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Filtering by Category: Design

Trio of Islands, Poised for Grand Legacy, Hit the Market for $100 Million

fairweather enterprises

A rare trio of islands off the coast of Panama offering 50 pristine beaches stretching along more than 19 miles of the islands’ coastline and encompassing approximately 1800 acres will be introduced to the market for the first time in 35+ years for $100 Million.

The islands are the premiere flagship of Pangea World, a landmark new transnational sustainable development endeavor that will offer the buyer instant status as a global player on the world stage, with access to work directly with heads of state and leading institutions of the highest caliber. Top officials at the United Nations, the National Academy of Sciences, the Smithsonian, heads of state, and business leaders have all endorsed Pangea World.
If you are the lucky owner of the islands, you might build a stunning new private residence and a few luxury, eco-friendly beachfront resorts and use the revenue to fund scientific exploration. This might include exploring the coral off the islands to see if they have medicinal value or scientists surveying the islands and surrounding waters for new species and natural resources. Perhaps it’s looking at how diverse animals have migrated across the Pacific Ocean.
“We aren’t selling a property, we’re selling a legacy,” says Dr. Hana Ayala, who is the visionary and co-seller on the deal.  “The new owner will leave a lasting benefit to the environment and to humanity.”
There’s a precedent for wealthy individuals investing in real estate with ambitious environmental objectives. Oracle founder Larry Ellison spent an estimated $300 to $500 million on a Hawaiian island in 2014 with plans to turn it into “the first economically viable 100% green community.” Ellison envisions a form of sustainable utopia with renewable energy, electric cars and desalination. Leonardo DiCaprio also acquired an island off the coast of Belize, and is now planning to open an eco-resort there.
“It’s very beautiful, it’s applaudable,” says Ayala of these efforts. “What we are doing is in a totally different league.”

As Ayala sees it, the economic development model she is championing can be introduced across the Pacific Island region, as a way of raking in tourism dollars while also protecting unique natural resources and spearheading basic research. 

Her vision and strategy, which have already gained the support of heads of state in the region, are to explore and value the islands' geological and ecological connections with various distant parts of the Pacific Island nations as a foundation for building a transnational knowledge economy.

While Ayala is co-seller and face of the project, the islands are actually owned by German businessman Claus Mittermayer, 57, whose family bought them in the 1970s. A mutual friend connected Ayala with Mittermayer in 2006, at her request. “I sort of intended to have a ten-minute courtesy call, but several hours later we were still talking.” He was so taken with Ayala’s vision he rejected a $30 million offer for one of the islands several years ago, saying he didn’t want it to be turned into an overdeveloped tourist spot. ”The islands are uniquely suited for what Hana has in mind,” says Mittermayer. “It’s the highest and best use of the real estate.”

The islands are being introduced to the market by two exclusive Christie’s International affiliates, the Beverly Hills-based Hilton & Hyland and Christie’s Panamanian-based Panama Premier Estates. To learn more about the islands and Pangea World, please click here

Alex Devol

Mira Dayal

Alex Devol is the master hand behind Wooden & Woven, a "100% Homemade" source for your new favorite home, kitchen, and art pieces. Here he talks about his relationships with materials, tools, and other makers.

By Mira Dayal

Fairweather Magazine: How did you get into woodworking? Who or what were some of your early influences?

Alex Devol: My grandfather got me my first workbench and tools when I was about 5; I don't suppose that really counts, but I do remember quite vividly being in his garage and inspecting each tool with immense fascination. Since then I have taken on a variety of roles and worked with more materials than I could list, and I'm not sure exactly how or why wood seems to have won my affection over all the rest, but It has. It’s not just the material that’s responsible for me becoming a craftsman, though. I have a love of ceramics and sometimes think it could have just as easily been clay in my hands. I think it’s just always been important to me that I’m making things.

FM: From a cooking standpoint, how does using wood products differ from using alternative material products— metal, plastic, and glass, for example?

