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Diagram This

Photos by John A. Peralta

John A. Peralta began taking things apart long before he was compelled to truly pursue art. “I was always breaking things open to see what was inside. I’ve had such wonder for the tiny components that make something work,” he says.

Now a self-taught artist based in Austin, Texas, Peralta has a unique taste for both science and how things work as well as art. While working as a business consultant, he began painting as a way to tap into and satiate his creative side. The exploded diagram, which has been an essential engineering tool, melds Peralta’s contrasting interests and inspires his work.

An exploded diagram of a bike on the back of a magazine was Peralta’s original inspiration, but since then, his work has begun to evolve over the years. “It’s more about a concept that imagines that these machines we use — that we often take for granted and use every day — they hold our memories,” according to the artist. “And sometimes in literal ways. The typewriter has an imprint of every letter, every document permanently imprinted on it. It could never be deciphered today, but nevertheless it’s in there.”

Peralta’s art reveals the inner workings of a time in history or a memory. The contrast between machinery and emotion creates enchanting displays and elicits a feeling when you see them. The idea of machinery holding memories extends to all of our objects, according to Peralta. “It’s why we become nostalgic years after for antiques or whatever it might be. We attach emotion to these things and they hold our memories and it’s sort of two-way relationships with the objects in our life.”

Peralta describes a large pile of items in his studio that he might one day choose to take apart, but there is a method to deciding which items he will display. “I usually choose something that would be considered iconic. Something highly recognizable, and familiar, but most of the time, it’s also something that is no longer in use,” he says. Often, he chooses items that people may have seen in their grandparents house or in an antique store. “Those items have a lot of emotion and nostalgia connected to them. I’m also looking for things that the designers and architects put a lot of time and careful thought into.”

“For some reason, it has a strong appeal. I’m not entirely sure why,” Peralta says about the exploded diagram concept, explaining that most people see them in their everyday lives without realizing, but their eyes still light up when they see it displayed like this. “Because it’s not like you can’t see the string. At first, I tried to hide it. I tried all different things to try and hide the suspension. But I began to realize that I actually shouldn’t hide it. The string really contributes to the piece.”

In the Future

Working mainly on commissioned pieces these days, Peralta is still working on a few ideas that continue to push the boundaries of the exploded diagram concept. When asked what his dream projects are, he says, “There’s actually two. I’ve been wanting to do — and I haven’t really gotten anyone to pull the trigger yet — and that’s a grand piano. I think it would be very impressive. I imagine it in a large hotel with a high ceiling or something like that. And the other one is a fighter jet, which would obviously be a very big piece. It would need a superstructure to support it. But I have some really cool ideas of how it would look.”

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Designer Showcase at The Ritz-Carlton Residence, Portland

The ultimate expression of luxury living can be found at the Ritz-Carlton Residence in Portland, where guests and residents can experience the diverse landscape with sweeping views and easy access to all that the city has to offer. This unique setting is an inspiration for those seeking a high-end lifestyle with careful attention to every detail, especially the design. From November 17-25, LUXE | Forbes Global Properties is hosting a designer showcase, The Floor of Dreams, which will explore various interpretations of relaxed refinement by interior designers with the experience to impress.

Floor of Dreams Dining Area
Floor of Dreams Kitchen Area

The event will display the work of designers, Kevin Twitty Interiors, Tiffany Home Design, City Home Design Services, OnStage Home Staging, and Cielo Home and Design. Each offers a unique style and ethos that shines through their work. The proceeds from the event will go toward the Downtown Clean & Safe District, which is an enhanced service district in the city, where property owners supplement publicly financed services for neighborhood improvement including cleaning, security, market research, and retail advocacy. 

Floor of Dreams Kitchen
Floor of Dreams Living Room

A word from the designers

“The Pacific Northwest is known for its natural beauty, and the nearby Hillside and Portland Heights neighborhoods with their prominent tree lines inspired me to pull an element of the forest into the Residence,” says Kevin Twitty. “This can be seen in the use of sumptuous textures and lush greens to bring in a beautiful organic element to the design.” Twitty currently calls Portland home and strives to bring his passion for life into his work. His careful attention to detail has earned him several national and local design awards. Twitty says about the showcase, “As I pulled from these inspirations, I was careful to allow the luxury and refinement of the Residence play its own role in delivering a dwelling that would embody a timeless elegance and discerning sophistication that pays homage to this remarkable city.”

Floor of Dreams Living Room Area
Ceilo Home Living Room

Cielo Home Interior Design is proud to be participating in the Floor of Dreams at The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Portland. It’s been another opportunity for the design firm to celebrate the individual taste of each client. “The inspiration for this space was the stylish, well-traveled client of The Ritz-Carlton. It is a warm and inviting “landing pad” with a priceless view,” says a representative from the Cielo Home team. “Nature and the beauty of the changing light in the space gave us guidance, while a subtle use of paint colors creates a seamless flow from room to room. The furnishings are a clever mix of family heirlooms, contemporary upholstery, fine custom rugs, and curated works of art, many sourced locally.”

Floor of Dreams Living Room
Floor of Dreams Kitchen Area

Join the fun 

The Floor of Dream showcase is bound to inspire guests, and the proceeds will be directed towards a good cause. The event will be open to ticket holders from November 17-25. More information about tickets can be found online

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File Under Pop

Inspired by the ancient and very active volcano, Mount Etna in Sicily, Josephine Akvama Hoffmeyer’s design studio specializes in handcrafted lava stone tiles. File Under Pop works in dressing walls, ceilings, countertops, floors, and more with these unique tiles, in addition to custom paints, and hand-painted wallpapers that were designed to last.

