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August 2008


A Fine Line: Inspiration or Imitation?

August 14, 2008

Today Erin from Design For Mankind is here to talk to us on a topic that I asked her to write about because I thought she’d have a lot to say on the matter and she does! I think her words just may encourage a good discussion here today so I invite you to grab a cup of tea, sit back, and tune in to Erin’s message below — and be sure to add your comment to the mix, too! Take it away, Miss E!

We’ve heard from the fashion folk. It’s been noted by renowned photographers. Interior designers are speaking up. Web programmers are furrowing their brows.

Call it what you will: visual plagiarism, hacks, or sheer knock-offs. However you slice it, an increasingly saturated art/design community is becoming a feeding ground for inspiration? or is it imitation?

A Fine Line: Inspiration or Imitation?

I recently read an article in Harper’s Bazaar about the inspiration behind today?s fashion designers. Many designers mentioned historical figures such as Napoleon, Carmen Miranda and [no joke] Minnie Mouse.

And I can?t help but wonder what exactly dear Minnie Mouse would think if she knew her look was being imitated. I can only imagine she?d hijack Goofy?s wagon and skitter on over to Zac Posen?s studio to give him a prompt speaking to.

Yet can we really control when inspiration sets in? Not at all. What we can control is what we do with that inspiration. Do we carbon copy the design? Or do we tastefully implement elements from the designs that we, ourselves, cherish? [And for the record, Zac Posen?s inspiration was quite tasteful in fact!]

Of course, this is how a trend is born. We certainly didn?t don gladiator sandals this summer for comfort; the Greek and Roman influences were found to be inspirational by a few key designers. And that?s perfectly fine. What?s not perfectly fine is an intentional lifting of originality. I mean truly, how odd would we look like running around in togas AND gladiator sandals?

I’m saddened at how often this happens in our creative community. Rather than lifting each other up and encouraging originality, I fear that we’ve become envious of the instant gratification that the Internet often provides. It seems that one good design and a few press mentions can skyrocket an artist into serious success. Just how far will we go to present that “one good design?”

It breaks my heart to see an unoriginal piece. To me, a unique design has life. It has passion. And it becomes beautiful only when you can truly see the artist’s spirit behind his/her work. Thus, when we attempt to borrow elements of someone else’s work, the result is often never quite right. Much like a person without a genuine spirit can be spotted like a sore thumb, so, too, can an artist without an individualistic nature.

And you know what? Bloggers, we’re to blame as well. How often have we posted material that originated from somewhere else, only to (a) forget, (b) refuse or (c) fail to credit our source?

Indeed, there is a fine line between inspiration and imitation, and although I hate to create additional boundaries in art, I’d like to see us all work harder to find our true passions. I quite understand that many of our inspirations derive from the same source, and I think that’s a wonderful thing. The problem lies in our intentions. Are we creating something that we truly believe in? Or are we creating a spin-off of something that already exists simply because it sells?

From now on, let’s embrace the community that we’ve helped to build. Let’s encourage, congratulate and experience alongside of each other, not across from. I hope that someday we can each feel proud of the talents we’ve been given and showcase these unique gifts in beautiful, original ways.

Until then, know that imitation? It’s not such a form of flattery after all.

What are your thoughts on this topic? When does inspiration become imitation? What is the difference between inspired by and ripped off? Your thoughts?

– All text by Erin from Design For Mankind.

(images from evaxebra)


Beautiful Bedrooms + Decorating Tips

August 14, 2008

Hello everyone, this is Jennifer Ramos from Made By Girl. I’m excited to be the guest blogger here at decor8 today!

I’m the designer and owner of an online shop called based out of Henderson, Nevada. We sell fun & colorful greeting cards (printed on 100% recycled paper) as well as many colorful posters. I decided to start the cards and poster business as a means of expressing myself and hopefully inspiring others to start implementing a more environmentally friendly way of conducting business. I don’t believe your every move has to be a green one, but one or two things you do, are one or two things less damaging to our earth. Ok, enough GREEN talk for now, and on to my picks of BEAUTIFUL BEDROOMS that make you want to get up and start redecorating yours as soon as possible!

Beautiful Bedrooms + Decorating Tips

First is this silver wallpaper bedroom from Living Etc. This bedroom appeals to me in so many ways. The first word I think of is Glamorous and extremely feminine. I love how the silver wallpaper just brings this room to life along with the artwork of the cartoon glitter girl. The floor seems dull but barely noticeable due to all the reflective surfaces & vibrant accessories.

