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Around New England: Transformers Transformed

September 27, 2013 01:27 PM

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Photos by William Morgan

Noémie Jennifer, an independent artist who studied art history at Brown University, has produced some very striking Art Transformer "canvases."

Transformer boxes are prominent in our urban environment. Yet they rarely rise to the level of good industrial design, although they are incredibly tempting canvases for aerosol can wielding graffiti artists. To try to stem the graffiti, and to perk up these necessary but inglorious metal boxes, the City of Providence's Department of Art, Culture + Tourism organized The Art Transformer Project two summers ago. Local artists were asked to submit up to three designs; if accepted they would be paid $350 for their work. Twelve designers were chosen and 29 boxes have been painted. FULL ENTRY

Play Me, I’m Yours!

September 24, 2013 11:55 AM


(From left): Doug Garrabrants, Dave Taubeneck, Lena Fransioli, Sally Wilson, and John Kelsey — the design team for a piano in the Celebrity Series of Boston’s “Play Me, I’m Yours!”

The Celebrity Series of Boston is bringing “Play Me, I’m Yours!” — a public art installation created by artist Luke Jerram in 2008 — to Boston. From September 27 to October 14, 75 pianos will be placed in public spaces throughout the city and in parts of Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline for people to play at their leisure. Having installed more than 1,000 pianos in 37 cities worldwide (Jerram talks about the concept here), the installation is making an impact on pianists and their listeners, and on participants in Boston’s design community.


Newport Dazzles with Wine and Food

September 23, 2013 03:19 PM

Marble House.JPG

Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island, was the site of The Preservation Society of Newport County’s Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival.

Since Design New England was a media sponsor for the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival, presented by The Preservation Society of Newport County, we had to “work” this weekend. It was a tough assignment, but someone had to report on the splendor of Sunday’s grand tasting event. It wasn’t easy to juggle a notebook and camera AND sample innumerable culinary treats and spectacular vintages from around the country. We did manage, despite the distraction of the opulent and beautifully preserved Marble House, one of Bellevue Avenue’s most spectacular Gilded Age mansions, where the tastings were set up on the sprawling lawn overlooking the ocean. On top of all of that, from among the guest chefs, seminars, and grand tastings, we had to narrow our focus to just a few choice selections to share. Here’s what our taste buds say stood out.


Out and About

September 20, 2013 11:23 AM


Now in a new location, Twelve Chairs has kept its effortless style of comforting home accessories.

We are (happily) getting out of the office a lot lately. Our September/October issue is out, but we are not yet chained to our desks compiling, coordinating, editing, and designing our November/December issue, so it is the perfect time to do some sleuthing as we look for those have-to-have (or write about) design finds.


Garden Photographer Exhibits Stunning Food Still Lifes

September 17, 2013 04:03 PM


Lynn Karlin

Photographer Lynn Karlin’s rendition of “French ‘Charentais’ with Butterscotch Melons” is part of her exhibit at the James Beard Foundation’s New York Gallery.

Photographer Lynn Karlin has a talent for seeing the ordinary in an extraordinary way. Her traveling exhibit, on view now through October 31 at the James Beard Foundation’s Greenhouse Gallery in New York City, is a delicious example. In The Pedestal Series: Natural Beauties, she captures the gorgeousness of common fruits and vegetables in tantalizingly images that are sometimes haunting, sometimes curious, and always done with the detail of a fine art painting. Perfectly round globes of "Charentais" melons teeter on the crackled edge of an old pedestal as a wedge of the cut fruit drips with luscious juices and shiny seeds. The dramatic dark background adds to the sense that this is of another time. Cue the king and the knights ready for the feast.


