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Preview: Francine Gardner - Art de Vivre

Francine Gardner - Art de Vivre

A blog dedicated to the full enjoyment of life and all it has to offer. Home, travel, food, art, design, garden, lifestyle and much more....

Updated: 2018-04-21T15:46:55.241-04:00


Life in White...


As i look outside my window, the landscape is defined by tones of whites and greys. Our skis and boots officially went to the warehouse yesterday, spring cleaning lists to be prepared…endless with roof to be repaired, leaks to be fixed, house to be repainted, indoor walls to be repainted, electrical to be fixed…did i mention the plumbing? I don't even want to think about the garden work to be attended to once the snow melts away. The love for an old charming house! one has to be either nutty or with a full staff of jack of all trades to choose to live in an old house, in my case turn of the century stables. For all my whining, I would not have it any other way. I love all the corkiness and imperfections of the house, its character, the place I call home. This house has been my savior and shelter during these past months of turmoil . The house has been my physical and spiritual refuge, my safety net. Change is hard, change is tough, but I do embrace change. I am changing nearly 20 years of conducting my business in a specific traditional way,  to embrace the world of e.commerce and iCloud.I am about to launch my new Interieurs Design Studio website:, working on implementing our new  into an commerce website, while working on Interior design projects, hence my lack of blogging…Life is white and grey with some bursts of sunshine.Bedroom by Paola NavoneChandelier by Jose Esteves for interieurs.comMy winter white tablescapeLa Vie en Blanc…A BientôtFrancinevisit interieursdesignstudio.comby Francine gardner[...]

Mountain Style


View from my bedroomI truly apologize for my lack of blogging and missing out on our last"By invitation only" posting. Having a free moment this morning, I will try and catch up on my fellow bloggers' post I was snowbound in the French Pyrennees where my parents spend the winters. Hurling winds and record snow made skiing very challenging, but I loved it all the same. Waking up this morning to a windy, sub zero snowy day, I feel this is a perfect opportunity to write my  yearly "Mountain Style" post.I have a very deep love for the mountains. I embrace the challenge of the weather , love trekking up the mountains, love extreme high altitudes and most of all love the snow.However, I am a designer after all and my surroundings and interiors are also very important to my sense of well being. Enjoy!My village and ski resort in the French Pyrenees:Saint -Lary      A guest retreat, part of a ski house I designed in UtahA spa retreat  A place to forget about the world... A Bientot,FrancinePlease visit my new website: [...]

Among Bedouins


Back in mid November I received an email from my dear friend, New York's design icon Tucker Robbins. Tucker is a renowned furniture designer whose passion lies in the cooperation among global cultures. His vision is to be a bridge between disparate cultures and to give back to the environment and the people who live in it.I started to read the following email:"On behalf of the Crown prince of Abu Dhabi and Mohamed Khalf Al Mazroeui, I extend a warm welcome to join us at the Al Dhafra Camel festival. Accommodations will be provided at the VIP tent encampment in the Liwa desert. Preference will be given to guests looking for an immersion in the Bedouin culture."Within minutes my fingers pressed the reply button: "This is the most impulsive decision I ever made, but count me in!"I woke up my husband who was still sound asleep at 5AM, and asked if he would mind spending Christmas without me. Christmas is a very important tradition in our family, as every year we host our traditional Christmas lunch to a gathering of 20 plus close friends. Typically our tree is nearly occluded by the gifts that surround it; presents for friends and family, the lunch is always a very fancy and culinary affair with the most special wine and fare. I then woke up my sons and read them Tucker's email….immediately, they said… Mom you must go! this is an amazing opportunity to experience this part of the world…you have gone through a lot lately and you need to do something positive… By mid morning I had booked my flight ticket , destination: Abu Dhabi.I had absolutely no idea of what to expect or who would be present. After two rather long flights, arriving at the airport with no one in sight bearing a sign with my name, I started to wander…how do I get to the desert, what am I doing in this crowded airport?… I took a deep breath, annoyed every local agent who could speak english, dialed every number I had for Tucker and his team in New York… to no avail. So I made a rational decision to stay put and wait. A few hours later, I had never been so happy to recognize a familiar face…. Clodagh had just walk though the exit gate, I ran to her and gave her the biggest hug. Clodagh is by far the most talented International Designer: from spas, to hotels, to interiors and designs, she brings her incredible talent to enhance life and spirit through timeless, responsive design. Then walked in another western woman who looked as she was searching for a sign. Her name is Helene and we have been inseparable ever since. We all arrived at 3 AM, had a drink at a lavish hotel in the desert and were thrilled to stay in such a magnificent place in the desert (so we thought...). Well…. that was only the first (of many stops as the hotel was our only link to wifi, cocktails and pool…) and we quickly went back into the car that took us to the camp.The rest of this story is a tale of incredibly generous and kind hosts, the immersion in the ancient foreign culture of the Bedouins (locally, "Bedu"), surrounded by magnificent desert landscapes and golden dunes.The daily ritual is waking up to a lavish breakfast spread, our hosts, their friends and our small group would wander in the tent and the conversations would start. Lunch is a huge fare of Tagines, fish, rice, vegetables, platters after platters of food. Dinner is over the top with trays laden with lamb chops, sheep meats, chicken, goat meat and … camel meat. I don't eat sheep or goat and couldn't bring myself to eat the camel, because I so love the ungainly creatures. Luckily, I befriended our French speaking Moroccan chef who happily prepared me special and amazingly delicious vegetarian Tagines.We would then retire in our beautiful tent and start evening presentations and conversations. Our hosts would drop in and share stories.My day would start at sunrise, climbing the dunes, sitting on top of the tallest dune and taking in the astounding beauty, the vastness and harshness of the largest desert in the world, k[...]

