"Dior and I" a documentary film

   Maybe it's a sign that I'm getting a bit older or perhaps it's my inner nerdy tendencies, but I have come to love watching really well-made documentaries!   In fact sometimes I even prefer documentaries to regular films.   

   Last night, along with fellow designer Jordan Ross, we made the drive to Berkley just to see the documentary "Dior and I" at the historic Shattuck theater!   This was the opening night in California for the film which recounts the story of how Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons came to be the creative director for the iconic Dior fashion house in 2012.

   The most incredible part of the film was the fact that Simons had a mere 8 weeks to create his first collection as well as design the runway fashion show for the unveiling of the collection!   

    I couldn't help, as I watched the story unfold on-screen, to fully relate to the process of designing something in your mind, sketching it on paper and turning those designs into reality!   That's exactly what we do in the event world - not that I'm comparing myself to Raf Simons, Dior or an internationally acclaimed fashion brand, but the basic concepts are certainly quite parallel to event design.   Of course one of the elements which I found most intriguing were the walls of live flowers that Simons designed for the backdrop of his show - which was held in a beautiful historic home in Paris!

   Raf Simons brilliantly transformed paintings by artist Sterling Ruby, which inspired him, into graphics, and then applied those graphics onto threads which were woven into fabrics and used to create pieces in his 2012 haute couture collection for Dior!

   Halfway through the film I was almost asked to leave because I was taking photos of the screen with my phone, but being the chronic rule-breaker that I am it was worth it for some of the shots that I captured!   

   This documentary film will thrill and inspire you whether you think you're a fashion enthusiast or not - a must see for everyone!   


Longwood Gardens: "a snow-covered paradise"

   Since I was a little boy, who had a nerdy obsession with gardens, and I have been wanting to visit the fabled Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania!

   Located in the tiny community of Kennett Square 30 min west of Philadelphia, Longwood Gardens was founded by Pierre S. du Pont in 1906.   The history of Pierre duPont is a fascinating one!   He purchased a farm which had hundreds of ancient trees in an arboretum which would have been cut down if Pierre hadn't intervened!   Pierre rose to great success in corporate America to become one of the wealthiest men in the United States at the time.   His parties at Longwood became the most anticipated events of the year on the East Coast - anyone who was anyone was there including presidents and politicians!  

   Anyway, enough with this history lesson!   Last week I finally visited Longwood for the first time......and there was a foot of snow on the ground!   This was both positive and negative.  

    Negative because, as beautiful as the snow covered hedges, lawns and paths were accented by the lovely naked branches of deciduous trees, my imagination had to most of the work to fill in the absence of spring's glory.       

   The positive aspects were that, in spite of the dormant state of the grounds outside, the massive gardens in the conservatory were in full bloom, combined with the fact that there were so few visitors it felt like we were on a private tour!  

   I can't wait to visit again during Spring, Summer and Fall!


Joe Richinelli: inspirational designer & friend


 Every once in a while we meet one of those totally inspiring individuals who we immediately connect with, they speak our language and we just know that this person is going to be a very special part of our life!   While this delightful occurrence is rare, it is far more rare to find just such an individual to also be wildly talented, accomplished and humble as well!   Several years ago I had the pleasure of encountering one such person and the good fortune of now counting that person as one of my dear friends!

    Joe Richinelli s a very talented event, interior, landscape and lifestyle designer (most people make a career out of just one of these fields), and although he would never boast, he has a very impressive client list in New York and the East Coast!   

   Joe's home is an early 1800's Federal style home, which he has completely renovated and restored, in Upstate New York!   I have visited Joe's fabulous home several times, but my most recent visit was special because a fresh blanket of snow had just fallen giving the place a particularly picturesque appearance!   Because of the snow the flock sheep, with their tinkling bells, were tucked in the cozy barn so I wasn't able to get a photo of them but I did get some great photos of the inside and outside of the Joe's fabulous charming home!   I know you will be as enchanted as I always am!

