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Mer Mag: Favorite Things

A few of my favorite things: Mer Mag

Hello friends, both new and old! This is Mer from the Mer Mag blog and I’m so happy to help the lovely Holly out while she is en route and in the midst of moving mania. Her timing was great as I myself am looking to move out of my little home come September (not overseas of course…more like over a few blocks). So what better time to share with you a few of my favorite magical spaces in my current location?

Mer Mag

This little display makes me happy as it’s the first thing I see when I walk through the door. I’m very fond of the vintage wire basket I purchased a couple of years ago on ebay (my husband thinks it a tetanus trap waiting to happen…but design always comes before health right?) and as a magazine hoarder I find this to be a tidy and attractive way to keep everything all together. In fact I like this little spot so much that it’s one of the few spaces I insist on always keeping in order. Jon (the huz) knows better than to download his keys and coins atop this dresser (a second hand mid-century modern steal by the way…also a love of mine).

Mer Mag

Where the “magic” happens. Believe it or not I do most of my work here…work meaning illustration, blogging, printing, scanning, etc (crafting/sewing happens elsewhere). Because it’s so small I’m forced to keep it simple, which I like. I’m often drawn to glorious looking clutter but for the teensy-weensy space that I’m currently in I find my creativity works better with things more simple and minimal. I’m also very happy to sit down to a painting that my little one and I worked on together during an arts and crafts afternoon. The memory is as bright and sunny as the painting.

Mer Mag

This clock display is adjacent to my work desk. With clients on both coasts and even in the UK I find this set up very useful. I threw up a few hooks for displaying inspiration, current projects or paperwork that needs my attention.

Mer Mag

I love all the art supplies I have around the house. They add such a fun splash of color and help keep me ready to create whenever inspiration strikes. This set of colored pencils in particular produces a smile as it’s meant for small hands and is part of a coffee table display that is both functional and beautiful. With two littles running around it’s crucial (and fun!) to incorporate small design into the home.

Mer Mag

Mer Mag

You know how I mentioned that I was a magazine hoarder? Well that’s only partially true. I’m a magazine “page” hoarder. In the not too distant past when the world was filled with exquisite publications at every turn I made it my personal responsibility to absorb as much of them as possible. I did that (and still do) by tearing out pages that speak to me and then proceed to categorize them in my “genius files” (a term I fondly borrow from Anna Sui who does the same thing with tear sheets that inspire her). I’m a little OCD about this and am still not sure why I do it…only that it makes me happy…if not a little crazy. I guess I love that I have my own “tailored-made” magazines when I’m through (“magazines” that I treasure even more now that so many of the source publications are out of print).

Mer Mag

This is a jewelery display that I simply think is pretty. With a nine month old on the hip, wearing these necklaces for a long periods of time is out of the question so I appreciate that I still get to enjoy them here.

Being a visual person, physical spaces like these are necessary for my peace of mind but I also find a great deal of inspiration in music, film and those around me. I’ve always been a fan of Tori Amos music videos (and who doesn’t love her music?). If ever I’m in a creative funk I just pop in my Tori Amos video collection and the collaboration of music and visuals always seems to get my juices going. I listen to Pandora stations (current favs are Joanna Newsome, Howard Jones, Lykke Li, and Vampire Weekend) when I can but often find that the “music” of my littles is just about as much audio as I can handle. My family and friends inspire me a great deal. Things I want for my children, but can’t seem to find or afford, is one of my greatest source of inspiration as of late.

And to end I’m to give you some of my favorite advice. There are so many little sayings that I adore but one that seems to be a constant is “Do it today, you’ll be ahead.” I can be slacker in many areas of life while indulgent in others and so to try and get things done (that I might be dreading) this little idiom rings in my head, helping me along.

Thanks again Holly and to all of you have trudged through this with me! I’ve so enjoyed spending a little time with you and the opportunity to share a bit of my world with you. – Mer

(images: mer mag)

Posted in guest bloggers on August 27, 2009

Matte Stephens: Favorite Things

A few of my favorite things: Matte Stephens

I’m Matte Stephens from Brainiac the Art and Life of Matte Stephens blog and shop and I’m visiting while Holly is moving and these are a few of my favorite things.

