Sunday, July 31, 2011

Aman Beijing Kudos to Jean-Michel Gathy and Jaya Ibrahim

This is another in my series of Kudos! Posts that recognize the brilliance and refinement of some the world's best hospitality designers...This week it is the dynamic combination of Jean-Michel Gathy, of Denniston, and Jaya Ibrahim working together on the Aman at the Summer Palace in Beijing.

Not a city who's name conjures up the same level of sex appeal as say, Shanghai, for instance. However, if you find yourself in the capital, (and there are many great things to see, so don't miss it), the hotel par excellence is absolutely the Aman at the Summer Palace.  

Built on the grounds of the Summer Palace, specifically the Qing dynasty pavilions, it has classical Chinese structure and detailing, but the new buildings are pitch perfect for the guest experience. 

You can see the formality in the main entry courtyard, and all of the public buildings are fashioned after the royal palaces, with a rhythm of pavilions and open courtyards.

This is the center lobby pavilion, note the similarities to an actual pavilion at the Forbidden city...

Exquisite reference to classical detailing is everywhere, including all of the corridors!

Throughout the hotel is a sophisticated blending of contemporary elements into the classical structure of the royal palaces' envelope...

  I simply loved this "Moon Gate"!

I also loved taking a tea service out in the musicians' courtyard, (and of course, making sure the koi were well fed...)

The guest rooms were warm, rich and dark, very inviting, with plenty of contemporary touches that made them easy places to linger....Like this classic draped bed alcove with divine sheeting and perfect reading lights..."Really? I have to get out of bed?" 

"Fine, then I'll go luxuriate in the bathroom..." 
Again, this is where Jaya and Jean Michel really did a masterful job of creating a modern experience, but retaining the references to classical Chinese decorative expression. 

Where you really see them push the property up another notch is in the Spa, where they masterfully combined local materials in the sparest, but inviting ways...

But the Spa's true masterstroke is the pool, all completely underground, and very sexy....

Again, my hats' off to the team of Aman Resorts, Jean Michel Gathy and Jaya Ibrahim, who have created an exquisite oasis in the hustle and bustle of China's capital city... I look forward to returning!
Also, be sure to check out other wonderful projects in Asia that Jean-Michel and Jaya have done at:

And of course, I always look to see where the next Aman Resort is, as they are consistently "of the place" and a designer's can find others they have at:

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hurray!!! The new LHDG Website is live!

Drum roll, please.....the Lisa Holt Design Group Website is (finally) live! Please check it out at: 

(Natch, I'm very excited to hear your feedback...and be sure to have your volume up on your computer!)

As a design firm, we are naturally drawn to flash sites, so I apologize in advance for all of you using Iphones and IPads, the html version is on it's way...

I would also truly like to thank my partner, David Shapiro, for his incredible (!) attention to detail, and for his perseverance with this..... 

Please leave comments below and let me know what you think!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Top 10 Napa Valley Summer Favorites...

 How do I love the Summer in Napa Valley...let me count the ways!

The incredible Heirloom tomatoes at the Farmer's Market, you can eat them like candy, or drizzle some of the artisan olive oils from McEvoy Farms over them, they're a meal in themselves...This is a fantastic olive oil ranch, and you can get their amazing products at the Farmer's Market at the Ferry building in San Francisco, or go on line at

The fantastic Lavender blooming all over the valley, next to all the happy vines...

Isabel Mondavi's "Isabel Rocks" cocktail made with her fantastic Rose'...see the recipe and all their other fantastic wines at

Straw Tote Bags! I get to trade in my typical leather tote for something fun and straw...I've had this Fendi one for a couple of years now, it's perfect for a jobsite meeting or the market....

Dining Alfresco! There are so many great places where you can enjoy the summer evenings, and new one I just stumbled across is Diavola, in Sonoma, where they specialize in hand-made salumi, gorgeous pizzas, and having a good time! Natch, they have great wines to go with...check them out at:

Using colorful outdoor fabrics everywhere. These are from Trina Turk's line of Home Textiles.  I love the combinations of Hermes' orange, navy blue and crisp white to add to a room or outdoors for this season, it's just happy! You can find her products through

The AMAZING fields of sunflowers, especially the one just south of Frog's Leap Winery. Frog's Leap is another specialty winery that specializes in organic and sustainable practices for their wines. In the summer I drink their Sauvignon Blanc, which you can purchase through them at


Flat sandals, of course...I just got these little Tory Burch ones from my fav shoe store on the planet, FootCandy, in St. Helena. If you can't go see Page Piland over there, look them up on line at


Playing Bocce late into the evening! There are number of Bocce courts around the valley at various wineries, and if you're serious, you can join the Yountville team, who plays weekly all summer long....look them up at


Robert Mondavi Summer Concert series! 
Sit on the grass, under the stars, take a picnic and listen to some astounding sounds from the likes of; Dave Koz, Chris Isaak, k.d. lang, David Foster, and many others!  

