May 11, 2011

By Paula M. Bodah

Putting the Wish List together for every issue is my job, and if you think it’s fun to call on New England’s best designers to talk a bit about themselves and show off few of their favorite things in our magazine, you’d be correct. The tough part is deciding which of a designer’s choices can fit in our limited space. There are always beautiful items and fascinating insights from the designers that get left on my mental chopping block.

Case in point: Martin Potter and Jon Hattaway of MJ Berries in Boston, who were our featured designers for Wish List in the current issue. The two had more wonderful items for the home than we could possibly show on one page, and they had lots of nice things to say about people they do business with in New England. Here’s a bit of what didn’t make it into the issue.

We used a photo of this fabric by Sonia Rykiel for Lelievre, but this version shows the line in all its colors. The designers had just as much to say about Stark, where the fabric can be found, as they did about the fabric itself. “Not only do we love the fabrics and carpets at Stark,†Hattaway told me, “we love the showroom staff. These guys–from management to showroom men–are informed, trustworthy and full of good humor. Showroom personnel are so important in our workâ€

Photo courtesy of Stark Carpet

This piece by Brookline, Massachusetts, artist Ruby Pearl was one of Hattaway and Potter’s choices that ended up being left out. About choosing art for one’s home, Hattaway says, “The ‘fine-ness’ need not be regarded so because the artist is dead, European or expensive. Many resources–from your fourth grader at the Park School to MassArt–provide amazing examples of the best contemporary art. One of our favorite resources is Gateway Arts, Brookline, a studio for 120 talented adults who are differently abled, from the hearing impaired to those who have spectrum disorder. There’s a store where paintings, jewelry, greeting cards and sculptures are sold retail and an upstairs gallery for monthly shows.â€

“Perfect Sweetness of Solitude” by Ruby Pearl, courtesy of Gateway Arts, Brookline

Hattaway says, “John Johnson, founder of Johnson Paint Company was fond of saying, ‘Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten.’ Seventy-three years and six stores later, it must be true. Equally unforgettable, however, is the fact that Mr. Johnson and his sons Robert, David and the late John Johnson have given more free advice to more people than the whole of motherdom combined. Great advice. The best advice. Advice that has saved homes and marriages. Today, Mr. Johnson’s grandson Josh joins the family tradition of providing the nuanced kind of knowledge that’s not on the can’s label. We’ve never done a design project that did not include the counsel of these master retailers.â€

Photo courtesy of Johnson Paint Company

A favorite color Hattaway and Potter enlisted the good people at Johnson’s to put on the walls of a house recently: Benjamin Moore‘s Folk Art.  “I hadn’t used a real green in the house,” Hattaway recalls. “The client collected folk art, so when I saw this color it tickled me. When things make a connection like that, it suggests to me it’s the right choice.”

Photo courtesy of Benjamin Moore