{Interiors} Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk with FOF Suzanne Flenard of Square Modern
By Geri Brin

I adore Paris and I can never have too many decorative pillows, so when Paris-based Jeremy Schuster wrote to me about his partner Suzanne Flenard’s new pillow line, I became an instant fan.

An assortment of Suzanne’s Square Modern pillows displayed on a couch.

My “less is more” blog post from last month resonated with Jeremy because Suzanne takes the same approach to the way she lives. “She’s given me a great appreciation for mid-century modern design and allowed me to shed many things of the past, both physical and emotional, that I thought were so very important,” Jeremy wrote.

Suzanne’s distinctive pillows, made primarily from reclaimed, high-quality fabric remnants, are her first collection for her new company, Square Modern. They are produced not far from her and Jeremy’s home. You can even spice it up with interior painting services.

Geri: Give us some background leading up to your decision to design decorative pillows (e.g. what were you doing before? where? did you study design in school? how did you become interested in design?
Before moving to Paris, I was working at Design Within Reach for several years in New York City. While not formally trained, I have always had a passion for design and all things modern. This stemmed from my mother constantly redecorating our home while I was growing up.

Why pillows?
Since moving to Paris, I have struggled to find great, modern accessories. So, one day I decided that I was going to produce a product that I would like to have in my own home.

Why did you choose the fabrics you use on your pillows?
Some of the designs I use are from the Mid-Century Modern era for which I’ve always loved. Others are textiles that catch my eye that I feel will work well as a decorative pillow.

Where do you get the fabrics?
The fabrics are reclaimed designer remnants, purchased from a few select sources in the United States. Re-purposing rescued fabric that might have otherwise landed on the cutting room floor made sense to me, while providing an aspect of sustainability to the products. Each collection is produced in limited quantity, as these textiles are often found in limited supply.

Where are the pillows made?
All items are produced in Paris, in a small atelier located in the Sentier district.

What do pillows bring to an environment?
If a room in your home was a sentence, I think pillows would be the punctuation mark. By adding an accessory, like a pillow, you can immediately change the entire vibe of a space! They also provide personal style to a room.

What are 3-5 tips for choosing pillows that will look smashing in your home?
Pillows should be accent pieces, not something used to mask or overwhelm.  Try combining squares with rectangles, different color palettes, and mixing patterns together. (I created my collection so that all of the items can be used with one another) Sometimes, they can breathe new life into an old space.

Should decorative pillows also be functional?
Yes, I’m all about functional design. This is why I’m a stickler for the filling I use in my product. I use only feather inserts for comfort with enough filling to maintain the shape/look of the item.

How do you know you’ve gone too far and bought too many pillows?
Well, I’m a total minimalist and all about less is more. For the record, I currently have three on my sofa and two on my bed- so, I guess it’s a matter of personal preference.

Are you planning to work with other products?
I do have a few ideas up my sleeve to utilize these same fabrics in another format in the future. But for now, I’m strictly focusing on pillows.

For more information or to buy Square Modern pillows, visit their website: www.squaremodern.com.

Images courtesy of:  Suzanne Flenard, Love In The City Of Lights

{Home Tour} An FOF fabric designer works a lifetime of mementos into a sleek, modern space.

When decorating your FOF home, there are often two polar instincts:
(1) Surround yourself with the heartwarming photos, knickknacks, books, art, etc., that you’ve accumulated over 50+ years.
(2) Pare down, and create a calm, clutter-free oasis straight from the pages of Dwell magazine.

Meet Lee Olson, who brilliantly managed to do both. FOF Lee is a textile designer and the owner of Yoma, a New York firm that creates fabrics for commercial and residential use. Her vivid designs all begin with her own hand-drawings and are inspired by her travels around the world, to India, Thailand, China and South America.

Her travels have also inspired a lifetime of . . . .shopping. Lee and her husband, Chandler Pierce, a leading architect and furniture designer, have collected a (small) museum’s worth of cultural artifacts and art, including books, brooms, buddhas and baskets.

Twelve years ago, the couple purchased a building on a one-block lane straddling SoHo and Little Italy, just behind the former New York police headquarters. They renovated the attic into a 1500-square-foot residence for themselves. The space took six months to renovate so that it was “livable,” but the couple has continued to work on it over the years.