My Girlfriend's Wedding….


I recently had dinner with a friend and  sharing over Sushi at Nobu' bar (our get together cantina), our thoughts about life, infinity, black hole, religion and…girlfriends.I cannot envision my life without my girlfriends. We are always there for each other, with quite a few years behind us, we all have experienced the roller coaster that is life…our joy, our fears, our defeats and successes, but above all the incredible support and love we have for each other.I am truly blessed with the most loving friends and their trust in me.While walking in the woods near my house, my friend Cheryl announced in passing that…YES! she was getting married to my good friend Tom….I introduced them to each other a year ago at one of our Interieurs' party. Then I asked: where are you getting married? We looked at each other and without saying we knew…at the house, right? The house being our home in Connecticut where we celebrated my friend's Suzanne's (referred to at the time as my kids' second mom) wedding… a beautiful affair 10 years ago. On a side note, my husband is a lucky man, having been surrounded all these years by these beautiful, kind, funny, generous women, the women in my life.Cheryl and Tom said yes on a glorious autumn day….not a dry eye under the tent… there was so much happiness, love, tears and laughter. This was a very intimate wedding,  lunch in our living room, where we spent so many moments together, Christmases, Thanksgiving, celebrations, always great food and wine, compliments of my husband, the chef and patriarch who knows how to take care of "his girls".My friend Judith and Francesca (she really is a med student..) helped me with the flowers, my sons  moved all the furniture out of the house, Julie baked the most amazing cake. Everyone was there to celebrate. To Tom, this is an official sealed welcome into our crazy, fun, loving  family.The settingThe preparation: flowers in seasonLunch for 40The beautiful ceremony officiated by Tom's sisterAustin gave his mom away…mom and daughterThe dashing boys…Austin and my sonsHere's to you "Mr and" Mrs Robinson![...]

A PERFECT DAY in a life….


Our dear friend Marsha Harris of Splenderosa is asking us to pick one of the best days of our life, for this month's "By Invitation Only" post.The timing of this post is so perfect as I am living in a personal turmoil, having made some big (but very positive) changes in my professional life that will impact my work and my family.For a moment, I will leave all worries and demands aside, take time out and relieve some synopsis of my life…flashbacks…moments of pure joy…moments of pure freedom…A vision of my children on the day of their birth flash immediately in front of my eyes, however I must pick one day, one day so perfect that it  ecapsulates the very best life can bring us.Instantly a vision comes to me,  the sounds,  the colors, the scents, the humidity, the calm and heaviness of the air, a moment in time as far away from civilization and culture as I have ever experienced.That glorious day started with my two children, husband Luke and myself waking up in the early hours of the morning to the sounds of chattering Proboscis monkeys, aboard a boat on a Kalimantan black water river, in the heart of the rainforest of Borneo's Tanjung Puting National Park. Writing these sentences,  transports me back ten years and I even now feel the pure moment of joy and elation as if I was experiencing the moment now, surrounded by so much life, serenity, beauty with the man and two boys I so intensely love.We were alone (save our boat's captain and our guide of course) in a world about to vanish, and the awareness of that moment in time, the fragility of all the beauty surrounding us made this moment even more powerful. I had wanted for my children to understand how precarious all the world's beauty really is. My son Hadrian completed his sciences project, communicating with Seeswee, a beautiful orangutan whose life is in jeopardy due to the loss of habitat.Living on the deck of our little boatThe amazingly beautiful, fast disappearing rain forest After  days and endless patience, Hadrian became close to Seswee, he made her a necklace which she proceeded to place around her neck, after watching him do so.A bientôt,Francine[...]

Staying ZEN….


I have entered a period of great change and restlessness … so much so that even my two wonderful rescue dogs are picking up on my moods. I wish that after the numerous trips I've taken to Asia, I would have spent more time listening and absorbing the teaching of Buddhism. My heart and soul gravitates to the Zen philosophy.Change is scary … in such times, ones needs to find their own peace and reality. My surroundings deeply affect my moods and I find refuge in nature and my home. I am able to capture moments of great but simple beauty, be it a sun ray of pure morning light casting shadows of tree leaves on my walls, the sound of morning dove, the thought of a friend.All the emotions and feelings are part of the personal journey reflected in my design work.Share with me a few moments of Bliss, Zen and Beauty ….These images are from my various Interior Design projects.Soon InterieursDesign Studio by Francine Gardner is too launch.Join us on October 14th at Interieurs, 228 East 58th Street for an intimate gathering celebrating our design work and our new website.Dreaming of a Zen refuge…email me:[...]



