Moving Forward

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Talking about design and decorating when our country feels as if it’s being ripped apart at the seams feels wrong to me. But I am very aware that for many of you reading, this site is a much-needed distraction from the harsh reality of everything happening in our world today. I don’t want any distraction from the reality I feel is important to see, understand and acknowledge right now, but I recognize that to even have that choice to see or not see things is a privileged one. I know so many of you reading will not be able to simply turn off the news to escape the fear and heartache that is overwhelming in both the black community and law enforcement community this morning. I cannot stop thinking about the stories of Philandro Castile, Alton Sterling and, as of this morning, the five innocent police officers who were murdered by snipers in Dallas. The world feels heavy with sorrow and injustice and confusion and anger.

 

 

On Monday we will resume our regularly scheduled content. But today we’re taking time to mourn all of the innocent lives that have been taken. There is so much listening and healing and action to be done and I want to give us all space to be a part of that in whatever way we can. We’ll go back to home tours and recipes and business advice next week (while never forgetting what we’re feeling right now), but today it just doesn’t feel right to proceed with business as usual when so many people are feeling unsafe, unloved and unprotected.

 

So many of us here have known what it feels like to have spaces, at home and in the world, that do feel safe, healing and protected. Please share that good fortune, happiness and healing energy with everyone who needs your support this week. We will be doing the same. Our hearts are with everyone this week and always. –Grace

 

 

 

 

 

Black Lives Matter

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I spend most of my days here talking about the concept of HOME and how to make it a more meaningful and welcoming one.

 

 

But I have never once had to worry about my loved ones getting back safely to that home for fear of police brutality. That is a privilege all people should know, but they do not.

 

I cannot sit idly by and watch black people be murdered and then receive absolutely no justice at the hands of a racist and unjust system.

 

This morning I saw Lisa Lucas say that she, “[Went] to sleep heartbroken over one murder, [woke] up heartbroken over another.” That feeling is overwhelming and I cannot talk about “lifestyle” here today when the first part of that word is being ripped away from black people on a daily basis for everyday acts like selling CDs in front of a store, having a missing license plate, wearing a hoodie or calling for help.

 

To all of my white friends: please speak up, stand up and show (through action AND words) your support for black people. Call your officials, call your police chief, speak to your neighbors, put out signs support that send a message, protest, be an ally, do EVERYTHING you can to make it clear that you will not passively stand by while black people are being murdered every day without consequence. My heart breaks for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile it must be said again and again and again: Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter.

 

Grace

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

The shibori trend is still going strong – can you believe this DIY post in our archives about shibori designs is already two years old? Crazy! Despite the popularity of shibori, it always seemed like an intimidating project to attempt. I got it in my head that it would be so messy and difficult to get right, so I never even tried it until making these hot pink shibori cushions recently. Post shibori-dyeing, I can definitely say it isn’t anywhere close to being as difficult or messy as I had thought!

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

Living in a small apartment can make it tricky to have enough seating when guests come over – we simply don’t have the space for a second sofa or big arm chair. Instead, I’ve decided to stock up on oversized cushions and pillows so that guests can be more comfortable gathering around our coffee table, even if they are sitting on the floor. Also, we have two pet rabbits who love to be petted, so having some extra cushions around helps us get comfy on the floor for their marathon petting sessions.

 

I’m really happy with how these hot pink shibori cushion covers turned out, and just in time for summer! And now that I’ve tried my hand at shibori, I can’t get enough. I’m already planning on doing more pillows in grey or black for the fall and winter. –Kathleen

 

 

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

Supplies

 

-Plastic sheets/bags (to protect work surface from dye stains)

 
 

-Rubber bands and binder clips

 
 

-Plastic bins/buckets

 
 

-White cotton

 
 

-Scissors

 
 

-Pins

 
 

-Rubber gloves

 
 

-Sewing machine, hand needle, and thread

 
 

-Iron

 
 

-Hot pink dye

 
 

-Salt

 
 

-Measuring tape

 
 

-Pillows

 

 

Step 1: Measure and cut your cotton fabric into squares. My pillows were 20″ and 18″ squares, so I cut four 22″ squares (each pillow needs two squares) so that I could have some wiggle room with the placement.