In Between Seasons "the green months in California"

   Being a California farm boy from the Central Valley and having roots that stretch back six generations of growing crops here, I know a thing or two about this fantastic state!   One might think the very best time of the year in California is the perfectly mild Fall weather that we have or our hot Summers with their intoxicating warm evenings perfumed with hints of ripening stone fruits and freshly cut alfalfa.   But my heart is always happiest in the "in between" season of late January through late March!   It's not quite spring yet and winter's loosening grip has not yet released us from the threat of a late frost!   

   It is only during this fleeting in between season that the word "green" can be used to describe California.   Although many people mistakenly believe it was the Gold Rush of 1849 which gave California its title of the "Golden State", it is actually the dry yellowish-orange native grasses that cover the millions of acres of rolling hills which makes this state golden!

   Recently, I traveled to the frozen East Coast but before I left I captured some photos of my favorite place during my favorite time of the year!   May these images feed your soul as they do mine!

Boulder, CO

   Several months ago I had the pleasure of traveling to Boulder, Colorado to do some research for a business endeavor.   Although I had spent some time in the state I had never been to Boulder.   Little did I know what an inspiration this experience would be!  

   After meeting my cousin Brittany in Denver for dinner and drinks, I made the easy 30 mile drive in my rental car to Boulder.   I arrived after midnight so I didn't get to see any scenery on my drive in.   

   The next morning I had meetings and a conference to attend at my hotel which lasted most of the day.   It wasn't until early evening that I was free to meet up with my friend Hayes, who is a local musician and songwriter, to explore the town!   Before we had dinner, Hayes insisted that we go to the creek because he said there was something he wanted to show me.   What I saw was not only such a surprise but it had such a major impact on me!   When we got to  Boulder Creek I couldn't believe my eyes......there, in the middle of the rushing water, were the most incredible free-standing rock formations!   At first I thought my friend was pulling my leg, but after closer inspection, I saw that in fact the stones had been stacked by very skilled artists who have been practicing this art form for years!   I kept asking Hayes how it was possible that these stones could stand so perfectly balanced without anything holding them up.   His answer was so profound, I'll never forget it, "Because, no one ever told them that they couldn't stand on their own!".   At the time I was dealing with some difficult personal issues and these words encouraged and strengthened me!   I feel as though God knew it was exactly what I needed to see and hear!   

Video link:http://youtu.be/vDgfhCGGyls

Ok before I get too deep and philosophical there's one more thing I'd to share from my time in Boulder.

     My friend Victoria suggested while I was there that I visit the   "Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse".   It was all she said it would be..........and more!   Besides the fact that I think it was the best pot of tea I have ever drank, the design of the Teahouse, itself, was amazing!   But perhaps even more amazing than the actual design of the hand-carved and hand painted walls, columns and ceilings is the history of the building!   The Teahouse was originally built in Boulder's sister city Dushanbe, Tajikistan (a small country between China and Afganistan It was then disassembled, shipped to the U.S. and rebuilt by artisans from Dushanbe! If you've never been to Boulder, Colorado I urge you to visit! The scenery is stunning, the art and music scene is fantastic and the restaurants are charming and delicious!  



When I want to be inspired I seek out beauty!   One of my favorite places to discover beauty is old estates and gardens!   A particular favorite and little known estate, located 15 min from Stanford University and 25 miles south of San Francisco, is Filoli.

My dear friend Gina and I recently visited the Filoli Estate midweek at 11am on a perfect California day!    Here are some of the photos from that visit!   If you are ever in the area I suggest you check out the 650 acres of gardens, grounds, pools, houses, shops and have a bowl of homemade soup in the charming cafe! 




  You know those objects which, upon the very sight of them, cause you to be transported back to some other time and place in your life?   Well I'd like to share one of those objects with you from my life!   

   For as long as I can remember, this white porcelain Christmas tree with these iridescent colored lights has been on display in my Gram's house (my Grandma Pat Storer)!   I use to spend hours staring at it when I was a young boy!  

   I recently visited my Gram's house and it was sitting in the her bay window cheerfully greeting me as I came up the walk!   It brought back so many wonderful memories of my Gram and her house as well as that "warm Christmas feeling" that I hope I never forget!   Thanks Gram - I love you!  XOXO