Monday, September 24, 2018

New Talent to Know: East Bay Designer Mead Quin

New Interior Direction: Composed, Pure, Serene, Tranquil — Mead Quin Explores the Purity of White...with Just a Slight Dash of Color

When Mead Quin established her namesake interior design firm in Emeryville 2013, she had already enjoyed several years of experience working with top designers Martha Angus and Grant Gibson. She had earlier spent a decade studying fine art.

Now, following two highly successful appearances in the prestigious San Francisco Decorator Showcase, Quin has an impressive portfolio of clients that includes tech entrepreneurs and leading innovators. Her projects span Oakland, San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Berkeley.

Mead Quin is making her mark with her beautiful and distinctive calm and tranquil décor, and the precise deployment of pure neutral tones and understated design.

Always Understated

“My goal is to design spaces that are cohesive, elegant and functional,” says Quin, who is also a firm believer in the adage ‘less is more.’ “I want my clients to invest in quality and longevity rather than quick and easy. It’s not enough for something to be beautiful… it needs to have substance, be well made, have meaning, retain value and function over time.”

While every detail of the planning and installation phases is meticulously composed and thoughtfully considered, Quin’s lighthearted approach results in enjoyable experiences and lasting relationships.

Versatile—Mead Quin has designed both an all-white living room and a flirty, witty petite bathroom for the annual San Francisco Decorator Showcase:

Quin who holds a degree in fine art, credits much of her success in the industry to her time as a designer with Martha Angus Inc. Working directly with Martha, she learned the fundamentals of the trade from 2008 to 2012. Mead diligently studied her mentor and found she working on high-profile projects throughout the Bay Area.

Prior to her work with Angus, Mead worked for Grant K. Gibson in an administrative role.

“While Martha taught me technical skills, Grant taught me how to keep it all in perspective and maintain a lighthearted approach to the process,” said Mead, “and that is something I take with me every day to each job.”

Design is Mead’s second career, but a creative one that is a natural progression from her original endeavor. She graduated from Vanderbilt University in 1999 with a Bachelor’s degree in fine art and spent the first five years of her professional career as a portrait artist. While pursuing an MFA at the Academy of Art in San Francisco in the early 2000’s, Mead had a chance encounter with the world of interior design and considered the possibility of shifting her career path. “The idea of creating beauty that would be lived in enticed me,” says Mead.

In 2013, Mead decided it was time to strike out on her own. Mead Quin Design, with headquarters in Emeryville, is a boutique firm with a closely-knit team.

“I planned to apply my skills as an artist using a two-dimensional medium into three-dimensional spaces,” she said. “When I first observe a space, I am looking at it as a painter, evaluating light and dark, line quality, composition, scale, balance.

Art is a key element in her designs.

“Art adds beauty, and it also contributes soul, meaning, and depth to a space,” said Quin. “ My favorite clients are those that care about the art… where it comes from, who created it and why, what it says about them as a collector. Art has potential to add an entire dimension to the space that could not exist otherwise. 

Inspiration for the pure lines of her interiors comes partly from her belief that a serene interior is also a timeless choice, she admires the English minimalist architect John Pawson and his elegant, pared-down interiors.

“I appreciate Pawson’s ability to distill his designs to what is essential and to edit excess,” said Quin. “I love the classical modernity and beauty of his work and study it regularly. He inspires me to edit, to only include what is essential, to pay attention to proportion, line, light, function and purpose.”

Her use of color is, like Pawson’s, refined and thoughtful.

“I learned so much about creating colorful, punchy palettes while designing with Martha Angus,
 said Quin. “I can happily create these for clients. My personal taste, however, is more restrained, subtle and quiet. I love the softer side of color…playing with ways to incorporate it in gentle manners where one shade blends into the next in a soft ombré artistic effect.

The refinement and talent for editing developed swiftly.

