Hello, welcome to Trace Blog, the thinking space, chalkboard, collection of ideas & references behind our residential design firm, Trace Design Studio. We're most curious about the home, materials, design history & theory, but we'll admittedly diverge in to foreign territory from time to time. I invite you to explore and hope you enjoy!

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Design and the Connection to Life

I walked outside and heard the wind play a song with the leaves in waves. I heard the dead leaves crackle along the pavement too, reminding me life still stirs us after death. I heard the ice cream truck in the distance and the rushing wheels cut through the silence. I saw a reflection of clouds forming and unraveling in a puddle in the asphalt and dancing silvery leaves. I attended a lecture yesterday at UM SoA by a principal at Studio Jean Nouvel. When I was walking I remembered what she said about the connection to life. That architecture must…

Creativity & Perfectionism

I recently picked up Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “BIG MAGIC: Creative Living Beyond Fear”. I had started reading it some time ago and had left off precisely on the chapter titled, Fear in High Heels. She talks about the dangers of perfectionism – a topic that comes up time and again in my conversations with one of my closest friends, a fellow creative individual (artist/photographer), about creative work. In our society in general I believe we often praise and even take a certain amount of pride in our suffering with this condition like it’s some sort of privileged club. And I…

Domesticity

Last week I posted the question, “what is a home?”. In exploring this topic I’ve recently picked up a book from my shelves: “Home: A Short History of an Idea” by Witold Rybczynski. Here he describes how the concept of “comfort” and domesticity was not invented until the 18th century and makes an interesting connection between the emergence of an idea and language: “The first use of the word ‘comfort’ to signify a level of domestic amenity is not documented until the eighteenth century. People began to use the word in a different way because they needed a special word to…

Creating Personal Utopias

What is a “home”?  Is it different for each person, each culture, or are there consistent notions of what people define as “home”?  Since most of my work has been and is with residential design I can’t help but come across this conundrum every time I begin a new project, meet a new client, visit a new job site. When talking to clients I soon realize that the answer is not one dimensional. There are specific individual notions of what a “home” is based on personal experience and meaning, group notions and also collective notions. The layering of these for…

MiMo Design Inspiration

A new project for a young family in Miami Beach has me drawing from 1950’s MiMo (“Miami Modern”) architecture for inspiration. Last Friday I dined at the Fontainebleau (and spent a solid 15 min admiring the lobby with it’s winding staircase to nowhere and bow-tie floors while my husband got the car) and coincidently had breakfast in the North Biscayne MiMo District on Sunday (near my favorite car wash in town, Karma). Both outings had me appreciating the surrounding architecture in their 20th and 21st century versions. I realized the MiMo spirit lives on in Miami as architects and designers continue to draw from…

KELLY BEHUN: NY Whimsy

Kelly Behun is another more modern/minimalistic designer but what I love about her interiors, which differs from Dirand, is her bright palette and the introduction of whimsical and unabashed art and furniture pieces. Her spaces are soft and inviting yet each have an edge, a personality, and a definite playfulness. /// New York based interior designer Midtown Pied-a-terre Hamptons Home Park Avenue Penthouse For more of Behun’s work visit kellybehun.com

JOSEPH DIRAND: French & Modern

There are many many talented designers and architects practicing throughout the world. But once in a while, you see work that personally speaks to you and stops you in your tracks. Every detail, every choice feels deliberate and contributes to a greater result than the “sum of it’s parts”. Joseph Dirand is definitely one of those. In the past few years others have been taking note and this French architect has become “trés populaire”. Well, popular or not, I’m a fan. I think you might become one too! /// French architect/designer Dirand’s projects are masculine and minimalist yet set against the softer & refined elements of…

Part II: Bold Paint Colors

So for Part 2 of our Fresh Paint Feature we have the fresh bold hues for those of you that like a bit more drama and a maybe a little edge to your decor. Here they are,  my favorite colors with real personalities. FRESH PAINT – BOLD: #1. Hague Blue – Farrow & Ball (The Mysterious One) It doesn’t get much deeper or moodier than this navy blue. It’s not too purple, not too green and just dark enough (which is quite dark depending on the lighting). The Balcony Gardener herself, Isabelle Palmer, (mentioned in my earlier posts about my own Balcony Garden here and here)…

Part I: Classic Paint Colors

When it comes to finding fresh and classic paint colors for your walls there’s the tried and true and there’s the bold statement colors. After recently spending many (many) hours looking for those perfect colors for my own place, I thought I’d share some of my finds along with some of my favorite selections from recent projects. Some are just classic so they’ll appear as fresh and relevant now as in a decade from now. And others are bold and beautiful allowing you to create spectacular statement moments in your decor. Whether you use them for an accent wall, the edge of a door, or…

The Magical Alhambra in Granada

It was first year, first week of studio, when my professor suggested I research the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Off I went to the silent Richter stacks to begin an exercise that would lead me, four years later, to the actual orange courtyards of Andalusia. I didn’t know then, but I was to soon fall in love with the romanticism of this place and the past it represented. Of course, the illustrations I found from numerous 19th century Orientalists didn’t help at all! These artists depicted exotic (and at times erotic) notions of what life would have been like in…