Monthly Archives: January 2013

Interview: NYC Event Producer David Stark Reveals The Secret Behind Designing The Whitney Museum Gala, The National Design Awards, And More!

David Stark

Interview: NYC Event Producer David Stark Reveals The Secret Behind Designing The Whitney Museum Gala, The National Design Awards, And More!
By Neesha Arter

As the President and Creative Director of David Stark Design and Production, David Stark runs the world of event production and design in NYC. His clientele list ranges from big names like Beyoncé, to Condé Nast and Target. With the motto “elevating ordinary events to extra extraordinary experiences,” it is no question that Stark is the king of design. He’s written five books on design with his most recent book, “The Art of the Party,” hitting stores this spring. We were lucky enough to sit down with the design maven for an exclusive interview to discuss upcoming projects and the secret behind his success.

You started working in floral design after attending art school at RISD. How did you take that to event design?
It’s really funny how this happened. We were invited to interview for the job of designing the NYC Opera’s gala, and Carolyne Roehm was the evening’s Chair Woman, a noted floral designer in her own right. The production was a re-staging of Macbeth in industrial England at the turn of the century and Carolyne took a look at our portfolio and said, “There is no question about it. You make the most beautiful arrangements, but this evening is not about flowers at all!”
She probably doesn’t even remember this (or me!), but that sentence was a game changer. All of a sudden, Dorothy’s door to Oz opened and the world of materials became my palette. Of course, I adore flowers. They are a first love, but they are not always the right tool in the tool box for every single occasion.
You know, it took me so many years to shake the term “florist” off the back of my name, and now we do these events, and people say, “Wow, your flowers are so beautiful! Who does them!?” I am always proud to admit that we do them ourselves.

Your tag line for the events you create is “elevating ordinary events to extra extraordinary experiences.” What are three essential things one needs to do this?
Three things that I think about for every event large or small are:
1. Embed surprise within the event.
2. Make art, don’t decorate.
3. Be gracious. Give the most extraordinary service. Regardless of what a space looks like, how you welcome and take care of your guests really is key to an extraordinary experience.

Congratulations on your fifth book, that’s a great accomplishment. How did you first get your start with writing books and was that always a goal of yours?
I have always loved books, but it was never a goal of mine, per se, to create them. That said, as I have become the kind of artist that creates ephemeral art work in the form of events, books have become a brilliant way for me to hold on to something tangible in our work.
Event production and design moves at break-neck speed, and you have to be an athlete or a warrior to keep up with the hours and demands of the industry. It’s such a wonderful gift for me to slow down and really look at what we are doing artistically within the pages of a book.

What other designers inspire you?
I tend to look to the world of fine art for my inspiration. Of course, I love all of design as well, but when in my head, my design work is more akin to art making. Now, of course, I know it is technically ‘design’ because I am making it for someone, answering design problems along the way, but the distinction is that I am not decorating the room. Rather, I am filling it with art that people interact with. It comes alive when the people enter the space.
To that end, I think a lot about various artists, from painters to installation artists, and I don’t think about their work in terms of personal taste but whether it works really, really well within its own parameters — Yayoi Kusama, Yves Klein, Tom Friedman, Matisse, Sol Lewitt, Ellsworth Kelly, Vik Muniz, Keith Haring, Les Lalanne, my list goes on and on. I am pretty voracious in my art appetite.

What makes a room special? Is it a piece or the colors? Everything?
Most often for me, the space is magical when it is unlike anything I have ever seen before, made out of materials that are unexpected, conceptually tied to what an evening is about, and there are layers of meaning built into the décor.
Recently, we planned and designed the U.S. State Department’s 50th Anniversary Gala of its Art In Embassies program at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. and that event remains very special to me. Looking at basic geometric shapes, the building blocks of all design and art making, we created a series of interactive, wild installations out of donated materials from companies like Benjamin Moore, Crayola, and Post-it — a 20 foot tall viewing platform made from thousands of Post-it note pads and a 16 foot tall pyramid made from a millions crayons, for instance.

What does your own home look like?
My home is eclectic, an ever changing gallery of ephemera and art pieces from the events that we do, art that I love and collect, and items from my travels around the world. I love hand-made things, and while I very rarely wear color, my apartment has a lot of it. I love the juxtaposition of things that should not necessarily go together, but do.
In my head, I aspire to be a minimalist, but that takes a huge amount of discipline. And you know what? I don’t have it.