“My eye is drawn to simple design in architecture, interiors and objects,” said Quin. “It’s about using beautiful materials and about getting down to the most basic, important and significant aspects, highlighting those and letting go of the rest. It is not for everyone. For many, more is more… and that is a beautiful, daring, opulent way of creating interiors. For me, however, I like what is essential… it helps me get to the heart of the matter, the base line value.”

Quin believes in spaces that are cohesive and beautiful, but also purposeful and functional.

“White is my favorite starting place, perhaps from my days as an artist where I always started with a blank, white canvas,” she noted. “White is inherently soothing, it represents simplicity, provides mental clarity and requires precision. It is also a perfect backdrop for art. It doesn’t compete. The right shade of white compliments everything. You never tire of it.” 


Texture, tone, subtle shifts in palette and precision with line and scale are some of the ways Mead Quin makes white work. A few thoughts:

1.  Include soft colors that emulate shadows (soft blue, grey, taupe) to bring depth and richness to a primarily white room.

2.  I also love layering materials that are similar in tone but different in texture. We recently made pillows in a beautiful, light silvery-grey fabric by Loro Piana for a white linen sofa. A subtle shift from one to the next but just enough to add depth, character and luxuriance.

3.  Part of what makes our white spaces unique is the warmth and softness evoked through the subtle shifts in tone, natural materials, soft lines. We never want our spaces to feel stark or cold!

Photography courtesy Mead Quin Design.


Monday, August 27, 2018

San Francisco Opera: Celebrating the Very Exciting Fall Season

Friday September 7 is the grand opening gala.

San Francisco Opera presents six operas in this fall season, with the curtain finally coming down on December 9.

San Francisco Opera 96th Season opens Friday, September 7, with the double bill of Pietro Mascagni’s
Cavalleria Rusticana and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci.

I’m excited about the entire season at the War Memorial Opera House stage, including a new and very stylish staging of Giacomo Puccini’s
Tosca and the West Coast premiere of Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life.

And I can’t wait to see
Roberto Devereux, Gaetano Donizetti’s lyric drama of Tudor-era England,(September 8–27). Stylish costumes, great artists, elegant sets. The cast is led by soprano Sondra Radvanovsky as Elisabetta (Elizabeth, Queen of England), one of the most elegant and superbly polished and passionate singers to appear at San Francisco Opera. A favorite of mine.

Sondra Radvanovsky as Elisabetta in Donizetti's "Roberto Devereux."
Photo: Michael Cooper/Canadian Opera Company

Leonardo Capalbo and Sondra Radvanovsky in  Donizetti's "Roberto Devereux."
Photo: Michael Cooper/Canadian Opera Company

Highlights of the season also include Plácido Domingo in Concert on October 21 (sold out) and a roster of returning artists, debuting soloists and conductors.

The double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, (September 7–30), last seen on the War Memorial Opera House stage 15 years ago, returns in Argentine tenor José Cura’s staging that sets the action for both operas in Buenos Aires’ La Boca district, known for its tango performances. Each of the Italian works features an international cast with mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Semenchuk, tenor Roberto Aronica and baritone Dimitri Platanias starring in Cavalleria Rusticana and soprano Lianna Haroutounian, tenor Marco Berti, baritone David Pershall and Platanias in Pagliacci.

Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana"
Photo: Jacques Croisier/Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège

Leoncavallo's "Pagliacci."
Photo: Jacques Croisier/Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège

I’m looking forward to a new production of Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca (October 3–30) by director Shawna Lucey and production designer Robert Innes Hopkins. The composer’s melodrama about love and corruption stars Italian soprano Carmen Giannattasio as Tosca with tenor Brian Jagde as Cavaradossi and baritone Scott Hendricks as Baron Scarpia. In his first engagement with the Company, British conductor Leo Hussain leads the San Francisco Opera and Chorus. Puccini’s masterwork has been central to San Francisco Opera’s history as it was featured during the Company’s first season in 1923 at the Civic Auditorium.

