9 futurist muses: the handmaidens of design


1-Hand-Maidens-Jade-Dressler copy
Wave hello to the futurists!
Peeking and pecking at new worlds sprouting up this past spring, we happily feather-rubbed with the masses, descending upon all the future-peeping creatives as they unfurled their feathers at showy events. First, cameras and tweets preened on about dresses or lack thereof flaunted on the red carpets of all the award shows, and next, futurist muses flashed their goods at major art and design fairs like ICFF, Frieze, and Salone. Then, suddenly the show tables, vignettes, and homes of interior designers at charity events like DIFFA, Design on a Dime, and Kips Bay were lusted after by thousands raising millions! As a poignant finale, even more millions flocked together for the end of the perhaps the most famous advertising/booze/cigarette/creative/design/sex-pimping TV series ever. And yes, there were parties, parties, parties.

And this is how a whole lot of tracks mapping the future are laid each spring.
Now that Wilds of Summer are here, we have a minute to share our peepings of

9 top trends at a glance.


trend alert menu! we have a little moon; mountain; clouds; umbrellas; horny, burly, and bronzed; high text messages; Goths in Gotham, folky-feel-goods and a sit-ins thingy for you.


Someone called me a muse lately, pshaaaw! I like to think we all are muses, attuning to the waves of the future, the timeless, the real GOOD.

To mark the trends migrating our world, we’ve interspersed a combo of my sketches of NYC street style and my illustrations of my studio designs from the series entitled hand maidens, inspired by Legendary Magical Beings, from Pocahontas to Black Madonnas, the real creative muses of the world.

We came, we saw, we connect the dots for ya.

TREND ONE:   The Moon Also Rises

A psychic channel once said I was a close pal of Confucius in another life. Made sense as I loved Kung-Fu movies as a child and as a teen, was obsessed by the I Ching. My latest Asian drama bender has stimulated my cute genes, inspired Kuan Yin above, and wow’d my cinematography lust. Recently, my eye and prediction for a design trend on the rise has been trained on the East, via a yen for two award-winning South Korean television series.

For me, the series’ visuals pre-saged and upstaged the Asian-inspired red carpets of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute gala for China: Through The Looking Glass, in New York and the runways of Karl Lagerfeld‘s uncanny Chanel cruise collection presented in Seoul.

Watching each episode, I felt like a K-pop star waking up from a dream of a past life, the first in a vague 15th to 18th century time frame, the next, in an ultra-modern corporate world like Mad Men. In the royal court of the magical, the mysterious, and historical costume drama, Moon Embracing The Sun, two young earnest teens ( a young king and wise scholar’s daughter) fall and land together like this under floating petals.  So simple and the camera lovingly exploits the beauty.

Moon Embracing the Sun
Then we get expansive witnessing from afar and the impact is just as stellar.

Please tell me.
Close and far away shots alternate through the stunning landscapes along with intriguing (aka hot) actors in costumes that had me constantly snapping pics for reference. I was reminded of some of the intense perspective “witnessing” meditations given when I studied Feng Shui, this change up point of close-up and far-away perspective reveals facets of relationship and is fairly powerful stuff. Can something like “emotions”, “awareness” and “change” be a design trend? Yes. Like last year’s “blur” and “transparency,” now seen on items from Nike running pants to TV commercials, yes, let’s call it,“moon,” for short, and for the show.

The traditional full petal hanbok skirts and braid coils on the women inspired my Kuan Yin above, and also lo and behold, walked the Chanel runway.

Karl spoke of the Korean traditional bojagi, patchwork on his runway, above, which I also spied popping up as a pillow in the next Korean drama obsession. Fated to Love You In this comedy, love story between an eccentric CEO, here below, ripping off his jacket on his megalomaniacally-decorated offices, the grand Las-Vegas-y minimalism decor is set off by the mod patchwork echo’ing the bojagi of Korean textile history.

east now
This CEO, by mistake, winds up impregnating a shy, office worker girl when they are both drugged and end up in the same bed together. The characters, the insane-and-without-any- precedent-what-so-ever stylistic juxtapositions of odd clothing and interiors was so bad, it was so good.  For me, way more fascinating and clever than a pretentious fashion mag!

