The pieces are modern interpretations of ancient styles.” Ihlamur Yolu, Nur Apt. No. 5; (90) 212-225-94-56.

All the locals shop at Beymen, a luxury department store in Nisantasi. The company recently opened a home spin-off nearby, which carries all the best Turkish brands, like Gaia & Gino and Vakko.” Abdi Ipekci Caddesi No.23/1; www.beymen.com.tr.

Örge Tulga’s necklaces and brooches are a beautiful mix of ancient and modern inspirations. Some of her work is also for sale at Sofa Art & Antiques. Sultanahmet; Nuruosmaniye Caddesi, Alibaba Turbesi Sokak, Feyzullah Han No. 21/22; (90) 212-519-51-75; www.orgetulga.com.

Midnight Express: Young Turkish designers. Küçük Bebek Caddesi, 7A Bebek, Istanbul, 90 212 265 4547. www.midnightexpress.com.tr/

Arzu Kaprol: Contemporary Turkish clothing designer.  Abdi Ipekci Cad. 34, Niºantaºi, Istanbul (90) 212-225-0129. www.arzukaprol.net

Sevan Bicakci: This shop has exquisite jewelry worn by the most elegant women in Istanbul - in Grand Bazaar.  Molla Fenari Mah.
Gazi Sinan Pasa Sok.
Kutlu Han 14
34440 Istanbul
90-212-520-4516. www.sevanbicakci.com

Beautiful apparel and accessories made from antique Ottoman textiles. Just opposite this studio, she sells one-of-a-kind ethnic-inspired jewelry pieces, as well as richly detailed. necklaces designed from old beads. Atiye Butik No.6, Tesvikiye.

Yael Mesulam Manzakoglu studied at Parsons in New York before returning to Istanbul and launching EV+, a collection of beautiful linens. Her work is quite refined, including delicate linen nightgowns and terry cloth towels with embroidery based on ancient Iznik tiles. You will not find these anywhere else in the world. The boutique is located in Nisantasi. Ihlamur Yolu, Albayrak Apt. No. 9/3; (90) 212-232-17-58.

Hall is a very well crafted contemporary design furniture store. I love their eye on contemporary style. Fresh. Faik Pasa Yokusu no. 6, Cukurcuma, Istanbul, 90-212-292-9590

Cocoon. The owner, Sheref, has a fabulous eye for antique textiles.
Arasta Bazaar. No. 93 34400
Sultanahmet Istanbul, Turkey
: 0090(212)6383330 and 0090(212)5180338. www.cocoontr.com.

Tulu, a home accessories store, has beautiful bedding designed by ex-pat Elizabeth Hewitt. You can also find a wonderful selection of vintage Uzbekistan dishes; the best I’ve seen.
Binbirdirek mah. ucler sok no.9/1
Sultanahmet Istanbul

A La Turca: I visit this place for home accessories. Original, contemporary and fresh eye.
Faikpaºa 4, Çukurcuma
©stanbul, Beyoglu
Phone: +90.-212/245 2933. www.alaturcahouse.com

Yastik by Rifat Ozbek: Fashion designer Rifat Ozbek has opened his own shop selling pillows crafted from ethnic fabrics. Brilliant.  Sakayik Sok. Olcay Apt. No:13/1, Tesvikiye Sisli and Nisantasi, Istanbul, 90-212-2408731. www.yastikbyrifatozbek.com

ECE AKSOY-9 restaurant: I go there for modern and flavorful Turkish food. It is in an area with many cafes that artists frequent. Asmalimescit Oteller Sokak no.9
Tepebasi/ Beyoglu Istanbul

Reina is a fun night club that is good for celebrity watching. If you go for dinner after 11pm in the summer it is a little crazy as guests pull up in their yachts and it becomes a big scene. But the view is amazing – right on the Bosphorus and under the bridge.  Muallim Naci Caddesi No:44 Ortakoy Istanbul. http://www.reina.com.tr/

Images of Park Hyatt Istanbul images courtesy of Park Hyatt Hotels. Used with permission. www.hyatt.com

Images of Madeline Weinrib collection, courtesy Madeline Weinrib Atelier, www.madelineweinrib.com.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Designer I Love: Myra Hoefer

Exclusive preview:  The brilliant California designer Myra Hoefer is launching a captivating new collection of French-influenced decorative furniture, lighting and accessories. Called A La Reine, it is Fantastique!

