08 September 2009

The Shoe Czar

 

image Cote de Texas author, Joni Cohen Webb, 1975 – check out those eyebrows!!!

 

In 1975, when I was just a mere babe of 20,  I was enrolled at the University of Texas majoring in Interior Design, which happened to be a Bachelor of Science degree from the Home Economics department.  Whoo-hoo!   As a junior, we were given a design project that involved taking the floor plan of our classroom and turning it into a living space – an apartment, condo, or a  loft.   I had just returned that spring from a trip to NYC to visit my then boyfriend, Bert Wolf (I’ll give Bert a nice little shout-out here:  Hey Bert!) and it was in NYC that I got my “inspiration” for my classroom project.   You see, while I was visiting in NYC I stayed with my aunt and uncle at their United Nations Plaza apartment building, a somewhat famous address where a few years earlier Johnny Carson had also lived.    My aunt and uncle, Annette and Lee Evins,  were not ordinary people – they were well known in New York due to the shoe business they owned, and staying at their two story apartment (complete with a private elevator) was truly a special treat.  They both were terribly stylish, Lee was a dapper Englishman,  and Annette  had  tremendous taste - she was probably the chicest woman I have ever  known – she just instinctively knew in an instant what looked good, or didn’t.   I stayed in NYC for about two weeks and each day was wonderful – the Evins apartment was filled with French antiques – and I absorbed much about design just being there surrounded by it all.   Even the bathrooms were spectacular:   finished in wall to wall white  marble, they resembled a Five Star European hotel.  Surely it was the first time I had ever seen such simple luxury and beauty in a bathroom and the vision of it has stayed with me for all these years.

The Evins daughter, Melissa, still lived at home which was normal then in New York for single girls, but their son Reed, who is my age, already lived in his own apartment - and not just any apartment either.    That year, he had a then up and coming designer, Joe D’Urso, create a space for him that was cutting edge contemporary, so much so that his apartment is still talked about today.   Back then the apartment ended up on the cover of Interior Design and in the even headier Design Quarterly.     The D’Urso designed apartment consisted of a series of carpeted platforms that you sat on in place of chairs.  The platforms also divided the one room apartment into areas with different functions – eating, sleeping, living.    The open bedroom area could be cordoned off with then in-vogue vertical blinds (the first place I ever saw those!)  It was all very high tech - D’Urso used Pirelli tire material as floor covering in the kitchen and bath and Reed’s custom dining table was also covered in rubber and banded in steel.   At that time, what D’Urso designed for Reed – the carpeted platforms, the blinds, the tract lighting, the rubber floor –was all unheard of, all totally contemporary, and all the rage.  After a young Calvin Klein saw Reed’s apartment, he immediately hired D’Urso to design one for himself.      

Since I was majoring in Interior Design, I was, of course, eager to see Reed’s fabulous apartment that I had heard so much about.   Just imagine the sheltered little Texan, in the big city, taking it all in!    I was given the grand tour of the minimalist apartment and was so impressed  that I consigned even the smallest detail to memory.    Later, back at school in Austin, I was studying my project that was due  – turning my classroom into a living space – when I suddenly realized that the dimensions and proportions of the classroom looked very similar to Reed’s apartment – and then it hit me.   I had a brainstorm that bordered on genius.   I was going to copy his apartment for my project!   I was so thrilled because I was convinced I would get a  much-needed “A” for my brilliant design.   After all,  Reed’s apartment was the talk of the design world, but of course it wasn’t actually my design at all – it was D’Urso’s.  

 

 

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My actual project board from 1975 – I’ve kept it all these years for some reason.   The floor plan is based on our classroom that we were to turn into a living space.

 

Looking at my project board, you can see how I transformed the classroom with its one wall of windows into  Reed’s apartment.   It may be hard to see, but when you walk in the front door – on the immediate left was the kitchen.  The bath was on the right.  The doors leading into both these spaces were sliding metal doors.  Walking into the space, past the kitchen and bath, on the left is the sleeping area – elevated high up on a series of carpeted platforms.  The dotted lines shows the tract of the vertical blinds that hid the bedroom from view, if needed.   Straight ahead of the front door – you can see two steps which lead to the carpet covered platform that becomes the seating space for the long, oval, streamlined table that is focal point of the entire apartment.   A bench serves diners on the other side.  Behind the dining table is the living area with a contemporary sofa and chaise.  I added a work room to the right of the bathroom – I don’t remember if that was my idea  - or if that was  actually in Reed’s apartment.    I was so proud of this project!   After all, I had turned a drab UT classroom into the chicest, hippest, most happening designed space in all of NYC.    And, yes, I did feel just a teeny bit guilty about not being original, but hey – who could have resisted?

 

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That’s moi!  Joni Cohen, May 1, 1975 – the day I turned in my classroom project – exactly thirteen years before I was to marry Mr. Slipper Socks Man.

 

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I even saved some of the elevations – disregard all the dust bunnies that are clinging to this – I found these boards in a bag in my garage and I haven’t looked at these in probably over 20 years!   But here – you can see in the top elevation – the bed, with a  built in shelf behind it that was hidden behind some type of high tech screen, no doubt.   In the cross section, you can make out the three different platforms that lead up to the bed, which was actually just a mattress on the floor.   The bottom elevation shows the sofa in the living room, again on top of the carpeted platform, and the table with the bench – there’s even a plant on top!  And be sure to admire the wonderful art work I created!!    At the right of my drawings is the gray carpet that covered all the platforms.  I guess I couldn’t find Pirelli tire material for my kitchen floor and resorted to totally inappropriate brick patterned tile.     So…..what do you think I got on my project – an A, a B, a C…..?