The Copenhagen-based company produces with quality being at the forefront of all its designs. “We are craftsmen and only through thoroughness do we accomplish high-quality products,” says Hoffmeyer. “Layer after layer of studies, analyses, sketches, and renderings combined with mold-making and prototypes rest behind every File Under Pop product. It is our clear objective to sustain lifelong products when we materialize colors and glazes, shapes, dimensions, tiles, wallpaper, fabrics, and more.”

“To create a space is like conducting an orchestra. You<br />
leave out some instruments, you intensify others, you<br />
insert pauses in order to create spaces for dwelling,”<br />
says Josephine Akvama Hoffmeyer.

Hoffmeyer, the founder of File Under Pop, has always been driven by creativity. The designer first led a musical career, studying and playing among international talents in New York City, hence the name choice for her design company. However, a passion for travel landed Hoffmeyer in Italy where she was soon captivated by the active volcano, Mount Etna, the lava stone, and the natural beauty of the area.

“Beauty is visual, although you can see right through it or sense it in complete darkness. It is neither a fixed image nor state of mind. Beauty exists through engagement and consciousness of all living beings,” says Hoffmeyer. Her creativity soon translated into an interest in tile making, which resulted in the tile company, File Under Pop. “Beauty is imperfect, incomplete, and impermanent. It often balances opposite directions at the same time and File Under Pop aims to make room for beauty in all aspects,” explains Hoffmeyer.

File Under Pop

Italian glazed and raw lava stone, and Spanish clay make up the individual tiles that are hand-crafted and truly one of a kind at File Under Pop. The design, textures, and raw materials prompt a natural, almost unprocessed feel to each room the tiles are placed in.

“All our tiles are developed with great care and processed by hand, making each tile a unique piece of craftsmanship,” according to a File Under Pop representative. The tiles are made with such pure materials and crafted so carefully that the natural clay or lava stone becomes playfully imperfect during its process of being compacted, carved, and converted.

File Under Pop

“Our clay tiles come from a family-owned production located just outside the Spanish town of Valencia. All the clay tiles are made using silkscreen and hand-printing techniques to create the decorations,” says another File Under Pop representative. The final product of both forms is deeply reminiscent of where it originated and its natural state.

Clay and lava stones are the specialties, though they have expanded into several other design aspects over the years. From vases, lava stone boards, sinks and more, the designers and handcrafters at File Under Pop are pushing the raw materials to new levels. In addition to the tiles, the artistic designs on the glazed tiles and painted onto the wallpapers are equally impressive and in tune with the overall aesthetic.

About the designs, a representative explains that they display “characteristics of traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi, include asymmetry, roughness, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and the appreciation of both natural objects and the forces of nature.” These concepts can be seen in several of the designs, such as Edo Clouds, which consists of delicate cloud shapes that repeat in a simple but beautiful pattern, or the Patch wallpaper, which clearly displays large, thick brush strokes in an asymmetrical pattern that feels muted and natural, but also intricate. The raw, natural stones — either glazed or unglazed — enhance the original texture, grooves, and markings in the stone.

File Under Pop
File Under Pop

File Under Pop is just around the corner from the Color Lab, which is the company’s very own paint and tile shop that offers products, but also helpful advice, and perspective when it comes to paint colors and pairings. “Colors are not just a tool to create joy or well-being. They house the potential to unfold an endless range of human emotions and give us the chance to clarify, process, and release even states of grief or sorrow,” says a File Under Pop representative. The Color Lab offers 96 different shades and blends of colors that were each carefully curated by Hoffmeyer. To create an extremely intricate finish, and bring out more details in the design motifs, the paints are mixed with copper, silver, and white gold leaf, and 23-karat gold leaf.

File Under Pop

“Beauty is imperfect, incomplete, and impermanent. It often balances opposite directions at the same time and File Under Pop aims to make room for beauty in all aspects.”

Every File Under Pop decoration has its own philosophy and source of inspiration, according to Hoffmeyer. All together, or on their own, the various File Under Pop items help to create spaces that feel natural and cohesive, which is in alignment with the company’s style and overall goal to create lasting designs. “Most of us sense it instinctively when all elements fall into place and we align ourselves with our surroundings,” says Hoffmeyer.

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‘Home is Your Memory Maker’

By Jamie Yoos

The vastly different worlds of law and interior design may rarely seem to intersect, but for Kevie Murphy of K.A. Murphy Interiors, the two passions have come together as the driving forces behind her successful career and business.

K.A. Murphy

Murphy is the founder and principal designer of K.A. Murphy Interiors, her self-started, full-service design firm with a focus on high-end residential interiors. A harmonious balance of function and beauty are the key components of all projects and fundamental to Murphy’s overall vision for any space.

The company breaks down its process into 3 categories, the first being to inspire. The team collaborates, listens to the needs and desires of each client, and works to conjure up a vision for their space, with the intention of turning something they need into something they love.

Elderfields by K.A. Murphy Designs

Then, it’s time to design. They present the client with a fully comprehensive design plan of action, going into extreme detail to ensure that the client can clearly envision the final product. Finally, they transform the space. The vision is brought to life. Every single detail, the installation of every little element: furniture, lighting, wall coverings, window treatment, carpets, and accessories — is all overseen and coordinated by the team. “We make an effort to listen to what our clients’ needs are, how they use their homes, what their wants are. What we do in your home will not be in anybody else’s,” says Murphy.

K.A. Murphy Interiors isn’t limited by any specific design aesthetic, however, one common theme amongst its design repertoire is bold, vibrant color that sets its designs apart.

Elderfields Road

One of Murphy’s favorite projects was a colonial home from the 1940s on Elderfield Road in Manhasset, New York. The project was extremely personal to Murphy because… it’s her own house! When renovating and designing the home, she desired something colorful, comfortable, family oriented and durable, but still pretty.

