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RISD Show Report: He Says

I thought it would be fun to highlight some favorites from the RISD show, which recently took place down in Providence, RI. When my friend Jason from Rag + Bone Bindery offered to write about his findings, I was happy to welcome him aboard. Since I also attended the show, I’ll comment on my faves in a separate report, which you’ll find below, directly beneath this post. Take it away, Jason!

Sure, Holly! As most of you can imagine, the RISD alum was as creative as always. I find the show inspiring and leave wanting to make stuff. How can you go wrong with art and craft from design school students and graduates? The annual show took place this year in the new Rhode Island Convention Center in a room that was essentially a big concrete space, made festive with banners, lights and holiday music. The Rag + Bone booth was situated on a corner this year so we had steady traffic and a nice view of two aisles.

The RISD Holiday Sale is a good show to discover new designers. Current students are invited to set up a table to offer their fresh new wares, selling alongside RISD alum, many who have already been in business for several years. There seemed to be more textile arts this year as well as digital prints, and a little less traditional craft such as pottery or glass. This is a trend we see in the handmade industry which seems to be moving away from traditional made-by-hands crafts towards more design driven products – cards, funky bags, t-shirts, prints, etc. For example, we attend the New York International Gift Fair twice a year and noticed that they’ve relocated their Handmade vendors into the General Gift sections. We’re all for the change and like this new direction.

Although we saw less traditional craft, what we did see was updated with a more designed, contemporary look.

For example, the wonderful folks at Altamira Lighting introduced a new line of screen printed textiles. Bold patterns in sophisticated (but not stuffy) color palettes. A big change from their line of lamps.

Other artists that caught our eye: Elise Moran creates natural, organic silver metalwork, necklaces, rings and such which have a contemporary feel and solid craftsmanship. Elise makes her work by hand in her Portsmouth, New Hampshire studio.

Anna Galloway Highsmith creates “Whimsical and obsessive terracotta pottery” in her Rhode Island studio. We just love this work. She’s shown at the RISD show before but we must have been stuck in our booth because we wouldn’t have forgotten the earthy colors and superbly crafted funky pots and cups. Check out the website gallery for more images.

We bought a print from Illustrator and funny guy Joe Quinones – a robot taking a bath. The print has a quirky color palette and composition. We thought our daughter, who has an anthropological interest in robots, would like the idea of one engaging in an everyday, human activity. With a rubber duckie. Here’s Joe with his Robot.

Former Rag & Bone bookbinder Greg Poulin creates whimsical, formal portraits of everyday food items such as cheese doodles, Peeps, marshmallow spread and popcorn. We miss Greg’s lightning-fast bookbinding skills and are glad to see him doing so well. If you’re looking for a colorful painting for your kitchen, visit his website. (I have to have the Sock Monkey painting… Did you guys see it? Look closely below. – holly)

We first saw the work of Heather Wells at the Craftland show, also in Providence, and purchased one of her paper star kits. She was very helpful and gave us a hands-on lesson on how to make the stars (I think we’ve got it!). And don’t you love the cocktail umbrella Happy Hour light shade? New this year were Cheers Spheres holiday ornaments. They even light up inside!

Jenine Bressner wasn’t actually showing at the RISD show, but when she walked by with this one-of-a-kind necklace, we just had to ask, “Did you make that?” She did, and has a website you can visit. I can only imagine how much time it would take to make one of these. They’re stunning!

Keri works at Rag + Bone during the day and creates playful,sightless bunnies at night. What we love about these little guys is that they are so minimal yet retain their “bunny-ness”. No eyes, no nose, no whiskers, but the ears and the shape say, “I’m still a bunny!” Contact keriberryproductions[at]hotmail[dot]com for more information.

Laura Kramer was showing these unique chalkboard glass vases – smooth on the inside, chalkboard like texture on the outside. We have a few of her glasses, the spiral colored ones which are so thin and light in person, but which have not broken or chipped even after daily use and a dishwasher – and our five year old daughter. Her work is sophisticated and technical – but you still want to use it. Laura also lives on a house boat – how cool is that?

