Archive | September, 2010

Project UDesign- Sustainable AND Sexy?

25 Sep

Project UDesign.  Simply put, it’s a brilliant concept. BiOH® polyols Project UDesign teamed up  with Century Furniture, and Toray Eco-Design Ultrasuede and challenged 15 Savannah College of Art and Design students to create an upholstered wing chair that would be both sustainable and salable.  The contest with the help of YOU will crowdsource “the next generation sustainable wing chair.”  That’s right, you get to vote on who should win. None of the participating partners have any input in who wins, only you the voting public does.  I love it.

And here’s the beauty of it—each participant is contributing a very important factor to this wing chair. BiOH® polyols are soy-based ingredients that replace a portion of petroleum chemicals for flexible foam in products you use daily – furniture, mattresses, carpet cushion, and more. For every 1 million pounds of BiOH’s soy polyol ingredient sold to the major foam manufacturers, 84,000 barrels of petroleum are saved.

Toray Ultrasuede (America), Inc. (TUA) is announcing the debut of EcoDesign™, an environmentally responsible line of products that utilize 100% recycled ultra-microfiber that will be used to upholster the chair.

Century Furniture, a leading manufacturer that produces incredible furniture including collections from Oscar De la Renta and Kelly Hoppen will manufacture the winning chair!

And of course, the talented and fortunate student designers from Savannah College of Art and Design will contribute the winning design. You can see videos of students and their designs here.

I find all this incredibly exciting and hope you will take the time to vote.

What does the winning designer receive?

1.$1000 from BiOH immediately
2. Their winning design will be produced and put into Century’s regular line up for intro at the Spring 2011 High Point Market.
3. The winning student will be paid royalties by Century on all sales of their winning chair once it’s produced.
4. A lot of publicity!

How can you vote?

There are currently 6 designs and 5 semi-finalist students. Between now and Oct. 3rd at 11: 59 pm, all can vote for the 3 finalists.   They will be selected only by those who vote online and the 3 finalists will be announced on Monday, Oct. 4th on  

The voting for the three finalists announced on Oct. 4th will end at 11: 59pm , Tuesday, Oct. 19th and that person who has the most votes will win. The winner will be chosen only by online votes. It is completely the public’s choice so don’t forget to put in your 2 cents.

The winner will be announced at High Point Market on Wednesday, Oct. 20th in the Century Courtyard at the start of Withit’s student mentoring day-approx. 9:15 am.

Now, I have to admit, I was quite impressed by all 6 designs, but one really stood out to me:  The Alifair Chair by Ryland Quillen. It is a sensual silhouette, a mixture of modern and traditional lines with an innovative use of cut-outs in the wings.  I find an understated and sophisticated glamour to it, which if you know me, you know I’m sold!  Here’s what Ryland had to say about his design…

Alifair is shown here upholstered in Charcoal Ultrasuede with contrasting Black Onyx piping. The legs on the chair are tapered and shown in dark mahogany. Alifair will utilize Cargill’s environmentally conscious BiOH foam.

“I thought about the concept of a wing chair, the wings providing comfort and a sense of enclosure. I realized, however, that if the wings are too imposing, they can block vision to the right and left when sitting in the chair. To cope with this, I decided to employ cut offs, creating a window large enough to see to either side when sitting. The gently swooping curve on either side suggests the feeling of warmth and comfort without hindering sight.”

I find this incredibly insightful because Wing chairs, which first appeared in English manor homes somewhere around the 17th century, were often called fireside chairs, and for good reason.  Their design was perfect for enjoying the warmth of a fire while your back and sides were protected from chilly drafts.

Wings were a practical design element, especially before we had indoor heating to depend on and didn’t have to rub two sticks together to heat ourselves.  But, nowadays we have the advantage to be more social during the colder months instead of shivering behind the wings of our chair!  The open wing concept acknowledges the warmth and comfort of the original design while embracing modern technology, our need to be social and they also make it easier to see if the killer is coming!  Okay, I jest,  maybe not the killer (I’ve seen a few too many horror movies),  but it IS nice to see the world around you while feeling warm and cozy.  Besides the practicality of the design, let’s be real… I think the sensual curves of the wings are just stunning.