Beautiful Bedrooms + Decorating Tips
Next is the black wall Goth-Glam bedroom, also from Living Etc. The black walls behind the massive headboard give this room a slightly gothic but glam feel. Even though one wall is painted very dark, the room still remains very bright. This is because of the large windows, the mirror on the dresser door and the light color used for the bed sheets. Design tip: Contrast provides an interesting visual appeal, but you have to be sure to offset the dark walls with plenty of light or bright colors.

Beautiful Bedrooms + Decorating Tips
I also like this bookshelf behind the bed via Marie Claire Maison. The bedroom in this photo has always reminded me of a small apartment I had when I lived in New York City. It’s small but cozy and the bookshelf behind the bed gives it a sense of height. They use an interesting mix of modern and antique styles such as the gilded frame surrounded by Christmas lights and the IKEA locker at the foot of the bed for storage.

Beautiful Bedrooms + Decorating Tips
Now for something girly… How about the patchwork quilt bedroom as seen over at Mi Casa Revista? This room is full of vibrant colors that extend from the bed to the walls. The turquoise wallpaper is such an important part of the decor here, it compliments the dresser and the bed sheets. There is a consistent theme and use of color but the colors aren’t overdone. Seems almost comforting to me.

Beautiful Bedrooms + Decorating Tips
With stark white walls, this bedroom is decorated with mismatched frames and a variety of styles. The analogous color scheme draws the eyes to the artwork and the different types of patterns used on the fabrics on the bed. This room is in the home of Liza Giles who works as a senior stylist for Designers Guild and it is one of my favorites. This image is from Inside Out Magazine photographed by James Merrell. See more of this Giles’ home right here.

Beautiful Bedrooms + Decorating Tips
An off white bedroom can appeal to both sexes quite well. The height of the room adds to its grandeur. White brick walls have always been a favorite of mine and is very reminiscent of a loft I lived in when I was in NYC. Decor for this bedroom is subdued and relaxing, even the disco-ball styled lamp is off white which prevents if from standing out too much. Image via: New York Magazine.

Beautiful Bedrooms + Decorating Tips
I’m such a sucker for tufted headboards and this one is no exception. Kelly Wearstler designed this space with exceptional symmetry. I like how the mirrors are placed over the side dressers and the boxed frame over the bed gives this room a sophisticated and luxurious feel.

Beautiful Bedrooms + Decorating Tips
Even though this room is is all white, the artwork and its colors really bring it to life. You can use the colors in your artwork as a guide to bring in other accessories with similar colors, such as pillows, lamps and in this case a turquoise dresser. Via: Living Etc.

Beautiful Bedrooms + Decorating Tips
Bonus Image! My (Jennifer) Bedroom!
My own bedroom was easy since I knew what I wanted. I love the use of bright colors as accents, so the pillows and the Beatles pictures made sense together. The theme was slightly rock ‘n roll but still sophisticated and stylish. The wallpaper running from behind the side dresser to the top of the ceiling are actually from a scrapbook. They were glued together and tacked onto the dark charcoal wall. – Jennifer from Made By Girl.

(all text written by jennifer ramos for decor8)


Etsy Fabric on Domino!

August 14, 2008

Yay! Good news… The slideshow that I created for Domino featuring 15 fabric designers on Etsy went live and I couldn’t be happier. I love shining the spotlight on these talented ladies just a little bit, I know you’ll really enjoy their work.

Etsy Fabric on Domino!

I only wish I could have included more as I hate to leave anyone out!? Here are 15 for your enjoyment (and shopping pleasure)…



Meet the Creative Matthew Mead

August 13, 2008

Hello everyone! I want to quickly stop in to say hello. I’ve arrived safely in Germany and I’m currently unpacking and shopping for goodies to furnish our place here. We hit IKEA so my apartment is filled with boxes that were delivered a few moments ago — thankfully we have friends joining us in about an hour to start putting things together. How are you doing? I hope that you are all well and enjoying the many guest bloggers I’ve lined up to keep you informed and entertained until I’m ‘officially’ back on August 28 (though I’m blogging over at Real Simple still on M/W/F and over on my more personal blog called Haus Maus. So if you miss me I’m never too far. :) Ha! I’m sure you have a life and missing me is definitely not a concern but just in case…

