Where does design inspiration come from?

Amalfi coast lemons
Amalfi Coast lemons

While taking my summer vacation in the Amalfi Coast this summer one of my favorite things I did – besides merely lounge poolside in my BoxerinBlue swimwear under the wafting smell of the lemon trees – was visit the Ruins of Pompeii, which I talked about in a recent blog post when I announced my furniture collection – The Antiques Diva Collection by Aidan Gray.

Pompeii continues to fascinate – Mount Vesuvius had erupted in a phenomenal fashion straight off a Hollywood movie script – perfectly preserving the ancient town of Pompeii and the surrounding countryside in ash. The result – while devastating at the time, burying the people alive – did preserve the works of arts for centuries allowing us to see frescoes from the time of Jesus. (Segway from religion to sex… ) While the frescoes in the brothels were… uhm… especially interesting… what continues to fascinate me is the lush decadent lifestyles they lived in ancient Roman times. When I think of 2000 years ago, I imagine people walking around barefoot and yet in Pompeii the rich were living in villas I’d be happy to call home today.

Pompeii was to Rome like the Hamptons are to New York. And these villas surely must have been where the profession of interior designer came about. The wealthy employed sculptors and painters and other artisans to create an atmosphere that reinforced their position in society. In addition to proper sewage, they had gyms and swimming pools, libraries and courtyards with gorgeous mosaics… but for me… it’s all about the frescoes. The villas were painted ceiling to floor with motifs that were anything from actual images of other villas to architectural elements such as porticos or even cards, rivers and coastlines as well trees, fruits, flowers, birds…  But my favorite room, a kitchen in one of the villas, reminded me of my own home. The walls of the kitchen were painted with swimming fish found in the sea nearby.

Pompeii: Be Inspired | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva & Co
Pompeii kitchen frescoe of swimming fish 

At my home in Venice, I live in a small apartment a stone’s throw from the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, on a side canal just off the Grand Canal. Soon after I got an apartment here I found myself dreaming of water – which apparently is a trait of Venetians. Water is as much a part of daily life in Venice as is air and breathing. Meanwhile fish swim in the canals outside my kitchen window, they are served in every restaurant and I even have pet goldfish (Frank Sinatra Jr and Frank Jr Jr – fans of the TV series Friends will catch the joke in the name of the later). Wanting to connect the interior of my apartment to my surroundings, I decided to commission the artisans from Porte Italia to come and paint fish swimming down my entry hall. I chose to do the entire entrance in a dramatic high gloss black paint – painting the ceiling as well as walls which makes the space feel infinitely larger.

Toma Clark Haines hallway in Venice
My entry in Venice hand-painted by Porte Italia 

A fan of Fornasetti, I had the artisans nod towards Piero’s style. The fish swim towards a reflection pool in the middle – aka, an 18th C Gilded Mirror with the original mottled and melting mercury glass. The mirrors frame design is straight out of a fresco design in Pompeii, a basket overflowing with pomegranates and roses. This mirror created most likely between Louis 15 and Louis 16 reign reflects the notion we discussed in a recent blog – where does design inspiration come from? Everything we see and feel and do, influence who we are and our design aesthetic. Louis 16th furniture makers were heavily influenced by Pompeii, just as I was heavily influenced by Louis 15 and 16th when designing my furniture collection – The Antiques Diva Collection for Aidan Gray, which debuts this week at High Point Market.

Be Inspired 

Fall 2018 High Point Market I’m speaking on 2 panels that broach the subject of Design Inspiration. I’ll be Facebook Living both events – so don’t worry if you’re not able to be there in person, know you can always catch it online on my personal page Toma Clark Haines.

Inspiration Behind the Designs – Saturday October 13 2-3pm
Surya Showplace 4100

Join interior and product designers Mary Douglas Drysdale, Michel Smith Boyd, Toma Clark Haines (“The Antiques Diva”), Xander Noori, and Keon Khajavi-Noori as they discuss where they seek inspiration, how they overcome the dreaded creative block, and give tips and tools for recharging your creative batteries. 

