All my life I have been privileged to be around interior designers, starting with my mother , Jaqueline who worked for many years during the 1970s in Milan with renowned Italian architect Giorgio Pes.
In the same city were I was born, I practically grew up at the house of our neighbor, world renowned designer Mario Bellini, the creative brain behind companies like Olivetti, Cassina, Vitra International and MoMa among others. In Brussels, Belgium where I moved with my family at the age of 16, I was constantly surrounded by my parents' friends, who were very prominent antiques dealers and architects like Gisele Croes and Axel Vervoort
Later, I moved to Brazil. For several long years I was busy with the construction of my first house, in Sao Paulo, whose inspiration I took from the organic house ' Falling Water ' by modernist architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The house was created by influential Brazilian architect Marcos Tomanick.
At that moment I was very passionate about collecting antiques. As a hobby I traveled worldwide, sourcing objects in the early morning, predawn antique and flea markets of London, Naples, Rio de Janeiro, Paris and Buenos Aires. I loved looking with such excitement for that special object that would give life to hundreds of others picked elsewhere worldwide.
Once my house was ready, I called one of my favorite designers in Paris at that time. A French designer of Moroccan origins, Alberto Pinto's enriching consultancy lead me to become an avid collector of 17th, 18th, and 19th Century European antiques and Oriental arts purchased from the most remarkable dealers in Paris (Renoncour and Galerie Chevalier), London (Ciancimino and Mallet), and New York 's Kenshire Gallery among with others.
At the same time, for more than 15 years, I owned several home accessory and design stores in the style of the British Conran Shop with an ethnic touch when globalization came to the door in that part of the hemisphere. I worked with several partners like Sig Bergamin and Beto Galvez, among the best architects and interior designers in South America.
After becoming a financial engineer at the university of Solvey, my one and only sister turned to the New York School of Interior Design where she graduated recently, creating a partnership with an icon of classic elegance: Brazilian architect, interior designer, and my dear long-time friend, Joao Mansur.
The doorman calls me on the phone. "Miss, I have a package for you!" With a lovely inserted note, I carefully open the beautiful paper surrounding a magnificent black book with a gold engraved title -High Style- Wow, I love this!!!
There is a photograph of a charming couple, a man and a woman sitting on a leather beije modernist sofa. Both are dressed in black. She's very blond, with an Hispanic look; he's black, very handsome, with a posture of totally unmistakable elegance. Both gaze with a purposely enjoyed nonchalance borrowed from a strange stylish melange a la Hepburn and Connery. "But...who are these guys?" I wonder, intrigued, turning the book's pages nervously.
"We combine California Modern with Vintage Hollywood decadence. We call this brand of mixing the old with the new; the modern and vintage Modage. Los Angeles, California has long been celebrated for its laid back yet luxurious lifestyle. We have been influenced by its heyday of cocktail parties and grand hotel gatherings but live in the modern world of sleek, clean lines and simple opulence."
Forgetting I must leave my apartment for the afternoon, I decide to postpone my activities until tomorrow. This is more important. I carry on reading: "The Modage sensibility arises from the desire to take the clients back to a time when high living was an art form in itself, without sacrificing the sophisticated contribution of modern stylists. Modage is the signature brand of High Style. Life is the occasion. Enjoy it, celebrate it."
Their showroom ' on La Cienega Boulevard opened in 2005. At first, the intention was for it to be the place where they showcased their treasures. Now it is a hub of designers sourcing for famous decorators, celebrities, hipsters and those of discerning taste from all walks of life.
Clients like Cameron Diaz and Beck drop by for something special. Designers to the stars like Jonathan Adler, Nate Berkus, Kenneth Brown and Martyn Lawrence Bullord shop for perfect pieces with which to outfit their clients' homes. In the shop punches of bright colors like greens, light blues and pinks create interest against the traditional black-and-white palette.
Ron Woodson's parents were part of the black bourgeoisie and art scene of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. His father was a jazz musician who worked with many greats such as Lena Horn, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr, and Bobby Short, just to name a few. The only child of tobacco and electric energy tycoon James Buchanan Duke, Doris Duke bought him his first Christian Dior suit and Ron wonders today why he still loves the feel of a well-made suit.
