I had not known about the photographs of Laura Wilson until starting work on an exhibition of her images of the American West for the the Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio. They're quite compelling, some very haunting. The show is called THAT DAY and it "captures the majesty as well as the tragedy of the American West today."

Hutterite Girl With Her Horse, Chattahoochee (c) Copyright Laura Wilson

Hutterite Girl With Her Horse, Chattahoochee (c) Copyright Laura Wilson

Stunt Cowboy Falling off Horse, Ventura County, California, February 20  (c) Copyright Laura Wilson

Stunt Cowboy Falling off Horse, Ventura County, California, February 20  (c) Copyright Laura Wilson

Sheila Edgar, Cheerleader, Moran High School Moran, Texas November 8, 1991 (c) Copyright Laura Wilson

Sheila Edgar, Cheerleader, Moran High School Moran, Texas November 8, 1991 (c) Copyright Laura Wilson

While the content ranges from people and places in Texas, California, New Mexico, and Montana, and more, some of my favorite shots are the ones taken in Texas. They offer a inside look at this new state of mine, and in my thirst to know more about Texas, they help to fill in gaps of this idea I have in my head of what Texas is.

Debutantes on Stage, Laredo, Texas, February 19, 1993 (c) Copyright Laura Wilson

Debutantes on Stage, Laredo, Texas, February 19, 1993 (c) Copyright Laura Wilson

Cowboys Walking, J.R. Green Cattle Company, Shackelford County, Texas, May 13, 1997  (c) Copyright Laura Wilson

Cowboys Walking, J.R. Green Cattle Company, Shackelford County, Texas, May 13, 1997  (c) Copyright Laura Wilson

Cowboys Walking, J.R. Green Cattle Company, Shackelford County, Texas, May 13, 1997  (c) Copyright Laura Wilson

Cowboys Walking, J.R. Green Cattle Company, Shackelford County, Texas, May 13, 1997  (c) Copyright Laura Wilson

The border with Mexico; the disparity between rich and poor; the relationship with nature; the bizarre economies and professions; and of course the vastness and beauty of the landscape, or even just the sky alone... I think it's going to be very long time until most of those gaps are filled in...


Last month I was invited rework a Modernica Case Study chair as part of the 2017 AIGA LA Awards' silent auction. It took some time for the embroidery detailing to come to life, but right away I knew I was going to drill a ton of holes into the shell.

Over 700 hundred holes later, I started the pattern and color tests. Lots of trial and error, ripping out stitches and restitching. Of course the back was very interesting!

I had to fight the urge to embroider the whole thing and in the end opted for less is more. I called the chair Candy Constellations.

Above photo credits: Aaron Gleen, Susanica Tam. All others by Debi van Zyl.

I wasn't able to attend the event at the Millwick, but it looked like a lovely evening! And I love seeing my chair among the other great chairs that were up for auction. Thanks AIGA LA!



We certainly didn't intend to buy a house that matches the color of our old rental. But that's what happened. We moved from one tiny blue house to another blue house, though this one is double the size and has some red brick for good measure. After a fairly extensive interior renovation, we are finally in!

It's been a bit of a blur, to be honest; we closed on the house just days before the birth of our daughter, Cassia, and the renovation began right as we faced the uncharted challenges of a newborn, and now 3 month-old baby. For her part, Cassia has certainly spent some time on the construction site and charmed all the contractors and inspectors!

We moved away from wide open pasture land to a heavily wooded area, and while I already miss the grand vistas, I cannot get over these trees! We inherited an old tree house that sits on our little slice, a left-over treasure for us to explore when Cassia is older.

Once we get a little more moved in, I'll be sharing some before and after photos.


I feel like a big round-up is necessary to update you all on what's been going on these last few months. I've been quiet but very busy, as well as preparing for some big life changes coming soon. It's also been tough for me to blog about beasts and design work when, to be honest, I've been pretty down about the outcome of our election. But having participated in the Women's March on Austin this past weekend gave me the swift kick in the ass I needed to pick myself up and dust off some of the frustration and disappointment. So it's time to get back at it.

Quietly, I've been making lots of new stuff. It was one way to distract myself from politics and channel energy into something productive and I found myself working at things I haven't done in a while. Like furniture making, wood working, and painting. Some of the pieces I made are ready for sale, others need another round of prototyping and a good dose of finesse, but its been so cathartic to work my hands in a different capacity.


 Last month I participated in a holiday pop-up event in Austin, TX at the Urban Outfitters Space 24 Twenty (top photo), my first in-person selling event since moving to Texas. I'm always surprised by what sells and what gets cuddled but not purchased so it was great to interact with shoppers to see what grabs them. This time around it was the eight-legged beasts that got most of the attention and the snake-worms. I've been very slow to do this, but soon I will be adding to the online shop the beasts that weren't snapped up. Of course, the best way to get shop update is to sign up for the newsletter, if you haven't already.

But mostly, I've been preoccupied by some pretty big life changes that are currently unfolding. The first is that we bought a house (!!!) in nearby Bastrop and once renovated, we'll be moving away from our idyllic little farmhouse in the countryside. It's certainly bittersweet but the sadness of leaving will soon be overshadowed by an even larger event which is likely happening next week: the birth of our first child! I made a delicate little mobile (above) for the little girl we are expecting and it will hang in her very own bedroom. Needless to say, it's been busy around here. And soon to be not so quiet.


I remember when I first started working as an exhibition designer, I took a million photos during fabrication and installation. I've filled up countless hard drives with images of paint drying on gallery walls (literally) and more excitingly, images of preparators gently placing massive sculptures, shop visits with fabricators, and many in-gallery shots of the teams of people it takes to make an exhibition safe for the art and beautiful for the public. Nowadays, I find that I take fewer and fewer photos of this phase (still my favorite part of my job) , because after 13 years of doing this, the process often looks the same. There is a protocol we all follow and getting an exhibition off the ground is for me, now, a pretty standard practice, so find myself slacking off in the documentation process sometimes. BUT one of latest exhibitions I worked on was different!