September in Paris is always a treat. The weather was gorgeous, dinner with Jose Esteves and Monique Duveau- Cote Sud- an amazing culinary experience at their favorite bistro Paul Bert…not to be missed next time you are in Paris.I cut my visit  to Maisons et Objets down to one day, just enough time to meet with my vendors and be on the look out for new interesting ideas, pieces. The inspirations from Elizabeth Leriche were brilliant…a post to follow.The highlight of my whirlwind trip to Paris was the AD INTERIEURS 2014 show at the Arts Decoratifs. For the 5th year, AD magazine invited 16 top french designers to create a room based on a piece from The Arts Decoratifs Museum. This show objective is to elevate "l'art De Vivre" to its highest level, reaching out to the most skills artisans and talented architects designers. This is the best representation of French Design. The dressing room "Dandy" by Christian Auer is based on Michel Boyer monumental chandelier, 1972The Reading Room by Architects  Bismut et Bismut was designed around Jacques Adnet's desk and chair, 1950The Piano Bar by studio Alberto Pinto was inspired by the Museum piece"Gueridon" by Philippe Hiquily, 1960'sAmazing texture and color of the pianoVincent Darre imagined a living room within a crate, based on Armand Sculpture#1Noe Duchaufour Lawrence's design room, a twist on the original piece by George de Feure vitrine, 1900Beautiful details of the fabric draping Gilles and Boissier duo desk inspired by an 1860 vitrine "Fleuves"Jean Francois Graff's inspiration cam from an exquisite Ming Dynastie 14th century vase.My favorite room by Chahan Minassian, a presidential desk from Cesar,1966 Luis Laplace imagined a latin lover refuge, inspired by a Clement Mere desk, 1923Isabelle Stanislas room is simply amazing, juxtaposing dorian, marble, glass…modern luxury in its pure form. Her inspiration, a 16th century venetian trunk is housed under glass.Pierre  Yovanovitch living room is inspired by a Biaritz garden chair from Pierre Dariel, 1926 The amazing Bathroom by Charles Zana incorporates an Ettore Scottsass chandelier, 1957Hope you are inspired...A Bientot,Francine[...]

A summer in IBIZA


Years ago, our family and friends would cross the Mediterranean on my parent's motor boat to go and explore Ibiza, famous island in the Baleares. I loved the wildness of this enchanting yet primitive island. The hippies had taken over the ancient town Dal't Villa - the old town- having been thrown out of Katmandu . We were under  Franco's  era, but Ibiza was free from the Vigilentes and started to become a playground for artists, eccentric wealthy travelers and jet setters.This island is stunningly beautiful, rich in history, culture and architecture. The now famous fincas had incredible charm. After a few visits to Ibiza, we stopped going to settle in the French Village of Eze Village. The New York Times article about Eze Village, published last week brought a slew of memories…. Years later, I met this handsome, wild guy in Boston whose mother had a beautiful historic house in the old town of Ibiza. He had spent his childhood summers there. As soon as school was over, we would pack up and fly to Ibiza….The 80's was  best experienced in Ibiza, the crazy Pasha, Amnesia clubs, dancing until breakfast. Then sleeping the days away on the beach, suntanning and some swimming. This is what happens when mixing  too much sun and sangria….That was the life! We have returned many times, Ibiza is now the home of the super jet setters and famous DJ's.I love the Mediterranean, the architecture of Greece and Ibiza . Welcome to my dream homes!My husband's mother's house is next to the churchEl Chiringuito at Cala Gracioneta, secluded Ibiza beach restaurantA Bientôt…. adieu l'eteFrancineAre you are dreaming of you perfect beach home?  contact our "Interieurs Design Studio, by Francine Gardner". I can make it happen.[...]

Maine Spa Treatment


Christmas Cove, South Bristol,MaineI needed to recharge as we say… the batteries… Could not think of a more beautiful place than my husband's family magnificent spot on the coast of Maine. This is no near as far as Roque Island, our beloved Island way up North in Maine.Recipe for my "get in shape" in 5 days program:Be present in the moment, absorb you surroundings, breath in the fresh scented air, feel the ocean,leave behind newspapers, computers, TV. Listen to the music of the birds.Up early, I eat a  healthy breakfast of home made bread and jam, scrambled farm eggs with freshly harvested Chantarelle mushrooms and chopped bacon strips all topped off with a glass of fresh juice.Then onto the bike for a challenging ride. Starting at 10 miles on the first day to 20 miles by the fifth day. The ride is rigorous with steep hills, fast descents, curved lanes which makes it  an interesting and fun work out while  burning calories and  great leg and thigh workout.Back to the house for a light snack and ready to hike the beautiful wooded trails along the coast. Along the walk, I love to explore in search for beautiful moss and some more Chanterelles which will be perfect for a light lunch. The paths are covered in the most stunning varieties of  moss. The air is richly scented from the pines, the sea, the humus. Breath in….breath out… clean the lungs.A kitchen with a viewBack at the house, time to collect blueberries that will be transformed into delicious pies.A lunch of fresh crab salad on home made bread, local peaches for desert, and a strong espresso.Time to lounge by the pool or on the grass, looking at the bay, a nap, a great book…moment of bliss.Part two of the "perfect healthy day":Off to our dock to get the kayaks in the water. I love kayaking, it is a contemplative exercise, silence only broken by the cries of the birds, the sound of the wind. We have had some intense kayaking as well, being caught in some rapid currents. The Maine waterways and ocean is treacherous and one has to be very aware of the change in tides, winds and storms surging. I try to kayak for at least one and a half hours... it is a great exercise for the shoulders, arms and upper back.Then comes my final ritual, not for the faint of heart: swimming in rather cold water. I always swim in the late afternoon to early evening high tides, when the water had a chance to warm up to a roaring 60 degrees. (Roque island water is in the low to mid 50's…) I have a strict method of counting each stroke. 1000 strokes is close to 1 mile and that is my daily goal, it takes about 1 hour. If the water is too cold, I unfortunately cut it to half a mile to avoid hypothermia. I feel euphoric from the swim, it is truly an amazing feeling. The water is just so cold, so pure, the scent in the air is incredibly fragrant, the nature surrounding me is magnificent and I forget the world…. allowFullScreen='true' webkitallowfullscreen='true' mozallowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='266' src='' class='b-hbp-video b-uploaded' FRAMEBORDER='0' />Last part of the day is running on the dock to get as fast as possible to my well deserved hot water shower. It does take a little while to bring back the body temperature.I dress comfortably and warmly, light a big fire, serve myself a glass of rose and get lost into the sunset.Dinner is usually clams, lobsters, oysters, fish…all food from the sea and local vegetables.The day is gone...walking back from the main house to our smaller cottage, we stop to stare at the stars,  They are brilliant in the unpolluted sky.I thank God, kiss my husband goodnight and enter the world of dreams.A Bientôt,Francine[...]

