DIFFA’s Dining by Design: Hollywood’s Golden Age

When the New York Design Center (200 Lex) asked us to partner with them to create a dining environment for the 2015 DIFFA’s Dining by Design event, we were thrilled. It has always been a favorite event in the design industry, and 200 Lex has long been a generous supporter of DIFFA (Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS). We were excited to take part. Inspired by the black-and-white and gilded all-over aura of the golden age of Hollywood, we fashioned a glamorous dining pavilion.

Golden Age of Hollywood inspired design for DIFFA

Golden Age of Hollywood inspired design for DIFFA with Lydia Marks and Lisa Frantz

Furnished entirely by the high-end showrooms in 200 Lex, we gathered items to create a sophisticated and pattern-rich tableau, to set a scene where dinner was to be held on-stage in a gleaming “dining room.” Our table-scape featured fretwork mirrors, deco-inspired wall sconces and a chandelier. A featured hue was emerald, with silk by Kravet upholstering 18 Celerie Kemble for Henredon dining chairs. Beyond the “stage,” an audience from a vintage black and white image looked on from orchestra, mezzanine and balcony.

Golden Age of Hollywood inspired table setting

We thought it would add touch of fun if the viewpoint of this dining environment was from the backstage, framed by the backs of scenery flats, a makeup table and an “On-air” sign.

Golden age of Hollywood inspired design at DIFFA

The New York chapter of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers) named our golden age of Hollywood inspired table Best in Show, and the design press and bloggers were very generous in their coverage, but we must confess, this was our favorite, New York legend Bill Cunningham putting us in the Style section:

Marks & Frantz_DIFFA_NYT

As always, we’re so grateful to the design companies and artisans who loaned, donated and gave their time and effort to help us create this.

Furnishings donated by:

Cassandra Occasional Chairs by Celerie Kemble for Henredon

Mark Double Pedestal Table by Kindel

Hanley Large Chandelier by Arteriors

Lulu Floor Lamps by Amanda Nisbet for Niermann Weeks

Baron Wall Sconces by Currey & Co.

Metro Wall Sconces by Currey & Co.

Cicero Obelisks by Currey & Co.

Corrugated Bamboo Cachepots by Global Views

Aqua Peacocks by Global Views

Minstrel Gold Dinnerware by Lenox through Richard Cohen Collection

Tabletop by annieglass through Richard Cohen Collection

Flatware by Nambe through Richard Cohen Collection

Glassware by Michael Wainwright through Richard Cohen Collection

Votives by Orrefors Kosta Boda through Richard Cohen Collection

Chair Fabric Bengal Silk Emerald by Kravet

Table Runner fabric DVF Mini Deck by Kravet

Drapery Fabric 33119.8 by Kravet

Wallpaper GP&J Baker Fretwork Foil Black and Gold by Lee Jofa

Floor Covering Labyrinth Black and Beige by Cole & Son for Kravet

Black Tassels by Kravet

Participating Artisans:

Structure fabricated by DCM Fabrication

Floral by Aisling Flowers/Tess Casey

Backdrop by Drop Shop NYC

Upholstery and drapery by Marks & Tavano Workroom

Photos in this post courtesy of The New York Design Center: Darren Ornitz

Devil Wears Prada Interior Design

Behind the scenes: The Devil Wears Prada

Miranda Priestly’s Office in The Devil Wears Prada. As far as film sets go, those words can usually conjure a pretty clear picture of what that room looks like. Most of us know the iconic film still taken on the set: the powerful superiority of the beautiful, composed, and successful boss peering down at her anxious, cute, and uneasy employee. The Devil Wears Prada office itself seems very hard lined and sleek in this image.

DWP film still

But what is captured in this still is not the whole picture. When I decorated the film set on The Devil Wears Prada it was very important to us that it feel layered and interesting.  The hard edged metal “desk”, really a dining table from Kartell, was given a layer of depth and warmth with a piece of amber glass on top of it. This addition of glass gave a warm but sleek shine that the metal alone did not achieve. The console table to the left of the desk is a fabulous vintage table by Mastercraft, textured brass and burled wood combine to create a rich warmth that helps bring some visual tension into the set – a push/pull of metals and materials.

Devil Wears Prada design by Lydia Marks

Miranda was a very well traveled and artistic character who had a taste for the finest things — and a mission to make the world desire them. I felt that in order to inspire on that level, Miranda needed to have her own eclecticism. Without that, her office would be rote. Adhering to every rule is not what makes a Miranda Priestly.

Devil Wears Prada design by Lydia Marks

One of the pieces I love in this office is the little french deco table that sits in back of her desk. Its curvy delicate quality in combination with B&B Italia chairs (upholstered in an unexpected green) nicely illustrate that design intention.