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

Step 2: Iron and accordion fold your fabric in equal sections. This post shows great options for folding your fabric.

 

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Step 3: Then accordion fold in triangle shapes down the rectangle as shown, pressing as you go. Again, this post is a great reference for folding techniques – the method shown here is called the “triangle accordion fold.”

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

Step 4: When complete, you should have four folded pieces just like this.

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

Step 5: Use rubber bands and binder clips to hold the triangles together and add details to the pattern.

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

Step 6: Cover your work space with plastic and prepare your dye according to the instructions on the bottle. I poured this Rit liquid dye into hot water with some salt (for a more intense color) and carefully stirred it all together.

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

Step 7: Start by putting your triangles in a bowl of warm water to get them fully wet. Then put them into the dye bath and let them sit until you’re happy with the color. I waited about 10 minutes for the ones shown and then rinsed them under running water in the sink until they ran clear. I then put them through a quick rinse cycle in the washing machine to be extra sure there was no excess dye and let them air dry.

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

Step 8: Once dried completely, give the squares a quick iron and layer two squares together. Cut them down to size for your pillows, or use a pencil and ruler to draw your sewing line. Leave one side of the square almost completely open, just sewing the corners. (Note: I chose to make these pillowcases without a zipper/button closure for a few reasons: I like the clean look/feel of no closure, I very rarely wash our removable cushion covers anyways, and our rabbits like to nibble on buttons and zipper tabs. I didn’t want to do an overlapping back either because it would disrupt the shibori pattern, so as you’ll see in the following steps I quickly hand sewed the open edge closed. If in the future I need to wash a stain out of the pillows, I can easily stitch rip the one side open again, wash, and then resew. All that said: definitely feel free to add zippers or buttons on your pillows if you prefer that!)

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

Step 9: Sew along the line you drew – don’t forget to leave that one side open! It’s also a good idea to backstitch over the corners to give them some extra strength.

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

Step 10: Trim off any excess seam allowance from the sewn edges and corners. Turn right-side out and put your pillow into the case. Pin the open edge closed so that the fabric on the pillow is nice and taught.

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

Step 11: Hand sew the open side closed using a ladder stitch. Start from the inside so the thread’s knot is hidden in the pillow and then come up on the very edge of where you’ve pinned. Directly across from where the thread is, go into that edge of the fabric and then come back through about 1/8″ from there. Repeat this, going back and forth making a ladder/railroad tracks look with the thread, as shown below. When the thread is pulled tight, it becomes invisible! If you haven’t done a ladder stitch before, this video shows it in action. When you’ve sewn all the way across the opening, tie off securely and trim off any excess thread.

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

 

15 Fabulous Interior Designers to Follow on Instagram

15 Fabulous Interior Designers to Follow on Instagram

Back in the days before the Internet and social media, we got glimpses of the most beautiful homes by tearing through styled spreads in glossy magazines, never knowing all the hard work that went into their production. In recent years, interior designers have begun using Instagram as a way to showcase not only their perfect finished products, but also the trials and tribulations of the design process, as well as the personal insights that define their unique sensibilities.

 

We’ve been following some designers for a long time now, and continue to be awed by their personal aesthetic evolution. Newer names on the list have discovered ingenious ways of promoting their brands with images of service to their followers. As always, we’ll continue to share our most favorite pretty pictures with you @designsponge. Here are 15 of our favorite designer feeds from which we pull inspiration on Instagram! – @anniewerbler

 

12 Red, White & Blue Interiors For The Fourth

12 Red, White & Blue Interiors For The Fourth

Besides being the symbolic color palette of America’s Independence Day, I think red white and blue are pretty dynamic color companions when it comes to design. While blue is one of my favorite colors to use in interiors, red may be the most energetic hue in the bunch, and is often used for that very reason. I love the way red can instantly bring life to shades of blue, or warm up a white room (like the first space in the slideshow). For these reasons, I’ll definitely be looking for red, white and blue in interiors even after celebrating America’s independence today.

