Monthly Archives: May 2009

*Achoo*: Tickling my nose AND tickling my fancy


Ladies and Gentlemen: For the first time in years I managed to stumble into Trader Joe’s when it was not a complete and utter mob scene – and any one who lives in NYC knows that “mob scene” is its usual state. This meant that I actually got to wander around and peruse a little. And I saw this tissue box and it filled me with a bit of glee:

Charming, is it not?! I have particularly potent allergies this year, and have a tendency (historically) to catch myself a cold or two over the winter; so, I know my tissue boxes, and you don’t find ones like this terribly often. Sure, the Grand Tissue Companies have been making an effort to put a little life into the typically yawn-worthy tissue box (much appreciated) but this one adds a little humor. The Someecards aesthetic, but a little friendlier. They even remind you to check your pockets for tissues before putting them in the wash; a reminder I could have certainly used at certain points in time.

Sweet, yes? A+ in packaging design, Mr. Trader Joe’s. Keep on rocking.

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I ain’t no DJ but I do love my tunes


You recall that I dig record players, right? Isn’t this concept record player/CD player (dubbed “Zero .1”) from designers Francesco Cugusi and Roberto Strippoli super swanky? I’d love it even more if it were robins egg blue. Or yellow. A hint of retro to deflect from the otherwise uber-modernness. Hm.

Anyway, the swell thing about this lovely creature is that it allows you to play your records by the track, just like you do with a CD. That would be pretty nifty, wouldn’t it? Granted, there is a bit a charm in just sort of having to listen straight through…. you know how you can get stuck on one track to the detriment of all the other’s sometimes? Well, having to listen straight through could prevent that. And, also, it’s kind of fun to have to search for the song manually. Oh, the sweet needle-on-vinyl screechy scratch noise of my youth/college-days-when-my-roomie-had-a-record-player.

It’s the perfect time of year to be doing the charleston around the living room to the tune of 1920’s jazz records *sniffle*.

(AND the capability to, with the Zero.1 switch right after to, perhaps, one of the cringe-worthy CDs of my early teenage-hood that I still have hanging around…somewhere)

Via Yanko Design

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Am I a little weird for thinking this is kinda beautiful? I was hunting down pictures for my last post (since I know you dears love to have something to look at) when there was some sort of glitch and instead of loading the picture this showed up. And I was charmed.

I just love the colors all running around and into eachother.. like pixellated pointellistic watercolor something-or-other. Err. Maybe?

Happy Accident!

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good words & imaginary conversations.


I’m pretty big on writing things down. I’m not one of those people who hears or reads something nice and says, “Golly, that was interesting!” and then puts that book or magazine down and continue on my way. No sir. I have to write it down. It’s a quirk, what can I say. And so, the other day when I was perusing Clear Magazine (issue 31) and came across an interview with design legends Leila and Massimo Vignelli of Vignelli Associates I found some of the things they had to say so interesting that I had to yank out one of my little spare notebooks and jot them down. Since this is not an uncommon occurrence, I soon find myself looking over some other bon mots I had scribbled out and noticed some similarities. So, I’ve laid them out here for you; I imagine it sort of as though these designers and writers are sitting around having a sort of imaginary conversation (except for Leila and Massimo, who are actually speaking to one another). Maybe we, the reader, are a sort of fly on the wall, or the quiet shy guest content just to listen and we hear bits and pieces of the conversations going around the room:

Massimo Vignelli (M): We believe that history is very important – history of yesterday, history of a thousand years ago, whatever it is. And then to design in such a way that it’s going to last, because we feel a responsibility towards the client and toward the user. Designing something that is going to last rather than be thrown away. We do not belong to the culture of waste… We despise the culture of obsolescence and are in the favor of permanence . However, having said that, we love the fact that there are trends, because trends are the sparks.

Leila Vignelli (L): Yes. Sparks for the fire.

M: Trends are the sparks; permanence is the fire. The sparks make the fire brighter, pleasant to watch… and so there is room for both. There is room for permanence and there is room for trendiness. Then each one decides what fits best for him. For us, permanence is more interesting; for others, trendiness is more fun. As a matter of fact, you could even say there is a certain permanence in trendiness. For example, look back at things done 50 years ago, 70 years ago, or think of people that were in fashion but still valid today – like Coco Chanel, who was innovative then, but still very, very good today

L: There are things which are very trendy, but because of the period, and thus the period element…

M: …They are testimonials of a time.

