In truly ah-mazing news, I recently joined my friends at Modenus on BlogTourNYC, May 2014 Edition. Last year, Modenus added Lifestyle trips, think cultural immersion combined with design, to their extensive travel agenda. As a member of BlogTourCGN in 2013, our group was the first to experience the “we feel good…when you feel good” generosity of tour sponsor Mr. Steam, with our trip to Claudius Therme in Cologne, Germany.
This time, Modenus hosted 12 designers, writers and photographers from five countries in the epicenter of American cuisine, art and design for NYCxDesign, part of a 12 day celebration of the best of industrial, product and interior design. We hit the streets hard at DXV, Wanted Design and the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) –more to come on those soon–for the first three days and on the fourth day, we were granted 2 hours of rest and rejuvenation in one of the most decadent spots in New York.
Since I’m going to time-jump rebelliously out of order while blogging about all the designery things I saw so, before things get too steamy, let me take a moment to introduce my fellow travelers on this fabulous journey:
✧ I first met Iris Havekes in her native Amsterdam, where we enjoyed an enchanting evening among all the glory at one of my happy places, Hutspot. On her blog, Interieur Advies, Iris shares her love for design, travel, fashion and lifestyle, but, more importantly, you should know she is a deep thinker with enlightened ideas on everything from war to climate change to gun control. Getting to know her better was a highlight of my trip.
✧ Meeting Susan Jamieson of Richmond, Virginia, for the first time, I learned she is the brains behind the burgeoning empire, Bridget Beari Designs. With a new line of wall paints and papers, Susan’s projects have been featured on HGTV and TLC. Her blog gives interior design and lifestyle tips as well as insights into her design business and travels, and a peek at her passion for pups.
✧ Ann Porter and I met last summer in Memphis, sharing the unique experience of spending the day with patients at St. Jude. She is a Kitchen and Bath specialist from Naples, Florida (another one of my happy haunts) and I now know her well enough to tell you she not only kills it in the K&B business, she rocks a teeny bikini! I want to hate her for that, but can’t because she’s just too darn cute.
✧ Upon meeting the divine Carole Poirot, I was immediately enchanted by her lilting French accent and chic Parisian style. When she told our group she’s literally been everywhere but New York, “I’ve been to Timbuktu, but not New York! How crazy is that?” I knew I’d love her. A freelance interiors stylist, editor and photographer Mademoiselle Poirot covers interiors, styling, food and a little craft and travel.
✧ Annabelle Bird is a Londoner and founder of insideology. A self-described history geek, she is fascinated with the way London effortlessly combines the ancient with the modern, ideas that are reflected in her own work as an interior designer. An avid fan of “Sex And The City,” Annabelle rightly schooled me over reversing the real and imagined locations of Carrie Bradshaw’s studio apartment, and she made me laugh hard, so I think she’s a keeper.
✧ Anya Jensen, started Anya Adores as a collection of emerging trends, Scandinavian design, interiors, and photography. Anya grew up in Denmark, spent 11 years living in London, travelled extensively, and is now back home in Copenhagen, where she works as a kick-ass shooter, stylist, and PR Manager. Anya adores the beautiful things in life, especially when reflected in a puddle or contained in a cocktail. *Soul Mates*
✧ Ontario designer Regina Sturrock and I met over many phone calls while trying to navigate the maze of delayed flights and cranky cabbies that is LaGuardia airport, while being charged international cell service rates. After finding our pre-arranged joint transportation, I quickly learned Regina is one smart cookie. She not only paints homes with her vision, she is a gifted writer who paints visions with words. Oh, and don’t hate her because she’s beautiful or for her hair. It’s wasn’t Regina’s choice when her parents did the horizontal mambo, so hating is a waste of your time.
✧ Courtney Lake lights up a room. Period. End of sentence. On to the next one: Courtney is a graduate of Stanford University with three degrees to his name, but none are in design. Back down, design snobs, because it doesn’t matter. Courtney is gifted, honest and stylish to a fault, with the main fault being that he isn’t my personal wardrobe consultant. The man knows how to dress. He helms Monogram Decor and is the voice behind the popular design site Courtney Out Loud. I could write a book about his teeth.
✧ Kimberley Ward is a woman on a mission: Shining the spotlight on talented African American designers. She runs her design business, promotes the work of fellow designers through AATop20 and writes three blogs, all while juggling the demands of motherhood. Kimberley is passionate, fierce and smart. She is funny, too: “Don’t spend a lot on trendy accessories. When it’s time to throw out that moose head that you had to have, it will hurt less if it didn’t cost a fortune.”