The color scheme was inspired by the patterned wallpaper Murphy chose for the foyer that boasts mesmerizing magentas, aqua blues, turquoise, deep muted purples, and gold. Each room is unique and vastly different from the last, but they somehow seamlessly blend together to create a stunning home.

Elderfields staircase

Interior design was not always Murphy’s focus, or even on her radar. She grew up in Port Jefferson Station, New York, with an interest in law. “I always wanted to be a lawyer. My dad is a lawyer; I always felt like it was a natural career choice for me,” says Murphy. She was a swimmer from age 6 into high school, which she used to her advantage in order to help jumpstart her future. “I think my trajectory was guided by the fact that I was going to use swimming to get into the best colleges that I could afford, with the idea that I was going to apply for law school.” Murphy’s swimming ended up earning her a full ride to Boston University. Then she went on to attend New York Law School, just as she had planned.

From there, she went on to work as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn. “I did that for my commitment of three years and loved it, but my real passion was doing medical malpractice defense for the doctors and the hospitals.” She then began working at a law firm as a partner doing exactly that. Her impressive career in law was smooth-sailing and moving in upward strides. She eventually retired there as a partner in litigation when she had her first child.

Like most undiscovered passions, interior design took Murphy by surprise when she and her husband purchased a Brooklyn Heights home that required extensive renovations. The passion project of tirelessly perfecting her own home opened up a new door for Murphy, allowing her to realize her zeal for interior design.

“The interior design business idea was sprouted from a girls’ trip I took with two of my roommates from college. I said, ‘I think I’m going to go to school for this, I think I would be really good at it.’ To which they said, ‘the world is your oyster. If you think you can do this, we know that you can — go do it.’” Murphy recounts.

“It’s such a shock when you tell someone that you went from being a partner at a law firm in Manhattan to an interior designer. But a lot of the business-end skills are translatable. I was willing to give it a shot.” It wasn’t long after that Murphy was enrolled at the New York School of Interior Design.

Murphy’s love for colorful<br />
design is displayed through the<br />
vibrant magenta and orange<br />
tones in her family room.

The supportive roommates from the girls’ trip helped Murphy in kick-starting her business until it was time to take the next step — getting an office. “I felt like that was the first step in becoming super legitimate. Then, I hired my first employee. We just grew, we needed more help and we were able to take on more work.” Hence, the K.A. Murphy Interiors team was born, consisting of Murphy herself as the principal designer, Liudmila Tapia as the design director, Alyssa Devoe as the senior design/marketing manager, and Essilevi Medina as the senior designer.

All of this has brought Murphy to the current stage in her career. Murphy’s unwavering passion and undeniable people skills have allowed her to use her design talents to enhance the lives of her clients through her work. Her skills gained from working as a lawyer do, in fact, aid her in running the business. “It definitely helps with drafting design agreements or reviewing paperwork, contracts; I’m extremely confident reading them. My power of persuasion is very honed as well, based on my litigation skills — when I believe in something, my client knows about it and that translates into sales,” says Murphy. She plans to expand the business even further and hopes to purchase an office building for the company in the near future.

Murphy lives with her husband and 4 children in the Flower Hill home she designed in New York. She often says that “Home is your memory maker.” This mantra has become the forefront of K.A. Murphy Interiors’ mission. “[Home is] your family, your heirlooms, and where your lifetime of memories are held. It’s where you wake up, comforted by what you love, surrounded by things that are invaluable, that can’t be replicated anywhere else,” the K.A. Murphy Interiors website states. “We aspire to convey this in homes that are exquisitely tailored and highly personal.”

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Living The Dream

With hand-crafted and hand-tailored pieces made in Portugal with the finest materials available, Circu designs creative, extravagant, high-quality, colorful yet sophisticated pieces, allowing children to take their imagination on a playful journey without ever leaving home.

“Every child’s room will shine even brighter with Circu’s latest and most unique pieces. Designed with care and dedication, they are the ideal reflection of comfort and well-being for children.” says brand CEO,
Carolina Costa.

Circu proclaims to build “under a dream,” that dream being to, “allow children to live their own fantasies and create a magical world for them to fly under an imagination that has no limit.” The company’s core values, magic, purity, naivety, color, and soul, are present in each and every piece it creates, giving children an exciting experience with every design.

The Vixey kid’s bed (pictured in the blog cover), inspired by the beloved 1981 Disney classic “The Fox and the Hound,” provides both comfort and wonder to little slumberers. Vixey resembles a giant fox with warm orange tones, complete with a fuzzy tail, making it a fun and dreamy essential piece for little adventurers and zoologists alike to curl up and enjoy a peaceful rest.

Cloud Cradle

Circu has recently ventured into the world of babies with the Cloud Cradle — a maximum security, dreamy piece providing babies with a peaceful sleep in a unique and stylish crib.

Lotus Armchair

The Lotus Armchair acts as a statement piece while maintaining maximum comfiness. Inspired by the Lotus flower, this chair acts as a perfect reading corner seat or a soft spot for little ones to unwind.

Cloud Lamp

Lewis is a brand new, cozy series of seating designed to “provide a touch of class, as well as a feeling of mysticism and magic, through their elegant curves.” The purple accents paired with the unique shapes and structures aim to add an element of trendiness to these plush pieces that are sure to beautify any room.

Lighting doesn’t have to be basic with these eccentric Periwinkle Suspension lamps. Available in different formats, all inspired by the small Periwinkle flower, these lamps will bring life to every corner of the room.

Cuddle chairs

Cuddle chairs are an essential in any young child’s room, and this neutral yet unique rocking chair fits the role perfectly. Paired with an ottoman and available as a regular arm chair, this plush seat will bring comfort and relaxation to any space.

Circu has a grand selection of many more products that are just as exciting as their newer pieces.

