A Gem of a Rug Destination by Kieara Crisp


My plan was to do my next blog  on a store that was completely opposite to the places I visited before. Consequently, Centro, the center for the Gucci and Louis Vutton brands of the home furnishing world located in the Central West End, was my original destination.  Literally 30 seconds before arriving I was sidetracked by Buddha; he was sitting calmly on the middle of a table facing me as though he was patiently awaiting my arrival. A skylight located above him directed soft natural light around him and a gorgeous 9 x 12 oriental rug hanging directly behind him.

I find most oriental rugs to be too distracting for my taste, but this one was different; negative space was a part of the design and not just the outcome of left over space from the motifs.The colors on this rug had a distinct hue to them that made it appear bright and alive without demanding attention. From my experience, rug shops are suppose to be large warehouses with huge piles lying everywhere. This store is only a tenth of the size of a small warehouse and uses half of the space and prime real estate to display only five rugs.

Intrigued, I walked into the store and was instantly welcomed by a yorkshire terrier. After I was cleared entrance, I was allowed to go behind Buddha and interviewed again, this time by a  standard poodle, while another one watched sleepily on a pile of rugs. Note your second interview will not go by as smoothly as the first since the poodle is still a ‘baby’ but you will be saved by Greg Halbert the owner. Mr. Halbert is the reason I am now in love with blogging. Talking to someone with so much passion, love, and knowledge fills you with the same emotions, even if you do not feel the same about the subject. His emotions were contagious!

Halbert’s rugs are collectables you could use in your space for decades, without loosing any value because they are ‘bullet proof’. They are made the exact way rugs were made 2,500 years ago. With yarn and dyes, rugs made by hand and natural materials. It takes up to six months to complete one rug. Halbert says they are an investment unlike synthetic rugs which do not increase in value over time and will not last as long. All of Halbert’s rugs come from a closed market. This means the designers and artisans of these rugs have total control over what they create; they send him a picture of what they made and the price.

Halbert told me a story about the Ford Granada that was built in the 1970’s to look like a Mercedes to compare his rugs to most of the rugs on the market. His simple question afterwards was, which car do you think people are still driving around today? If you appreciate art, craftsmanship,  and beauty, I highly encourage a visit. That is if your not allergic to  dogs and are not afraid of a standard poodle constantly showing you love and affection. ( that is, after winning his approval).

For more information, please visit…


#STL365 – What’s it all about?

#STL365  – Our campaign to highlight local gems this summer & beyond!

It’s no secret that all of us here at DesignSpeak love our city, and we know you do too. We frequently hear about so many great local places around town; places that make St. Louis a unique and vibrant community. Since we depend on so many of these small businesses in our day to day lives, we feel that they deserve to be highlighted for what makes them stand out.  Using our twitter hashtag, #STL365, and by posting highlights on our blog, we will endeavor to share these small businesses with you.

These aren’t your “big box” type of stores; these are going to be small local boutiques and businesses that are open to the public. Whether it’s a brand new local restaurant that just opened with an amazing design, a boutique that has a great selection or service, or a small city park that you might have forgotten about, we want to help our friends discover the city. Especially the designers, craftspeople, and local building resources we know and love.   If there is a place around town you would like for us to scout out, please let us know, as we might already have a connection there.


We will be posting our finds on Fridays to give everyone a bit of inspiration for those weekend home improvement projects, or for a place to kick back after the work is done. If you love our city also, and want to support local businesses, we encourage you to connect with us and join the conversation as we go out and explore what makes St. Louis unique.

Connect with us here!
Blog: http://www.designspeakstl.com
Twitter: @DesignSpeakSTL
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/designspeakstl

The Blodgett Lighthouse…an experience like no other by Kieara Crisp


In-house design consultation, custom lamp design and repair, and professional installation are just a few of the many services available at the Blodgett Lighthouse. With over 30 years of experience, the lighthouse claims to be more than just another lighting store. According to them, they are your only lighting store. Quick disclaimer: If you are looking for professional help when it comes to selecting a lighting fixture and want a piece that sits quietly in the background, this is not the place for you. If you want expert advice and have a desire for a fixture that speaks to you, your client, and/or a specific project, look no farther.

Initially, I took The Lighthouse’s bold claim of being, “the only lighting store you need,” as a challenge. When I entered the building I was flooded with an odd sensation, which continued while walking around the store  (literally ever inch of the store is covered by a lamp, fixture, or the components to make one) and couldn’t decide if my feelings were a good or bad thing.

Because the Blodgett Lighthouse is set up like a museum with every collection on display, you have to give yourself adequate time to take it all in. If you don’t take the time, you would fail to notice how the motion-sensored lamps were constructed from vintage jars, bottles, and cans. Sure you would see the typical pendent fixture made with colored glass, but would completely miss the vintage and contemporary factory lamps (3x times cheaper than most without a loss of quality) to the right. Did that bright yellow sticker imply that they could turn any strange item I desire into a lamp? Why yes, yes it did.