✧ There aren’t enough superlatives to describe designer Linda Holt. As a former professional photographer, she looks at interiors with a viewfinder, skillfully layering pattern and color to create inviting spaces. Linda has a wicked wit, is smart as a whip and will out-shoot you any day of the week. She started her blog, Linda Holt Interiors, in 2011 as a way to combine her two passions of photography and design. Hello, Soul Sister.
✧ Last, but definitely not least, L.A.’s own Jill Seidner, a designer and contributing blogger to the popular Material Girls blog. On her third Blog Tour, Jill and I first met at the Hollywood Hills home of a lighting designer. It was at an Oscar™ night party, and we both ended up being photographed with a near naked man covered in gold body paint. That’s something that will make a girl reconsider a black-based wardrobe, but Jill hit NYC looking like cash money in beautiful heels and fitted black leather. She is très chic and talented to boot!
Now about that ah-mazing spa experience…
The day before heading off to Aire Ancient Baths in Tribeca, our group met up at ICFF with Martha Orellana, VP of Marketing and Sales for Mr. Steam, the go-to company for home spas.
Here’s the company line on Martha:
Martha has been an integral part of Mr. Steam for over 30 years. She has held a variety of management positions within the company and spearheaded the creation of Mr. Steam’s West Coast office, service clearing house, and showroom. Martha is an Alumni of Hunter College, a Licensed California contractor, a member of the National Association of Female Executives, and a self-proclaimed (and indisputable) “Spa Connoisseur.”
Martha’s infectious feel-good-spirit carries over into her personal life, where this “Ambassador of Feel Good” can be found soaring above us all in a hot air balloon, or back with her feet firmly on the ground sharing a favorite authentic Italian meal with close friends and family in and around her West Hollywood, CA residence.
That’s probably accurate, but here’s what I know to be true about Martha: She’s brilliant in both mind and spirit. She embraces life, friends and strangers with wide open arms. She is so passionate about what she does, she’ll send you to the hippest spa in town so you can experience the full benefits of steam therapy for yourself, without asking for anything in return.
Next thing you know, you want to spread the news, tear up your shower and intro Mr. Steam to your bathroom remodeling clients, then give them this amazing box of Spa-ah goodness as a thank you for trusting you with their home:
Truth: Martha shared a dab of each one of Tala’s products with us and you could tell our age by where we rubbed it in. (I went straight to neck and hands…aging is for the f’n birds!) Tala is a luxurious sensory experience.
She also gave us the best demonstration of iSteam™ technology one can give in a booth without running water. Run your steam shower remotely, y’all. I think I broke a commandment by going straight to Covet. Thou would too.
Take a peek at what iSteam therapy can do for you, in the privacy of your own home:
After a meandering walk through one of my favorite parks, NYC’s fab High Line, we headed over to Aire, a 2 year-old spa experience downtown.
My definition of trust?
Changing from street gear to bathing wear mid-locker room with 11 new friends…
Aire got it’s start in Seville, quickly adding locations in Barcelona and Almeria. The Ancient Baths New York are their first international venture. They provide an authentic Roman experience with plunge pools of various temperatures, salt baths, and massage and steam rooms.
SpaTour Aire Espania, anyone?
Each version of Aire is contained within a historical site. The NYC location is in an 1883 former textile factory on Franklin Street, in the heart of TriBeCa.
Design Nerd Alert:: The original structure has been revealed and preserved. The exposed bricks, wood-beam ceilings and the columns are all original elements from the building.
The interiors are as beautiful as the exterior, and I found some ideas you can steal:
Rustic meets glam:
Keeping it simple:
Sadly, no photos are allowed in the baths, but I can tell you just arriving at the subterranean baths was a transformative experience. You walk into old-world Europe and walk out a 21st Century zen master:
Mrs. Steam knew exactly what we needed, a break from Tradeshowitis–it’s a thing!–to steel us for the rest of our trip, and a chance to bond with our travel companions without the artifice of painted faces or professional attire.
Mission accomplished, Martha!
Do you have a favorite spa or group transformational experience? Do you have or want to bring the steam spa experience into your home? I would love to hear about it, so share it in the comment section below.
You never know, you and your brilliant idea may be incorporated in a future Blog Tour. Modenus is sneaky like that!
Wishing you steamy dreams,
P.S. Modenus provided me with travel and accommodations to BlogTourNYC and Mr. Steam treated me to a session at Aire, but all opinions expressed in this article are my own.