 

There are so many ways to bring this palette into your home in subtle – or loud – ways. Whether you employ large swaths of red, white, or blue by way of paint or artwork or accessorize with small pops of these hues, consider these colors as accents for energized rooms and lively spaces. It’s a palette that can be used well beyond our nation’s flag! –Kevin

 

Home Zine + Best of the Web

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No matter how many amazing technological and social media breakthroughs we make, I will always love the idea of a magazine. Whether it’s printed on glossy pages or thick matte stock, there’s something about a collection of ideas and stories – unified around a single theme – that will always be my go-to choice for inspiration. My collection of print magazines spans from old House & Garden issues from the 30s and 40s to all of my favorite issues of Nest and beyond. But I’m always on the hunt for new publications to add to my watch list.

 

 

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One of my new favorites is Home Zine, out of Australia. Created by Carla McRae and Tallulah Fontaine, Home Zine is now on its third issue, which focuses on the idea of PEOPLE. The issue features artwork, photography, writing and ideas by artists like Megan James, Kaye Blegvad, Felix Wilson, Ghost Patrol, Leta Sobierajski, Wade Jeffree, Saki Souda and many more. I love the the contrast of thoughtful and serious photography alongside whimsical, candy-colored illustrations, so this issue was a major highlight of my week. If you’re looking for something fun to add to your magazine collection, click here to check out and order the latest issue of Home Zine online. Until Monday, have a wonderful weekend! xo, grace

 

 

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    • Swing Low: I’ve been thinking about getting a pair of these major earrings to wear on the book tour this fall. Because let’s face it, I’m not much of a clothes horse, but I do love a good chandelier earring.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Before & After: A Philadelphia Family Apartment in the Heart of the City

Before & After: A Philadelphia Family Apartment in the Heart of the City

The “envelope” of a renovation project is critical to its success. Mona of Mona Ross Berman Interiors in Philadelphia first sorts out the floor, walls, lighting, windows, hardware, doors, and other finishes in a home before focusing on bolder decorative touches. “Many people assume that furniture and accessories are what designers focus on to make a space work,” she explains, “But really, I always start with the envelope because if that’s not working, nothing will look right.” Her firm helped their clients – a family of six, including four daughters – transform their two-bedroom pied-a-terre at The Dorchester overlooking Rittenhouse Square. Built in 1980, the apartment needed a complete overhaul to give it the modern look the couple desired. Along with the help of contractor Kenny Grono of Buckminster Green, they gutted the kitchen, removed crown molding, repainted traditional oak parquet floors in sleek black, re-tiled bathrooms, and lightened up what was overall a dark, dreary space.

 

Though the project had a relatively short eight-month timeline, several months were spent upfront planning what was to come. “Taking time at the start of the process is critical,” Mona advises, “Because without good planning and a strong team in place, the project is likely to run over budget and over schedule – and drive everyone a bit mad.” Rethinking the floor plan proved necessary. The design team had to create sleeping quarters for three teens, a toddler, and their parents. They wanted to open up the kitchen and main living space to create a large great room. They also hoped to reallocate closet space for laundry and even a nursery, and to carve out a mudroom to help keep things tidy.

 

“We had to figure out how to bring more light into the apartment,” Mona adds. Heavy traditional draperies were covering up large mid-century modern-style windows. The team then added track lighting, flushmounts, and baseboard fixtures wherever possible, as electrical wiring for recessed lights was not an option in each location. The parquet floors also appeared dingy, but it was too expensive to replace them and not worthwhile to refinish them. Instead, they were painted black to provide a simple, neutral backdrop for contemporary furniture. Crown molding was also removed for a more modern and simplified feel. In terms of layout, the master suite was reconfigured to create more closet space and additional privacy. What was once a closet became a very small but working nursery for a toddler.

 

The team’s guiding aesthetic principle was to create a modern, almost hotel-like vibe so the family would feel like they were “getting away” when they stayed in their city apartment. Functionally, it needed to accommodate a large family that entertains often. “When we realized we could make that work,” Mona shares, “We were all thrilled.” –Annie

 

Photography by Courtney Apple

 

DIY Paper Mushroom Tutorial

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

I was putting folded laundry away in my son’s drawers when I happened to notice a honeycomb ball on top of his dresser, with its bottom pointed toward me. Normally, honeycomb paper is cut and shaped to highlight the honeycomb pattern, but the bottom of the ball showed a ring of perfectly spaced paper rays. It struck me that it looked just like the gills of a huge mushroom, and I filed that thought away for future reference – maybe a holiday window display?