Puccini's "Tosca," Act III set model
Photo: Scott Wall/San Francisco Opera

Puccini's "Tosca," Act I set model
Photo: Scott Wall/San Francisco Opera

Italian soprano Carmen Giannattasio, who is a brand ambassador for Bulgari, will be making her San Francisco Opera and role debuts as Tosca. The shoot took place at the Bulgari Domus on via Condotti in Rome and she is wearing Bulgari heritage jewels from the 1930s and 1950s.
Photo: Fiorenzo Niccoli, San Francisco Opera

Italian soprano Carmen Giannattasio, who is a brand ambassador for Bulgari, will be making her San Francisco Opera and role debuts as Tosca. The shoot took place at the Bulgari Domus on via Condotti in Rome and she is wearing Bulgari heritage jewels from the 1930s and 1950s.
Photo: Fiorenzo Niccoli, San Francisco Opera

Italian soprano Carmen Giannattasio, who is a brand ambassador for Bulgari, will be making her San Francisco Opera and role debuts as Tosca. The shoot took place at the Bulgari Domus on via Condotti in Rome and she is wearing Bulgari heritage jewels from the 1930s and 1950s.
Photo: Fiorenzo Niccoli, San Francisco Opera

Legendary artist Plácido Domingo returns to the War Memorial Opera House stage on Sunday, October 21 for a special concert that also features Puerto Rican soprano Ana María Martínez, Mexican tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz and Spanish conductor Jordi Bernàcer leading the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. Tickets for this one-night-only event are sold out. 

Plácido Domingo
Photo: Kaori Suzuki

Richard Strauss’ romantic Arabella (October 16–November 3) returns to the repertory led by acclaimed German conductor Marc Albrecht in his premiere American operatic engagement. Soprano Ellie Dehn and baritone Brian Mulligan take on the roles of Arabella and Mandryka for the first time in a cast that also features soprano Heidi Stober, tenor Daniel Johansson in his Company debut and soprano Hye Jung Lee.

Strauss' "Arabella."
Photo: Michael Cooper

Strauss' "Arabella."
Photo: Michael Cooper

Strauss' "Arabella."
Photo: Michael Cooper

The 2018 Fall Season concludes with the West Coast premiere of Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life (November 17–December 9). Based, in part, on Frank Capra’s beloved 1946 film and the story The Greatest Gift by Philip Van Doren Stern, this new work by the Bay Area composer of Dead Man Walking and Moby-Dick and set to a libretto by Gene Scheer will be staged during the holiday season in nine performances. 

Jake Heggie's "It's a Wonderful Life."
Photo: Karen Almond/Houston Grand Opera

Jake Heggie's "It's a Wonderful Life."
Photo: Karen Almond/Houston Grand Opera

Jake Heggie's "It's a Wonderful Life."
Photo: Karen Almond/Houston Grand Opera

Jake Heggie's "It's a Wonderful Life."
Photo: Karen Almond/Houston Grand Opera

What's Hot This Season

This Fall 2018 season is an exceptional one—with a new season of international conductors, and world-class artists. I love the mix of lyric opera, tragedy, romance, drama, history, intense emotion, wit and artistry.

I spoke exclusively to Jon Finck, longtime Director of Communications and Public Affairs, to get his insights and the inside scoop, for THE STYLE SALONISTE readers.

DDS: Top artists of major interest and their roles in the new season?
JF: Since all of the guest artists in the San Francisco Opera season are personally selected by the management, all of these singers bring enormous vocal and stage talent that has been applauded throughout the world. 

That said, the debuting artists to be on the watch for include the extraordinary Greek baritone Dimitri Platanias prominently featured in the opening double-bill of Cav/Pag. Mr Platanias has made a huge and positive impression on London audiences at Royal Opera, Covent Garden, and is one of the baritones to keep an eye on. Chief among the debuting singers is Italian soprano Carmen Giannattasio who joins the Company for her first Tosca. A winner of the 2002 Operalia Competition, Ms. Giannattasio is an extraordinary singer well regarded at La Scala, Naples, Rome, London, Madrid and at the New York Metropolitan. Known for her ever-changing look and hair styles, she is affectionately referred to by Plácido Domingo as “Lady Gaga” of the opera world and is a brand ambassador for Bulgari and the haute couture Milan fashion house of Antonio Riva. And in time for the holidays, don’t miss the Bay Area premiere of Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life and the debut of acclaimed South African soprano Golda Schultz as Clara the angel.

