Diane Meier

Diane Meier

Welcome to Diane’s Blog!

I’ll use this spot to chart what I enjoy and endorse, as we attempt to live a life of style in a culture of business and writing and art. And I hope you join me; share your own stories, insights and ideas about living a creatively expressive life.

Our Life’s Work is Here

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Our offices at 907 Broadway
Here at 907 Broadway, in the Stanford White building MEIER has occupied since 1985, are the columns my mother painted the month we moved in. Here too is the wonderful paisley pen-work mirror she created with her closest friend, Kakia Livanos, at the Isabel O’Neill studio, where they both held forth and maintained the flame as directors and teachers, when Isabel grew too frail to continue instruction. And here is the big paisley wall I painted to set it off. My Flintstone answer, perhaps, to her elegant refinement. But it’s mine. Complete with little gold leaf details.

An environment we created for our award winning Orrefors campaign.
Our life’s work is here. The ads we’ve made, the books we’ve written. A John Kirby painting that graced the cover of Frank’s first novella, hangs below one of his more recognizable portraits. And a wall of Reynolds Stone bookplate engravings came from the same artist who illustrated The Folio/Hutchinson Book of Essays, which Frank edited. I have art glass from our clients, Orrefors and Kosta Boda, perched through the space, as well as some of my Andy’s and ADDYs and Clios, holding up books. Also on the bookshelves sit many of Frank’s books, including his
Awards at home with books.
American output: Ireland, Simple Courage, Shannon and Tipperary; and my books, The New American Wedding and the advanced reader’s edition of The Season of Second Chances – my first novel, due out at the end of March.

We have the books we use in our commerce: art books and design books along with the volumes of illustrators and photographers sent by reps and image houses. We have paper samples and perforated pantone chips in linen covered binders. And around them all, an overflow from our homes, sit Oscar Wilde and Henry James, Capote and Vidal, Wolfe and Fitzgerald, and the books of my grandfather, Frank Meier, who wrote about the sea.
For a client with a very limited budget, we painted the details and furniture of the room right on the white canvas walls. Only the bed and the hanging curtain are real!
They stand shoulder to shoulder with the books of our friends – Sally Pritchard’s brilliant Crackpots, Katherine Lanpher’s Leap Days, John Colapinto’s About the Author and As Nature Made Him, Richard Cohen’s By The Sword, Jamie Saul’s Light of Day, Frances Kiernan’s biographies of Mary McCarthy and Brooke Astor. We are surrounded by books that are friends or books that are by friends.

How do you get a room like this? Well, one way is to live long enough and throw out very little. And – I will risk the sound of one hand clapping to say it – because this is an office, and talent is what we sell - it helps to have talent. Talent far beyond money. I’ve worked with some of the world’s greatest photographers and stylists. And, when budgets wouldn’t allow a full team, I’ve done a slew of set design projects on my own. We even had a project with a budget so small we built a white canvas set and painted the furniture directly on to the walls and the rug on to the floor, in actual size! I once filled a huge cabinet with casaba melons as a backdrop to a fashion shot of a minimal Asian jacket. Casaba melons. Not priceless porcelains. It’s witty and fun – but it costs next to nothing. And it’s proof that Style does not come from a checkbook.

We propped a minimalist Asian Blanc De Chine fashion shot with melons. As beautiful as any priceless porcelains, to my eye. And no sticker shock.
It was natural, I think, that this energy would also be expressed in our office. As my work moved from the necessity of half a dozen folks preparing ads and art work to go to press in “real-size,” to the modern scale of a few geniuses on computers, our needs for space changed radically. Add to this the entrance of Frank who brought with him to the United States a life of publishing, screenplays, broadcasting and four thousand books.

This was the fourth major renovation for this office in our twenty-five years here. But it has been the most satisfying. It completely embodies the working atmosphere we find ideal. Our team often meets for breakfast tea at the green marble counter in the morning. We eat lunch together every day around the round library table, and often there is another break for tea at four in the afternoon. We can go to our offices and close the door, or sit in a pretty corner and read. We work very hard, often at our desks far beyond the hours others have long gone home, but because of our contact, it’s rare that we don’t know where things stand with a project, a client or a personal story. Our work is enhanced by an office that encourages collegial activity. But even more so, our lives are enhanced by the civilized proximity and grace this office allows.

From the art direction of ads, to the creative direction of a living, breathing interior; from the idea that an office should be nothing less than a reflection of the delight in a well-lived life, with no artificial boundaries about style or self-expression – that’s what 907 is all about.

Here’s a hint of the chic authoritative work we did for Zezé, New York’s – and perhaps the world’s - most important, most glorious florist.
And to those who act as though a career as a novelist has now put our marketing work on the back burner, I say balderdash! Well, actually, I say a word I won’t write here, but if you know me well enough, you can fill in the blank. You may not be able to ‘do it all’, but chances are you can do a heck of a lot more than the nay-sayers suggest.

Out of this office, and along with a new graphic identity for the mega-florist, Zezé, the re-launch of one of America’s oldest doll companies, and a huge project that we believe will revolutionize accountability and the predictability of marketing choices, I’ve created a novel where the protagonist has bought into all of the limitations her gender, her age and her career might well have imposed. But Joy gets a second chance. The truth is, she takes a second chance. It was there, all along. Just as it is for all of us. It’s not necessarily a life adjustment, it’s an attitude adjustment. And if this office can illuminate for you the idea of rule-breaking self-expression -- in all you do, then hurrah! Let us know! There might be a book in it.

