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

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






Trade secrets! From Set Decoration to Interior Design

Please join us tomorrow at the D&D for a talk:  “From Set and Screen to Living Room: The Set Decorator and the Interior Designer.”  I will be on a panel discussion with Cathy Whitlock,  film historian, designer Marshall Watson (his line at Lewis Mittman has graced the sets of the new Katie Couric show). and Ann Maine, editor in chief of Traditional Home, will be the moderator.  For more information and the address, click here.

Design*Sponge Interview

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge.  We talked about set decoration, interior design , and of course, wallpaper!

The radio station, Heritage Radio, where we did the interview was really great – in the back of the super popular Brooklyn restaurant Roberta’s Pizza.  Check out Heritage Radio’s great programming here.   I hope you enjoy the interview!!


marks & frantz has joined Houzz and we are really excited about it.  A great new way to inspire and be inspired.  Can’t argue with that! 

The New York Times published a great story about 2 weeks ago about the website and app and how they began.


Sleep like Samantha in Sex and the City

People often ask me if decorating someone’s home is very different from decorating a set for a film.  The answer is yes – and no.  Every client is different just like every film set is different.

Devil Wears Prada

Big and Carrie’s closet Sex and the City 2

Some clients want to see, touch and sit on every piece of furniture I am going to bring into their home.  Some will give an approval to the design concept and simply ask that their house is finished by a certain date. There are positives to working both ways, it is really about what makes the client the most comfortable and creating a space that the client really feels is their own and wants to spend time in.

SATC 2 foyer

Decorating for a film is similar. I have worked with some directors who need to see a presentation of every single thing that will be on the set.   have also worked on sets where actors dictated some of the key elements of their sets and some that even give an actor complete “set approval”. Sometimes, the production designer and myself will show the interested parties a very basic “mood board” so they get a feel of the set and then I am off and running.

Decorating both Sex and the City films was an incredible experience.  There was an amazing level of trust and appreciation between the Director, Production Designer, Actors and Myself. While there was a great deal of autonomy in the creative endeavor, there were a few instances where the actors would ask us to look at something in particular that they felt was appropriate for their interior.  They knew their characters so well that I was always interested in seeing what they had in mind.

Kim Cattrall is a big fan of D. Porthault bed linens, as am I. When she first asked us to consider them for her bedroom, I was not sure if the brand made sense with her character.  However, after looking through some of the patterns (and printed sheets is what they are famous for), I changed my mind. Tigre turquoise was a perfect fit for Samantha and got tons of attention from all the SATC fans!

Tigre in turquoise

If you want to read more about Porthault’s lines and history, check out an earlier blog post Lisa wrote here.  And now for the good news – D. Porthault is holding their semi annual sale!  From January 16th until February 4th you can save 40-80%!!  You can shop in person in New York City or on their website.

invitation to sale


Also, check out Stylebeat for the details on more great winter sales going on now. Marisa, a former editor at several interior design magazines, has a great eye and a great blog. She has highlighted some of her favorite pieces from these sales. Happy Shopping!


Backstage on Broadway: On a Clear Day

Kerry O’Malley, one of the leads in the Broadway revival of On a Clear Day, invited the the Marks & Frantz team to decorate her dressing room backstage at the St. James Theater.

Kerry O'Mally and Harry Connick, Jr. on opening night

We wanted to make her space comfortable yet glamorous.   In a space this small, the design must be well conceived and the color palette for the furniture, fabrics and wall color must be very tightly coordinated.  There is not a lot of room to make big statements.   Another important element of the design that we had to address was the necessity of making our decoration “temporary”.  We really wanted to introduce great color and pattern onto the largest wall of the dressing room.  Enter Tempaper Designs and Edie, their bronze toned wallpaper.


Tempaper Designs makes temporary and repositionable wallpaper.  Their printing process incorporates the traditional technique of gravure or intaglio copper plate engraving with state of the art materials to bring a classic look and feel to the finished product. Among my favorite patterns that they produce are elegant Art Nouveau patterns, cute herringbones in great color ways and a really sweet line for children. Here are a few more of their designs.  Check out their website to see more.



Lonny Magazine Interviews Marks & Frantz!

The new issue of Lonny Magazine is out and we are in it!  Michelle Adams, Editor-in-Chief of Lonny Magazine, discusses the Access to Design program at the NYDC with us.  Watch the video  here.  And enjoy the rest of the magazine too – we will!

Cinema Style

Cinema Style (a blog that I love) had a great post yesterday:  When Worlds Collide: Fashion and Film.   The post discusses how the influence of celebrity can affect our purchasing choices.  Specifically, moving beyond celebrity endorsements, how celebrity partnerships and inspirations actually may guide this market. Check out the article and while you are there  take the time to look around.  There are a lot of excellent posts to read if you are interested in film design.

At Marks & Frantz we are always interested in these intersecting worlds and try to foster these collaborations in our own work as much as possible.  Our redesign of the Top of the Strand, the rooftop bar at the Strand Hotel in New York City, was a creative partnership with Trina Turk for Schumacher and the set decoration for the films Sex and the City and Devil Wears Prada were chock full of fashion/design/furniture crossovers.





Where Fashion meets Furnishings

Early this Spring I had the opportunity to decorate a new TV pilot for HBO called Spring/Fall.  The show is set in New York City against the backdrop of the fashion world and centers around the relationship of two designers – played by Tea Leoni and Hope Davis.

A big part of my job on a TV show or film is to help define characters by creating what their environments look like.  In the case of Spring/Fall this was an interesting task since the premise of the show is all about style and design.  To increase the dramatic tension between the main characters, their very different styles needed to be evident in the decoration of their homes just as much as in their dialogue or wardrobe.

Needless to say, the quest to create original and beautiful sets for the show turned up many, many new sources and products.  I thought it might be fun to share some of them.  Here is one great new find:  Batik Carpets from Odegard.

Odegard’s Batik Kelim designs are hand woven in China in private homes within a cottage industry.  They are flat weaves that are tie-dyed by hand, producing a distinct texture and unique design.  The tie-dye process creates abstract and ethereal motifs.  They are really original and beautiful.  Just what we were looking for for Spring/Fall!


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