Designers Allison Goldenstein and Lesley Provenzano find success with treasured poodles, hard work, and lots and lots of glass.
Mixed-Up Mosaics co-founders Allison Goldenstein and Lesley Provenzano started small. True, their vivid installations now adorn interiors for such top companies as Disney, Burger King and ESPN, but it wasn’t always that way. The two began by simply wandering through Manhattan’s fashion district and knocking on doors. All the legwork paid off with a commission to create tabletops for the Vinyl Diner at 54th Street and 9th Avenue. From there, business boomed.
“We started with mosaics.” Lesley says happily, “All of a sudden customers wanted us to design entire rooms. “
Allison concurs, “Everyone involved in this company is very excited about how far we’ve come and where we’re headed,”
Their funky midtown studio is strewn with big bales of multi-colored glass sheets. These sheets are fabricated by an unnamed Pennsylvania-based supplier, (“Our secret,” winks Allison) who stretches them by hand and colors and patterns them according to Allison and Lesley’s precise specifications.
Each sheet is then shipped to New York, where it is hand-cut and crafted into one-of-a-kind items. Smaller projects, such as wall hangings, mirrors and flower pots are created in-house, while larger works are built on-site. Customers can be involved in the creation process too. Mixed-Up uses photographs of pets, children and company logos to create unique, personalized statements.
Allison and Lesley also contribute lots of work to charity-the American Red Cross and Boys and Girls Clubs of America being favorites. Animal-oriented charities play a big role in their philanthropy as well. The World Wildlife Fund, Animal Avengers and Animal Haven Dog Shelter have all been recipients of their colorful creations.
“I love animals,” says the jovial Ms. Goldenstein. “I don’t have kids of my own,” she explains, “So they are the next best thing.”
Whenever possible, Lambchop and Weasel, her two treasured poodles, stay by her side. At the studio, the dogs are kept away from anyplace where bits of broken glass could cut delicate paws. The pups do get plenty of exercise, though, accompanying Allison on jaunts all over town. Even when business takes her to far-flung locales, the poodles go too, so dog-friendly hotels are a must.
Recently, the girls got a chance to combine their art with their love for animals. Fifth Avenue fashion mecca Henri Bendel asked Mixed-Up to create a product line for pooches. The two came up with Doggie Dinettes.
“I was tired of the dogs’ dishes going like this,” says Allison, demonstrating the sound of her poodles’ bowls scraping across the floor. She was inspired to create a more self-contained, aesthetically pleasing way to feed her critters. Now the product is a hit, and both Allison’s pups have Doggie Dinettes of their own-one made with Italian marbles and one all done up in multicolored glass.
“It’s odd,” says Allsion, “Both of them know their doggie dinnette. Each picked one and now always goes to it.”
Lambchomb and Weasal do not, however, feel the same about their custom-built dog homes. “They don’t seem to care which bed they sleep in.” she says.
The same, thankfully, cannot be said for Allison and Lesley.