What are your favorite stores in NYC that people may not know about?
I look to my own backyard in Brooklyn for my local shopping fix. Luckily, there is a lot of cool stuff going on there. Many of the antique stores on Atlantic Avenue are great fun and chock full of inspiration. I love City Foundary, Darr, and Holler and Squall. In Manhattan, I love Mantiques Modern and Liza Sherman Antiques in the West Village.

What’s the best way for young people in NYC to design their apartments on a budget?
Young designers are lucky because the zeitgeist says that over-the-top is out and ingenuity is ALWAYS in and to that end, one can be very inventive about the materials that are used to decorate a home. I never buy a “table cloth,” for example, but I often use a canvas drop cloth from the hardware store as a super chic table covering.
Recently, due to Hurricane Sandy, we had to move the Whitney Museum’s Gala from its planned location on the Pier to the actual Museum. Our creative solution to budgets and time? We “drew” all kinds of designs on the walls of the galleries with painter’s tape. Be open to using materials in ways and for things that they weren’t necessarily intended for and you can make a gorgeous apartment on a budget. Lasso creativity.

What is the best advice you have for young designers?
Work really hard, and break the rules, but when you do so, make sure you do it BRILLIANTLY. Also, another thing that I think is really important: I never forget, for an instant, that I am in the service business. Yes, I am an artist/designer, but at the end of the day, I run a business that is first and foremost about service. Focus on that.
You can be the most brilliant artist in the world, but if you are a pain to work with, if you don’t finish on time, if you come in over budget, if you lose your temper, if you are a diva, people will not want to hire you. I play a lot of roles: advisor, confidant, best friend, therapist, designer, artists, business person, teacher, and many more. Focus on balance to ensure a successful creative career. It’s critical.

You have five books, including “The Art of the Party” coming out this spring. You’ve designed some of the biggest events in the city, and are constantly working on multiple projects. What can we expect to see from you next?
I have some new product ideas bubbling away in my brain. The recent store ambush we did last February of Soho’s Haus Interior with our Wood Shop collection was great fun and so rewarding. I would really love to create more products within innovative contexts.

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Interview: Fashion Designer Alan Eckstein of Timo Weiland on Barney’s, NYFW & His Newest Collaboration

Timo Weiland

Interview: Fashion Designer Alan Eckstein of Timo Weiland on Barney’s, NYFW & His Newest Collaboration
By Neesha Arter

Alan Eckstein and Timo Weiland make up the the duo behind the brand Timo Weiland, and the pair has already conquered the fashion scene. With a successful S/S 2013 show at NYFW last month, a line in Barney’s since 2010, and now a new collaboration with Anthropologie, there’s no stopping this fashionable duo. Alan Eckstein sat down with us for an exclusive interview, and he dished on what Fashion Week is really like, and their newest collaboration!

So there are two of you behind this design team, how did you guys meet and first get your start on the brand?
It was when I was just starting in fashion and we met when we just sort of came together. We started our design partnership pretty quickly after we met and both have similar interests and draw the same inspiration.

What are you wearing right now?
I am wearing a Timo Weiland shirt and pants and then Vans shoes. I love Vans, they actually did all the men’s shoes for our S/S 2013 show at NYFW.

What was your vision for this collection, and did it turn out the way you wanted it to?
We were really happy with this show. Our show was very inspired by New York because we’ve been here for a while. We also find inspiration in hip-hop and music, but we were really inspired by New York for the spring season. It was bright, it was fun and I think it was definitely a wearable collection. We also focused on embroidery, which turned out beautifully; we really loved the whole collection.

You guys started in 2009, can you compare your first collection to S/S 2013?
We had our first collection for S/S 2010 and a lot has changed since. We’ve really learned a lot in the past three years with what looks are flattering and unflattering and what looks best. Through all of our collections we have made a lot of progress, especially through the shows. Barney’s has carried our line since 2010 and now we have this collaboration with Anthropologie, which is an honor. We have a lot of wonderful things happening and we’re very grateful.

Tell us about the collaboration with Anthropologie.
The line is called Vessel by Timo. They reached out to us about a year ago. It’s really been a dream come true and we are really happy about working with them. It is a women’s line that has a lot of our similar inspiration but is for the Anthro girl.

