Intentional Communities: Redefining Ecology, Economy, & Society

As society gets more fractured there is a section of Americans that are yearning for a more connected way of living. There is a new trend emerging among people who are hungry for a more responsible and community-driven lifestyle of looking for large pieces of land or land connected to each other. These groups of people are interested in setting up communal living in what is being referred to as intentional communities.

The average American spends most of his/her life living with family. Then friends tend to become a sort of family. Eventually, a person may “settle down,” find a partner, and begin a family of his/her own. But there are more family/community models than that. We see a greater blend of friends and family in communities in other countries. There are many countries where multigenerational households are normal, and they are becoming more popular here. Community and its benefits have always been essential to living a good quality life, but as we become more connected digitally we have to make more concerted efforts to stay connected beyond wifi and data plans.

Love Thy Neighbor, Live Longer

Before we dig into a local intentional community, let’s look at one major idea behind intentional communities: community. Seems obvious, right? We contend it isn’t… Especially in today’s era of championing personal identity, and pursuing one’s own desires above and beyond anything else. The fact is: community is more than the average number of your most engaged “friends” who make up the majority of your “likes.” Community is a pillar of life. We have data that illustrates this. To put it bluntly: being part of a community and feeling invested in others will help you live longer.


Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Eco-Village

“Blue Zones” is an anthropological concept defined by the lifestyles and environments of the world’s longest-living people. This idea first appeared in the November 2005 National Geographic magazine cover story, “The Secrets of a Long Life” by Dan Buettner. Family, your community just beyond your family, and social engagement with those groups are key elements of Blue Zone communities. This is to say there is empirical evidence that supports the value community has. And intentional communities are looking to place community firmly at the center of our lives.

So let’s look at what defines a local intentional community, The Los Angeles Eco-Village.

The Los Angeles Eco-Village, a Local Intentional Community


Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Eco-Village

The Los Angeles Eco-Village (LAEV) neighborhood is located at the north end of Wilshire Center/Koreatown and in East Hollywood in the city of Los Angeles. LAEV has 30 to 40 members living in the LAEV two block neighborhood. The community demonstrates LAEV’s processes for achieving lower environmental impacts while raising the quality of community life. Beyond the main group of 30-40 members, you will find close to 100 members of the local community taking part in various aspects of LAEV activities. LAEV’s core values are:

1. Celebrate & include joy in all our endeavors.
2. Take responsibility for each other & the planet through local environmental & social action.
3. Learn from nature and live ecologically.
4. Build a dynamic community through diversity & cooperation, giving & forgiving.
5. Inspire compassionate, nurturing, & respectful relationships.
6. Create balanced opportunities for individual participation & collective stewardship.
7. Engage our neighbors and broader community in mutual dialog to learn, act, and teach.

Those seven values can be further distilled into three core concepts that define an ecovillage’s areas of focus: ecology, economy, and society.


Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Eco-Village

The Los Angeles Eco-Village’s ethos is mirrored in another trend we’re seeing emerge among millennials: investing in small-lot developments. Young people want to be close to their friends, and not follow the traditional route of finding a place in the suburbs that puts you at a 30-45 minute drive from everyone you know. This is where small-lot developments come into play. They may look like traditional townhouses, but small-lot developments are single family homes on “small lots” that have been subdivided from a larger parcel. Usually built by developers, millennials are pooling their funds to build these small-lot developments for themselves to create their ideal community with their friends. While these small-lot developments are simpler more individual efforts than a community like The Los Angeles Eco-Village, small-lot developments uphold the essential idea behind LAEV: redefining the role community plays in society at large.

You can follow up on The Los Angeles Eco-Village by visiting their website, and by following them on Facebook and Twitter.


Alexander Design: An Innovative Full Service Firm Inspired by Lifestyle

Every month we add new content to our blog to help keep our audience informed. This month we are focusing on women who make waves in the interior design industry. This entry is dedicated to the interior designer: Vanessa Alexander of Alexander Design.

Alexander Design is unique. It is a full-service firm that specializes in seamless concept to move-in solutions for spaces that range from residential homes to select special projects. Alexander Design is the brainchild of Vanessa Alexander. The firm employs an innovative and holistic approach to interior design informed by the client’s needs and lifestyle. It is truly couture interior design.

2Alexander-design-interiors-Malibu-coveMalibu Cove – Photo courtesy of Alexander Design

Vanessa Alexander: A Life in Studying Art and Aesthetics

Vanessa Alexander began traveling the world at an early age. She thrived on adventure, exploration, and experiential education. Her mother’s deep understanding of aesthetics and passion for art collecting taught Alexander the power that art and aesthetics have. Alexander’s travels and her mother’s influence laid the foundation for what would become Alexander Design.


