"" MaDDI: 2013

Monday, August 5, 2013

Progress Report on Common Bond Design (nee Mother/Daughter Design Interest)

Hello! And thank you all for the messages inquiring about the blog's hiatus. We are alive and kicking. We just took the blog silent for a few months to concentrate on a few major developments. My mom and I have three active client projects right now (and one more in the hopper), but the real reason for our radio silence is...drum roll...www.commonbonddesign.com!

Back in 2012, we launched Mother/Daughter Design Interest on a platform called Blogger. I liked that it was user-friendly and, most importantly, free. But when I left my job as a regulatory analyst two months ago to launch a career in design (!), it was painfully obvious that our website needed an aesthetic boost. We contacted a friend and talented graphic designer, Amanda Pastenkos, to work with us on a new look. And since our client work has been picking up pace, it made sense to consolidate the blog and our design business under one name. 

There are still a few kinks to work out on the new site, but we're hoping to launch real soon. In the meantime (because I feel like I might physically burst if I have to keep a lid on these killer logos any longer), here's a sneak peak of what we've been up to since June:



Clockwise from top left:

The logo for Common Bond Design, the business. Courtesy of Amanda PastenkosIn my first meeting with Amanda, I asked for "modern, clean and minimalist-- but with a subtle nod to the mother/daughter connection." She nailed it! Did you catch the subtle nod? I admit, it took me a second to see it...

The logo for Common Bond Design, the blogCourtesy of Amanda Pastenkos. Continuity between business and blog was a driving factor in our site overhaul. But we also felt it was important to draw a distinction between the two. After all, the blog is a showcase for our aesthetic. And when executed correctly, client work should showcase the client's aesthetic.

Watercolor Social Media Icons. Purchased from Etsy Shop, LittleLadderCreative. I'm so happy we found a way to integrate these social media icons. Our new site is very crisp, so these hand-painted icons serve as a sweet counter note. Plus, I'm a sucker for teal.

Mr. Caterpillar via Instagram.This summer has been a lot of work-- but it hasn't been all work. I've been celebrating my emancipation from the office grind by slipping away for 3 or 4-day weekends at my parent's house in Bridgehampton, NY. The three of us have become obsessed with a swallowtail caterpillar family that moved into our herb garden. Mrs. Caterpillar went into chrysalis yesterday and this big guy started spinning his silk last night. This morning he was 100% ensconced. Check my instagram for the latest on #pupawatch2013. Nature=cool.

Herringbone Installation via InstagramOne of our client projects is under construction this summer. And while we can't take credit for the selection of herringbone flooring (kudos go to the homeowner), it was fascinating watching the workmen install it. Unlike plank flooring, each individual piece must be measured and cut individually. I am in awe of the patience and craftsmanship that goes into this kind of installation.

Pools, by Craig Fineman Image via Slate. Remember when I mentioned ages ago that we had a client project in Bridgehampton in the pipeline? Well, I would say it's about 75% complete now. And while we didn't wind up integrating large-scale beach photography, we came up with a really nifty (and very budget-friendly) plan for artwork. I'll hold off on revealing too many of the details until we do a final reveal, but it integrates these awesome skateboarding images by the late photographer Craig Fineman.


Hope everyone is enjoying their summer! Stay tuned for the launch of commonbonddesign.com (plus instructions on how to continue to receive our posts via email, reader and/or rss feed!)

Alex

Thursday, May 30, 2013

An Iconic Design Gets a Summer Makeover

What do you do when the mercury hits 90 and your sleek leather Lama Chair suddenly feels sticky and unwelcoming? (An aspirational problem, to be sure.)


If you happen to be designers Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, you swap it out for a woven cord version. (And while you're at it, swap your Milan abode for a converted 17th century mill in Salento.)


To enjoy your Lama chair poolside, try this outdoor version:



This weekend, I plan to make a seasonal decor change of my own. Come Saturday, you'll find my window AC unit successfully installed. (Or possibly, in pieces on the street below my third-story bedroom window-- we'll see how it goes.)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Color Crush: Acid Yellow + Grey

source unknown. help!

As readers of this blog know all too well, I like a neutral palette. Especially one loaded with calming grey tones. But there's something about acid yellow that's calling to me. Against a silvery grey backdrop, it has a surprisingly soothing effect-- without being a 'taupe-on-taupe' snoozefest.

I'm keen to pair the hyper modern hue with an earthy tribal print, like this killer ikat chair from Furbish Studio. (How cool is the nude print? A steal at $28-- or take home the original for $365!) If your squeamish about acid tones, maybe a subtle neon zipper would do the trick?



Sources (clockwise from top left)

  1. Small Carnaby Acid Palm Lamp, Jonathan Adler - $195
  2. Nude Print II (8x10 print of original painting by Andrea M. Whalen) via Furbish Studio - $28
  3. Array Pendant, via Weego Home - $595
  4. Grey Ikat Chair, via Furbish Studio - $1,500
  5. Stripy Cushion (Grey), OYOY - $95 (available in the US via the Cool Hunter)
  6. Scamp Medium Table (yellow base/marble top), Blu Dot - $349

Monday, May 13, 2013

White Whale: Hans Olsen's Roundette Set for Frem Rojle

I think I may have discovered my white whale. Hans Olsen's Roundette Set for Frem Rojle tortures me. Well, technically, the source of my torture is the seemingly endless font of individuals on Pinterest, Apartment Therapy or Flickr who leave comments like:

  1. "Oh, my parents had one of these sets when I was growing up. They sold it at a garage sale for $20."
  2. "I have this dining set! Scooped it up at a thrift shop for $40."
  3. "My husband rescued one of these funny looking dining set off the curb just the other day. Not sure if I really like it..."
What!? Who are you people (especially you, no. 3. Cherish thy dumpster diving husband) and where do you live? I suspect I know the answer to the latter question-- it's "Not in NYC." This may be the greatest city on earth, but it's also a place where people recognize the worth of danish modern designs. But perversely, New Yorkers are the square-footage deprived population most in need of ready and affordable access to Olsen's ingenious design!


