Thursday, April 28, 2011

British Bits and Bobs

After spending a lovely summer in Oxford several years ago, I can honestly say that I love everything about England. The history, the architecture, the accents. And I'm a sucker for fairy tales. A "common" girl lands her dream prince? What's not to love? So I'm super excited about this royal wedding taking place in a few short hours. In honor of William and Kate, I've put together a collection of a few of my favorite British things. Congrats to the happy couple, and best wishes for a long and happy ever after!

1) John Lewis Mug. 2) London River series plates by Cermica Blue. 3) Jonathan Adler's British flag pillow. 4 & 5) Pillows by Bliss Living Home. 6) Bridge Lime print by Paul Catherall. 7) 56p Stamp Rug. 8) London shower curtain by Bliss Living Home.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Milan: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Hemp Chair, by Werner Aisslinger

Aim Lights, designed by Ronan & Erwin Bouroullec

Story Vases by Front and the Siyazama Project

Grinza chair for Edra

Sadly, I still have not had the opportunity to attend the annual Salon Internazionale del Mobile that closed last Sunday in Milan. Maybe next year. Here's a (very) brief roundup of the things I've found memorable from this year's extravaganza, as observed from the scenic digital vantage-point of my desk.

The Good: Rumors have it that things are picking up and manufacturers are expecting sales at least as good as they had in 2007. Really? That seems a bit optimistic, but I hope they're right.

Also good are these streamlined, stackable (and eco!) "Hemp Chairs" by Berlin-based Werner Aisslinger. No idea if they're actually comfortable to sit in, but they look awesome.

I really am in love with these Aim lights designed by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, carried by Flos. You can position them in any direction, at any height thanks to their cable suspension system. Genius.

Finishing up the good category are these inspiring vases handmade by South African women through the Siyazama Project in collaboration with Front. These vases tell their stories about the effect of HIV, poverty, and unemployment on their society. Nice that in all the dazzle of Milan's Design Week, there's an awareness of those with less and an effort to support them through this local craft movement.

The Bad: Despite all the glitz and glam, few designers are lucky enough to make a living at their craft.  Depressing but interesting article by Justin McGuirk from the Guardian here if you want to read more.

Also bad, very few American designers exhibiting this year. Granted, it's hard when our own government doesn't support designers, as other countries do. Priorities, people. If huge corporations get bailouts and tax breaks, why not a small bit for struggling designers trying to make a name for themselves?

The Ugly: Okay, I try to refrain from criticizing design (I mean, after all, was I there pitching my latest furniture pieces to the critics? Um no.) But I just couldn't resist a comment on this last image. What is this thing? It reminds me of a mutilated Sharpei. Not cool. Not cool at all. But to be fair, these two Brazilians do some good, and unusual work (which I fully support. It's nice to see something different...usually). You can see other pieces from these two here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Conceptual Creations

I came across this top image online and thought it was a must buy, so I started Googling everything to see where I could get it. I discovered lots of interesting new design blogs (who are as much in love with it as I am), but sadly no Babees Honey actually exists. Such a disappointment. But my search led me to the designer of this beautiful product, Ah&Oh Studio, and I loved their work so much I decided to go ahead and blog about them. Hey, if I can't get my beautifully packaged honey, at least I can do my part to help promote some incredibly talented freelance designers. Who knows, maybe someone will see their genius and actually bring this product to market.

The site says the designers created this concept of Babees Honey to encourage kids to reach for the natural stuff rather than refined sugar.  It's been awhile since I was a kid, but I don't really remember sticking my hand into the sugar canister as much as the cookie jar. But either way, it's a noble goal.

I thought I'd also post their Scent Stories fragrance concept (sorry, unfortunately this product isn't real either).  I love that their inspiration came from dark, moody classical literature characters and that the bottle represents the iconic shape of the inkwell.

Wish more real world packaging looked like the work by Ah&Oh.  Refreshing and versatile. Initially, I'd never guess the same designers did innocent and sweet honey along with dark and stormy scents.  Any manufacturers out there listening? The design blogging world has spoken.  We love their style, so give them some work!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Interactive Invite


Invitations to fun events are always a great treat to receive in the mail. Beautifully designed ones are even better. And this imaginative wedding invite could be the coolest one yet. These two lovebirds are also music lovers (she's a DJ at night, and he's a Grammy-nominated sound engineer), so they incorporated this into their unique interactive packaging design (calling this merely an invite seems a bit of an insult). With a bit of folding and spinning by the user, the entire invite transforms into a paper record player and emits a song produced by the couple. Adorable!

I have no idea how this works. Apparently it involves a flexidisk record and a sewing needle. Who knew?!  Not only is the sound component great, the graphics are superb. Definitely check out the video to understand how the whole thing works (and to hear their song). Best wishes for a long and creative life to this couple! (more photos and info can be found on Kelli Anderson's (the designer) blog.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Double Decker Dresses

Even though I'm a die-hard modernist, I find myself occasionally intrigued by vintage things. I mean, good design is good design, whether it was made recently or decades ago. And this unique entrepreneurial venture caught my attention, so I had to share. I'm sure you're all aware of the mobile food truck movement (of which I'm a huge fan--in case you're wondering, my current obsession is Coolhaus in Austin, TX), and I loved seeing a new twist on the idea towards curated shopping experiences.

This project is headed by one creative chic from Portland (Oregon), Erin Sutherland, who found a 1965 double decker bus and decided to convert it into a dress shop. Genius. It's called Lodekka, and she also has a blog/website by the same name.  Erin spends part of her week shopping at thrift shops and flea markets to find her products then artistically displays them in her truck for sale.  The rest of her nights are spent singing in her vintage jazz band.  Is this girl cool, or what?

More photos can be found here.