Emilio Pucci with model, 1953

…The reproductions also include the constricting armholes and narrow shoulders of yesteryear. Indeed, in 2001 when the firm reproduced a Marilyn Monroe look – a blouse and capris – “the pants were so tight around the calves, some clients couldn’t put their feet through,” the designer says. “But if it were different, it wouldn’t have been the real thing. I think that’s one of the reasons girls find it fashionable, because the portions are a little distorted. The idea of having real vintage collections, not only vintage-inspired, makes it really unique. It gives you a taste of what you can’t find today.
-Laudomia Pucci on designing vintage reproductions, in W Magazine. April 2009

L: We are very realistic about our design…We feel that a designer has to give that. When you see a designer do something that costs a lot of money, but you can’t sit on it…you think, okay, that is art, if you want to call it, but it is not design. A designer has a responsibility to the public, to the manufacturer – that he doesn’t do something too expensive or something they cannot sell – so something….

M:…Something very balanced. This doesn’t prevent us from looking for gestures. Beyond the function, it has to have a character. So we take that into consideration. We try to have it, but we don’t like a gesture that is contrived. You can see when it is contrived. We like to see a gesture that belongs to that object in a natural way. It’s like this [with] people, too. You like a certain amount of extravagance here and there, but not too much. You like elegance better than extravagance…. We treasure intellectual elegance much more than intellectual extravagance. That’s why we like permanence rather than trendiness. Trendiness is extravagant by nature, whereas permanence has to be elegant. Otherwise, it doesn’t survive. So elegance is a sublime state of intelligence. It’s not something that you add; it’s something that you get by taking away – by subtraction, not by addition. The moment that you add to things, you can’t get to elegance. You can get to extravagance, because extravagance is the byproduct of addition, and elegance is the byproduct of subtraction.

image by Barbara Kruger

The irony of conspicuous consumption is well past its due date after all. It’s simply not enough to throw evermore exotic materials and precious jewels at a garment. Instead a celebration of individuality and purity of design is back on the agenda. Above all, it has never seemed more apposite to make a statement with one’s wardrobe. Inspiration over aspiration, is fashion’s new holy grail.
– Susannah Frankel, “Power of Invention” Another Magazine.

via The Guardian

Hats are about escapism. Of course, they can keep you warm, or the sun off your face, but they’re predominately about escapism, about being somebody else. When I come to work this morning, there were lots of people in rain hats, and of course they perform a function of some description but they also make people look glamorous, they make them look fun. Especially if people are coming to me, they’re looking for a costume, a way into becoming somebody else. Whether you’re a lady going to Ascot or you’ve got a sort of felt on and you’re becoming Garbo, or you’re putting on a baseball cap and becoming 50 cent but you’re really a nice boy from Winchester. The self expression for the milliner is about creating something that is dynamic and can be an expression of themselves. For the person wearing the hat, it’s about expression too, not necessarily of yourself, but of another self.
-Stephen Jones, in Another Magazine

Alexander McQueen, F/W 2009 from

If people are going to invest in fashion now then they need to know it’s worth it. They’re not going to want to buy a cashmere coat they can wear any season, they’re looking for something more individual than that, and from a more individual designer. Fashion is about fantasy as well as being commercial. We don’t all want to dress like soldiers in the same uniform. There is a viewpoint that people should play safe because they can’t afford to frighten their customer but, in fact, the opposite is true. You have to push forward and realise the power of fantasy and escapism. What’s the point of doing this job if you’re going to stagnate.
-Alexander McQueen, by Susannah Frankel “Power of Invention” Another Magazine

(from the Another Magazine article)((yes, I need a scanner)

That is one of the great things about being a milliner. We exist in our own little tributary, it is incredibly diverse. Fashion designers have to be precise, very clear about the boundaries surrounding their work. As a milliner you can do all sorts of different things. It’s all about instinct, and often the less though that goes into a hat, the better. Because, you see, a baseball cap, worn by the right person, can be the wildest thing on the planet; a simple beret can be Garbo. Hats don’t have to be these incredibly extravagant five-foot constructions.
-Stephen Jones, in Another Magazine


Some things to think about, hmm? But you’re kind of tired of reading and wanting to digest. Oh, alright. Some other time then; in fact, I already have an idea.

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What would I give..


