Get to Know the Craftspeople and Designers Behind the 2015 Designer Showhouse on the Green

Last month’s Designer Showhouse on the Green was filled with innovative room designs and unique decorative pieces—from a living living room clock to hand-cut paper window shades, this showhouse had it all. Recently, we had a chance to talk to a few of the innovators behind the room-stealing items, who shed some light on the inspiration and design process behind these pieces of art.

Robert Cannon
Featured in the Charles Pavarini Design Associates, Inc. living room, Robert Cannon created a living piece of art with the Living Grandmother Nature Clock.

What was the inspiration behind this piece?
All of our pieces are green updates to classics or traditional pieces, but this clock in particular was based off a Swedish grandfather clock.

How long does a piece like this take to create, from design to final product?
From conception to final product, it took about four weeks.

What does the process involve?
We started in the design phase, doing a 3D mockup. For this project, the design process was a dialogue, a back and forth between Charles and myself. When the design had been decided, a metal mesh skeleton was built and layered with cement—not just one layer, but layer upon layer of cement. Once the cement hardened, it was polished and the living aspect planted.

Do all of your pieces contain a living aspect?
Yes. We think of our pieces as a greening of the classics. All of our pieces are handmade in our design center in Brooklyn, NY. Opiary, NYC, 347-674-9744, opiary.com, Charles Pavarini Design Associates, INC., NYC, 212-749-2047, pavarinidesign.com.


Donna Benedetto
Opening up her self-designed upstairs hallway, Donna Benedetto, of Donna Benedetto Designs, crafted the eye-catching Starburst Convex Mirror.

Why did you decide to make this mirror?
I’ve wanted to do a mirror line for a while.  My approach was to create a piece of art with reflective mirror elements.  I’ve always found the starburst design classic, so it was the perfect starting point for the line. Not only is it functional as a mirror, it is also artistic—like a piece of abstract art—so it is the perfect design element for many homes.

Where did you draw your inspiration?
I wanted to explore the églomisé style of decorative painting, and do something with that inspiration in a contemporary, transitional fashion. It is a technique that dates back to the 18th century.

What was the process of making it like?
The design of each mirror is all done by hand using the Eglomise technique in our studio.  The exciting thing is it’s very customizable. So when the full line comes out—about a month or two from now—it will be very easy to make a unique, custom mirror for any home. We will also have a selection of designs for immediate delivery. Donna Benedetto Designs, Easton, 203-556-1705, donnabenedetto.com.  


Photograph by Paul Johnson

George Snead
Getting creative with their window dressings, George Snead and Antonio Vergara, of Wakefield Design Center, utilized Handmade Custom Cut-Paper Shades in their master bedroom.

What is different about these shades?
They’re handmade, custom cut-paper, from Thailand, and they aren’t really shades at all. They don’t provide much privacy or block out the sun, and they come in 4 x 8 sheets.

What made you think to use the paper as shades?
I’ve been fascinated with this paper for years, and in the past I have used it but not as a window shade—I framed it and used it as a room divider. When Antonio and I were looking for pieces, we saw this and thought it would be perfect. We needed something shorter, as the room is not tall, and we didn’t want to close off the room with full-length fabric shades. 

What was the process of sizing and hanging the paper like?
Easy. So easy. We cut the length we needed, rolled the tops and used carpet tacks to hold the shades to the window. 

Were you happy with the finished product?
Absolutely. It was one of those things where the least expensive, easiest aspect of the room, ended up being my favorite. And at night, when you stand outside the house, the pattern of the shades, with the room illuminated, beautifully compliment the Victorian style porch. It was just a cool quality neither Antonio nor I planned out. Wakefield Design Center, Stamford, 203-358-0818, wakefielddesigncenter.com.   


André Joyau
Contributing to the indoor-outdoor feel of the Krista Fox Interiors designed covered porch is André Joyau’s Bascule Chair.

What is your design process like?
I work with reclaimed wood and metal, so much of the time I am looking at what I have, and I’m trying to transform it into something not only visually interesting but comfortable and usable too. I try to let my material—whatever I might have in the studio—inspire me. But then the task is to frame it, contain it in a clean modern way, and not let the material design the piece.

What went into making the Bascule Chair?
I already had the wood slab. Then I made a wire model, to make sure the metal rings would work as rockers, and then the real thing was made.

How long does it take to make a piece like the Bascule Chair?
It’s roughly a three-day project: one day for the metal to be crafted, one day for the wooden seat to be made, which is one piece, and one day to finish the chair. Everything is done in my studio and showroom in Brooklyn, with and by the nine associates who work with me.

How did your interest in reclaimed wood originate? 
I have a country home in Pennsylvania, and my neighbor had all this extra wood from fallen trees and such, and he was chopping it up for firewood; this is when I started rescuing wood. Something about the fallen trees inspired me. Now I take rejected wood that I have collected over the years and turn it into furniture. We also integrate old reclaimed metal and use it in our light fixtures and hardware. André Joyau, NYC, 718-963-2616, andrejoyau.com, Krista Fox Interiors, New Canaan, 203-594-9161, kristafoxinteriors.com.  



Joan Cone

Drawing—in more than one way—inspiration from neighboring homes, Joan Cone’s pen-and-ink drawings add an antique touch to Carey Karlan’s guest bedroom.

How long have you been doing these drawings? 
Although I have been passionate about the drawing process for some 40 years, architectural renderings are a more recent study for me. Carey Karlan, of Last Detail Interior Design, shared her vision of incorporating homage to the antiquity of the St. Paul’s rectory into her contemporary plans for the decor of her room. With that in mind, she commissioned me to draw six historic buildings in Fairfield to be featured in her designer showhouse bedroom.

What inspired you to do these drawings?
The inspiration came from the buildings themselves. Many have gone through several renovations, but the beauty and permanence of the structures is timeless.

Is pen-and-ink your preferred or signature style? Or just what worked best for the subject?
Working in pen and ink and maintaining a style that exemplified a more primitive approach to the drawings was an interesting challenge for me. Although I’ve explored pen and ink studies in the past, the subject matter was different on this project. Staying true to Carey’s vision and promoting the simplicity of each building was paramount to the success of the series.

Were these drawings done from photographs, or did you do them in person?
Carey Karlan provided me with photo references for each building, but I also chose to take in an on-site visit prior to beginning my architectural portraits in order to learn the best angles in featuring their timeless beauty.

Are you available for commissioned work?
I can be reached at jdcone00@hotmail.com. Last Detail Design, Darien, 203-921-5151, careykarlan.com.