AD: As a designer, I am fascinated by synthetic and engineered materials. I love learning about new technology. I have a background in sportswear and one of the most fascinating aspects of that industry was the research & development. It’s interesting to see how design can push the performance of material to new places, but despite that my personal preference is always the natural one--cotton & wood over polyester & plastic. Most well-stocked kitchens will have a wooden spoon or spatula. It isn’t as strong as stainless steel, it wont wipe clean as easily as ceramic, but it just feels right to use when you’re making a stir fry! Not that long ago, all the utensils in a kitchen would have been wooden. I see why convenience and ease of production has led us away from it, but for pure aesthetics and pleasure in use there is no comparison for me between wood and metal. There is just something inexplicably warm and soothing about wood which can’t be replicated.

FM: How do you choose your woods? Do you have preferred types for different products?

AD: It’s important to me that all the materials I use are responsibly sourced. Most of the green wood I use comes from local trees in controlled areas which needed to be felled. The timber I use comes from local suppliers I trust to ensure that the process is the most ethical and sustainable it can be from woodland, to sawmill, to me.  Different trees bear wood with different properties, and that makes them most suitable for different products. Sycamore is particularly antibacterial which makes it great for chopping boards which come into contact with raw foods and meat. As with any design, to make a good product, you have to consider the properties of the material you’re going to use--the durability, strength, and weight... It’s no different with wood, but there are some idiosyncratic properties like the grain type and smell. Some woods actually retain a lot of flavour even when dried out and so would affect the taste of a hot drink if used in a cup or one of my coffee cones. 

FM: What are some of your most trusted carving tools? Have you been trying out any new techniques or materials recently?

AD: Most of my tools are either hand-me-downs or things I picked up second hand. I’m about 45 minutes from Sheffield, which is famous for crafting some of the world's best steel. While unfortunately most of that industry has vanished in the past half century, there are a lot of great tools floating around. There are still some incredible artists out there smithing tools, though. I’d say my best carving kit is either made by Nic Westermann, who is still independently making incredible tools, or a set of Japanese Oire Nomi chisels which are so beautifully made that it’s sometimes hard to bring myself to use them.

FM: I love the look of the coffee cones. What other designers or art movements inspire your aesthetic eye?

AD: Most of the makers who inform my own work are ceramicists. I struggle to think of a craft that forms a better relationship between art and utility than pottery. It seems to have always held a perfect balance of functionality and ornamentation, and at the moment that’s the same balance my work sits within. Designers are very fortunate these days since we can just look to a screen for ideas, but the people around you provide your best inspiration and I have been fortunate enough to work with some incredibly talented potters this past year: Romy Northover, Clair Catillaz, Takashi Endoh, Jono Smart… There were actually a lot this year, too many to name, and some have since become good friends. To give a nod to a few master woodworkers, though, I admired the work of George Nakashima and the writings of David Pye, both of whom should be remembered for a very long time.

FM: How long do these handmade pieces take to carve? An Italian Olive Eating Spoon, for example?

AD: The quickest thing I make takes several hours, and the longest can take weeks!

FM: How much do you depend upon the internal qualities of the wood? It seems like, by making each piece from hand, you have relative flexibility in terms of tailoring each piece to the wood you are working with, rather than having a single template you impose on each section.

AD: Yeah, wood is a very active material. As a rule of thumb, the more figure and beauty you can see, the more it will want to have a say in what you can and can’t do with it. Of course, you can disregard that and just wrestle with it with hand tools all day until it does what you want, or you can overpower it with machine tools, but I find it’s much more enjoyable and generally gives better results when you learn to cooperate with it. With dried timber, that could simply be selecting your piece of wood to make a particular item based on what you see in the grain, but when working with a fresh log, a lot of that information is hidden inside and so the process becomes much more collaborative as you chop away to reveal new knots and figure. The grain will often try to guide your axe a little as you make cuts. I really enjoy this; you feel like there is a dialogue between your tools and your material, and while I’ve often wondered if this can be noticed by my customers, I can definitely tell when and where the wood had a say in the design.

FM: What's next? Have you considered expanding the business to partner with other stores or businesses? Will you move more into art, as you have begun to do?

AD: I work with a very select few companies who I have believed in and admired for a long time. I try to keep partnerships with stores and other brands to a couple at a time and chose the projects I’m most interested in that have the most creative and honest intentions. If a store's values are the same as mine then I’ll try to work with them, but as only one pair of hands I have to keep it to a few at a time.

