Friday, November 30, 2007

Featured Design Firm: Duncan & Miller Design

Many years ago, when I was a young man…… Don’t you hate it when articles start out like that. Imagine how that former young man feels. This was the early 80s and one of my first real jobs was selling advertising space for a wonderful architectural magazine; Progressive Architecture. I learned a very important lesson during my tenure there; I was actually quite good at selling advertising space. I realized it was because I LOVED the product. You see when you love your product, convincing others to love it comes easily.

Well not only did I love the magazine but I really loved the wonderful world of architecture and design that I was being exposed to for the first time. One of the benefits of working the west coast for an east coast based magazine was when the editors came to town to visit architecture and design firms they liked having a driver who knew the Los Angeles and San Francisco freeway systems. So they actually let the ad hack tag along. I even got to meet Frank Gehry.

PA, as the magazine was known, was shuttered in December of 1995, after nearly 76 years of publication. It was truly sad to hear that such a wonderful magazine would no longer exist. The announcement in the New York Times stated “Architecture Loses A Progressive Voice”. Aaron Betsky, curator of architecture and design at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art said “P.A. was important in reminding the profession that it had obligations not just to make buildings that work, but to show work that opened our eyes to new ways of seeing.”

In addition to Gehry I was exposed to work by such notable architects and design firms as Morphosis, SOM, Richard Meier, and Michael Graves just to name a few. Recently when I decided to launch this blog I knew that one of the key components would be regular features on the hot architects and design firms of the 21st Century.

I am very pleased to introduce the design firm I chose to use to launch this feature: Duncan & Miller Designof Dallas, Shanghai and Hong Kong. I found Duncan & Miller searching the internet for the firm that designed my favorite Dallas hotel; Hotel Zaza. When I was on their site I discovered that they also designed the interior of my favorite Los Angeles hotel: The Mosaic. So I contacted Kellie Sirna, a Duncan & Miller designer who also handles their PR and marketing. Kellie agreed to provide me with a firm profile and a few photos. The three photos at the opening above are from Kellie. In fact the first two photos, left to right, are of the recently completed SandPearl Resort and have never been published before. I love getting a scoop. Duncan & Miller’s profile follows:

Duncan & Miller Design is set apart by its passion to create, desire to serve and vision to achieve. As one of the world’s leading interior and architectural design firms, Duncan & Miller Design has extensive expertise in hospitality, food and beverage, condominium, multi-family, lodging and themed entertainment. Founded in 1989, the firm’s staff in the Dallas, Texas headquarters employees over 60, the two year old Shanghai, China office employs more than 60. The recent launch of the Hong Kong office is another demonstration of Duncan & Miller Design’s commitment to design excellence and service to its clients with a combination of timeless design and a second sense for future trends has more than excelled. Turner Duncan and Kimberley Miller, the founding Principals, are partnered with Scott Boyd and Eric Ullmann in the ownership of Duncan & Miller Design. With a combined experience of more than 70 years serving the hospitality industry, Duncan & Miller Design believes the selection of good partners for any project is founded on trust, skill and expertise. The firm has designed over 1000 projects, including successful assignments for such highly acclaimed hospitality companies as Marriott International, InterContinental Hotels and Resorts, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Mandarin Oriental, Warwick Hotels International, Ritz Carlton Hotels & Resorts as well as many unique boutique and independent development companies. In addition, Duncan & Miller Design has partnered as lead interior design consultant with many significant developers in the creation of exceptional multi-family, condominium and assisted living projects. Duncan & Miller Design has experience in all market segments of the hospitality industry, including complete ground-up development and historical and renovation of full-service hotels in urban, suburban, and resort settings, development of free-standing ground-up restaurants and entertainment venues, creation and development of prototype hotel and restaurant concepts for national and international expansion, ground-up design for clubhouses, public areas, models, fitness centers, spas, and sales offices for condominiums, multi-family, and assisted living facilities. All incorporate the extensive full-service design expertise of Duncan & Miller Design’s creative interior design, architectural interior design, lighting design, graphic design, due diligence, feasibility studies, purchasing, and market surveys. Currently Duncan & Miller Design is engaged in hospitality design projects spanning three continents, 12 countries, and multiple independent boutique and flag hotel developments. Duncan & Miller Design is comprised of staff speaking 13 different languages from every corner of the world and locations in Dallas, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The photos above are some of my favorite images from their website. Please click here to see many more. When you are there be sure to check out the section on their Historical Restorations. We live in Austin Texas and one of the crown jewels downtown Austin is the Driskill Hotel. Duncan & Miller designed the exterior lighting. It is Fabulous!!!

