Saturday, August 28, 2010

New Orleans On My Mind

It's hard to believe it's already been five years since that horrible morning on August 29, 2005 when Katrina changed the lives of so many people, including my own. In just short five years, I lost everything, moved, bore the loss of my beloved father, watched my babies go from toddlers to primary school, resigned from my law career, opened up a design shop, and rebuilt a house and home. A lot to pack in in just 5 years! And yet, throughought it all, I grew both spiritually and emotionally, and as a woman, mother and wife.

A lot of people often ask me if New Orleans is back to normal. I mean, five years has gone by afterall. I often don't know how to answer that question. Yes, the city has rebounded as most cities and people do -- it's inherent in our human nature. Our New Orleans Saints did win the Superbowl and people, for the most part, have returned to some sort of normalcy in their lives. But behind the city that is not shown on TV, there are still neighborhoods that remain to be rebuilt, houses that remain blighted, schools that remain closed, families that remain apart, and people still waiting to rebuild.

I live in New Orleans in a little quaint neighborhood called Lakeview (as its name suggests, it borders on Lake Pontchartrain). Hurricane Katrina hit southeast Louisiana the morning of August 29, 2005. As the waters of Lake Pontchartrain rose with the storm, a section of levee floodwall along the 17th Street Canal in Lakeview (only a few blocks from my house) near its mouth with the lake collapsed catastrophically. This was one of the most significant levee failures which occurred in the wake of Katrina's landfall and put the majority of the city underwater. Floodwaters from the floodwall breach inundated large parts of the neighborhood in a matter of minutes. Near the breach itself, the force of the rushing water uprooted trees and even separated some houses from their foundations. Some areas received as much as fourteen feet of floodwater. All that survived from my house was the roof.

Five years later and I am happy to report that my block is about 95% rebuilt. As you can imagine, the experience has forged wonderful bonds within all the neighboring families on this block. Our children play together, we watch out for one another, and we celebrate almost weekly by barbequing outside and sitting out on our porches and exchanging stories.

But not everything is as rosey and certainly not every block is as lucky as ours is. Our neighborhood has come back but on every block, on every corner, and on every park, there are signs that Katrina was here. My husband AJ was recently laid off from his accounting job (yes, it finally hit our family too). In the last couple of weeks, and in an effort to stay focused and motivated during his job search, he has gotten into the habit of going for long walks very early in the morning before anyone is up in our household or neighborhood. At 5 o'clock each morning, he gets up and takes his long walks to think, meditate and get his day started. He takes his cell phone with him. Initially, he started to take snapshots with his cell phone of places he walked by simply to show me how far he had walked. But as the days have gone by, he has found it therapeutic and very enlightening to take photos of this city before it wakes up. He posts them every day on his Facebook page.

In remembrance of Hurricane Katrina and the loss it caused to this city (and in an effort to best answer the question of "how is New Orleans 5 years after the Storm?"), I'd like to share with your some of AJ's photos which he took within the last week. I hope you will find beauty in them and a bit of nostalgia for a city that is still working every day to rebuild and regroup. These photos are of places within blocks from my own home. These images have become a part of my daily world, of who I am and who I will become. They are my children's reality of a past that was, a present that is, and hopefully a better future that will become.

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Inventory at disegno Karina Gentinetta

Summer is over and my Roma and Liam are back to school. Seems like this summer just flew by for me. It was a summer filled with inspiration and slow, hot days. I decided to close the store during the hottest months of the year and not only renew much needed inventory but also think about the direction I want to take with my life and shop. What resulted was a wonderful sense of beauty and confidence in myself. I took the time to hand pick some gorgeous inventory which we restored to its original beauty and in some cases, did an extreme makeover. The shop is now full and I'm excited to share with you some photos of some of the things that will be posted on 1st dibs in the next week or so. From Italian chandeliers, to Italian Baroque tables and even a 24k gold leaf dining table, this season's inventory is bursting with originality and a fresh look. Feel free to visit my 1stdibs shop or email me at if you have any questions on anything. Of course, feel free to just drop me a note for any reason whatsoever. I love to get some feedback on the new pieces.

An 18th c. Baroque Italian table with harp legs and hand forged iron stretchers (c. 1780s) atop a natural black and white cowhide. And can anyone pick out the french bergeres that recently arrived from Clignencourt Flea Market in Paris?

One of my favorite pieces ever -- a full length (83") antique french tufted sofa, upholstered in white belgian linen and the thickest, plushest down cushion.

A swedish drop leaf secretarie adorns a cozy corner of my shop. And that french bergere chair with original blue satin taffeta is hot off the boat from Paris.

A close up of the swedish desk with pale blue and oyster white detailing.

The dining table was a custom piece made by the late New Orleans furniture designer, Chris Maier, who was known for his one of a kind gold leaf gilded pieces. This table would look stunning in a loft in Tribeca or some other eclectic apartment in New York. Behind it is a beautiful Italian settee upholstered in muslin.

Details of a magnificent Italian mirror.

Painted Italian mirror (6ft., 3" tall). Original sconces on each side for candles. Painted in hues of pale blue, grey, cream with gold leaf details. Above, one of my Italian chandeliers with murano glass crystals.

The perfect deep pink commode.

The armoire has found a wonderful home in PA with a very special artist. The little round french gueridon table (one of a pair) is off to CT.

Love this vintage industrial draftsman desk. I think it would look stunning in a kitchen or office.

Last, but not least, my collection of urns. New Orleans' courtyards are a welcomed refuge for these beautiful pieces of art.
More to come in the next few weeks!

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Tale of Two Mirrors

Among the many fetishes that I have, one of them is for mirrors. Love them! I love the way they reflect light and objects in a room. I adore the way they can create a window into another world -- a world reflected by whatever is infront of it. In my opinion, a girl cannot have too many diamonds or too many mirrors. There is nothing more beautiful than a wall full of mirrors of different shapes, styles and sizes. I once saw someone decorate a wall with nothing but hand mirrors. It was absolutely beautiful, not to mention unique.

So it comes as no surprise that mirrors are a large part of my inventory at my store. I adore them! I recently acquired two that are simply stunning and yet so different. Same size and, generally, same shape, although they come from different worlds and each has its own beauty. Today, I took photos of them as they are being loaded onto my 1st dibs storefront and I tell you, I could not decide which one was prettier. So you be the judge!

The first is a French Antique Louis XVI gilded mirror, with its original beveled mirror and mercury gilding (c. 1880s). Absolutely stunning! Look at the crest on this baby! It is slightly larger than 6 ft. tall and it makes quite a statement above a mantle or over a server, commode or console. Personally, I would have it standing up against my bedroom wall where I would use it as a full length mirror.

On the opposite corner and completely different yet absolutely stunning in its own right, is this beautiful Italian painted mirror in the Louis XV style. Look at the hand carvings on this gorgeous piece! Am I saying "gorgeous" a little too often???? On either side of the mirror are double sconces to put candles on so that, back when, you could illuminate your reflection. The sconces are hidden within all the rose carvings. This piece also stands about 6 ft. tall and is one heavy mirror.

Cream with touches of pale blue and gold gilding...

Both of these pieces and more, will soon be unveiled on 1st dibs.