Made in Sarasota

By staff October 1, 2002

Barbara Sela's background is in fashion design, and her daughter Vanessa Winter's is in computer animation. So what do the two do together? Design exquisite glass tableware, of course. "Go figure," says Winter, laughing. And this is no ordinary flamingoes-on-martini-glasses: One-of-a-kind Sela Miles plates and goblets adorn tables from Monterey to Martha's Vineyard and grace window displays on ritzy Worth Avenue in Palm Beach.

The duo design and paint their creations in an airy studio in Sarasota's Rosemary District. They moved here from New York City, where London-born Sela and Winter, a Ringling graduate, teamed up to produce magazine photo spreads. A pitcher set they painted for one layout generated so much interest that the pair began designing entire sets of glassware, incorporating delightful botanical illustrations cut out of books that Sela's father, a publisher, left his daughter.

Now they collaborate on up to 17 lines a year, blending Sela's romantic Victorian style and innate sense of tradition with Winter's eye for color and hip design. Sela says moving to Sarasota freed the two to explore brighter color schemes and more exotic motif-- charming monkeys, bold flowers and eye-catching decoupage antique bar matchboxes. They also offer a popular children's accessory line inspired by Winter's 4-year-old son. One of their most vibrant sets of dinnerware-in fuchsia, turquoise and maize with black and gold edging-is also one of the most sought-after, even by Northerners who usually favor more staid palettes, Winter says.

Sela Miles sells only to retailers, although a small outlet attached to the studio at 500 Central Ave. offers pieces from discontinued lines. In town, Write-On Sarasota carries Sela Miles accessories. For more information, call (941) 954-4666.

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