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

Friday Favorites: Sitting in Style

There are a few places where sculpture, art and everyday life can meet – and one of the best places to enjoy this mashup is the chair.  The word “chair”, without any descriptions or designer names attached to it, sounds so humble.  Just look at the first line of  Wikipedia’s definition of this simple piece of furniture:  A chair is a raised surface used to sit on, commonly for use by one person.  Yet so much beautiful and interesting design has stemmed from its constant reworking.

Vincent's Chair by Vincent van Gogh

There are chairs to eat in, chairs to work in, chairs to perch on and chairs to relax on.  The chairs to relax on are the ones that have been catching my eye recently.  Great as a grouping for the media room, the family room, or as an accent chair in a formal living room, these chairs combine style, comfort and creativity like no others.

Aqua Creations, a company founded by artist and designer Ayala Serfaty and photographer Albi Serfaty in 1994, is probably most well known for their soft, fluid and organic lighting designs.  Their light fixtures are integral to the design of many hotels, restaurants and casinos.  But they also make an amazing line of furniture that follows their same aesthetic and craftsmanship.  One of my favorite lines is called the Gladis.

Gladis Lounge Chair

Gladis Love Seat

A Gladis to perch on

The design of the chairs was originally based on the fingerprint.  It is made with a hand stitched upholstery technique mimicking forms found in nature.  I am currently designing a casual loft space for clients in a home that is filled with more formal furniture pieces and fabrics.  This space is intended to be a place for the family to relax and play with their young child and her guests.  I thought these chairs would be a great way to bring easy comfort to this room without sacrificing on design one bit!

Another design I love by Aqua Creations is their Juno Chair.  Its 3 dimensional textile design is like a tufted chair but with no filling inside the tufts.  Love this and its earthy colors.

Juno Chair by Aqua Creations

Juno Chair in profile

Another sculptural, classic and comfortable chair is the Togo by Ligne Roset.  Originally designed in 1974 by Michael Ducaroy, it is still in production today – that tells you something about the longevity of good design.  Here are a few examples of the Togo suite.

from Apartment Therapy

Ligne Roset Togo Sofa

Togo for kids! Love this.


Those are a few of my favorite chairs and sofas that are stylish, sculptural and comfortable.  I am sure there are many others out there.  Please send us some ideas – we would love to add them to our library!



What’s New, What’s Next @ New York Design Center

As featured designers at the New York Design Center, we have been asked to participate in a variety of events this Tuesday evening at 200 Lex. We are so excited to meet all the magazine editors, interior designers and see what’s new in the showrooms! Stay tuned for future blog posts on one of our fav showrooms, Atelier

Don’t miss the event that will surely be the talk of the industry!

Would you like more Access to Design?

There is a fabulous building full of great design here in New York City.  It is called the New York Design Center and it is the oldest furniture and design building in the US.  As is the case with most of the design buildings, the showrooms generally work only with the trade – if you are not a designer you generally have very little access to these design showrooms.  The NYDC is changing that with their new program Access to Design.  There is a rotating list of designers who do “office hours” at the NYDC.  If a visitor comes in without a designer – and would like to purchase something – the designer on site can help guide them through the amazing choices of furniture, fabrics and lighting and assist in making the purchase.  In the Access to Design office they have portfolios for all the designers involved in the program.  It is a great way to see a variety of work, read about the firms, learn about their billing structures, etc.  Marks & Frantz is thrilled to be one of the preferred design teams participating in this program.  And… if you stop by the NYDC today you can say hello to Lisa!


1st Dibs arrives at the New York Design Center

I am so excited because as everyone knows we are obsessive vintage shoppers, for ourselves and for our clients….and now, 1st Dibs has a brick and mortar store at the New York Design Center! It’s 10,000 square feet of the most unbelievable things from some of our fave dealers and also some new ones from other parts of the country that we’ve only seen online. Our clients will love this because we can hit 25 or more dealers in an hour! We have already made our first purchase for a client, the day after the opening party! I bought a gorgeous pair of Dunbar end tables with capped brass feet from Jon Howell Antiques in Williamsburg and I would never have chased them down based on a photo, in person at NYDC, I fell in love!

NYDC’s Array Magazine features Marks & Frantz

Our friends at the NYDC featured Lydia and I in their quarterly magazine, Array. We were asked to talk about one of our current obsessions…..the color yellow was top of the list! Check out the full story featuring five designers on DesignDish, starting on page 34, or view the full artcile here.

“Our current obsession is the color yellow! Luminous like sunlight, yellow signifies happiness and warmth, and a brilliant yellow can add an unexpected punch to any room.  It catches the eye and makes the room feel fresh and alicve. Sometimes it’s just the unexpected lining of a drapery or maybe it’s canary yellow sofa… Contemporary or classic, it makes an impact almost anywhere.”


Get Access to Marks & Frantz’s Decor Sources

Justin Timberlake may have brought sexy back, but interior designers Lydia Marks and Lisa Frantz—well, they want to bring glamour back. As part of this week’s Access to Design sale, a program that allows regular folk the chance to shop New York Design Center’s usually trade-only showrooms, these one-time set designers selected furnishings and textiles that add a touch of “wow” to one’s rooms. Here’s a preview of their finds.

