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TALKS DESIGNING A FAMILY PARADISE IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, AT THE NEW OKA STORE CELERIE KEMBLE By Shelby Hodge. Photography Johnny Than. S eeing it and melting because it's just unreal and so beautiful … I fell crazy in love with it," said interior designer Celerie K e m b l e o f t h e Dominican Republic site where she created Playa Grande Beach Club. The story of her decade-long effort of carving the charming cluster of island houses and a shared clubhouse from the Central American jungle is chronicled in her latest design tome, Island Whimsy: Designing a Paradise By the Sea (Rizzoli). Kemble, who flew in from her NYC design base, was interviewed by Laurann Claridge at the Texas Design Week Houston talk and book signing held at OKA, hosted by Krista Stelling. Describing the project as "very feminine, very theatrical," Kemble said the retreat is informed by her upbringing in a wood-shingled deconsecrated Gothic church in Palm Beach. Kemble's mother, legendary Palm Beach designer Mimi McMakin (who recently completed the redo of The Colony Hotel to much acclaim), decorated the church turned residence with chintz, wicker, and Porthault linens. Echoing that design heritage, The Playa Grande Beach Club is filled with latticework, de Gournay wallpapers, hot Gauguin colors, coquina stone, and antique wicker. Cocktails, beautiful food from Swift + Company, and perusing the stunning new OKA store were other highlights of the evening. Seen: Courtnay Tartt Elias, Johnny Mihalov, Liv Stribling, Aaron Laine, Barbara Tartt, Stephanie Hamilton, Jackie Cathriner, Stephanie Boles, Stacy Graubart, Lindsey Herod, Carol Isaak Barden, Jennifer Ducote, Lisa Hough, Marita Fairbanks, Julia Duke, OKA GM Brenda Atkins, Suzanne Duin, Devin Babbitt, Natalie Steen, Kari Nelson, Cheryl Baker, and Meredith Ueckert. Krista Stelling, Celerie Kemble Jennifer Ducote, Lisa Hough, Marita Fairbanks Laurann Claridge Suzanne Duin Natalie Steen, Devin Babbitt Johnny Mihalov Aaron Laine Shellie Smyers Stephanie Boles Liv Stribling Brenda Atkins Stacy Graubart Lindsey Herod Barbara Tartt, Stephanie Hamilton Jackie Cathriner, Courtnay Tartt Elias 106

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