Custom fixtures go beyond picking a different color than what is stocked. After fully appreciating what this means; all the cords, wires, and screws sitting neatly on the shelves start to scream creative potential and possibility. The staff here is friendly, funny, and completely obsessed with their job; these lighting gurus know what they are doing!  If you want a piece that sits quietly in the background, theres a lamp for that here as well. Good luck finding it. You may find yourself hours later coming up with items that spontaneously need to be turned into a wall sconce to go inside the future home of an unknown client… just in case.

Be sure to check out The Blodgett Lighthouse. An experience you will not soon forget!

P.S.  The old sensation was labeled a good thing upon reflection.

Rocket Century…Worth Checking Out! by Kieara Crisp


“What year is it again?” You have to ask yourself this question at least twice when you enter the Rocket Century gallery on S. Grand. The window front display, though nicely done, fails to prepare you for whats in store upon entering the gallery. Its the music that hits you first and acts as the catalyst for your transportation through time, but every designer knows its the furniture that keeps you there.  The gallery, which is no bigger than a small apartment, is designed to look and feel like distinctive spaces during the peak of Modernism, and trust me, it succeeds.

Its amazing how every piece exemplified not only quality and craftsmanship, but love and care until you meet the owner Kristina Starr, then it becomes blatantly obvious why. Mrs. Starr, along with her shop assistant Brian, have a strong bond with every piece and can tell you in full detail the history of any item you select in the gallery. Recently, they have acquired original designer pieces from Denmark made by ‘true designers’ that inspired the modern designers in America. These pieces are the result of designers ‘thinking out of the box’ for the first time, going against doctrines and tradition to produce something that responded to the times, something cool, something modern. Seeing these pieces in person is like meeting the role model to your role model (slightly mind blowing if your a romantic like me).


Before entering the showroom each piece is updated without loosing its essence; the upholstered furniture is reupholstered in fabric from its origanally time period. I highly  recommend not only visiting, but building a relationship with Rocket Century (trust me it wouldn’t be hard to do) for those projects that need a unique piece, from ashtrays to sofas, with a distinct history to make your spaces distinct,  for the times you need assistance for finding a specific item made in the 1920’s – 1980’s, or if you just love modern furniture.

But beware! It is easy to walk in and go directly to the record player or jukebox with the desire to turn up the volume, because your favorite song is playing, before looking for your remote so you can see if Bewitched is playing on your original black and white TV.  Although it isn’t your apartment, there is no TV, and unfortunately no Bewitched, you can always pretend.

Visit Rocket Century’s website!


What is all this buzz about FORM?

Looking for fun plans this weekend?  Want to check out dozens of cutting edge furniture makers?  Dying to know what they hype is about this new Temtor building?

Well, then you definitely need to come to FORM Design Show this weekend!  DesignSpeak is excited to be one of the exhibitors at the 2nd annual event hosted by the Luminary.  Last year we met so many amazing people and are anxious to expand our circle once again!

This year our booth will feature an interactive discussion with participants about design & St. Louis.  We want to hear your thoughts!  Want to know more about DesignSpeak and how you can get involved?  Come visit us and learn first hand!

Here’s the address & the times we’ll be there!  The Temtor – 8125 Michigan Ave; St. Louis, MO 63111

Friday 8.12.11: VIP Party 7-11

Saturday 8.13.11: General Admission 11-4



did you bloom with color?

I apologize I am just getting around to posting recaps of some of our amazing events this spring/summer!  Here are highlights from our appreciation event for designers this past May…

I first have to extend a HUGE thank you to all who participated in our outstanding colorbloom event!!!  Our first collaboration with Sherwin Williams was a lot of fun!  Colt Industries really stepped up as an gracious host; what a great space!

I could not have done this without my right hand girl Vicki Dreste of Victoria Dreste Designs!  She was nothing short of amazing at helping me execute our pink & blue vision!

Lastly, we really appreciate the participation of these wonderful vendors to help make the whole event a success!


Visit their websites: Sherwin Williams, Colt IndustriesDesign & Detail Trade Showroom, Pottery Barn at Plaza Frontenac, Paperdolls Boutique in Kirkwood, Traveling Tea, Stimulus Baking Company

When we first came up with the idea to host an thank you event for designers, I thought it was a great idea.  I secretly love the honeysuckle pink that was chosen by Pantone as the color of the year and what a perfect way to show it off!

