Monthly Archives

March 2006


coffee + cre8tive [mar 30 06]

March 30, 2006

coffee + cre8tive [mar 30 06]
coffee + cre8tive [mar 30 06]
Meg over at Designer’s Library wrote about the most amazing art nouveau illustrations by Liselotte Watkins of Sweden. I have a huge crush on these prints, aren’t they beautiful? The stunning colors, luxe eyelashes that look like lovely fans, juicy pursed lips… and great fashion!

You’ll love watching her illustrations come alive in this animation . Turn the speakers up, the music is the cutest!

(images from Art Dept)


Follow Function by Jeff Benzenberg

March 29, 2006

Jeff Benzenberg from Follow Function wanted to contribute to decor8 so after zero arm twisting, I readily replied, Yes! Yes! Yes! Allow me to introduce Follow Function.

“I graduated with a BS in Industrial Design from The Ohio State University in 2004. I spent the spring of 2005 designing cell phone cases for a consulting firm in Columbus, but that summer I sliced open my right hand pretty good. Unfortunately, I needed surgery to repair an important nerve and that sidelined my sketching abilities for a few months. While recovering, I called up my old college chum, Steven Schranz. Since graduating he had built a successful ecommerce business called Lighters Direct. I sent him a link to a beautifully designed light fixture that shipped flat and blossomed into a chandelier when the user folded the petals up and down. He seemed to dig it, so we put together an extensive spreadsheet of all the products and designers that we admired. We eventually narrowed the list down to the most attractive and clever designs. Thus, Follow Function was born. As a student, and later a professional, I found that when I told people I was an industrial designer, they had no clue what that meant. Was I an architect? An engineer? Did I design industries? I am not really sure how one could go about designing, say, the shoe industry, but that?s not really here nor there. With Follow Function, we want to educate our customers on the definition of good design. We feel the way to accomplish this goal is by giving people the story behind the design. If you know the story, our products immediately become conversation pieces in your home, or as we like to call them: extremely functional works of art.”

Follow Function by Jeff BenzenbergBendant Lamp from Mio Culture:

A few weeks ago, we got the chance to meet Mio?s designer, Jaime Salm, at his studio in Philadelphia and learn even more about this amazing design. Mio Culture is about as green as a company can be. They call their philosophy ?Responsible Desire, but its really just common sense.?

The Bendant Lamp was born from the desire to create a product that wasted as absolutely little material as possible. Jaime took a thin, square sheet of steel and began slicing, folding, and sculpting until he made an incredible chandelier.

But the real genius of the product was not in the final aesthetic, because that, Jaime decided, would be left up to the consumer. He wanted to ship his product flat and include a fixture with a cord and a switch.

It is up to the users to sculpt their own beautiful artwork. Bend all the petals down and project the light to a certain spot. Buy a bulb with a metal lining on the bottom, fold the petals up, and admire the shadows dancing on your ceiling. Or come to a compromise in between, but be sure to tell your friends that you designed it.

?Hug? Salt and Pepper Shaker from Mint:

Mint is a collective of three well-established and unbelievably talented product designers. ?Hug? was their very first product under the Mint banner. Although Mint wanted the royalties that came with designing a successful product, they did not want the risks that came with manufacturing a product themselves.

Instead, they took their design to major manufacturers of modern design (like Umbra) hoping that they would make it, sell it, and give the royalties to Mint. Unfortunately no one was buying. They all said that the ?Hug? design was too cute, and did not fit with their ultra-modern, too-hip, product lines.

But Mint was undeterred and decided that they believed in their designs enough to take the risk, and manufacture their product line themselves. Eventually they impressed the right people at the Museum of Modern Art gift store, a leading retailer of contemporary design. The folks at MoMA liked most of the line, but were not too sure about ?Hug?. Mint told them that if they wanted the rest of the line, then they would have to take the Salt and Pepper Shaker as well.

As it turns out, MoMA was quite lucky that Mint was so insistent, because ?Hug? quickly became their number one selling item.

What some decision makers failed to understand was the level of sophistication implied by the Mint designs. Yes, ?Hug? is cute, but it also is a beautiful form that actually tells a story. And the story is what people are responding to.

The same theory can be applied to Mint?s ?Salad Song? Oil and Vinegar Cruets. Alone, one of these vessels is a pretty cool form because of the way it bends and the interesting way a liquid would flow from it. But together, the cruets tell a story. Together, they are a choir, serenading you at dinner.

Follow Function by Jeff Benzenberg
Zumi Stool from Offi:

Shuichiro Koizumi was a struggling product designer working at a retail store in Tokyo when he dreamt up the Zumi Stool. The store sold modern furniture from some of the top manufacturers from around the world. One of them happened to be Offi.

Shuichiro showed his boss his design, and his boss was so impressed, he sent the design to Offi. Offi was so impressed they immediately began manufacturing it. Now Shuichiro can buy his own design at the store where he once worked. Pretty cool.

The brilliance of the design is that it is really just one, simple ?L? shaped form repeated three times. When you order it, your receive a box much smaller than the stool. In it there are three pieces of molded plywood. Assemble them in about three seconds, throw on a couple of short screws using the provided allen wrench, and you?re done.

What I love about stools is that they are so multi-functional. Need some quick seating with guests over? Need a cool end table for magazines and miscellaneous pieces of paper (even if you don?t need it for magazines and miscellaneous pieces of paper, you know that?s what?ll end up there)? Or most importantly, do you need a place to put your feet up? Never underestimate they joy derived from putting your feet up.