The rich heritage of his family gave him appreciation for all things beautiful and gave him the tools for developing a creative spirit very early in life. With a college degree in finance, he decided he did not want to only use the right side of his brain so went back to school, attending UCLA's Architecture and Interior Design program.
He began his professional career as an art consultant and custom framer and was an avid world furnishings collector. He and Jamie Rummerfield met at a dinner hosted in his house and immediately shared their similar goals and design philosophies. Soon after a dinner at Jamie's house, they almost organically created the House of Design, their boutique.
Jamie Rummerfield was born in Long Beach, California in the 1970s. Her parents were happy hippies, and her childhood was a long summer of love. Since she was a child, Jamie was encouraged to explore her creativity and follow her bliss.Salvatore, her grandfather was a very talented furniture craftsman from Boiano, Italy who instilled in Jamie an appreciation for good design.
Celia, her grandmother from Mexico, is a vivacious and stylish woman who comes from a whole family of jewelers. The epitome of high style, she wears the finest adornments and always has her hair styled, red lipstick and heels in place-rain or shine, no matter where she's going. From her other grandma, Jamie inherited a collection of imported trinkets and furniture from the 1940s, 50s and 60s.
Growing up, Jamie learned that it's not about how much you spend, it's about how you choose to see things-learning that beauty is to be seen in every experience and appreciated every one of its details. The furniture, textiles, lighting and interiors of the late 60s and 70s Southern California influenced her aesthetic sensibilities, from her daddy's colorful surfing ponchos surfboards and woven Mexican beach blankets to the rows of craftsman- and casita-style bungalows she saw as she rode through the city in their VW bus.
As an Interior Design graduate at Arizona State University, she moved back to the coast. "Los Angeles has a rich history and its own special brand of nostalgia that brings me such joy - a place infused with a feeling that this is where dreams come true."
Ron and Jamie meet at a moment where both are at growth stages with their own businesses. With the common interest of opening a storefront to house interesting collections of home decor, they agreed to showcase and sell some "great stuff." They ended up discovering an abandoned, run down beauty salon next to a high-end antique showroom and gallery they both frequented.Before long, the space was theirs and the House of Design moved in, white picket fence and all.
Inside the boutique -as in the book- you will find gorgeous individual furniture pieces surrounded by photo collages, wallpapers, objects and fabric swatches A Dynamic, surprising, glamorous living spaces in some of Southern California's hidden gems as well as its secrets to stylish living, whose basic philosophy stands on the fact that "you can live like a star no matter where you call home."
It's almost six o'clock in the evening. I didn't realize I was sitting for several hours in my favorite small and comfy 1900s vintage light blue velvet upholstered armchair, near a window in my living room that faces Central Park in New York where I live now.
For several hours I California Dreamed in a magic carpet ride hosted by Ron Woodson and Jamie Rummerfield. I enjoyed outdoor entertaining life in glorious weather and magic hours with friends, strolling along the beach near an enchanted 1920s Santa Monica bungalow, mining for gold, sharpening my eye in "road shops", riding in convertible cars into Hollywood's cinematic and dazzling way of life where style is a dictatorship influenced by a uniquely glamorous history worldwide.
I finally realize why I have become suddenly so tuned with this charming couple's creations, joyful exuberance and philosophy. And what is their Philosophy after all?
This post is dedicated to Michele Safra . May the inspiration of beauty and elegance color her life at the occasion of her birthday.
The Designers: Ron Woodson and Jamie Rummerfield 724 N. La Cienega Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90069/ Tel + 1 310 659.3010 / Fax +1 310.650.3070
The " Special for the Economy " New Design Service : crafted for catering those design enthusiasts wanting to beautify their living space but don't have large budget to do it. Five consulting meetings for us $5.000 with Ron, Jamie and their design staff for five days and also receive a free design book ' High Style". Check the website for more details.
The Photographer: Jonathan Shapiro for Ron Woodson and Jamie Rummerfield- All rights reserved