 

How about an F?!!  Yes!!!!  An F.   A big fat stinking F!!!    My teacher lectured me that it was unoriginal, boring, bland, etc. etc.    Through my tears, it was all I could to do to not blurt out the truth:   that is wasn’t MY design that was boring and bland, but one of the hottest designers in the country and if she didn’t recognize that, or see the genius in the work, then you know what – I was out of there!   And I was.   I left the interior design program two semesters before graduation.   This melodramatic episode  has stuck with me all these years.   Tonight, looking over my other projects that I’ve saved, I didn’t even remember doing them.  At all.  I couldn’t even remember doing any of my other projects 35 years later.  But this one, I never forgot the grade, the discussion with the teacher, the humiliation, nor me thinking that the teacher really knew nothing about design except what she had learned in her  out-of-date textbooks.  

 

 

 

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Reed Evin’s actual apartment with the rubber topped table and the carpeted platforms that divided the long room into different living areas.  The bedroom area hides behind the vertical blinds. 

 

 

Do you think I am exaggerating the importance of my cousin’s apartment on the newly emerging minimalistic design?     Two years ago  New York magazine (HERE) did a story on Hall of Fame honoree,  Joe D’Urso, and included this picture of Reed’s apartment along with a discussion about it.   This photograph really does look almost exactly as  I had portrayed it in my project that I got an “F” on.  Yet here, three decades later, New York magazine is writing about that same apartment and the effect it had on contemporary design in New York.  Amazing.   Should I contact my former teacher and ask for a higher grade?     In this picture, you can see the long platform that served as the seating for the even longer table.  Behind the screen on the back left is the bedroom with the built in bookshelf  – Joe D’Urso himself is sitting on the chaise.  This picture was taken in 1978, three years after my visit there.   As the magazine notes, Reed’s apartment had all the hallmarks of what D’Urso came to be known for:   “Glossy white walls adorned with little more than an occasional black-and-white photograph. Built-in plywood platforms covered in charcoal-gray industrial carpeting and decked out with pillows. Track lighting on the ceiling, black rubber Pirelli tile on the floor, white vertical blinds rustling in the windows. And a mechanically rotating cleaner’s rack in the closet.”

D’Urso describes Reed’s apartment this way:   “There were those long, low platforms.   Everyone hung out on the floor, vertical blinds to hide the bed, a Corbusier chaise, a long table with a stainless-steel edge and a reflective black rubber top, and a metal meat-market door leading into the kitchen.”

And further, New York magazine says - “Everyone who saw it wanted to throw out everything they had and hire D’Urso. Wire-and-glass coffee tables, hospital-curtain tracks, restaurant stoves, exposed ductwork, doctors’ sinks, security mirrors, marine hardware, gym lockers, and cyclone fencing: Those were the materials that D’Urso brought into the New York living space called the loft.”

 

image D’Urso today.

 

Imagine - “Everyone who saw it wanted to throw out everything they had and hire D’Urso” and I got an F!!!!!   An F!!!!    It might be funny if it wasn’t so typical of the unimaginative minds that were teaching design in those days and probably still are.   D’Urso started it all, the whole loft, minimalist movement that today is creeping back into style with the current trend towards industrial design.    Asked who his mentors were, William Diamond of Diamond and Baratta says:  “Joe D’Urso – we still think Joe D’Urso was the greatest designer of the 70s – bar none.”  William Diamond of bright pink and green plaid  fame said that?  Today, D’Urso is still working and continues to be relevant.  His famous metal and glass coffee table recently went for $10,000 at auction and his designs regularly turn up on 1st Dibs.   He continues to design furniture for Knoll and his white marble conference table is absolutely heavenly.

 

 

 

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This steel coffee table designed in the 80s by D’Urso for Knoll is currently on 1st Dibs for $18,000.

 

 

 

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This gorgeous conference table designed by D’Urso for Knoll would make a fabulous dining table – if one could only afford it!

 

 

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Though D’Urso has slowed down lately, he still takes on design projects.  This beach house in the Hamptons was recently featured in Elle Decor.   Fabulous!

 

 

 

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And fashion icon Narciso Rodriguez lives in a D’Urso designed apartment complete with a David Weeks chandelier. 

 

 

imageLast year Town and Country featured this Hamptons house designed by D’Urso, again with the brilliant chandelier by David Weeks, a Vladimir Kagan sofa and a Warren Platner chair. 

 

 

 

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Reed Evins, young and gorgeous!

 

So, WHO, you might be asking is my cousin Reed Evins and why was he living in such a chic place at the age of 19 when most of us had just barely moved out of our parent’s house? 

 

Reed Evins is actually quite famous himself, I’m proud to say.  His father, Lee Evins along with his brother David – both from England -  owned a shoe company called simply, Evins Shoes.  It was not just any shoe company, their shoes were worn by royalty, First Ladies, and all the greatest Hollywood stars.   In fact, some of the shoes that Princess  Grace had designed for her trousseau were custom made for her by Evins.   Every first lady from  Mamie Eisenhower to Hillary Clinton wore shoes made by Evins!    Shoes were custom designed and hand made for Jacqueline Onassis, Cher, Marilyn Monroe, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich and Ava Gardner, among others.   The Duchess of Windsor routinely had Evins custom make her shoes, which she described as “genius.”   Each year Lady Bird Johnson would commission just one pair of Evins shoes, but Nancy Reagan ordered six pairs  – two styles in three sizes:  one size for cold weather, one for Washington DC, and a third size just for Air Force One – she must have really suffered from water retention!    Evins shoes were not inexpensive, in fact, they were once the most expensive shoes you could buy:    during the 1950s, the company designed a shoe that was considerably lighter and more comfortable than most had been up until that time.  The shoe weighed just 6 ounces and sold for $175 a pair, when other quality heels were just $45.    With a heritage like this – growing up in his father’s shoe factory – is there any doubt that  Reed Evins would become a shoe designer himself?  

 

 

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Shoes made by Evins for the First Families.  Reed has a private collection of over 3,000 pairs of shoes and this is just a small part of his museum quality collection.

