Sunday, May 20

road trip to designer Annie Selke in Great Barrington

Let me take you into the world of Annie Selke
and her three companies
photograph courtesy of Annie Selke Company
photographer Sean McLaughlin
At Spring Market last week in the D&D building in NYC, Deborah Needleman, Editor in Chief of WSJ Magazine spoke about her newly published decorating book, The Perfectly Imperfect Home.  The book is filled with an ideology of designing that brings together good principles but in a manner that feels "lived in" and natural.  
Thanks to Deborah for my signed copy.
Deborah spoke about trends, and suggested that rather than focusing on the colors and styles of the trends, we should look to them to understand the impulses in order to have our finger on the pulse of culture. Deborah also made a point of saying she felt this is a very good time for women in designCoincidentally, at last week's IFDA awards in New York City, founding President Claire Coleman received an award for her amazing work on behalf of the organization.  While at the podium, Claire also made a point of mentioning that now is a good time for women in design.  Having just returned from a visit to Annie Selke's home and studios and seeing the amazing depth and growth of her company, I have to agree with this view.  At a time and age when women may be struggling to make sense of their lives, and in some industries where they find it harder to sustain careers, Annie Selke is rapidly expanding her company with a philosophy that feels fresh and awe-inspiring.  Come take a look...  
read annie's blogAnnie Selke invited four of us into her home and studios in Massachusettsto learn more about the woman behind the brand
nest by tamara, nesting, interior design, house and garden
Amy of @abcddesigns; Lynn of @decorartsnow; Liz of @shorelychic; me of @nestnestnest

Annie in her studio 
showing us her upcoming collections
front porch views of the Red Lion Inn
A comfy overnight stay at the historic Red Lion Inn, dinner at the European-inspired Wheatleigh restaurant, a visit to Annie Selke's former home and a full construction tour of her new digs. Topping if off with an exploration of Annie Selke Co. facilities, and a look at her philosophy and product line.
Dash & Albert Rug collection at the Annie Selke studio.
Annie is a gracious host who greeted us warmly, taking us into her personal life while offering glimpses of what it means to be Annie Selke Co.  We toured her new home in the throes of construction, and learned it had been her mother's before her passing.  Annie seems content to be making it her own, relishing in her mother's gardens. Then we are off to her current home which she is currently preparing to sell, a mid-century ranch home she stylized beautifully. You may have seen it published in House Beautiful magazine.  Annie talks about letting go of the old, and it is valuable to purge and grow from the experience.  We meet the namesake for her company Dash & Albert, and he is a charming, elderly dog, along with Annie's two other sweet canines.  We even met the supportive boyfriend, (and would you expect anything less from a pioneer woman?)  Annie seems unruffled by all the activity surrounding her, and while hosting us for canapes and cocktails in her home, she is prepared for a potential sale.  She then checks us into the very quaint and historic Red Lion Inn in Great Barrington.  A quick change and off we go to a fabulous, very fancy restaurant the Westleigh for dinner.

I'm obsessed with the wallpaper at 
the Red Lion Inn--
ask for the charming room 202!
we arrive to a lovely welcoming gift bag from Annie - this plush robe is hard to take off
nest by tamara, interior design, house and garden
 The historic Red Lion Inn opened in 1773 - 
that's some darn good Yankee history 
and worthy of its very own story here on Nest, 
so please check back in June.  
we were told of the unique connection between the Inn's owners with 
famous artist Norman Rockwell. 
The Red Lion Inn is a family owned inn 
and the first location for the now large company, Country Curtains.  This explains the exclusive behind the scenes peek they gave us
of their secret wallpaper closet.
Next, we meet Annie at her new home in the middle of construction.   
photograph courtesy of Sean McLaughlin
Learning more about Annie, 
we head to her current home -
a mid-century space she plans to sell. 
I appreciate the mix of this antique dog sculpture
(she picked up at Brimfield years back) and the chrome light. The home is different from many of her aesthetics.
photograph courtesy of sean mclaughlin
Dash comfy at our feet while we chat with Annie
three photographs courtesy of 
House Beautiful magazine
 featured in House Beautiful magazine viewpoints with mixes of traditional and moderne woven together.  
our delicious and intimate dinner at the
five star world-class restaurant
the Wheatleigh where we share important aspects about our lives,
our marriages, our children and our companies.  
expansive views of the 
natural beauty of the area 
from the Wheatleigh's high elevation.
Onto the studio for a look at the Annie Selke Co.,
and what makes the company tick...
At the Pittsfield facility Annie Selke has over 90 employees.  It feels pristine, albeit a working facility complete with rows of sewing machines, a monogram studio, a quality control center and a full working photograph studio, but with a relaxed, happy vibe.  Fridays there are barbecues on the lawn, they have a full gym with a variety of classes offered from yoga to Zumba classes, charming dogs tagging behind the creative staff, and Annie offers up fresh, delicious lunches daily.  There is a happy, light and bright feeling in her studio, which was a former mill producing uniforms for Civil War soldiers.
And, let's not forget the overflow of creative inspiration at work...
Annie dons a vintage shell ensconced hat she picked up at a Parisian market that went into the thought behind one of her new upcoming collections, "Nana's Attic".  
  As an artistic person, I appreciate the creative inspiration behind the product.  To me, it seems the larger the company the more watered down this process can get, hence losing the personal meaning behind the products. That's why many successful companies are or were originally family or entrepreneur owned. The best part of this trip was sharing time with Annie in her studio and seeing the creative spark and process behind her brand.  She showed us items she picks up at antique shows and flea markets around the world, hand picking quirky pieces to bring home to this clear space where she creates little piles of inspiration.  These puddles of genius are put together by Annie, milling over them until she comes up with an idea for a new line.  Whether you are a painter, a writer or a choreographer, or you are making product, this creative process follows the same meandering pattern until that light bulb goes off and you create.

Annie creates:
she is currently working on her ninth fabric collection. The studio and historic building have recently been refurbished, and offer a blank slate of brick and white and great lighting where Annie and her staff create the magic. The current collections include: the Bright Stuff, Graphic Traffic, Urban Treehouse, Cape Calm, Nautral Territory, Mod Maisonette, La Dolce Vita and Haute Lodge...look for Nana's Attic next
room for creativity to flourish

sleepy dog at Annie Sellke's company  
Annie shows us how  the original bottom fabric is vintage and how she uses it as inspiration for a reversible fabric for the Annie Selke line.

a new piece for the "Nana's Attic" collection

one of my favorite color combinations of the Dash & Albert rug collection

antique fabric collections owned by Annie Selke picked up outside of Paris
A Sneak Peek at what's coming soon from Annie Selke's Collections:
these indoor/outdoor rugs and outdoor fabrics are in fresh, punchy colors and 
will be available Summer 2013
check out the parting bags Annie 
bestowed upon us to 
start out Summer 2012 with style
nest by tamara, interior design, design blogger, new york city
Annie is not new in the industry and she has worked hard since 1994 on building her brand.  It is refreshing to note that her ingenuity and creativity have paid off with an expanding company -
and the products are good quality and stylish to boot!
for more photographs check out the
Annie Selke Road Trip board
on Pinterest
interior design, nest by tamara, nesting, house and garden

*an important note
about editorial integrity of this blog:
Tamara Stephenson has not been paid for any editorial content in 
writing this post,
or in any other post ever written during 
the history of Nest by Tamara.