As for the future, for the first time I’m trying not to think about it. I’ve been inclined to think too far ahead in the past and start myself on very long journeys with my career and my personal goals. In retrospect, I think being so focused and specific with my plans may have placed a lot of obstacles in my way which might have been otherwise avoided if I had been more fluid. Wooden & Woven, in contrast, has been completely organic and unplanned. I’m enjoying just seeing where things go and am trying not to chase after anything if it doesn’t come naturally. At the moment, opportunities are finding me and it makes for a nice change for me to just loosen my grip off the steering wheel and see how things develop.

Rebecca van Bergen

Mable Yiu

Rebecca van Bergen in Varanasi, courtesy of Neil Davenport

Rebecca van Bergen in Varanasi, courtesy of Neil Davenport

by Camilla Misiaszek

Rebecca van Bergen is the Founder and Executive Director of Nest, a non-profit committed to helping local artisans sustainably develop their small businesses. She is empowering women, promoting prosperity, and introducing globally inspired designs and materials to the fashion industry. Here, she shares with us her remarkable journey, impact, and travels.

Camilla Misiaszek: What prompted you to start Nest? What was your source of inspiration?

Rebecca van Bergen: I founded Nest when I was 24. It was 2006 and I had just earned my master’s degree in social work from Washington University in my hometown, St. Louis. This was the same year that Muhammad Yunus was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to create economic and social development through microfinance and microcredit. I was drawn to his work, and wanted to explore the opportunities for economic development beyond monetary investment but through training and infrastructure as well. I always knew that as a woman I wanted to support fellow women – I felt and still personally feel, even more so now that I am a mom, that economic independence and family life should not be mutually exclusive. 

An avid traveler, I had noticed that craft was very unique in its ability to create employment opportunities for women while allowing them to care for their children and families. On top of this, the women always seemed to be very happy when working on their craft – it seemed to bring personal joy and the opportunity to connect with others in the community. At the time, sustainable fashion was not a buzzword, so artisans and homeworkers were certainly not a widely discussed issue. I decided to make this my issue. Recognizing that the company I wanted to work for did not yet exist, I entered a business plan competition for social enterprise and to my surprise, I presented my idea for what is now Nest and the $24,000 grand prize funded Nest’s start. 

CM: Please describe how you partner with businesses to provide opportunities for local artisans.

RVB: Nest believes very strongly that change in the artisan sector must come from many directions. Many brands employ artisans and homeworkers in their supply chains. This is incredibly important for artisan groups, because it provides them access to the market, which fuels sales and keeps their businesses strong and growing. Despite how fast-paced and largely mechanized the fashion industry in particular has become, industry estimates indicate that 40% of garment production is likely to be happening in homes, rather than in the four-walled factory setting. Nest is very committed to helping these brands that work with artisans and homeworkers to bring visibility and viability to these complex supply chains. We offer our artisan assessment and programming services to them through a fee-for-service model, and also invite them to source from artisans who have already benefited from Nest business programming. Artisans with whom Nest has assisted have been able to achieve strong sourcing partnerships with cult brands including The Elder Statesman, FEED, West Elm, TSE and many others.

CM: How has Nest impacted local artisans?

RVB: I am so proud to say that Nest’s impact right now is stronger than ever. It grows with each year, and we are just getting started. By bolstering the global craft sector and leveraging a fair capitalist market as the sustainable glue to hold its programming in place, Nest’s goal is to see artisan business growth across all groups reached by Nest programming. In 2015, artisan businesses benefiting from Nest’s services realized an average increase in production of 45% and revenues grew by 76% on average, across the board. Most importantly, this economic growth is trickling down to the individual artisan level year over year. In 2015, Nest artisans saw Nest artisans saw an average increase in staffing of 8% and Nest artisans earn on average 120% more than their national minimum wage. As countless studies show with great proof of concept, when women in developing economies are empowered through employment, they are likely to invest their incomes in family care and community enrichment. For every Nest artisan employed an estimated 20 other lives are impacted including the lives of family members and children as well other people in the craft supply chain.

CM: What is the most memorable place you've traveled to? 

