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Photo courtesy of Howard Hall Productions

Sharks would not be my normal area of interest for television viewing of an evening. More likely, they’d be the experience of a horrifying nightmare. I’d be more inclined to watch CSPAN2 BookTV or a documentary on a comedian like Billy Crystal or musician like Errol Garner to relax.

But when I heard it announced that a film by underwater photographers and filmmakers Michele and Howard Hall was coming up on KPBS’ Nature Wednesday night, for a very personal reason, I duly noted it in my calendar. It was the Halls I wanted to see, even if the program frighteningly was called Shark Mountain.

Just recently, I met and interviewed the Halls at their Del Mar home and studio, an encounter that opened my eyes and a store of facts to a whole world apart from my own. I was absolutely mesmerized by their achievements and totally in awe of how anyone could go as deep underwater as they do, hauling around equipment and cavorting with apparent dangers. The creatures, colors and textures beneath the water’s surface are truly another world that so many of us have never entered, with a sensual, ethereal beauty that’s hard to fathom. (See SDH/GL’s June issue, for my story on the Halls.)

Shark Mountain turned out to be a fascinating television hour well spent, sort of “behind the scenes” with the diving filmmakers. It was visually beautiful, instructive, paced with a little humor and undeniably championed care for the wonders of our environment. I’m going to give it a second view ( for repeats), though you won’t find me swimming with the sharks anytime soon.

Phyllis Van Doren

CorsetII AHart11

A RELAXED CONVERSATION with owner Mario Scolari about his Nativa Furniture stores also included chat about the pope and soccer and tennis stars, all from his native Argentina. Front-burner news was that Nativa had taken over the old Kreiss location at Girard Avenue and Silverado Street in La Jolla and should have it fully stocked as a home design destination by the time this issue of the magazine is out. Sadly, that also may mean closing of the Hillcrest store. But, at press time, Mario indicated he still might reimagine one of his dreams for that historic building.

CALIFORNIA CLOSETS has joined the design renaissance along Girard Avenue with its new showroom and design center. Another showroom on the move is Yorkshire Pine. Relocating from Santa Fe Street to Morena Boulevard, they’ll be in the heart of design again. Kristin Lomauro’s design firm, KLID, and her European Trading Co. showroom, however, stay on Santa Fe Street in Janine Brown’s old design space. Meanwhile, Esteban Interiors is closing its retail space and staying on Girard Avenue with a more private design studio, in case
you wondered where the art glass went.

A MORNING I spent in Zandra Rhodes’ Solana Beach studio found her flying off to London for a 10th anniversary show of the Fashion & Textile Museum, now run by Newham College. We saw installation models and dresses that were ready to be packed when Zandra boards another flight for Kuala Lumpur for a retrospective show in Malaysia.

DON’T EVEN THINK of missing the exhibits of Ernest Silva (recently retired from UCSD) and Jay Johnson at Oceanside Museum of Art. The show closes Sept. 15. Opening night in July was truly a Who’s Who of artists and gallery owners. I hitched a ride with Dory and Steve Gibson. Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego had just acquired five of Steve’s paintings, 2004 to present, that went on view in its downtown galleries. The Allied Craftsmen Today show at Mingei International Museum is another must-see. It is up through the end of the year.

REESEY SHAW hosted her annual lunch and sneak-peek of artists to come for 2013/2014 at Lux Art Institute. Matthew Cusick is in the studio creating his work from Sept. 5 through Oct. 5. Reesey also showed plans for the new Education Pavilion designed by Anne Sneed Architectural Interiors.

Eeny, meeny, miney more….Pick your favorite color from hundreds. Devon & Devon of Florence, Italy, colors its cast iron Regal bathubs in 213 hues of matte paint. At Lav-ish, The Bath Gallery in La Jolla.

OCEAN BEACH’S Vignettes celebrates its 18th anniversary on Sept. 28 with Claudia Strasser, signing her book Paris Flea Market Style (July Hot Finds & Cool Stuff).

AFTER MORE THAN 40 years, George Coles, long the friendly face of Coles Fine Flooring family business, is retiring and passing the family torch to brother Steve and Steve’s daughter Lauren. I’m sure all the dogs and cats at the Humane Society (one of George’s favorite causes) are looking forward to more time with Uncle George.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST, interior designer Robert Wright was honored with the Designer of Distinction Award at the 2013 ASID National Conference. We already knew he was great; we made him a Star of San Diego in 2010.

Photo Above: Alexandra Hart, Corset II, 2013, copper at Mingei International Museum

Design Riffs: By Phyllis Van Doren


Photograph by Carol Sonstein

THERE'S NOTHING LIKE CHAMPAGNE, sumptuous hors d’oeuvres, jazz and a gaggle of interior designers and architects— and even a few toddlers and babes in arms — to make a party. Last Thursday, such an evening at C’est la Vie Antiques was a hit. Architect Drex Patterson attended, as did many designers, including Amy Meier, Robin Eisman, Elizabeth Thiele Barkett and Cindy Lambert — the occasion being that one of my favorite designers, Jeffrey Alan Marks, has just published his first design book and agreed to come that night to talk about it. The Meaning of Home (Rizzoli New York) is a subject dear to our hearts.