Sitting at the edge of your seat? Your should be! The show, Pop for the People: Roy Lichtenstein in L.A., showcases many of the artist's great works, including some of his large paintings of interiors. One gallery is devoted to Lichtenstein's "re-imagining" of work by Picasso, Monet, and van Gogh. It's here that we designed and built a 3D version of Lichtenstein's painting Bedroom at Arles, which is a reinterpretation of van Gogh's The Bedroom. We set out to recreate the room entirely!

The first thing I had to do was turn the 2D painting into construction documents so that we could build the exaggerated perspective of the walls and all the furniture and decor and create all the wall and floor patterns to scale. The crew at the Skirball then built and painted everything by hand to match the angles, lines, and accents from the Lichtenstein painting.

The guys working on this with me were incredibly talented and fully embraced the challenge to build not-your-everyday-museum-furniture. The attention to detail, craftsmanship, and constant reference back to the original image was crucial and is essentially what made this installation the success it is. On opening night there was an hour long wait to get inside the gallery!

The Art Institute of Chicago, who owns The Bedroom paintings by van Gogh, did a similar thing earlier this year where they recreated van Gogh's bedroom in three-dimensions and made it an airbnb rental. It's pretty amazing. If you are in Los Angeles, the exhibition and Lichtenstein bedroom is up at Skirball Cultural Center until March 12, 2017.

You can see more photos of the entire exhibition here.


In May, when I posted that I'd be reopening the shop later this summer, I really meant it! What I didn't realize at the time was that I was going to really push the definition of summer, stretch it to its September limits. But technically, my friends, still summer...

For all you faithful beast lovers, thank you for being so patient. The wait is almost over. The beast factory (aka me) is finally catching up on attaching legs to bodies, stuffing heads, and sewing up butts. There are still more faces to put on, frowns and smiles alike, and lots and lots of photography and editing that needs to happen.

Long story short: the shop will be restocked and reopened around the middle of September. If you have signed up for the newsletter, you'll get the notification of exactly when. And this time I promise to send out the newsletter with a little more advanced warning!


There was a time I was quite obsessed with taking Polaroid pictures and as a result I have a box of old shots that blurrily document 2000 through 2009 pretty darn well. The collection is an out-of-focus diary of sorts and lots of shots were taken on expired film (I would hoard the stuff when I found it for sale).

The box has been sitting on a shelf, untouched, for years, until a couple of days ago when I was hunting online for some dreamy summer stock photography for a project, when I suddenly realized that I am my own photo bank!

I've been working on some marketing materials for SIMON showroom in New York for the past year or so and was happy that they wanted to try something new with a multi-page format for the Spring Summer '17 mailer. A perfect way to showcase my stash of Polaroids!


Eventually Mr. D and I will leave our idyllic little (rented) farmhouse and make the leap into home ownership. The plan is to find a little piece of land with an old house on it that we can fix up, or a little piece of land with nothing and then find an old house and have it moved onto the property. I'm fascinated with the logistics of moving houses.

BUT then I saw this lake house by JRKVC and it itched my inner architect and now I kinda want to build a house. Or at least put that into the house-hunting equation. Drastic renovation?

Right now our house is this lovely little square, too small for corridors and each room flows into the next. Perhaps that is why I love this rectangle house with no corridors: each room is accessed from the central shared space, with extra sleeping and play spaces above.

The color of the built-in shelving alone convinced me I loved this house, but it just got better and better: the wall behind the wood-burning stove is masonry, absorbing heat, and the door jamb details on the bedroom interior is a nice surprise, not to mention more built-ins.

And of course the canoe storage and view. I'm rather obsessed with getting a canoe these days (especially after these devastating non-stop storms in Central Texas) and I'm a sucker for a porch and large overhang.

At the risk of making this my longest post ever, my extended dream would be to marry this house with another house by the same architect.

Again, the porch and the recessed door details and color! I do love the history, quirks, and the wear of old houses, but I'm surprising myself here by suddenly wanting something new. And I am totally in love with the charm of these traditional building forms, the warmth of the materials, and the smart, unfussy details.

via dezeen
lake house, here, and small glazed gable house here


This newly installed land art piece in the Nevada desert just about made my day.
Well, this and the fact that Mr. D almost finished building the tool shed today, but more on that another time.

Isaac Brekken for The New York Times

Isaac Brekken for The New York Times

Installed just outside Las Vegas, it's called Seven Magic Mountains by artist Ugo Rondinone, and consists of fluorescent limestone boulders stacked vertically and standing between thirty and thirty-five feet high.

"Located a short distance from Nevada’s legendary Jean Dry Lake where Jean Tinguely and Michael Heizer created significant sculptures, Seven Magic Mountains is one of the largest land-based art installations in the United States completed in over 40 years. The work pays homage to the history of Land Art while also offering a contemporary critique of the simulacra in nearby Las Vegas."

I'm also excited to learn about the Nevada Museum of Art and it's Center for Art + Environment which is "becoming known for its expertise and holdings in materials related to art and the land, not just in the United States but around the world."

Next time I have bit of free time when I'm in California, I may just have to drive up so I can stand next to a huge pink boulder...and then I may just have to drive up to Reno to visit the museum. I feel a road trip coming on.

p.s. I have to say that I'm reminded of the work by Chioazza and their Domestic Monuments series and Cairn, which they installed last year.

p.p.s And I know not everyone thinks painted rocks are as cool as I do, take Mr D. for example, who gave me a huge eye roll when I showed him the pic of Seven Magic Mountains. To each their own.