February 21, 2012

Bryan Batt Lecture

I wrote about Mad Man Bryan Batt’s lecture in Baltimore and I seem to have been the only person to do any PR on this event.  Mr. Batt is in Baltimore for a few days to buy for his shop, Hazelnut in New Orleans, and to promote his new book. The fantastic lecture he gave was so poorly attended, I was embarrassed for Mr. Batt. And I was annoyed at the staff at the American Crafts Council for not promoting it at all. In fact, the people at the check-in desk didn’t even know what we were talking about when we arrived – and the lecture was in a room right around the corner from where they were sitting.TortoiseShellGlassI think that if the lecture had been properly promoted, it would have been packed with fans of Mr. Batt’s talents in acting and design. He was funny, charming and even poignant. He talked about his formative years in New Orleans with a father who loved mid-century modern, and a mother who loved classical French.

One of the points he made, which is the same exact point I’d made in a fund-raising letter for the Baltimore Architecture Foundation, is that someone designed everything… the chair you’re sitting on, the walls around you, the device you’re reading this very blog on… Not all design is good, but someone, at some point, thought it was good enough to manufacture.KATRINA TOILE291

From the time he was a child, when his parents took him along to architects’ meetings while they were designing their house, to his shop in New Orleans, and his new book, Big, Easy Design, Mr. Batt has had an enduring love of good design.

He offered the group some tips on design, which included:

  • If it looks right, it is right. Trust your eye, have things around you that you love.
  • If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it. Don’t have things around that you don’t love!
  • Every room should have either a point of departure or an anchor.
  • Give your eye a place to rest… You don’t have to display everything you own.

I was so pleased to have a chance to chat with Mr. Batt after the lecture and he was lovely and gracious, and talked about his recent experience at Maison et Objet in Paris. He was even nice enough to take a picture with me, although I replaced the dull hotel wall with MY toile, the Toile de Baltimore.Thank you for a wonderful lecture, Mr. Batt!


  1. Oh Meg, I also cringe when events are poorly promoted and executed. No excuse!

    Re Baltimore Toile ... friend worked in her dad's bar in East Baltimore one summer. Loads of construction workers would hit the bar at 6:00am for a shot & a beer before heading off to their jobs. One guy kept talking about working on "the zwaboda,"saying how beautiful it was. Friend thought it was some Balto landmark she'd never visited; finally one day she asked him where it was. Turns out it was the Patterson Park pagoda.

  2. I had a look at his online shop and I like much of what he is carrying, and was interested to see the map coasters and frames. Perhaps you two should team up over the Paris map?

  3. Poor organisation by the sound of it - shame! He has a lovely open and welcoming face, nice photo. Off to see his shop now.

  4. Thanks to your blog, I knew about the event. Unfortunately, I had other obligations that prevented me from attending. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to hear him speak and I hope he will come to Baltimore again in spite of the poor attendance. I would bet that every person in the room was a true fan and very happy to have him there.

    PR is a skill that many smaller and/or non-profit groups do not possess. My first career was in PR and it pains me when good organizations and good events don't receive the level of attention they should.

  5. Shame on the event planner! Now take them to task. Even this Atlanta resident would like to have attended the lecture. Your blog is the first one I read with morning coffee!

  6. I just found your blog and I love it! I am a HUGE fan of Bryan Batt. I have not been to his shop, but it is on my list of places to go! He has incredible style! Great post!

  7. It was indeed fun, Meg.

    I also lamented to friends who couldn't make it that it was shockingly sparse and that that must've been due to poor promotion. Sad. But at least we were there!

  8. OM-no PR What a shame! But let it be known that you were his PR. Good for you.
    Love that you were there to support him. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

  9. Hi Meg, That is a great photo of you. I do wish that Mr. Batt would come to LA to go shopping with me. Have a super day--it is going to be really warm here and the birds are giving me a concert right now. (I love the background.) Mary

  10. perhaps in this day and age of twitter and facebook and you tube and podcasts is there a generation that wants on their schedule ?? or the ability to tivo a lecture-- going someplace and dealing with real live people-- now that's a challenge

  11. He was always one of my faves on "Mad Men"... glad you got to meet him, and hope he gets a better turnout next time!

  12. I saw the great article in The Sun about Bryan as well as heard about the event on WBAL-TV Monday morning, great segment! The ACC Facebook also had posts about the event! http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/home-garden/bs-hm-bryan-batt-20120218,0,6785889.story

    I was at the event and he was fantastic! I think the event was originally for buyers and exhibitors of the wholesale show. Nonetheless, I'm glad I got to see him!

  13. Bryan is such a charming, talented and humble gentleman. I am certain he spoke to the smaller group just as eloquently as if it had been a crowd of 10,000. I wish I had been there to meet him, as Nola is my roots. Thank you for this post!

  14. Meg, I have no doubt that if you had been in charge of getting the word out, Mr. Batt's talk would have packed, with a waiting list besides. I've never seen his TV show, but I've seen pictures of his shop and he has a lot of cool stuff, so if I were anywhere near, I would have been there to hear him.

    The low attendance thing reminds me of the time when I was still in school and Bradley University's art department brought the artist Ed Paschke to Peoria to give a lecture. Paschke already a big name but students are notorioulsy hard to get to committments from--especially art students back in the free-for-all 1970s--and instead of the forty or fifty the department was hoping for, there were only six of us scattered randomly like free electrons in a room that could have held a hundred. But Paschke was a trouper, and he suggested we all adjourn to a place better suited to the size of the group, which turned out to be a campus dive at the bottom of the hill, where we shoved four small tables together and spent the next four hours eating & drinking & laughing with one of the biggest names on the Chicago art scene. It was pretty cool.

    These days, I live in Chicago, and a few years ago, I was at an art show opening and bumped--literally--into Paschke as I came around a corner. It was the first time I'd seen him since our day at Maroon's, and after we'd been talking for a few minutes, I asked him if he remembered the day. He laughed, and said that it was the best afternoon he ever spent in Peoria.

    He died suddenly, only a few days after our second meeting, but somewhere--if it didn't get wrecked in a flooded basement, or burned up in a fire at my dad's place, or lost in one of my too-many moves--I have as a souvenir of that long-ago day: an otherwise unknown Ed Paschke abstract collage executed in Magic Marker, ketchup, mustard, black pepper & rolling paper, on the back cardboard of one of my sketchpads. Sometimes a small turnout at an event can lead to an unexpected result.

    P.S. Love the toile background. Next year, they should hire you to handle all the publicity. You could do it, you know, your free time.


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