Saturday, November 14, 2009


We’re trying to add up karma points this week because we’re running out of time. We were given a golden opportunity early on in our arrival in Madison when a guardian angle lit a path to our champion and friend. As I have mentioned before, we met Carol, the owner of Sprials, by chance and/or by design, which is one of the great debates in life. Did we precipitate the meeting or did Devine intervention step in and create the opportunity. Either way the path was there and we followed it. In searching out the design community our noses first led us to a new kitchen store on Williamson Street where we met Stephanie, the store manager, who then told us about a very beautiful shop on Monroe Street she thought we should check out. We followed the path of breadcrumbs being laid out for us and walked into Spirals and Carol’s open arms. As luck would have it, on our second meeting with Carol she told us she had just gotten a call about a design related fund-raiser for the Madison Symphony. She wasn’t interested in doing it alone but if we wanted to do it with her she’d sign us all up. We jumped at the opportunity. Here was a key to hopefully unlock the door to Madison society and get our name out to some design starved new clients. Previously the event had been a designer showcase on the order of a mini-Kips Bay, but this year the event had been scaled back to a table setting event where local designers could create themed or fantasy tables displaying their creativity and design knowledge. When the organizer of the event told us we might want to shy away from a Christmas theme, she already had six, we were a little concerned about the other designers. We decided to sidestep the holiday route and go with calling our table, “A Long Winter’s Supper”. It was to represent an informal dinner in front of the fire with lots of ice and glass and subtle romance. Having done “Dining by Design” four times before in New York kinda primed us for doing this event. We had a bit of a leg up on the rest of the group. The providence of pairing up with Carol and her store became the guardian angle part of the story. The symphony only sponsors an event like this every other year. Our timing couldn't have been more fortuitous.

The gala opening for the event called, “Tables of Note”, was last Wednesday evening. The venue was on the top floor of a new glass clad twin tower on the southwestern outskirts of Madison looking out onto the downtown skyline. Madison has a unique beauty with a series of lakes forming a necklace surrounding a thin isthmus of commercial and newly built or converted residential architecture crowned by the capitol building. On fall evenings at dusk with the sky a Maxfield Parrish blue the capitol dome’s lights fad in illuminating it’s curves and details and Madison becomes its own version of New York and the Empire State Building. This was the backdrop for the event and we took full advantage of it. We used what we had; a vintage Biedermeier sofa, a couple of Barbara Barry chairs, our Dan Levy china and the canopy that had hung over Emmy’s bed in New York. We had no budget to work with so we found the rest of what we needed at Spirals and then we begged and borrowed everything else. The centerpiece of our space was a table made from a set of highly polished metal trestles we salvaged from a William-Sonoma desk we had and a seven and a half foot piece of three-quarter inch sandblasted glass we got from my brother’s stained glass shop. I convinced my brother and sister to make it for us and let us pay it off on time in very tiny increments. It was a perfect marriage of contemporary and antique, simplicity and elegance, New York and Madison, and the blending of our three visions, The result was a lot of buzz, several people taking brochures or business cards, and two bids on our donated three hour consultation. Finally, It’s a start.

If you're looking for work and can't find it, volunteer. If you don't have any money, give time. Time can sometimes be more valuable then money for both you and the organization.  Look for organizations that might be related to the work you would like to find. Then make sure you believe in what the organization does. Volunteering can greatly benefit the organization and the networking it might provide you can be the key to opening a new door to what you want to do.


  1. Lee, what a great way to showcase what you guys do, it looks GREAT! I've done a table for DBD in Kansas City every year for TWENTY some years, the best over all visual event I create during the year.I know you'll get work through that venue,good karma I say! Brian

  2. so beautiful. makes me think back to the deco table you created for us. Happy Thanksgiving and love to everyone. xoxo