Here at Swank we appreciate Duncan & Miller’s assistance in this article. We believe that they truly “open our eyes to a new way of seeing”, and we will continue to keep our eyes on them in the future… as you should.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Venetian Glass Artisan: Dino Martens

As you might have noticed, we have fallen in love with Venetian/Murano glass. Venetians have a very rich history of creating some of the most treasured glass pieces and techniques in the history of the world. The island of Murano became the center of Venetian glass making in the year 1291 when officials ordered all of the glass makers out of Venice as a precaution so the furnaces would not start catastrophic fires. From the Middle Ages to the 17th. Century, Murano glass was celebrated worldwide because of its superb design and technical innovation, which resulted from collaboration between designers and master glass blowers.

Murano glass makers were so well regarded because they developed or refined technologies such as crystalline glass, enameled glass (smalto), glass with threads of gold (aventurine), multicolored glass (millefiore), opaline glass (lead powder blown in), and milk glass (lattimo). For many years they were the worlds only craftsmen who could create mirrors.

The glass industry in Venice fell into decline in the early 19th. Century because the city was occupied by Austria. It was not until the 20th. Century that Murano resumed world leadership in glass design.

There were many wonderful glass designers working in Murano in the early and mid 20th century. Over the next few weeks I will be blogging about several of the best. To kick off this series I had no choice but to feature my favorite; Dino Martens. I think the reason Dino stands out as our favorite is that his work is so whimsical and fun. If you want to read more and see many fabulous photos of his work there is a great book by Marc Heiremans simply titled Dino Martens. We have it and it is wonderful.

Brief Bio: Painter and designer. Born in Venice, he attended the Accademia di Belle Arti. In the mid Twenties he moved to Murano, where for a short time he was a partner and decorator for the glass factory S.A.L.I.R. Later he worked as a designer for Salviati & C. and the Successori Andrea Rioda. He exhibited his paintings in the Novecento style at the Biennale di Venezia between 1924 and 1930. Upon his return from the African War in 1939, he became artistic director of the glass factory Aureliano Toso. From 1946 to 1960 Martens designed an incredible series of works for Toso, using traditional Venetian techniques, he was able to obtain strikingly original polychrome effects, combined with particularly daring asymmetric shapes and a marked difficulty of execution including the compositions of glass rods called Zanfirici, the colorful pieces composed with irregular shadings, and inserts of avventurina and rods of filigrana called Oriente and the unusual shapes of the Sommersi with the outside surface battuta and the inside cased with polychrome glass. His collaboration with the Aureliano Toso ended in 1963.

Featured below are several great Dino Martens items on 1stdibs.

Here are the links.
Benjamin Stork
Emmerson Troop
Benjamin Stork

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Murano Lamp Listings:

There wasn’t much excitement in the weekly 1stdibs offerings today so I decided to go through the Murano Lamp category and pull a few interesting pieces to post about. For the above photos, here are descriptions, prices, and a link.
Barovier & Toso by Marbro: Antiques Du Monde $6,800
Fratelli Toso: Retro-Modern $7,500
Chartreuse Murano Floor Lamp: Amy Zook Antiques $6,400
Blue Pulegoso Irridescent Lamps: Remains Lighting $7,800
Green Murano Lamps w/Gold Aplique: Flessas Design $3,850
Lavender Barbini with Feather Shades: Mary Ann Jones $7,800
Dino Martens: Downtown $6,000
Venini Multi Colored: VenfieldNYC $4,800
Seguso: Retro-Modern $10,500
Orange Murano Lamps: NOHO Modern $6,500

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Featured Designer: Emily Johnston

In this business we have the great pleasure of meeting some of the best architects and interior designers in the world. They can also be some of the nicest and most inspiring people. I think that’s because they love what they do and they truly see what they do as a way of creating a better environment for all of us to live in.

We are always the most excited when we meet an up and coming designer. Emily Johnston of E J Interiors is one of those designers. Emily has a bachelors degree in Interior Design from the University of Oklahoma. She has experience in all aspects of interior design including design, space planning, product and art selection, and installation.

Emily lives in Dallas and has a passion for design- especially for fabrics! She loves finding inexpensive ways to decorate. One of her favorite activities is to find hidden treasures at resale shops and refinish them into something fabulous!

We believe that concept boards can tell you a great deal about a designers vision and knowledge. Here are some of Emily’s.

We discovered Emily through her blog Dear Designer. That places Emily in two of our blog categories; Featured Designer and Favorite Blogs. The sub text on the header at Dear Designer is: Stylish and affordable finds that won’t break the bank. So expect to visit often as a great source of inspiration and most importantly…. Shopping Tips!

Please visit the web site and blog to see for yourself why we here at Swank will be keeping an eye on her.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Win These Beauties!

To celebrate the opening of our showroom in Dallas, the launch of our web site, and the launch of our eBay Store, we are giving away these beautiful Barovier & Toso lamps valued at $3,400. All you need to do to enter is click on the link here and fill out the simple online registration form. If you are in the Dallas area you can see these beauties in person at Debris Antiques, 1205 Slocum Street, Dallas.