via Pinterest

I've run nearly 80 google searches using any and every word I could think of to describe the object of my desire to no affordable avail (FYI, the Bible is mute on the subject of coveting thy neighbor's vintage dining set.) Sure, there's an original Hans Olsen for Frem Rojle Dining Set available via 1st dibs for a cool $2,315 (not including shipping from the Netherlands.) Or Chelsea Textile's Olsen-inspired "Round Table with Four Chairs", which mystifyingly rings up for more than a vintage original at $3,282. (Although Chelsea Textile's color options are appealing.) But when do I get to stumble upon a garage sale gem or a garbage-heap dinette set?


Left: via 1st Dibs; Right: via Chelsea Textiles

I thought I'd experienced a breakthrough last night, when I stumbled upon this set of three vintage 3-legged chairs on Ebay described as "in the style of Hans Wegner" (a fairly common mix-up stemming, I think, from the similarity of Wegner's 3-legged Heart Chair. Also, I guess, they're both named Hans...) The seats needed new upholstery and the wood refinishing, but I was excited to restore them to their former glory. I spent dinner day dreaming about the magnificent transformation we'd undergo together, outside in the June sun, with a gentle sanding block and a sponge brush. I even sketched out a plan to build a corresponding table using parts from Tablelegs.com.

via Ebay listing

In retrospect, I was silly and naive to imagine that I could win an Ebay auction my first time out of the gates. I was the winning bidder for 3 hours. 3 hours in which I compulsively checked my email for news that I'd been outbid-- news that never came. Glued to my computer, I watched the auction count down to the final seconds when the Olsen chairs (at $40 a pop) would be mine. Then...a pop-up notification: "Sorry. You didn't win..." Huh? How is that possible? Clicking through the bidding history, I discovered that a much more savvy Ebay-er had waited until the final seconds to outbid me. So that I'd have no opportunity to bid again before the auction closes. SO SNEAKY! I feel robbed. (Albeit a little wiser on how to play the Ebay game.)

And so the whale hunt continues...


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Habit | Habitat: Destination Austin

Growing up, my family always played a type of game on family vacations: what would it be like to relocate to our vacation destination? What neighborhood would each of us choose to live in? What would be our favorite neighborhood dining spots? What would be our go-to outfits as we attempted to fit in with the locals? (The latter being a higher priority discussion for my mother and me. My father is not known for sartorial variety.) Our answers usually turned into spirited debates over a final meal or while waiting at the terminal for our flight home.

Even though I don't always tag along on my parent's trips these days, I still like to keep the tradition alive when I travel on my own. It's particularly tempting to imagine relocating to Austin, where the lifestyle is active, the climate is hot and dry, and an abundance of creative energy is all around. (And the legendary food trucks aren't exactly a turn-off...)

I'm no fashion maven. But when I travel, I do like to observe what people are wearing in an anthropological way. Hence the the launch of a new column, HABIT | HABITAT. I started with a clothing that struck me as capturing Austin's distinct style-- a unique mix of cowboy, borderland, rock n'roll and indie. Then I translated that style into a room in my imaginary Austin home.

Hope you find Austin's laid-back, eclectic look as inspiring as I do. And if you're so inspired as to book your own trip, I absolutely recommend the very mod Airbnb rentals we stayed in-- a 2 BR House in South Austin and a 1 BR Guest House in East Austin.

HABIT | HABITAT




Habit | Lila Mini, LemLem - $170

Habitat | sources (clockwise from top left)
  1. Plant Pods by Domenic Fiorello, via Design Public - $100
  2. Vintage Safari Chair by Arne Norell, via LiveAuctioneers.com - no longer available (see similar here and here)
  3. Sunbathing by Beth Hoeckel (17x20" art print), via Society 6 - $35
  4. Tivoli Audio LLC Model One Radio (Frost White / Sunflower Yellow), via AllModern - $179
  5. Beep Lamp, Design by Conran for JC Penny - $260
  6. LAX Series Entertainment Shelf, via Smart Furniture - $980
  7. Navajo Rug/Weaving, via Allard Auctions - no longer available (see similar here)
  8. Knitted Basket by Ferm Living, via Fab.com - $55

 HABIT | HABITAT



Habit | Demma Embroidered Dress by Isabel Marant Etoile, via La Garconne - $505

Habitat | sources (clockwise from top left)
  1. Pearl Accent Lamp, Design by Conran for JC Penny - $175
  2. Herringbone Woven Throw,  Design by Conran for JC Penny - $70
  3. You Rock My World Postcard, Sugarboo Designs 
  4. Long Horn Cow Decal by wallsneedlove, via ProjectDecor - $30
  5. Brimstone Cabinet, Design by Conran for JC Penny - $2,295
  6. Beam Bed, Dylan Design Company - starting at $1,840
  7. Neutra Boomerang Chair (2nd ed.), via House Industries - $1,500
  8. Eames Wire Base Low Table (Red.Orange), Herman Miller via Design Within Reach - $275

Until tomorrow,
Alex

PS As you might have spotted, I couldn't resist styling a few favorites from the Design by Conran for JC Penny collection. It's just too good!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Recap: Austin Vacation

For me, a good vacation needs two qualities: relaxation and inspiration. Austin knocked it out of the park on both counts. 

Our schedule in Austin was fairly unambitious-- in the best way. We stayed in two awesome Airbnb rentals, took Hektor on a tour of Austin's dog parks, read our books, picnic'ed on a pontoon with friends, paddle boarded for exercise and turtle watching, hiked in Pedernales Falls State Park, scoped out UT's School of Architecture, ate tacos for almost every meal and fell asleep, bone tired, by 10pm every night. Happiness.