Matte Stephens

These little wooden eggs designed by Alexander Girard. They just make me smile :D

Matte Stephens

This is of a detail from George Nelson’s China shop Pattern on a vintage Boltabest tray. It was designed by Irving Harper I have had the pleasure of getting to spend time with him at his home in New York and learning a lot about design from him over the last few years. This tray always makes me think of him.

Matte Stephens

This photo sums up the last 15 years of my life. I love design although my paintings are not industrial design it has been a source of inspiration for me for as far back as I can remember. I think I just love the feeling something that is really well designed has.

Matte Stephens

The 1955/56 Herman Miller catalog. A wonderful book that was very illusive.

Matte Stephens

Our home Vivienne and I love being at home and working at home so having inspiring things to look at makes it fun. We have always liked the idea that modern doesn’t have to be cold and uncomfortable. Actual we just really love knickknacks way too much.

I’m inspired by everything in my life from our cats and Vivienne to collecting movies and knickknacks. It has always been important to me to make paintings that feel like my life feels, happy… – Matte

(images: matte stephens)

Posted in guest bloggers, uncategorized on August 27, 2009

Parallel Botany: Favorite Things

A few of my favorite things: Parallel Botany

Hello everyone, this is Lisa from Parallel Botany! As a participant in Holly’s “Favorite Things” series, I am thrilled to be here today to share with you a few of my most cherished belongings, as well as some of the things that inspire me daily.

Parallel Botany

My dog art! Ever since I was a little girl, I have had a deep and abiding affinity for the canine character.. Looking at my collection on the wall is an automatic mood booster for me. I’ve even got a print of the American kitsch classic “Waterloo,” also known as Dogs Playing Poker—a piece which is at once hackneyed and transcendent. By the way, the dark pink screenprint in the upper left corner is my corgi, Barkowitz. He’s a handsome fellow with personality to spare.

Parallel Botany

This hand-carved wooden box, a gift given to my grandmother by her brother upon his return from World War II, holds faded family snapshots. Some of the photos are so degraded at this point that it’s difficult to make out any likenesses at all. I know I should probably put them in an acid-free archival album, but I enjoy handling the haphazard stacks of photos as I sift randomly through the box. I find this “system” more satisfying than flipping through an album.

Parallel Botany

Childhood artwork, vintage keepsakes, and souvenirs displayed in shrine-like vignettes, to be arranged and rearranged again and again. This is something I have done since I was a kid, making little tabletop displays of objects on my dressers, desks, and windowsills, and I still find it a very relaxing and serious-fun activity. By the way, is that more dog art in the background? Yep, it’s a huge portrait I painted of my family’s dog when I was twelve (as you can see, the dog art thing runs pretty deep in me!).

Parallel Botany

My precious mixtapes. A few years ago, I went through a phase of putting together mix CDs with very elaborate packaging—fancy cardstocks, handmade paper that I had made myself, ribbons, collages, watercolors. I really went to town on these things! My taste in music might have shifted a bit since then, but as personal documents these CDs have become more meaningful to me over the years. They really are my journals from that period.

Parallel Botany

This is my favorite window. I have taken so many photos from this vantage point. I know it’s not the most spectacular vista, but I’m drawn to the oblique, glancing view down the street. When I am experiencing a mental block, I will often go to this window, look out over the rooftops, and let my imagination carry me away.

I also receive daily doses of inspiration from nature. I especially enjoy taking my dog for walks in nearby Inwood Hill Park, which boasts the last bit of natural forest in Manhattan. Back on the forest trails, it’s very easy to forget that I’m in the city, which is sometimes necessary when I start to feel frazzled by the pace of urban life.

