Monthly Archives

March 2006


Basic French

March 30, 2006

C’est le printemps! Spring is here today with a huge blue sky and temps in the 60s. Whenever I think of Spring, I see Paris in bloom…the bells of a cathedral, voices filling the air, children playing in the parks. Strolling around enjoying a nutella crepe while window shopping. All the amazing kiosks filled with French fashion and home magazines! Oui!

Since I love Paris, and decor8 readers love good design, let’s visit Basic French. Won’t you join me as I peek in on them to view their new spring treats and winter sale?

Basic French
Did you see anything that you liked? Here are my picks: The Tade guest soaps made with olive oil and damask rose essential oil are so unique, they appear as pieces of carved vintage metal, at least in the photo. What a memorable way to welcome your guests; place a few neatly on a stack of towels in the guest bedroom, top with a fresh cut tulip and a polkadot bow tied around the stem.

If you love pillows, and we all know you do, these sweet squares are a perfect pick me up for your summer patio. In delicate patterns of polkadot and greengate stipe. If it’s gardening you love, protect your manicure with something lovely, like these floral gloves. No reason to skip on looking cute in the garden!

One (of many) aspects of French culture that appeal to me is how the customer is treated in Paris. While I was there, store clerks willingly gift wrapped everything I purchased, lovely rolls of wrapping paper in joyful colors with coordinating ribbons proudly displayed behind the sales counter. How lovely. Imagine, gift wrapping a purchase instead of tossing it into a plastic bag aka the American way of saying thanks. I prefer the French style of showing customer appreciation, which is why I’m pleased that Basic French feels the same. They will gift wrap your order completely free of charge upon request. How sweet is that?

Thanks Carol for the tip!

(images from Basic French)


See Jane Work

March 30, 2006

See husband in total confusion over why Holly would need a $90 Hable Construction tote box.

See Jane Work

Honey, they’re for my magazines. You know, get them off the floor and into something pretty.

Why don’t you toss your magazines, Holly?

Why don’t you toss your music collection, sweetie?

Husband gets point. He didn’t realize attachment to decorating magazines ran so deep.

See Holly spend.

See Jane WorkAnd spend I did. After speaking with the lovely Heidi last night at See Jane Work, I managed to drop $170 ($134 after Domino discount, see April issue page 168 for details) on Jane goods. I picked up some seriously sweet items for my home office, totally justified (can’t I write this stuff off?) which makes work so much more fun.

If you haven’t shopped at See Jane Work lately, you have to flip through their lovely website.

Don’t miss Jane and her Pulling It All Together feature, with great tips on organizing your life (scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips, like how to make cubicle life a little sweeter).

Here’s a recent decor8 post about See Jane Work if you’re looking for some simple solutions for organizing your work space.

(images from see jane work)



March 30, 2006

I just love the guys over at Vessel. Maybe I’m partial because they’re located in Boston on the border of Chinatown next to one of my favorite dim sum restaurants. When I worked on Federal Street, I lived in Chinatown on my lunch hour. I wish Vessel had been around back then, as I would have returned with dim sum doggie bags and funky candelas in fashion colors.

Speaking of candelas, Vessel has made a few changes and I couldn’t be happier. First, they’ve decided to allow us, the happy consumers, to mix ‘n match the colors we want when purchasing their light sets. I plan to head over there this weekend to start mixing and matching my way into lighted bliss!

Next, they’re having this great sale on their fusionware collection, a collection that I love because of one simple bowl – the fusionware white bowl that gives you a cool place to grip hot soup (so smart!) and a place to add some extra seasoning, a spot of jam, some nuts, or perhaps a place to add your vitamins so you don’t forget them while enjoying your morning kashi. I also couldn’t love their fusionware plates more because the design is fantastic – finally a space for condiments that separate them with a mini wall of protection…no more ketchup running into your food. Best of all, from now until April 15, fusionware is 30% off!

If you missed our store tour of Vessel, click here to check it out.

(photo from vessel)

Shop Tours

Step Inside Magpie

March 30, 2006

Step Inside MagpieChristine Liu, decor8 contributor, is back with a review of Magpie. This post contains so many great links, you won’t want to miss it. Drum roll please…here’s Christine!

As Holly has already confessed her love for their paper goods, I went on task to do a thorough look-see of Davis Square gem Magpie, shiny things for your nest. I’ve visited this haven of hip crafts, local art, and vintage collectibles’ only once before, but one visit is clearly not enough. Not only would it be impossible to absorb all the featured items at once, but also the in-stock items constantly change as the roster of artists evolve and as one-of-a-kind originals are sold and replenished. Part quirky boutique and part curated gallery, Magpie is a charming art spot that exudes with creative style and handcrafted energy.

The store, located at 378A Highland Ave in Somerville (just over the Charles from Boston), is a quick walk from the T subway station, and welcomes you from the sidewalk with a flock of friendly (what else?) handdrawn magpies. They encouragingly beckon.

Step Inside MagpieLook for it carefully, as the space is carefully tucked away in a nondescript stretch of neighborhood. However, the moment you enter you find yourself enveloped in a warmly inviting room with all things cute, cozy, and colorful. Everything from retrofitted wall-hangings to painted bread plates happily coexist in this handmade heaven.

Step Inside MagpieOne of the five owners of Magpie, Dave McMahon, was running the place on Sunday afternoon and couldn’t have been more passionate about featuring the works of independent artists and fostering a strong local community. He and his wife Leah Kramer (the founder of Craftster) and fellow Magpies Simone Alpen, Emily Arkin and Dave Sakowski are also the core that run the Bazaar Bizarre, a modern craft fair that began in 2001 in the Boston-area but has since spread out to include LA, Cleveland, and San Francisco (next event April 22 + 23′ 06). Dave eagerly showed me around (the room is small but holds a lot!) and pointed me towards some interesting works.