Photo courtesy of Alexander Design

Alexander went on to work in the entertainment industry for several years. It is during this time when she met her husband. Alexander realized her new family was an opportunity to refocus her energy — it was time to redefine her goals and what she wanted to achieve.

Alexander began her journey in interior design, in earnest, with her own family. With her seemingly nascent talent and vision for interior design coming into bloom, Alexander began taking on a few private projects for friends and select high-level clients.

And with that, Alexander Design was born.

Much like Alexander Design is a full-service interior design firm that offers its clients solutions “from concept to move in,” Alexander Design has been fully seen through from concept to “move in.” Alexander Design began as a project born out of necessity for Vanessa Alexander’s own family. And the firm is now, in its own words, a “multifaceted firm with residential, creative, hospitality and retail projects from California to New York, Miami and beyond.”

So let’s take a look at some of what Alexander Design does.

3Alexander-design-interiors-Malibu-farm-1Malibu Farm – Photo courtsey of Alexander Design

Your Space, Defined by Your Lifestyle

5Alexander-design-interiors-SelfridgeSelfridge – Photo courtesy of Alexander Design

Alexander Design employs a style that tempers contemporary design language with custom and vintage pieces from various periods. And whether serving a person, family, or business, the team behind Alexander Design draws inspiration for its design work directly from the client. Your work, your passions, the way you move, the colors you code your life with… everything that makes you “you” is the groundwork for Alexander Design.


Serra Barn – Photo courtesy of Alexander Design

Alexander Design uses design to truly complement the client’s lifestyle. This approach affords the firm a unique and intimate understanding of the client that informs the design process. The firm states, “We draw influence first and foremost from context and surroundings.  We are inspired by the way that our clients live or want to live, by light both natural and curated, and by the rhythm and flow of space.” And that is how Alexander Design imbues its work with such deeply resonant emotional truth.

You can stay up to date on everything Alexander Design is doing by visiting their website and following them on Instagram and Pinterest.

2Alexander-design-interiors-CarmelinaCarmelina – Photo courtesy of Alexander Design


Serra Barn – Photo courtesy of Alexander Design


Serra Barn – Photo courtesy of Alexander Design


Ames Ingham: Interior Designer, Artist, & Innovator

Every month we add new content to our blog to help keep our audience informed. This month we are focusing on women who make waves in the interior design industry. This entry is dedicated to the interior designer: Ames Ingham.

“My philosophy has always been to create clean, elegant lines that are classic and timeless while still pushing the boundaries. I believe in locally handmade products and unique interiors that will excite you for as long as they are with you.” – Ames Ingham.


Photo courtesy of Ames Ingham

Who is Ames Ingham?

Ames Ingham captures the spirit of a space, she channels it. And she shows us a space’s inner life through interior design. Her work allows a space’s essence to come out for all of us to enjoy. Ingham, who has a background in theater, seems to perfectly casts each space in a role, and she then dresses it appropriately. That is how vibrant her work is. Ingham brings spaces to life and allows you to enter a sort of dialogue with your surroundings. You will find that spaces designed by Ingham naturally and effortlessly enhance and inform your feelings, they inspire reflection and creativity.

04Photo courtesy of Ames Ingham

But before Ingham’s career was even a vision in her mind, she began life as a child steeped in culture. Her mother worked for a prominent New York City auction house. This allowed Ingham to accompany her mother on business trips. The pair would explore French antique shops, searching for forgotten and unnoticed treasures. They would then bring what they found back to London and New York City to sell.

Ingham, who was born and raised in New York City, eventually moved to Los Angles after graduating from the Claremont Colleges where she studied theater. Her transition from the stage to interior design was smooth and natural. Her theater training led her to the art of set design. This is where she honed her masterful skill of taking the inner essence of a space, and using that essence as guidelines for her design choices.

Ingham’s love for art, culture, theater, and set design led her to co-found and run her own theater company for ten years. This experience fortified Ingham’s passion and natural talent with a deep understanding of space, structure, and lighting. Indeed, Ingham has more than technical prowess. Her theater training and history in set design affords her the empathy and unique perspective of an artist. Just like a novelist, poet, painter, sculptor, songwriter, and actor — Ingham can deeply feel the essence of her raw materials: the unadorned space and its potential finishes and furnishings. She draws that essence out, and she “paints” the blank space with it.