A royal wedding table (2 days before the big day), loads of beautiful fabrics, a colorful slideshow, lovely fashion collection from a local boutique and colorful cupcakes all in the wonderful honeysuckle & denim hues!  Spectacular! Design inspiration, food and fun were a great mix!  Thank you to all who attended!

Hope we can do it again next year!

Where It’s At: FORM 2011

So, if you haven’t already heard of this amazing contemporary design & furniture show, you may be living under a rock…

Last year, The Luminary Center for the Arts debuted an event that brought hundreds of underground modernists out for speculation and awe.  In a city so unusually traditional, I was amazed to meet a great number  of unique and interesting individuals at last year’s show.  This year is shaping up to be nothing short of a spectacular sequel!

Still not convinced?  Those of you that have attended our monthly “speakeasy” events probably recognize a few names on last year’s list as our surprise raffles.

For me and DesignSpeak, FORM was a huge success.  But more so for St. Louis.  It is so refreshing to see cutting edge design and designers embraced and encouraged.  On that note, I encourage you to either attend or show off your stuff.  We want to see your faces!  :)

Here’s all the relevant info:

FORM is presented by The Luminary Center for the Arts as a forum for exceptional designers to showcase
their work, connect with a community of other designers and sell directly to supporters. Proceeds from the
event will go directly to the designers and to support The Luminary Center for the Arts, a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit artist resourcing platform created for the production and presentation of innovative art, music and cultural projects.

Early bird applications are due April 25th – all applications are due by May 23rd and may be submitted online at

formdesignshow.com. For more information, please contact Brea McAnally at brea@theluminaryarts.com.

Only 2 weeks left to apply! Deadline for all applications May 30th!

*Booth spaces begin at $200 with a 20% discounts to students and recent graduates.

*100% of all sales go directly to exhibitors

*Exhibitor perks include an online designer listing, 1/2 page full color listing in exhibit catalog, discounts on travel and hotel stay for  our of town exhibitors, exposure to 2500+ attendees and more!


we love…interior designer Melanie Holden

Melanie Holden, LEED AP of Holden Design Group

Q. What made you realize that you wanted to be an interior designer?
A. I always knew that whatever career path I took in life I wanted to thoroughly enjoy it. Too many people dread the daily grind, and I wanted to do something that I could look forward to and would provide a variety of experiences from day to day. Growing up, I always loved to assist my parents with our various home remodeling projects. I frequently rearranged the furniture not only in my own bedroom, but throughout the entire house. Not to mention that my dollhouse was in a constant state of remodel. Trips to the furniture or paint stores were always a highlight, and I could spend hours at the fabric shops, fawning over the endless assortment of fabrics with their colors and textures. Interior design was a natural choice!

Q. What sets you apart from other design professionals?
A. I understand that my clients are the ones living and working within the spaces I design, not me. No matter how creative the vision, if it is not practical or appealing to my clients, they will not be happy living with it. I never force a design solution on anyone if they are not comfortable with it. I strive to view each project from my clients’ perspectives, gain a comprehensive understanding of their lifestyles, and then design around their daily rituals, adjusting my design focus to enhance their personal styles.

Q. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A. Everything around me. Inspiration lives in nature, a sunrise, my friends, my pets, my niece’s and nephew’s artwork, the open road, the built environment, the Internet, fashion, and books, just to name a few sources. Of all those inspirational elements, I especially favor the fluid, renewing inspiration that nature provides. I hike and scuba dive, and I often incorporate the colors and textures I see while on those adventures into my work.

Q. What do you love about your own home?

A. I love my home’s character and the connection with the past. It was built in 1904, and new houses are just not constructed with the craftsmanship and attention to detail like that anymore – unless you have an amazing budget to pay for it, that is. The original wood flooring and trim are absolutely stunning. The iron door hinges on the solid five-panel doors are ornately carved with sweet floral patterns. The clawfoot tub is a haven from the bustle of the outside world, and a plethora of windows invite natural light into every room. A home should nurture its occupants, and I feel a sense of its nurturing environment each and every time I walk through the door. I adore historic architecture and don’t think I could ever live in a new home!

Q. Do you have a signature piece that you like to incorporate into your designs?

My signature is the incorporation of texture and color in every space that I design. Every room needs lots of it, whether subtle or bold. Fabrics, wall treatments, lighting, and flooring are all excellent sources for textural and colorful elements. Layers of texture and color, combined with good lighting allow a space to come alive.

Q. What is your favorite item to help clients select?
A. This is a difficult one to narrow down because I thoroughly enjoy pulling everything together as a whole. Generally, a room is inspired by one particular feature, whether a piece of art from the client’s existing collection, an amazing piece of furniture, or a unique light fixture. I love building upon that single element and creating a unified space. If I absolutely must pick a single favorite item to select, it would have to be fabric – again, because of the texture and color…

Q. Favorite piece of advice to give your clients?
A. Don’t skimp on quality. It is preferrable to have fewer, but better things that can be kept forever and passed down through the generations.