Other MOON peepings: This rise of EMOJI’S wraps up “emotions”, “awareness” and “change,” and the silliness of the Eastern cultures quite nicely, right?

Fated to Love you

TREND TWO:   Go Tell it on The Mountain

This month, Mad Men‘s Don reached Beyond, as creator Matthew Weiner smartly echo’d the long line of 60’s and 70’s seekers, touching today’s desire for the non-digital. Sorry Don, I must have felt you coming, I was there lotus’ing with Mad Men on the same cliff at Esalen this past December.

3-Saraswati Mountain Miss

Like an undeniable avalanche, the desire to break away from being constantly digitally connected, which is affecting our souls and literally making mountains out of us moles, tapping away at our own obscurity while 42 million tons of electronics are tossed out globally each year.  Traipsing the hills and mountains around Big Sur inspired this Mountain Muse illustrated above, as I breathed in every non-digital herbal, life force amazement imaginable. The value shift from mechanization to meditation is on. The coming impact on art and design? Vast.

This trend of “telling it on the mountain,” especially if that mountain is a person sitting in meditation, we’re calling it “solitary connection.” And calling it revolutionary.

Other MOUNTAIN peepings: Solitary salvation: a glut of research on our guts is now showing that not only is meditation healing to the gut and body, eating a little mountain dirt doesn’t hurt either. The trend is buzzing: meditation, mindfulness, good bacteria, paleo and gluten-free, and the microbiome as bantered at this conference, Revitalise2015, from MindBodyGreen; our client Happy Gut and even your own kitchen. Perhaps we’ve unearthed the next level of art, as mash-ups like algorithyms and digital code are now collectible art. Perhaps next, a designer will make microbiome maps for kitchen wallpaper?

TREND THREE:   Mighty clouds of roses.


Yes, there is a rose-colored-glasses vision trajectory from the Korean full flowing silks, a human-as-mountain blanket around one for meditation, global images of the muse, Black Madonna above, and to the latest red carpet garb. For some, nudity is ruling the red carpet. For me, it’s the opposite. Imaginary and poetic shapes are much more dramatic and culture turning, like the mighty cloud of rose Rihanna wore for the 2015 Grammys.  I saw this gown/cloud first appear on the runway of Giambattista Valli and knew it immediately to be a primo entrance maker.


The 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Arrivals
While we all know the Greater Yellow Cloud of Scrambled Eggs Rihanna followed up with at The Costume Gala, this person-as-cloud idea pushes forward “the spectral absence of the body” as coined by T magazine. Furthermore, did you know that T called out cloudlike red cloaks as examples of this trend at the Freize art fair?  We called this trend a year ago in our post about hoods as cultural shift signifiers popping up on the street to runway, inspired by folk tales of Little Red Riding Hood to modern hijabs.

Other ROSE-COLORED CLOUD peepings: Try this at home! There is something to bathing in roses. Not pink rose petals from the florist, try REN Morrocan Rose Oil with a dash of peppermint. Not only will you touch a trend, you will make a “solitary connection” from your spectrally absenced body!

TREND FOUR:   Umbrellas on the Avenue

Got myself a little sketchbook for all the muses I see daily in NYC and my travels, such as these two rosy pink umbrellas spotted in quick succession on Park Avenue one sunny day. Like the falling cherry tree blossoms in the park a few blocks away, and the aforementioned rosy hoods, my street style neurons were turned on! Umbrellas, especially in soft-pink, are like domes of sun and paparazzi protection. Sunglasses and a big hat are done.

Protection and style on the avenue meets… bikes. We’ve been writing about bike culture for a long time, however, when an urban commuter item like these Senz bike umbrellas below, appear in Fortune magazine, it’s a sign that mobility, exercise, non-digital experiences, city bike shares, and bike lanes have hit the Avenue. Expect stilettos for bike-travel-show-offs.

Other UMBRELLA spottings:  While protection and safety are listed as basic umbrella-firsts in the Maslow-hierarchy of human needs, designer Stephen Burks for Roche Bobois Paris, took it one level higher. Burks designed for love, belonging, esteem, and self-actualization with his mis-en-scene for the DIFFA Dining by Design event, gathering his famed Traveler chairs around a beach bonfire. These chairs seat two, so why hide when you can share?


