I read the BBC news online along with my other daily reads, the Brisbane Times, Boston.com, and the The New York Times (House Stalkers?). They expose me to news that I may not find in my daily hop around the blogs I enjoy, like this article about a kitty in Providence that can accurately predict the death of patients in the nursing home where he lives. I mean, these are things we need to know about (smiling). So I’m reading the BBC today and was very excited to find Nora de Rudder, a Belgian artist that uses natural objects in new and exciting ways, taking birds wings and oyster shells to create chandeliers and table lamps, for instance.
I find this fascinating, as I think many are afraid to explore other mediums, scared of the results or that if they aren’t mainstream, they won’t be able to earn a living through their work. I have so much to say on this subject, hours of conversation really, but I believe that we all need to design from the heart, not for the mart. I know we need to sell what we create, but you know what, money or function or popularity just can’t be the driving force behind all design because we need to leave something behind for our great grandchilden someday.
Imagine a world filled with dollar store plastic everything and McMansions, what will they think of our generation? That we were gluttons for filling our lives with sale items and poorly made garbage? Whenever I visit flea markets, I think about this. What are we creating now that will leave a positive impression in 100 years on the kind of generation we are today? Will they be inspired by our work in the way that we are inspired by Charles and Ray Eames?
This is precisely why designers like Nora de Rudder stand out from the rest for me. Her lighting is impressive, expressive, unique, and skillfully made. I may not own it because the wings do freak me out just a little bit, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate it. And is her lighting being sold by the millions and marketed all over the world? No. Is she a household name? No. But did you know that the design museum in Gent, Belgium purchased 2 Wings table lamps for their permanent collection? Or that Philippe Starck ordered 6 Mussel chandeliers and 3 Wings chandeliers for the interior of the VIP lounge in a Beijing business club? So she is making a living. She didn’t go after the mainstream market, she is targeting the luxury and to the trade only markets since her collections are more couture than common. That’s what designers need to take a chance at and decide early on, which market they want to compete in and for what reason and of course, consider all the risks.
Rudder’s lighting is available via Cameron Peters in the UK if you are interested in learning more, but think for a moment about what Rudder will leave behind. Isn’t that something important to consider when we design – the impact is has on others?
I know, all this after posting about Martha Stewart products at Macy’s. But it shows you that I’m torn like so many of you are about what to support through my purchases and what not to support. And it’s hard. So for me, I try to live as balanced I can within the constraints of my budget. Yes, I can bring a canvas bag to the grocery store for food, I’ve been doing it since 1999, it’s no big deal. And yes, I can shop indie or for one of a kind products, which is why I find the affordable goods at Etsy so appealing. And I buy paintings from galleries to support artists that I’m fond of. And when I have extra money set aside, I’ll splurge on something like a Rudder light or something created by my artists friends in Germany. It’s all about balance and making sure that at least half of what I own could be passed on and appreciated by others. Make sense?
What are your thoughts on all of this?
(images from nora de rudder)
I first discovered Martha Stewart’s new line at Macy’s about a week ago. I know it’s already making it’s way around all the blogs, but I wanted to throw it out there in case you’d not heard the big news yet. And for Macy’s, I think this is big news because I seriously doubt any of us shop their for home stuff on a regular basis, so they’re smart to bring in names like Martha to beef up their image. I only found out about the Martha collection because I went in looking for cologne to gift my husband and after spilling a bunch of it all over myself, I darted upstairs to find a restroom to wash up. Since our local Macy’s always seems to be under construction, I got lost somewhere between the bridezilla section and kitchenwares where super big George Foreman grills loomed all around along with quesadilla makers and crazy big smoothie machines. (I’ll never understand the American obsession with owning so many kitchen appliances.) As I searched for a quick escape from the gadget freak circus, I literally bumped into a Martha Stewart pot display. A bit confused (Martha at Macy’s?), I looked around and saw more of her picture perfect pastel-hued branding plastered on products from batter mix in boxes shaped like a slice of cake (insert awww here) to dishware (sweet stencil pattern) and tons ‘o kitchen gadgets.
As I explored further, I spotted more in the next aisle, shower curtains, fluffy faux bois towels, and bathroom accessories. I noticed Macy’s staff busily installing the MS bedding section, which looked so very Martha (perfect), and from what I could see of the bedding, it was several notches above the items she had in Kmart (thankfully). I can only give you my opinion on the bath and kitchen stuff, which is a positive one, although I doubt owning a gorgeous green spatula will make my meals turn out better. Although I really get the whole Martha lifestyle thing because it does give very boring household tasks a bit more status, I mean mopping the floor with a MS green bucket really does look cuter, right? I really don’t think I’ll hop on the train to Marthaburg and buy it all because I don’t really need to fit into the domestic goddess club because I actually prefer mixing a little of everything (old, new, some brands, some not) to create my own Holly style. I’ll take my style over anyone else’s, and I’m sure most of you feel this way about your own style too. But I will buy some of her sumptuous towels (which are already on sale) and for gifting friends, yes these items are perfect for that. I’d purchase a few of the cutting boards in blue and the enamel blue pots because enamel and blue, well c’mon no explanation needed there.