Back to my guest blogger round up. They all bring something special to decor8 so sit back and relax because you can expect beautiful things to appear from some of your favorite bloggers and designers over the next few weeks. It may seem like a long time, but I have a lot to do in my new apartment so I need every second I can get to arrange things here and settle in. And… I have an exciting business trip to Hamburg next week to meet with a big publishing company here. They’ve booked us at a gorgeous hotel and after our meeting we’re having dinner and then the next day I will visit 20 of the best design shops in the city with one of their lovely managers who has a list of places for me to check out. So fun! I’m liking Germany already. :)

Today I thought I’d visit to introduce you to Matthew Mead who, like me, is also based in New Hampshire, USA about an hour north of where I live over there. I’m on the Massachusetts border and Matthew lives in the center of the state. (Of course, I also live in Germany now (5 months each year) so I don’t want to confuse anyone but America is still my home base.)

Who is Matthew Mead you ask? He is a man who has an impeccable eye for color and style that some of us can only hope to have… I’ve been following his work for about three years now through the pages of Country Home magazine where he is the contributing editor. But he has big plans to grow his brand which is what you are about to learn more about in our chat today. Would you like to meet him? Of course you would!

Meet the Creative Matthew Mead

decor8: Hi Matthew! Thanks for joining us today on decor8. Tell readers where exactly are you based and what do you like about it?
MM: I live in Concord, New Hampshire which is an excellent locale for enjoying all four seasons. We are one hour from Boston, the ocean, the mountains and about 5 hours from downtown Manhattan.

decor8: What do you do for a living again?

MM: I am a stylist/producer for the magazine and advertising industry. I’m also a contributing editor to Country Home magazine for eleven years… Author, Photographer and Art Director.Meet the Creative Matthew Mead

decor8: How did you get started?
MM: I admired lots of the original lifestyle icons from the 1980’s, so I wrote letters, made contacts and developed a portfolio to show what I could do. I met Mary Emmerling in the early 90’s. She was doing her own magazine then and hired me as a contributor. It all blossomed from there.

decor8: What are some of your current projects?
MM: This is a big year for me… The culmination of 15 years of building my brand and looking for opportunities to promote my style and ideas. My website has been redesigned to not only keep the technology up to date, but also to provide more fresh content to our readers and to connect in new ways with superior lifestyle information.

And I heard a rumor about a magazine?
MM: Yes, it’s true… Our new Halloween magazine with Time Inc. premieres on news stands September 8th. It is filled with a really fresh take on the subject and is one more way of building our publishing profile and extending our style into the seasonal holiday arena. And of course you know about my new book Entertaining Simple. It is a way of re-positioning my brand as an authority in the entertaining genre with the easiest and best ways to entertain with consideration to all of the products, foods and techniques available in the market place. That releases on November 4th. We also have set another goal, the main goal, to add merchandise to the mix. Kits, accessories, useful and decorative items that inspire our readers to implement our ideas into their lives.

decor8: That’s all? (laughing) Sounds like you are a busy man. So tell me, where do you find inspiration in New Hampshire?
MM: Everywhere! I am a huge collector of vintage things and New Hampshire has a plethora of junk and antiques shops filled with a lifetime of inspiration. I also love the seasons and nature so the landscape really provides lots of ideas for me.

Meet the Creative Matthew Mead

decor8: In addition to scenic New Hampshire, where else do you draw inspiration?
MM: In colors, shapes, graphic designs that I find in old books. I love the grocery store or any store for that matter and I love to corral objects together in a shopping cart, basket or stacked on a table. it allows me to see how textures and designs work together. I do a lot of stacking of objects and materials for personal study.

decor8: What’s your favorite local shop?
MM: The one I love the most is a top secret because I get so much stuff there, but my favorite “filtered” shop (where the hard work has all been done by the shop keeper in the way of picking and displaying) is Red Chair Antiques in Peterborough, NH. Jocie, the owner is so talented and the hand picked antiques are fresh and beautiful. I hear this is your favorite NH shop as well, Holly?

decor8: Yes, it is. I have to visit at least once every few months. So tell us, what’s on your wish list?
MM: I love early American hand blown glass compotes, jars, domes, etc… But this stuff is hard to find. My new passion is Syroco which is molded wood in great shapes from the 40’s to the 60’s made in Syracuse, New York. There are some really interesting shapes made of this early plastic and I think it is a collectible trend for the future.