The-Devil-Wears-Prada-design by Lydia Marks

I think my favorite piece from the set though is the mirror over Miranda’s desk. We knew we wanted a mirror there – and we combed NYC and 1st Dibs to find the perfect one. We did hours of searching, show-and-tells with actors and directors, nothing felt right. One Saturday morning I found it, the perfect mirror, in a junk shop in upstate NY for $40.00.  With the help of my Scenic Department, we painted it, leafed it, stripped it, and painted it again, until we got it exactly right. We hung it up before call and everyone came in to start the first day of shooting on the set. No one asked to see another option! We had found the perfect final piece of the set.

Because we decorated a room for the Dering Hall‘s virtual show house, with all of the items selected from the New York Design Center, I thought it might be a good time to go behind the scenes a bit!  Hope it was fun to read!  Enjoy the showhouse. 

Contact Us

Have an upcoming design project that you’ve been thinking of and don’t know where to start? Click here to arrange a complimentary consultation. We’re looking forward to the conversation.

Lydia Marks & Lisa Frantz


Hotel Design: The patterns of Loews Chicago Hotel

I am often inspired by hotel design. Usually, it is the boutique hotels that take chances in their styles, colors, and originality. For obvious reasons, the smaller boutique hotels are able to do it and therefore can easily reflect the vibe of the place you are visiting. The larger hotels often seem to reflect only their own corporate branding. That’s why I was so surprised by the hotel design at the Loews Chicago Hotel.

hotel design

The elevator at the Lowes Chicago Hotel. Featuring a poem by Carl Sandburg.

hotel design

Patterned carpets with “urban” motifs.

hotel design

Printed wall coverings – glass towers refracting light.

hotel design

Hotel Design

Their brand new glass high-rise building in the Streeterville neighborhood was designed by Chicago architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz, developed by the DRW Trading Group of Chicago, and the interior design is by Simeone Deary Design Group. The hotel design is brave and bold and gives the guests of the hotel a strong sense of place. There are elements that reference the architecture of Mies van der Rohe and Louis Sullivan. There are patterns and textures that call to mind Chicago’s industry, railroads and even their literary past. The elevators are inscribed with Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago”. I love this idea – why not read some local poetry instead of staring off into the middle distance?

hotel design

Yes! Patterns on the ceiling!

hotel design

And in the metal work.

hotel design

Patterns on the mantel in the lobby.

hotel design

Neutral furniture on patterned carpet.

hotel design

Carpet with an “urban” motif.

hotel design

More metal patterns on the ceiling.

hotel design

And awesome metal patterns on the walls.




Passementerie: Not your grandma’s drapery tassels!

What is Passementerie?

According to Wikipedia:
Passementerie or passementarie is the art of making elaborate trimmings or edgings (in French, passements) of applied braid, gold or silver cord, embroidery, colored silk, or beads for clothing or furnishings.

According to me:
It’s trims, braids, bullion fringe, beads, gimps, cords, moss fringe, beads and more. In addition, it’s the jewelry for the furniture, draperies and pillows. It’s the part of the design that takes the most thought and is the most complex to pull together. And, it’s our absolute favorite part of the project!

We especially love working with Houles, a family-run French company that makes the most exquisite trims and upholstery details. They also have a small selection of fabrics that you will soon see in one of our recently completed projects! While their traditional products are heavily detailed and historically accurate, their more contemporary lines are completely on point and on trend, with daring and unusual color combinations. It’s as if this company was made for Marks & Frantz! Through exposure to their various lines, we have learned to embrace this level of detail as never before. I’ve learned to think about the “jewelry” first, rather than last and I think this mindset has made me grow and expand as a designer.


Houles is collaborating with us for a dramatic and informative presentation for the upcoming D&D Building Spring Market.










Maison Jansen at Greenwich Living

Paris-based design firm Maison Jansen was one of the most influential design houses of the 20th century. The firm also designed Jansen furniture. Founded in 1880 and in business until 1989, this firm was truly the first international design firm, with clients all over the world and offices in New York, London, Buenos Aires, Cairo, Havana, Prague, Rome and Rio de Janeiro.

Jansen Furniture

In addition to fabulous interiors, the firm designed furniture that transcends all trends and time. It is really Regency at it’s best and is timeless in any interior. I honestly don’t think we have done a single home without at least one piece of Jansen furniture. Greenwich Living is largely responsible for our exposure to Maison Jansen. They have the most comprehensive collection and have become our go-to source for all things Jansen, totally worth the drive to Stamford!

They were generous to donate a lovely mirrored, chinoiserie console to Design on a Dime and this lovely piece will bring much sparkle to Carrie’s Dressing Room at Housing Work’s Design on a Dime on April 24-26. Free to the public on the 25th and 26th, but if you want to get the best pickings, buy a tix and come to the opening party on April 24! See you there!

Jansen furniture: Mirrored Chinoiserie Console

Mirrored Chinoiserie Console


Lulu Frost Jewelry by Lisa Salzer

As everyone knows, we are totally obsessed with fashion and it crosses over into our world of interior design every chance we get! We met Lisa Salzer and her jewelry line Lulu Frost during our work on Sex and the City and she has become a fave of Marks & Frantz. When we were published in Luxe Magazine and threw a big party for ourselves, she came along and had an amazing trunk show at our party. To be honest, cocktails and jewelry shopping go hand in hand and we wear Lisa’s statement pieces on a weekly basis!

