Recession Proof Shopping with Amy Lau

After watching every single episode of America's Top Model during my sick time this week, I decided it was time to reintegrate myself into the working world with a little intellectual stimulation.  After visiting some of my favorite blogs, I cruised on over to the New York Times Life and Style pages.  Baby steps, people, baby steps. Anyhoodle, my mushy brain was jerked back into action after reading Amy Lau's (shown below checking her pulse) tips for shopping sensibly during the recession

Ms. Lau is an interior designer in New York and co-chair of the annual sculpture objects and functional art fair, which, admittedly, is supposed to be pretty badass.

I think running around with all those high-society artsy-types may have clouded Lau's vision a bit, as she seems blissfully unaware that a recession-minded shopper may not want to spend $900 on a watch suspended in a resin purse.  Go Figure.

On the right is Yeni Mao's Porcelain Siamese Bird Vase for $250, on the left, our aforementioned artbag (it's a lamp, too!) for $900

This is all well and good and if someone would like to buy a $900 purse/lamp/broken watch, please be my guest.  But if you are going to write an article about a $900 purse/lamp/broken watch, please do not include any of the following:

“Just because something has a higher value or a big name doesn’t mean that it’s more special,” she said. When carefully selected, affordable pieces can offer as much sculptural appeal as big-ticket ones.

To make her point, Ms. Lau went shopping in Manhattan and online for everyday objects that deliver a visual punch.

Let's see what else she found!

On the far right: a leaded-crystal Paro Double Wind Goblet by Achille Castiglioni for $150.  According the the article: When one side is filled with liquid, the rim of the other acts as the base. It is "pure sculpture," she said. “You can just imagine the conversations people will have about it."

Seriously?  So, we're suggesting that I forego my family's grocery shopping this week so that I may invite, what appears to be, the most conversationally-challenged guests over to discuss a crappy glass that has a hold-your-liquid side and a hold-the-glass-up side?  Someone needs to get new friends.

Also shown above: Michael Geertsen's Closely Separated Vase for $225 (I actually really like this vase, but probably wouldn't suggest it for anyone who's looking to save their pennies) and Piet Houtenbos $55 Hand Grenade Oil Lamp.  Again, like it, but not suggesting it.

What is this?  I can't believe I'm showing this picture on our beautiful blog. Ok, according to my notes, it's a brass Lehti tray by maria Jauhiainen.  It's $800.

I believe this is a picture of several ceramic lamps (clarify yourself NYT caption!) by Danielle Pianezzola.  These recession-friendly lamps range in price from $2,555 to $2,970.

Did I tell you about the time I found an arc lamp on the side of the road?  Maybe they should have interviewed me for this article. 

For those of you wanting to combat the recession by retreating to your cabin in the woods to write your manifesto, please remember that you will need this set of 3 graphite writing instruments for $198.  You want to be taken seriously, don't you?

Hmm, well, it looks like I've reached the end of Ms. Lau's list.  Let's do some math to see how much money we've saved by taking the designer's advice:

Turn it either way! Wine goblet= $150

My Tray looks like those leaves in the yard Tray = $800

Holy Cra-lamp: $2,555 (I went for the least expensive one)

headless birdy vase: $250

take down the man writing instruments: $198

cute yellow vase: $225

would look better in gold grenade: $55

purse / lamp thingy: $900

Add it all up, and, look!  We've only spent $5,133.  For a similar amount, I had considered putting down hardwoods in my house, or getting a jump start on the kitchen remodel.  I might have even started up a little college fund for our yet-to-be conceived kiddos.  Thank god the New York Times had Amy Lau intervene on their behalf, now I can have all these really great "conversation pieces not tchotchkes" instead of doing something really stupid with my money.

How Not To Spend Your Lottery Money

Today's post isn't as much about decor porn as it is about excessiveness, design abominations and the frivolity of tasteless wealth.  I'm talking, of course, about the Millionaire Fair.  In the spirit of overindulgence, I have invited one of our favorite bloggers, Raina, of If the Lampshade Fits, to join in the debauchery.  After all, we all want more, more, MORE!  Right?