Bravo, Myra Hoefer, for your chic and witty new furniture and lighting collection. I want them all.

Interior designer Myra Hoefer has a talent for making her fantasies come true. First she spent years designing astonishingly chic apartments for the Chez Vous apartment company in Paris.

Now she is launching her A La Reine furniture and lighting collection, all handcrafted in Vietnam by top craftsmen under the direction of a French design colleague of Myra’s. But first, let’s see how this dream of re-creating French-style furniture evolved. The story starts in Paris.

“I always dreamed of living and working in Paris, and a dozen years ago I worked first on the design of a friend’s apartment on avenue Beaumarchais, and then apartments all over Paris for Chez Vous,” said Hoefer.

Many of these glorious apartments were photographed by Deidi von Schaewen and published in the super-best-seller ‘Paris Style’, an Icon book by Taschen. I worked closely with Myra and Deidi on the Paris photography projects for this must-have style book. An apartment designed by Myra is on the cover of the book (shown here). The white-painted chairs and chic furniture captured in that cover shot are directly related to the A La Reine collection.

From her antiques-filled studio and small apartment on quiet rue des Tournelles in the Marais, Myra acquired antiques for her clients, and researched and sourced fabrics, furniture and accessories and worked with skilled craftsmen to make furniture and lighting. The idea of launching her furniture collection began. Her first pieces include a super-charming ‘goat leg’ bench, a ‘knot’ tabouret, and a handsome shell chandelier. Each is hand-carved and hand-lacquered.

Tabouret Chevre (goat bench)
Hand carved acacia wood goat legs, upholstered in Charolais white hair hide
21"H x 36"W x 17.75"D

Coquille Chandelier
Iron frame, white finish, hand strung shells. All hand-assembled and crafted. Center electrical with candles.
42"H x 37"D

Rope Stool
Hand carved acacia wood rope with Charolais white hair hide.
21"H x 15"W
$ 1,400

Eggshell lacquered box
Special traditional hand-crafted technique
14"W x 5"D x 7.5"H

Classic handcrafted ceramic Jardinière
 in powder white antique glaze finish
37"H x 27"W

This selection from the collection A la Reine by Myra is available through Myra Hoefer Design. On display at the showroom, Myra Hoefer Design, 309 Healdsburg Avenue in Healdsburg, California, or call MHD's office (707) 433-7837. Website www.myrahoeferdesign.com.

“It's a very busy schedule in Paris,” said Hoefer. “It was never one of those “stroll along the Champs-Elysees” kind of Paris trips. I worked until late each night, finding new resources, perfecting new designs, seeking out the best furniture makers.”

She kept an apartment in a handsome 18th-century building which surrounds a cobblestone courtyard and grand porte-cochere. She studied French style, French life, la vie Parisienne. She became a connoisseur of the finer aspects of French design, and French design history.

“My first apartment in Paris was in the former hayloft above stables,” said Hoefer. “I painted the walls a pale off-white color (called blanc casse in French), covered the floors in sea grass, and then found antique dining chairs, relaxed old armchairs, a big farmhouse dining table. It was French, updated, and given a casual California easy-breezy feeling. I loved it.” 

It’s an art to juggle Paris style and California sensibilities, and Hoefer found a balance and her focus. She infuses California rooms with exquisite French detail—but at home the rooms are not so precious that her grandchildren or her lively Jack Russell terriers are afraid to enter. Several of her interiors are in my books. Her Healdburg house is in ‘California Country Style’ published by Chronicle Books.