Style in the Face of Adversity

Monday, October 19, 2009

imageI’ve broken my shoulder. I’d like to say that it happened in an exotic way -- as though I’d sacrificed my wellbeing while transporting endangered gorillas to safety; or in a way that suggested a kind of reckless abandon – dropped by helicopter to virgin slopes. Even the suggestion of rough sex would play better than the truth of stumbling in the kitchen with the cuff of my sleeve twisted in a drawer pull that pulled opened the drawer with a velocity that knocked me off my feet and yanked my shoulder out of its happy little housing. This was a fall, both too domestic and too freakish at the same time, to have any status.

The CAT scan indicated an alignment so lucky I didn’t need a knife, but a terrible sling was offered in its place. A blue so shallow as to already suggest just how nasty it would be once washed, had a Velcro band that cut into my neck. And this was something I had to promise wearing every day. Especially in public.

Amy Attas understood that my problem went far beyond pain. She’d had a serious run in with a cat in the line of duty, as New York’s chicest veterinarian, that took her hand and wrist out of commission for more than a little time. And she’d also been instructed to wear the dreaded sling. Nothing doing, she thought. And she made an adjustment and suggested the same to me. Hermes.

imageI have Hermes scarves from the late nineteen sixties, when my parents would bring them back from trips to Europe for me. I have the first I bought in Paris in my twenties and on my business trips to the offices of Pierre Balmain all through the seventies and eighties. I have the scarves Frank has bought me as he dashes through airports on his way home. I have Hermes scarves by the dozens. I have slings for every possible outfit!

And its fun to address to them in this new way. Fun to go back to my stash of scarves and find old friends in the stacks. And I almost don’t mind the fact that my arm aches and that I can’t close the car door or pick up a magazine with my right hand. Almost. But I’ve put a cheerful, stylish face on the problem – and that’s almost better than not having had a problem to conquer.

The wonderful Donna Mehalko has contributed a little sketch of me in my style overcoming adversity. Note the smile. It’s not a grimace.

907 Vodka and a DogWood Cocktail. Cheers!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Here is cocktail tagged a “DogWood” (named after our place in the country – bought to toss the stick to my dog, hence – DogWood):

• Mash some orange slices with mint leaves and stems in the bottom of your pitcher until they’re “schmushed” – as my mother used to say
• Add strong, brewed, unsweetened, cold tea
• Goslings dark rum (I suppose you could substitute a different dark rum, but I’ve never found a suitable alternative to Goslings for a DogWood.)
• Blenheim’s very hot ginger ale. Others may tell you that their ginger ale or ginger beer is spicy or vivid. Nothing compares to Blenheims. It will bring tears to your eyes.
• Serve over ice
• Garnish with a slice of orange and a fresh (un-schmushed) leaf or two of mint

imageAnother surprisingly easy thing to do is to make your own infused vodka. I’ve done this with a number of ‘flavors’ blending herbs with fruit. Learned in Sweden while on the Orrefors account, where they have a tradition of ‘spicing’ their grain alcohol to create their own personal blends of Aquavit.

While I’ve tried lemon and caraway, basil and lavender – this is our favorite. I use it to flavor a ‘martini’, mix into a “Broadway Mule” (907 Vodka, Hot Blenheims and lime – over ice or shaken and strained. yum) or we drink it straight, in little shot glasses.

907 Vodka
• Get some pretty bottles with cork stoppers.
• Using a funnel, fill ¾ of the way up the bottle with any reasonably good vodka. You are going to flavor this and let it steep – so don’t bother using the super premium vodkas – believe me, you won’t ever be able to appreciate the difference (if there even is a difference) in the final product.
• Cut a long spiral of orange peel with as little pith as possible. The longer and thinner you can make it the better. If you cannot manage to make it thin, cut it long from the orange and then divide the spiral lengthwise, to create two or three long spirals. Use one per bottle.
• Back to your funnel for a dollop of Cointreau, Grand Marier or Triple-Sec orange liqueur.
I sometimes add some strands of fresh ginger or a frond of Rosemary.

Wonderful on its own in little whiskey glasses or shot glasses. Great mixed with ginger ale or straight vodka over ice in an Old Fashion glass. It doesn’t need a thing – but a sprig of mint is pretty.

My hint: the rind of citrus (lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, etc.) will hold up better than a soft fruit – especially if you don’t think you’ll drink it all down the very night you make it. Frank suggests that you don’t think of drinking the whole bottle that night – so there you have it!

As for your own cocktail, there are so many new flavored liquors on the market, you can easily experiment with a combination of fruits and herbs to find your own special blend. Cork it, tie a ribbon around its neck and label it as your own. It gets better with time. Unbelievably easy, no?

Theme Your Dinner

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

You know the part of the dinner party I like the best? Designing the meal. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone talk about it this way – maybe you all do. Maybe everyone thinks about a meal like a poem or a novel or a symphony and I’ve just not been paying attention. But if you do it, you haven’t told me --- so I’ve kind of thought I invented it. Here’s the thing - try to have a theme that holds the meal (and the evening) together and let it work across the flavors and the table decor: It can be a season – or a country or a flavor. Recently I found a brilliant olive oil, pressed with oranges from Sardinia. The taste is fantastic. We made an orange sangria; served a gorgeous blue cheese with sliced walnut and orange bread as a first course; the entree was pasta with ground turkey and hot and sweet turkey sausage, cooked with sweet onions in the orange oil, mixed with fresh suprémed oranges and their juice, a lot of black pepper, a handful of chopped fresh mint and a good bit of shredded fresh parmesan. Dessert was an orange trifle. Sounds rich, but it was amazingly light and fresh tasting. We had huge bowls of oranges on the table and even the place cards (these, painted by our wonderful illustrator, Donna Mehalko) were orange-themed.

Page 13 of 15 pages « First  <  11 12 13 14 15 >