The Cloud Lamp is another awe-inspiring suspension lamp resembling a big, fluffy, white cloud. Made with an innovative material, this lamp is designed in several layers and is completely fire retardant.

Features include a sleep assistant as well as a lighting and sound system complete with a remote control. Your little one can fall asleep while gazing at this big beautiful cloud that lulls them to sleep with whatever music you choose.

Bubble Gum Gym

Circu also creates incredible play areas, such as the Bubble Gum Gym, inspired by a traditional playground.

With its exceptionally fun elements and adorable pastel color theme, children can enjoy physical play and exercise in style — complete with a rock wall, a swing chair, slide, and even a climbing rope.

Perhaps the best part is that it’s perfectly safe for children — the Bubble Gum Gym includes LED features, along with a soft, plush, velvet rug on the bottom to ensure that kids are able to play and explore freely without getting hurt.

Fantasy Air Balloon Lounge

Kids can embark on a journey high up through the clouds with the Fantasy Air Balloon Lounge. This whimsical, hot air balloon-inspired lounge features a comfy circular sofa and a round center table, complete with storage, making it the perfect spot to let your imagination run wild, study, or relax. It even features a color changing light and sound system. What’s even more miraculous is that this lounge can be turned into a bed!

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Designing Miami

By Lara Becker

Eilyn Jimenez always saw herself becoming an attorney or a judge when she graduated, but discovered she was more interested in her friend’s major: architecture. She got her start at the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica. This led her to change career paths from law to architecture, and eventually to the study of interior design.

Now, Jimenez is the founder of the Miami-based design giant Sire Design, and is headlining a new Netflix series titled “Designing Miami,” spotlighting her journey throughout her stylish successes. When she was getting her start, her hands-on experience in the field spanned various avenues.

After graduating from college, Jimenez was hired by a developer overseas who provided her the opportunity to work on private homes, offices, hotels, and restaurants.

The most important facet of this modern coastal home in Tierra Verde, Florida, is its ability to blend seamlessly into the Miami shoreline. Gorgeous views can be seen from all angles.

This allowed her to get a feeling for different kinds of floor plans, materials and furniture arrangements. Leveling up another rung on the ladder, she then earned a position in a Miami showroom, where she spent her time furnishing the homes of celebrity clients. Following her breadth of experience, Jimenez decided she wanted to zero in on the true intricacy of design and its processes. So, she made the pivot to become her own boss at her own studio: Sire Design.

Here, Jimenez serves as interior designer, creative director, and founder. She now also has the assistance of a talented team behind her, who have perfected the art of transforming rooms and spaces, whether it be residential, developmental, or commercial.

“The Sire Design team and I naturally gravitate towards a minimalist aesthetic, but love to play with touches of maximalism like color, fun pieces, and unique elements every now and then,” Jimenez says.


As noted on its website, the company values a great attention to detail, and an analytical approach to stylizing a room, while still maintaining an open mind to innovation and creativity. Being detail-oriented is the key here, with a purpose of revitalizing, and breathing new life into each room they construct.

As far as developing its own personal style, Sire Design describes itself to be bold, yet timeless. It’s important to them to implement modern pieces in a room, but also to make those features stand the test of time. They stray away from the need to be “trendy” — they’d rather be daring and everlasting.

Throughout the Tierra Verde home, Jimenez wanted to allow plenty of open space for entertaining, especially in the living room and kitchen areas, which are donned with calming, minimalist color schemes.

“The Sire Design team and I naturally gravitate towards a minimalist aesthetic, but love to play with touches of maximalism like color, fun pieces, and unique elements every now and then,” Jimenez says, describing common themes throughout their work. “At the same time, we like to embrace simplicity in design — no matter the style.”

She prefers that the team not stick to just one style when curating its designs. They enjoy pulling together an amalgamation of different elements, patterns, and textures in a room to create one cohesive piece.

Their most recent masterpiece, a modern coastal home in Tierra Verde, Florida, spans 4,040 square feet and features 5 bedrooms and 5 baths directly on the waterfront of the Gulf Coast. It is the definition of a modern coastal home, with monochromatic and simplistic touches throughout.

Upon entering the first floor, seating options and plenty of open space provide the option for entertainment at any time of day. The living room is meant to accommodate a large group party, while an adjacent space gives way to a more intimate reception area.

This area of the house boasts sliding balcony doors draped in sheer curtains, allowing in as much natural light as possible. The balcony and windows are specifically crafted to spotlight expansive water views on site — truly capturing the majesty of picturesque, cerulean waves from any angle.

Tierra Verde by Sire Design

Leading your way through the house, the open floor plan takes you to the kitchen next. The center focus in the kitchen is a detached island with built-in cabinets for storage, a sink, and seating for three. Next to the kitchen sits a fully windowed alcove and a dining room table for eight, with another direct exposure to the home’s coastal surroundings.

Throughout these rooms, the cabinets, countertops, and ceilings meld different tones of white; an intentional choice to provide a light and airy feeling. “I love the mix of coastal yet modern elements in the design, and how we playfully used wallpaper throughout the residence,” says Jimenez of the Tierra Verde project.

In the bedrooms, the colors are complementary to those of the rooms downstairs. Upstairs, darker grays and browns are introduced, in order to accentuate a warmer, cozier feeling. Modern nightstands, flexible-use sconces, and stone table lamps keep on par with trends, while staying on theme as traditional and timeless.

The intention of the Tierra Verde residence is to foster a tranquil feeling, with calming cool colors on the interior. This is offset by a clean black-and-white color scheme, and accented with notes of subtle blues. This simplicity offers the opportunity to make the home feel more spacious, especially with elongated ceilings.

Statement chandeliers, custom millwork, interesting furniture pieces, and notably coffered ceilings are delicately placed throughout the home to give a sense of charisma and personality; differentiating the property from other homes designed with simplicity in mind.