In London


 London in bloomI just returned from a whirlwind trip to London working on a house project for a client. This was a great but stressful experience as I have never worked so fast from my client's first phone call to installation. I had two months to come up with floorplans, design and procure furniture, lighting , window treatments for a house in London. I will mention that the house was designed sight unseen, from not very precise floorplans and measurements taken by my client during her visits to the house. The painting schedule was done from New York as well with the english paint company Farrow and Ball.   Living Room before...freshly paintedWith such a short amount of time, I resorted to source all furniture from the US and ship everything via a container to the UK. My alarm clock was set at 4am every morning, weekends included as sourcing requires a great deal of time. The concept for the house came to me really quickly and was immediately approved by the client. Budgets were set to a bare minimum because the house will only be lived in for a few years. I first looked at my Showroom inventory for the key pieces, Living Room sofa, dining table, armchair and chandelier. Every weekend was spent going through antique markets to get some great textured pieces, such as an antique mirror, a console and various accessories. Budget and time in mind, I resorted to online resources and great high end companies established in North Carolina that carried some real-time inventory. Meanwhile, the clock was ticking as we had a set date for the container to be dispatched. My massive Excel spreadsheet was my survival tool. Every detail of the job was entered, vendor purchases, payments, lead time, cost of shipping.... The project was organized by room to make it easier to control. Each room would have very detailed purchases with photo including furniture, fabrics, upholsterer, labor, lighting, UL costs, accessories, planters, bedding, etc. Every week,  I would check status of deliveries with our warehouse receiver. Then came the expected problems of damaged merchandise to be replaced in minimum time. Container was loaded and left on the scheduled date of dispatch. I relaxed by the pool all weekend and then back to sourcing for still missing items, especially lighting. By now, I know the ins and out of!Then came the time to hop on a plane. I arrived on  a Monday morning, met my client and off we went to look for missing antiques and accessories. The week went by at full speed, all furniture arrived, we only lost a console which was left behind in New York and air shipped later. The house was installed, decorated, orchids throughout, paintings hung, lighting installed, candles lit. This is my favorite moment, the moment that makes you forget the stress, the fears, the exhaustion as you watch your client's reaction when they step into their home for the first time. Living Room after (still missing custom rug)I stayed at the delightful Marylebon Hotel but did not see much of London and am planning to return and check out the transformations to my old student days neighborhood of Kensington, where I lived for two years. However, the days are long in London and I would walk along the streets of Marylebone, eating a light dinner with a glass of wine in one of the many outdoor restaurants. London had changed so much since I lived there. The streets are vibrant, the city is in bloom, people are shopping, restaurants are packed and I heard a lot of laughter.Can't wait to return and yes indeed, I will pay a visit to the Tate!   Beautiful NurseryA Bientot,Francine[...]

Summer days...


Last year, in MozambiqueI live for summer…the perfect dry day, listening to the sounds of the cicadas, forgetting the world and just taking in the sun, the scents of lavender and rosemary. As a child, I spent my summers in Eze Village, a small village overlooking the Mediterranean above Nice. I was  a free, wild child - this was a time when children were safe to run and explore - I would hike down to the beach with my cousins, stop by the local farmer for the taste of a peach. These memories are so vivid that I can still taste the ripe peach, smell the intoxicating thyme, and feel the excitement of running to the beach. I would read  Marcel Pagnol's novels, laying on my blanket and pillows by the shade of the fragrant pine trees. Growing up as a teenager, I counted the days to summer, the excitement of going boating on the Atlantic coast of Cap Ferret and Pyla Sur Mer, getting oysters from the local farmers and naps by the sand dunes, listening to  the enchanting sound of the ocean and the exquisite smell  of the pine trees.During  college summer breaks, I worked in Saint Tropez, a dream job…. showing potential buyers houses to buy or rent. I found out that one actually needs a few hours of sleep … and would dance all night into morning. My vacation from this "stressful" job was to escape to Ibiza with my then boyfriend …now husband of thirty years. In those days, Ibiza was a cool, laid-back island, beautiful white washed houses, hot sandy beaches, clear water and wild nightlife…These memories of summer are part of who I am and I try to escape to far away places to feel these moments of pure bliss.I, unfortunately, do not live by the beach but summer coming, I work on re- creating the scents, taste, colors and sounds of my childhood. The pool is surrounded by stone walls, white roses, lavender beds, thyme and rosemary. My tented canopy bed is my refuge where I dream, read, nap, think and create interiors for my clients' summer homes. The houses that I design for my clients always have a part of me, as I go back to my perfect childhood days, and  re-create these sensory experiences, the houses of my life's summers. The pictures are in my head and in my heart.My dream summer houses….All images from my Pinterest board: Summer,Francine[...]

