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Friday, January 26, 2018

Danish furniture brand BoConcept brings Hygge Style to New York City

Credit Photo: Leandro Justen

BoConcept, a Danish furniture brand celebrated their opening in Manhattan last week. I was mingling among a high profile crowd. A number of the brand executives, world-renowned designer Karim Rashid, HGTV's John Gidding, fashion designer Asher Levine and friends from Lifestyle brand AphroChic. Scroll down for my interview with Karim Rashid. (OMG!)

Designing a bathroom space for the luxury brand DXV, I am on the pulse of what is Hygge, the Scandinavian word meaning well-being and happiness. BoConcept is a Danish furniture brand that is growing in the U.S. and the brand integrates the Hygge style with a fashionable connection to home comfort and coziness. Look in any magazine right now, Scandinavian design is becoming more mainstream and BoConcept hits the trend of clean lines, seductive curves, muted colors for high end materials. For an urban dweller living in smaller spaces, BoConcept's functional furniture and lighting would work seamlessly for city living.

Credit Photo: Leandro Justen

Scandinavian design focuses on the human experience and it only makes sense that Karim Rashid is connected to the brand. I was able to speak to Rashid and he told me that "Design shapes human experiences and most importantly shapes new behaviors or we address existing behaviors. When we make an experience, use is critical."

Karim Rashid
Credit Photo: Leandro Justen

What an opportunity to get some insights and sit on one of the comfortable BoConcept couches with design icon, Karim Rashid!

What is Home to you?

Home is when I can be in a space where I feel completely at peace. Where I feel very very at peace.

I live right now in an apartment that is 50 square meters which converts to 538 sq feet. I have spent a lot of time in hotels over the past 20 years, I got used to living in small spaces and I realized that I love it. When I come home from a trip, the minute I open the door it feels peaceful.

Living in small spaces, have you designed spaces that transform?

No but everything is really efficient. I have worked with my students with this idea of reconfiguration but essentially no. People think that spaces that move will enhance space but most of the time it just sits there. I like to design space where everything is very efficient, fixed and does its job instead of complicating it with things that move or don't work.

I am seeing a movement of Minimalism with Humanism, do you agree?

Yes exactly. Minimalism is when there is nothing extraneous and is based off of pure geometry. Minimalism of today is not only about form. For example, see the chair with the leg angled back. The leg should never go beyond the back or stick out. Your foot will hit it. Sticking out is more visual and is a product of design from the 50's. Designers tend to think about form. Form doesn't necessarily mean experience.

My hotel designs for example there is no physical corner anywhere. Always rounded corners.

No angled corners ever?


Which hotels?

I just finished a 500 room hotel Tel Aviv and in Amsterdam.

Great, I will have to visit! Before I go, can we take a selfie together?

Karim Rasid and Michele Alfano

More party images!:

GM BoConcept Ben Paciello with BoConcept Team
Credit Photo: Leandro Justen

Jeanine Hays of AphroChicand Michele Alfano

CEO BoConcept Anton van der Putte, HGTV John Gidding, Asher Levine
Credit Photo: Leandro Justen

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Behind the scenes Minneapolis decor shopping experience with DXV

Minneapolis. Image Credit: Ray J. Nelson

Earlier in the year, I had an opportunity to go to Minneapolis to present my modern bathroom design to DXV, the luxury brand of American Standard for the DXV Design Panel 2017. I heard that Minneapolis was a VERY cold city and anticipated the weather with a fur lined coat, a hat and thick gloves; but I didn't foresee walking like a penguin down the ice-skate street conditions. No matter, I truly loved every minute!...I'll be honest, my experience was a bit of a whirlwind and was driven through most of the city but what I did notice was the different scaled neighborhoods. Uptown Minneapolis had lots of restaurants and bars that seemed to bustle with activity. I personally was more attracted to the Warehouse district and the Northeast Arts District because of its creative vibe. 

Sinclair Depot where Kendall Photographs makes 
the DXV Design Panel magic happens!

If I actually thought about leaving NYC and moving to Minneapolis, I would think about Loft Living in the NorthEast district. Loft living has that edgy feel with tall ceilings, and walls of glass like the Minneapolis Madison Loft location. Image below.

Credit: Abodo

I think that's why I felt at home when us designers on the #DXVDesignPanel 2017 had to give a presentation at the MPLSPhoto Center in the Northwind Lofts.  The center is located in the Hawthorne neighborhood just north of the Minneapolis Warehouse District. The concrete floors with exposed beams and brick/reclaimed wood combined walls had that industrial vibe that I love so much.

More fun was had in Minneapolis by shopping with DXV's talented stylist and set designer Jim Goulet, who took us to his fave spots in the city to style our DXV spaces. It exciting to see how our styling efforts turned out in the DXV AD which is now being featured in many of the design trade magazines like Vanity Fair, Architectural digest, Elle Decor, Interior Design Magazine, Metropolis and many more!  