Meryn Hall creates little dolls, playthings for kids and kid-like adults. Birds, monsters and creatures from our imaginations. Soft and cuddly, the kind of creatures you want to name and make up stories about. (Hey, Meryn is married to Rag + Bone Journal Maker Will Schmidt.) Contact dirteespatula[at]hotmail[at]com for more information.

Thanks Jason for a great summary. My review follows in the post below, the She Says side of things… :)

Thanks again, Jason!

(images from jason thompson)

Posted in Arts + Crafts, Events + Markets, Shopping + Products, Travel on December 18, 2006

RISD Show Report: She Says

Wow, Jason did a really great job writing about the RISD sale, didn’t he? I read his review and wondered, “Did we even attend the same show?”. I mean, we walked away with a completely different list of faves and funny thing is, I didn’t notice his picks while I was at the sale but now that I’ve seen them, I really wish I’d spent more time browsing. I guess this shows that two people can write about exactly the same show and take away completely different things from it. We had zero overlap, which is pretty funny. Anyway, here’s a list of some of my faves…

Cucumber Lab
, the studio of Ben Blanc and Andrew Reed, showed up with their rings and roosters on display. It would have been great to see some of their furniture, like their chrome table with the wooden flowers from last years’ collection. Oh well. It was still fun to catch a glimpse of their roosters and bling rings. Check out their complete portfolio online.

I love the art of Milisa M. Galazzi, a collection of found objects that may otherwise be dubbed mundane, are created into works of art. (I lingered at this booth for a long time.) Milisa feels that the skills of mothers and wives, sewing, quilting, knitting, etc. are often considered as mere domestic chores, perhaps crafts, but never works of art. Milisa tries to elevate conventional women’s work to that of fine art. (High five!) I appreciated the simplicity of her format – a simple square centered in a frame, and inside, a stitch or two, a button, perhaps a small quilting block… I appreciated the balance of her spontaneous compositions.

Figs + Ginger has simple, yet striking jewelry that is either forged, sewn, or soldered by hand. I really liked their birdie rings. Cute. The necklaces could be easily worn with a white tee and jeans for a casual look, or paired with a black dress for an evening look. I love jewelry that is not only affordable, but doesn’t take itself too seriously. It can perform double duty, making it a sought-after choice for taking your look from office to evening.

Then, there’s Asya Palatova of Gleena and her handmade ceramics, which gets high scores from me. Sculptural, fluid tableware that would almost steal center stage from your cooking. Pretty vases, too. Botanicals, shells, lots of natural curiosities in blue, cream, pale orange. I liked the translucent porcelain votives, personalized for a wedding date or any special day. How sweet.

Amie Louise Plante creates contemporary art jewelry that, in person, is to die for. I love the botanical theme, the organic shapes are stunning. Unfortunately, her website does no justice to her creations (sorry Amie!), and I have no snapshots to prove how amazingly intricate and gorgeous her work is, but take it from me, it’s as unique as it is beautiful and affordable. Many necklaces that I fell in love with priced at around $100 USD. I’m sure you can contact her via her website for high res photos or information on where her creations are sold.

Nam Kim’s booth was packed with eager shoppers, and for good reason, her stylish totes would stop any passerby. “Where did you get THAT bag?”, would be a question you’d need to answer often if you hopped around town in a Nam Kim. These were seriously so cool, very urban, and the fanny packs and clutches rocked. I love handbags, but I’ve nearly had it with the handmade handbag craze that is sweeping fairs and shows all over, but these didn’t feel like anything I’d ever seen and that was what made her bags so refreshing.

