Bulletin Board: Summer Style

FINE DESIGN Renowned interior designer Celerie Kemble, surrounded by her furniture line, visits the Henredon Interior Design Showroom at the Michigan Design Center. Scroll down the page for more. Photo by Nick Hagen.


In the Greenhouse

Show House volunteers partner with Forgotten Harvest and Detroit school kids

The Junior League of Detroit Designers’ Show House in Grosse Pointe Park cultivated a unique program this year. A greenhouse project, shown below, partnered the Show House with Forgotten Harvest (an organization that relieves hunger and prevents the waste of nutritious foods) and Neinas Elementary School in Detroit.

“Neinas students worked with us to start various plants from seeds, and they did the planting once the plants and the greenhouse at the Show House were ready,” says Caroline Marks, the Show House’s publicist. “We planted 14 flats consisting of 72 plants each of radishes, spinach, and lettuce.”

After the Show House closed, a Show House team delivered the growing flats of vegetables to Neinas Elementary. “The kids were all smiles,” Marks says. “Students and teachers planted the flats in their community garden at school. Students were then tasked with teaching someone else (a family member, neighbor, etc.) what they’ve learned.”
jldshowhouse.org —Megan Swoyer

GET READY FOR SCHOOL! Kids clean their closets, stuff these postage-paid bags with used clothing, and mail to Schoola. In return, Schoola sells the clothes and helps fund school programs.


Closet Cleanup Made Easy

Online company sells your stuff to benefit your school

Here’s a great closet-cleaning motivator for you and your children: contact Schoola, an online site that sells gently used clothing (90 percent off retail), with 40 percent going back to help fund programs at your school. To donate, just request a free postage-paid bag, fill it up, and put it in the mail; Schoola will take care of the rest. Everyone wins, as the donated clothes can be purchased at an extremely affordable price (you can shop right at schoola.com) and the proceeds go directly to fund important programs — like music and art — at the schools whose students donated the clothes. Some of the 300 schools in metro Detroit that have participated so far include Oakland Steiner School, Cornerstone Elementary School, and St. Valentine Catholic Elementary School. schoola.com —Megan Swoyer


A Line on Design

Celerie Kemble shares her perspectives on successful interior design and smart outdoor furniture ideas

We loved the Lane Venture outdoor furniture line from the Rafter Collection by Celerie Kemble so much (that star-shaped ottoman!), we couldn’t wait to meet her when she visited the Michigan Design Center this past spring, sharing insights on designing furniture for various lines and fashioning ultra-soulful spaces for her clients, as well as signing her books. We checked out her recent pieces at the Henredon Interior Design Showroom and in the center’s lobby vignette (by metro Detroit designer Donna Brown) before meeting the amicable Kemble, shown at right, who runs Kemble Interiors with her mother, Mimi McMaken. Based in New York and Palm Beach, Fla., the busy Kemble (she has three young children) works her magic everywhere — from resorts to residences. You’ll see her signature touches (jaunty striped fabrics, gold leafing, crème brulee-like colors) on furniture lines, too. Looking fresh in a delightful Lela Rose capped-sleeve dress with a black-and-white floral pattern (Lela Rose is a friend of Kemble’s), the designer talked poetry, nicknames, and seams.

Q: Where does your unusual first name come from?
A: My real name is Cecilia, but when my mother was pregnant, she gave me the nickname. When someone calls me and asks for Cecilia, I know it’s a telemarketer.

TAKE IT EASY Celerie Kemble’s Lane Venture Rafter outdoor pieces are so comfortable, it’s as if you’re sitting indoors in your favorite chair watching television.

Q: How do you define what you do as a designer?
A: Designing is a language of subtle connotations, like poetry. The trick with being a designer is to emotionally connect with the client, so my truth needs to resonate with the client. I look at design as a backdrop for life; I stage-set my client’s narrative.

Q: Is there room in good interior design for messiness?
A: Oh, yes. Just like in life, you can’t aim for perfection in design. My layered aesthetic is often about concealing the discordant. There’s beauty in the faded and worn. Life has seams.

Q: Why do you like to design furniture?
A: As it’s typically not for a client, it allows me to truly express myself.

Q: What’s the backstory of your Lane Venture pieces (shown here)?
A: We wanted to make outdoor furniture that was scaled and comfortable, as if you’re watching television inside your home. We didn’t want too much heaviness; with nature as the backdrop, you have permission to use whimsy, comfort, and femininity. Our cushions feature all custom colors and fabrics.

Left, Celerie Kemble’s Lane Venture Taffy Star weather-resistant outdoor ottoman. Right, Celerie Kemble’s Maitland-Smith occasional table.

Q: What’s your take on occasional tables (shown above)?
A: They’re absolutely like pieces of jewelry for a room. Mine are sculptural and fun. Our Maitland-Smith table, made of brass and iron, has a bird on it with an iridescent blue sheen on its wings.

Q: What do you know for sure when it comes to design?
A: If you think you know the answer in advance, you won’t come up with creative solutions. When you trust yourself, you respond well to challenges.

Q: What’s your favorite room of all time?
A: The bedroom that I grew up in. We lived in an old church (built in 1895 by a family member) that had been turned into a home in Palm Beach, Fla. My mother designed the room, which once was a veranda. It was a magical space — octagonal, with a 20-foot ceiling and shingled on the interior. kembleinteriors.com, henredon.com, michigandesign.com—Megan Swoyer

The Sibley House before, top, and after its renovations.