I am so proud of Jeffrey, rather like a mother hen, having known him for the better part of 20 years.

Until its ignoble demise after 2006, I had produced the Designers Showcase feature for San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles every year since the 1980s. I met Jeffrey at the 1997 Designers Showcase house in Mission Hills.

His “room” was a hallway, elevator and wine closet — small. I wrote, “Using fabric and paint and a touch of Fortuny … and a Rose Tarlow chair, … Marks reveals his knowledge of the classics but is up to date.” He had a style that caught my eye from the beginning.

By 1998 in the Coronado showcase, he’d graduated to the slightly larger den as his space. “Unafraid of color, his wall treatment is inspired … a quintessential, sun-splashed California room,” I noted. More Tarlow, a lamp this time. I always enjoyed how he brought in "with-it" designers from Los Angeles or beyond that other local design firms didn’t seem aware of. He’s still doing that — if he isn’t designing the pieces himself.

In 1999, I wrote that Jeffrey’s “daring projects speak volumes about sophistication and European style.” By 2000, he had the largest room of the showcase: the living room of a Monterey-style house. He was inspired to look back at Frances Elkins (the perfect choice); he wasn’t too proud to reference great designers of the past. By this time, he got credit for designing furniture too.

Before he left La Jolla for Santa Monica, SDH/GL published two stories on his own homes — a cottage in Del Mar and a house across from the golf fairway in La Jolla. Since then, we've offered occasional reports of his work, up to the inclusion of him in our Fall Interior Design Report (October 2013 issue).

Now working on a world stage (when not on television or in a national magazine) Jeffrey is finishing up a fishing lodge in the jungles of Belize, showed a second collection for Palecek furniture at last month’s High Point Market and, coming this spring, is debuting a line of fabrics for Kravet.

I’m sure there’s more I don’t know, though on Thursday he hinted at a new television show and a new Mandeville Canyon project. We hope for more interiors in the San Diego area. The magazine and I will be sure to let you in on the latest.

Phyllis Van Doren


Studio portrait of Gary Cooper wearing a peaked-lapel,
single-breasted houndstooth suit in 1934.
Photography by Clarence Sinclair Bull from
Bespoke: The Men's Style of Savile Row
by James Sherwood (Rizzoli, 2010)

Fashion and interior design are so entwined in my mind that the designers I meet can be like a runway show for me sometimes.

Musing over vintage pictures in a book — introduced by Tom Ford, Bespoke: The Men’s Style of Savile Row — made me think how cool it was to meet up with Bravo’s Million Dollar Decorator Jeffrey Alan Marks and his partner Ross Cassidy at Laguna Design Center’s Witford showroom. While running a hand over the new Palecek furniture and accessory collection Jeffrey designed, I got my sartorial update from these two.

Ross: very Thom Browne in an of-the-moment look of a schoolboy grown out of his clothes, jacket with the too-short sleeves, exposed ankles, no socks. Jeffrey: Hollywood handsome in navy Brunello Cucinelli jacket, his slicked-down hair leaning toward a Gary Cooper or Gatsby style.

Jeffrey’s first Rizzoli coffee-table book comes out this fall and perhaps, he whispered, another collection for a big-name company yet to be revealed. Very early in his career, Jeffrey worked for designer Sandy Gordon, who joined the fun at Witford with us.

David Beld, a prexy at Palecek/Pierce Martin, also was on hand to greet us and show off the collection. Watch for it in the July issue of San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles. Incidentally, Jeffrey and I think that I was the first to publish his interior designs, in SDH/GL.

Come to think of it, Andrew Bolton, dapper curator of the keenly anticipated Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibit opening in May at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, has the same comb-back hair.

Which leads me astray to note that Zandra Rhodes is very much a part of the Met’s show. It’s said she was the first to take punk style into haute couture back in the 1970s. Safety pins and torn silk jersey are part of the look. Our Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego did an exhibit with her back then in their La Jolla venue.

Sartorial savvy is not unknown in certain San Diego circles either. One I can think of is veteran PR maven Jon Bailey (I.D.E.A.), who the last time I saw him held forth in Gucci sport coat, Adriano Goldschmied jeans and, of course, no socks. Jon adds, “NO TIE! I avoid them at all costs.” As for suits, he says, “I had several made in Hong Kong when I was there last year, and they fit me beautifully. I have a couple of suits from Harvey Nichols in London that I still wear and love, despite the fact that they could probably qualify as retro at this point.”

Which brings me back to London, bespoke suits and thumbing through the pages of a book on Savile Row.

Phyllis Van Doren



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Perhaps it’s because the “cottage” with the wavy, cedar-thatched roof on the cover of our July issue looks like it could be the home of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs that I was immediately intrigued by a press release I received this week.

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