RVB: India has a way of taking hold of something deep within you that never quite leaves. Varanasi in particular is a holy city of death, and yet it is pulsing with life. The food, the colors, the emotions, the passion for family and culture – it is all bold and raw and compelling, just like the craft that comes from the region. In Varanasi, Nest works with handloom silk weavers who have been struggling to keep this 500 year-old tradition alive. Just ten years ago as many as 100,000 Indian handlooms were active, but since the rise of the power loom and the outsourcing of cheap labor to factories, this number has been cut in half. With Nest’s help, we have seen a dramatic increase in awareness and appreciation for the rare handloom technique. Following a design elevation mentorship, our partners in India presented a new contemporary silk collection to luxury fashion brands in Paris, resulting in incorporation of their silks into three Spring 2016 runway collections! It is incredible to be a part of this cultural diffusion and merging of East and West – one of the rare experiences that make Nest’s work so special. While I am able to travel less these days with two young children at home, I look forward to my next trip to India!

CM: What are some of the challenges you've faced as an entrepreneur?

RVB: As an entrepreneur, your company or organization becomes your baby. Your heart and soul are invested in your work, and the lines between personal and professional life can be blurry. By and large, there are meaningful benefits to this synergy. However, I have learned the importance of setting aside time that is reserved exclusively for family and moments of personal repose. I know Nest will always be there waiting for me when I pick back up my work again.

CM: What are your plans for the future?  

RVB: Nest is approaching its ten-year anniversary! As we approach this milestone, we are at an incredible inflection point in our growth as an organization. Over the past ten years, we have learned so much about the complexities of the artisan sector and we have been able to analyze where the greatest challenges and opportunities lie. As we head into the years ahead, we are excited to play a larger role in not only directly servicing artisan businesses, but also in tackling the global sector solutions that plague the craft sector as a whole. These issues include wastewater management during textile dyeing (an issue that creates both environmental and safety concerns), living wage models applicable in the piece rate payment setting, and technology integration for rural or highly decentralized groups. These challenges, and many others that other organizations shy away from, must be solved for the sector as whole in order for the industry to advance. Nest is committed to continually identifying these big picture issues, connecting key industry leaders, and working with these partners to build solutions at scale.

CM: In the spirit of the holidays, what's on your gift-giving list?

RVB: The greatest gift for me is the health and happiness of my family. Believe it or not, that includes my Nest family too – my dedicated team, our philanthropic supporters and volunteers, and the artisans we have the joy of working with. There has been so much pain, suffering, violence, and hurt taking place in the world, that I feel grateful for all the examples of love, compassion and understanding that I encounter daily. Nest stands for these values. 

Nest is also inviting our supporters to gift a $60 holiday donation in honor of someone special for the holidays. All donations will be sent with a beautiful ByBoe 14K gold fill necklace [image below], designed and donated by artist and Nest supporter, Annika Inez. Each delicate necklace is packaged in a Varanasi silk pouch made by our artisan partners in India, and includes a note describing the donation. Handmade in New York, these special gifts fund a 100% donation to Nest, supporting makers around the world. In addition to this, I am always excited to see the holiday offerings from Nest’s partners like West Elm, FEED, and The Elder Statesman, who are committed to a more socially responsible industry and are making gorgeous objects that bring beauty into our lives.

Photos courtesy of Nest.

Alireza Niroomand

Mable Yiu

Photo courtesy of Kat Irlin

Photo courtesy of Kat Irlin

by Mable Yiu

Alireza Niroomand, stylistic eye behind Sant Ambroeus Soho, shares fashion and design insights.

Born in Iran, raised in Paris, and having made New York City his home 12 years ago, Alireza Niroomand is the charismatic manager behind the fashion establishment. He's also the reason why the restaurant has attracted waves of celebrities and developed a stylish following. Niroomand is not only an expert in the hospitality industry, but has also made fashion part of his lifestyle by working with brands such as Kate Spade, where he was photographed for her fall campaign. We asked him about his experience working with such brands.

It's been a true honor! And very inspiring. The best part is that I got to meet most of the artists I ever dreamed to meet...The whole experience has been rather surreal. I am very grateful.

The famous plate wall at Sant Ambroeus Soho. Photo courtesy of Sant Ambroeus.

The famous plate wall at Sant Ambroeus Soho. Photo courtesy of Sant Ambroeus.

What are your future plans?

The plan for the future is no plan, which I believe is the best plan. I leave room for spontaneity, which has been very effective thus far!