Elle Decor DXV AD of the Hygge Modern bathroom - October 2017 

On our shopping adventure, Jim took me specifically to AlwaysMod where it was pure Scandinavian design heaven, a perfect fit for my Hygge inspired bathroom design.  Jim and I were successful with some great finds that ultimately landed in my space! See below:

Always Mod

Always Mod

Scandinavian mugs for the Vanity/Bar area and sea salt trays for the tub area were some of the finds.

Always Mod

This towel linen spoke to mean in the store and it ultimately was converted into a pillow for the space. Some pics in the space below:

Some other cool shops in Minneapolis we went to:

Witt + Bliss is an urban lifestyle boutique featuring home unique goods ranging from livable mix of homewares to unique items crafted by local artists. At Witt + Bliss, every piece has a story to share.

Martin Patrick artfully fuses classic and contemporary home décor with Mens apparel.

Ciel Loft and Home offers reclaimed wood furniture and reproduction industrial lighting.

I found this mirror below in Ciel which was the inspirational shape for the mirror in my DXV space. See below:

DXV Hygge - Modulus Vanity

The Citizenry had modern goods for the well traveled home. I loved these ethnically crafted baskets.

A real treat was dining in an old horse stable dating back to 1906. DXV took the DXV Design Panel to Spoon and Stable, a cool restaurant in the heart of the North Loop Neighborhood, where Chef Kaysen features food from the roots of the local culture. 

What a delicious meal and experience with the DXV team! 
As always, thankyou so much! 
All in all, an excellent time in Minneapolis!! 

Read more about my DXV design inspired by the city of Copenhagen where I translated the notion of Hygge into the space. 

Hygge is a word that means well being and happiness Click here: 

Minneapolis. Image Credit: Ray J. Nelson

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Design, Food and Charity all rolled up at DIFFA Picnic by Design 2017

Hygge Basket- Michele Alfano Design and Tiago Fonseca

Last Wednesday DIFFA -DesignIndustries Foundation Fighting AIDS hosted a fun filled Picnic By Design event celebrating creative expression while raising funds and engaging designers in DIFFA’s mission to further the fight against HIV/AIDS. This year $50,000 was raised to support DIFFA’s grants to HIV/AIDS direct service organizations and programs in New York City and across the country. Nearly 250 people filled the Stage 48 rooftop, to come see 22 leading designers who created and donated vibrant, themed picnic baskets filled with picnic treats and essentials for attendees to bid on and win in the Picnic By Design auction.

Hygge Basket- Michele Alfano Design and Tiago Fonseca
Credit Images: Erik Bardin

This year I entered the HYGGE Modern Basket, inspired by the Danish philosophy of Hygge, translating the elements of my DXV space into my Picnic by Design basket. Tiago Fonseca of course was my partner in crime again building with beautiful craftsmanship. 

Hygge Basket- Michele Alfano Design

Hygge is a feeling of happiness and well-being. To achieve a sense of Nordic coziness, I balanced light colored materials with geometric pattern,  a pop of color and nature.  To depict the landscape of Copenhagen, the angled lines of the basket works in concert with a customized wood coastline Pangea map of Copenhagen - which was customized specifically for the basket. Thank you Pangea maps!

All the senses are touched with elements representing earth, water, and fire. So, whether you are sipping wine, eating good food or enjoying yourself with good friends, the key to this sensorial picnic design is to elevate your picnic experience and heighten the simple pleasures of life. That is Hygge!

Thankyou to HORNE for the gorgeous flatware, and Robert Allen for the beautiful fabrics Artworld Indigo, Tessa Techtonic and Tessa Stitch blue.

Thankyou to Cindy Allen, Editor in Chief Interior Design Magazine who purchased my basket design!
Michele Alfano, Tiago Fonseca and Cindy Allen

Thanks to my friends and supporters of DIFFA Picnic by Design:

Having a blast with Lori Dolnick, Deborah Von Donop, Michele Alfano, 
Kristen Sawyer , Cory Berwanger, Tiago Fonseca, Tyler Wisler, Leanne Wood Newman

Michele Alfano and Michelle Radley of JM Lifestyles

Michele Alfano, Tiago Fonseca, Deborah Von Donop, Guy Tunnicliffe

Here are some of my fave baskets from the 2017 designers:

jesGORDON/properFUN x Dirt Cobain

NPZ Style & Décor

Tito’s Handmade Vodka

“DragCon Basket” styled by Tyler Wisler 

Vanessa Deleon Associates

Stillwell Events NYC with Elegant Affairs NYC

Scott Brogan Group

Antoinette Loupé, Canard Inc

Stacy Garcia Inc.

Ted Moudis Associates
Credit Images: Erik Bardin

Thank you to the sponsors: Blanco, Bolon, Design Lab @ Bell Works, DXV, DRS Associates, EGE, Flaneur, Innomark, Maya Romanoff, NTT Industries, New York Design Center, StudioTK, Robert Allen Duralee Group and The Kitchen & Bath Industry Show.