Shown in Kagan Red Ultrasuede

I chose the Alifair as my favorite for all of these reasons but most importantly it was the chair that I could best envision in our home and in The Century Furniture Collection.  In my inspiration board, I chose to demonstrate this by not only using pieces that I would personally own  (and some I already do),  and mix in some of the beautiful furnishings already existing from the Century line–The Signature Sofa (upper left)  and “The Classics” Drawer Chest (bottom center). The Alifair is an effortless fit,  blending beautifully with the other pieces and even adding a little extra modern flair.   Of course,  I had to throw in a dash of  Zia-Priven lighting to up the glam quotient–The Solano Chandelier and The Omega Table lamp , which are both housed with a choice of energy efficient low voltage LED’s, Halogen or CFL bulbs.

Please click on the photo to enlarge.

The Charcoal grey UltraSuede was the perfect tone for me, especially with the black piping.  I chose to pair it with a deep magenta and dark taupe with accents of gold and white. I find the color combination  smokey and sexy, yet timeless and classic. Moving clockwise, I chose the delicious plum and cream “Feather” rug by Thomas Paul, a shapely Laura Kirar Jolie Mirror for Baker and a vintage Fornasetti plate (it can  also be purchased new here).  The Gold Rorschach painting by Andy Warhol is my new obsession (if you’ve been reading this blog,  you’ll know I plan to do my own for our Living Room… I know, yet another project…).  And to prove that good design can be affordable, the graphic brown wallpaper is by Target (called Mode Illusion) and the Norwall Colored Plains wallpaper is by Lowes.

This was my take on my favorite chair from the competition, what’s yours?  Take a moment and check out all 6 chairs and vote for your favorite–you’ll make one design student very happy and get a chance to take a peek at the exciting new direction in eco-friendly design.  Remember, you can only vote online-

If you have the opportunity, please check out Wanda S. Horton’s Interior Concepts and Maybelline Te’s Frou La La blog entries about Project UDesign and see what chairs they selected.  They have some fab ideas, great input and insightful comments about the competition and green design plus some beautiful inspiration boards!


ZP featured on UK blog, Scarlet Opus

17 Sep

We are quite honored to be featured today on the UK design blog for Scarlet Opus! Scarlet Opus is a trend forecasting company specializing in the Interiors sector and led by the beautiful and talented Victoria Redshaw.  Their mission is to give practical and accurate insight into tomorrow’s design trends to a host of clients that include Product Designers, Interior Designers, Manufacturers, Retailers, and Buyers.  The information is quite refreshing and extensive, showcasing design from all over the world.

What I particularly enjoyed was the demonstration, through photos, of the impact a Zia-Priven fixture has once it’s been added to a setting.

Ingrid Pendant detail

Our Ingrid Pendant and Waterfall featured in Anastasia of Beverly Hills

Another shot in Anastasia of Beverly Hills

You can see the whole post complete with tons of photos at the Scarlet Opus site.  Thank you Victoria and Phil for including us!

Beautiful Blogger Award

15 Sep

We are thrilled and honored to have been presented The Beautiful Blogger Award by the lovely Sharon and Yvonne of Layers and Layers. Layers and Layers is a wonderful design resource showroom in Vancouver, BC, with a whole host of design services available. On top of that, they are simply refreshing, funny and excellent at what they do. Take a peek at their blog and Yvonne and Sharon on Twitter to see what I mean.