Photo courtesy of Ames Ingham

From Set Design to Interior Design

Ames Ingham’s transition from set design to into interior design was seamless. She assisted interior design legends Suzanne Rheinstein and Joe Nye before eventually opening her own business. Her experiences led to Ingham opening and operating her namesake boutique in West Hollywood from 2006-2009. Het boutique helped to establish her trademark look – a mix of antiques & modern finds, and bold graphic patterns.

03Photo courtesy of Ames Ingham

Ingham’s work as an interior designer introduced her to a new problem, which quickly became an opportunity… Ingham realized it was very difficult to find good lighting. There was a dearth of lighting options that struck a balance between creative expression and tasteful restraint. Ingham’s spirit for exploration and innovation led her on a new journey: designing custom light fixtures to be hand-crafted by artisans in Los Angeles. Her first design was called the Ingham Hall Lantern. It is a steel and glass box with a single downward light on a French chain. It is a classic and universal design that beget an entire collection. Ingham’s custom light fixtures can be explored on her website.

Ames Ingham’s work has earned her a dedicated and loyal following, and it has earned her press in a variety of prestigious periodicals. Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, Luxe Interior + Design, Veranda, InStyle, People, and California Home + Design are just a few of the media that have lauded her work.

Ingham continues to innovate and inspire those within her industry, and those outside of it. You can follow her journey via her website, Facebook and Instagram.


Gift Ideas: The Best Places to Buy Luxury Watches

Gift Ideas: The Best Places to Buy Luxury Watches

A timepiece is a timeless gift, a gift that the recipient will cherish forever. Choosing the perfect watch to give as a gift can be daunting and locating the best luxury watch even more so. Where are the best places to buy watches? The easiest short answer is the internet since nearly everything imaginable is available to you after a few clicks. Should you require an in-person experience and you’re not concerned about cost, visit the brand’s flagship store; if you’d rather not spend too much, visit a boutique or a vintage store; but, we think your best bet for a smooth experience is an online retailer.  However, be sure you understand their return policy in case you don’t love what arrives. Here are a handful of our favorite online retailers for luxury watches.

Jacques Reboul

Gift Ideas: The Best Places to Buy Luxury Watches

Photo courtesy of JacquesReboul

On the simpler side of things, Jacques Reboul creates watches that are classic in design and look great in nearly every setting. Their stunning pieces aren’t particularly expensive, but they are pure luxury. As Jacques Reboul describes their watches and their mission, “Jacques Reboul is so much more than just a brand, so much more than just a gorgeous watch, Jacques Reboul gives you the feeling of being at home wherever life takes you. From urban jungles to the streets of Paris to the underground in Stockholm or to where dreams bring you. Home is where you are amongst friends and your loved ones.” Jacques Reboul watches retail for $295 each.


Gift Ideas: The Best Places to Buy Luxury Watches

Photo courtesy of Jomashop

Jomashop is a more traditional watch retailer offering a wide selection of brand name watches at great prices with free shipping. Jomashop has been in the retail and wholesale luxury goods business since 1987 and they pride themselves on their ability to consistently deliver quality goods at reasonable, competitive prices. Since you’ll be ordering online, no one has to know what a great deal you got on the gift, they’ll just know quality when they see it. Ranging in price from under $20 up to in excess of $5,000, you’ll find nearly every luxury (and some not-so-luxury) watch imaginable at Jomashop.

Ashford Luxury Watches

Gift Ideas: The Best Places to Buy Luxury Watches

Photo courtesy of Ashford

Another of the more traditional online retailers, Ashford Luxury Watches has one of the most extensive collections of watches online. From the inexpensive to the higher end, Ashford has nearly everything and they’ve been operating from Fifth Avenue in New York since 1997. They have a large purchasing power so their inventory is reasonably priced and they employ some of the best luxury buyers in the industry. Watches range in price from under $20 to more than $100,000.


Any list of online retailers that doesn’t include Amazon is likely not complete since they seem to have nearly everything, including a full range of luxury timepieces that will make perfect gifts. Many of these are even available with free, fast shipping with Amazon Prime. From the classic to the sporty, Amazon has it all. The watches on Amazon range in price from less than $1 to more than $15,000 on the higher end.


Our current favorite, Wristocracy, formed their company with a vision to “democratize luxury watch ownership. Unless you’re a manufacturer or an authorized dealer, there is limited transparency into “optimal price” for a luxury timepiece. This causes huge anxiety and disparity in the marketplace for what a luxury watch is worth.” With more than 64 brands with prices ranging from under $1,000 to in excess of $10,000, Wristocracy’s selection and revolutionary approach to watch sales will likely make you a regular customer.

