S T Y L EAWTIWT HI S T
BY DANIEL CARTER
Wry humor and a healthy dash of know-how help Brini Maxwell
serve up her smartly designed, 1960s-inspired décor.
Brini Maxwell is a character fabulously frozen
in a scene from a cocktail-fueled 1960s
home décor show that never really existed,
but should have. Not as blue-blooded as Martha
Stewart or as innocent as Doris Day, Maxwell is
her own entity: the star of her own TV show and
the creator of podcasts, a book, and a new line of
Maxwell, aka actor Ben Sander, is a graduate
of Fashion Institute of Technology and a former
fashion designer. She launched The Brini Maxwell
Show on public-access cable TV in 1998, shooting
the show in her own meticulously retro apartment.
Picked up for two seasons by the Style Network,
the show is a laugh-out-loud romp, ironic yet full
of useful tips, from crafts to cocktails to cooking.
Currently on hiatus, Maxwell can be heard on her
regular NPR podcast, Hints for Gracious Living, and
all her TV episodes are transcribed at her website,
Maxwell’s current project makes her signature
look available to all: a line of colorful, mod-inspired
home décor goods called Felix Populi (felixpopuli.
com). The shop features an expanding selection
of home furnishings, table linens, and a daisy embroidery kit inspired by what she calls the “elegant
embroidery designs of the 60s and 70s.” Looking
like something straight off the set of Bewitched or
That Girl (two of her many inspirations), the colorfully quirky products reflect the same sense of style
and humor found on Maxwell’s show.
DC: What led to your first cable-access show?
BM: I was decorating my apartment to look like a
60s movie set, right down to the utilitarian stuff like
mixing bowls. I found a sensational set of vintage
Pyrex ones at a thrift shop and was very pleased
with myself, until I realized that they would never
be seen. When I had people over they’d be tucked
away in their little cabinet, so instead of having an
emotional crisis I decided to do a television show
with a cooking segment in it. That way everyone
could see those great mixing bowls.
DC: Crafting is a big part of your show. What are
some of your favorite projects, and how did you
originally get interested in crafting?
BM: I really enjoy the process of making things.
It’s very therapeutic. I enjoy sewing and needlework
as well as graphic design (arguably more of an art
than a craft, but it informs most of the projects
I do). Some of my favorite quirky crafts include
artificial fruit made from sewing trims and styro-foam forms, charm bracelets featuring fobs made
of beads and head pins, and the wonderful world
of tassels. ×
Daniel Carter is creative director of CRAF T.
Photograph by Garry McLeod
Read more of our interview with Brini Maxwell at