Now that the “Beautiful Blogger Award” has been presented to us, we must adhere to the requirements… We must reveal  “10 things you didn’t know about Zia-Priven”. We’ll try not to shock our gentle readers too much…lol, and save the juicy stuff for Vanity Fair (when they ask…), but for now here goes…

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Zia-Priven

1. We are both originally from the movie business; Marcia was a Production Designer and Emmy-nominated Set Decorator and Paul was an Assistant Director who worked on some pretty big name films.  Some better than others…We met while working on one of Terrence Howard’s first films called–brace yourself–“Love Beat the Hell Outta Me.”  Yes, “Outta.”  Two t’s. I have to admit, the movie wasn’t too bad, and it was quite a thrill to watch Terrence work, but best of all this is where the “Zia” and the “Priven” first met.  Thanks, Terrence!
via IMDB

2. We absolutely love an adventure and traveling is one of our favorite ways to find one.  It can be across the world, country or street–finding the beauty in the ordinary as well as the extraordinary keeps our creativity flowing and our hearts happy.

via Zia-Priven

3. Paul is very talented and has played classical piano since he was 6 years old.via RayLuck

4. We thoroughly enjoy Interior Design and Decoration ourselves beyond  lighting and have done it for friends and family for years.  After all, set decorating was Marcia’s first love!  We’ve been working on our home since January with plans for before and after reveals on The Studio Luxe and possibly in a design publication (keep your fingers crossed!).  We’re considering branching out in the near future…

Jamie Drake Interior via apartment therapy

5. When we moved to NY to really launch our company, we had nothing but the contents of our 15 ft. U-Haul, $1500, our 2 cats and each other.  We drove across the country with kitties serenading us the whole way, to an apartment in Brooklyn we had never laid eyes on.  Once there, we hit the ground running, out of excitement, fear and, frankly, pure adrenaline. Now, that was an adventure and the reason why our hearts will always belong to NYC. The old adage is true, “If you can make it there…”

via thelovemagazineblog

6.  We enjoy cooking together when we get a chance.  We find it relaxing and it’s a different way to express our creativity…that’s delicious too!

via Luxist

7. We design lighting for other companies as well as our own, specifically Stonegate Designs and Robert Abbey, Inc. and were instrumental in helping to win the Arts Award (the most prestigious award in lighting design) for Stonegate with our Mercer Chandelier in 2009.  P.S. We’re also their top-selling designers and thrilled to hold the title!

Mercer Chandelier via Stonegate Designs

8. Marcia studied Fine Art in college, painted for many years and still does when she finds the time. She’s planning a huge, 10ft Rorshach for our living room after seeing Warhol’s version at MOMA. No, we’re not kidding.

via bluetravelguide

9. We LOVE Aretha Franklin and have for as long as I can remember. One of the best concerts we ever saw was Aretha at the Apollo Theatre, chill inducing and absolutely unforgettable!

via myhoustonmajic

10. This is something very dear to us and much more important than anything listed above.  After many years of wanting a child, we’ve started the process of adoption and are about to embark on finding the right match for us–we are thrilled and humbled by the thought of finally having a little one in our lives.

via flickr

So, that’s it, 10 things you may not have known about Zia-Priven… Now, in the spirit of the Beautiful Blogger Award, it is my duty and pleasure to pass it on. The award is presented to bring about awareness to blogs you may not already known of and these are some great ones. Let’s hope this talented group of ladies will have the time to share a few secrets of their own…

Barbara Segal of Noir Blanc Design
Erika Ward of BluLabel Bungalow
Karen Young of Hammocks and High Tea
Susan Hutchinson of Fleurishing

Enjoy and good reading!


Eco-Designer Kelly LaPlante Launches Standard Magazine

8 Sep

Leading interior designer Kelly LaPlante, who taught the design community that “green is a standard, not a style” is raising the bar once again. Sustainability now represents only a single component in LaPlante’s ever-evolving criteria– a criteria which will illuminate this fall with the launch of LaPlante’s first periodical publication,  Standard.