DDS: Highlights of the season?
JF: What is so compelling about the new season under General Director Matthew Shilvock is the range of operatic works to be presented from classic favorites to new works to operas that have been absent from the War Memorial Opera House stage for many years. A personal highlight is Arabella by German composer Richard Strauss, a work of great beauty and lyrical grace set in romantic Vienna.

DDS: What may be the biggest blockbuster of the season?
JF: Hard to choose since this season’s repertory hasn’t been onstage in a while, but don’t miss the Company’s brand new production of Puccini’s drama Tosca, the Bay Area premiere of Jake Heggie’s It’s a Wonderful Life. Both have dramatic staging.

DDS: The Plácido Domingo concert in October is sold out! Months ago!
JF: Yes, tickets sold fast. Legendary Spanish singer Plácido Domingo returns to the War Memorial Opera House for a sold-out matinee concert on Sunday, October 21. Joining Mr. Domingo will be Puerto Rican soprano Ana María Martínez, Mexican tenor Arturo Chacón-Cruz and Spanish conductor Jordi Bernàcer leading the San Francisco Opera Orchestra in a program of opera arias, duets and orchestral works.

He is especially beloved in San Francisco for many reasons—but one in particular. In the title role of Verdi’s Moor, Otello, when Mr. Domingo saved the opening night in September 1983 filling in for an ailing tenor colleague. What made the “save” so famous was that he flew across the country the day of the performance arriving at the Opera House at 9.30 pm that night. The audience was waiting, seated. And with no rehearsal, Mr. Domingo jumped into costume and make-up, performed at the late hour of 10.00 pm. The applause was prolonged, dramatic, and heartfelt.

DDS: For those who want drama?
JF: It doesn’t get any more dramatic than the opening one-act operas Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, the very essence of the verismo style of opera. If this opera sounds, looks and feels like the real thing it’s because it is. Similar to Tosca and next summer’s Carmen, these operas are all about love, jealousy, betrayal, murder and revenge all sung to some of the most famous and recognizable opera music ever composed.

DDS: The new conductors? 
JF: The 2018–19 San Francisco Opera season will present eight conductors on the podium, one for each of the eight operas. Two of these conductors, Riccardo Frizza (Roberto Devereux) and Patrick Summers (It’s a Wonderful Life), are veteran maestros with San Francisco Opera and have long-established ties with the company. The other six are all making their debuts beginning with Italian conductor Daniele Callegari who will lead the double-bill of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci. Callegari is much in demand at the world’s leading opera houses and concert halls and has an extensive catalogue of recordings showcasing his brilliant talent. On the podium guiding the Company’s new presentation of Puccini’s Tosca will be notable British conductor Leo Hussain followed by the United States debut of critically acclaimed German conductor Marc Albrecht for a new to San Francisco production of Arabella by Richard Strauss. 

San Francisco War Memorial Opera House.
Photo: Joel Puliatti


All photography courtesy San Francisco Opera.
Matthew Shilvock, General Director


Monday, July 9, 2018

Flying Down to Rio: The Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel in Rio de Janeiro Dazzles with Classic Glamour, Elegance and Spirit

Where to Go Next:  After a handsome renovation, and with the addition of new restaurants, ‘The Copa’ is a compelling destination. Copacabana Beach is a step away. The legendary excitement, music, beach life and history of Rio de Janeiro invite and seduce.

Come with me for an insider visit. I stayed there recently and loved every moment.

Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel — Authenticity, Polish, Style, and a World-Class Location

Overlooking three dazzling miles of golden sand and surf and with green hills and verdant jungle forming a tropical dream backdrop, the elegant white Art Deco-style Belmond Copacabana Palace is one of the world’s most glamorous hotels. 