I really like her rug collection, they have a total Madeline Weinrib feel to them, don’t you think? Especially the medallions. But not all of them are budget finds, as the MS medallion rugs are priced into the thousands just like the ones from Weinrib.
Everything looked really beautiful in the store, lots of blue, green, and white and the quality and packaging felt right – not over the top and not Kmart. As I continued to explore, I suddenly realized when a little old lady gave me this uncomfortably long stare, that I was still bathed in men’s cologne, so I quickly pursued the nearest sink. Have you seen this collection in person yet and what did you think of it?
(images from macy’s)
Not sure if you live near to a Barnes & Noble book store, but if you do, rush over as soon as you can (especially before the weekend when the crowds roll in) and see if they have a $2 book sale going on. The one nearest to me has many beautiful interiors and crafts books, I picked up 8 books for $16, not even the retail price for one of them. My favorite is a children’s book I found called China Doll by Eliza Pilgrim, illustrated by Barcelona-based artist Carmen Segovia. The story is really great, it’s all about a doll that wants to please the girl who owns her and the journey she takes to find a special gift to give her. What captivates me though are the illustrations. I really love them.
I’d not heard of Carmen before seeing this book, but the moment I cracked it open and looked at the illustrations, I had to buy it (only $2!) and learn more about the illustrator. I googled Carmen and found her portfolio online, she just so happens to be represented by the Marlena Agency, the same agency that represents Camilla Engman and this is the first book in North American that she’s illustrated, most of her illustrations are for books in Europe. If you have time, maybe you’d like to look through all of the portfolios on the Marlena Agency site because each one is glorious, and please do visit Barnes & Noble before the beautiful books are gone! :)
Oh and P.S., Working Class Studio at SCAD has their paper products at B&N now, so look for it in their stationery section. I saw them last night on display and they look really great in person and are made very well. Also, you can buy them online.
Do you have any favorite children’s book illustrators to share? I decided that I’m going to start a small collection of new and vintage children’s books. I’ve been working on it already for a few years mixing in some of my own books from childhood that my mother saved for me, and so many books from the late 70′s and 80′s have reprints floating around (or you can find originals on eBay), so I’m collecting the ones that I can remember that I really liked. Recently on Charles Street in Boston (Beacon Hill), I spotted Petunia in a window display and ran in and purchased it on the spot. Petunia! I loved that book growing up. Do you know it?
Are there any children’s book illustration groups on Flickr? If so, please let me know, I’d be interested in joining that.
(images from me and also b&n)
When we leave New Hampshire someday, I’ll definitely need to locate a new Red Chair Antiques to visit for inspiration because I think every girl needs one shop nearby where she can linger, explore, touch everything (sorry shop owners!), and draw inspiration from the various displays and products offered there. A place where you can enter feeling a bit uninspired and leave with more ideas than you’ll ever know what to do with. That is the Joy of Shop, friends. :)
Even my husband likes this store because it brings out the explorer in him. He especially enjoys looking through the vintage law books written in old German, he purchased several there that he read and now displays on a shelf in our home.
I blogged about Red Chair last summer so you may recall the name, it’s owned by Jocie Sinauer, but back then she didn’t have a website so I had no place to point you online. I’ve been shopping at this store for 6 years and highly suggest a visit if you love Swedish and French antiques and flea market finds and you find yourself in historic Peterborough, NH.
We visit Red Chair at least one Sunday each month, so while the website is great, nothing tops the smell of fresh picked lavender as you enter this large store painted in muted gray and blue tones, filled with Swedish antiques (think curvy chairs covered in natural linen + iron beds), vintage linens from France, thousands of bits like buttons, shells, vintage postcards & photos, textile remnants, and lovely displays scattered throughout this little slice of antique heaven. Directly across from Red Chair is another store called Cross Road (blogged 3/06) that is a huge garden shop/interiors store (succulents in rusty urns, paintings of the New Hampshire countryside, and mercury glass birds) and near to that are a few galleries for art and a delicious restaurant with a kitchenwares/gourmet food store inside. If you visit Peterborough in the future, here’s a link to shopping in their little town center (more like a quaint village, highly suggest visiting in October, hands down the best month in New Hampshire!).
I hope you enjoyed looking at my favorite little shop. Do you have a local shop that you’d consider your favorite? I’m always looking to add to the decor8 shopping links and fill them with stores you love, so please comment below no matter where you live. Thank you. :)
(images from red chair, 2nd image taken by me 6/2006 with permission.)
Casapinka wrote to me today about her friend Amy Leonard and her sculptural lamps. Amy is the blogger behind Design DNA and creates these glass cloche lamps merely as hobby right now, although I can see her selling these designs or the lamps themselves to stores like Caravan in London, Figments in Providence, Deyrolle in Paris, or even Anthropologie because they are exquisite works of art with that vintage feel we all love so much.
I love that each is unique, her work a piece of delicate art that seems to tell a sweet little story of the character living inside. They have an almost fairy tale quality to them, illuminated little stories under glass! Thank you so much Pink for telling me about these, and Amy your lights are really great and if I had a little shop, I’d sell them in a second!
Also readers, Amy is looking for a little feedback about her creations, if you’d take a moment to leave some, that would really be helpful to her.