Attention to detail is key in the process of designing or redesigning a home. Mixing different textures, such as metals, tiles, and stone, can create a unique tapestry of color.

While the home is a masterclass in gorgeous, sleek design, the company also puts an emphasis on functionality here, as well as in all of the spaces they design. “We don’t feel there is a need to compromise between great aesthetics and function,” Jimenez notes. She said that when designing, they take into consideration how each space is intended to be used, and infuse it with unique, comfortable pieces. This allows for a functional, yet beautiful design.

Another crucial aspect of interior design for any space, Jimenez discusses, is to incorporate the area’s natural landscape into design choices. For the Tierra Verde project, this comes in the form of creating the classic modern coastal home that blends into the Miami shoreline. “It’s the perfect representation of West Coast design,” she says. “With the home sitting right on the water, we want to ensure the calm and cool atmosphere was brought inside.”

Upstairs in the home, warmer tones are enforced through the use of darker grays and browns, in order to create a cozier vibe for winding down.

This can also be seen in the use of mixed materials throughout the home. Stone, metal, wood, and textiles are all used equally in each space. These layered patterns and textures come together to form a contemporary, practical home, and uses the Florida setting as a mesmerizing backdrop.

Sire Design is known for making long-lasting relationships with its clients, which is exemplified by its work on this property. The team has worked with this client in Tierra Verde, Florida, time and time again. Beyond the custom crafted walls of the Tierra Verde home, Sire Design has curated designs throughout three countries and a dozen cities. The company has been featured throughout the likes of HGTV, Mansion Global from Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, and Architectural Digest.

The commitment and time spent on each product ensures precise results every time for members of this design team, making them all the more ready for their Netflix debut. The series “Designing Miami” features Jimenez and her husband, Ray Jimenez, who is also a leader in design at another interior design firm, Raymond Nicolas. The show follows them as they navigate the needs of their clients, staffs, and relationships with their close-knit families.

Looking back on the road that led her to this point, Jimenez recalls the early days of her career as transformative, and sees her time at university as the first stepping stone. “Design has always been part of my life, but after stepping foot onto the architecture campus, I knew the design industry was where I belonged,” she said. “Architecture eventually led me to the path of interior design, and the rest is history.”

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Homes & Estates Fall 2023 Issue

Unique Homes is pleased to present the Fall 2023 issue of Homes & Estates, offering a glimpse of the inspiration, creativity, and luxury of your dreams. 

We invite you into the minds of Yabu Pushelberg Design, a design firm that needs no introduction. The firm, known for limitless creativity and innovative designs, has distinguished itself in the industry.

Inspiring you to take your interiors to the next level, this issue shares stories on selecting the perfect art for your home. 

Imagine a new level of travel that will leave you wanting more. From luxurious vacations to high-performance electric bicycles, this issue will surely set your imagination on fire.

The Fall 2023 issue of Homes & Estates asks you to imagine, without limitations, the most extraordinary lifestyle – and then discover it is all within reach. 

The High End Summer 2023
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The Space Between

By Marlene Ridgway
Photos by Cristóbal Valdés @zeube

In Northern Chile, miles upon miles of desert stretch out in a seemingly sparse landscape. It doesn’t seem like much is there. Yet, at a young age, Paula Gutiérrez drew inspiration from that vast space, which, through her eyes, felt limitless and brimming with hidden secrets. Among the rocks and sand, a creative mind like Gutiérrez’s discovered rich color palettes, imaginative shapes, and a complexity in the landscape that she now carries into her work.

As a child, Gutiérrez explored and entertained herself by drawing and painting. Armed with her discoveries and inspiration from Northern Chile, she has been translating colors and textures into works of art, first as a way to stay entertained and now as a designer and architect. Gutiérrez, the founder of a namesake design studio explains, “Interior design is a language to express oneself, and our vocabulary is furniture, lighting, art, objects, plants, and more.”

Just Starting Out

There were never any questions when it came to Gutiérrez’s career path, according to the designer. “Aesthetics, since childhood, was always a subject at home,” she says. “When the moment arrived, I had no doubts about going into architecture studies at a university. Interior design was a later development.” From there, in 1989, Gutiérrez was hired to be part of the team for Hyatt Hotels in Santiago. After a few years of working and learning about luxury hotels, she came to a defining conclusion about her next steps. “I discovered that there was a whole world between architecture and the final product, the real living space. And that was where I wanted to be — improving and refining living techniques and styles, through the unlimited means that this specific area gave me,” says Gutiérrez.

In order to pursue this, Gutiérrez founded her studio in collaboration with the Architect University of Chile. The studio covers a wide range of services and has completed many public and private interior design projects with a unique spirit, always balancing avant-garde and functionality. According to Gutiérrez, the studio has a global view of architecture and interior design, integrating cultures and different styles into each project.

Paula Gutiérrez doesn’t<br />
restrict herself to specific<br />
styles or trends. She<br />
explores the world between<br />
architecture and interior<br />
design, balancing functionality<br />
and exquisite taste.
Paula Gutiérrez doesn’t<br />
restrict herself to specific<br />
styles or trends. She<br />
explores the world between<br />
architecture and interior<br />
design, balancing functionality<br />
and exquisite taste.

A Unique, Functional Style

Functionality is crucial in interior design, but each designer has their own approach. “As an architect, I have always begun by studying the movements that will be playing a part in each space,” says Gutiérrez about her creative process. “Once that is clear and settled, I design and dream the space, choose palettes, textures, specific styles, eclectic mixes, and define the final character.” Gutiérrez also describes her unique style as a sort of classic avant-garde and prides herself on not being a maximalist or minimalist. Her style is more individualized for each project. “I’ve defined myself more as doing what is necessary to build a space. It’s more about creating a story that speaks on its own,” Gutiérrez explains. “As a boutique office with very personalized services, I care, in detail, about the circumstances of each project.”