 

After a short stint at Rhode Island School of Design, Reed was quick to leave college -  he already knew everything about designing shoes and considered  school a waste time.     That’s how he landed at 19 in NYC, living on his own in the D’Urso apartment.    For a short while he worked at Evins Shoes, but he had ambitions of his own.    He started his own company, apart from his family, and joined by his sister, Melissa who became his life-long partner, they named the new business Two City Kids – for that is exactly what they were!   Two City Kids were fun shoes, mostly flats, that appealed to the younger generation.   Reed and Melissa worked hard to keep their prices affordable for their target audience.   The company soared to early success when Mick Jaggar wore their jazz shoes on stage.    After over 10 years running Two City Kids, they were hired to design shoes for Anne Klein – a job they worked at alongside another young shoe designer Manola Blahnik.   The job for Anne Klein was so labor intensive that Reed was forced to close Two City Kids, though for many in the shoe business, he and Melissa will always be known as that.     After eight years with Anne Klein,  Reed was hired by Cole Haan to bring a fresh contemporary look to their shoe line – which he did, designing five years for that iconic company.   Besides all this, through the years, Reed has created runway shoes for fashion lines such as Calvin Klein, Bill Blass, and Halston to name a few.   Has he designed shoes for stars like his father did?    Well, if you consider Beyonce, Sharon Stone, and Oprah stars  - then, the answer is yes!      Today, he and Melissa are now designing under their own label again, this time simply named reedevins – tirelessly traveling back and forth to Italy where their shoes are made.   It’s great having shoe designers in the family.  For years and years I wore Two City Kids religiously.    Now, my daughter proudly wears  reedevins.

Besides eating, breathing, and designing shoes, Reed also collects them.   To date, he probably has the largest private shoe collection in the world:  3,000 pairs of shoes worn by household names.   Included in his collection are:

 

Audrey Hepburn’s “Sabrina” pump for the 1954 movie.

Rhinestone mules worns by Ava Gardner in the Fred Astaire movie “Dancing in the Dark.”

Shoes worn by the two movie Cleopatras:  Claudette Colbert and Elizabeth Taylor.

Nancy Reagan’s two inauguration pumps. 

The Herbert Levine shoe – the only shoe ever on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar.

Loretta Young’s thigh high boots.

And on and on,  just amazing!   Of course he has many original Evins shoes from his father’s day in his collection, as does the Costume Institute of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.    

 

 

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Hollywood Stars – more shoes in Reed’s personal collection.

 

 

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Today – Reed’s label is simply:  reedevins – made in italy.  Less is always more!

 

 

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A sampling of Reed’s past collections – so adorable!

 

 

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This summer his tie die line was a huge hit!   So many style blogs were talking about this line, which Reed said he designed for the downtown girl, as opposed to the uptown girl.

 

 

 

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And even EBay currently has a page worth of his old designs.  In this picture you can see Reed’s shoe box – which he designed using his own drawings of shoes, of course!

 

 

image A small part of Reed’s newest winter collection – based on floral sleeve tattoos that are so popular today.

 

 

image  And boots for this winter – I love these!!

 

 

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And a preview of Reed’s spring line for 2010 – such pretty colors!

 

 

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And more of Reed’s 2010 spring line, very fashion forward.  My daughter saw these and her mouth started watering.   She would wear the thong boot with shorts!!   Ah, to be so young again.

 

 

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Today, Two City Kids, Reed and Melissa – a little older, a littler wiser, but still – just as much fun as ever!

 

 

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The gang’s all here but me!  Reed, the famous Betty Rae – my mother, Cathy – my sister, and Melissa Evins!  Do you think there is a family resemblance here? 

118 comments:

  1. Fun Joni! Love some of your cousins designs! And his apartment was tres chic!!

    Did you learn ANYTHING in that school? Sad.

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  2. I love that you still have your boards and I think your concept, floor plans and elevation drawings are great. Boo on him to give you an F! But at least you have a good sense of humor about it. The shoes are amazing. Great post as always.

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  3. Well, where do I start? First of all, I was just getting out of the home economics department when you entered, so that explains why we never really knew each other. Your experience in NYC was amazing, and so fortunate for someone your age at the time! Your project cracks me up - I will wait to see what others say about the apartment, but obviously it wasn't "you" in the true sense of your style, anyway!I know, I know, cutting edge design...... I actually like more of Joe's current designs better, but what do I know!? As for your cousin, Reed, ohmygosh, what a handsome and talented man! I actually tried on those cute tie dyed strappy sandals this summer!! What a great, funny, sweet story - aren't you so glad to be able to look back on those days now rather than still being there!

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  4. Perhaps if you were given an A, you would not have been sparred on to where you are today! I often think it is the moments of rejection, or fear that we realize our strength.
    My sons did not make the soccer team this year, and I just see it as a lesson. Sometimes we need to think of bigger shoes to fill!!
    pve

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  5. good good story!!!!!

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  6. Fun & Fabulous Story!!
    No, don't contact your old teacher, as in today's environment she'd give you an F for plagiarism;) Interesting that you, me, and HCHG-Ann all have the same regret from UT of not getting ID degrees...:( I still maintain (and my ASID sister will agree) that they can teach you history, theory, commercial application, and where to put an outlet, but they can not teach you design, style, balance and taste- either you have that or you don't. And you dear Joni have that no matter what any instructor said!
    Loved this whole story.
    Reed's D'Urso's apartment was a stunner. It is shocking how contemporary and currtent it still looks all these years later.
    Love your cousins shoes! What I thought was so incredible was that in the photo of Cher's/Audrey's/Elizabeth's shoes... those shoes looked JUST like the star they were made for!! And how handsome is Reed?!! Your whole family is so handsome! So, do tell, which of these fabulous shoes do you have for Fall?!

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  7. My father had a similar experience at U.T. in the early fifties, being a double major electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. He wrote a term paper about transistors for an electrical engineering professor, who gave him either a D or an F, and wrote on it " I asked for a term paper, not science fiction!"

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  8. Love the shoes, by the way.

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  9. wow that such a crazy story-- i can't believe she gave you an F!!!!!! just shows that schooling doesn't equal talent.

    your pic is gorgeous!!!
    xoxo

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  10. Ah ha... Shoes and interiors probably my first two loves! A story that really made me smile... no design recipe here... that was great fun! Love the eyebrows too remember all the plucking?! Such an era.