TREND FIVE:   More horny, burly, and bronzed please

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Settle down. By “more horny, burly, and bronzed” we don’t mean in the beach babe sense! Instead this:

More Horny. So sweet when a friend gets described in a W magazine review as the “…newcomer and former denim designer Rogan who stole the show with the provocative, abstract wooden forms that he carved by hand.” Rogan Gregory invited my friend, John Favreau and I to The Collective Design Fair and hands down, his 3-foot horns soaring through the walls felt like a world-changing indigenous sensation, akin to when Native American Queen Pocahontas was “presented” in Paris. When you think “timeless artifacts” they might look like Rogan’s work:

This grouping of Rogan’s sculptural forms are bronze, above, as seen in Wallpaper magazine and found at R & Company.  Two other designs impacted us this way, this season.

burled wood tree slice
More Burly. Burled wood has never looked better, this kitchen counter top has my vote for the most exquisite EVER, EVER.  Matched effortlessly to the golden lanterns, white marble, and deep dark cabinets, this textural surprise was the exclamation point in the kitchen designed by Christopher Peacock in the Kips Bay Showhouse.

More Bronzed. Ice-ice-cast baby.  In a stellar back room of The Collective Design Fair, we discovered the humble and most innovative designer, Steven Haulenbeek, surrounded by his interventionist experiments with the lost wax process for ice-cast bronze vessels, tables, and light fixtures. At once looking like they hailed from an ancient world discovered by Dr. Who or a Galactica spacecraft or some eerie Victorian seance parlor, they were the most intriguing artifacts I’ve peeped in awhile.

More HURLY, BURLY, and BRONZED peepings: If describing your latest love buddy does not include these three words…get trendy, you! Hit the beach.

TREND SIX:   High Text Messages


Infinite, singular textural expanses like the beach, the night sky, and the brief haiku of text messages can move mountains within us. The “high text” as in “highly textured” seen in the design world this season moved me. At the Kips Bay Showhouse premiere cocktail party, the universe of designer, Charles Pavarini and his Midnight in Manhattan room, was a very textural, sexy sanctuary that even the mythical, Mayan bird-goddess muse like Quezalcoatl above, could get homey in.

The midnight blue walls shimmered, absorbing and reflecting light, an effect achieved with “a base coat of lapis blue and top coats of aqua mixed with eye-shadow and finished in strié,” said Maestro Pavarini.

Charles-Pavarini-Kips Bay-1
I was really taken by the “also shimmering” pewter-leafed, travertine marble, Mondrian-mosaic tile wall. I wanted to be leaning on the mantle, wearing a sheer, floaty rose colored caftan with bells, and smoking cigarellos, in a deep convo about Miles Davis with a sultry man. And I don’t even like jazz music.

Charles-Pavarini- Kips-Bay
Pavarini further texted a power-packed bar and a bathroom with the raw masculinity of chocolate glass, metallic grass-cloth walls, and marble floor.

Other HIGH TEXT MESSAGE peepings: Speaking of marble, seen at ICFF, International Contemporary Furniture Fair, the towering marble walls of the Antolini exhibit, proved that “marble is a texture for eternity, the pinnacle of luxury, a scarce product that is only rarer and more valuable with time.” Like a Mayan God. (another fine descriptor for a love buddy, indeed!)

I predict more marble, moving from 70’s camp to high text. Marble mixed with with the raw and folky, like this egg carton lamp at the best “Curiouser and curiouser!” NYC design shop of my friend, Michele Varian, also seen at ICFF, gifts high sensory stimulation and yep, sustainability.

Michele-Varian-egg-carton pendant

See more on the sustainable, what we call the folky-feel-goods trend below, meanwhile…

TREND SEVEN:   Goths in Gotham

And now, a little design comedy break: #Thisreallyhappened:


2-Rick-Owens-am 3-NEW Rick Owens-Jade-Dressler


Seeing a fashion design influence in three distinct neighborhoods in one city three times in one day is enough to convince one of a trend. The Rick Owens’ Gothic Gamine has landed. From a motorized unicycling early adopter in Central Park in the am, a tall woman on Madison Avenue during lunch, and to a gender-unknown downtown Nolita in the evening. All sailing by like vultures, all with Samurai top-knots, and the last, with Rick’s Open Crotch-et Touche as seen on the runway.