Landscape and Surroundings

Gutiérrez’s connection with nature has guided her to carefully consider the landscapes and the surroundings when working on a new project. “It’s important to me that the continuums between architecture and interiors enhance the subtleness of luxury textures and colors,” notes Gutiérrez. “The consideration of landscape and surroundings are always part of my work.” This can clearly be seen in her work at the Awasi Boutique Hotel in Patagonia, where the mountains and relationship with nature are as important as comfort and style.

Awasi Boutique Hotel in Patagonia

Projects Old and New

The Voyage Collection is a relatively new project that adds another layer to the Paula Gutiérrez Studio. The project was created by Gutiérrez and Carolina Garib, an independent art dealer and jewelry designer, with the hopes of preserving ancient decorating techniques. At this time, the collection includes items such as hand painted silk panels that are stunning in a variety of spaces, seven-layer glass Qianlong vases, and even rock crystal lamps.

With a range of completed projects from boutique hotels and private residences to vineyards and offices, it’s hard to choose favorites. A few other projects that stand out in Gutiérrez’s mind are the hotels for the Astronomical Observatories in Northern Chile, Paranal, and Alma. According to Gutiérrez, the design experience stands out because of the “extreme and pristine landscapes.” Also memorable are the Vineyard Los Vascos, in Colchagua Valley, part of Lafite Rothschild Group, which presented an interesting challenge because of mixing traditional Chilean architecture and French culture and many more private residences. “Most private residential homes are an excellent moment to talk about art and style, and to discover the best of what the world can offer,” says Gutiérrez.

Paula Gutiérrez

Getting to know Paula Gutiérrez

Coffee or tea?
“Coffee in the morning, a lot! Tea in the afternoon.”

Do you listen to music while you work? What’s on your playlist?
“I adore silence! But I have a selection that goes from Turandot, and Gustav Mahler, to pop and Caribbean sounds.”

What does your creative process look like?
“A lot of concentration until images solidify in my mind. Once that has happened, I begin to draw and select furniture, shapes, and palettes.”

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The Greenest Architecture

Architects and developers have been encouraged to build green for decades, resulting in the use of sustainable building materials, greater energy efficiency and more generous allocations of open space. But a dramatic movement has emerged in which agriculture is literally integrated into architecture and the approach, known as “agritecture” or biophilic design, represents the current frontiers of sustainability.

Many buildings, usually incentivized by government agencies, earn certifications for sustainable design, but others are literally green. The agritecture trend began manifesting itself with rooftop lawns, athletic fields or gardens, which not only injected precious green space into densely populated cities but also reduced energy costs. Living walls began popping up in trendy restaurants and hotel lobbies, but these gestures hardly captured the true potential of the movement.

The terms agritecture or biophilia were hardly in vogue, even imagined, during the career of Frank Lloyd Wright, but some experts view him as one of the most influential early proponents of the theory. Wright’s most iconic home, Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, is perhaps the ultimate example of an architect incorporating nature into the built environment, a consistent doctrine of the legendary designer.

Fallingwater, one of Frank Lloyd<br />
Wright’s signature residential<br />
projects, exhibited biophilic design<br />
decades before it was in vogue.

Literally built over a cascading waterfall, Fallingwater complements rather than overwhelms the extraordinary site, and Wright deserves some credit for innovations occurring half a century after his passing. Many contemporary architects, even those who may dismiss Wright as too mainstream to be cool, emulate his commitments to sustainability and blurring boundaries between indoors and out.

Frequently cited as the poster child of the agritecture movement is Bosco Verticale (“Vertical Forest”), a residential complex in Milan, Italy completed in 2014. Conceived by the pioneering eco-conscious firm of Stefano Boeri Architetti, the development features large, mature trees seemingly sprouting from the terraces of its two towers. Like most biophilic projects, the inspiration was to reduce greenhouse gases while introducing inviting natural elements into an urban setting. Founding partner Stefano Boeri collaborates with designers to re-create his Vertical Forest concept around the world.

With his “Vertical Forest”<br />
project in Milan, architect<br />
Stefano Boeri established a<br />
new frontier of green design.

“The design allows an excellent view of the tree-lined façades, enhancing the sensorial experience of the greenery and integrating the plant landscape with the architectural dimension,” says Boeri.

The firm’s first Vertical Forest project in China, a five-tower residential complex in Huanggang, features more than 400 trees, 4,600 shrubs and 26,000 square feet of grass, flowers and climbing vines. “The design allows an excellent view of the tree-lined façades, enhancing the sensorial experience of the greenery and integrating the plant landscape with the architectural dimension,” says Boeri. “Thus, the inhabitants of the residential towers have the opportunity to experience the urban space from a different perspective while fully enjoying the comfort of being surrounded by nature,” adds the architect.

In Eindhoven, Netherlands, the Vertical Forest concept was applied to affordable housing in a 19-story tower comprised of 125 modest apartments. Insisting that an eco-friendly living environment should not be reserved for the affluent, Boeri states, “Living in contact with trees and greenery, and enjoying their advantages, could well become a possible choice for millions of citizens around the world.”

Pan Pacific Orchard, a<br />
new Singapore hotel<br />
tower designed by WOHA,<br />
elevates the practice of<br />
Kampung Admiralty by<br />
WOHA, a Singapore-based<br />
architectural firm leading the<br />
biophilic design movement.

Courtney Crosson, assistant professor at the University of Arizona’s College of Architecture, Planning & Landscape Architecture, has practiced architecture around the world with celebrated firms like Foster + Partners. In her research and teaching in Tucson, her interpretation of agritecture focuses on agricultural activity in central cities, which yields multiple benefits.

