Posts Tagged: Charlotte


A welcome addition to the Charlotte art scene, Southern Comfort (SOCO) Gallery recently opened to great accolades. Founded by Chandra Johnson, the gallery represents emerging and established artworks in all mediums with a specialization in photography. Its inaugural exhibition entitled “A Fluid Journey” takes its name directly from the 1969 cult surf movie documenting 1960s west coast surf culture. The exhibition explores the transformative qualities of water and leisure and how they affect our physical and mental states. Artists include LeRoy Grannis, Will Adler, Xavier Guardans, Mona Kuhn, Karine Laval, Ken Van Sickle, and Massimo Vitali.

LEROY “GRANNY” GRANNIS (American, 1917-2011)

The New York Times titled Grannis the “Godfather of Surf Photography” for capturing the golden age of surfing during the 1960s and 70s.  He began surfing at the age of 14, but did not pick up a camera until he was 42. Doctors ordered him to take up a hobby after being diagnosed with a hernia and photographing surfers at his local Hermosa Beach became his convalescence. His images show his complete immersion in the culture that surrounded him. He is considered one of the most important documentarians of the sport, and was inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame in 1966. His work has been featured in Reef Magazine, Surfing Illustrated, Surfing, the 2004 award winning documentary Riding Giants, and shown at many galleries, art fairs, and museums around the world including New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London and Antwerp.


leroy-grannis-waimea-bay-no-61Grannis_Shark's+Cove,+North+Shore+(No.+102)_1974For inquiries, please contact SOCO Gallery. 



More examples of the whimsical work of Leroy Grannis…









When “Granny” passed away in 2011, surfers paddled out at Hermosa Beach in memory of him and his ashes were scattered in the ocean.



grannis1SOCO Gallery will carry an extensive book collection of hard to find and out of print art books.

WILL ADLER (American, b. 1984)

A native of Santa Barbara, CA, Will Adler also captures the life surrounding surf culture in his own distinctive fashion. His images show his complete immersion in the culture that surrounded him. His laid back, light infused images, (as often of women surfers as men) convey the spirit and atmosphere of place as much as the action of the sport. Covering many coastal hot spots such as Hawaii, Montauk, California and Mexico, he has shot for many major publications including The New Yorker, Juxtapoz, Neon, WAX, and Surfer. His commercial clients include Nike, Quicksilver, Patagonia, and Hixsept. At the young age of 30, he had his debut solo exhibition at Danzinger Gallery in New York last year, curated by his uncle, Tom Adler, the notable surf photography and graphic designer.

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Some more of Will Adler’s work…







IMG_9908-760x427 4-I3I-bzLocated in a newly renovated charming 1920’s Myers Park bungalow, the gallery will feature 1,200 square feet of exhibition space, a bookshop and garden. “A Fluid Journey” will be open through August 22nd. Gallery hours are 10AM-5:30PM Tuesday through Saturday. SOCO Gallery is located at 421 Providence Road, Charlotte, NC 28207.

For more of my design inspiration, please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to Bespoke Banter.  Thank you for visiting and please come back again!


Recently I wrote about my first job in Charlotte at Circa Interiors & Antiques. While I was finishing my design degree, I was thrilled to land an internship working for Cindy Smith and Jane Schwab.  I will be forever indebted to these two ladies for taking me under their wing and teaching me the ins and outs of the Charlotte design community. In addition to being incredibly talented, these ladies are the perfect embodiment of the art of living graciously.

Jane Schwab is the quintessential hostess. She not only makes everything look effortless, but she also makes every event unique and fun beyond imagination whether it is a poolside seated dinner or a lively Easter Egg Hunt.  I learned so many helpful entertaining tips from Jane…from creating beautiful tablescapes and arranging flowers to enjoying the details that enhance the event and making everyone feel welcome. I was delighted to interview her about her secrets to gracious living.  Her interiors are an extension of how she lives her everyday life…They are welcoming, attainable, beautiful and incredibly charming.


When did you know you wanted to pursue design as a career and how did you get started?

I would rearrange furniture constantly as a little girl growing up in Ridge Springs, SC….not just at my own house but at friends’ houses as well!

I majored in Political Science at Converse College went on to get a Fine Art degree and Interior Design minor at the University of South Carolina. I took Continuing Education courses at Parsons School of Design while working for Marshall Schul in New York.