Lulu Frost has generously agreed to donate several pieces of jewelry to fill Carrie Bradshaw’s jewelry box for our Design on a Dime vignette on April 24! Swing by and check out her jewelry at Housing Works’ Design on a Dime – a la Marks & Frantz!

Lulu Frost necklace by Lisa Salzer Lulu Frost earrings by Lisa Salzer Lulu Frost Bracelet by Lisa Salzer Lulu Frost Design by Lisa Salzer Lulu Frost design by Lisa Salzer


Osborne & Little trims and ruffles make me happy!

Today is cold cold cold and we are running around from meeting to meeting, but this little bit of inspiration from Osborne & Little popped up in my inbox and added a ray of sunshine to my day. Osborne & Little trims with ombre ruffles in turquoise and radiant orchid just make me happy, plain and simple! Enjoy!

Osborne and Little Trims and ruffles

Osborne & Little Ombre Ruffles & Trims

Osborne & Little trims turquoise, trim, chevron, ombre, ruffle

Osborne & Little trims Osborne & Little trims Osborne & Little trims



Friday Favorites…we are obsessed with canopy beds

We have recently become obsessed with Canopy Beds at Marks & Frantz. I have never given them an ounce of thought prior to 2010. They reminded me of the ruffled canopy crib that evolved into a ruffled canopy bed that graced my childhood bedrooms!

As soon as I was old enough to make my own decor choices and because my parents moved often enough, I demanded a new teenage “look”. I went right for a blue & black palette, Conran Shop-inspired formica bed and a little bit of Memphis thrown in. Don’t judge me, it was the eighties in Houston, Texas! There is no way I could have known any better. I couldn’t get far enough away from a canopy bed.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve come around. Kind of fab, right? xo Lisa

Yellow canopy featured in Vogue 2012

Steven Gambrel bedroom

Steven Gambrel bedroom from House Beautiful – my absolute favorite designer


canopy beds designed by Windsor Smith

This canopy bed was designed by Windsor Smith



Mark Shaw

Mark Shaw is best known for his photographs of Jacqueline and John F. Kennedy, which he shot originally for LIFE magazine and later as the Kennedys’ “unofficial” family photographer. He developed a strong friendship with JFK and Jackie and regularly visited the White House during their time there. But Mark Shaw was first and foremost a Fashion and Advertising photographer whose freelance assignments for LIFE magazine had him photographing some of the most notable celebrities of the 1950′s. 

This collection of Mark Shaw’s fashion images, taken at the House of Dior between 1952 and 1962, is the first book showcasing Mark Shaw’s extensive fashion photography for LIFE and other magazines throughout the 1950s. It is available at Liz O’Brien Gallery in NYC and we are snapping them up like crazy for our clients. Not only is the fashion amazing, but the interiors are pretty fabulous as well! We plan to use the first image in a beautiful powder room in Old Greenwich in a home that Marks & Frantz renovated and decorated from head to toe in 2013.

Dior Theatre de France 1960

Dior Theatre de France 1960


Photographed in 1953 at the French country estate, Corbeville, Jane Sprague models a ball gown by Fath.

Photographed in 1953 at the French country estate, Corbeville, Jane Sprague models a ball gown by Fath.

Sophie Malgat wears Dior in Dior's Passy Home, 1953. Sophie Malgat in Gray Chiffon Dior in Dior’s Paris Home

Sophie Malgat wears Dior in Dior’s Passy Home, 1953. Sophie Malgat in Gray Chiffon Dior in Dior’s Paris Home

Ghislaine Lounges in Elsa Schiaparelli's Home

Ghislaine Lounges in Elsa Schiaparelli’s Home


A velvet dinner dress by Chanel photographed in the vine hung Paris courtyard, Cour de Rohan, in 1955

A velvet dinner dress by Chanel photographed in the vine hung Paris courtyard, Cour de Rohan, in 1955







Painted Floors

House Beautiful had a feature in their latest issue featuring painted floors and the designers and artisans responsible for them. As I delved deeper in the stories and started poking around the internet, I came across a whole range of craftsmen who work in the industry for some of the super–star designers. Their websites show this huge breadth of varied work that was truly mind-blowing, but more on them later once I have a chance to work with them and explore their studios.

This article did inspire Lydia and I to consider painting the floor in a client’s foyer for a project we have in progress in Manhattan. The beige limestone floor came with the apartment purchased by our clients and was the only thing we left untouched in this foyer. It was relatively new and in pristine condition, so it seemed best to work with it, but our wheels are turning and you may see a big surprise when we actually shoot the finished foyer!

This is a

This is a “foyer in progress” by Marks & Frantz in NYC, stay tuned for the after shots!


Miles Redd designed foyer

Miles Redd designed foyer

Jeffrey Bilhuber





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