What’s been the most exciting part about being a fashion designer, and what’s been the most difficult?
Well, the hardest part and most exciting part are the shows. We prep for these shows for months in advance for only 10 minutes of a show, which can be very stressful but rewarding as well. Once we had our show at 9am and the presentation earlier than that so we had to be there at 5:30 am. We hadn’t slept in days and preparing for it was such a long process. Also, there are a bunch of things that end up happening at the last second– the person who was dressing one model didn’t close her dress and we had to do it seconds before she got on the runway. Once our music wasn’t set until moments before the show which was very stressful because we care a lot about the music. Music is a big inspiration to us and we both DJ as well, so we spend a lot of time on it.

So you guys are in Barney’s which is a huge accomplishment in the fashion industry, and you’re now in Anthropologie. What is the your next goal, and what can we expect to see from you in the upcoming year?
Barney’s has been with us since our first collection and they are amazing to work with. We are incredibly grateful for that. Our goal is to continually put out a great quality product. You know when you start out you don’t know what will be down the road, but we’ve worked years on this and we think it’s very important to maintain that road and keep working towards the future.

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Interview: Victoria’s Secret Angel Elsa Hosk On Juggling Her Career, And Her NYC Lifestyle

Elsa Hosk
Interview: Victoria’s Secret Angel Elsa Hosk On Juggling Her Career, And Her NYC Lifestyle
By Neesha Arter

When you think of Victoria’s Secret, you think of beauty, confidence and that infamous cat walk. Well, 23 year old Elsa Hosk has walked that runway and is one of the biggest faces of Victoria’s Secret these days. Born in Sweden and now living in NYC, this gorgeous girl is always working it. We got a chance to sit down and ask her about her favorite NYC hang outs, what went wrong at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, and more!

What’s one piece of clothing you cannot live without?
My Celine leather jacket. I would never give it away. A leather jacket goes with everything, I found the perfect one.

How is everything going with Victoria’s Secret PINK and the college/NFL collections?
There’s one for every team and it’s a fun line. It’s kind of a men sports line with women cuts and the point is to let women feel comfortable while cheering on their favorite sports teams.

Best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Stay confident and be yourself, don’t compare yourself to others because we’re all unique.

Who’s your favorite designer?
I don’t have one in particular, I love so many, but I also really love vintage.

What is the last thing you bought?
A pair of vintage knee high boots yesterday. I was looking for a pair of black, 60s style boots.

I know you used to play basketball in Sweden. If you could play on any NBA team, which would you pick?
I would play for Miami because I would want to play for the best and they’re the best. But when I was in Sweden we had basketball camps every summer, and you could choose to be on one team. I always chose the Lakers.

Speaking of Sweden, what do you miss most about home?
The food. I was just thinking about it the other day how much I miss the food. It’s very healthy good food. There’s a lot of fish and fresh foods. I try to go back every six months but lately I’ve been having a lot of shoots. It is very important for me though to go and see my family and to stay grounded.

Who are your role models?
Strong women in the fashion industry and strong women in general.

What are three items you always keep in your purse?
iPhone, keys and wallet.

Thoughts on Social Media?
I love Instagram, I never liked Facebook, you have to find the social media that works for you and Instagram is my favorite. It’s so much fun.

You were on the cover of Italian Elle in July. what was that shoot like, where was it?
We actually shot it in New York. It was water sports inspired and it was in the studio. It was a lot of fun and I loved the cover in the end, it was a really fun experience.

Besides Elle, what magazine would you love to be on the cover of? Do you have a favorite?
I’ve always loved French Vogue and to be on that cover would be a dream.

I know there must have been a mishap at the VS fashion show. What happened?
All the shoes broke. All the shoes are specially made for the show and the heels just broke . I think about 10 pairs broke on the catwalk. The models were amazing though and just pretended nothing happened. Mine didn’t break, thank god! But it was crazy.

What’s your favorite show you’ve walked in?
Definitely the VS fashion show, it was the best experience. I was blown away and I had the time of my life. I thought I was going to be nervous but then I went out on stage and I didn’t want to leave! I didn’t want to leave the catwalk, I was like I can hang out here a while! It’s awesome, you feel like a rock star.

What’s your typical day off like in NYC?
I like to stay really low key, have a long brunch or go for a walk. Really easy, a nice dinner. And do all the stuff you don’t do while traveling, like laundry.