Follow Function by Jeff Benzenberg
Thank you Jeff – What a great contribution to decor8. We all really appreciate your insights and short stories describing these beautiful products.

(photos and text from Jeff Benzenberg at Follow Function)

[:::quick blurb::: my buddy Adriean over at designbot told me someone had pinged him about follow function so he’s posted it on his site too. Check out Adriean’s post here.



Jamali Garden Supplies

March 29, 2006

Jamali Garden Supplies
decor8 reader Maryam sent over a tip about a store called Jamali Garden Supplies that sells some nifty wood vases. Intrigued, I had to take a peek. She had this to say about them…

“I order from these guys all the time. Their prices are so, so reasonable. I recently bought 10 vases from them (not kidding). Check out their website if you haven’t already.”

In addition to their lovely wood vases, these green pearl-like ceramic cylinders caught my eye along with all of the bamboo goodies (love the willow fence!). Their floral supplies are great (especially the rainbow oasis in lime green), and the oodles of beautiful ribbon that they carry – yum! This store makes me want to buy some fresh flowers at the farm nearby and put together an arrangement for my kitchen. Walking through the pages of this site certainly gave me a warm feeling. All the hours spent with my mother growing up, watching her arrange flowers and seeing the joy on her face when she completed something. I loved helping her collect flowers and shop for wire and oasis, the perfect ribbons, the best containers… It was so nice growing up with someone so in love with nature and design, merging the two into a passion that she still practices. I’ve always dreamt of opening a flower/design studio – fresh flowers and home decor. I’m not yet living in an area where I would want to tie myself to a brick and mortar business, at least not yet. Oh the thought of it. Sondi if you’re reading this, remember our conversations in my barn as we flipped through design books? Wouldn’t it be lovely?

Great tip, Maryam!

(photo from Jamali. quote from Maryam)

Rooms, Stationery

Russell + Hazel Newbies

March 29, 2006

Filing and stationery never looked so good with the new Audrey collection at Russell + Hazel. I love the file holder handbags – great for power lunching and nights when you must take your work home with you.

Russell + Hazel Newbies
“With details inspired by vintage architecture, classic Hollywood and the textures of contemporary couture, Audrey products are a pleasure to use and a sight to behold.”

Also, don’t miss their new mini accessories, fun rubber bands, and if you live in the Minneapolis area, you can visit their new flagship store located at 4388 France Avenue S. For the rest of us, take an online tour of their new digs here.

(photos and quote from russell + hazel)


Ivana Helsinki

March 29, 2006

Ivana HelsinkiA great article arrived today via email about designer Paola Suhonenon and her collection, Ivana Helsinki, from at Refinery 29.

“Beginning mid-century, Scandinavia set the stage for modern minimalist design marked by functionality. While Sweden and Denmark cornered industrial design, Finland found a fit with textiles and has provided decades of invigorating solutions to the medium. Today, a modest outfit called Ivana Helsinki carries on the tradition, turning out a spectrum of offerings (from womenswear to bedding), which echoes the country?s long love affair with brilliant textiles…”

…to continue reading the article, click here.

(quote from Emily Virgil’s Storytelling at Refinery 29. Photo from Ivana Helsinki.)


coffee + cre8tive [mar 29 06]

March 29, 2006

coffee + cre8tive [mar 29 06]
I can’t believe that April is just around the corner. Today should hit 60 degrees, so after I meet a few deadlines, I’m going for a long walk in the orchards behind my house to enjoy the day. This is one of many things that I love about the freelance lifestyle. I can come and go as I please. When I was tied to a corporate job, I could only break away for lunch and even then, I felt guilty leaving because I knew that once I returned to my desk, I’d have twice as much work, a penalty I’d pay for taking lunch. When you work for yourself, you can lunch anytime, go for a walk whenever you see fit, enjoy the simple pleasure of being in control of your schedule. It still feels like such a luxury to me to not go to the office everyday.

Today is about being grateful. Grateful for things I had to change in my life that were hard to walk away from, like a corporate job with a steady income. My check arrived every single Friday. There was safety in that. Safety can also be dangerous. It keeps you in a situation for the wrong reasons. You’re doing it because it feels safe. But what really is safe? It’s a feeling of comfort, that you’ve been there before and know it well enough to feel safe doing it again. Safe is not risk taking. Safe is not living your life in a way that gives you a chance to amaze yourself. Safe is just safe. I’m not knocking how important stability is in life. We need solid friendships and a good strong family. We need to come home at night to a safe loving environment. I propose that if you are reading this, think of a way that you can do something today that doesn’t feel safe. I don’t advocate running into traffic. Something less extreme. Buy a new lipstick, a color you’ve avoided in the past. Get a fresh new hair cut, you know you’ve had that style for years. Splurge on one really great pair of shoes and throw away the receipt. Paint your walls bright yellow.

Whenever I think about April, I picture daffodils, tulips, and baby animals. A time of growth. A time of change. Think about ways that you can grow and change. Break the comfort zone. Live. There is power in change. Look at the landscape around you, grass and buds are emerging. Let’s all be a part of that growth.

(‘Flower Power’ from Christy Kinard, image from the wonderful Jules Place, an exquisite gallery located in the South End, Boston, MA. Many of Kinard’s paintings can be viewed at Jules Place. Contact them for details if you’re interested in purchasing.)

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