Tomorrow's post is chock full of Austin-inspired style. But for today, here's a quick instagram recap of our Austin vacation:


Until tomorrow!

Alex


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

High-Low Collaboration: Conran and Jonathan Adler for JC Penny

And we're back! (With April jam-packed with my Interior Design final presentation at Parsons, a bustle of activity with our freelance design clients, a staffing crisis at my law firm day job, my Austin vacation and my mom's trip to London and Paris, we decided an impromptu blogging break was advisable in the interest of preserving sanity.)

But I'm excited to return to blogging with a really fun announcement: JC Penny has launched collaborations with Sir Terence Conran and Jonathan Adler. The collaborations are part of the store's efforts to transform following years of diminishing sales and recent operational troubles. The "Design by Conran" collection is more furniture-heavy, with the "Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler" weighted more towards bedding and accessories, although the collection does include a few furniture pieces. My quick assessment is that the Conran collection is stronger than the Jonathan Adler collection, but then again, my aesthetic aligns more closely with Conran's and I suspect that a minimalist style may lend itself to a 'high-low collaboration' more smoothly than Adler's signature look. 

I rounded up my favorite pieces from each collection below. Which collaboration do you prefer? What items are you coveting? I'm particularly in love with the Lucina Table Lamp.


DESIGN BY CONRAN



Sources (clockwise from top left)
  1. Beep Lamp - $260
  2. Colored Woven Throw (Yellow Lime) - $175
  3. Lucina Table Lamp - $175
  4. Candelabra - $70
  5. Hyale Console Table - $425
  6. Monk Chair - $1,125


Sources (clockwise from top left)
  1. Lucina Floor Lamp - $345
  2. Coridon Storage Cabinet - $1,875
  3. Candlestick Holder - $30
  4. Grid Throw - $70
  5. Stacking Trays - $185
  6. Lulworth Sectional (right-arm facing chaise) -$2,895

HAPPY CHIC BY JONATHAN ADLER



Sources (clockwise from top left)
  1. Wood Triangle Leg Floor Lamp - $250
  2. Pedestal Bowl - $50
  3. Charlotte Ribbed Table Lamp - $28
  4. Bleecker 80 Sofa - $2,795
  5. Bleecker Nesting Tables - $485
  6. Bleecker 63 TV cabinet - $1,195

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Covet List: Anticipating Austin

In 16 days, I'll be in Austin, TX. I once read that roughly half the psychological benefit of a vacation is derived from the planning and anticipation. I believe it! Just thinking about our upcoming trip puts a smile on my face. (Even if I am a smidge nervous to travel with the pup-- his first plane ride. Any tips?)

While I appreciate Austin for its famed live music scene, epic BBQ and near perfect climate, what I dig most about the city is its vibe. Austin has killer style! So with the countdown to Austin rapidly approaching zero, I find myself gravitating towards objects with a funky, modern Southwest vibe. 

Here's what I'm coveting now:


This vacation is, in part, to celebrate the conclusion of my drafting class at Parsons, so these architectural silkscreen prints by Ben Kafton ($30 ea. via Etsy) seem especially appropriate to include. Now if only the drawings for my final presentation looked so good...

I'm a little late to the party on this one, but the Jason Wu for Brizo Collection is intensely covet-worthy. Oh, that shower head! ($340 for the full shower kit, via ebay). Although Brizo does offer the collection in a range of traditional finishes, the matte black is a stand-out.

How neat are these kilim shoes? ($129 via Etsy) One day, I'd love a giant vintage kilim on my floor. But until my budget catches up to my covet list, I'll happily settle for a kilim on my feet!

After spotting Horne's Tabletop Hi-Fi console ($1,800) in the April edition of Lonny, I immediately fired off an email to Ryan (subject line: I want I want I want.) He responded, in true boy form, "very cool. very expensive." Yup. That just about covers it.

Speaking of cool/expensive, check out the FEDRO Floor Rocker, by Lorenza Bozzoli for DEDON, spotted on Design Milk. Even though Austin's Hotel San Jose is quite possibly one of my favorite places on the planet, we opted for the Airbnb route this trip so that we city kids (and city dog) can experience the joys of private outdoor space. Maybe one day I'll have a reason to shop for outdoor furniture, but until then, I'll content myself with admiring these strange and beautiful creations in Dedon's Soho showroom.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Beach Bums


I don't like to count my chickens before they hatch, but I might have a fun project in the pipeline for this spring-- a beach house bedroom on a budget. (Sorry for the mouthful of alliteration. I hereby swear to come up with a more succinct, less corny working title a.s.a.p.) This project is really more of a zygote at the moment, but I'm hoping I can convince the client to use an arresting beach photography as a jumping off point for style and color palette.

With temperatures hitting 81 degrees in New York (insert happy dance), I'm in the right mindset to research beach photography. The term "beach photography," however, casts a dangerously wide umbrella. What I'm searching for is really a very specific subset of the genre. I want a photograph that perfectly captures the sort of bizarre rites of beach-going. I want a photo that's principally about the bathers-- their interaction with the environment and with each other. The sun and surf is somehow incidental. 

But most importantly, I want that overexposed quality that visually mimics the feeling of returning home after a long day of the beach. Your eyes are hazy, your skin feels sun baked and salt dried-- you just feel light, relaxed, and sort of...bleached? Weird choice of words, maybe, but that's more-or-less how I feel after beach bumming it up.

Oh, yes, and I want it to be affordable. A somewhat complicating factor when it comes to art. (If cost wasn't a consideration, I'd happily to turn to the undisputed master of the genre, Massimo Vitali.)