I had always loved Charlotte when I was traveling for work and when the opportunity arose to work at Circa, I was thrilled.


What is your creative process?

Most of my creative work takes place early in the morning or on weekends. I am always reading design and architecture books looking for the spark of an idea to ignite the creative vision.



How would you describe your style?

As a combination of pretty collected pieces with comfortable and traditional furnishings updated with an element of “now” through accessories and artwork.



What is your latest creative breakthrough?

I have always been a neutralist, but lately I have been incorporating more color into my work and have loved it!


What has been the most pivotal moment in your career?

Our book The Welcoming Home has really had an impact on our business. The friendly, attainable design has attracted many new clients that desire the same lifestyle. Our book tour and lectures across the country have brought us to a new audience. It has been a delight to connect with so many lovely people city to city.




What are your current projects?

I am working on a 1920s Tudor home in Connecticut, a waterside cottage in Maine, and a house in Jackson, Wyoming by architect Jonathan Foote who also designed our Jackson residence.


How would you like to be remembered?

That the experience was a positive one, no matter what it was.


Do you have any advice for budding designers?

Love what you do, be passionate, and connect with your niche.


Whose work do you admire?

Bunny Williams…Her ability to effortlessly combine styles and period and always create interiors that look and feel different. She is also unbelievably generous with her time , friendship, talent, and support.


Who would be your dream client and why?

One that you have a trusting relationship with that gives you the freedom to create, is open to new ideas, and is willing to get out of their comfort zone.


What is your dream vacation/ idea of bliss?

Saint Barths surrounded by dear friends and family.


What do you collect?

Objects made out of natural materials that also serve a purpose….white horn bowls and antler boxes.


What is your favorite color?

Robins’ egg blue


Alfresco Dinner in Honor of Bunny Williams

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What is your favorite design trick?

Decide on a color and repeating it through the room for maximum impact.


Poolside Dinner in honor of Mary McDonald





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Courtesy of Southern Living


Courtesy of Southern Living


Courtesy of Southern Living

Be sure to check out the Circa design blog for upcoming events in Charlotte and Birmingham as well as the launch of their upcoming Catbird Collection.

For more of my design inspiration, please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and subscribe to Bespoke Banter…Thanks for reading and please visit again!


When I first moved to Charlotte, I was fortunate to land an internship at Circa Interiors & Antiques. Little did I know that this design firm would become such an important start to my career and that I would always be proud to be a part of the extended Circa family. Each designer I have worked for has had their own style…from how they create to how they interact with their clients and employees. Cindy Smith taught me so many invaluable lessons about running a business from the originality of the design process to always making the clients feel heard, understood and valued. She has been someone I have always looked up to and I was thrilled to interview her about what makes her “tick” and her creative process.  I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did!


When did you know you wanted to pursue design as a career and how did you get started?

I spent a summer in France and it changed my perspective on life. We lived in farmhouse and my French family took great care to make the most simple moments special. Great care and attention was paid to every detail from setting the table to preparing the meal, from how a napkin was folded to how flowers were arranged. It has stayed with me and inspired my lifestyle.

My mother was very influential to my aesthetic. She was a consummate hostess…she always had an open door policy and made everyone feel welcome. She also made everything beautiful, no matter how simple it was.

Forty six years ago I moved to Charlotte as a young bride and taught school. I started taking antique classes from local legend Ruth Scott and went to auctions and flea markets on the weekends. I began selling objects out of my home when my children were little. When we outgrew that, Circa was created with with two friends. We sold upholstery and antiques out of a small bungalow. When our doors opened, we sold out of everything right away!  We were very fortunate with our timing….Charlotte was growing and everyone was ready for a new look and items from abroad. My mother had warned me, “Honey, what are you going to do if this is successful”


What is your creative process?

I create a blank slate in my mind and try to think of what I envision the final interior to be. It is more about the mood than the actual pieces at first. In my downtime, I scour old historical design and architecture books and always try to incorporate vintage textiles to give a room a little bit of soul.

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What is your latest creative breakthrough?

Working on the upcoming Catbird furniture collection. I had been seeing voids in the marketplace for pieces that could truly inspire a room. Everything is machine produced and created for mass appeal. I had been yearning for a new challenge and struggling with what I wanted the collection to be. My dear friend Bobby McAlpine encouraged me to “Open my mind to the universe and stop putting on the brakes.” I took a weekend to reflect and the idea finally came to me to do a collaborative collection with people I admire. All of the creators are members of my tribe!