Meet the Creative Matthew Mead
Meet the Creative Matthew Mead
decor8: Syroco is great. I have 3 birds that I picked up two years ago at the Hollis flea market for $1 that look like these found on eBay. The beauty of Syroco is that it’s so easy to paint. My birds are now bright yellow. What’s your favorite bargain find or product?
MM: I find great things at Target on sale. Some of their designs have great modern shapes and I can shop there for photo shoot “filler”. I am a born shopper, so wherever I go, be it a junk shop or retail store I am always able to walk away with something great.

decor8: Can you describe your work space?
MM: I have a daylight studio. Its a small brick building that looks like a schoolhouse and was built as a furniture store in the 1920’s and has been everything from a laundromat to a pizza place, to a dry goods store. It has beautiful light and it’s been a very good place for me over the last 11 years. It’s also become quite full due to a parade of ever changing work and clients. I’ve often thought of it as a type of portal. Thousands of images created so easily there in such a small place… I feel as though there is some external force that makes it such a special and creative space. And the daylight is a DREAM.

Meet the Creative Matthew Mead Mead’s studio space before setting up.

decor8: How do you use your studio when it comes to setting up for client work?
MM: My studio is a chameleon type space that is constantly changing to suite the needs of my clients. I have a large kitchen in the back half of the space which mostly serves as a place to prepare and style food for our entertaining stories and store my collection of vessels to present different dishes. The front part of my space has four large windows and a staircase. The walls are typically painted to suite my needs and then furniture and accessories are layered into the design to create authentic interiors. Check out the studio on my website for shots of how the studio can look totally different for multiple shots.

Meet the Creative Matthew Mead Mead’s studio space after… Fully styled and ready to go!

decor8: Who do you admire and why?
MM: Thomas O’Brien for the way he has translated high end style into great products available to everyone. Trish Foley whose work always reminds me that simple shades of white and classic shapes make the best and most relaxing style. Mary Emmerling because what you see is real and not staged. Her interiors are really her lifestyle and that is still refreshing and fun.

decor8: What’s the last great book you read?
MM: Madam Bovery

decor8: What’s your favorite film?
MM: This is very, very hard because there are so many… But I’ll go with Moulin Rouge for its amazing beauty and creativity.

Meet the Creative Matthew Mead

decor8: If you could have any job in the world, what would you do?
MM: Film Director/Producer — I would love to create beautiful movies.

decor8: Name three places that you’d love to travel to…
MM: Prague, Cotswolds, Greek Islands

decor8: Who would you like to have dinner with?
MM: 1) Holly from decor8 2) My literary agent (she has only ever been a lovely voice over the phone), AND ALWAYS, my wife at just the right bistro with the perfect atmosphere, delicious food and a long, lingering dining experience… Probably in one of those hidden walkway bistros in Paris.

decor8: What is your favorite food?
MM: I very much love Sunday dinner… The traditions, the flavors, the aroma and anticipation of something slow roasted all day with a formal presentation and of course, mashed potatoes.

decor8: What is your most treasured belonging?
MM: I have so many collections which all speak to me like long lost friends and with friends its always hard to pick the most treasured. I have a mercury glass lamp in an odd bubble/grenade shape that I am extremely fond of… There are also a couple of cake stands that are at the top of the list.

Meet the Creative Matthew Mead

decor8: Best advice out there?
MM: HAVE FUN! And I take that to heart amongst all the pressures and fiery hoops I have to jump through. The advice I give to everyone, however, is that no matter what you have to do to survive, take all of your extra time and craft your passion, mold it and live it… It comes in useful when you have the opportunity to add it to your life full-time.

decor8: What are some of your goals in the next 5 years?
MM: My own magazine of great lifestyle ideas and images that provoke thought through beauty. Product… Merchandise and licensing of ideas to perpetuate my brand. A television show that combines food and lifestyle so it isn’t just a bunch of recipes, but a whole approach to living. Easy food product line that allows all the great flavors in life without having to do every daunting detail… I want people to enjoy, experience, build traditions.

Thank you so much Matthew for taking the time to talk to us today. Ive enjoyed your words of wisdom so much and I’m sure readers have as well. All the best to you and your future!

Readers: If you have questions for Matthew use this opportunity to get in front of someone in the business — ask as many q’s as you’d like. That’s the beauty of blogs, we have a chance to talk with some of the movers and shakers out there in magazine land that we normally cannot reach otherwise. Go for it!

(images from matthew mead)

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