My search continues, but here are a few top contenders right now:


Sources (clockwise from top left)
  1. A La Plage by Gray Malin, via The Design Ark (see Trend Land for more photos)
  2. Overhead Beach Series #003, Judith Gigliotti
  3. Anakena, by Richard Silver (30 x 40 print, edition of 50) via ArtStar - $450
  4. Photography of Alicia Bock, via The Jealous Curator
  5. Unt., by Margarita Kazanovich (23.6 x 35.4 print) via Saatchi Online - $850
Top Photograph:
Beach of St. Peter-Ording II, by Margarita Kazanovich (via Saatchi Online) - $900

Also on my short list are beach scenes by Antoine Rose (who likes to dangle out of helicopters with a camera in hand.) I highlighted his piece "The Red Canopy" in my scouting report on the NYC Affordable Art Fair last week.

The overexposed beach photography of Christain Chaize would be at the tip top of my list, but I'm not sure where to obtain affordable prints of his work now that 20x200 is on hiatus (or, maybe permanently closed? Does anyone what the deal is? 20x200 was one of my most reliable sources of affordable art!) 


Source: Praia Piquinia, by Christian Chaize

If the scenery looks repetitive to you, it's because the photographs were taken from the same spot overlooking Portugal's Praia Piquinia beach at different times of day on each day of Chaize's vacation. Cool concept, right? Check out an enormous print from his Praia Piquinia series in the Manhattan apartment of Kiane and Charlie von Mueffling:

Interior Design by Iain Halliday via Elle Decor
I've checked all my go-to's for affordable art (Saatchi Online, Society6, Art Star, Etsy, exhibitors at the Affordable Art Fair, etc.), but maybe I missed a great spot? Drop me a comment if you have any suggestions for where to find Vitali-esque beach photography at non-Vitali prices!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Look: Over-sized Art in the Bedroom

Isn't this bedroom inviting? It's spacious, dramatic, bohemian, lived-in, a little off-beat...

via luellaloves tumblr
I like the over-sized art above the bed. Especially how the geometric theme contrasts with the patterned bedspread, but stays in the same color scheme (a great example of complement|contrast in a real space.) I even like the velvet euro shams in the back-- in any other context, I think I might hate them, but here they really work by adding texture and stylistic contrast. And those charcoal floors! Yes, I could happily live here.

But since the family that actually occupies this bedroom (and their adorable mop-head kid) might object, here's an idea for how to achieve a similar look in your own space:



Sources (clockwise from top left)

  1. Architectural System Organism Machine by Simis Gatenio (38.6 x 37 x 1 Acrylic on Wood Panel), via Saatchi Online
  2. System Organism Machine by Simis Gatenio (33.5 x 47.2 x 1 Acrylic on Wood Panel), via Saatchi Online
  3. Provence Sham King, Calypso St. Barth Home - $180
  4. Austin Velvet Euro Sham, via Black Forest Decor - $49.95 (*sale price)
  5. Provence Duvet King, Calypso St. Barth Home - $675
  6. Diamond Linen Quilt (King), Pottery Barn - $299 (try the quilt as a casually draped box spring cover)
  7. TraversSide Table, Anthropologie - $498
  8. Tizio Desk Lamp for Artemide, via DWR - $525
  9. Off-Black (No. 57), Farrow & Ball 
If a pair of over-sized canvases aren't in your budget, try hanging a single piece of art work centered over the headboard or off to one side!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Scouting Out the NYC Affordable Art Fair 2013

It's a good day for art lovers. Tonight's the preview party for the Spring Affordable Art Fair. The show runs from April 3 through April 7 at the Metropolitan Pavilion. Tickets to the party tonight will run you $65 a person and include re-entry during the show's public hours. General Admission is $15 for a one-time use ticket.

With show's of AAF's size and diversity, I opt for one of two strategic approaches:

  1. Advance Research I use AAF's Exhibitor List to scout out the participating galleries websites and make a list of booths I'd like to visit. This method definitely has its faults. Galleries don't always specify which artists they'll be featuring, so there is no guarantee that the works of the artists you scope out will be on display at the show.
  2. Cruise/Double-back I show up at the opening gong with a show map and a highlighter (yup, like a crazy person). I speed walk through the show in a zig-zag pattern and mark which booths I'd like to re-visit on the map. I stop to chat with gallery owners, pick up business cards and socialize with other guests only on the second pass. This method is more effective, but also more time-consuming/generally embarrassing (particularly if you're the type of speed walker who uses rapid arm thrusting to maintain a fast clip.) And it's practicable exclusively if you attend solo.
Is it nuts to be so militaristic about an art fair? TOTALLY. But I tend to get overwhelmed in large, crowded venues. Going in with a game plan preserves my sanity and keeps me focused.

Sadly, I won't be attendance this year. But instead of whining about it, I thought I'd help out you lucky ducks who will be there by scouting out a few artists represented by my favorite exhibitors. This list relies on the advanced research method, so I can't offer any guarantees that you'll see these specific artists represented at the show. But here's hoping!