The deadline for entry is January 15th and the drawing will be held at Debris Antiques on January 18th.
Good Luck!

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Dorothy Draper

Hollywood Regency: Dorothy Draper

Published November 17th, 2007

We get lots of questions and comments about the dresser our lamps are photographed on. The dresser is an original Dorothy Draper dresser from her Espana series for Heritage. They are highly sought after by collectors as one of the icons of the Hollywood Regency period.

Here is a 1stdibs listing for one at Capitol Furnishings in New York City. The price is listed as “contact dealer” but they generally sell for $4,000 to $7,000 depending on condition.

The plaster urn lamps pictured above were designed by Dorothy and are also listed on 1stdibs at Capitol Furnishings for $6,200. The white dressers are from her Viennese Collection and are for sale at Downtown in Los Angeles for $16,000 for the three.

Dorothy was born to a wealthy family in Tuxedo Park, New York. She actually started the very first interior design firm in America in 1923. Although it was ground breaking to professionalize interior design, it was even more progressive for a woman to start a business in 1923.

There is a wonderful book about Dorothy Draper written by Carleton Varney titled In The Pink.
You will notice reading this blog, that I’m really not a writer…. therefore I will link to articles and or refer readers to google when there is more information available…. usually written by someone who knows how to write. So in this case I suggest you start here.

On the really fun side of things…. Just discovered that Dorothy Draper designed Christmas Gift Tags. Here is an eBay listing for two packs.


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Tony Duquette

Published November 19th, 2007

The entire design world is all abuzz this season with anticipation of the Tony Duquette book by Wendy Goodman. Tony Duquette was another design icon in the wonderful world of Hollywood Regency Glam. Of course we here at SwankLighting are drawn to his lighting design. People have said that some of our lamps are a little “over the top”…… wonder if they have ever seen these??

To celebrate the release of this wonderful book and to pay homage to Duquette, Bergdorf Goodman commissioned designers to create their Holiday windows around Duquette design and flair. And boy did they accomplish that. If you can’t get to NYC to see them for yourself, the absolute best photos are at this wonderful little blog that I read Habitually Chic. When you visit the blog, click on the photo to view in full screen.

There are very few Duquette pieces listed on 1stdibs. Most are listed as Duquette “inspired”. But here are a few of the real things. Modern One has this wonderful gold leaf sun sculpture listed for $19,500… and Downtown has the original doors from the home of Peggy Ducommun Ward designed by Duquette to seperate the workroom from the main house. They are mounted as a screen room divider now and listed for $15,000.

The best place to start your journey to learn more about this gifted designer and cultural icon is the home page of Tony Duquette Studio.


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This Is Glamorous

Favorite Blogs: This Is Glamorous
Published November 21st, 2007

When we first thought about launching a web site for SwankLighting, I searched the internet for inspiration from other interior design product web sites. I quickly discovered that the most beautiful design and visual came not from commercial web sites but from design blogs. The first one to catch my eye and hold my attention was This Is Glamorous.

In her own words: “I began This Is Glamorous two summers ago, mainly as a place to sort out all of my creative ideas, as an online inspiration board of sorts. Although it would not be until this past summer that I would find the time for regular posts, I have not been able to stop since. This Is Glamorous focuses on design in all its wonderful forms, from interiors to great new products, fashion and shopping, emerging trends and travel. It is a collection of all the things that add a touch of glamour (or in some cases, a lot) to everyday life.”

In our conversation, she goes on to say that she has an affinity for all things French, she adores chandeliers and antique lighting. Well thanks to my shameless promotion of SwankLighting to the blogosphere, She now adores Murano Lighting as well…..

There are hundreds of inspirational photos or eye candy as I like to say. Please visit This Is Glamorous and see for yourself why it is now one of my first reads every morning. I hope it will become one of yours.


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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Playful Colored Acrylic Disc Chandelier

at: 1stdibs

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Welcome to the very first post on the SwankLighting daily blog. Check back often and watch us grow. Our objective is to become the "first read" every morning for designers, architects, dealers, and collectors who are lighting nuts like us. We were introduced to this wonderful world when we stumbled upon an unbelievable cache of vintage Venetian Lighting from the 1940s-50s-60s still in the original shipping containers. We had never seen such a collection of beautiful pieces. We were so nuts about it we bought the whole dang thing. Although we now sell these beautiful pieces of art history at our boutique showroom at Debris Antiques in Dallas and online at, that is not the point of this blog. We are going to share with you everything we discover. We will feature new product introductions, new antique finds, ebay finds, showroom/exhibit openings as well as great designs by and profiles of trend setting architects and designers. Please email us with any suggestions. Let us know what you would like to see here. We want to hear from you.
Best Regards
Ed & Doug
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