What gym do you go to in NYC?
I go to flywheel and flybarre. They are really fun spin classes and then flybarre is really good for tightening the body and elongating the muscles, which is a great workout for modeling. I used to go to a personal trainer but I like to switch it up. I think that’s the key or you get very bored. Whether it’s running or ballet or pilates.

You live in the city, what’s your favorite restaurant here?
I love this little neighborhood restaurant called Smith & Mills. It’s super tiny with really great food and a really nice environment. But it’s hard to try all the restaurants in New York because there are so many opening. I’ve been in New York for three years and there are still so many that I want to try. I love food and I’m always up for a new restaurant.

Are you a coffee drinker?
Yeah, they actually just opened the best coffee shop on my street, which is a Swedish coffee shop. It’s called Kaffe 1668 and it’s really great.

What’s your best advice to young girls on body image?
I would say don’t compare yourself to anyone else and let your body be. Eat healthy but don’t skimp on food. You need a lot of food and people don’t know how important it is to eat. It’s important to feel happy from the inside out and it’s a crazy world that we live in but I think it is important for girls to accept the body that they have.

Where are you heading next and what can we expect to see in your future?
I hope you’ll continue to see me in Victoria’s Secret and the Pink stores! This industry moves fast and you never know what the future holds, but I never take anything for granted . I feel very, very blessed with the career that I have.

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Interview: Aussie Bombshell Jessica Hart Talks Her Career, Life In NYC, and More!

Jessica Hart

Interview: Aussie Bombshell Jessica Hart Talks Her Career, Life In NYC, and More!
By Neesha Arter

From Vogue, to Elle to Sports Illustrated to Harper’s Bazaar, Australian knockout Jessica Hart has graced the covers of the most important magazines in the world and walked some of the most high-profile runways. The model was discovered when she was 15 years old in a shopping mall in Melbourne, Australia and a decade later, the 26 year old is still turning heads with the signature gap tooth smile that made her famous. We had a chance to sit down with her and get the scoop on her Halloween costumes, the New York City Ballet, and much more!

You went to the New York City Ballet Gala recently, how was it?
I had only been to one ballet in New York before and I loved it. This particular production was remarkable because it was the best of the best, and it was the opening of the ballet season. We got a glimpse of all the shows that are going to be showing this season. Valentino had designed some of the costumes, which were just insane, they were so beautiful.

You live in NYC, what do you love and hate most about living here?
I love the city, everything is so convenient and you can do whatever you want whenever you want. I think sometimes you really have to have a job where it leads you to other places so you’re not here all the time because sometimes it feels too claustrophobic. Just walking outside your door it can be so manic and crazy so that part of it can be a bit too much, but as long as you can get out every so often then you can appreciate coming back. I had a contract in Australia before but didn’t renew it this year because I wanted to focus on time here, but I still go back often. I’ll head back at the end of November and probably for Christmas.

Do you know what you’re doing for Halloween? Any costume ideas?
I think there are a lot of things going on for Halloween. Last year it was like a six day Halloween. Hopefully that doesn’t turn out like that this year. I’ll probably do something the 26th and maybe 27th but I think I’ll be traveling after that. I don’t know yet, I just started researching; you reminded me that I have to start thinking about it. I’ve always had this rule that I have to be something kind of scary because that’s what Halloween’s about. I think this year I’m going to try to be something a little prettier. Last year I had black contacts in and painted my whole face white. The minute I opened my door, everyone kind of looked at me like, “who’s this?”

In the past decade of modeling, what’s been the best part of it and the most challenging?
The best part is also the worst part, which is the traveling. You get to go to so many places all across the world and experience so many different cultures, but at the same time you’re always traveling and you can’t plan anything so it becomes a bit lonely sometimes. You meet all these new people but you don’t really know anyone before you get there. It’s really opened up opportunities and opened up my eyes which has helped me become the person I am now.

What can we except to see from you in the next year?
I have lots of little projects. I’m working on a skincare and make up line. I love the make up that is used in modeling and the tricks and the way you use it. I want to try to make my own version of it. Also, I am working on designing clothes because I have such a love for them and fashion as well as experimenting with it. Both of these are creative outlets for me that I’m dying to explore, so who knows what’s in store for me this year. I’m excited to see what happens!

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