Friday, September 30, 2011

Design Always Repeats Itself

During the Renaissance people with money often kept collections of antiquities for leisure and luxury. To house their collections they had pieces of furniture like below.

This is the Barberini Cabinet circa 1606-23. The doors would swing open and this ornate cabinet held various bits of antiquity. 

So how does this relate to today? Well, I've been coming across lots of furniture designed to hold collections lately. Here's Sixay Furniture's Sixtematic Chest of Drawers for Jewelry and Collectibles:

Now look at this:

A rolling cabinet titled Big Boss designed by Zur Schonen Linde.

Design is always repeating itself! Now I need to find some antiquities to collect.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

High Chair Drama

When I had my daughter Clementine in 2006, I struggled to find a high chair that didn't look like this:

I am by no means anti-plastic, but I am anti-uninspired design when it comes to living with a behemoth beast in the middle of my dining area everyday.

I ended up finding a traditional whitewashed high chair on eBay that I'm semi-pleased with. But now I'm seeing great designs and styles for high chairs everywhere! Where were my options in 2006? Was I just not paying attention?

I found this today: the Ova High Chair by Culdesac for Micuna.

So chic it's painful. 

And I still love the Tripp Trapp which was designed in 1972 by Peter Opsvik:

Image courtesy of Tripp Trapp.

Here's the Scandinavian Child Anka High Chair. A little cumbersome and not a fluid design, but I still appreciate it. You can buy it here for $179.

Here's the Scandinavian Child Svan High Chair which is a little more expensive at $279 and can be purchased here.

There are tons more cool ones out there. What's your favorite design-inspired high chair? Post the names in the comments section! I'd love to sigh with jealousy over them.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Artist of the Week: Yayoi Kusama

I just finished watching the documentary Yayoi Kusama: I Love Me and there is now no doubt about it: I love her too. The film, part of a series that follows Japanese artists as they work, focuses on a year and a half in the life of the prolific female avant-garde-ist as she finishes 50 intricately detailed large scale black and white paintings at breakneck speed.

Metamorphosis, 2006

Yayoi also works in sculpture, installation, performance, and the written word, and even now in her early 80s shows no signs of slowing down. Despite having battled deep depression her whole life (she voluntarily lives in a mental hospital), she still goes to her studio to work everyday.

When watching the movie I was struck by two things that I never knew before and now deeply, deeply admire: her significant output and her confidence.

There was a great time-lapse overhead shot of the artist working her way around the canvas of one of her black and white paintings. There is no hemming and hawing over what to do, where to put this line or that dot. She just launches right in, jumping straight into the canvas with purpose. “My hands just move,” she says, “Ideas just come in my head when I’m drawing.”

Flowering New York, 2005, silkscreen on canvas, 63.83 x 51.34 in, Ed of 5

A Dream I Dreamed Yesterday, 2006, silkscreen on canvas, 63.83 x 51.34 in, Ed of 5

Hymn of Life, 2005, silkscreen on canvas, 51.34 x 63.83 in, Ed of 5

Seeing all of the paintings together in one last shot, you feel at once overwhelmed by the number of canvases—the sheer amount of lines on each one—and amazed at the infinite detail, your eyes struggling to focus on one specific element before flitting to the next. Other artists might edit down the works to show only a few of the very best canvases, but it seems as if Yayoi wants to overwhelm you with the images, have them flood over you, as the images themselves flood over her, and spill out onto the canvases, as fast as her hands can draw them.

At one point in the film she reads a poem from a magazine, and after finishing the last line she says almost with surprise “This poem is wonderful. I’ve never heard one like this.” And then you realize she’s just read one of her own as she goes on to say, “I love everything that I have done. This poem just came down to me all at once. There’s the work of a genius in everything I do.” There’s not a hint of self-satisfaction in her voice—she says things like this throughout the whole film as if they are not just her opinion, but fact.

And then the best line yet: “I haven’t seen a poem this wonderful, ever. Nobody can write a poem like this since nobody has had a life like mine.”

This line spoke to me the most. A reminder that no matter what you do, no one can make your work as well as you can. If you are ever feeling doubtful about what you do, put all of that asideyou make what you make because you are compelled to. It is coming out of you, and on one else can do what you do by virtue of the fact that no one else has experienced what you have. You put all of your knowledge into every mark that you make, and that’s what makes it unique and wonderful and interesting and unlike anything else that’s out there. Keep doing what you do, keep making what you make, because no one can do it as well as you can.

- Cathleen

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Playing Cards with Marie Antoinette

Sometimes I like to pretend I'm Marie Antoinette in 18th century France playing cards with Louis XVI. However today I came across a set of cards that makes me wanna pretend I'm me playing cards now!

La Plates has created this adorable set of chevron and monogrammed playing cards. For only $32 you can own your own set that will make you feel like the Marie Antoinette of 2011.

I think I'll have MA emblazed on my set.

PS- Who thinks Chevrons are going to be dead in the water in 6 months? I love Chevrons but I think they've tipped too far into mainstream design and will soon be hanging out with red coral and nickel hardware.


Monday, September 26, 2011

When Crabs Attack!