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  11. Loved your post Joni!!! The shoes are gorgeous. You are such a fabulous designer....fun to see your design work and you certainly didn't deserve an F!!!! What was your professor thinking?

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  12. Great story Joni, thanks for that. Just think though, had you received the A you wanted you might have ended up a minimalist. What would a minimalist Cote de Texas look like? I hope to never know. Despite the tears and anguish, the design world's thankful you got an F!

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  13. If I were not so heartbroken about the University of Oklahoma's dismal debut this weekend, I would have teased you "so that's what you get for going to Texas."
    I remember using the word "nanosecond" in a literature class in 1969 (my boyfriend was a computer science major and I thought the word and concept was cool). I got points taken off for using a "nonword." As my husband the old basketball player says, "You can't teach height and you can't coach speed." By the way, I thought you looked adorable back in the UT days.

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  14. I do see where you get your good looks,,, Your Mother, Ms. Betty Rae.
    How lucky are you to have a cousin in the shoe biz, and not just any shoe label. Reed Evins!, well my feet are really jealous.

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  15. I still have 2 pairs of Evin shoes in my closet. Perfect pump all these years later.
    Maybe you got an F because it was so far removed from your style she just knew it wasn't your work.
    What a fabulous life you have for a little girl from Texas, are there nay other famous family members you haven't told us about? By the way when do we get a tour of Betty Rae's house??? xo, MB

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  16. Marybeth - Yes!!! I do have several more famous relatives just not in design. but I DID have one very famous inlaw cousin. In fact - she was named in this story if you can figure it out!

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  17. It is amazing how much one fleeting moment impacts our lives and stays with us. I will never forget the F- (yes minus) I got on a history paper as a freshman at Penn State. It is all a part of the fabric of our being and contributes to who we are today. Those not so great professors only made the good ones seem more dear to us.

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  18. Great story! Perhaps your prof suspected it wasn't really your style. Was it a radical departure from your previous work? I agree with "for the love of a house", your prof would still give you an F for plagiarism, lol! Also, I am with home before dark, at least on the heartbroken part. Sometimes, those beyond the design style of the crowd around them are not recognized as such, but ostracized for the difference.
    Still, you found your design "voice" and we are all grateful that you have!

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  19. Joni this is so interesting. This past summer I gave a bridal luncheon for a young friend of my son's. The bride, who is so stylish, arrived wearing the thong boots with her sundress. She looked adorable and her shoes were the main sunbject of conversation at the luncheon.

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  20. Oh Joni,

    The tattoo bow shoe~I die!!!

    As you know I am currently slogging my way through design school. This semester I am lucky enough to have 3 fabulous teachers, but in the past I have had teachers who were bitter and fit the ugly tagline "Those who design do and those who cannot teach." Perhaps your teacher fell into the later category.
    I think my dear you have indeed had the last laugh. F is for fabulous.
    As for myself, so far the years I lived in Europe have proven to be my best teacher.

    On another note. I just placed my seagrass rug in the guest bedroom and Mr. Decor is in LOVE!!! I am totally tickled by his exclaiming "I need one for my office now hon."

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  21. Joni, I am reading this post as if it is a novel! You are such a wonderful writer...funny, interesting-this sounds like a chapter of a great book! Look how much info you have to share. Have you written a book? If not, consider it!
    ~Nancy

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  22. Fascinating story, but I need more! What ever happened to your cousin's apartment?

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  23. Fabulous story! I'm still drooling over the gorgeous shoes.

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  24. Joni, what a remembrance, start your book soon! This is fascinating, and what a dream, I would love a pair, almost any pair of these fab shoes!

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  25. Joni, Interior design and shoe design in the same post? I'm over the moon! What a wonderful family heritage you have! Now, was that prof at UT that gave you that undeserved F a member of the ASID? Oops! Sorry! HeeHee!

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  26. Joni, I'm guessing Nancy Reagan is your famous Cousin-in-law?? I would take any of them you mentioned as a cousin. The shoes are beautiful, the flower tattoo ones can be used in a display for the bedroom.
    Yes, write a book soon.

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  27. Great story- and you still look just like you did in college!

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  28. You'd get an A in my book Joni!

    Ps. I may have to add some of those shoes to my collection - gorgeous!

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  29. LOVE your header shot and you have such a beautiful blog. I hope this comment reaches you - I just had to say hello ! Best wishes & thank you for sharing...

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  30. Joni, this is the best story and what a fabulous experience. Thanks for sharing your memories and for giving us a laugh to start the week. I greatly admire D'Urso's work, but would never think it would be a style that you would want to "borrow!" Maybe the teacher realized your heart and soul wasn't in it. Anyway, love how your own style has evolved.

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  31. First of all....you are so cute in that picture!! ...It's sad when teachers can't think outside of the box ..therefore keeping students in a box! How cool that you still have your project though! -love the drawings :0) Love your cousin's shoes too! Very exciting :0)

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  32. You've given us so much here~the design thesis that received an F, the influence of Joe D'Urso, your cousin Reed's brilliant career~but I want more. Meaning, a post on the great hostess MARILYN EVINS. Or was that planned as part deux?

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  33. OMG! I am desperate for the Floral Tattoo Platform Bootie!! Beautiful! And I love, love the Natural Wood T-Strap for spring(both colors!!)... mmm... Delish.

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  34. Super post... and great family. Your mother looks amazing! So blessed.

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  35. Joni. The beach house in Hamptons is fabulous. “There were those long, low platforms. Everyone hung out on the floor, vertical blinds to hide the bed, a Corbusier chaise, a long table with a stainless-steel edge and a reflective black rubber top, and a metal meat-market door leading into the kitchen.” Sounds like he has quite a thought trend to accompany his designs as well.

    Nicolette
    http://www.furnitureanddesignideas.com/

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  36. Oh my goodness, what I wouldn't give for a pair of those Floral Tattoo shoes for autumn.
    Sigh. Big. Fat. Sigh.