 

Then about a week later, I was at Impress Cards and Crafts, where I teach paper flower classes, and -gasp! – I found tiny honeycomb paper designed for use in handmade cards. I hadn’t even known that honeycomb paper came in anything other than the large size used to make party decorations.

 

I brought home a packet in “ivory” and kept it on my nightstand so I could spend some time every night just messing with it. As I shaped, stretched, and manipulated the honeycomb paper, I was struck by how organic it looked and felt. I made a three-dimensional shape and played with it, turning it inside out. Somehow the way it moved reminded me of some kind of sea creature – maybe a jellyfish or sea anemone?

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

I became a little bit obsessed and started reading about honeycomb and other hexagonal structures in nature. I learned that this pattern appears on salt-worn rock formations, insect eyes, and inside bones. Just as with crepe paper, I was charmed by the notion of using a manufactured material to explore structures in nature, particularly when the material itself is inspired by natural forms. I needed a material that was bulky but also light and regular for my mushroom gills; nature uses this honeycomb structure for the same reasons.

 

I hope you’ll whip up your own colony of mushrooms. They mix beautifully with paper flowers (how cute would they be arranged with some paper hellebores and daffodils?!), and I think a little pot of them would make an enchanting gift. –Kate

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 
 

 

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Supplies:

 

-Heavy crepe for the cap and stem (I’ve used “Ivory” from PaperMart)

 

-A paper straw to support the stem

 

-Honeycomb paper in “ivory” from here

 

-Aleene’s original tacky glue

 

-Paper scissors

 

-Mushroom templates (download here)

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

A note about grain:

 

The grain of the crepe paper runs parallel to the roll or fold. The arrow on your template shows the direction the grain should run, so be sure to place it parallel to the tiny wrinkles that run up and down the crepe paper.

 

About the templates:

 

I’ve included five sets of mushroom templates in sizes ranging from extra-large to extra-small. I’ve printed the size on each template (e.g. xl) and the letter that identifies it in the instructions. Make sure to match your xl A template with your xl B template when you’re cutting out your mushroom pieces. The stem template can be used for any size, though for the smaller mushrooms, you’ll want to cut it in half vertically and use the righthand half for a more slender stem. I would recommend starting with a medium-sized mushroom.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

For the cap:

 

With template B, cut a rectangle from the heavy crepe, so that the long side runs across the grain. Using the dotted line across template B as a guide, fold your rectangle.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Gently stretch along the whole length of this fold.

 

To close the cap circle, lay the folded and stretched rectangle so that you can see the section you've folded over (this is bottom side up). Open up the fold on one short end of the rectangle, and apply glue up and down this edge.

 

To close the cap circle, lay the folded and stretched rectangle so that you can see the section you’ve folded over (this is bottom side up). Open up the fold on one short end of the rectangle, and apply glue up and down this edge.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Place the opposite folded short side on top of the glued section, overlapping the two sides by about ¼”.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Refold the glued section and press with your fingers to help the glue set.

 

Cut a small circle, about the size of a quarter, from your ivory crepe. (If you’re making very tiny or very large mushrooms, you’ll want to adjust the size of this circle accordingly, but it doesn’t have to be very precise.)