Other GOTHS in GOTHAM peepings:  Please let me know if you see more of these creatures. Like Rainbow Children, they are rare and portend of the future.

TREND EIGHT:   Folky-Feel-Goods

“Kitchens and baths to the front of book,” declares Sophie Donelson, new editor-in-chief at House Beautiful. At a lunch with my client, interior designer Scott Sanders at Bergdorf Goodman’s BG restaurant, Milady proclaimed these two spots as hot.

Remember the previous “Mountain” trend with buzz words, mindfulness and microbiome? The pursuit of “Well-th” vs.”Wealth” by honoring the feeding oneself and others via the entry points of beauty and nourishment. My own epiphany came during a bath in the previously mentioned rose and peppermint oils…hmmm, lately all my digital experiences are so heightened by sensory, earthy dives and indeed, a folky-feel-good kitchen and bath are the new “destination resorts.”

Is this why fabrics with a homey-folky 70’s feel like Vallila‘s sketch-maps seem so right, right now? A cross between the “Scenes-of-Rome-Italy” placemats I remember eating dinners on in my childhood and something of a new sensory memory, they are nostalgia with full awareness of their kitsch.

Also, so folky was textile designer, Susanna Sivonen at the FTDA Expo showcasing Finland’s top designers, filmmakers, artists, musicians, and tech geniuses. Susanna is Mom to four kids which inspire her adorable, family/folky book, and she showed us the print that her child’s spilled milk birthed.

Susanna Sivonen
Here Susanna and I discuss Rick Owens.

Earlier in the week, we brushed past the “non-folky” yet “feel-good” Miley Cyrus in The Surrey Hotel lobby on her way out of NYC after the Costume Institute Gala, while we headed up to Cornelia Spa at The Surrey for some spa/bath inspirations. One of the city’s most elegant and comfortable spas, it is designed by Ellen Sackoff, who also has been a bit busy designing for the “kitchen.”

Ellen enthused on about the pedigree of her Cornelia signature honey, gathered from a single type of blossom, sustainably harvested from the Sierra Nevada Mountains, to the hills of Tuscany, and 100% pure. Honey is actually an ancient healing remedy and features in the spa’s treatments and touch points. We wondered if Miley got some homie honey with her twerkments. Treatments! We meant to say treatments.

Other FOLKY-FEEL-GOODS peepings: In that same back room at the Collective, Doug Johnston‘s rope textural forms, like bee-hives coiled and gaped open like bird mouths, are caches perfect for the feel-good bath or kitchen toys and tools of folks and their families.

TREND NINE:   Now, let’s have a SIT-IN.

We are doing a lot with hotels, wellness, and spas lately, an area the design industry does not seem to yet focus their sights on per se. They should!

While Hyperallergic noted all the chair influences at the Frieze art fair, I actually sat in a chair, really a “healing pod” which changed my “innermost being.” The space-age chair pod, called a Somadome, pumped Color Immersion Therapy and Binaural Beat Meditation, around me. (I signed up for this.) I hardly minded sharing the space with the “Microcrystalline Tiles” there to promote relaxation and restoration as a soothing voice whispered sweet nothings in my ear.

Found: heaven in the Somadome landed in the Cornelia Spa. Find: Follow Sallie Fraenkel of Mind | Body | Spirit | Network, formerly of Spafinders, now offering trips like this event, ranging from near spa chairs to far-flung destinations. Design your own heaven.

Hector Zamora
Other SIT-INS peepings:  What’s the next Starbucks or communal work space? Perhaps we’ll soma-pod together. Instead of urban sharable bikes or Ubers, we’ll be able to pick up a rental pod and plonk it down next to our friends, sometimes the lid is open, we are communal, sometimes cocooning, and sometimes, we crawl blissfully back in to our own pod.

Wait! We do this now!

See ya, I’m headed for the hills for some summer fun. Pod-less.





Illustrations and text, Jade Dressler and parking lot image above from Hector Zamora.
Thanks to all the publicists, designers, and artisans mentioned and unmentioned. Thanks to our photographer, Alvaro Montagna, late night Netflix, Google Search, and My Mobile balanced with champagne, stilettos, and a futurist muse‘s lust for the moment.

THANK YOU Everyone!


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