Adieu…saying goodbye


Saturday June 21st was a very sad day… a very sad day indeed as we said goodbye to a brilliant, great man, the father of my husband. Robert Gardner left us as we were holding his hands, his last breath into the sunset overlooking the Charles River.I  very quietly looked at life though his lens, slowly developing a passion for African art, traveling the world with my then young children to show them the bare essentials in life, to introduce them to cultures so foreign to us.My children as we did, had a quiet moment to say goodbye to their grand father, a forbidding figure at times, but a proof that one can live a full life, a life of one's choosing.Aurevoir…ARTS: Copyright New York Times June 27th, 2014Robert Gardner Dies at 88; Filmed Cultural PracticesBy BRUCE WEBERJUNE 27, 2014PhotoRobert Gardner on the banks of the Ganges in the mid-1980s. CreditNed JohnstonContinue reading the main storyShare This PageEMAILFACEBOOKTWITTERSAVEMOREContinue reading the main story class="ad-frame frame-for-article" frameborder="0" style="border-width: 0px; height: 60px; width: 96px;">Robert Gardner, an intrepid filmmaker who specialized in anthropological documentaries, examining lives in remote societies around the globe, died on June 21 in Boston. He was 88.The cause was cardiac failure, his wife, Dr. Adele Pressman, said.Mr. Gardner, who had been a student of art history at Harvard, began making films in the early 1950s after visiting Turkey with the archaeologist and scholar Thomas Whittemore and starting graduate school in anthropology at the University of Washington.His work, known for its sophisticated visual language and sparse narration, unveiled ethnographically distinctive peoples and practices with patience and a kind of objective astonishment.“For much of a career that has spanned more than a half-century and circumnavigated the globe,” Manohla Dargis wrote in The New York Times in 2011, on the occasion of a partial retrospective of his work at Film Forum in Manhattan, “Mr. Gardner has trained the camera on people whose lives, rituals, beliefs and bodily ornamentation can seem so far from early-21st-century Western life as to be from another galaxy.”His first important feature-length film, “Dead Birds,” arose from a 1961 trip he made to what was then Netherlands New Guinea (now part of Indonesia), where he observed the rituals of a prehistoric highlands people known as the Dani, whose traditions, values and quotidian practices were largely based on, in Mr. Gardner’s words, “an elaborate system of intertribal warfare and revenge.”The expedition included 23-year-old Michael Rockefeller, son of Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York, who later that year disappeared after traveling to another part of New Guinea. Mr. Gardner accompanied the governor in what turned out to be a fruitless search for his son, whose body was never found.Among the admirers of the film, released in 1964, were the poet Robert Lowell (Mr. Gardner’s cousin) and the anthropologist Margaret Mead. Ms. Dargis called it “a landmark in the field” and “a document, a time capsule, about a society on the edge, both in terms of the marginalization of its population and the material changes that will come with the shrinking world.”Mr. Gardner’s 1974 film, “Rivers of Sand,” depicted the Hamer people of Ethiopia, whose society is baldly and cruelly male-dominated.“In their isolation, they seemed to have refined this not uncommon principle of social organization into a remarkably pure state,” Mr. Gardner wrote. “Hamer men are masters and their women are slaves. The film tries to disclose the effect on mood and behavior of lives governed by the idea of sexual inequality.”Mr. Gardner’s other films include[...]

Floral Design


Growing up on a farm in France, I have inherited my grand mother's love for flowers. My garden is a true labor of love and I have spent a good part of my life, designing, planting, caring for my flowers and trees.One of my pleasures is to cut flowers in the early morning and arrange bouquets for the house. This has turned into a real passion, and I have done all the flower arrangements for friend's weddings, engagement parties and events.I designed white and blue arrangements for my friend's  big birthday  bash . A perfect evening of great food, music, dancing under the star, and the most glorious sunset over the Long Island sound. Sadly, I had no time to take any photographs.I realized that I haven't shared the flowers arrangements and tablescape I designed for the Greenwich Red Cross Gala event in May. For this affair, I relied on Lenox as they so kindly loaned me the beautiful tableware and glasses designed by Dona Karan as well as the silverware designed by Kate Spade. I incorporated my personal hand made ceramic plates lined with pure gold from the artist Jan Burts.In a collaborate effort, Peter Farsano and I created the table cloth, inspired by the leaves designs that I saw on women's face in Burma. I reached out to Peter with my hand drawn design which he turned into a wonderful linen fabric.You can see Peter's wonderful line of hand printed fabrics on: Bientôt,Francine[...]

Memorial Day


Belle IsleI just returned from Paris and Belle Isle in Brittany. Belle isle is an enchanting island (blog post to follow) and one cannot forget its tumultuous past while hiking along its wild coast , with german blockaus being part of World war II military landscape and Hitler's "Atlantic Wall". One can find these monstrous structures all along the West coast of France,  protecting the Atlantic coast from allied invasions. Locals residents as well as prisoners from concentration camps built these bunkers which housed generators, ammunition storage and rockets.I have read numbers of history books and novels taking place during World War II and have an endless fascination for this part of history that showed the worst lack of humanity and yet the incredible courage in each human being, a period of hatred and great love all at ounce.On a walk to my village with my dad, a couple of hours before my flight back, he pointed to a small "place" in our village, remembering how his father used to hide gasoline for the "Resistants" among the fruit crates and store it there for the night. Then I went up to our cemetery to say goodbye to my beloved aunt who recently passed away and read the names of all the departed ones, young sons of the village who died in the two World wars.One must never forget and truly be thankful for the selflessness of others who died for us.My french village: Clemont dessousIn Memoriam…A Bientôt,Francine[...]