Sources (clockwise from top left)

  1. Light Print 50, by Jason Engelund (11 x 14" Archival Pigment Print, Edition of 50), Modernbook Gallery
  2. Escape, by Franklin Alvarez Fortun (11 x 14" Print, Edition of 250), Art Star
  3. Ocean (Part 2), by Fusako Kuyama (39.4 x 39.4" Paper on Screen Panels (diptych)), Onishi Project
  4. Red Stairway, by John Aquilino (30 x 24" Oil on Canvas - 2012), Fraser Gallery
  5. Green Path Diptych, by Mauricio Morillas (18 x 12" each, Mixed Media on Wood Panel), ArtMix
  6. Untitled Billboard No. 2, by Mark Hartman (20 x 20" Archival Pigment Print, Edition of 25), Luster NYC
  7. Notice, by Su-Man Park, NineGallery



Sources (clockwise from top left)

  1. Two Girls, Bondi, by James Hawke (1000 x 1000 mm Oil on Canvas), Bicha Gallery
  2. A Happy Girl, by Sienna Freeman (11 x 14" Framed Mixed Media Collage), Modernbook Gallery
  3. Gents, by Eric Ogden (16 x 20" Archival Pigment Print, Edition of 25), Luster NYC
  4. The Red Canopy, by Antoine Rose, Emmanuel Fremin Gallery
  5. 2447, by Luis Feito (45 x 57" Oil on Canvas - 2009), Art Angler
Enjoy the show for me! And don't forget to buy your tickets in advance.

Monday, April 1, 2013

AD Show 2013: Furniture, Lighting + Home Accessories

Steel yourselves! Today's the day I round-up my favorite furniture, lighting and home accessories from the Architectural Digest Home Design Show 2013. 

While I typically like to sniff out affordable art (and even surprised myself by gravitating towards so many textile booths), I think it's safe to say that the furniture and lighting is the AD Show's main attraction for the general public. Oh sure, the trade attendees get hopped up on eco-friendly flooring, invisible electrical outlets and custom European kitchens that cook 4-course meals at the command of an iPhone app, but many of those vendors are to-the-trade only. And unless you're embarking on a massive renovation, those types of items might not be on your shopping list. Us peons in the "General Admission" section all made a b-line over to furniture and lighting.

Before I dive into my favorite trends from the show, I'd like to say an obligatory word about George Nakashima-inspired fine woodworking. In my limited experience with trade shows in the past 3 years, live edge furniture with mid-century influence is ubiquitous. It's extraordinarily beautiful. And if money was no object, I would kill to have a walnut slab bed with build-in side tables. But when I'm in a windowless, cacophonous airplane hangar jam-packed with people and products, my eyes tend to glaze over at the sight of another live edge dining table. It's not that I don't covet one desperately or appreciate the skill that went into it, it's just...a little predictable? 

So in the spirit of blogging about what excites me most, I'm going to assume you're aware that live edge furniture a) exists and b) is wildly popular, and instead direct this post to a few fresh and fun trends that caught my eye. 

Trend: Wood, Meet Color

In my imagination, David Rasmussen, on whom I have a big fat design crush, takes the proverbial hand of a richly conditioned slab of walnut and says solemnly, "Wood, I'd like you to meet Chartreuse." And when Walnut lays eyes on that vibrant jolt of color, he knows he'll never feel whole without her. Thus Rassmussen brokered one of the greatest design marriages of our time, memorialized by his WUD plates. True story. 

I'm happy to see the trend is catching on. I do love mid-century lines, but as I alluded to in my diatribe above, it can get a smidge repetitive in the trade show context. But give the classic shapes and woodworking techniques a kick-in-the-pants with some color and, suddenly, my eyes register it as a new and exciting trend. I like the way the color serves to enhance the natural beauty of the wood. You'd think it might upstage and outshine the natural wood tones, but the reverse is true-- the contrast further showcases the wood:



Sources (clockwise from top left)
  1. Sof_Gregario, Antonio Manaigo Design Studio
  2. WUD Plates, David Rasmussen Furniture Design
  3. v4 Arm Chair, Skram Furniture Company
  4. Atlantic 30", Hatched Furniture Design 
  5. Curve A Linear Side Table, David Rasmussen Furniture Design
  6. Driftwood Hooks, Kielmead - $25 ea.

Trend: Extraterrestrial

I initially thought I'd group these objects under the title "sculptural objects"-- but these shapes struck me as far more than just sculptural. To me, they read extraterrestrial. From Furthur Design's blown glass flying saucers, to Palo Samko's alien-like wall mirrors and J. Liston Design's starship-turned coffee table, I definitely identified a sci-fi theme in a lot of my favorite pieces.



Sources (clockwise from top left)
  1. Paper and Wire Lamp, Patrick Weder Design
  2. Earth Groove Series, Furthur Design - $150 - $210
  3. Leather Round Mirror, Palo Samko
  4. Strata Display + Organizer, In.Sek Design - $200
  5. Bangle Table, J. Liston Design 

Trend: Modern Dining Chairs

In my wanderings, I tend to see dining chairs that fit into one of three categories: 1) traditional; 2) iconic modern and 3) Ikea. It was refreshing to see so many modern dining chairs that, while they may take cues from the design pantheon, still felt like a unique and interesting choice. 

Admit it, wouldn't it be kind of satisfying if your design buff friends walked into your apartment and stared intently at your dining chairs in a state of confusion. And then you caught them discretely checking under the seat for a makers mark? Instead of the usual "Oh, I like your [insert: Eames, Panton, Wegner, Saarinen, Wegner, Thonet, Risom, Cherner, Bertoia, blah, blah, blah] dining chairs." Because friendship is really about one upping the people you love.



Sources (clockwise from top left)
  1. Lincoln Chair, Asher Israelow
  2. Chr_Skewer,  Antonio Manaigo Design Studio
  3. Piedmont #3 Chair, Skram Furniture Company
  4. Miles Chair, Miles & May Furniture Works - $1,700


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

AD Show 2013: Art

From the High Line 2012 (24x24 oil and pencil on panel) by Lisa Breslow

Where most shoppers have will power, I have a gaping hole. The second I see an object I covet, it creates a kind of potential energy (remember potential energy from high school physics?) That energy begs for release. I used to think the only release was to physically obtain it, but blogging has helped me learn to discharge the energy in another way-- by sharing it with all of you! Instead of connecting with an object and thinking "must buy" and I now think, "must blog." Blogging as therapy.