The Art of Living

fairweather enterprises

By Alexandra Fairweather & Lisa Graham

As real estate experts, we regularly visit the beautiful homes of tastemakers and movers and shakers. We have learned that there is truly an "Art of Living" that should be explored, studied, and ultimately mastered. Recently, we spoke with the beautiful Yesim Philip, former professional Turkish basketball player and founder of the luxury sport clothing line, L'Etoile Sport, at her gorgeous Upper East Side home to discuss how her lifestyle is a direct expression of who she is.

How did L’Etoile Sport come about?

Sports have been part of my life since I was six years old. I started playing tennis actively about five years ago and I couldn’t find clothes that were stylish enough to wear on and off the court. So L’Etoile Sport was born in November of 2011 before fitness apparel had become the new “sportswear.” Now sports are having a huge influence on women’s fashion.

Do you find that your experiences as a professional basketball player in Turkey have influenced your line?

I guess, playing basketball professionally made me aware of athletic clothing and what I need to perform better. I lived in these clothes 24/7, so it was important to create something feminine, functional, yet still elegant and classic.

What are the inspirations for your line?

I take things that are basic, integral parts of everyday life, then mix and mold them together so they are simple but at the same time completely different. So everyday clothes inspire me.

What are you most looking forward to with your new line?

Every season is exciting but I am most ex- cited completing a collection and finding perfection. I design for tennis, golf, launching activewear and cashmeres to complete the collection. Having all the parts of the collection in sync with one another is the fun part of it. My ultimate goal is to continue creative work and build a collection that stays true to my brand identity.

How do you define “The Art of Living ” and how have you expressed it in your home?

I believe in simplicity, timeless elegance, and perfection. I try to create that in my apartment with simple decor but jazz it up with my art. I want my art to pop out, not to disappear in a jungle of furniture. I try to balance the values of innovation and tradition, if that makes sense.

Do you have a favorite feature of your apartment?

Benches under Jenny Holzer photographs. My husband thought at first they were mismatched, but he loves them now.

How would you define your style?

I think my style represents simplicity with timeless elegance.

Do you find that your line, L’Etoile Sport, influences your design at home?

I feel like they are the same. I like simplicity with a modern twist yet still classic.

Do you have a favorite piece of art in your apartment?

I love a Louisa Fishman painting in our living room and Jenny Holzer photographs.

Do you have advice for people who are designing their home?

It is important to have your own touch in every aspect of the design of your home. Even though you may get help from a designer, make sure that designer shares the same point of view as you.

Do you have a favorite neighborhood in New York City?

It will sound like a cliché and not cool, but I love my current neighborhood and love being close to Central Park.

Why did you decide to live on the Upper East Side?

We used to live in the West Village, but when I got pregnant with our second child and found out it was going to be boy, we decided to move closer to the park so he can enjoy the free space it offers.

What are your favorite spots on the Upper East Side?

Central Park, Central Park, Central Park. I am heavily involved with the Central Park Conservancy and without the park I'm not sure if many of us would still be living in the city.

Space Hotel

fairweather enterprises

EVAN HUGHES on how it feels to be selected as Virgin Galactic’s preferred hotel for future Spaceport astronauts

The folks at Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces in southern New Mexico have been busy lately. Well, wouldn’t you be if you had been named a “space hotel” where future astronauts would reside before taking to the sky and beyond?

Facelift Before Liftoff

A series of renovations and improvements— including private VIP areas, customized room-service menus and concierge services, and upgraded rooms and suites—are in progress as Hotel Encanto prepares for Spaceport America astronauts, part of Virgin Galactic’s ambitious plan to take passengers into space. To date, Virgin Galactic has more than 500 reservations by future astronauts, totaling more than $70 million in deposits. (To learn more about the exciting Virgin Galactic program, turn to “New Heights,” page 12.) Rooms and suites are being remodeled by designer Adriana Long with marble bathrooms, custom-built cabinetry, and artisanal furniture. “The new guest room design reflects the culturally rich style of the hotel along with an adventurous and contemporary attitude,” Long has noted. “The design will be timeless and luxurious.”