Guests arriving at beachfront suites who step onto their balconies to take in the sea air and dazzling vista can be forgiven for becoming a little giddy. The most beautiful beach in the world is ready to embrace them, and the legendary laid-back, bossa-nova beat of Rio de Janeiro creates the soundtrack.

The sweet scent of salt air and the sibilant sound of waves and sea breezes fill the room and immediately calm the senses. Beautiful Rio, the marvelous 
Belmond Copacabana Palace, and such a fortunate location.

Modern Approach to Historic Design: A Spectacular Renovation

The key to today’s Belmond Copacabana Palace is that it feels the same—traditional, understated, light-filled and comfortable—and yet the hotel has undergone modernization and fresh updates.

Well-known French decorator Gerard Gallet, who has been involved with the decoration of other Belmond hotels, such as Villa San Michele (Florence) and the Cipriani (Venice), was responsible for the conception and remodel and refurbishment of the interiors.

French artist Dominique Jardy, famous for her murals, was chosen by Gallet to create the beautiful trompe l’oeil gardens, faux finishes, tropical plants and exotic birds that can be seen in the elevators, along the corridors of the Penthouse floor, and in other rooms in the hotel.

Furniture throughout the hotel was crafted from Brazilian freijó or mahogany wood. In the main suites it is encrusted with minerals and semi-precious stones and beige, green and red slices of agate.

Bathrooms have large comfortable American bathtubs and are equipped with telephones. The walls and floors are of white, itaóca pink, aurora and jú-paraná pink Brazilian marble. 

The history of the most luxurious hotel of Rio began in 1923 when Brazil President Epitácio Pessoa asked businessman Otavio Guinle to construct it. The concept was to put Brazil on the international tourist map, and attract a cosmopolitan crowd.

French architect Joseph Gire modeled the hotel on the Mediterranean styles of the Beaux-Arts Negresco in Nice and the neoclassical Carlton in Cannes. With its lavish exterior and Beaux-Arts interiors the Copacabana Palace became a symbol of Rio. 

Copacabana Beach was still quite deserted and unknown at that time. Quickly the hotel attracted chic and elegant guests from around the world, and the concept of ‘flying down to Rio’ became very attractive, with a dazzling destination.

In the Copacabana Palace’s early years such celebrities as Gene Kelly, Orson Welles, Nelson Rockfeller, Kirk Douglas and Arturo Toscanini all stayed in the hotel’s magnificent suites.

Kings and queens came. Weddings were celebrated. Flashbulbs popped. News was made. The Copacabana Palace was launched.

The Copacabana Palace became the place to stay, the hotel of choice for actors and stars such as Madonna, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart, Hugh Jackman, Will Smith, Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem, to mention a few. Brazil’s Gisele Bundchen is also one of many personalities who refer to the hotel as her second home.

Fashion designer Valentino loves Brazil and adores the Copacabana Palace. And recently, young stars Kristen Stewart, Lana Del Rey, the Jonas Brothers and others made an appearance.

And the 
Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel attracts those who come to immerse themselves in the rich history of Brazilian Baroque architecture, for others who come to study landscape design and tropical horticulture.

Fans of modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer arrive to study his clean-lined landmark buildings. Others visit the Roberto Burle-Marx estate with its world-class collection of Brazilian native plants. . Others fly in for Carnival. And for gem connoisseurs and jewelry collectors, Rio offers heritage jewelry companies as well as singular jewelry designers.

I was in Rio to study and learn about Brazilian contemporary design and architecture. Thanks to associates at the 
Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel, I had the great pleasure to meet top design editors and trend-setting architects, and to meet the great Patricia Mayer at CASA COR, the impressive annual showcase of Brazilian design, new products. I was most impressed and grateful. Very inspiring.

Dining and Fine Wines at the Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel

The Cipriani at the hotel is one of the most sophisticated restaurants in Rio de Janeiro. It was inaugurated in March 1994, and its windows frame the hotel’s swimming pool. Someone is always doing laps.