 ghostsofdc.orgMarsha, of Splenderosa, our fabulous group leader, is ending the spring monthly "By Invitation Only" with a loaded topic!"Top 5 Things That Make You Crazy:in other words, how to improve the universe from our own point of view, of course."Top 5 things that make me crazy... need to think about it, but 5 things that will improve the universe is a little tasking... especially waking up from a 2 days whirlwind of working on table design for the Red Cross Gala event, as well as the flower centerpieces, installing and then, breaking down at one in the morning (Post to follow). Please forgive me for narrowing it down to my own little universe.MESS ... I am not a nerd but cannot stand mess, clothes on armchairs, stack of things piling up, bathrooms products all over the counter, towels on the floor, I could go on and on. I live with my three men who must have some kind of vision syndrome,  that shields them from looking at their surroundings and makes them oblivious to mess. I can trace their activities from the shedding of clothes and stuff, tools, food left open, empty bottles to the delight of my dogs who love to snuggle on jackets and sweaters. I am the "CLEAN UP" monster. I have been at times known to empty my sons' room or cottage (where my older son lives) and throw everything in the courtyard. It is quite a sight, but get the job done! I like a house without clutter, open and airy and with no "stuff".Being more of a minimalist when it comes to furniture in my house, clutter has no room for it.GLASSES... I am always loosing my glasses and don't even want to tally up my yearly budget in glasses. Usually, the more expensive such as my Chanel, Cartier, Gucci and others, the shorter their life span...of course, I rarely loose the ones bought out of desperation at the corner drugstore.LATENESS... I always try to get to my appointments on time, as I believe that it is the respectful thing to do, however, commuting to New York everyday, I am at the mercy of trains, traffic, subways and hate starting my day being stressed out for being late. On the other hand, I get very annoyed when clients, vendors, request really early appointment and show up late without a care. it really messes up the day.FRIED FOOD... the smell of fried food sends me running. The other day, I actually was enjoying a sunny moment on a bench in the city...being early for an appointment. To my dismay, the local cart was selling some revolting smelling fried "stuff" I did not even want to know what was being fried, some poor creature, no doubt.WAKING TO MAY HUSBAND'S EARLY MORNING POLITICAL RANTS... Needless to say my husband and I do not share the same political views, and I have to endure his early morning rantings reading the news on his Ipad. No matter how I object, wanting to keep some piece and calm before the usual storm hits,but  there is no stopping him. I swear, it is a disease, some kind of early insanity for which no cure has yet been found.On such a positive note, I wish every member of our group a wonderful summer.I cannot wait to read about all your summer plans, projects and vacations.Francine[...]

Design on a Dime benefit


Last week was a whirlwind, between business, design work and installing our Design on a dime booth, my head was literally in the clouds. As a result, i lost, glasses, camera, one of my projects' floorplans (which we had to redo). To add to the list, the day following the event, we started a HUGE sale at Interieurs.I am now gearing for my next benefit event which is the highlight of Greenwich Westchester social calendar, The Red Cross Gala. I am designing a table and forgot a major detail...the flower centerpiece, I also designed a fabric pattern exclusively for the table and....the fabric is lost somewhere in transit.The event is on Saturday May 3rd. Mercifully, I am waking up to a beautiful morning and will shortly go and check my favorite nursery for a dose of "gardening fix", as I am in dire need of perennials and replacement roses.Design on A Dime was an amazing success, The private cocktail for viewing only was packed and socialites, as well as designers, were taking a mental note of what they will purchase. The furniture is donated by each  designer. In my case, I received wonderful items from our vendors, Innergaze with whom we do the most high end cabinetry work, built the white console. Romo donated all the amazing fabrics for the seating, and Mario Valle our wonderful upholster made the pieces. I commissioned the wonderful artist Gerry Mercado to do the two graf. paintings. Robert, at window mode, made tons of pillows for us as well, Design Within Reach and Soho Concept donated the 2 armchairs.Interieurs took care of all the rest of the pieces, rug, accessories, vintage lamp, heating pillar etc....As soon at the red cords were pulled, the shopping frenzee started. I was stunned, within less than half an hour our entire booth was sold!!! paintings, upholstered sectional, rug, chairs, tables, accessories....everything SOLD!!!! I took a risk by going so bold, when the rest of the booths were rather traditional and it really paid off. The energy within our team was amazing, as exhausted but happy, we felt that we contributed a little to the ones in need. Housing Work is truly an outstanding organization and it is so rewarding to see designers come together for such a great cause.WE had a late start, 11am installing the electrical wires to crate a ceilingWe could not proceed placing the furniture until the canvases were mounted , stressful was the word as the count down - everyone had  to be out by 4pm started. A benefit Gala Dinner was to be held that evening. By 3:30 we hung the paintings.Neighbors were looking at us with compassion and horror, never thinking we would make it on time and commenting on how insane we were to be so calm....Estera and I with Gerry, a well deserved hug! Gerry was thrilled to see his painting being snatched away Now the fun starts... A couple of my favorite vignettes: A Bientot,Francine Looking for a designer? Would love to help...[...]