Renovations in anticipation of Spaceport America are not limited to the hotel’s interior. Hotel Encanto’s already-impressive exterior is experiencing upgrades as well, such as additional poolside terrace rooms and outdoor spaces thanks to Greg Trutza, an award-winning landscape artchitect. Guests will have access to more than 2,500 square feet of gardens, patios, terraces, balconis, fire pits, and fountains.

Worldwide Welcome

“Future astronauts will come from around the world to New Mexico, so it’s important that they experience the outstanding local offerings and character as part of their experience,” says Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides. “By partnering with Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces, we further our vision of investing in the local New Mexico community while we define the Virgin Galactic Astronaut experience.”

Heritage Hotels & Resorts is a collectionof culturally distinct hotels and the largest independent hotel chain in New Mexico. To learn more about Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces and other Heritage Hotels & Resorts, visit

The Brand of You

fairweather enterprises

By Evan Hughes

We caught up with Delisha Grant, attorney and expert on self-branding, for some tips on building your personal brand.

For someone just getting started, what is the best way to start identifying what their “brand” is?

It is important to consider three key components: Talent—What are you insanely good at? Passion—What would get you out of bed in the morning even if you were not paid to do it? Unique identifiers—What characteristic(s) separate you from the pack and would make people stop and take notice? The multimedia age that we live in is really a blessing and a curse. Technology and new media have made it much easier to gain access to a target demographic, but at the same time, the market is almost always flooded with other brands competing for the same target audience’s attention. Cutting through noise and establishing your niche takes immense dedication and consistency. It is not an overnight process. I have found that those who can settle into the area where talent, passion, and uniqueness intersect are much more likely to stay the course and build a sustainable brand.

Is blogging still of interest to recent grads?

I think blogging is here to stay. It is a great way to pique (and keep) public interest and have a “voice” on the Internet. But, blogging only brings benefit when it’s done correctly. If the purpose of blogging is to grow a brand and expand its audience, new posts must be frequent—once per week at minimum. I haven’t even mastered this yet, but I have seen it work for others. Those who are intrigued by your content will crave more of it, and the moment they realize that you blog sporadically is the moment they will inevitably stop being very attentive. It is worth noting that once your blog is established and has a substantial following, the frequency is a lot less important. Also of importance—what blogging was 10 years ago is very different from what it is today. Gone are the days when blog posts had to be several paragraphs to be taken seriously. It is no secret that our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. I think this is partially why micro-blogging sites like Tumblr have become so popular. Brevity rules the day. This doesn’t mean that lengthy blog posts are a no-go (I’m still a fan of well-written articles that look more like an op-ed piece than a twitter update). It just means that the content must be pretty informative and/or inspiring if you want people to keep reading beyond the first 250 words. Lastly, blogging creates a very unique opportunity to significantly expand your audience overnight. Video isn’t the only thing that can go viral. There are countless stories of bloggers whose popularity skyrocketed by way of one post landing in front of the right set of eyes. You never know when your content may be shared by the right person or picked up by a major media outlet and result in thou- sands or even millions of new readers flocking to your blog.

What role can/should video play in branding yourself?

Video is incredibly important in branding yourself, and probably the component that people are slowest to adopt. Appearing on camera can create a level of unwanted vulnerability that can be avoided in other branding elements like blogging. However, this is precisely why video is so effective. It reveals the person behind the brand, or confirms that the person and the brand are really one and the same. This is some- thing audiences seem to be more and more interested in. It makes you “human” and gives your personality and quirks an opportunity to shine through. When done correctly, it can lead to viewers falling in love with you as a person and supporting your associated brand(s) for that reason alone. Social media also makes “guerrilla” style videography completely acceptable. Who says you need an expensive camera and an experienced editor to connect with current and prospective fans through this medium? Just get started, even if it means taping on your smartphone. If you generate a significant following, a media partner may come along and foot the bill for a more sophisticated setup.

Unforgettable Fixtures

fairweather enterprises

Continuing the tradition of beautiful design wedded to everyday utility established by his legendary grandfather, Sherle Wagner, EVAN GEOFFROY guides the family company, Sherle Wagner International, into exciting new aesthetic territory. Fairweather contributor Katherine Vogel sat down with Geofroy for a peek behind the scenes at the always surprising luxury fixtures company.

What are Sherle Wagner International’s main influences?