A watch is one of the best gifts to give, as it has been for many years. So, tell us, who will be the lucky recipient of the watch you’re buying?

The Best Luxury Spa Experiences in Los Angeles

The Best Luxury Spa Experiences in Los Angeles

Choosing the right spa experience in and around Los Angeles is akin to putting on the right outfit for an important event. Choose wisely and you’ll look and feel your best, choose poorly and, well, we don’t want to talk about that. Let’s focus on the best luxury spa experiences and treatments in the area! We’ve chosen some favorite experiences and hope you’ll take full advantage of the entire list.

Platinum Rare Facial at The Beverly Hills Hotel Spa

The Best Luxury Spa Experiences in Los AngelesPhoto courtesy of The Beverly Hills Hotel Spa

The perfect rejuvenation treatment, the Platinum Rare facial will be 90 of the best minutes of your day as two clinicians work on you. An aesthetician administers a facial featuring the high-performance Platinum Collection products while a massage therapist simultaneously provides a hand and foot massage treatment. You’ll float out of the spa looking fabulous.

Illuminating Body Detox Treatment at Larchmont Sanctuary Spa

The Best Luxury Spa Experiences in Los AngelesPhoto courtesy of Larchmont Sanctuary Spa

Located in historic Larchmont Village in Los Angeles, the Larchmont Sanctuary Spa is a true sanctuary and escape from the city which surrounds it. The staff invites you to “Disconnect to Reconnect”. They also explain that their “unique indoor-outdoor boutique spa was constructed from a 100-year old home and blessed by nine Tibetan monks from the Garden Shartse Monastery to create the most intimate, nurturing, and spiritual environment.” Our pick is the Illuminating Body Detox Treatment. Lasting from 90-110 minutes, the three-step experience works your entire body from a detoxifying scalp massage down to a Himalayan salt scrub foot massage with a Hungarian Moor mud wrap in between. All of this is followed with Shea butter creme to stimulate the lymphatic system and release toxins.

Ultimate Detox Package at Ciel Spa, SLS Beverly Hills

The Best Luxury Spa Experiences in Los AngelesPhoto courtesy of SLS Hotel

This trio package really is the ultimate. It starts with Biologique Recherche’s Algea Detox Treatment to relax the muscles and improve microcirculation; up next is a 90-minute lymphatic drainage massage to promote oxygenation and circulatory functions; and, to finish up the trio, a Pearl Wellness Ultimate antioxidant IV Therapy treatment which will replenish your both with essential minerals, amino acids, vitamins, and natural organic compounds. You’ll revel in the luxury that is the Ultimate Detox Package and leave feeling like a whole new you.

Shiffa Precious Gem Treatments at The Peninsula Spa

The Best Luxury Spa Experiences in Los AngelesPhoto courtesy of The Peninsula Spa

As The Peninsula Spa describes it, Shiffa “encourages complete indulgence in the most luxurious sensations, transporting the mind and body on a journey of wellbeing and calm.” The Peninsula’s Shiffa treatments are inspired by ancient Arabia and run the gamut. Our favorites are any of their Shiffa precious gem treatments. Choose from Precious Ruby for vitality, Precious Emerald for strength, Precious Diamond for harmony, or Precious Sapphire for tranquility, and you will experience the healing and calming powers each stone has to offer through treatments which incorporate oils saturated by each of these gems.

Cabana Packages at the Spa at Four Seasons Los Angeles

The Best Luxury Spa Experiences in Los AngelesPhoto courtesy of Four Seasons Los Angeles

Boasting a private poolside cabana featuring outdoor spa services, the Four Seasons’ Cabana Packages are the ultimate indulgence in spa luxury. Invite your best friends and opt for the Hollywood Crowd cabana package. It includes two cabana rentals for the entire day, two pitchers of speciality cocktails, two bottles of Verve Clicquot, three mani- or pedi-treatments, tropical fruit platter, Mexican platter, boozy pops, exclusive poolside amenities, and unlimited Evian water. This package is focused on relaxing more than treatments, but it’s a wonderful way to unwind and enjoy some time with your closest friends.

Whichever treatment you choose, you’ll certainly find a happier version of yourself. Since Los Angeles is full of great spas, making the best choice can be difficult. At the end of the day, we’re happy to recommend these one of a kind treatments. Be sure to tell us about your experience.

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