Sibley House Shines

The home of Detroit’s first mayor gets a beautiful makeover

In a one-block stretch of Detroit’s East Jefferson Avenue (near Rivard), two rare and unique jewels are mounted side by side: Christ Church, Detroit, with its breathtaking Gothic architecture and intricately designed stained glass windows (two of them by Tiffany); and the Sibley House, which was built for Detroit’s first appointed mayor, Solomon Sibley. The house was completed in 1848, and has been newly renovated with much love, care, and coordination between the administrators of the two adjacent landmarks.

“The Sibley House is elegantly gracing Jefferson Avenue again,” announced Christ Church, Detroit, and Sibley House committee member (and direct Solomon Sibley descendant) Deborah Gillespie at a recent renovation celebration.

Shingle and siding work, shutter refurbishing, lighting improvements, and landscaping have renewed the Greek Revival-style state historic site to its original luster.

The biggest challenge during the restoration? “Working with the window frames,” Gillespie and the project’s contractors, Hughes and Lynn Building and Renovations, agree. “My favorite renovation,” she adds, “is the little, narrow, urban native species garden on the east side of the house. There’s something wonderful about having milkweed out there and seeing all the monarch butterflies (that are attracted to the plant).”

Inside, the hanging, switchback staircase (built from the top down, instead of from the bottom up) is said to be the only such staircase that’s still intact in Detroit, and the piano is the first to have been transported across the Allegheny Mountains. Many of the windows still have their original, wavy-quality, pleated glass.

The house (which, at this time, does not offer tours) now contains offices for Christ Church. Repaired to its former polished status, the Sibley House is a wonderful symbol of the history of Detroit’s birth and growth — and of the hopes for its ongoing renewal.  sibleyhousedetroit.com —Honey Murray

IT’S A TOSS-UP From top to bottom: Chinese batik, $200; indigo tie-dye, $185; and mud cloth lounger, $210 (all vintage). Pillow photos by Mateo Morrison.


Pillow Talk: Storied Designs for Accessories

When It comes to fabrics, designer Anna Versaci, left, knows her stuff. For instance, she’ll tell you that the Dogon tribe of Mali believes that weaving thread is a symbol for human reproduction, while the indigos that are prominent in her collection represent protection and security. Such history, she says, is poetic and vast, and it’s at the core of her work. “Take the mod cloths,” she says. “They’ve been washed in rivers, hung to dry; there’s a working life there.” Having collected fabrics for years, Versaci, who lives in Beverly Hills and works as a yoga instructor and interior designer, developed a signature look that’s a mix of bohemian prints, textures, and color with a decidedly luxurious vibe. Handmade in Royal Oak, each pillow she creates is crafted from a mix of Chinese batiks, Japanese Shibori, African mud cloths and indigos, and Moroccan textiles. “These fabrics have a presence that few fabrics have,” she says. “You’re effectively bringing something into your house that has an energy to it that you just can’t buy.” Here, she discusses her passions, processes, and favorite local haunts.

Q: Can we assume your indigo pillows are as fabulous as our favorite pair of jeans?
A: I love the 1970s indigos, the really washed-out denim looks. The pillows do look like a real worn pair of denim jeans. This is where denim (got its inspiration) from, this process of indigo dye.

Q: How does yoga affect your life and work?
A: I teach and practice yoga and meditation, and that guides my lifestyle — everything from how I manage my family and household to how I approach clients and my pillow business.

Q: You’re both mindful and visual. Explain that dynamic.
A: Creativity is essential to my being, and meditation allows me to quiet the reactivity and noise to make space for creative ideas to be born. It also teaches me to trust my intuition and believe my inner voice.

Q: Then it’s safe to say that you find meaning in the layers?
A: Definitely. Everything in my home tells a story. Nothing is too precious. I like older things with a lived-in feel; they have a better weight and texture.

Q: Let’s talk local. Where will you visit this week?
A: I love Scout, in Royal Oak, because it reminds me of a cool boutique in my old neighborhood in New York. And they carry my pillows. annaversacidesign.com
—Taryn Bickley

Field Notes

Metro Detroit’s Design World Update

Ricci Bellucci, of Whiski-Kitchen Design Studio in Royal Oak (whiski-kitchen.com), has announced that the firm will be representing the cabinetry collection Armony, from Italy. A sleek, modern/transitional collection, shown below, it will be displayed this fall in the company’s new showroom, located near the intersection of Main Street and Crooks Road in Royal Oak.

Culture Lab Detroit (culturelabdetroit.org), which connects Detroit with the international design communities, runs Sept. 15-16. The lab will explore the theme of Walls. “We’ll look to provide answers to the cultural placemaking issue: How do we allow walls to inform our experiences without limiting us?” asks founder Jane Schulak, left.

Stark, located in Troy (starkcarpet.com), has launched two rug programs: STARK Home and STARK Sapphire. STARK Home is the first rug collection that’s available (both online and through STARK Home locations) to retail customers. STARK Sapphire is a trade-only collection for interior designers; products can be ordered in any custom size and/or coloration.

Armina interiors (arminainteriors.com) has announced a second location for its booming interior-design business. In addition to her Rochester Hills location, Armina Kasprowicz, left, will have an office on Orchard Lake Road in Sylvan Lake.

The best designers in town arrived decked in the best of apparel at the most recent Detroit Home Design Awards program. Shown here is Minja Casalou of Jennifer Taylor Studio in Royal Oak (jennifertaylorstudio.com). Casalou wore this nifty black dress designed by her seamstress mother, Dijana Bucalo, who has a studio in Detroit’s International Institute (dijanabucalo.com). The dress is made of wool suit fabric and scuba mesh. Hmmm … could this combo be used in the home industry?

Have news that pertains to the design industry that you’d like to share? Send a note to MSwoyer@hour-media.com.