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  37. Ahhh sweet redemption (he who laughs last laughs loudest). Love your "baby" picture...Trish

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  38. This is hilarious - so hard to be righteously indignant at your teacher's lack of vision when there is one little detail - the "borrowing" of Urso's design. Most of us have an embarassing story of youthful indescretion, but none told so charmingly as yours.Thanks, Joni.

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  39. That is such a neat story! I can't believe that your teacher gave you an F for that assignment - if I were you I would definitely want to track them down and tell them a thing or two! I can't believe she called it boring!

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  40. Joni, what a fun post this was! Wow! You come by your creativity and style naturally. What a family legacy! What inccredible shoes! Love the story about your college teacher! I wonder if she ever saw the apartment in any design magazines after you had submitted your design and she had given it an F! What more proof would you need that she didn't know what she was talking about! laurie

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  41. Joni, this is my favorite post of yours EVER!! So, so interesting. And along with Toby, I too am waiting for the Marilyn Evins post!

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  42. So what exactly is the moral to the story- that because you plagiarized a *famous* or well-lauded design and it wasn't appreciated you dropped out of school? I am so baffled? Yes it's cool that you are related to the neat shoemakers that lived in a well designed apartment, but the part about you throwing a tantrum and dropping out of school is not a tale for the ages.

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  43. Great post Joni--- very enjoyable and educational as always.

    I was at UT at the same time you were. I remember taking a shortcut --walking through the home economics building on my way across campus.

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  44. Joni- I think is time for you to write a book based on your life. I just loved this story and those thong boots are killer.

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  45. What a fun story! Thanks for sharing! My favorite post yet!

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  46. I have not been able to sit and enjoy blogs for a long time...because of my sugery and the meds. I am playing catch up now!

    LOVE the shoes!!!

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  47. The only way to get an A is to make yourself the clone of the teacher and do as you are told. You went out on a plagerized limb. Of course you got an F.

    Good thing you quit the program, if you had stuck with it and got an A it would have zapped your creativity. That apartment taught you that it is acceptable to be different. As to whether it is great design or the design of the darling of the media is up to the viewer. Critics are not always right about great design be they teachers of home economics or writes for design magazines. Can you say FAD, can you say controversy for the sake of selling magazines?

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  48. Anon- there is no moral to the story. it is a story. why don't you leave? It gets really tiresome - if you hate it so much here, leave. I wouldn't read a blog that I hated so much. The story is - my cousin sent me pix of his new shoes - i wanted to show them, i wanted to bring interior design into the story to make it interesting for my qinterior design readers. it's amusing. no i didn't throw a tantum. yes i did leave. it's not exactly easy to get an F on a major project and still be interested in the major. I was 20 and very immature. there's no moral here. I don't really do that - that's why people go to church. I just try to write about design. And you don't see the humor in the story that 30 years later a major magazine is applauding the same apartment i got an F on? I find it highly amusing.

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  49. Joni, you have the most interesting family. Your stories are so fun & interesting. What a difference in your background and mine. Now I'm wondering how you ended up in TX, of all places. I can def. see you in NYC. Your mom and sis are pretty, I can see it all runs in the family.

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  50. Hi Joni! I always wondered where you got your inate sense of design and it seems it runs in the family! What an incredible run of success your family has had. How funny that you came across your old design project. Just finishing up my program now, I can totally relate to the whole teacher grading system. I'm with you on that front! I've learned a lot, but I think I could've learned more spending those past 5 years in the field! Oh well...live and learn, right! Obviously you have the goods girl!

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  51. Oh, I'm in shoe love! Luscious shoes, that's the only word I have for them! Very intersting storys you weave!! Thanks for sharing! Now I must go back and reread to see if I can figure out the famous cousin!

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  52. Hey Kiddo! Just wrap up a pair of those black suede booties!!!! The bow kind!!!! Now I can play Cindrella and see if I can get my FOOT in them!!!!

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  53. So cute Joni, I loved the fact that you saved the floorplan. Why do we save weird little things like that...nostalgia? Or perhaps it really was an A project just not all "thunked" up by yourself. Still a very cute and special story, and the shoes are great! Happy Tuesday~*~kelley

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  54. I was wondering if you were going to say anything to the negative comments. Why do people feel the need to write mean things? If you don't like the post just move along. If you don't like the blog move along. If you don't like the blogger move along. We are here because we LOVE JONI AND ANYTHING SHE HAS TO SAY ABOUT HER LIFE. Yes that is screaming. Please just go away and leave CDT alone. MB

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  55. Hi Joni...loved the story about your interior design class...what a hoot. I know at the time it must have felt awful, but boy, does it make a great story today! :-) What a facinating family you have...design and creativity just flows through your genes! I'm so glad you shared this story...and I love the way you tell it...like reading a good book you just can't put down!
    :-) AND I bet you have the best shoe closet around! :-)
    Susan

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  56. Joni, earlier today after grocery shopping, I turned my ignition key to hear that studdering sound of what appeared to be a dead battery. So, I called roadside assistance and was told someone would be there within an hour. Fortunately I had picked up my mail which included a book I had ordered titled "The Infinite Intelligence." So, I began reading. I mention this because there was a quote in the book by Michael Jordan, the basketball player, which applies to your post. His quote "I have failed many times, and that's why I am a success." I recall reading years ago that he did not make the 9th grade basketball team which made him work hard on his game so he would make the team the next year. He did and the rest is history.

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  57. Great post Joni- as usual and thanks for commenting on the negative post!! You are right - just leave!

    Enjoyed the family story!!! Everyone looks marvelous!!! Keep up the very enjoyable writing!!!

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  58. Joni,
    What a great story! You always make me laugh! My 7 year old always asks what I'm laughing at when I'm on the computer and it is usually one of your posts! It must have taken a lot of will power not to tell your teacher the truth. Is there any way to block Anonymous from posting comments? Life's too short to deal with negative people. As always, thanks for another great post.

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  59. Joni,

    I hope you end up telling us who the famous in-law was. I'm guessing Princess Grace. I love, love, loved her whole look when she married King Hussein, so I imagine I would have loved her shoes at that time as well.