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Gently position the unstretched center of your cap – the area that was the unstretched long edge of your rectangle – so that it all sticks up through the bottom side of your cap. Apply a fairly generous amount of glue all the way around this edge. Lay the cap flat on the table, again, bottom side up. Use the circle to push this glued inner edge down into the center of your cap. Press to help the glue adhere.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Flip the cap so that it’s right side up.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

At this point your cap center probably won’t look very nice. But don’t worry! Because the paper is so wet with glue, you’ve got a few minutes to adjust the center.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

I use my fingernails to pinch even pleats all around the center, and then I push/massage the points to close the center up all the way.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

For the gills:

 

It takes two identical pieces of honeycomb paper to make a full ring of gills for your mushroom.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Place template A on your honeycomb paper so that the arrow on the template runs parallel with the little indentations that run up and down the honeycomb paper. Cut one template A. To cut the second half of your gills, place template A on the honeycomb paper directly below the first template A you cut. This will ensure that the honeycomb pattern falls the same way on both halves of the gills, so they look even when you open them up.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Dot one of your two gill halves with glue, and then stack the other half on top. Allow to dry for a minute or so.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Dot the top of this stack with glue, gently spread open the stack, and glue the bottom side of the stack to the top.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Carefully pinch along the edge to close. Let dry.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Gently open up the little 3D honeycomb shape along the pointy end.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Use a foam brush, cosmetic sponge, or even a piece of the ivory crepe to spread glue all over the underside of the cap, all the way out to the edge.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Carefully lay your gills on top of the cap, gently stretching the honeycomb paper so that the ends of the gills lay just inside the edge of the cap.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

As you stretch, the hole in the center of the ring of honeycomb gills will open up, providing a space for the stem. You’ll have a few minutes before the glue dries to adjust the honeycomb paper, so check to see that the gills are evenly distributed along the cap edge. Finally, working one section at a time, gently press the gills into the cap edge all the way around.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

For the stem:

 

Use template C to cut a rectangle from the ivory crepe.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Pinch a little fold in your rectangle using the dotted line on your template as a guide. In the same way that you stretched the cap edge, stretch this little fold to create the ridge in the mushroom stem.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Dot glue along the left edge of your stem rectangle and place the paper straw on top of this line of glue.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Roll the rectangle around the straw. You won’t stretch the paper much, but it should be rolled fairly tightly. If necessary, adjust the rolled paper so that the stem ridge lines up to make a neat ring.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Apply glue to the right edge of this piece, finish rolling, and press gently to set the glue.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

To make the ridge more prominent, grasp the stem on either side of the ridge and slide the paper toward the ridge. Trim any part of the paper straw that’s sticking out.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Dot glue around the top edge of the stem, and then insert the tip of the stem into the space in the center of the honeycomb ring. Hold it in place for a minute or two to allow the glue to dry.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Adding color:

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

You can use PanPastel, stamp inks, copic markers, or chalk to color the tops of your mushrooms. I like to use a cosmetic sponge to swipe color out from the center, lifting as I reach the edge for a gradient effect.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

My favorite stamp ink for making pink mushrooms is “Sugar” by Fresh Ink.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Styling:

 

Having the paper straws in the center of the stems gives you a lot of flexibility for styling. If you’d like to use these in a floral bouquet, you can just stick a long piece of stem wire up there to give it height.

 

To make the mushrooms seem to stand on their own, I place a piece of kraft paper on top of floral foam and poke toothpicks through the paper and into the foam.

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Then I place the stem bottoms of my mushrooms over the toothpicks, and they stay in place beautifully. For the pot of mushrooms, I stuck half a polystyrene egg inside this little flower pot, covered it with preserved moss, and stuck toothpicks where I wanted to “plant” my mushrooms.

 

About Kate: Kate Alarcón makes paper plant life and teaches workshops in the Seattle area. She periodically lists finished flowers in her shop on her website www.thecobralily.com. You can see her most recent work on Instagram @cobralilyshop, and a ridiculous number of flower pins on her Pinterest boards (@The Cobra Lily).

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*SpongePaper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

 

A Dozen Talented Stylists to Follow on Instagram

A Dozen Talented Stylists to Follow on Instagram

The world of social media and blogs has opened many eyes to the work and incredible talent of photo stylists behind gorgeous print ads, movie sets and editorial photo shoots; a perspective that we didn’t have before the digital era. Interior and prop stylists are popping up all over Instagram, sharing their recent projects, their home styling, and the behind-the-scenes glimpses into their days. We’ve gathered 12 interior and photo stylists who inspire us with their creativity and curated feeds. These stylists from all over the world are doing their part to showcase the work of designers, photographers and brands in the best and most beautiful way possible. –Lauren