Design On A Dime


This year again, I will participate in the fabulous fund raising event  "Design On  A Dime". This April, Housing Works will celebrate the 10th anniversary of New York City most popular interior design benefit.The event will be held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. The event last for 3 days and features 50 of the wold's top interior designers. Each designer will create a room vignette and all merchandise will be offered  at 50 to 70 percent off retail.Rosario Dawson, actress and AIDS advocate is the honorary chair, Michael Boodro, editor in chief of Elle Decor will be one of the co-chair.The highlight of this event is the opening Night Reception on April 24th, with hundreds of VIPs and  celebrities who mingles with us, designers and shop, shop and shop some more...All profits of Design on a Dime go to Housing Works whose goal is to provide New Yorkers living with aids, housing and services.Last year, our booth was designed for an imaginary dandy. I was in Africa while my team was putting the booth together. I did most of the creative, donating pieces from my Showroom INTERIEURS as well as relying on our vendors 'generous donations. I had a fond thought for my associates on the night of the party, while sipping wine under the African sky…This time, for a 10th anniversary, I am going bold, making a statement…. It has been quite a process. Furniture showrooms  were not as generous and I had to rely on our chore vendors. Romo fabrics with whom we have a wonderful relationship provided us with their brand new collection off fabrics…simply amazing! powerful black and white statement. Mario Valle upholstered the sectional whose frames were made by…myself and my dear husband. We learned carpentry in a week-end as we  could not find anyone willing to make the frames… the result between Mario's incredible skills and Romo fabulous textiles is beyond my expectations. Innergaze who is behind our most challenging projects, designed and built a console, while rugs, accessories and accent furniture and lighting came from the Interieurs Showroom. Even my son was involved as he designed a fish tank for the occasion.The artist, whose name I will reveal after the opening, is working on 2 huge canvas which will be graffiti art. I am really into graffiti… see my Buenos Aires post here.If you are in New York or planning to visit, please do come to the event and visit our Interieurs booth.Design on A Dime 2013 inspirationInterieurs Design Studio by Francine Gardner booth 2013Below are  the inspirations for the upcoming Design on A Dime 2014Final rendering for our booth:Would love to hear your thoughts!!! too crazy ?A Bientôt,FrancineLooking to design your house? would love to be of help…no worries, my designs can be more tame...[...]

Off on a cruise...


On the Irrawaddy river in MyanmarThis month, Marsha of Splenderosa is really in need of some sunshine and suggested to the members of "By Invitation Only" to share their thoughts on vacationing on a cruise: when to go, where to go, what to wear etc...I have to admit that the thought of going on a cruise has no appeal to me....sorry... Every year I would treat my parents to a cruise in different parts of the world. When the time comes that I can no longer go on far-away exotic trips, I will only then likely be seduced by the idea of traveling in luxury and being catered to.My idea of a cruise is to travel quietly with no one on the boat but the required personnel, being able to relax completely without having to think on what to wear, what to eat. Years ago I found myself in an embarrassing situation while booking a short cruise on Ha-long Bay in Vietnam for 5 days . As always, I required total privacy and requested a private cruise. To our horror, the beautiful cruise ship, reminiscent of the traditional Vietnamese teak boats, came to pick my husband , children, our guide an I  and... no one else...only our 2 cabins were occupied. It was a dream as we had full freedom, no schedule, swam in the sea and went to visit an amazing island and traditional vietnamese floating boat-villages by small motorboat.My favorite cruise was on the Irrawaddy river in Burma. The boat was rather small, perhaps 20 cabins, a beautiful traditional wheel boat that slowly passed through the most magnificent landscapes.  Only an other Canadian gentleman was on the cruise. For hours on end we would watch the local life, get fish from the fishermen, eat on deck... time had stopped ... I felt as one of the characters in George Orwell Burmese Days, a favorite novel which inspired me to take my family to Burma.  Not much had changed since...I would suggest to anyone to once in their life, visit Burma, an extraordinary beautiful country. On deck at sunrise, with my sons I pack VERY light! Washable items only, sunglasses, a hat, walking shoes, flipflops and my invaluable Prada flats in black, and silver. For this type of fairly exotic traveling, I tend to wear khaki pants or shorts with a white shirt and great belt.In the evening I love to wear long printed cotton dresses. I tend to collect them from various countries, djellabahs from Marrakesh, Indian Saris, great dresses from Callypso.A Bientot,FrancineMy Interieurs Design Studio website will be soon launching.... are you looking for a designer? Check out our website...www.interieurs.comPlease check out "By Invitation Only" members' posts....always inspiring [...]

Parisian style


Ines De La FressangeSo often, I am asked to define parisian style… I am indeed not from Paris but from the South West of France, but spent a great deal of time during holidays in Paris, at my family's apartment overlooking the Parc de Vincennes. A few things have stayed with me from my early education…always be polite, have good manners, be assured of yourself, be cultured and well read, know when it is your turn to talk, dress as you please but make sure it is chic, have a natural look. I guess my mother did a good job as to this days, those simple rules are ingrained in my brain and apply to my design affinities.For most editors, Ines de La Fressange is the aristocrat of chic with impeccable taste and style.A parisian apartment is rarely contrived, does not follow a design formula. In France, we tend to be more conservative, inheriting family furniture and houses are lived in from generations to generations. Traditionally, the french furnish and design their apartment or houses themselves and occasionally with the help of their antiquaire, dealer or designer. We are not scared to be bold, buy on impulse , mix grand mother's buffet  with a fabulous mid century chaise and a great lamp found in a flee market. We tend to tell a story by juxtapositioning the pieces we love, we design for ourselves , rooms that are comfortable, interesting and truly reflect the personality of who lives in the space. A few must… a library, great wine, carpets, some old and some new and an open door… for friends to pop in and say hello, laughs over cocktail, and serious political conversations with cognac and cigars…Living in Connecticut for the past 20 years, my house is always open and ready for friends, I still have my great great grand mother's armoire and the house is filled with personal travel treasures, art, furnitures of contemporary as eclectic style. A house in which my sons are just at ease as we are, well lived, constantly evolving and being an integral part of our lives. A Bientot,Francine[...]

Interieurs Design Studio Celebrates at the 2014 Luxe Gold List Honoree Fête


Interieurs is very proud to be among the top interior designers, architects, custom home builders and landscape architects from across 50 states who gathered in New York City to celebrate the 2nd Annual Luxe Interiors Design 2014 Gold List in New York City. The celebration was followed by a honoree and sponsor breakfast in Luxe's newly opened Global Headquarters in New York's iconic Time & Life building. To view Interieurs' Gold List cover click here. [...]