Architecture. The design, the shape, and the history of architecture give us all an understanding of where we have come from, where we are going, and where we should be headed.

Does a signature Sherle Wagner product come to mind?

The dolphin basin set was the original Sherle Wagner fitting—dating back to 1945. This set embodies the history, elegance and hand craftsmanship that define the brand. But my grandfather Sherle Wagner’s personal passion was for the geometric, forward thinking designs of the 1960s and ’70s. The Arco basin set was introduced to the line very recently, and as a contemporary departure from the deco styles my grandfather loved so much, I think this set embodies both the legacy and the future.

What unique processes does Sherle Wagner employ in the manufacturing stages?

Our pieces are made by hand from start to finish by a skilled team of artisans in Fall River, Massachusetts. We use processes that most manufacturing companies believe to be too time-consuming. We embrace these processes and cherish the outcome.

What trends are you noting lately?

I think there is a renewed appreciation for the classical. We seem to have moved beyond the minimalist trend. Our clients seem particularly attuned to living with objects of interest, not that everything need be over the top, but certainly featured items should come with intrigue.

Where do you see tastes headed?

I strongly feel that fashion and design represent a deference to originality that transcends trend. Particularly in one’s own home, stylistic decisions have to last the test of time and show individuality and expression.

What advice can you give for someone undertaking a renovation project?

I think that renovating is a journey, not a destination. Of course we all want to see the final product, but if you approach renovation from the standpoint that your ideas will change and evolve, the process itself becomes more enjoyable. I also recommend making a short list of what you cannot live without and work around that. You are better of knowing where you will not compromise than ending up lukewarm on everything.

How often do you think one should replace fixtures or redecorate?

In practicality, most people renovate when they must. But given a choice—wait until you are inspired!

Do clients shop differently for a vacation home than for a full-time or primary residence?

I think for their full-time home, a client will cater to their particular personal style but with functionality in mind. A client shopping for fixtures for a vacation home tends to be looking for a space designed for an escape from everyday life, a more laid-back atmosphere with the overall feel of the home while staying true to their style.

How do you see your style? How would you describe your own tastes?

I am inspired by architecture, the clean structural lines and the geometric shapes seen all over the world, this molds my style to have an elegance and simplicity.

How would you describe your home’s aesthetic?

I have just recently moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and as the old saying goes, “The son of the shoemaker has no shoes.” I have not yet begun renovations. With my Tribeca loft, I kept with the mid-century modern aesthetic based on my grandfather’s design from the early 1960s. In the bathroom, I chose white onyx slabs that have a translucent glow. I felt as though they absorbed and reflected the fixtures. I designed the space with details that I truly loved and I will do the same in my new home.

What are some fond memories you have of growing up around Sherle Wagner?

Growing up around Sherle Wagner, I learned about passion. My grandfather was famous for saying “That is the best, now how can we make it better.” He instilled in me the philosophy that passion is the key to success—both in business and in life.

The Art of Living

fairweather enterprises

As real estate experts, we regularly visit the beautiful homes of tastemakers and movers and shakers. We have learned that there is truly an "Art of Living" that should be explored, studied, and ultimately mastered. Recently, we spoke with Gagosian Gallery's power gallerist, Kara Van Der Weg, and the executive director of The Drawing Center, Brett Littman, at the couple's gorgeous NYC home to discuss how their lifestyle is a direct expression of who they are.

By Alexandra Fairweather & Lisa Graham

Photographs by Carrie Buell


How do you define “The Art of Living” and how have you expressed it in your home?

We’ve tried to create a living space that reflects who we are—our tastes, our friendships, the fact that we are both creative people—and feels special, so that it is a pleasure for us to come home.

Do you have a favorite feature of your apartment?

The leaded glass windows really convinced both of us that it was the apartment for us.

How would you define your style?

Eclectic and concise—living in New York, we don’t have lots of things because there is never enough space, so what we do have around us really matters.

As leading figures in the art world, do your passion and expertise infuence your design at home?

Our friendships with artists really infuence what we have in our apartment. That and our travels—we love a good souvenir.

Do you have a favorite piece of art in your apartment?

Everything has a meaningful story. But the pieces with some personal history are especially important to us. We have Turkish tables and shelving from Brett’s grandmother, who sold antique replicas, and on the shelves are a few pieces of my father’s pottery.