According to Lee, both the biggest asset and challenge of decorating their home was marrying her and her husband’s tastes. “We have different aesthetics. Design-wise he’s a little cleaner, slicker…I’m always interested in bringing in more texture, color, curvilinear shapes.”

The key, says Lee, was in the curation. She and Chandler carefully chose what to display and what to pack away in their large storage closet. “He edits me,” Lee says of Chandler, “I choose to display things that I’m really passionate about, and then he goes in and arranges them–almost like a set.”

The end result: “When people come there, they often say: ‘Wow it looks so clean and sleek, but when you start to look around there’s a lot of detail–a lot of warmth.’”

Left: Lee’s building used to be a gun factory, part of New York’s fabled gun district. Right Top: Lee in the Yoma office, wearing a coat by Juli Raja. Right Bottom: Each of Lee’s textile designs begins with her own hand-drawings.

The main living area is a mix of sleek, architectural pieces and quirky ethnic finds, like the tiny wooden chair from Guatemala and a collection of hand-woven purses from the Philippines. Couch: Ligne Roset, purchased on Craigslist. Coffee table: Broome, Chandler’s furniture design company. Rug: Warp and Weft.

A modern table is offset by rich, textural details, including a New Mexico-inspired painting by artist Lou Hicks and hand-painted Italian plates from Ceramica Direct.

At first glance, these “Afghan War Rugs” appear to be typical antique oriental designs, however if you look closely, you can see machine guns, missiles and war planes woven into the fabric. “It’s an amazing example of people incorporating what’s going on in their lives into their art,” says Lee, who inherited two of the rugs and bought a third from Warrug.com.

A tranquil bed from De La Espada seats beneath an original aquatint by artist Katja Oxman, who uses layers of fabric patterns in her work–much like Lee’s own designs.

Lee and Chandler began collecting handmade brooms ten years ago. “They’re mostly street brooms,” explains Lee, “handwoven by people in China and India who use them in the morning to clean. I’m interested in things that carry the spirit of the person who made them.” Red chair: Ochre.

Personal artifacts are carefully arranged in themed groups. Art (with crosses): Lou Hicks. Skull: Matter. Buddha: Vietnam.

Lee’s tranquil terrace overlooks the former New York City police headquarters.


photographer: Katherine Miles Jones
gun shop & terrace photos courtesy of: ChandlerPierce.com

{Gift Guide} 7 Delightful Design Gifts

Deck the halls and homes of your family and friends–GIVE them these delightful design gifts recommended by FOF gurus.



Helen Kenney Poore is an FOF interior design guru and owner of The Scented Garden, a gift store located in St. Michaels, Maryland.

1. Karen Adams Calendar Giftbox, $59 ($29 for refill)

“A unique gift for the person who has everything is the Karen Adams hand-painted calendar. Just remember who you gave the set to, because next year you can give them the refill. They’re already sold out in my store.”


Kristin Drohan is an FOF interior design guru and an interior designer whose work has been featured in The Washington Post, House Trends Magazine, New England Home, and New York Spaces. She also has her own furniture collection.

2. Personalized Trays, Platters and Ice Buckets from Clairebella, Starting at $38
“I love that these can be personalized with colors, patterns, and monograms.”


Barbara Mangini is the blogger behind My Dog-Eared Pages, a collection of musings on art, fashion, and interior designs.

3. Harry Stooshinoff Landscape Paintings, starting at $45

“I am a quite a fan of this Canadian artist. He’s been selling his work for over 30 years. His small landscapes are created on heavy, acid-free artist’s paper, using a quick pencil sketch on location then followed by bold, intuitive swashes of acrylics. I love the idea of hanging several together as a grouping.”


4. Turkish Towel Peshtemals from Bathstyle, starting at $22

“A peshtemal is a towel traditionally used in Turkish baths. The colors correspond to different regions in Turkey. I’ve always loved them because they absorb water fast and dry quickly. They take up less space and are also great for the pool, boat and the beach. These are 100% cotton produced on looms in Turkey.”



Lisa Porter is the mastermind behind The Lisa Porter Collection, a blog featuring eye-popping designs, inspiring interiors and carefully-vetted businesses.

