Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Tour Britain’s 2016 Olympic House in Rio

For the design of the British Olympic house, the team at London-based Innovision, led by Claudia Douglass, chose to abandon tired British clich├ęs for a peppy, colorful space—the perfect foil to the 19th-century building that hosts the U.K. delegation in Rio. They collaborated with an array of homegrown talents, from a backgammon board maker to fabric and furniture designers to installation artists. “The guiding principles of British House are celebration, inspiration, and collaboration. Most importantly, we needed to represent a ‘relaxed’ Great Britain, in celebration mode,” Douglass says. “Our logo, created by British illustrator Caroline Tomlinson, and brand identity defined our environmental design.”
The setting for Britain’s Olympic house is Parque Lage, a 19th-century stone mansion designed by Italian architect Mario Vordel for Brazilian entrepreneur Henrique Lage’s wife, a renowned opera singer. This handsome structure will be illuminated by carefully crafted lighting effects that will change with each celebratory moment. 

The central courtyard of Parque Lage once housed a pool fed by a natural spring that would perfectly reflect Corcovado mountain, home to Rio’s iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. To fill this space, Douglass and her team enlisted installation artist Liz West to craft a group of colorful prismatic boxes that, as Douglass explains, “create an inverted stained-glass window.”
Inside the villa, wood-paneled walls add a traditional touch to the lofty space. Central to the team room is the Britannia sofa, designed by Philip Watkin specifically for the house. Whimsical shelving with custom-printed patterns was provided by British furnituremaker DFS.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in Architectural Digest and Posted July 13, 2016.  Text By Ayesha Khan   Photography by British House.

Friday, July 1, 2016


Posted by Peter Lyden
ICAA travel programs provide participants with numerous benefits, including access to some of the world’s most remarkable buildings and landscapes, as well as fellowship with other travellers who are passionate about classicism. In June, I had the pleasure of hosting the ICAA’s Great Houses & Gardens of Scotland tour. Based in Edinburgh – the “Athens of the North” – my guests and I experienced nothing less than Scottish Enlightenment as we encountered some of Scotland’s most magnificent private homes and their hospitable owners.

I truly believe that learning is most enjoyable when one experiences architecture and art first-hand. Books, websites, and other media have made education in the 21st Century more accessible than ever – but they can only reveal so much about a building or a work of fine art. Hearing the history of great Palladian houses from their owners, as well as scholars of 18th Century Scottish architecture, was tremendously valuable for guests on our “Grand Tour” of Scotland.
We were reminded throughout our journey that no one had more influence on classical architecture in Scotland than the Adam family. Many admirers of classicism are familiar with the work of Robert Adam, but we all developed a deeper appreciation for Robert’s father, William, and his brothers, James and John, who also had a lasting impact on Scottish architecture.
As a reaction to the Baroque period, the Adam brothers introduced to Scotland a neo-Palladian architectural style that incorporated Roman, Greek and Etruscan motifs from antiquity, which they experienced during their many years on the Grand Tour. We credit the Adam family with an architectural approach that unified the building’s exterior with its interior design, as well as the surrounding landscapes.
Relishing in our own Grand Tour of Scotland, our group of over twenty ICAA supporters had the opportunity to meet descendants of the Adam family. We viewed personal archives, drawings and even original watercolors by Robert Adam – never before seen by the public.
The Adam family’s influence extended beyond Scotland to more distant shores – especially Russia and Ireland – and was a driving force behind America’s Federal period. (It is no wonder that nearly all my favorite homes are in these countries!) The Works in Architecture of Robert and James Adam, a book authored by the Adam brothers themselves, illustrates the full range of their design styles – from small villas and medium-sized houses for the gentry, to the grand palatial homes (such as Hopetoun House) designed for the noble elite.
One of the many highlights of our Scottish Grand Tour was a private excursion to Dumfries House, which included a visit to the house’s recently restored library. Dumfries was built by Robert and John Adam in the 1750s for William Dalrymple, 5th Earl of Dumfries. However, it was His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Duke of Rothesay in Scotland, who recently led a fundraising crusade to restore the house and maintain its collection of antique treasures.
The contents of the house – including a large set of original Chippendale furniture – were in transit to London for auction when Prince Charles, through his vision and leadership, secured a $40 million loan from one of his foundations, in addition to $50 million from other sources, to prevent the sale and return the property to Dumfries.

Thanks to HRH Prince Charles and many other generous supporters, Dumfries has since been restored to its original glory. Most importantly, Dumfries has helped to revitalize the local economy through numerous employment opportunities and serves as a critical center of education for the public. We at the ICAA are excited to be working with the Prince’s Foundation on future joint educational programming opportunities, uniting in our shared vision of promoting traditional principles and sustainable building practices in our communities.

Another cherished experience on the tour was meeting the Duke and Duchess of Fife – Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s cousins – for lunch in their portrait-lined dining room. From this experience, we learned so much about Scottish history, such as the Jacobite rebellions of the 17th and 18th Centuries.
In fact, we discovered a great deal about architecture and Scottish history not only from the private houses we visited (such as Kinross House), but also from our fellow travellers, including several renowned architects and designers.

Our tour of the Great Houses & Gardens of Scotland would not have been possible without the expert planning of Lani Summerville of Classical Excursions, as well as Mark Donnelly, who helped to provide access to many of the private homes we visited.

On his decision to restore Dumfries House, Prince Charles said: “I hoped that present and future generations would be able to visit and enjoy the different facets of the life and times of a bygone era and to appreciate British craftsmanship at its best.” Dumfries and its architectural counterparts stand before us today not as relics of the past but as symbols of timelessness and endurance in a world that is ever more fleeting. Intellectually and architecturally enlightened, my guests and I left Scotland more aware of this truth than ever before.

We hope to see you on an upcoming ICAA travel program soon.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


Classicist is an annual peer-reviewed journal published by the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art. Its purpose is to provide a forum for contemporary ideas and practice related to the classical tradition in architecture and the allied arts. The only magazine to focus on classical architecture and art, and its teaching, Classicist offers a source of information and inspiration for all who care about the classical arts.

Each issue contains essays on contemporary topics, a selection of portfolios chosen to show the best of current professional and academic work, and a longer, scholarly contribution that examines a facet of classical architecture.To order The Classicist please email

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Family Room at the Marin Designers Showcase

We are happy to be a part of this year's Marin Designers Showcase in the spectacular "Villa Belvedere", which embodies elegant waterfront living with its stunning views from every room and wraparound decks.

You can see our Family Room and decor in the adjacent Kitchen and Butler's Pantry at the showcase through the month of February. 

Details, directions, and hours can be found here:

Here's a sneak peak of our room with its amazing view of the Golden Gate Bridge:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Featured on the Cover of Gentry Design Magazine

Our Living Room in the San Francisco Decorator Showcase 2010 was featured on the cover of Gentry Design Magazine's Summer issue.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My New Blog

Welcome to my new blog where you will find images and topics that inspire me in my daily life.  Enjoy!