1. “This rug features funky, photo-realistic flowers lying atop a subtle tree canopy. The effect is dramatic and eye-catching.” (Cadeaux hand-knotted rug, Roubini, $9,980)

2. “This simple armchair is classic and modern and will never go out of style. With its mattress tufting on its cushions, it’s a comfortable choice for sitting areas where a less formal piece is desired.” (Gibby lounge chair, Dennis Miller Associates, $TK)

3. “This demi-lune buffet is a classic example of the French detail that has made Grange famous for a century. The beautifully tapered legs give the piece an airy quality and a slim profile. Great for a dining room with limited space.” (Demi-Lune buffet, Grange, $3,775)

4. “The perfect perch for guests, this contemporary loveseat will blend equally well with vintage and new items.” (Monti love seat, Cliff Young Ltd., $3,799)

5. “This is the most wonderful cabinet—perfect for a foyer or hallway. The beautiful brass details and small caster feet give it an Old World feel with contemporary flair.” (Dansu bar cabinet, Baker, $6,450)

Shop with the pros at the Access to Design: Marks & Frantz sale, starting Saturday, December 18, at 12 ET.


Posted by jtaraska2 on December 17, 2010

Lydia and Lisa curated a sale by Gilt.com for the New York Design Center

Lydia and Lisa curated a sale by Gilt.com for the New York Design Center….going live tomorrow, Saturday December 18 at noon. Check us out!


New York Design Center chats with Lydia Marks, set decorator from Sex and the City

Behind the Scenes with Sex And The City Set Decorator Lydia Marks

– New York Design Center, June 2010

“The New York Design Center had the pleasure of chatting with Lydia Marks, of Marks & Frantz, the set decorator for Sex and the City 1 and 2, as well many other stylish films (i.e. The Devil Wears Prada). Here is an inside look at how Carrie Bradshaw “Cheated on fashion with furniture,” and some other fabulous tips on designing for the big screen and your own home:

Each character from Sex and the City not only is incredibly fashionable, but also has a very distinct and characteristic personal style. How did you translate that individualism to each character’s home?

Color palette has a lot to do with the individuality of each character’s home. For example, Charlotte is whites and creams, Miranda is earth tones, moss greens, and reds, Samantha is white and metal with orange accents and Carrie’s new apartment is subdued shades of browns and blues with a lot of texture.

You’ve decorated such a range of sets—from The Devil Wears Prada to Night at the Museum. Do you have any signatures, large or small, that you try to incorporate into everything you do?

I try to make my sets feel natural, on every project. Generally that means personal objects, or a special piece of art, or something that only that character would have. I do this even on really sleek and spare sets. In Miranda Priestly’s office in DWP, she had a beautiful leather notebook (we put some special notes in it too), a silver pen, and a few small dishes on her desk that held office supplies that looked like they came from travels she may have taken or gifts from someone.

Each character from Sex and the City not only is incredibly fashionable, but also has a very distinct and characteristic personal style. How did you translate that individualism to each character’s home?

Color palette has a lot to do with the individuality of each character’s home. For example, Charlotte is whites and creams, Miranda is earth tones, moss greens, and reds, Samantha is white and metal with orange accents and Carrie’s new apartment is subdued shades of browns and blues with a lot of texture.

Being on a movie like Sex and the City where the fashion plays such a large part, did you ever have to change elements of the set to complement the costumes?

It was tricky to decorate the sets with wardrobe in mind on Sex and the City, because often the wardrobe is not chosen far enough in advance. A lot of the furniture upholstery and curtain fabrication need to happen before the costumes are finished being selected. In the instances where I can do it, I try to. We chose the blue Donghia fabric for Carrie’s sofa partially because we thought it would look amazing with the dress she wears in the final scene of the film.

Each character from Sex and the City not only is incredibly fashionable, but also has a very distinct and characteristic personal style. How did you translate that individualism to each character’s home?Color palette has a lot to do with the individuality of each character’s home. For example, Charlotte is whites and creams, Miranda is earth tones, moss greens, and reds, Samantha is white and metal with orange accents and Carrie’s new apartment is subdued shades of browns and blues with a lot of texture.

Based on your experiences, do you believe that a set should be a reflection of what the audience already knows about a character, or that a set should help audiences understand and learn more about that character?The set should reinforce what the director wants the audience to understand about the character. Sometimes an actor is not going to be onscreen for too long, and their set is a very quick way to learn who they are. It can often provide a little back story – giving the character some history that brings depth to the role.

We know you shop the trade for many of your sets—are there certain resources you prefer more than others?

Trade shopping is very useful for some things on film sets and not as useful for other things. It is amazing for fabric and wallpaper. I can generally get delivery on these things fairly quickly. Unlike my residential work, where shopping for furniture available to the trade is indispensable, it is tricky for film work. I hardly ever have enough lead time to order custom furniture from a showroom. If I need custom pieces I go to fabricators who are used to the time demands of a film project and build pieces from scratch.

At the NYDC I used Kravet (fabric) often, they are very good with stock and ordering, Baker made their case goods and lighting available to us, Bograd Kids had really great items for Charlotte’s kids room, Hickory Chair sold us a few pieces off the floor when we really needed them, Victor’s Sample Room came in handy for a few unexpected last minute requests, HighTower Group let us rent pieces for a set as did Napier+Joseph+McNamara.

You’ve started your new company, Marks & Frantz, with Lisa Frantz. What does your background in set design bring to designing residential projects?

Both Lisa Frantz and I have backgrounds in film and photography. This background has so many advantages – we have an amazing pool of craftsman and artisans who are used to working quickly and creatively. We are used to our work being photographed up close and from views that were never considered or discussed. This makes our attention to detail very fine tuned. We can work quickly to accommodate a change in vision or new concepts. Our interiors have a lot of personality – we build a room for a client the same we develop a character’s home in a film, with a lot of details and layers.

What are your favorite challenges of residential projects vs. set design?

My favorite challenge of a residential space versus a film set is how the room will function for the client over a period of time. Obviously the client needs their space to age well, so quality, durability of fabrics and other materials is really important.”

view the full article here

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