Step Inside Magpie
First stop: paper goods! Handmade cards are conveniently located right in the front of the store and are coo-worthy spectacular. Dave mentions that the store gets new paper goods almost on a continuous basis, and I find the designs as perfect and delectable as cupcakes. Just a handful of the featured stationery include designs by 1201AM, sugarlily, poppycock, sewing stars, boygirlparty, scraps of paper, and the paper princess. There’s everything from colorful illustration to quirky gocco prints to cards packaged with pages from real vintage recipe books. (My personal favorites are from Susie Ghahremani at boygirlparty, and the pudgy bunnies of sewing stars.) If you’re looking for unique, well-made, and head-turning stationery, Magpie is the place to be.

Step Inside MagpieStep Inside Magpie
I’m already tickled pink at the paper goods, though there’s plenty more to see. Moving toward the rear of the store, I espy some cleverly designed dinnerware and ceramics.

I’m completely smitten with these dining accessories by neutrino designs. (If you’re not proximate to Magpie, you can also purchase them online at Art Star.) The clean white lines and simple silhouettes of the pieces are adorned with sporadic geometric details, bold and delicate in fine-tipped orange. At once mod, scientific, and abstract, the design of the series wins on so many levels. I love how the butter dish is constructed so that at first it appears to be a normal white holder. Only until you consume enough butter do you uncover the bright orange designs. A gradual and satisfying reward that makes eating that much more fun.

Step Inside Magpie
I still remember these hand-etched glasses from my first visit. Each set hosts an amusingly complementary pair of messages, such as Beauty/Brains, Wild Turkey/Cold Duck, and RBG/CMYK (my pick). They’re beautifully minimalist, with the clear frosted glass and bold, sans serif lettering. Designed by Cambridge-based artist Sandra Salamone, I could definitely see them as a fancy vintage cocktail vessel, or for housing a colorful votive candle. I wouldn’t be surprised if the artist took requests for custom messages… now who’s the creative one? :)

Step Inside Magpie
Here’s Dave, looking super happy and modeling one of the hand-painted sushi-themed ceramics by Suzaluna. (How delish to eat sushi atop of sushi!) By the way, he was a great sport and let me take all these pictures for decor8!

Step Inside Magpie
When encouraged to pick a personal favorite, Dave was excited to feature the hand painted birdhouses by Ryan O’Rourke. The birdhouses are constructed by Ryan’s grandfather, and then painstakingly designed and decorated by Ryan. Dave adds, “I’m a painter, so I really admire his work. The details…the colors…” The designs are intricate and layered, filled with small illustrative narratives all over the tiny wooden structure. “I love these for so many reasons, but there’s something about the fact that he paints these things that are made by his grandfather. The familial connection, and the handmade process. They’re great!” The birdhouses are fantastically designed, and other than sprucing up your pad in style, they may also become a super-luxe bird loft for your favorite feathered friend if you choose for it to be. Here’s one, smiling back at you.

Step Inside Magpie
Perhaps coincidentally, though cheerfully appropriate, there are plenty of bird-themed goods within Magpie. I found the metal rooster sculpture striking in its modern interpretation and recycled materiality. It comes from the hands of Anna Johansson of Anna Built, also active with an indie rock band, the Pee Wee Fist. Anna also creates beautiful jewelry recycled from bits of beer can metals and stunning stained glass. It’s impressive to witness her strength of inspiration from everyday objects.

Step Inside MagpieIf you’re in Boston, be sure to drop into Magpie! As I told Dave, one of the best reasons of mine to support local and independent artists is that I feel it’s better to acquire a small number of objects that are meaningfully precious than a large number of generics that are facelessly mass-manufactured. You can definitely sense that philosophy in Magpie, where every object can be traced back to a creative human being. And in a modern world, that’s a beautiful thing.

:::note from holly:::
If you see anything in the photos that you’d like to inquire about, please contact Magpie directly. They are happy to accept orders over the phone with a major credit card.

Magpie also sells my favorite soap dishes in the world by Ambrosia Porcelain. Read what decor8 had to say about them here.

A special thanks to Dave at Magpie!

(photos + text from Christine Liu. Great job, Miss Liu!)



Dot Kite

March 30, 2006

Thomas contacted decor8 to let us know about his newly formed brand, Dot Kite, where design is reimagined. After peeking at his website, I had to post about it because the designs are graceful, fluid, sophiticated…but at the same time functional and durable. Very Elle Decor and Vogue. Posh. I can imagine these in those nineteenth century apartments with high ceilings, ornate crown mouldings, hardwood floors and lots of flokati rugs. Thomas has this to add about his collection:

Introducing the CrossLink collection from Dot Kite.

Maia inaugurates a new generation of seating for the Dot Kite Collections in a fun and unorthodox way. Low and wide, Maia is informal and highly versatile, for relaxing in a lounge or for the night zone. Maia, with its elegant and sophisticated form adds value toevery SoHo environment. The construction technique has enabled a very strong and resistant seat to be obtained, making it also a perfect small armchair for outdoors. It is available in the colour chalk white.”
Dot KiteIride
Design care, refined sections and ergonomic precision. Sweet curves make the
essential lines of Iride sinuous. Perfect for the night zone of every SoHo
environment. Iride, enables the users to have a special emotional feeling
with the surrounding environment.

Dot Kite

(partial text from Thomas Mylonas at Dot Kite. images from Thomas Mylonas)

::Core77 also wrote about them last month; read it here::

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