It's Show & Tell Time! Today I thought I'd post a phenomenal photo taken by my good friend Victor Mak while on one of his many tropical trips with my other good friend and his new wife, Andrea Ju. I first saw it in a vacation photo slideshow (one of my favorite things to do!) while hanging out over at their place and was completely stunned when it came on the screen. This picture has been my desktop wallpaper for the last few months and is probably one of the best photographs I've seen EVER. The colors are just incredible. I love the bright points of electric blue and slashes of hot red on the backs of those deep dark crab shells, and that juicy bubblegum pink of whatever it is they're ripping apart. It's like a gruesome taffy pull! And I want in!

- Cathleen

[Photo courtesy of Victor Mak]

Friday, September 23, 2011

Maranon Jewelry

I discovered the beautiful hand embroidered jewelry by Lorena Marañón on Etsy a while ago when her shop was called spinthread. One of her pendant necklaces has been on my Christmas list for a couple years now (ahem). 

She’s recently moved on to her own bigger and better website, Maranon Jewels where she has expanded her line of accessories (hello, shoulder epaulettes!) and also features photographs of some of her finer work. Look into it!

- Cathleen

[All photos courtesy of artist's website.]

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Best Made Company is THE Best.

I'm obsessedlike get a restraining order-obsessed. I came across this website last night for Best Made Company.

Their mission statement is to sell high quality (and high design) tools that not only encourage their users to go outside, but also to be of such impeccable quality that they can be passed down from generation to generation.

Here are some of my favorite things from their online store:

The Canuck Clipper is priced at $250. I showed this to my husband, a wanna-be full-time outdoors-man, and was trying to convince him that we needed to buy this and he sighed and reminded me that I'd insist we hang it on the wall as an art piece instead of actually using it. True, hubby, true. 

Cloth extension cords, $34 each. After seeing these I was thinking about how badly I need an extension cord even though I currently have 10 unused ones in my utility closet. But in my defense, the ones I have are plastic coated and therefore lame. 

Dog Lead, $56. I don't have a dog, but now I want one just so I can buy this leash! I like how they call it a "lead" instead of a leash. Makes me feel all sorts of inferior.

Matchsafe, $9. So cute.

Metropolitan Whistle, $35. I want to wear this as a rape whistle.

Not going to lie: I'm kind of a scissor Nazi. Just ask my husband. These are Best Made Company's Shears from Japan which sell for $116.

I could literally post about five more things that I personally like, but then I'd have posted all of their inventory, so I'll just leave the rest for you to discover. 

Let me know what you think.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Artist(s) of the Week: Storm King

Kenneth Snelson, Free Ride Home, 1974

Two weeks ago while upstate for Lesley and Galen’s wedding, my mom graciously allowed us to stay at her place in nearby Kingston for the weekend. Ever since she moved to the area a few years back, we’ve done the drive up 87 countless times, and every time we’re around the half way mark, I see the sign and whine, “I wanna go to Storm King!” Inevitably the visit is already jam-packed with plans that won’t allow for such an excursion, but this particular weekend, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

Mom packed a picnic with all of my favorites (curry chicken salad, potato salad, deviled eggs—mayonnaise is a major food group in our family fun time) and we headed for Storm King, the giant outdoor sculpture park in New Windsor, NY.

Being on the heels of Irene, we spent the entire afternoon tromping through the wet grass and muck, and only covered about a quarter of the place, but we got to see some incredible sculptures that I’d only read about before.

There were, of course, the iconic Mark di Suvero sculptures that are all over the park’s brochures. They photographed nicely.

Louise Nevelson has always been one of my favorite artists. Ok, maybe not always, but she did leave an immediate and indelible impression on me when I saw her work at the Jewish Museum back in 2007. Typically she works in monochromes, assembling found objects and scraps of wood into large scale sculptures and then painting the whole thing one flat color. Her hulking metal work positioned outside the museum building, City on the High Mountain, was just fantastic. I really loved that even though it was all one dull black color, from different angles, and depending on how the light hit it, certain parts of it looked almost gray. Side note: Nevelson often wore multiple sets of false eyelashes on the reg. I totally love that about her.

The real highlight was Storm King Wall by Andy Goldsworthy. Built from 1997-1998, the hand-laid stone wall drives straight down one steep hill, disappearing into a pond, emerging on the other side to snake its way up another hill, winding in and out among the trees. 

Goldsworthy has always (really this time) been one of my favorites, his place in my heart only further solidified after I saw this scene from a documentary on his work and process called Rivers and Tides

He would spend all day making a work out in the wild, painstakingly constructing something elaborate and graceful out of just the materials he finds nearby, to have it all of a sudden crash down around him. And the next day he just starts the process all over again. I really admire the quiet beauty of his work, and the fact that he creates art that maybe no one will ever see (except reproduced in photograph), all held together with a lick and a promise. Then when the wind blows, it takes the whole piece with it. It exists for that moment, and then in an instant, it's gone. That, to me, is true art. 

- Cathleen 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Marble Run XL

As a kid I just loved Marble Run.

That's the one. However, marble run has gotten more sophisticated since the 1980s. My favorite contemporary set is one by Haba. 

I always want to buy it for my daughter, but it's a little too expensive for this art teacher's budget. 

Today I came across this though:

Yeah, I thought you'd like that. Amazing, right?! It's a marble run table titled "Marbelous" that I would use as a dining room table. Why not add some whimsy to your interior? 

The table can be found here and all pertinent information is listed on the website.  

So if you're feeling generous, you can have one shipped to my house as a gift!

And, of course, this beautiful video my friend Kait found of a life-sized marble run in the woods:

I never watch videos online, but this one is worth a look!
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