    Your cousin's shoes are wonderful. The floral tattoo series is gorgeous! Oh, and he's pretty gorgeous too! :-)

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  60. Joni you are way too kind to anon. We are here because we LOVE you and your stories. I have learned so much from you and this blog. I love our time together. No one is begging anyone unhappy to stay. Scat!

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  61. Honey, that teacher is probably deader than "Dixie". I think that's a lost cause. However, if you can dig them up, the best revenge would be shoving a printout of your blog under their nose. The sad thing is, those that are terrible teachers and say things like that NEVAH remember it. Just let Miss Gracious Living take the cream and leave the milk. Nobody at Southern Accents ever heard of them.

    BURT WOLF??? Reed Evins? I'm impressed!

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  62. I love the whole "who-know-who-who-is-related-to-who" degrees of separation thing! How utterly fun and delicious!!

    I got a "C" on my term paper which was a "marriage contract" paper in my Courtship and Marriage class. "Too traditional!" was scribbled in red across the top. But I've been married 33 years now and just love my "traditional" relationship, thank you very much!

    Thanks for sharing - that was truly fun!

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  63. Haha! What a great post! Such cool shoes and a great story too. And including your personal anecdotes is what brings all of your posts to life Joni. Never stop, please!

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  64. Fantastic and surprisingly unique family history you have there!What fun to hear about your days in school, and what an adventure it must have been to stay with your aunt and uncle in NYC at that young age as well! That sounds like a dream! If I could just have ONE stylish family relation it would really perk up my day! Can I be adopted into your fam. for a bit? =)

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  65. You, my dear, are one fabulous woman!

    Love the shoes!

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  66. The shoes are spectacular....and, so is your story! I loved it!

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  67. I love you, Joni! I should have known that cool chic you would have cool chic relations. GREAT story on your cousin's apartment and the demise of your design major, but I especially enjoyed reading about your uncle and your cousins and their shoe careers. Fascinating! Love the family picture and the picture of you in your younger years (not that you're not still young - you just looked like a mere child when you were twenty!). Great work, as always. XOXO

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  68. Joni I love this blog entry what a wonderful story thank you for sharing!!!! I've read your blog fo years and every day I can't wait to read what you have to say. Thanks for the great stories and great design inspiration! Teri

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  69. I am a new reader (Laurie@Bargain Hunting sent me). This was so interesting and left me with a million more questions! Love all the picures and detail! I do see a family resemblance.

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  70. How wonderful you kept your designs from college, and what a story. What is the saying, "those who can, do, and the rest...teach"? Well, that is not quite it, but regardless, it sums it up and perhaps helps explain your F!
    Janell

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  71. Joni,

    Sensational story! Maybe, writing should have been your minor?

    I also find it fascinating that there have been so many comments regarding "copying"? I spent my formative years in the fashion world. We preferred these phrases when borrowing ideas from the runway:---inspiration, inspired by, or re-created, etc.

    After all, what/who is truly original? Your project was inspired---A+!

    Kirsten
    (still trying to fix my website :).

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  72. Joni, the very best designers are the ones who break out of the box. Clearly your instructor in "design" school was very comfortable in her box, and determined to keep her students there too. Your story reminded me of the first day in my design class. The teacher stood up there and said very haughtily "you may THINK you have a gift for design, but you DON'T". I stood her classes for two years, knowing that there were a lot of things I could never learn from someone so narrow in their view. I have learned more from you and other designers and their blogs than I ever learned in class.

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  73. Gorgeous Joni, your story is as fresh & relevant today as it was in 1975! We'd love to have reedevins here in Australia - could you put in a plea for us?
    Millie ^_^
    P.S. I've put Anon on my Operating List for tomorrow. I think a Sense of Humour Transplant is urgently required! Rest assured, he/she will be leaving the SWEETEST comments after I've worked my operative magic!

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  74. Dear Lord! there are 17 people here on this beach!

    Close quarters! Evins were the shoes that we all bought and knew....in fact; when I returned from Palm Beach in 1963..Evins was the only way you could get those divine sandals.....from the Italian guy in Palm Beach! (now widely known as Jack Rogers.....but it was the Italian guy in Palm Beach who started the whole thing!)

    so...I am thrilled to learn that an Evins lives on and does shoes!

    without blogs.....how would one know?

    My father......died 1951; had an ad agency..Evers Whyte Agency...... did ads for "Mandel's" shoes.....I think( Evins........Beverly Hills......), and Desmond's!
    Didn't Evins have their own store on Wilshire in Bev Hills near Magnins??? YIKES!!!!
    Amazing.

    Penelope Bianchi

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  75. Jenny C: Princess Grace didn't marry King Hussein! She married Prince Rainier!.

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  76. Kevin:
    Not THAT Burt Wolf, Bert Wolf from Harlingen, big difference!!!!
    haha!!!!!
    hey Bert!
    Joni

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  77. Interesting post.!! Well, I always prefer to wear comfortable and flexible shoes

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  78. So funny! I thought you were going to say the professor recognized the loft and gave you a lecture.

    I'm seriously crushing on those tattoo platform booties.

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  79. Joni, what a great post! First of all, how neat that your cousins are such outstanding designers. Such a fascinating story. You are one lucky lady to wear their designs!

    As to the teacher from hades, I had a similar experience with a teacher in college. Though it wasn't an F, it was a B+. For some reason, she had it in for me in terms of what I submitted in creative writing. Thankfully, I was not an English major, or I might have bolted. Despite the fact that I could never rise above a B+ in her class, this woman used a creative story I wrote for an exam as an example to her other classes that semester (and future classes) and even TOLD me so! :-/

    To this day, I have no idea what she was up to with the B+ grade, but it burned me up. I never made anything less than an A on any paper I submitted in college or graduate school except in HER class. I also scored well on the English proficiency exam we had to take to graduate. So I certainly sympathize about the "home ec" teacher and wannabe designer who didn't know her head from a hole in the ground and gave you an F for great design. I hope you sent her the link to this blog, and I hope she saw your home in BHG.