Around New England: The ‘Spirit of the American Doughboy’

September 16, 2013 11:10 AM


Photos by William Morgan

“Spirit of the American Doughboy” stands as a sculptural sentinel on the village green in the central Massachusetts manufacturing town of Winchendon. It is a harbinger of the forthcoming centennial of World War I, when all will be reminded of The Great War and the guns of August 1914 that changed the world forever. An isolationist America entered a war in Europe three years later, and turned the tide for the Allies, and presumptively ended "the war to end all wars." The doughboys, as American soldiers had been known since the Mexican-American War when desert dust powdered the troops, had become G.I.'s by World War II, but the fresh-faced lads who landed in France in 1917 will forever be doughboys.


What I Saw – and Bought – at Brimfield, September 2013

September 12, 2013 01:22 PM


These beautiful chairs were brought to Brimfield by Boston-based duo, ModHaus.

Much as I love to shop at the Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show, I am easily overwhelmed by its size. I tend to wander aimlessly, but I arrived at the September show with a goal in mind: replace my rickety dining chairs with some that are smaller in scale, though solid and hard-wearing now that my 8-month-old daughter Eleanor is crawling and soon will be climbing everything in sight.

Not surprisingly, Brimfield is a great place for finding chairs from across the eras, made of any variety of materials, and in styles from Biedermeier to Bauhaus.


Chose Your Pick of the Apples

September 11, 2013 04:46 PM


Eric Roth

What could be more quintessentially New England than to spend a crisp autumn day at a pick-your-own apple orchard sampling tasty varieties with wistful plans of making pie or crisp? In “From Crabby to Sweet” (Design New England September/October 2013), a history of apple growing in the region, contributing editor Bruce Irving mentions two such destinations, Champlain Orchards and Liberty Orchard, both in Vermont, but there are plenty of equally inviting orchards welcoming visitors throughout the region.


Get Your Downton Abbey Fix

September 6, 2013 12:58 PM


The Italianate Garden designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and John Charles Olmsted between 1914 and 1928 at Elm Bank in Wellesley, Massachusetts, will be the setting for the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Downton Abbey-Inspired Garden Party.

Need to scratch that Downton Abbey itch while waiting for Season Four to start in January? The Massachusetts Horticultural Society has just the thing for those of us jonesing for the post-Edwardian PBS drama: a Downton Abbey-Inspired Garden Party at its Gardens at Elm Bank in Wellesley, Massachusetts. The gala event is September 15 and will have some of the decadent decor and glamorous costumes (gold, velvet, tassels!) if not the elaborate tangle of characters and relationships that propel the fictional English storyline. The event is a fundraiser to support the society’s garden-to-table program, which educates the public about growing, cooking, and preserving food and donates fresh, organic produce to families in need. Tickets are $125 and available at or by calling 508-259-0470.

Best costume and hat prizes will be awarded, so be sure to dress the part!


Brimfield Calling

September 4, 2013 03:34 PM


A quirky bistro set at Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show was found during our trip in July.

There’s no limit on how many times you can explore the Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Show. That’s a fact. We’ve made the trek to Brimfield, Massachusetts, many times over the years and each trip is downright fun, with row after row, field after field, of antique pieces and vintage curiosities that somehow call to us and find their way into our homes. We looked into our blog archives in preparation, and excitement, of scouting the show this week (it’s through September 8).

About this blog

An insider's look at must-have products, fresh trends, and inspired spaces from the team at Design New England magazine.

Gail Ravgiala is editor of Design New England and a fan of both the region's historic architecture and its growing inventory of modern houses and public buildings.

Courtney Kasianowicz is associate editor of Design New England who scouts the area for new design, charming products, and local artisans both innovative and daring.

Jill Connors, Design New England's editor-at-large, is an antiques maven and design scout and will post about trends and discoveries in the field.

Bruce Irving, Design New England's contributing editor for architecture & building, is a renovation specialist who will share his insights on design and construction.

Estelle Bond Guralnick, Design New England's style & interiors editor, will post about interior design and interior designers and her favorite finds.

Real Estate

Globe Home of the Week
Single floor living in Brockton

Single floor living in Brockton

Royal Barry Wills designed this home located on a cul-de-sac in Brockton's West Side.