 Since 2002, the Millionaire Fair has presented "a fairytale for the affluent, a cornucopia for culinary fans and a feast of superlatives."  (their words).  I asked Raina what she thought of this and of the future of the fair:   "Sadly, this fairy tale may end with a Grimm (ahem) case of affluenza, the symptoms being a shaky world economy, freezing credit, and painful portfolio shrinkage."   Probably, Raina, probably.  But we can still remember the good ole days, right?  And it's hard to imagine that I might not be able to pack a bevy of basketball player's wives into my converted Porsche-Winnebago for a road trip to visit this little gem myself.  The Lights!  The Fashion! The Enter-tain-ment!  I can't bear the thought of missing such sights:

Raina agrees:  "Doesn't it all sound delicious?!? Like an unfettered fantasy romp through a Disney-fied "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous."  The reality of which may come closer to "The Real Housewives of Orange County," replete with fake tans, fake boobs and fake personal pedigrees, than to any dreamy vision of privilege and grandure. (When your Mistress of Ceremonies is Elizabeth Hurley, who would show up to the opening of an envelope for the right price, you're off to a roaring start.) 

 "I have to wonder if the different venues dictate different product mixes.  Istanbul (sheiks and oilmen) would host a different type of swank than say Moscow (Peristoika-fed oligarchs) or Shanghai (Asian mafia).  The video highlights include a runway show featuring Fendi fashions, more appropriate for Munich or Kortrijk, Belgium.  Still photos show a very different and rather questionable mix of ensembles that are decidedly not haute couture (cough, Amsterdam, cough).  Is the height of chic a cheap-looking geisha robe over jeans from the Monica Lewinsky for J Brand collection?  With knee-high hose and payless pumps?  I must have missed that memo.  I'm not even going to comment on what looks like Sarah Palin's idea of Alaskan High Fashion."

After being assaulted by a myriad of poorly shot images from the fair (way to budget for a real photographer, Millionaires).  I can't help but wonder if I'm over analyzing the entire event.  Afterall, this appears to be just like an American auto show with ice sculptures replacing the rebel flags and Prada-and-skin-clad-girls with $400 dye-jobs replacing the spandex-and-skin-clad-girls with home perms.

Noting the dumbed up version of american ephemera, I show Raina a series of photos from the fair and ask for her comments.  Like any aspiring apathetic millionaire, I know when to delegate:

Tiffany, recognizing the need to reach out to a wider customer base, introduces the "Bridge and Tunnel" line of gifts.

Millionaire Fair "hostesses" come with a sanitary sash, discreetly replaced after each use.

The Millionaire Fair-ies welcome international dignitaries and guests

Ravaged by the current economic crisis, the U.S. Space program looks to the Millionaire Fair to secure sponsorship

The Windsor knot tells you this is a Millionaire Fair performance!

After careful surveillance I've absorbed Raina's observations and work up a couple equations, I believe my math holds water:

after all, here is a quick web-roundup of some products you can expect to see at the fair:

Do the very wealthy suffer from congenital sensory deprivation that can only be aided by attaching tactile sparkly bits to every last item they own?  Asks Raina 

I think Raina is on to something, but I think the target group is a bit more specific, and feel the need to pinpoint the demographic.  Get out your diamond-encrusted TI-82s:

By this point, of course, both of our heads are spinning:  The wealth!  The indulgence!  The brazen disregard for taste!  Can't. Go. On.  It is here that we (again, in the spirit of extravagance) ask for your input on this post.  I'll present a series of quick-fire questions.  You fill in the blanks.  Winner receives a gold-plated hunter's duck decoy coated in millions of precious stones courtesy of Harry Winston*

*actual prize and sponsorship are nonexistent.  winner gets love.

1.  Tie-dye is to hippies as _____________ is to attendees of the Millionaire Fair

2.  Myspace is to Social Networking as ___________________ is to the Millionaire Fair

3.  Ego infested socialites are to taste and class as _______________ is to ____________

And real quick like, before anyone leaves comments about wealth and jealousy and how we're a bunch of bitter hos, let me say:  I have no problem with millionaires,  are you kidding?  I wish I were one!  However, if I'm ever so lucky, I will never in a gazillion years sacrifice taste and composure in exchange for a plane ticket and admission to this so-called-luxury event.  Where is the design hidden in these comforts?  Where is the craft?  Where is the empathy for humanity?  I don't have a problem with the wealthy, but as soon as someone buys a $42,000 shirt, I have to raise an eyebrow.