5. Beautiful Gardens of Kentucky by Jon Carloftis ($40)
“This year I’ll be gifting Beautiful Gardens of Kentucky by famed New York City garden designer Jon Carloftis. I have had the pleasure of meeting Jon and his incredible family–what I admire most about this southern gentleman is his desire to give back. He’s beyond generous with his talent and time devoting much of it towards local garden clubs and charitable organizations. Anyone who loves to garden will love this book.”


Julia Reed is the creative director of Taigan, a meticulously-curated online boutique featuring unique products and gifts. She has been a contributing editor  to numerous publications including VogueConde Nast Traveler, and the New York Times and is the author of: The House on First Street, My New Orleans Story; Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, And Other Southern Delicacies: An Entertaining Life (With Recipes); and Queen Of The Turtle Derby and Other Southern Phenomena.

6. Small Apothecary Jar from And George, $47
“It is so versatile. Fill it with festive red-and-white peppermints or use it as a receptacle for roasted pecans or little cheese biscuits on the bar when entertaining. It would also be fabulous in a bathroom filled with small soaps or bath salts such as these.”


7. Set of White Mugs from And George, $60
“I adore both the delicacy and color of these tea mugs. Throw in a canister of your favorite tea and this pretty handwoven silver tea strainer and it’s a great gift.”

Enter to win a gorgeous hand-painted calendar by Karen Adams by leaving a comment below.

One FOF will win.
(See all our past winners, here.)
(See official rules, here.)
Contest closes December 17, 2011 at midnight E.S.T.

{Interiors} An “Empty Nest” NYC Apartment Makeover

When we put a call out this past August for an FOF in need of a home makeover, we got hundreds of responses. But the message from Sharon Nord was particularly compelling:

“I recently followed my grown children to The Big Apple. I brought two end tables and some pictures with me,” wrote Sharon. “I am completely changing my style, my address and my attitude. Please help me be FOF and not BOF (boring over fifty).”

We were curious as to what precipitated this major move. Turns out, four years ago, Sharon and her husband separated. “It wasn’t in my plans, it was a total life change,” says Sharon.

Sharon moved from an 11,000-square-foot house in Atlanta, Georgia, to an 1,100 square foot apartment in New York City’s Wall Street neighborhood.

“I really loved Atlanta, but I really wanted to be near my family. That’s more important than a big house and lots of furniture,” says Sharon. “It was a huge adjustment especially at my age (us FOFs are not so into adjusting) but I’m really learning to love it.”

This empty-nester’s new nest, a 2-bedroom apartment, was in fact… empty. The rental had beautiful views of the Financial District but looked more like a sterile office space than an inviting FOF home. Interior designer Jennifer Levy, of CAVDesign and The One-Day Design Solution™, helped Sharon warm up her downtown digs in a way that suited Sharon’s personality and new lifestyle.

“Using a palette of citrus, eggplant and mixed materials such as wood and marble, we created a comfortable, homey feel,” says Jennifer.

“My life has changed. I’m single, and I’ve never done something like this by myself or for myself,” says Sharon. “But I love what Jennifer did, all the clean lines and no-fuss decorations. I’ll go to unpack a box of stuff from my old life and then put it away saying, ‘No, no, I don’t need the clutter.’”


Images by Jennifer Levy

{FOF Featured Blog} Concrete Jungle

FOF Heather Chapple has a Thai for design. Twelve years ago the Canadian interior designer uprooted her husband and her children from their home in Southern France and moved to Phuket, Thailand, where Heather felt her kids could get a better education.

“Finding a home that would accommodate our heights and our giant container of goods was a challenge,” Heather said in an interview with Phuket Tatler Magazine. “So I realized from the outset that I would have to build a house to accommodate our family and collection of paintings, books and furnishings.”

From the ground up and the inside out, Heather designed her “Oasis” according to the design principles of her favorite French architect, Le Corbusier. She also made unique use of polished concrete throughout the home, hence her blog’s name, Concrete Jungle.

“The island and area is full of fabulous, original and interesting design ideas,” writes Heather. From instructions on how to use polished concrete in decorating, to musings on tropical living, to a post that translates the colors of Thailand to real rooms anywhere, Concrete Jungle has truly caught our Thai…er…eye.