What has been the most pivotal moment in your career?

When I was first getting started, I was hired to do a house for a client who was on a three month trip around the world. They had an unlimited budget, but it all had to be complete upon their return.


Can you give us a glimpse of what to expect from Circa in the future?

We have a great group of designers and we are always looking for ways to enhance our business. We are looking forward to creating more great interior design projects, upcoming special events, and the launch of Catbird in March.


What do you want to be remembered for?

For being a good mother, grandmother and an honest, caring employer and designer. for being more interested in the relationships than in the bottom line.


Do you have any advice for budding designers?

Travel, read, expose your senses, know the market inside and out, be passionate about your work. It is a tough business and you have to love it!



Whose work do you admire?

Rose Tarlow for her clear voice, Bunny Williams for her kindest and versatility, Bobby McAlpine for his originality and support, and John Saladino for his unique modern perspective on design.


Who would be your dream client and why?

I love working with clients who have their own sense of style, who know what they want and like, are educated and have clear needs.


What is your dream vacation?



What is your secret vice?

Travel and buying for Circa. You have to be little bit “touched” to get up at 4 in the morning in the freezing cold French countryside for the thrill of the hunt!


What is your idea of bliss?

Being at Lake Martin mopping floors with six laughing grandchildren underfoot


What do you collect?

Tabletop everything! Glass, textiles, Victorian coconut bowls lined in silver


What is your favorite color?

An indescribable shade of green only found in nature


Favorite design trick?

It is all about the details! Highlighting doors with dark colors, custom nailhead designs, unusual finishing details on drapery and upholstery. I am always looking at things to see how I can tweak them and make them a little bit different.

Be sure to check out the Circa design blog for upcoming events in Charlotte and Birmingham as well as the launch of their upcoming Catbird Collection!

For more of my design inspiration, please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to Bespoke Banter….Thanks for reading and please visit again!


The Mint Museum Auxiliary is hosting its 4th annual Fall EnrichMINT Forum next week featuring Inspirational Icon India Hicks. She will share stories from her fascinating life as a designer, model, photographer, entrepreneur, author, marathon runner, thrill seeker, world traveler, wife, mother to 5 beautiful children, daughter of legendary designer David Hicks, and god-daughter of the Prince of Wales. Just a few seats remain…for more information, please click here.



In her own words, here are are a few facts about India from her gorgeous new website and blog…

I was born in London, England.

My father was famed interior decorator David Hicks, and my mother is Pamela Hicks, daughter to the Earl and Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

My grandfather was the last Viceroy of India, hence my name.

The Prince of Wales is my Godfather. A wonderful one. But as a tom boy it was hard to forgive being asked to wear that frilly dress as a bridesmaid at his wedding to Lady Diana.

Following school I backpacked around the world for a year. I returned to London, took a foundation course in art, before moving to Boston, to take a degree in photography, graduating unexpectedly with honors.

A fashion magazine featured me in an issue of ‘New Beauties’, which Ralph Lauren saw and subsequently booked me for my first modeling job. A career on the other side of the camera was born.

I now live on a small island in the Bahamas, with David Flint Wood and our five children: Felix, Amory, Conrad, Domino and Wesley, our fostered Bahamian son. We have built and restored 4 houses and a hotel on the island.

I am a passionate horse rider. I also scuba dive, bungee jump, parachute and hand glide, snow ski, water ski and wakeboard. I have climbed into the Grand Canyon, run three 26.2 mile marathon’s and have completed four 100 mile bike rides in aid of charity.

I have published two books ‘Island Life’ and ‘Island Beauty’ and have a third ‘Island Style’ due for launch in the spring of 2015. Part of the proceeds from these books have been donated to a small non-profit community school in The Bahamas.

After a successful career designing collections of bath & beauty products, bedding and jewelry in partnership with others the time for change has arrived……

India is in the process of building a new business which will be revealed in the near future. In the interim, she has started a blog which is the foundation for where her new business venture will be headed.  She hosts a mini series of interviews called “Extraordinary Lives” with people who made life work for them in unexpected ways. See below for a glimpse into her magical interiors and island lifestyle on Harbor Island…






Courtesy of Garden & Gun








india hicks in boat

Enchanted by this idyllic island lifestyle? See the selection of available villas for rent designed by India and David Flint Wood, by clicking here.