“Urban agriculture reconnects people with their food sources, lowers the carbon footprint of food production and educates consumers about the seasonal characteristics of agriculture,” explains Crosson. She cites Brooklyn Grange in New York, the world’s largest rooftop farming operation, as representing a positive example of the intersection of urban agriculture and urban planning.

Crosson reports that most architecture school curricula address biophilia — relating to human beings’ affinity to nature in their everyday lives — to varying degrees. “Studies have indicated positive outcomes from having more natural materials in the workplace, home or hospital,” explains Crosson, who notes such influences can be as modest as a living green wall or even the use of fabric patterns inspired by flora.

The professor is more skeptical of the flurry of skyscraper proposals featuring cantilevered terraces overflowing with mature landscaping, whose execution can be challenging. Conceding the appeal of those renderings, Crosson states, “They look utopic for a reason, and I think this new way to envision urban dwelling is hopeful.”

She reports people respond favorably to the presence of natural elements in their neighborhoods, citing the success of the High Line in Manhattan, a swath of parkland created from an abandoned railroad spur designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Many Americans are surprised to learn that Singapore, with its reputation as a congested, antiseptic glass-and-concrete environment, is at the forefront of the biophilic revolution. Despite its high population density, the city-state is living up to its vision as a “garden city” and the prominent local architectural firm WOHA is furthering the transformation of Singapore into a green oasis.

Presented in the firm’s book Garden City Mega City: Rethinking Cities for the Age of Global Warming, WOHA’s projects integrate natural elements with bold aesthetics. Singapore projects such as Parkroyal Collection Pickering (a hospitality/commercial center) and Oasia Hotel Downtown feature explosions of greenery that soften the contemporary architecture and reduce greenhouse gases while enhancing the quality of life of occupants.

The Oasia Hotel Downtown,<br />
a WOHA project contributing<br />
to a new generation of green<br />
The Park Nova Tower,<br />
designed by London-based<br />
PLP Architecture, is another<br />
notable Singapore project<br />
making the city-state a<br />
leader in biophilic design.

Articulating the inspiration for the Oasia Hotel, WOHA founding director Mun Summ Wong explains, “We’ve almost created the notion of a huge tree in the city, where animals could thrive in the canopy.” He adds, “We wanted to reintroduce greenery back into the cityscape, to envision a new skyscraper for the time.” Since the Oasia Hotel’s completion in 2016, WOHA has conceptualized increasingly ambitious projects supporting the concept of a flourishing, three-dimensional ecosystem in the heart of the city.

In addition to WOHA’s green imprint on Singapore, outside firms are contributing to the city’s impressive collection of biophilic structures. Currently under construction is the 21-story Park Nova tower, a luxury residential project from London-based PLP Architecture that is a particularly graceful example of the genre.

In Melbourne, MAD Architects — some of the world’s most innovative and audacious projects are conceived by this Beijing- headquartered firm — submitted the “Urban Tree” for a design competition for Australia’s tallest building. Had it been selected, the skyscraper would have been a model of agritecture, with its soaring frame punctuated by greenery to soften the environmental and visual impact of the development. A more intimate biophilic project from MAD is Gardenhouse, a luxury condominium project in Beverly Hills whose façade is clad in a living mosaic of greenery.

The dramatic “Urban<br />
Tree” proposed by<br />
groundbreaking MAD<br />
Architects for Melbourne,<br />

The design competition for the Melbourne megaproject was ultimately won by UNStudio, a Dutch firm in collaboration with Australia-based Cox Architecture. Their concept, a pair of gently twisting towers dubbed the “Green Spine,” presents a vertical green landscape, while a public park on the podium level integrates more traditional open space into the $2 billion development. When completed in 2027, the project’s planting will absorb noise and air pollution while cooling the atmosphere on summer days. Building and landscaping materials will be native to Australia, reinforcing the complex’s theme of sustainability.

Amazon’s much-hyped HQ2 complex in Arlington, Virginia, slated for completion in 2025, is one of the nation’s highest-profile agritectural efforts. The centerpiece of the $2.5 billion project will be a 350-foot steel-and-glass tower with mature trees spiraling up the building, a design by Seattle-based NBBJ that was inspired by strands of DNA.

The “Helix” will not house cubicles and conference rooms but, like the biophilic “Spheres” at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, will consist of recreational and collaborative spaces for employees and the public. The design of the HQ2 complex also features an immersive “Forest Plaza” offering a botanical garden-like ambiance for meditation, gathering with colleagues or contemplating Amazon’s next corporate acquisition.

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The New Design Mindset

By Camilla McLaughlin

Overshadowing demographic and social dynamics already in play in the market, COVID-19 continues to be the great disrupter, changing expectations and imparting a new perspective on our homes. “Over the last few years, we’ve collectively undergone significant stress and uncertainty. Many people are looking to regain a sense of control, stability, and comfort, looking to their homes for support and security,” says Sarah Barnard, a leading wellness designer, who was recognized as a One to Watch Scholar by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) in 2017. “As we plan interiors for the post-pandemic landscape, the most innovative and enduring designs will be those that maximize the relationship between aesthetics, function and wellbeing to help people feel, do and be their best,” says Mary Cook, president and founder of Mary Cook Associates, a national, award-winning commercial interior design firm.

What’s Ahead?

Expect to see a continued emphasis on wellness. Sustainability is becoming important to consumers, and new expressions of luxury emerge as younger demographics begin to influence the industry, according to ASID’s 2022 Trends Report. This annual report takes a deep dive into fundamental shifts in the U.S. population, attitudes regarding house and home, lifestyles, ways of working, new technologies, and how a continued wave of disrupters is transforming consumer expectations. According to ASID CEO Gary Wheeler, the objective is to give designers a comprehensive perspective on the year ahead and outline strategies to elevate their practices.