Do you have advice for people who are interested in building an art collection in their home?

Always be on the lookout for pieces that you love. Also, you can build a great collection with a very modest budget. Some of the artworks we own have been acquired at charity auctions and from memberships where you pay a fee and get a new artwork once a year. Brett used to be the director of Dieu Donne, and they have a wonderful program that promotes emerging artists.

Could you talk about your extensive pottery collection?

That collection is always evolving, and growing. Building it is something that we really enjoy doing when we are traveling and at antique stores around the U.S., especially. It started with Brett’s interest in mid-century design, and now we have plates to feed at least six dozen people. Russell Wright’s American Modern series, Tamac, and Raymor are a few of our favorites. We both enjoy cooking, and when we have dinner parties we select the plates to suit the food.

What year was your apartment built?

How did the year it was built infuence your design choices? 1929 by Rosario Candela. Previously we lived in a factory building that had been converted to condos in the 1980s, and our style was much more modern. Here we felt that we had to fit the era while not making it feel like we were living in a time warp.

Do you have a favorite neighborhood in New York City?

That is tough to answer! We are really enjoying getting to know our neighborhood, which is variously defined as Lincoln Square and Upper West Side. Downtown, in Soho, is where The Drawing Center is located, so Brett spends a lot of time there. And we lived in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, for 10 years— that neighborhood evolved tremendously during the time we were there. There are so many small local restaurants and shops there that are fun to explore.

Why did you decide to live on the Upper West Side?

The Upper West Side found us. It just happened that this was where we found an apartment that felt right, but it seems that it is, in fact, a perfect area for us. We are both within a short distance of our jobs—I walk across Central Park every morning to Gagosian Gallery on the Upper East Side. It’s a pretty fabulous commute. And we love being within walking distance of half a dozen major museums.

What are your favorite spots on the Upper West Side?

The Leopard, which is across the street from us in the Hotel des Artistes, is a restaurant with really delicious Italian food in a beautiful, atmospheric setting. They have the original Howard Chandler Christy murals that he began painting for the Cafe des Artistes in the 1930s—Marcel Duchamp and Isadora Duncan used to eat there! Epicerie Boulud is great for a quick coffee or a glass of wine, and the pastries are delicious. Having Lincoln Center in our backyard is a huge luxury—we can walk to world-class opera or symphony performances in a matter of minutes. And I could go on all day about all the things I love about living near Central Park. It is one of my favorite places in the city.

Inspiring Spaces

fairweather enterprises

by Evan Hughes    

From luxury home design to high-end commercial development, the award-winning visionaries at workshop/apd are remaking the way New Yorkers think about design. 

NYC-based design firm workshop/apd made a splash in 2006 when it won the Sustainable Design Competition for New Orleans, sponsored by Brad Pitt and Global Green USA. The firm’s founders, Andrew Kotchen and Matthew Berman, not only helped bring affordable, sustainable living options to the Crescent City in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, but also caught the attention of all of us who care about contemporary architecture and design. Their crafted modern aesthetic continues to shape the way forward-thinking New Yorkers choose to live, and the team has been named one of the Top 15 Architects to Watch by Residential Architect and one of the Top 50 Architectural Designers by New York Spaces.

The firm continues to break exciting new aesthetic ground: Its latest venture into hospitality, L’Apicio Restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village, welcomes diners with a warm atmosphere; Casa Moderne is an eye-popping 10-story ground-up luxury residential condominium project on the High Line; and City Beach seeks to make a decidedly more literal splash—conceived by Blayne Ross and designed by workshop/apd, it is a floating beach barge with a Kickstarter program in place to bring the innovative project to the Hudson River. In addition to luxury residences and commercial developments, workshop/apd also brings a playfully crafted aesthetic to custom and signature products, such as The Birdhouse, designed as part of a fundraiser for Madoo Conservancy in Sagaponack.

With luxury residences representing a major portion of the company’s many projects, I asked Kotchen how they get started “collaborating” with apartment- and homeowners on a renovation. “We cultivate information from a visual process with each client, which ends up being very revealing not only for us, but also for our clients,” he says. “We try to understand both what they desire in a new space while also establishing what their needs are.” 

To learn more, visit