 The world is my source, my inspiration and enables my creative thoughtsHere comes our monthly, "By Invitation Only". Our topic is about staying creative... and how one accomplishes that.This is a personal quest. For me, it is very simple: I do not have a choice. I am am Interior Designer, furniture and lighting designer. If I am not creative, constantly in the moment while thinking ahead, I no longer have a purpose and would be condemned to a fate of boredom.At this point, I think everyone around me would jump ship, my sons, my friends, colleagues, staff, my dogs and even my dear Mr Whiskers. I would be unbearable... (I do hope that my present self is indeed bearable).How do I do it? Above all I am curious that it got me into some deep trouble, such as searching for the perfect graffiti in the worst neighborhood of Buenos Aires or looking into junkyards and chased after by some rather nasty dogs in Santorini. While in foreign lands, I love to explore, often getting lost, so lost that I need to be rescued by various passersby. I have become incredibly talented at hand language which, actually, in some countries can make a situation worse.Getting back to how to stay creative: beyond being curious, one must live with open eyes and an open heart, embracing our surroundings, finding beauty even in the ugly and the discarded. I absorb colors, textures, scents and read. I am an avid reader and some of my furniture collections have been inspired by pages of a book.Now the hard part.... staying young.... Being in an ever changing and challenging youth and beauty oriented industry is not for the weak at heart. We, as creative people, should really get a break in that department, but genetics have no respect for our creative minds. So, I stay young in spirit, in the now, embrace my kids' culture, their music, love to discover young artists, watch the latest independent movies, do not dress according to my age but according to how I feel , and am constantly on a learning quest.Formula to stay creative: be daring, be curious, look around you, explore foreign surroundings, read novels and foreign magazines, stay alert, visit museums and galleries, walk into fabulous hotels and observe, watch nature. Embrace it all and experiment, Enjoy! A Bientot, Francine[...]

Winter retreat


 Our house in ConnecticutWaking up to a red sunrise brightening a magnificent white landscape, birds on a feeding frenzy taking turns to the bird feeders, I could not dream of a more beautiful way to face the world. A room with a view... my beloved Pyrenees from our balconyI just returned from the French Pyrenees where my parents spend the winter.Ever since I could walk, I have skied this beautiful mountain. I am now at a point of my life where I am contemplating making changes and I feel that the mountains give me strength, peace and joy. I love to climb them, ski down at full speed or deep in powder, spend the summer nights, hiking and sleeping under the stars. The search for our mountain retreat has officially started.I don't know where yet...France, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana... I listen to my instincts and will know when my heart will palpitate at a faster rate : This is the one!My dream retreat is a rustic architecture with huge windows  and  a warm contemporary feel. I tend to stay away from all the trappings of the "expected" ski chalet...log construction, cutesy fabrics, endless amount of checkered or tartan pillows and fur blankets... I favor an interior that is ultimately inviting, comfortable, ready to have a house full of friends and children but that will not compete with the view       All the above images are from my Pinterest you looking for a ski house? I would love to design it...A Bientot,Francine[...]

What is Challenging?


This note is to Marsha of Splenderosa who is "challenging" us to write out thoughts for  our monthly "By invitation Only" column

Dear Marsha:

I could write a novel about the challenges that everyone faces in life…. I could keep it light and entertaining by just looking at my own daily challenges. Most importantly my iPhone... had my new one stolen after 3 days... still cannot figure out my replacement one. Speaking of replacement, I am constantly searching for my phone, my glasses, my wallet and found myself at dinner parties with a pen tucked in my hair.

Survival challenges: I trekked across deserts, glaciers, the Himalayas, remote parts of the Borneo jungle, skied off steep ravines but yet could not find my way home, my sense of direction being so poor. My children are blessed with a father that feeds them as I cannot cook for my life and am not allowed near any coffee machines or other apparatus such as a vacuum cleaner.

But the greatest challenge, is the passing of time, the changes one must make in life, accepting the curve ball that life throws at you. I am not very good at this, terrible in fact and that is rather challenging!

A bientôt,

A relaxing spot with Genevieve Gorder of Dear Genevieve


With Genevieve Gorder, in my garden

I just flew back from France last night, having spent 3 days in Paris, attending the Maisons Show, going to great dinners with fabulous company. Found myself with barely enough cash to make it to the Pyrennees, having been pick pocketed in the Paris Metro…

I will share my take on the shows and jottings on my time skiing in the Pyrennees. I just woke up to a beautiful sky and watching the birds on the feeders, a feeling of spring overcame me, which reminded me of the couple of shows I did with Genevieve Gorder for ULIVE :THE WELL DESIGNED LIFE for the art of relaxing which I never shared with you. So much for being a self promoter….

Click HERE to see one of the videos. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did making it with Genevieve.

Interieurs hits Shanghai...


Do any of my regulars read Mandarin? Unfortunately, I don't, but I have visited China a few times, my son having gone to school in Shanghai and worked as a volunteer in Xian. Shanghai is a stunning vibrant city, with soaring skyscrapers and yet one can discover a hint of the old Shencheng and get lost in the labyrinth of its ancient streets, so - as you can see - I love the Shanghai!When approached by the editor of Chinese Residence Magazine if I would agree to have my latest project published in their January edition celebrating the World's Most Creative apartments, I was thrilled! Shangai has become the center of Design and Architecture in Asia if not the world.With any luck, next year this time I will be China working on a fabulous apartment along the Bund…Thank you Yuki Wang for the great opportunity of giving me exposure in China.[...]