But despite my formidable progress, I have still have a fatal flaw-- great art. And art, dear readers, is a very expensive weakness to have. With clothing, I can sternly remind myself that it will likely languish in my closet. And that it depreciates the second money changes hands.

But not art! Art confers a lifetime of engagement, solace, contemplation, joy...You can pass it on to your children! And your children's children! Then there's that mischievousness voice in my head that whispers, "it's an investment."

The Architectural Digest Home Design Show is a surprisingly good place to discover high-quality affordable art. One artist mentioned that it's long been an "under-the-radar" art fair, where artists and galleries see value in the high traffic and relatively low cost of a booth.

A few of my discoveries include:

  • Artist Cecile Brunswick, who paints the remains of tattered billboards spotted on her travels. I love the idea that a "lower" art form (an advertising or propoganda billboard) morphs into a higher art form (an oil on canvas) through the effects of time.  Because Brunswick often catches only a quick glimpse of the billboard, her paintings are frequently from memory, adding another charming element of distortion that strikes a cord in each of us: the power of time and memory to change what we see. 
  • Danish photographer Kim Holtermand captures abandoned cities with a palpable sense of emptiness. "Pool Chairs," in particular, feels simultaneously like a landscape in which human presence has intruded, unwelcome, and a portrait of an inanimate object rendered lonely and obsolete by the absence of human presence. (I mean, sure, maybe it's crazy to say to say that pool chairs have emotions. But I dare you to look at that shot and tell me you don't want to pat those pool chairs on the back and say, "there, there. They'll be back-- summer's just around the corner.")
  • Silver and platinum gelatin prints of architectural forms. Both Jefferson Hayman (represented by Schoolhouse Gallery) and Adrienne Moumin have chosen as their medium that most painstaking and retro of photographic techniques. It seems particularly well suited to cityscapes and architectural detail. 

Check out these gems-- a few of my favorite pieces spotted at the show:


Sources (clockwise from top left)

  1. Seagull 13 (11x14 print, edition of 50) by Elizabeth Mayville, via Art Star - $50 ($125 framed)
  2. Airship West Village by Jefferson Hayman via Schoolhouse Gallery
  3. Deserted City: Pool Chairs (30x40 print, edition of 50) by Kim Holtermand, via Art Star - $450 ($750 framed)
  4. Untitled by Jefferson Hayman via Schoolhouse Gallery
  5. What you must do to get home safely (36x36 oil on canvas) by Deborah Zlotsky, via Kathryn Markel Fine Arts - $5,000



Sources (clockwise from top left)

  1. Crescent, (30x30 abstract oil painting from billboard remnants) by Cecile Brunswick - $4,800
  2. Observing Presence, Series #8 2010 (21x13 pieced vintage silk) by Debra Smith, via Kathryn Markel Fine Arts - $1,800
  3. From the High Line 2012 (24x24 oil and pencil on panel) by Lisa Breslow, via Kathryn Markel Fine Arts - $8,000
  4. Snowy Branches #156 (15x15 limited edition print) by Dagmara Weinberg
  5. Brooklyn Sometimes Reminds Me of Europe by Jefferson Hayman, via Schoolhouse Gallery 
  6. Hirshhorn Courtyard (hand printed silver gelatin photograph) by Adrienne Moumin, via Picturexhibit

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Leather (Pull) Fetish, Continued...

In January, I wrote of my interest in Leather Pulls, and after doing my research began a DIY project for pulls on newly installed and painted cabinet doors.  Wondering where to get the leather, I noticed that some baskets I owned and used as storage in bookshelves had leather straps on the front side and backside of the baskets. I decided I would try making handles from those I had to hand.


I removed the handles from the storage baskets and readied them to be attached to the door.


My thought was to double them and use four screws to fill the holes that were already on the leather straps. I  hoped to find rustic screws with interesting looking heads because they would be exposed. I tried carpet tacks, which did not hold when pulling open the door. Screws looked unfinished.

At this point, I became skeptical of my ability follow through on this project and I needed to get into the closets! I started shopping the internet to see what pulls were available, be easier to intall and have a more finished look. I discovered Doug Mockett and Company had sturdy and attractive leather pulls with all the parts needed for installation. At 35.85 per handle, needing four brought up the cost of the hardware to 148.00. The four pulls (one shown below) arrived in four days.
I then measured the height I wanted them to be installed. The pulls came with screws, bolts and a decorative cap to cover the head of the screw.  The problem was that the door was thicker than the length of the screws and would need to be counter sunk. This was now beyond my limited drilling experience! It was time to call in the expert...

Nick Chepinkskas of NPC Carpentery. Nick is an excellent carpenter who works throughout the East End of Long Island and the creator of  the new doors. He came to the rescue in and about 5 minutes had the holes drilled, screws countersunk, bolts attached and the decorative caps installed. With a gentle pull the closet doors opened and all was looking great!  Thanks, Nick!


I learned my lesson: there are times when DIY just doesn't work and an expert must be called in.  It's OK to "Cry Uncle" and  pay up to get the job done right. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

AD Show 2013: Textiles

I was lucky enough to steal a couple hours on Friday to slip over to Architectural Digest's Home Design Show. So much to discover! (Once you got in, that is. There was lots of grumbling in the snaking line outside Pier 94, where members of the public who bought tickets in advance were made to wait for 20-30 minutes in the bitter cold. This year, for the first time, they printed individual name tags for all entrants with a bar code that vendors could scan when you stopped by their booth. A nice idea for tracking interest by booth, in theory, but the fact that every single attendee had to check-in at the registration desk and wait for an individualized name tag to print was a logistical nightmare. I heard a couple people who have been attending for years swear it would be their last show.)

Since this was my first time attending, I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm not much of a textiles expert (I tend to gravitate towards art and furniture at these trade shows), so I was surprised to find myself stopping into so many textiles booths. 