The February 2010 issue of Traditional Home Magazine names LaPlante among theTwenty Young Designers to Watch.” Her work has also been published in magazines such as Elle, Vanity Fair Online, California Home and Design, Blackbook, Interior Design, Hospitality Design, Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Magazine . She regularly appears as an expert on programs including Sundance Channel’s The Lazy Environmentalist and Big Ideas for a Small Planet, Discovery Home Channel’s Greenovate, Good Day New York, KTLA News, Good Day Dallas, Good Day Atlanta, and Martha Stewart Radio. LaPlante was also the executive producer of “Brilliant Green,” a special for Ovation TV which aired in January of 2009.       

LaPlante’s first book, écologique (benefitting The Blank Theatre Company and Global Green USA) was released in 2008. She is co-founder of jak, a luxury eco-furniture collection designed in collaboration with designer James Saavedra.        

I am thrilled to share this conversation with Designer Kelly LaPlante, known for her “Green” design long before it was cool to be eco-friendly.  Today her new online magazine, Standard debuts and I’m sure it’ll make a definitive mark in the publishing world.  Kelly’s work ethic is astounding;  juggling family, interiors,  furniture design, a book and now an online magazine and amazingly, she happens to be one of the nicest people around.  Hope you enjoy her interview as well as the fabulous
Standard magazine!       

TSL:  Kelly, congratulations on the launch of  Standard Magazine! You must be very excited—what exactly inspired you to start the magazine and what kind of content can we look forward to?        

KLP:  I just felt it was time for a magazine where sustainability is not touted as a special feature.  For a long time I have been saying “green is a standard, not a style” and I got to the point where I felt like green should just not be special anymore… it should be bottom-baseline criteria.  And journalism runs deep in my blood so I guess it was only a matter of time before a publication came into my circle of projects.       


Kelly’s original Venice Beach loft       

TSL: I’ve had a sneak peek at the magazine already and it’s quite exiting! I love your manifesto–design should be captivating, timeless, built to last and, of course, produced in a way that honors people and the planet. What originally captured your interest in green design— did a shift occur or was it something you’ve been conscious about from the beginning?       

KLP: When I started my design company I was just out of college.  I’d been working at some very high-end firms through school and I was so young and broke that it always made me want to cry to see the beautiful things that our clients would be throwing out in order to facilitate a new design.  So when I started with clients of my own, I always worked in what was existing.  I didn’t know that I was being “green,” at the time, but I started thinking then about how else things could be re-used and then, a few years later, the design industry started evolving and before I knew it I had sustainable NEW materials to work with (that was amazing to me!)  12 years later, I feel like it is SO easy to design sustainably.       


Lexus Hybrid Suite Washington DC

TSL:  What would you say is the biggest misconception of eco-friendly living out there and can you offer any tips to being more eco-friendly?        

KLP:  I think people still think that eco is a style, which cracks me up.  I’ve designed sustainably for clients with incredibly diverse tastes.  My best tip is to really evaluate what you already own and how you can use it.  Nothing is more green than not buying anything new.  In the premiere issue we have a feature about two friends who moved in together and did not buy one new thing, even though they are both total design-aficionados.  They just used what they had and it was incredible. 

  Private Residence Hancock Park      

TSL:  Nothing could be easier or more cost-effective than not buying something new, but it seems impossible to be completely “green” in this modern world. What’s the least “green” item in your home that you can’t seem to let go of?   

  My 16 month old.  He wears disposable diapers but I cannot let him go.       

TSL:  Ha!  I’m sure he’s worth hanging onto, even with the disposable diapers! You know, you’re always referred to and revered as an eco-friendly designer, but apart from that, you’re really an incredible designer, eco or not.  What would you say most influences your aesthetic?       

KLP:  I suppose it is the same things that affect us all… politics, music, art, fashion, world events, nature.  I let these influences run around in my head until they collide into one another and create unexpected combinations.  I love a good juxtaposition and to infuse a little bit of humor in my work.       

Lexus Hybrid Suite, San Francisco     

TSL:  The thoughtfulness in your work shows. I find so many of the rooms quite beautiful, yet very livable and I love that so many outside influences inspire you. Who in the design world inspires you? 

