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Patti Cowger

It’s the end of the year and time for reflection. I’ve been thinking about the topics I’ve covered in this column. There’s been a wide range on art, design and architecture. Some have been practical and straight-forward about form and function. Some have been how-to and how-not-to tutorials. Others, like my 13-part series on the history of architecture, have been educational. I wrote that particular series to stress that good design comes from an understanding of its origin and evolution.

There have also been topics that may have at first seemed a little off-beat like “Coco Chanel Whispered in my Ear”, “My Valentine in Orange”, “Art is Like a Multi-Vitamin”, “My Oblivious Mentor”, or “Napa Traffic and Symmetry”. But my content always connects back to design.

I especially enjoy these outside-the-box pieces and hope they are thought-provoking. For instance, when I wrote about choosing the best size area rug for a given space, I also included a few words about the Golden Ratio and the Greek philosopher, Pythagoras. I did this to give you more layers of insight and appreciation for the spaces you create. When you know the stories behind each element you include, and the reason for doing so, your design is more elevated and cohesive.

Some of my off-beat topics are meant to entertain while accompanying your morning coffee or evening wine. One of them was titled “Design Like Einstein.” I explained that I had been watching a 10-part television series on the National Geographic Channel called “Genius.” It was about the life of Albert Einstein.

At one point during the series, he said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” He was referring to his Unified Field Theory but I related to it as an interior designer. When I work on clients’ projects, I aim to unify individual spaces within larger spaces.

I hadn’t realized that this was akin to a natural unified field! I try to design in the simplest way which, ironically, is always the most difficult. “Genius” came in handy when writing a column about making each design decision count and explaining why the phrase, “less is more”, is true.

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Last month, I found myself rivetted to another television show. It was on the History Channel and called “The Curse of Oak Island”. I would have bypassed it had I not already known that Oak Island has been the subject of mystery, investigations, and treasure hunts for 150 years.

One of the most intriguing theories is that the Knights Templar buried treasures seized from the Temple of Solomon and throughout the Levant. Priceless and historical religious artifacts, including the Arc of the Covenant, are thought to be included.

How can I possibly link Oak Island to design? During the show, excavators uncovered two exciting pieces. One was a 500-year-old garnet brooch and the other was a piece of red glass. The excavators were disappointed with the glass until learning that some glass formulas have been kept secret for centuries. This was done in order to protect the income and trade of those countries that produced glass with particularly distinctive and valuable characteristics. The contents and methods of production used to attain desirable luminosity, iridescence, weight, and/or shape were known to only a few.

You might have an antique glass chandelier, a Tiffany lamp, vase, or a family heirloom. I inherited a red and gold demitasse coffee set from Venice. Knowing that glass has a rich and even secretive history adds a little soul and intrigue to our prized possessions.

Who knew that a television show could lead to another off-beat column which, in turn, asks more questions about an otherwise mediocre topic. As you might have guessed, just like the excavators on Oak Island, I’m going to dig further and report back. Don’t be surprised if I write about medieval cathedrals with stained-glass windows that depict stories of the Knights Templar.

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Patti L. Cowger is an award-winning, Napa-based interior designer and owner of PLC Interiors. For more information about her design services, visit her website at plcinteriors.com call (707) 322-6522; or email plcinteriors@sbcglobal.net