Gilt-edged, in the living room of her Healdsburg house, decorator Myra Hoefer displays her love of contrast--and a splash of gold. On an Italian console table she arrayed a French handcrafted lamp with a parchment shade. The mirror and carnival mask are Venetian. The ceramic stove is Dutch. A pair of Paris salon-style chairs is covered in pale taupe linen velvet.

“There’s a misconception that French design is up-tight and overly formal,” said Hoefer. “In fact, stylish French people live very comfortable lives with family heirlooms, new sofas and tables, flea market treasures, old things, and good art. They dislike that instant “decorated” look, and so do I. Rooms should be polished and well edited but not so predictable. My new furniture follows this credo. The pieces are unexpected and have an antique air.”

Hoefer also has a chic style shop on the plaza in Healdsburg that sells highly original collections of French antiques, contemporary sculptures, glamorous tableware, iron daybeds and a revolving door of Provencal props and rare Parisian décor.

A vignette from Myra Hoefer Design shows the white-painted furniture she loves—and the French influence that inspired her new furniture collection, A La Reine.

Her new A La Reine collection was directly inspired by her French life.
“In my daily rounds in Paris, I would see quirky painted antiques combined with simple functional sea grass matting, or voluptuous silk taffeta draperies and delicate Louis XVI-style painted chairs mixed with rustic iron chandeliers for Parisian panache,” said Hoefer, who is originally from Vancouver. “I’ve incorporated those lessons in my décor. I play with all kinds of contrasts in design for California houses. It’s the surprise, that juxtaposition of old with new, rough against smooth, or rustic with refined, that give design an edge. It becomes less precious and uptight. It makes a room more modern, not a period piece.”

Paris apartments by Myra Hoefer were given a ‘California fresh air’ treatment, with natural linen slipcovers, pale but cheerful colors, and lots of sunshine and open windows. Myra’s work in Paris, decorating eighteenth-century apartments, inspired her chic and lovely new furniture and lighting collection.

Hoefer’s Healdsburg, California, house is her homage to Paris. Pristine white linens and pewter candlesticks with lavish silk taffeta draperies, simple seagrass matting, and dog-friendly silken slipper chairs.

Perfectly at home with her provincial French work table and American pine cabinet are a Portuguese-style table, an Italian rococo console flecked with gold, and lavish landscapes. The new A La Reine pieces fit right in. 

"My furniture designs and my interiors are energized by both Paris and California," said Hoofer, whose daughters Gina Gattuso and Lisa North work for her design company, Myra Hoefer Design. "Visits to Paris always inspired my design eye. Paris and the South of France are a constant education. The classic architecture, the tonalities and textures of limestone, the playful and elegant decor, the richness of French design history, all enrich my design education. I find vintage fabrics for pillows, or discover new chandelier designs or a lamp-maker. I love it. Now I am pouring those ideas into my new furniture, lighting and collection."

More furniture and accessories designs for A La Reine are in the works.
It’s a bold and imaginative move—and I can’t wait to see the new carved wood ‘topiaries’, and elegant glazed ceramics, the eggshells boxes and carved and painted furniture yet to come.

Bravo, Myra. I wish you great good fortune with A La Reine.

A room designed by Myra Hoefer for the San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2009 demonstrated the color tonalities she loved: taupe, grey, and greige, with splashes of white plaster and paint.

Photo credits:

All product photography by Myra Hoefer and Myra Hoefer Design, used with permission.

A selection of Myra Hoefer-designed rooms include the pale lichen-walled and silk-curtained Ivy House, Myra Hoefer’s residence in Healdsburg, photographed by David Livingston, San Francisco. Paris apartments were photographed by Deidi von Schaewen, Paris. Used with express permission.

San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2009 room and vignette with white table photographed by Myra Hoefer Design, used with permission.