Summer is fantastic so many places in the world, but if you're coming to the wine country, be sure to partake in some of these local specials..and Salute' to a wonderful summer....

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Big news, friends!  
I was nominated for California Home + Design's Readers' Room Contest: Pools and Outdoor Rooms.  If I win, I'll be on the next cover!  Please help me by voting for my design at: 
Click here to vote now  California Home + Design

No registering or email addresses required to vote.  Vote once a day if you would like!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Kudos! Mandarin Oriental Hotel Las Vegas / Adam Tihany Design

This is my first of a series I'm calling Kudos!, where I celebrate the work of other fantastic hospitality Designers. So often, when credit is being given for a new project, the architectural firm is mentioned. While good, (and important, I'll admit) it is truly the work the Interior Designers that comprises all the details and things that people love about staying in hotels. So thank you to all of you out there that never get (enough) credit for making travel such a delight for so many of us! 

I am in Las Vegas fairly regularly for business, and I'm never a particularly happy camper. I loathe the weather (always too cold, windy, or WAY too hot) and the hotel scene isn't much better. So I was pleasantly surprised to stay at the new Mandarin Oriental, designed by Adam Tihany, that had been open about 8 months when I stayed. It is located in the new complex called City Center, which is tricky to get to by cab, but once you're there, all is well with the world...

 It is delightfully similar to the wonderful one in New York, where you enter the tower at ground level, and then are whisked up to the lobby on the 23rd floor, overlooking City Center and the Strip. (Always a pleasanter view from a distance....) 

I LOVE this lobby wall, just as you enter from the elevators...Adam's work always feels slightly like fine jewelry to me...

This is the all-day dining restaurant, which is quite lovely and sophisticated. They've done a great job with the acoustics, which is so tricky with an open kitchen! It also does the room service, which was superb...

 I was here on this trip for the American Express Luxury Summit, so I spent a bit of time in their convention area, luxurious, but not too serious or stuffy, which makes it head and shoulders above other meeting spaces in Vegas.....

 I also always check out the Spa spaces, to see how well they tie into the overall feel of the property. This one, while handsome, was a little on the obscure side, feeling neither glamorous OR restful...they did do a great pedicure, tho.


Perfect example, this is the spa waiting room chair, which, while pretty, is just wound Way too tight to induce a relaxing experience...

They did a fantastic job on the rooms, however. Quite refined, with lots of fabulous details such as sliding panels separating the bath from the room, and the floating Capiz shell detail on the headboard...

I also loved the seductive use of obscured glass throughout, it does a great job of creating a sense of space in the guestroom.

The amenities presentation was a nod to the locale, of course...clever, tho, and well executed with great graphics.

My hat is off to Adam and his team, they have finally brought some serious sophistication to Las Vegas!
Check out other hotels Adam Tihany has done at
And of course, next time you're heading to Sin City, check out the Mandarin at

Friday, July 1, 2011

Monique Péan's Jewelry with Purpose

Part 1
This is some seriously hot jewelry! These gorgeous wooly mammoth cuffs inlaid and carved are designed by Monique Péan, the eco-jewelry designer that is burning up the fashion press lately. 
Monique is becoming a favorite of the Washington elite, including Michelle Obama. I'm loving the mass, the scale and the sophisticated use of materials...

This is wooly mammoth, recycled gold and conflict-free diamonds...

And then, of course, there's her use of color!

To learn more about this amazing designer, go to

Part 2
 I was recently introduced to Carla Bobrowicz, a production manager for CFDA-winning jewelry designer Monique Péan. In a couple of snaps of Carla's apartment, you can see the cross-pollination of color and shape influence going on...I LOVE the blue of the walls!

Prints by Carla Bobrowicz

Multi-talented, Carla also has her own fashion collection, available online at

Emanuel Ungaro Oversize Boyfriend Blouse size M L
Brooklyn resident Carla Bobrowicz, a ten year plus veteran of the fashion industry, has been focusing on jewelry and accessories for the past seven years, and designed her stylish NYC apartment from top to bottom. Carla has previously worked in product development for designers Meredith Kahn and Anna Sheffield. Carla is the co-owner of online vintage shop Brooklyn Branch. She has studied screen printing at Post Expose Studio in Brooklyn, NY. In addition to her career in products, Carla is an occasional DJ and avid cyclist with a passion for travel, food, and all things visual.