    XO,

    Sheila :-)


    P.S. The only A in that class went to the son of a romance writer! LOL!

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  80. I wouldn't usually leave a negative comment but the comment about teachers really gets me going. I'm well aware there are many bad teachers out there, just as there are poor examples in any profession. But to say that a person teaches because they can't do anything else is just sad. I could go on and on but I won't. Just know that the people who choose to teach are some of the brightest and most creative people in the world. They would probably get a lot more respect if they earned the salaries they deserve.
    Sally W.

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  81. Anonymous (the last one). I don't think the posters are talking about ALL teachers--just the ones who teach the most subjectives subjects--where things like design, art, creative writing are, to a large extent, very individual things. I've been a teacher--and I get what some are trying to say.

    Joni, I want to say again that this was a really fun post. You are very self deprecating--which is part of what makes you very charming.

    Thanks for sharing all of this.

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  82. Funny, I was also in design school in the mid'70s at a state university. Our major projects included an 1,100 SF house on a vacant lot and a retail center for a certain block in town. I was always practical-minded and did a house and retail center perfectly appropriate for the sites, which were in Lawrence, Kansas. Not just boring boxes, but two structures that could actually be built, giving the surrounding areas and budget limitations, which no one else seemed to care about.

    So we had fantastical submissions from some students who decided to go underground, or build versions of Le Corbusier's villa in Kansas, or swathe storefronts in high-tech aluminum siding.

    I got Cs. I switched to journalism.

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  83. Joni,

    Ooops! King confusion. :-)

    But, you didn't answer the question...which famous in-law cousin?

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  84. I love teachers...am so grateful for the ones that paid a little extra attention to my kids, lit up their world. Hugely influential. That said...still remember 30 years later the college teacher that wrote "your reach has extended your grasp" on an essay. Not helpful. XO Trish

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  85. Never learned anything of value from my teachers.
    As for arbitrary grading, I recall a professor of history at FIT who was very old, resembled Someret Maugham in fact, and one day he held me back after class to discuss my paper on the historical author Mary Renault. She bored me then as she does now. The aged professor said that my paper amused him and he was about to give me an A, until sharing said paper with friends who came to luncheon. After which, the A became a D.
    I shall never understand why he chose to reveal this to me, apart from wanting to get into my pants.
    It didn't work.

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  86. Oh how cool is this!!
    Sadly, so much of design school is based on the personal taste of your instructor! I was lucky to get along with all of my studio professors (yes I'm a bit of a brown-noser, lol) except one - who tried to get me kicked out of architecture school! seriously -no idea what this guy had against me. I got out of it with a C -luckily I was defended by all of my past professors!
    So if she could see you now she would eat her words!

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  87. Joni,
    We love your blog!
    -Linda, NY
    ps Painting our house this month- thank you so much again for all your great advice- my daughter loves the awning idea and I've already got a custom manufacturer lined up. Will keep you posted on our progress.( sent you a little thank you gift- hope it went to the correct address!)

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  88. What a story, Joni!!
    I have to say there are some shoes I would like to have, especialy the boots!!
    I'm a real shoe-aholic!

    Greet

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  89. Wonderful slice of your life.
    Wonder what would have happened to you if you had stayed in New York.
    xo xo

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  90. I wish you wouldn't censor the "negs".
    Consider yourself the pearl in the oyster - those "grains of sand" just make you and your site more interesting, more special, and gives you another gorgeous layer. (And there's nothing boring about that!)

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  91. *** Wonderful story & write-up!!!

    It's so WONDERFUL to see someone DOING what they were M*E*A*N*T to do, Joni!!!~~~ You actually MET your "calling", & are living your design dream!!! I LOVE THAT just as MUCH as seeing a Joni Webb space!

    Hugs, my friend!
    Linda

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  92. Wow, what amazing shoes! I've seen his shoes, but never most of these marvelous designs.

    As to design school, I'm right there with you and several other posters about the travesties perpetrated upon students, the pathetic attempts to crush creativity if projects don't match the instructor's own aesthetic. Thank heavens you quit, as did I. I certainly learned useful things in design school, so I'm not sorry I went, but much more of it was an expensive waste of time than was helpful.

    It's exactly this sort of experience that forms the basis of one of the main reasons I am so opposed to legislation that would require a degree to practice interior design, and why I am always telling people that a degree doesn't determine whether a designer is any good or not (something I just recently spoke about at http://hoechstetterinteriors.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/the-difference-between-a-decorator-and-an-interior-designer/)

    Because, as another poster said, you can teach the mechanics, but you can't teach creativity. You also can't teach things like the ability to get inside a client's head and translate their stated - and unstated - needs and desires into something beautiful and functional that exceeds what they even had in mind, or so many other things that are so critical in this field.

    I'm only sad to be learning that this sort of soul-crushing pedagogical sham is even more widespread than I knew before, but I'm glad to see it coming out of the closet this way.

    Wendy

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  93. I don't want to rag on design teachers, many are excellent. But the teacher of my first course at the Boston Architectural College didn't know what toile was. Seriously... he didn't return to teach the class again, I don't think.

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  94. LINDA - email me! about your awning - I want to talk to you !!! I don't have your email address anymore!

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  95. Joni,
    What a fabulous and interesting family you have! Hey don't forget that imitation is the highest form of flattery! You are one talented lady, much can be learned in the classroom, but much can also be a gift from God!
    Blessings to ya!
    xo

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  96. One more thing....don't waste your breath on the first anon....not worth your time. No explanation needed!
    xo

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  97. Joni, about the 'F' it appears to me that you have accepted it as lesson learned and one to be remembered. Rumour has it, "it comes with maturity". :)

    Reed and Melissa remind me of the very successful Australian Fashion Designers Camill and Marc Freeman; who are also a brother 'n sister team.

    Thank you for sharing this delightful story as it was a great read. -Brenda-

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  98. Loved the whole story and how design threads through so many medium and in the family! That fuddy teacher didn't know anything!