The menu includes traditional Italian dishes, casual trattoria-style lunch, with a more sophisticated menu for dinner. The chef responsible for the gastronomy at the restaurant is Aniello Cassese, from Tuscany.

Cipriani also offers the experience at the Chef's table (La tavola del chef). Located inside the kitchen, the Chef’s table can seat six people for lunch or dinner.

Cipriani at night has the relaxed ambiance of a live piano. In the restaurant bar, guests enjoy a wide range of drinks. 

Beach Views and a Relaxed Atmosphere

The famous restaurant by the pool, Pérgula was renovated late 2017 and is showcasing a new tropical vibe. With gorgeous panoramic windows, mirrored ceiling and a show kitchen, the new ambience now has a DJ from Thursday to Sunday at night. It’s great fun, and attracts a bright Rio crowd.

The chef Filipe Rizzato, serves an à la carte menu with Mediterranean food through a Carioca lens, with signature grill dishes, and of course, Brazilian classics.

On Sundays, the restaurant also serves an ocean-view brunch with a selection of fruits, breads, shellfish, meats and cheeses beautifully presented. Multi-generational families love it, and there’s a charming festive atmosphere.


The Belmond Copacabana Palace Spa has two floors and seven treatment rooms, of which five are individual and two are spa suites. A dry and wet sauna and a peaceful relaxation area make up this calm and tranquil spa. Beauty services offers facial and body treatments, therapies and both relaxing and energizing massages.

Among more than 20 treatments offered by the spa, there are quick relaxing massages and complete rituals with five hours duration for the balancing, beauty and well being of body and face. All products utilized are natural and organic.

A tennis court is located on the 1st floor of the main building, for guests, from 7am to 10pm. Other sports such as golf, boating, water skiing, skydiving and paragliding can also be pursued and planned through the Concierge. 

Asian Dining

MEE is Rio’s first pan-Asian restaurant that inaugurated in February 2014. One of the first restaurants in South America to be awarded a prestigious Michelin star, MEE offers a menu created by BBC star of Chinese gastronomy, Ken Hom, together with Brazilian chef Kazuo Harada. With dishes from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea, Vietnam, China and Japan, the idea is take guests on a journey across Asia. 

News from the Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel

I was told there are discussions among hotel management about reviving the Belmond Copacabana Palace’s legendary Golden Room. I was shown the space…and it awaits revival.

In the thirties, the Golden Room was inaugurated as the number one show venue in Latin America. The central dome has recently been relined with sheets of gold leaf.

Famous artists such as Josephine Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Marlene Dietrich, Ray Charles and Nat King Cole performed there. Guests arrived through a special columned entrance, and the nightclub has a very private, glamorous, and glittering style and ambiance.

When the Belmond group acquired the Copacabana Palace, in 1989, the hotel had just been named a National Heritage building. Guests can look forward to more innovation at the 
Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel…and perhaps a shimmering evening at the new Gold Room.

And the hotel, with its grand columned banquet rooms, continues to be the place for society weddings, family celebrations, holiday festivities, and of course grand costumed balls during Carnival.

And the 
Belmond Copacabana Palace is the perfect place to do nothing but sunbathe, swim, escape, and relax.

There is always the ‘beach club’ that the hotel sets up on Copacabana Beach every morning for guests. Here, chaises longues are arrayed beneath palm trees, and iced water and refreshments are at hand. It’s a dreamy way to spend time under the Southern Hemisphere sun. And on the way back to the hotel, there is always H. Stern’s shop near the entrance, beckoning with diamonds, emeralds and rubies, displaying Rio’s most lavish jewels.

I can’t wait to return to Rio. With historic baroque cathedrals and churches dating back to the sixteenth century, dramatic scenery, a rich cultural mix of music, beachwear, custom sunglass shops, custom bikini shops, top designers and architects, and dance clubs for every taste, it’s the most glamorous destination in South America. You’ll want to linger.

Courtesy Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel used here with express permission.