Q. What’s the first thing you notice when walking into a new space?
The atmosphere created by the lighting and colors within the space.

Thank you Melanie for all your great insight!  You can see more of Melanie’s work here.

5 Questions with Ann of Expressions Furniture by Victoria Dreste

In our effort to get to know our local resources, Vicki asked Ann Tipton, who owns Expressions Furniture, to answer a few questions about design & what she appreciates in most in life.


Vicki:  What in your background brought you to this business?

Ann: My sales experience started in media. I was selling air time for radio.  Sales is natural for me. It is the family business. My dad, Charles Tober, owned retail businesses for many years.

My first contact with Expressions was as a customer. I purchased furniture for my family’s new home. It didn’t take long before I wanted to work there. I loved the furniture.  Retail! At first I was part time ( I started when I was pregnant). After a few years I became full time. The combination of design and sales was great. A few more years go by and I was interested in being the owner of Expressions. I talked to the owners and eventually it happened.

V:  What inspires you?

A: I am inspired by people, by listening to them and finding out what they want. I like figuring out what someone else likes.  That they would come to me to give them what they want is always inspiring.

V:  What trend do you like?

A: Linen. Linen is a timeless trend. It is relaxed and natural. I especially like the classic, elegant look of blocked prints on linen.  That is a trend that could go on forever.

V:  What can’t you live without?

A: Candy especially jelly bellies, hot tea with cappuccino foam, telling stories and making people laugh, my kids; they’re older now but I still like knowing they are there.

V: What advice do you have for someone wanting to purchase new furniture?

A: First I would say—Come to Expressions. You will be inspired. It is not a big box store; it’s more of a boutique. You will receive guidance from design professionals in the store or in your home. We offer selections on style of furniture as well as size, fabrics, trim and finishes. You will make the furniture your own, not what someone else thinks you should have. You will stay true to yourself and have fun finding and creating your furniture.


guest post: Luminary Patrons GET ART by James McAnally

Introduction by Kimberly Reuther:

DesignSpeak is committed to supporting local organizations and interior design. I founded it with the goal of connecting homeowners with our local resources and talented designers and I am already pleased with its success. A connection of mine recently introduced me to the owners of The Luminary Center for the Arts, Jame & Brea McAnally. I was immediately enamored of their vision for the artist community and felt it was very similar to my goals for DesignSpeak. However, they are way ahead of me! Here is one of James’ programs for local artists. I thought it would be great for our readers to learn about another way to give back to the community!

Without further ado, here’s James McAnally’s program, in his words.

luminary patrons get art

The Luminary’s Patron Program is an innovative approach for individuals and organizations to support the creation of new work while establishing lasting relationships with some of the most talented emerging artists. The program puts the patron in direct relationship with the artists they are supporting, allowing them to follow the process of the work being created as well as growing a deeper understanding about the process of artmaking. Through this process, patrons come to ‘get art.’


For the same amount that one would spend on a single piece of art, an artist’s time in The Luminary’s Residency Program is subsidized, allowing an entire body of work to be created, as well as giving them access to many other resources and opportunities provided them during their residency. In addition to dedicated studio space and financial support, The Luminary’s staff mentors the artists, advocates for them in the art world, and helps the artists to advance their career through individualized professional development plans. With the Patron Program, we also connects them with much-needed relationships with collectors, interior designers, architects and more who are invested in their career on a personal and professional level.


The artists in The Luminary’s Residency Program are consistently among the most exciting emerging artists working today. Recent applicants have been drawn from 5 continents and have shown at some of the most prestigious institutions in the world. However, what makes our program unique is that we intentionally work with artists in the early stages of their career, whether through our annual MFA/BFA graduate program or through the open application process targeted at emerging artists.

Research has showed that fewer than 10% of artists continue their work 10 years after school. Due to lack of support, too few opportunities and the absence of an active community, 90% of all artists are led to quit making altogether. Investing in emerging artists through opportunities such as The Luminary Patron Program ensures that artists continue pursuing their craft and lay foundations for continued growth.

how to get involved

How to get involved:
If you are interested in becoming a Patron, contact us at info@theluminaryarts.com to begin the process. We work with each Patron to identify what kinds of artwork would be of interest and send images of available work as they arrive. A typical residency lasts between 3 and 6 months and requires $150-$200/mo for local artists and approximately $300-$500/mo for national and international artists. As a 501(c)(3) organization, we are also able to offer partial tax write-offs for in-kind and cash donations. Our Patrons ensure that great art thrives and new ideas flourish. The Patron Program allows that direct interaction that sustains dialogue and changes both the patron and the artist.

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