Inspiration Behind the Designs

Designing Women of the World – Sunday October 14 1.30 to 2.30pm
Suites at Market Square Seminar Room SAMS T 1014

How do you prioritize travel as a busy designer and business owner? How do you prepare for design inspiration at a particular destination? How does getting outside of your local marketplace help your business? Join our traveled designers as they discuss these questions and many more, while giving tips and inspiration on how to incorporate travel into your design process. Panelists include Adriana HoyosTina NicoleToma Clark HainesSandra Espinet, and Aviva Stanoff with Deb Barrett as moderator. Reception and book signings to follow.

Designing Women of the World

Until then, Be Inspired.

Toma Clark Haines – The Antiques Diva®

The Antiques Diva Takes Over: HPMKT Trendspotter

Delighted to be an HPMKT Trendspotter: I’m sharing my design inspirations at High Point Market on Instagram to help you discover new, unique products: follow @highpointmarket!   #designonhpmkt   #hpmkt   #interiordesign  #interiorinspo #interiordesigners


The Antiques Diva Takes Over HPMKT

@TheAntiquesDiva is Taking Over #DesignOnHPMKT  If you are only going to stop at one #IHFC showroom at #HPMKT then you must make it @curryco at M110. Their stylish designs and fab price points will leave you begging for more. This #PhyllisMorrisOriginal is coming home to my new apartment in Venice. #divalifestyle


Antiques Diva Take Over #HPMKT
Some of the best-kept secrets at #HPMKT are upstairs in the #HPADC.  @TheAntiquesDiva has taken over #DesignOnHPMKT and we are declaring that #BrownIsBack Traditional furniture at @lolofrenchantiques has #TheAntiquesDiva seal of approval. Come meet Louis while taking a lesson in the Louis and learning about #FrenchAntiques


 If you want to see what’s now, what’s next at #HPMKT – then you MUST shop @Rue_Auber_Antiques at #HPADC for @TheAntiquesDiva top pick for #DesignOnHPMKT

Pop into Market Square to meet Richard Auber – who is truly a visionary in Design and a trendsetter in the Antiques world.


The Antiques Diva Takes Over @ HPMKT
Come see the essence of chic at @nancypriceinteriordesign at #HPMKT in The Suites at Market Square G6000B. @TheAntiquesDiva is taking over #DesignOnHPMKT


The Antiques Diva Takes Over HPMKT
@_RobinBaron is Pretty in Pink launching for the first time at #Hpmkt in Salon Suites at Market Square G-6000A @TheAntiquesDiva is taking over #DesignOnHPMKT and I declare the Baroness is Always right that #ConfidenceBeginsAtHome #divalifestyle


Where do you get your design inspiration?


Hope to see you at Spring HPMKT! 
Toma – The Antiques Diva 

WrapUp Spring High Point Market 2017

Spring High Point Market 

Toma Clark Haines WrapUp Spring HPMKTAnd it’s a wrap. Another High Point Market came and went in a flurry of silver fox fur, fantasy designer inspiration tours, champagne soirees and late night foot baths soaking my aching toes. Yes. I might be the only person at Market who does it in stilettos, but how else will I earn the right to call myself the CEO in Stilettos?

The Antiques & Design Center at High Point Market stole Market as the MAIN attraction – literally anyone who was anyone in the design community was seen sourcing there. I took a huge group on my annual Early Bird Champagne Tour and was delighted that Ruthie Staalsen of DecRenew did an Instagram Takeover for IDS National and Instagram LIVED my tour allowing viewers not at Market to experience this #NoPassportRequired Antiques Diva® tour in America. So many of our fabulous clients are now selling at shops in America… that it occurs to me, maybe I should be doing more than just PR antiquing tours stateside #WatchThisSpace