Here are a few stand-outs from the people behind each of my favorite booths:


Sources (clockwise from top left)

  1. 3' x 3'1"Najavo (CU-984), Lavender Oriental Carpets
  2. Hampton 10'1"x13'2" (Ref no. 2876), Nasiri
  3. Foil by Elastic Co.
  4. Fluff by Hiroko Takedo
  5. Google Pillow 2012, Elastic Co. via Etsy - $75

Lavender Oriental Carpets had the coolest bright orange Navajo blanket-- the weave felt like butter in your hands. I asked the price and heard "sixteen hundred." Alright, $1,600 isn't exactly in my budget for textiles, but I tucked it away as an idea for future clients. When lovely owner Lida Lavender rushed to assure me she had much more affordable Navajo blankets (one of their specialties), I started to suspect that I'd misunderstood. Yup. "Sixteen THOUSAND," she clarified. As in $16,000. Yikes. That's the second time I've made that mistake this month (the first time was inquiring about a Hans Wegner Papa Bear chair at Wyeth in Wainscott. I've resolved to stay at least 100 feet away from that store for the foreseeable future.) Lavender Oriental Carpets, unlike Wyeth, really does offer a wide range of pricing in Navajos, Kilims and many other popular varities. They do custom sizes too! Their website is really easy to navigate too-- I love the "bookmark your favorites" feature.

Nasiri specializes in Persian rugs-- it's owned by an Iranian family-- but offers a wide selection of all sorts of middle-eastern rugs. I particularly like their Modern Collection (surprise, surprise.) I didn't get a sense of pricing, but I have a feeling that they are on the higher end of the spectrum, since they're sort of an institution and a go-to among the types of designers whose work is featured in AD. The "price upon request" type of crowd.

Elastic Co. I love these guys! Have you heard of the Google pillows? They've been around a few years. Every year, Elastic Co. takes the top search terms of the year and prints them on a throw pillow. It's a pretty fascinating concept. I knew the pillows were available via Etsy, but I had no idea that Elastic Co. was also churning out amazing textile installations (like the one in fashion designer Lela Rose's loft by architectural firm Work AC.) The site-specific installations featured on their site are great eye candy, but their drapery is also worth a look. Elastic Co. make drapes for people who hate drapes (i.e. me, a devout shade fundamentalist). Their felt accordion pleat, in particular, is an intriguing way to filter light and add noise insulation without undermining a modern and minimalist decor scheme.

Hiroko Takeda's work is mesmerizing. It reminds me of the weaving equivalent of exposed joinery in woodworking-- her approach to textiles puts the construction process front and center. You can see and touch all the hours of concentration that went into the final product. Yet she somehow manages to preserve the beauty and delicacy of the raw materials. And check out what this talented lady can do with a plastic bag.


Friday, March 22, 2013

Artist + Designer Spotlight: Jane LaFarge Hamill

Until March 30, at the New York City J. Cacciola Gallery you can see Jane LaFarge Hamill's latest work entitled "emoticon".  Hamill painted almost all of the pieces featured in the exhibit during her residency in Leipzig, Germany. (You can learn more about Jane and her residency by watching a video on the subject.)


Allison Malafronte of Fine Art. Connoisseur describes Hamill's work from "emoticon" as follows:

"We have all become accustomed to, and in many ways desensitized by, computerized substitutions for communicating our identities, thoughts, and feelings. Everything from our online avatars and profiles to shorthand texting and messaging helps perpetuate this depersonalization. In looking at the intelligent, thought-provoking paintings in Hamill’s Emoticon exhibition, I see a slight satire of these societal trends, but I also sense a suggested alternative. Whether she is focused on a particular mood of human expression, an iconic image or logo adopted by an athletic figure, or the intersection of inordinate ideas and concepts, the artist seems to be showing us where our attention and devotion divide. In many ways it’s as if she’s trying to refocus that attention, with a complete understanding of how fragmented it has become. She obliterates faces, blurs lines, and shakes up the stylistic status quo to show us that one can never fully define or capture human emotion or existence — because it lives and moves and breathes, unlike our static online counterparts."

When I attended the opening of Jane LaFarge Hamill's "emoticon," I was struck by how her skilled portraiture interacted with the color infused world layered on top of each of her works. There is something mysterious and urban in the overpainting. The art certainly succeeded in drawing me in-- I dream of owning one of these pieces:

 Hawaii: 27x22 oil on canvas
As If They Were Always There: 27x22 oil on canvas
The Limitations of Language: 27 x 22 oil on canvas



Thursday, March 21, 2013

My (Virtual) Renovation Diary | Clinton Hill 1BR Co-Op, Kitchen Stop Gap Measures

I've been intrigued lately by what I'd term "design stop gaps." Many first time buyers, I think, find themselves in a situation where they've stretched their finances to buy a home that they desperately want to fix up. But before they can tackle the significant expense of, say, a kitchen renovation, they need to give their bank accounts some R&R. Sometimes years of R&R.

Philosophically, I fully support living within your means and taking a slow approach to design. But I also sympathize with the pain that the aesthetically-minded among us suffer when they cohabit with builder grade cabinetry and laminate countertops. Your home is meant to be your refuge, but it can also be an ugly reminder of strained finances and the tough slog of renovating ahead.

Happily, there seems to be a flood of inspiration on the web (by which, let's be honest, I basically mean Pinterest) for stopgap measures. Relatively fast and cheap ways to make that R&R period less visually caustic.