Oh, and if you can’t get enough of handbags and would like another suggestion, try Orange Bags. They were at the show and had a great look, too. Especially the diaper/baby bags. For the locals, you can find Orange Bags at the darling Magpie in Somerville. Here’s a snapshot of their bags at the RISD Works store in Providence. (I didn’t snap it though, it’s from Orange.)

A few illustrators at the show caught my eye, one is the author and illustrator of several children’s books, and Charlottesville, Virginia native, Anna Alter. In addition to writing and illustrating, the now Boston-based Anna teaches art classes to kids, visits schools to give lectures, and her original paintings are frequently shown in various venues in the region. Here’s Anna in her studio.

Another talent, Grace Lin, had her prints and books on display. Radiant with Chinese colors and patterns, the punchy colors and playful drawings really appealed to me because they were so bright and the stories spoke of traditional Chinese culture through modern, universal language and illustrations. Beautiful. Visit her website for more information.

And finally, here’s a great find from PIPS, who creates these great ceramic vessels using their favorite photographs. I loved the colors, each had a beautiful interior of aqua, orange, yellow, and some had these perky yellow rims, too. I loved touching them, some where smooth, others a bit grainy, and no two were alike. That was the best part. They don’t show these on their website (rats!), so I snapped a few images from my own home for you to see (click on it to enlarge). At $20 each, they were also inexpensive – and would make great gifts, too!

In closing, I have to mention that my friend, Peggy Lo from Figments, had a booth that I wish I could talk about but sadly, I didn’t bring my camera so I couldn’t snap a photo (I’m sorry, Peggy!). I wanted to mention her though since I loved her handmade birds and things at the booth… After the show, I popped over to her store on Westminster to shop for gifts and hung out with Vikki. If you’re ever in Providence, don’t miss Figments. I’ve written about it a few times here already on decor8, but there’s nothing like actually visiting this special store.

Hope you enjoyed the He Says/She Says RISD show review. See you tomorrow!

Posted in Arts + Crafts, Events + Markets, Shopping + Products, Travel on December 18, 2006

Cavern Home

I’m totally feelin’ these screenprinted wallpaper patterns from Cavern Home today because they’re a fresh alternative to paint, whether selected to use on one wall or to paper an entire room. The 1970’s color palette is especially appealing. From a distance, you see bold graphics. Step in a little closer, and there are details not to be missed. They’re all over magazines here in the states, but if you’ve missed them, definitely hit their website to take a peek. Lots of nature here, and if you’re big on birdies, these guys won’t disappoint.

(images from cavern home)

Posted in Rooms on December 18, 2006

DesignSessions – Get Involved!

This is somewhat off topic, but I recently had a nice conversation with Anjula from DesignSessions about the Notes on Design Newsletter, which I’ve recently subscribed to and so far, I’m finding a lot of value in it. It hasn’t much to do with the world of interiors, but I still see a real value in checking it out because it gives a nice overview of what’s going on in the world of design, art, and creativity in general, like illustration, logos, packaging, and branding for instance. With so many of us online these days, and most with our own blogs and websites, I find that learning about the latest is helpful to me as a blogger. So many write in asking me how I created decor8 or my blog template, or who designed my banner, how did I develop my colors and style, etc. With so many of you interested in learning about new, creative ways to not only express, but to properly represent yourself and your business, I suggest subscribing to Notes on Design (it’s free!) and checking out their content online. They cover graphics, principles of design, the overall process of creating, etc. For instance, perhaps you are pulling together a blog and are trying to create a “look”. You could check out one of the leading color experts, Lee Eiseman, and her thoughts on Selecting a Color Palette, for instance (look in the left column for her name for the link).

Aside from their informative Newsletter, there’s an entire DesignSessions Community, with clubs available to all that cover an array of topics from jobs and networking, to a place for design newbies to meet as well as a web design club. Membership is free of charge and open to all who want to join. Check it out!

A special thank you for dear Anjula for introducing me to DesignSessions!

(images from designsessions)

Posted in Designers + Stylists on December 16, 2006


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