Art for Charity in NYC this season

As we head into the holiday season and in the spirit of giving, we wanted to share some of the art for charity events that have caught our eye in and around the interior design industry in New York City this month. Design-related charity events are super important to us for many reasons. We get to showcase our work, usually in a fantastical environment that is similar to something we might create for a client, but on steroids and completely over-the-top! At the same time, it enables us to give back  to causes that are important to us.  We are avid participants in design industry-related events that include DIFFA’s Dining by Design, Housing Works Design on a Dime, Holiday House (charity to raise breast cancer awareness,)  Make-A-Wish Foundation of Connecticut and Kip’s Bay Boys & Girls Club. In the spirt of giving, we are showcasing other talented designers who are creating art for charity every Tuesday thru the end of the holiday season.  A big thank you goes to Alison Draper of Halstead Realty for turning us on to so many cool events happening around NYC! Alison’s monthly e-blast, Inbox Concierge,  has been a great resource for cool things to do in New York City, click here to subscribe


November 3, 2016 – November 16, 2016

An extraordinary annual design competition to benefit the most unique food charity, Canstruction, challenges teams of architects, engineers, and contractors to build sculptures made entirely out of unopened cans of food. The idea of Canstruction was inspired by a group of New York Architects and Engineers in 1992 as a way to unite the design, engineering and construction industry. Recognized for their commitment to art, innovation and hunger relief, the art exhibitions and events have grown globally and have helped raise over 40 million pounds of food that is distributed on a local level.

In NYC, this event is sponsored by Arts Brookfield. The large scale structures are placed on display and later donated to City Harvest for distribution to those in need. These amazing sculptures will be on display at Brookfield Place in Battery Park City (230 Vesey Street) from 10a-8p. Images below are some of the winners from past years.  

art for charity marks and frantz nyc skyline

art for charity marks and frantz minions

Art for charity marks and frantz rhino

art for charity marks and frantz snailed it

Snailed It! MTFA Architects Arlington, VA



art for charity marks and frantz skull

NYC Studios



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

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Lydia Marks & Lisa Frantz

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!!

Friday’s Favorite: Behind the scenes of your Favorite TV Shows

Tonight on HGTV, from 9:00-10:00pm ET is the premiere of “HGTV On the Set.” From the distinct houses of “Modern Family” to the “geek chic” of “The Big Bang Theory,” the surreal suburbia of “Desperate Housewives” to the layered decor of “The Good Wife,” the series takes viewers behind-the-set-design of TV’s most popular and best-decorated shows, including interviews with some of the shows’ stars.  We can’t wait to see it!

Smash: Set Design featured in L.A.Times

Interesting article in the L.A. Times this week about the set design and decoration on SMASH.  The article describes in great detail what goes on behind the scenes while creating the scenery.  Congratulations to Cabot McMullen and Andrew Baseman on the recognition for their hard work.  Much deserved.

Vintage Wallpaper Design Resources

As readers of our blog already know, we love wallpaper. There is definitely a wallpaper moment happening in the design world right now. I am just finishing a great project decorating the sets of a Roland Emmerich TV pilot and got to have a bit of fun with the colors and patterns. I was looking for something chic and original for the main characters apartment and nothing new seemed quite right – so I looked back for inspiration. Vintage wallpaper designs with gorgeous patterns, interesting color combinations, geometrics and damasks were just what I needed.

vintage wallpaper patterns

Vintage Wallpaper at Secondhand Rose

One of the sources I love for vintage papers is Secondhand Rose, a NYC business that has been in operation for 45 years. Below are some of the papers that they have in stock now.

vintage wallpaper from Secondhand Rose

vintage wallpaper from Secondhand Rose

Vintage wallpaper from Secondhand Rose

vintage wallpaper from Secondhand Rose

vintage wallpaper from Secondhand Rose

Vintage Wallpaper at Gracie

Gracie, a family run business in New York City since 1898, has a stock of rare and vintage papers as well.  They are incredibly beautiful.  They also produce new hand painted wallpaper murals and carry antiques and custom lacquer furniture. I was curious how Gracie began their wallpaper business and found the following info on their website.

“During the 1930’s, a friend of Mr. Gracie’s, a textile trader, returned from a visit to China with a roll of exquisite hand painted wallpapers that he had discovered in Beijing. Mr. Gracie was immediately enthusiastic, and felt that he had a market for this product. A relationship was established with the studio that produced the wallpaper and continued until the Chinese revolution in 1949, when the studio was relocated to Taiwan under new management. Decades later, the studio was returned to Mainland China, Gracie’s studio in the orient have been managed by the same Chinese family for fifty years. Hand painted wallpapers are Gracie’s signature product line.”

vintage wallpaper from Gracie

vintage wallpaper from Gracie

I have just received 2 panels of custom Gracie paper that I am having framed for a client. Stay tuned for pictures of this amazing artwork we are creating! We based our design on the panel above but reworked it with our own colors and scale.

Now I want to design a nursery with the cute elephant and inchworm pattern from Secondhand Rose and a powder room with one of the rich chinoiserie papers. The paper is all limited quantities so when it’s gone it’s gone!

vintage wallpaper

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!


Lisa creates a set for Stephen Colbert in NYT Mag!

One of the highlights of December was working on this New York Times Magazine cover shoot with Stephen Colbert. While the set was not a hugely creative endeavor (albeit a super fun one tho!), it was my 3rd New York Times Magazine Cover and I got a chance to work with a famously funny guy! Click on the link for the story of the man with three faces and a SuperPac or pickup a copy of the Sunday New York Times to check out the cover story in the magazine.

Photography by Peter Yang for The New York Times


Lindsey Adelman featured in Elle Decor “How to Light up a Room”

We have been huge fans of lighting designer Lindsey Adelman’s since day one! Lydia used one of her fixtures to create a drop-dead foyer in Sex and the City and we try to use her fixtures in every client’s home that we possibly can. These beautiful, hand-blown, gold leaf inflected globes add sparkle and glamour to every setting…and the industrial chic hardware is pretty fab, too. Her new work is a deadly combination of milky spikes, ropes, chains and a little jewelry thrown in….can’t wait for an opportunity to design one into one of our clients’ homes.
To read about Lindsey’s tips for the best way to light up a rooom, check out the Elle Decor article online today!

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