For my virtual renovation of a Clinton Hill 1-bedroom co-op, for example, I would want to take my sweet time to consider appliances, fixtures and materials. But I would not relish living with this in the meantime:

via The New York Times

Floorplan Excerpt, via The New York Times

Yikes! It kills me that the kitchen is described in the listing as "recently renovated." I am certain it was a good faith effort at improving the value of the property and I hate the idea of those newly installed materials going to waste. But on the other hand...that kitchen is just not doing it for me. Three words, friends (two if you count the hyphenation as one word): Counter-Depth Refrigerator.

My long-term plan would involve a change in layout. I've always wanted a window above my kitchen sink. As my loved ones can attest, I am not the most motivated of dish washers. But a view might change that! (Wishful thinking?) I'd move the dishwasher to the left of the sink for ease of loading and center the range on the back wall. I like the idea of building an island adjacent to the structural column, although it's hard to be sure without a sense of how the space feels in person. (Also, the scale of this floor plan is an utter mystery to me thanks to web upload distortion and the notorious unreliability of real estate floor plans.) When I drafted this altered floor plan, I intended to extend the counter on the windowed wall all the way to the corner. But now that I have a fancy new waste bin, I might prefer to reserve a spot for it. Here is my working vision for the post-(virtual)-renovation layout:


Modified from Floorplan Excerpt, via The New York Times

But that's all years away, remember!? So what do I do with this kitchen in the here and now? Here are a few of my favorite kitchen stopgap measures, in decreasing order of labor intensiveness:

1. Whitewash Builder-Grade Wood Cabinets 

White paint is the epitome of a cheap and easy makeover. Granted, when you're talking about course-grained wood cabinets slathered in untold layers of polyurethane, it's not as simple as painting dry wall. But there are products and tools that can help make this a manageable DIY job. Chief among them is your trusty friend sandpaper. Grain filler also wants in on the action (see Little Green Notebook's Kitchen DIY for a primer, no pun intended, on working with grain filler). If you're more of the one-stop-shopping type, try Rustoleum's Cabinet Transformations.

2. Replace Laminate Countertops with Concrete Overlay

Kara Paslay's Before/After, featured on Apartment Therapy, blew me away. She peeled the laminate layer off a client's countertop and replaced it with thin layer of Ardex Feather Finish (a product designed for concrete flooring overlays, and therefore, well up to the task of kitchen counter wear and tear.) Here is what the finished product looks like:

via Kara Paslay Design

While the style of the kitchen she transformed is a bit dark and traditional for me, I love the concept of transforming laminate into concrete. I'd take the idea and head more in this direction:

Feilden Fowles Architects, via Remodelista

3. Remove Upper Cabinet Doors to Create Open Shelving

This trick isn't for everyone. But since my dishware is 100% white and in fairly good shape, the idea of  ditching those oppressive and traditional upper cabinet doors in favor of a lighter, more open space is a design slam dunk. And all it takes is a screwdriver (and most likely, a couple dabs of wood filler for any visible hinge holes.) This is the look I'm aiming to achieve with the open shelving:

Philadelphia Loft Space by Qb3, via Remodelista


4. Upgrade Lighting

There are a couple ways I could go in terms of lighting. Technically, I wouldn't need to wait until the full on kitchen renovation to upgrade the overhead lighting situation. I could have an electrician install track lighting ASAP, but I think I would prefer to wait on a lighting plan until I finalize my kitchen scheme. While I'm generally in favor of functional vs. decorative lighting in the kitchen, I might like to use temporary lighting as an opportunity to add character to the kitchen. Since I would plan to live with this white, concrete and stainless steel kitchen for years, it might be nice to introduce wood for warmth and to tie in the flooring. (I didn't explicitly mention this in my flooring post, but the tile would be replaced with hardwood for continuity throughout the apartment.) Once the lighting was upgraded during the renovation, I would plan to move the temporary fixture to a different location in the apartment. The Andrea Claire Studio light fixture I'm currently coveting would do very nicely, providing it threw off enough light (unclear from her website.)

The Constantin Series, via Andrea Claire Studio

 A significantly less expensive option would be Ikea's FUGA ceiling spotlight. I have this light in the bedroom of my Brooklyn apartment and can vouch for its budget-friendly splendor:

FUGA - $50, via Ikea

In reality, I almost certainly go with the more practical FUGA spotlight, but it can't hurt to dream about the Andrea Claire fixture. 

5. Add Ikea's Stainless Steel Floating Shelves and Free-Standing Island

There seems to be unused wall space to the left of the kitchen window. I might prefer to use the space for art, given the amount of open shelving I would have after removing the upper cabinet doors. But it's nice to know that Ikea's LIMHAMN shelves in stainless steel are an option. While I don't recommend their EKBY MOSBY shelves for wet spaces (and neither does Ikea-- they stain almost instantly), this is a pretty stellar look:

via Desire to Inspire

Another Ikea kitchen stand-by is their FLYTTA rolling island cart, also in stainless steel. I like the idea of expanding my prep space in the temporary kitchen, while getting used the idea of having an island pre-renovation. If it turns out that it obstructs the flow from kitchen to living space, or that adjoining it to the column is too far away from the appliances, I'm only out $159 (amortized over a couple years of use, no less)-- not a couple thousand for a custom island! Ikea's free standing kitchen units, albiet more expensive, provide a more substantial alternative to the FLYTTA. 

FLYTTA - $159 via Ikea


Your Poster Child for Kitchen Stop Gaps:

While I've seen various home owners and DIY bloggers apply variations of each these strategies over a dozen times, the poster child for an inexpensive kitchen transformation has got to be Wendy Furman, whose California home was recently featured in Remodelista. Furman combined nearly all of these strategies, and even added a dose of contrast by painting the backs of her upper cabinets, to create a clean, comfortable kitchen with only a few small changes:

Napa Valley Home of Wendy Furman, via Remodelista

Phew, I'm reassured that I could make this kitchen liveable-- nay, beautiful-- while I save my shekels for a full (virtual) renovation.