   I am more interested in what my contemporaries are doing than in what my predecessors did…. I’m not sure why that is.  James Saavedra is one of the most brilliant and detail oriented designers working today.  Erica Islas is amazing at space planning and customizing to make the most of every square inch.  Vanessa DeVargas and David Jimenez both do beautiful rooms that are always brimming with vintage pieces.  I love to collaborate and pick the brains of other designers.  We are all sort of out in this brave new world together and I’m glad to have them to bounce things off of.
TSL:  That’s wonderful that you can be so collaborative, I think we can all learn so much from each other.  I learned something about you I didn’t know while  researching this interview! I was fascinated to find out you did the home office of Heather “Dooce” Armstrong in 2007—that must have been a blast—how was that experience? 

   That was incredibly fun.  I met Heather and Jon through my brother who is a journalist in Salt Lake City where they live.  It was a quick turn around—we were doing the design for inclusion in my book and we were on a deadline—and so we all got to know each other really quickly (and over many drinks!)

Private Residence Hancock Park       

TSL:  You graciously contributed your time to The Upward Bound House Family Shelter in Culver City by designing one of the rooms.  What were some of the trials and tribulations?
Upward Bound House is a Santa Monica-based agency, which provides transitional housing for homeless families with children. The project united some of L.A.’s most well known designers to makeover an 18 unit converted motel in Culver City. All designers gave freely of their own time and worked with a minimal budget and donated items. Zia-Priven is proud to have been one of the contributors providing lighting for many of the rooms.)       

KLP:  Lack of budget, lack of running water, lack of electricity and a two-week long rainstorm.  It was such an incredible experience, though.  I would do it again in a heartbeat.       

Upward Bound House        

TSL:  Alright, time for the fun questions…Can you name 3 living people you’d love to have dinner with?       

KLP:  Richard Branson, Barack and Michelle Obama (I’m counting them as one but I really want them both to be there) and an incredibly powerful and unapologetically self-actualized woman like Madonna or Angelina Jolie (whomever will be the most forth-coming.)       

TSL:  Nice choices. I have to respect a woman secure enough to sit down with Madonna or Angelina!  What is the worst thing a client has ever requested?         

KLP:  That I listen to all of the ideas her friends and (non-immediate) family had for the house.          

  Private Residence Silverlake       

TSL:  Oh my. I can’t imagine how you got past that. Touchy situation.  The next question is a bit easier… or is it? If you had only $100 to spend on something for your home—besides paint—what would you buy?       

KLP:   I’d pay the piano tuner to come out for an hour to work on our 1928 baby grand.        

Great piece to have… And if you only had $20?     

KLP:  A big white phalaenopsis.  They last so much longer than cut flowers and need almost no maintenance.

TSL:  Can you envision where you see yourself in 5 years?  

   I suppose I’ll be due for another re-invention/ evolution of myself and my career.  I think that is important to do every 5 years or so.  I’m in the middle of that now with launching the magazine, a show in development and re-locating the companies and my family to Austin.  Five years from now this will all have evolved into something that is greater than I could ever imagine.  Maybe I’ll be ready to tackle another country…
TSL:  Or run one!  Well Kelly, I wish you and Standard magazine the best of luck, not that you need it. Thank you so much for the interview.Don’t miss 5 Twestions with Kelly!
It’s my homage to Craig Kilborn and the old Daily Show (though I’ve learned he’s back on the air with a new show)  “5 Twestions” are intended to be fun, fast and furious and yes, tongue in cheek!  They’re ONLY for the Twitter crowd–they will NOT appear on the blog–and are a part of every interview.  They will be tweeted at 10am and 6pm Eastern ONLY on the day the interview is first posted.  We tailor them to each person for the most interesting results and each “Twestion” and answer must fit within the 140 characters. Follow us on Twitter and see what happens!

{You can also read Kelly’s blog at or follow her on Twitter at @standard_mag.}