After visiting neighborhood parks, I always return home invigorated and brimming over with new ideas. In his book Easy Living, the designer Terence Conran writes, “The least inspiring displays are composed of objects you expect to see, or those that remain in the same dusty corner year after year. By contrast, objects that mean something to you, that enshrine memories of a favorite place or time or person, always have vitality: they actually have something to say…[There] really are no hard and fast rules for display except to surround yourself with things you positively enjoy.”

This wise statement is something I like to keep in mind when I consider ways to honor objects and memories in my home. I try to stand back and let my collections of much-loved items speak for themselves. – Lisa

(images: parallel botany)

Posted in guest bloggers on August 27, 2009

Design Evolution: Favorite Things

A few of my favorite things: Design Evolution

Hello all, this is Michelle from the blog Design Evolution stopping by decor8 for a visit while Holly is making her big move. When Holly first asked me to participate in her August guest series, “A few of my favorite things” I was super excited to be a part of it. I must admit putting this post together turned out to be an interesting exercise as I realized my home is full of many “things” but not too many of them favorites. Taking a little journey through my space with a camera in hand I was able to find those few things that bring me peace or make me smile and a room where I feel truly relaxed and at home.

Design Evolution

My house didn’t really start to feel like a home until I brought in some artwork. While I can’t quite afford original art pieces I have begun collecting prints from my some of my favorite artists. It is such an inexpensive way to fill your home with beautiful images. Online marketplaces like etsy, artfire, etc. have introduced me to so many independent artists and I’m so thankful for them. Before I discovered them I could only dream of owning works from independent artists and now I have many.

Design Evolution

My grandfather was a meticulous photographer who kept amazing notes about the exposure, f.stop, film type, etc. for every photo he took. He was also great at organizing his photographs into albums and cataloging many family events. I’m so grateful to have these photo albums that track my family’s life in Cuba from even before my father was born. I know I will never be as disciplined as he was but he certainly inspires me to better organize photos of family and friends now because I know future family members will appreciate them.

Design Evolution

This little corner of my kitchen is my happy place on early mornings. You can not expect me to complete a coherent sentence until I have had my first cup of coffee. The routine has become cheerier with the addition of two Orla Kiely canister that hold my coffee and sugar and print from one of my favorite etsy shops Yumi Yumi.

Design Evolution

Some part of my home is often torn apart or in the middle of a crazy home improvement project that is no doubt over my head. During the chaos my bedroom is always the place where I can escape the mess and relax. There are no jarring colors and while there are certainly things I would like to change about the room I hold back while the rest of the house is torn apart. I close the door, curl under the covers, turn out the light and everything is right with the world.

Design Evolution

And my most favorite thing in my entire home, except for my boyfriend of course, is my puppy Milo. He is number one on my list of things that I would grab if there was a fire and I had to run out the door. A puppy can certainly drive you nuts at times (especially those times when they chow down on your favorite pair of shoes) but you quickly forget those times when you walk in the door after a particularly rough day and that adorable little face couldn’t be more excited to see you and only you. It’s also very rewarding to know that I’ve made this poor abandoned puppy’s life better then he could have every imagine it would be. Holly I know you’ve mentioned that you might like to get a dog once you’re settled in Germany and I definitely recommend it. I wonder if he will only understand German commands :)

So there you have it, a few of my favorite things. Leave it to Holly to sneak some healthy introspection into what appears to be a fun and light assignment. Must be what makes Holly such a great teacher. Taking this photo journey around my home has made me realize that I need to work a bit harder to fill my home with only things that I really love and not just things that I think I need.

Good luck on journey and best wishes to you and Thorsten. We will all miss you while you’re settling and can’t wait to follow along on your new adventures. Finally, Holly asked that I end a favorite piece of advice. At this stage of my life these words from the Persian poet Rumi, “Let What You Love Be What You Do” resonate quite strongly. Life is too short to be dragging your feet. Embrace every moment running, jumping, playing and most importantly doing what makes you truly happy. -Michelle

(images: design evolution)

Posted in guest bloggers on August 26, 2009

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