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  99. Love the story...a song from "Chorus Line" says it about the prof..."Nothing"

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  100. Joni,
    What a fabulous story. As an interior design student, it is comforting to hear a story like yours -- though I know you were hurt by the teacher's criticism and that ugly F, isn't it amazing to see how little she knew about your talent!
    You are witty and charasmatic in your writing....and I always love reading your posts, not to mention looking at the beautiful photos.
    Oh, and the shoes are lovely. What a creative, dynamic family you have!
    xx

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  101. Now if some one two semesters shy of a design degree were to return to school and complete the degree and show them a thing or two and wind up being on the faculty -- be the change you want to see in the world. ( under the Obama education initiative-- he wants people to return to school) Would that not be part of the process. If One started the semester with an aesthetic and built up that foundation to evolve as a designer to produce a final project which showed a maturation process then perhaps an A -- but if as I conclude you came back to Texas after the NYC jaunt to a initiative that had no "basis" to what the class touched upon perhaps it raised flags All these cooking shows a judge wants to see growth or a narrative in the dishes the contestants create which is rewarded by advancing to the next round. Even though it was an F did you pass the class?

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  102. OMG Joni, I loved this post!! Can't believe you kept that board after all of these years. I just threw out a bunch of old boards and I'm worried that I'll regret it someday.

    awesome post,loved getting to know you even more.

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  103. First things first.... I want to come to your garage sale when you have one. Oh girl no ONE can tell a story like you. Your family is beautiful both physically and creatively. As for the UT story... I am going to tell it to my kiddos in college... it is important to know to learn that some people in academia need to set foot out in the real world every once in awhile. My daughter comes home with "facts" that her professors tell her and I find myself supplementing the "facts" with a few additional "facts" or my own!! Lovely post my dear.

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  104. Fascinating post Joni... Hard to believe one has to pay to go to a school where crazy people teach!!! Glad you can smile...Seems everyone can recall back when some ridiculous situation occured...and often times had some very negative effect!!! Well...You showed em! Your Mo Jo's workin girl!!!xoxo~Kathy @ Sweet Up-North Mornings...

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  105. you started off gorgeous . . . and, today, you're even more so. great story, and what a fabulous, fabulous NY experience! Not sure about the thong boots but love the tattoo pumps. (it's better than getting the real thing.) -s (p.s. i think we've all have teachers who were so out of touch. i know i did.)

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  106. you started off gorgeous . . . and, today, you're even more so. great story, and what a fabulous, fabulous NY experience! Not sure about the thong boots but love the tattoo pumps. (it's better than getting the real thing.) -s (p.s. i think we've all have teachers who were so out of touch. i know i did.)

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  107. I passed I guess. Gosh, I don't remember that - but all my other grades were ok, so I guess I made a C? And that was just one reason why I quit. I wasn't really into school that much to tell you the truth. I just went for a regulas ba degree and left a semester before I graduated altogether.

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  108. I hope one day you open up a little more as a decorator, take a lesson from your talented cousin, and start incorporating a few of these lovely modern/20th century pieces into your work. Look at the linen-covered Hans Wegner Papa Bear chair in the Hamptons beach house; there's no reason you couldn't include that in one of your projects. It's a classic. There are plenty of modern pieces that are more versatile than you think-- that would be happy next to some Belgian or Swedish or French morsel.

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  109. Yeah you need to contact whomever your prof is although Im betting since his vision was in the grave then he's surley followed with his physical self.
    Lowcountry was heaven but now Im happy to get back into blog mode.
    Missed you!!!

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  110. Loved your story. It brought back memories of some of my trials in interior design classes - MO State.

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  111. Wow! I just went from design school and remembering my own projects and somewhat bad teachers to learning all about shoes!!! It's so interesting how you are able to just tie the two together so seamlessly! You would most definitely be the best person to invite to a dinner party!!

    What an interesting story - truly. And how cool that you got to see that apartment up close in person at that time! While his isn't really my taste, you must respect the work of Joe D'Urso.

    Have a great weekend!!

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  112. This has been one of the most engaging posts I've read! As a former design student from Texas I can relate!

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  113. This is a wonderful story. Thanks for leaving me a "heads up" comment at my blog, letting me know you were doing a story about Joe D'Urso...and what a story, not at all what I expected. I remember all the press your cousin's D'Urso pad and CK's also. Those two D'Urso projects were my first exposure to minimalism and it was infectious. White and gray of all shades are my favorite colors with which to live.

    The only clippings I have of D'Urso's work are of a wonderful Greenwich Village apartment he later did for Tom Flynn. D'Urso used 18th Century antiques along with modern designs for Flynn's project, but that D'Urso minimalism is still there.

    Thanks for a great first-hand story. What I wouldn't have given to have been a tag along with you on your visits to Reed's pad.

    Annie

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  114. hi annie can you believe i found this ...( this is joe d'urso writing )--- loved reading all the comments about your genius description of the design presentation you made ( i would have given you an a-, didnt love the tchotchkes on the platform :) - please please give my love to reed. still working hard - some people think reeds apartment was the best thing i ever did - alas. all the best joe

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  115. Many have found useful for myself

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  116. Victoria JacksonJune 24, 2011 at 1:19 AM

    Wow, I am not sure how I happened on this blog but I was a sales rep for Reed and Melissa back in the early 80's. I loved them and their shoes. Melissa was so sweet, I hope she finally married the real estate guy who was so crazy about her. Reed has a strong flair for the dramatic back then and probably still does. He was awesome and very, very talented I have to say as an independent rep I was never invited to either of their houses, sadly. I hope at the time I would have appreciated their taste. I was living in Dallas then and I was their Southwestern rep.I left them for a non-traveling job in the shoe business in the mid-eighties and opened my own clothing stores. One called Byzantine in 1993 and Talula in 2005. I clsed Talula last year to move to the Caribbean. Although I still traveled to N.Y. for clothing shows at the Coterie, unfortunately we lost contact. While I wore my shoes, I still have the postcards we sent out for shoe shows. When you talk to them again,tell them I miss our times together.We had great fun.

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