For more of my design inspiration, please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter  and subscribe to Bespoke Banter….Thanks for reading!


The best part of writing for Peachy Magazine is that I get to brag about the creativity of my extraordinary friends! This month’s featured interior is by Holly Hollingsworth Phillips, also known as The English Room, to her numerous followers on Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media outlets. To read the interactive article, please click here.
Holly’s bold use of color in this gorgeous interior has become her trademark.  She is truly a creative force in everything she touches whether it is her interior design aesthetic, her blog, “Musings of a Design Aficionado,” her fashion sense, and her shopping style!  Enjoy seeing the world through Holly’s technicolor-ed glasses….


The A-Ha moment is one of clarity.  It is a defining moment when you gain real wisdom that can be used to change your life. This moment can be inspiring, surprising, original, deeply personal and worth sharing. It often arises when there is an obstacle that needs to be turned into an opportunity.

Last week at Blogfest 2012, the editors from House Beautiful encouraged us to share an A-Ha moment from our design work.  Up and coming designers Michael Herold, Jill Goldberg, and John Call shared their A-Ha moments with the group and challenged us to do the same.

My A-Ha moment came while working on the Pink House, a unique respite for breast cancer survivors and the Carolina Breast Friends organization. The Pink House serves breast cancer survivors in numerous ways: Wellness Education, Library and Computer Research Center, Fitness and Nutrition Centers, Self-Image Services, Arts & Crafts Workshops, and Counseling Services.

When I first saw the house, it was a beautiful historic home that had recently been renovated, but there were no funds to furnish the interior. What seemed like an insurmountable obstacle at the time turned into the most wonderful and fulfilling opportunity.

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink House Living Room
The Living Room
Upholstery from Charles Stewart
In order to raise funds for the interior, we held a ladies-only “Pink Party” in November of 2010.  In one evening, we raised enough the furnish the first floor of the Pink House. Then, we approached several vendors and workrooms to see if they would be willing to donate their time and talent to help with the cause. Many were cancer survivors themselves and were thrilled to have the chance to help out. Thanks to the donations of the Charlotte design community, we were able to complete the entire house which opened its doors in May of 2011.
Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink House Living Room
The Living Room
Accessories donated by Circa Interiors and Antiques

The organization wanted us to create a sophisticated, calming and feminine atmosphere.  This was a haven where women would come together for fellowship, support and inspiration.

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink House Living Room
The Living Room
Re-upholstery donated by Design Services, Inc.

Albert Hadley said, “Decorating is not about making stage sets,…it’s really about creating a quality of life, a beauty that nourishes the soul.” We wanted the survivors that entered this space to feel like their spirits had been lifted and their souls nourished.

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink House/ Artist Kate Long Stevenson
Painting donated by Kate Long Stevenson
in honor of her friend Neil Maddux Miller

We found several pieces at local flea markets and tag sales. With some refinishing, new paint and re- upholstery, we were able to turn others people’s cast off furnishings into beautiful pieces for the Pink House.

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink House Dining Room
The Library
Window Treatments donated by
Custom Window Treatments
Several fabric houses such as Kravet, Lee Jofa, Cowtan and Tout, Jane Shelton, Pierre Frey and Schumacher gave us discounted fabrics so we could stay on budget.
Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink House Sunroom
The Sun Room
Carpet donated by Stark

When we first began this project, I honestly did not know if we would be able to pull it together. We had several different rooms that needed to flow together along with random assortment of found items and upholstery that needed some unifying element. I finally understood the expression “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!” Fortunately, we ended up with our A-Ha moment and we were all thrilled with the final product.

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink House Exterior
The Exterior
Renovations donated by J.E. Dunn Construction
To make the experience even more satisfying, we were completely humbled by everyone’s kindness and generosity.  Not a single person we asked declined to help. This greatly added to our A-Ha moment- bringing a community’s talents together for a higher cause!!!
Yours truly with Newell Turner, Editor in Chief of House Beautiful
and Beth Greene, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Branding
for Kravet, Lee Jofa and Brusnchwig & Fils
To read the full blog on The Pink House , please click here.