Behind every diva… there is a secret. All those fabulous jewels you see me wear? Yep… IF they are not part of my new TCH Toma Clark Haines at HPMKT - No Passport RequiredCollection that’s in development – #WatchThisSpace – then they are often on loan…  I want to give special thanks to a fabulous dealer at Market. Donnie Grissom at the HPMKT ADC loans me gorgeous real jewels each day of Market so that I can not only call myself a Diva – but also give those gals on Dallas a run for their money. He knows my philosophy is that MORE is MORE. We start the morning with a blank canvas. Usually, a wrap dress and a fabulous pair of heels and then Donnie begins adding the accessories. Turquoise brings out my eyes, he informs me. That brooch strung on a necklace hits the perfect spot on the décolleté.  Never wear a big bold ring on the same hand as your bracelet. And when it’s not my TCH COLLECTION or Donnie Grissom’s jewels bedazzling me… it’s often Nancy Price loaning me Aura. Having friends to help style me at Market makes all the difference in being camera ready!!!

Toma Clark Haines Global Sourcing Panel at HPMKTAll modesty aside… We knocked it out of the park on our Global Sourcing Panel at Aidan Gray Home at High Point Market. But don’t take my word for it…  watch for yourself. I handed my colleague my phone so they could Facebook Live it and as luck would have it, about the time my data-roaming reached freak out mode, Nick May of the Chaise Lounge podcast came along and began his Facebook Live of the event. CEO of Aidan Gray Randal Weeks, Wendy Estes of Layla Grayce, Susan Jamison of Bridget Beari Designs, and Michael Mitchell and Tyler Hill of Mitchell Hill discussed their experiences in sourcing antiques overseas, manufacturing furniture in Asia, and doing design projects without borders. We highlighted what the problems were – red flags to watch out – dove headfirst into the topic of international antiques and furniture shipping – as well as discussed the simple fact that Global Sourcing could change your business… and change your life!

One of my favorite showrooms at Market is always Currey & Co –  this market theyToma Clark Haines with Bunny Williams at HPMKT launched Bunny Williams lighting line.  Meeting Bunny was a dream come true… She’s a Design Icon and one of the women I most respect in this industry. As I shook her hand I had a PINCH ME MOMENT as I said, “I’m Toma Clark Haines,” and she said, “I know who you are. You’re The Antiques Diva. You’re Amazing. You’re the lady who is making antiques mainstream.”

More and more, Market is full of these Pinch Me Moments. When I was introduced as Brand Ambassador for Pandora de Balthazár last fall they launched a fragrance in my name “Toma”.  To this day it is still one of the most amazing things that has ever happened to me. It was incredibly exciting when a former client on a tour recognized me hanging out in the booth and came to chat with me. When she saw that there was a fragrance in my name she said: “I must Toma Home Fragrance by Pandora de Balthazár at Spring High Point Marketbuy it!” While Pandora has sold cases and cases wholesale for retail stores across America this was my first time I was there when a purchase of my signature fragrance was made! It tickled me pink.

Speaking of la vie en rose… this Market was chocked full of exciting opportunities. Imagine my surprise when James Swan of Million Dollar Decorating Podcast impromptu interviewed me while I was touring market as did DesignerInc. Mark Cutler whipped out the camera and gave me their 10 questions on design. You’ll be surprised to learn what I wanted to be when I grew up… (okay… spoiler alert… a veterinarian) and, “What my least favorite thing is about working with designers?” For that, you’ll have to stay tuned. I will be providing links for both as soon as available. Style Spotters Gary Inman and Courtney Allison featured us at Pandora de Balthazár on both their whistle-stop tours of Market Square.

In the midst of this… meetings with new and long term clients are the real reason I go to High Point Market. What many people don’t understand is that we don’t just do antique buying tours, we do design inspiration tours. Many of our clients are furniture manufacturers seeking to source samples for developing their next line. I fear I might be running out of ink in my Tiffany Blue ink pen signing confidentiality and NDA agreements after this market.
Net net… This High Point Market was a whirlwind. Thanks for the memories.
Until next Market,
Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva®