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Designer mum stamps own style on villa

Nov 19, 2008 By Patsy Yang
CALM paint colors, large windows, traditional Chinese furniture, and matching textures create a peaceful feeling in this old villa house on Huashan Road.

When designer Stephanie Heizmann Auerbach and her husband John Charles Auerbach came to refurbish the garden villa, they found that a calm, relaxing look relied on more than a spacious space and clean-lined furniture.

To fill the room with natural light, Stephanie added French windows on the ground floor and a rooftop window on the top floor, which, as the house is not overlooked, she left uncurtained for a cleaner feel.

Stephanie's aim is always to create contemporary style, combining classic ingredients with a few eastern pieces.

"I love simplicity but nothing too stark, subtle use of colors, and creating an environment that is welcoming and relaxing,'' she said. "I also very much like creating harmony between the traditional and modern.''

Stephanie was a professional designer working in New York City where she helped many companies improve their branding and design, mostly for their Websites.

She has worked as senior art director on the redesign of two leading women's lifestyle sites, theknot.com and marthastewart.com.

"I moved to Shanghai mostly because my husband, who was in China previously as a student, had a job offer to come to Shanghai. I was very supportive of the move since we always wanted to live overseas for a period,'' she said.

But she wanted to stay professionally active in China, so since arrival in 2004, Stephanie has continued to work as a designer and started her own accessory design studio Elan in Ferguson Lane to create stylish jewelry and bags.

With a five-year-old son Elliott and a two-year-old adopted Chinese daughter Lily, the couple chose to live in an old villa because "old villas tend to be more unique in design than newer ones. I wanted to live in a way that is more connected with the everyday life of Shanghai and an old villa in a lane is a good way to do that,'' Stephanie said.

She designed the family home with a distinctly Oriental flavor in a contemporary way. The Chinese art has intrigued her the most, and she wanted to be surrounded by its beauty.

Stephanie admires the architectural aesthetic of the villa. Like all good designers, she knows that if the bones are right, a home can be decorated successfully in many ways.

The designer has seen a warm palette as the ultimate in stylish self-expression. "When choosing furniture and art I tend to stay in the same palette. I chose this style because it worked well with things I had already collected.''

Stephanie chose furniture pieces based on her overall goal of combining the old and the modern, the traditional Chinese and a more European approach. Each floor reveals a different character, which gives visitors a pleasant surprise as they walk up stairs.

On the ground floor, a cozy sitting room off the kitchen provides a spot to relax as a family and receive guests. The open kitchen is where they spend their mornings as a family over breakfast. Here, antique items, wooden carvings and white orchids keep the space inviting and warm.

The space on the second floor is not too large so the couple decided to devote it almost entirely to the two kids. Bright and cheery, it is evident that Stephanie has used her imagination to bring children's dreams to life.

"When they go upstairs they feel like they have 'their place','' Stephanie said.

"I wanted to keep some open space for my kids to play and spread out their toys. I brightened the colors and painted paintings about things they enjoy such as animals so that it can spark their imaginations.''

Keeping the kids' rooms in order can seem like an insurmountable task for most parents. To help children organize their playroom and stuff, a divided shelf filled with storage baskets is an easy and attractive way to organize toys.

Stephanie believes a bright pink palette is perfect for a little girl's room because it is a soft and pleasant color and it appeals to the feminine nature of young girls. "I painted a big bright lily before she arrived because I knew we would call her Lily.''

Elliott's room is also bright and clean with a big stuffed tiger and a painting Stephanie did for him of an elephant, also before he was born. The couple brought the painting from his old room in New York City.

"I painted for both my children before they arrived because I believe creating a unique piece of art especially for someone is to give truly from the heart and makes them feel loved.''

Walking to the third floor, a mix of lavish textiles, creamy tones and Oriental accessories creates a sumptuous sleep haven for the couple.

The color scheme was kept soothing with cream, red and brown. Since the room can get somewhat dark, Stephanie has tried to compensate with interesting lighting.

"A home is a place to reconnect with the family and to recharge the battery after a long hard day. It is also a way to express myself creativity. It is something that I can rely on.''

Tips:

It is important to start with the question ? what is the environment being used for? If it is a home, it should represent the personality of the family or person that lives there. The objects in the home should be about the family and represent what is close to the family's heart.

Where Stephanie sourced her home accessories:

Bliss - located within Ferguson Lane, 376 Wukang Road

Rouge Baiser Elise - at 299-2 Fuxing Road W.

Spin - Building 3, 758 Julu Road

Who is she?

Yamina Kossmann is design director with Tai Ping Carpets, a custom carpet and rug company that creates floor coverings for the most prestigious residences, boutiques and hotels, private jets and yachts. Kossmann designed her first carpet for Tai Ping in 1999 since then, she has been a member of the company's Paris Atelier, helping to define Tai Ping's new brand identity through the creation of contemporary, fashion-forward collections. She began her career designing for residence and reception areas for the Royal Palace in Morocco.

Tell us about your works, and name one you are most proud of.

Fashion, vintage fabrics, classical movies and traveling the world inspire my designs. Morocco inspired my last and favorite collection, Caravan - there is a rich diversity of patterns and a balance between strong colors and neutrals. Within the collection, gradations and stippled colors mirror the unique irregularity of natural fibers and variations from natural hand dyeing which is typical of tribal rugs and textiles as sculpting and floral embroideries come together to add layers of depth. Caravan's color palette is inspired by the desert and comes alive in earth tones punctuated by brilliant reds, oranges, greens and purples. We use a multiple-fiber combination of wool, silk, jute, flax and sisal to present it.

Are you currently involved with any project?

I'm working on a collection for 2009, which is always an exciting process! I love playing with designs and colors and translating them into beautiful and refined qualities of silks, wools or cashmere. It will launch in March 2009.

Describe your design style.

I like design that has a point of view through sophisticated color palettes and strong lines. Over-elaborate and heavy style doesn't appeal to me. I prefer elegant and refined things that make sense and serve a purpose.

Where are you most creative?

I like researching the newest trends and colors in books, magazines, galleries and exhibitions and finding inspiration for my future designs. In my work at Tai Ping I could fully enjoy the creative freedom. With access to the finest fibers and world-class crafts people, even the most imaginative design can be realized.

What does your home mean to you?

My apartment in New York is like a white canvas. It stimulates my senses and creativity.

What do you collect?

Shoes, shoes and shoes ?

Where would you like to go most in Shanghai?

I want to visit Zhujiajiao, the very ancient watertown in Qingpu District. This is the Asian version of Venice and seems to be a very exciting place to experience.

What will be the next big design trend?

Environmental-friendly design is not only a big trend but also a necessity we will see a lot more of in the future.

[From Shanghai Daily]
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