Green accents and natural materials energize a neutral palette.

How Many Will Un-Retire?

Even before the pandemic, the population was shifting toward the South and West, and interest in those regions and in coastal areas continues to be strong. The most significant demographic change, per the outlook, is the number of people living alone, approximately 28% of all households. Even more dramatic is the rise in the number of multigenerational households (271% between 2011 and 2021), which ASID says calls for a new set of design strategies.

In the last two years, many over the age of 55 shelved plans to continue working; approximately half are now retired. But ASID notes that many were not financially prepared, and “it’s not yet clear how many may decide to un-retire.”

Relationships over Seclusion

During the pandemic, the flight from the city and demand for small-town living became major news. But the second half of 2021 showed a growing interest in a return to urban centers, with permit requests for building in high-density areas increasing year over year to 21.1% for large core metros and 30.8% for exurbs. Reversing previous preferences to relocate closer to one’s work, ASID says many recent buyers and sellers are driven by the desire to be close to family and friends.

For designers, this change means homeowners will want more space for socializing and entertaining as post-pandemic attitudes favor relationships over seclusion. The square footage of single-family homes inched up, while multifamily residences became smaller. ASID says, “Clients with single-family homes will need assistance integrating spaces for multiple activities, such as work, learning, fitness, and entertaining, while those in multifamily units will need assistance making the most of small spaces.”

Booths and nooks carve out private spaces in a common lounge.

What Do We Want? Calm.

In a word, calm. In a survey of adults across 116 countries, approximately 72% said they would rather live a calm life than an exciting life. In another study, the number of adult Americans rating their own mental health as excellent hit a 21-year low. “More than ever, people need environments that help alleviate stress and restore their sense of wellbeing,” advises ASID. “While great design isn’t a cure-all, we know high-performing spaces can be very powerful in their ability to excite and energize, motivate and inspire, or even soothe and relax,” shares Cook.

“Clean, well-organized spaces can evoke a sense of calm in the home. This does not mean it has to be a minimal, spartan space, but it should be free of clutter while still bringing in beautiful design elements. You can achieve this through soft neutral palettes. If you like color, you can use the same color throughout in different tones. Soft, ambient lighting is important rather than stark bright white lights,” suggests Miami designer Juliette Calaf.

“Beyond the direct effects of COVID-19, the pandemic has taken a toll on both physical and mental health, from aches and pains caused by long hours at makeshift home workstations to the emotional stresses of isolation, uncertainty and worry around current affairs,” said Cook.

Curated art, plants, and bespoke shade turn an empty wall into a found space.

Be Well

Residential wellness is a top priority for homeowners, with a focus on indoor air quality, mental wellness enhancements, home office ergonomics and fitness, according to ASID. Also on the rise is wellness real estate, which is outpacing other types of construction. When the pandemic began, a desire for healthier homes was already percolating among consumers. Wellness was becoming a hot topic. Then COVID altered these perceptions and expectations. “The overabundance of wellness culture in the past few years has given the term an air of frivolity. However, more recently, there’s been a return towards the truest sense of the word and a search for genuine and profound physical and emotional health and wellbeing,” says Barnard, who is certified to design to both WELL and LEED standards. “When people are talking about wellness in their home spaces, they now often prioritize meeting basic needs and the reduction of stressors through comfort and utility,” she says. For example, something as simple as adding seat cushions to an uncomfortable dining chair repurposed for work or homework can reduce stress. “We see people prioritize ease, joy, and comfort, which is crucial for a happy, healthy relationship with home.”

“At the core of all well design is functionality. No matter how peaceful or beautiful the home space looks, if it isn’t intuitive to the residents’ lifestyles, there will always be moments of tension when interacting with the home. Ergonomic furnishings, accessible switches, outlets, and furnishings at heights comfortable for the user can support happy living. Once those foundations are in place, the benefits are elevated through nature, joy, and art,” Bernard explains.

Integrating Nature

“I often prioritize nature by tying the interior space to the exterior, whether by highlighting existing natural views, incorporating organic materials, colors, prints, and patterns that all speak to the neighboring nature, to help create feelings of calm and grounding,” she adds.

“The pandemic accelerated what was already a fast-moving trend,” says ASID, noting growing desires to connect indoors and outdoors. “Spa-like bathrooms have been popular for years. I think we’re seeing even more of an upward trend toward actually having a connection between the indoor and outdoor space, especially in a master bathroom. Large panes of glass in the shower that feel like you’re outside, or even a door directly connected to a secluded patio area,” says Beverly Hills designer Christopher Grubb, president, Arch-Interiors Design Group.

ASID expects to see more attention paid to wellness in commercial design, particularly in offices and hotels. They also project wellness tourism to generate $436 billion in 2022. “Destinations include spas, thermal springs, and “medical tourism” to partake in any number of treatments and therapies.

Natural materials bring the blues and greys in this bath to life.

New Sustainability Mindset

Sustainability is also emerging as a concern and a priority. More than 50% of consumers say they are willing to change their purchasing behavior to reduce negative environmental impact. And 44% indicate they are willing to drastically change their lifestyles to live in a more sustainable way. “Sustainability has gone from being treated as a status symbol to something that homeowners and homebuyers expect from builders and product manufacturers,” ASID observes.

Luxury Now

Sales of luxury goods were up 29 percent in 2021 over 2020 and are expected to grow by 6 to 8 percent over the next four years. However, ASID says, “younger affluent consumers, who are projected to comprise 70 percent of the market by 2025, are not bound by loyalty to traditional brands and place greater importance on products and companies that are socially and environmentally conscious and sustainable.” What will be most interesting is how all of this develops and how much will change for trends in 2023.

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