To be able to travel back in time and dance with Gene Kelly. Maybe have legs like Cyd Charisse. Sigh. I had a huge crush on Gene when I was a teen. Now, older and wiser, I have fully realized that he is a)really no longer alive and that b) time travel is a long, long way off. Such a pity.

Anyway, Happy Saturday, and enjoy this gorgeous, standout scene from the classic Singin’ in the Rain.

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I’ve been noticing a bit of a trend towards taxidermy lately. Artists and designers have been taking creatures out of the traditional super-stiff literal taxidermy traditions and having a little bit of fun. Katie Bode, imminent graduate of the Design and Technology program at Parsons School for Design, jumped into the wearables spectrum and took vintage fox stoles and made them do a little something special:

“FriendlyFox is the take anywhere, no-hassle furry friend for the modern girl. With soft pet-able fur and a pleasing, vibrating ‘purr’ sensation when you stroke its head, FriendlyFox is the perfect pet for those without the time or effort required for a ‘living’ pet that still want the pleasure of furry companionship.”

I’ve seen this critter in real life and it’s definitely a trip. What looks like a regular, albeit mildly creepy, vintage fox stole suddenly springs to purring life when you stroke its fur. No-hassle pet for our super-busy don’t-have-time-to-take-care-of-anyone-but-ourselves lifestyle or a reminder the fur was in fact home to a living creature (not that you can forget what with the eyes)? Imagine if a straight up fur coat (sans animal head) did the same, purring and making happy noises when it was pet. haha!

Regardless of your feelings on taxidermy and fur, you’ve got to admit to being a little tickled from the logo. Mr. Firefox gets a little loving!

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Sitting Pretty


I really dig this idea of covering chairs in dresses! Could be a good way to use pretty vintage ones that don’t quite fit but that you are too fond of to give away while at the same time adding a beautiful, interesting design element to a room.

Also, that’s a really nice shade of grey. Looks lovely with the yellow.

Spotted on Desire to Inspire, photo by Damian Russell

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Hello, can I write on your back?


Please? Wouldn’t that be fun?! I know that’s what I’d want to do if this were my tattoo. Of course, I’d have to employ some loyal friends to write it for me. Hm.

(at first, i thought oh(!) there should be a line or a few lines between the marks so that it’s obvious that you can “fill in the blank”… but then that could be limiting. maybe one day you’d want just one word, another day a sentence, another a poem, etc. Better to leave it open, methinks)

I’m also amused because it’s sort of a(n unintentional((?)) take on the whole wings(!)-on-your-back tattoo. Imagine if they were a touch bigger… maybe had a pattern inside. Paisley of some variety perhaps. Since a quotation mark kind of resembles paisley somewhat..

Or maybe I just like them as is.

via A Cup of Jo via Yodaka

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It’s Because We’ve Got Hair


I’ve always had a little thing for hair. Twirling it. Fiddling with it. My mom says that when I was really little and didn’t have much hair of my own I’d twirl her hair around my fingers; and that when I got a little older, I’d sit watching my post-nap favorite My Little Pony movie twirling my own hair while drinking my chocolate milk. This memory is apparently so poignant to her, that last summer when she caught me absent-mindedly winding my finally long-enough-to-play-with (post super short pixie chop) hair around my fingers in the car she teared up. She’s probably all misty-eyed reading about it right now. It’s ok, that’s just the way she rolls.

It’s not just me. Certainly not. Hair is such a personal, tender thing. Just think about the butterflies you get when someone you care about brushes a hair off of your face. These are some of the sentiments that inspire Melanie Bilenker’s beautiful jewelry of images she renders with, you guessed it, hair:

“The Victorians kept lockets of hair and miniature portraits painted with ground hair and pigment to secure the memory of a lost love. In much the same way, I secure my memories through photographic images rendered in lines of my own hair, the physical remnants. I do not reproduce events, but quiet minutes, the mundane, the domestic, the ordinary moments.”

The amount of work and detail she puts into each piece is absolutely stunning – it’s no wonder she creates only a few pieces each year. I don’t know why but it just seems to add such an additional measure of meaning to those little moments you have captured in your mind. Moments you wish you had actual photographs of, maybe a perfectly detailed illustration, a movie, a soundtrack for that moment, maybe a smell. The moments that mean so much even when they seem so simple. To have it created in hair, conceivably their hair.. would just lay memory on top of memory.

I’m thinking it would be lovely/interesting if you could commission a piece that’s a portrait or some other sort of image/memory of a loved one created with that person’s hair. Wedding bands with designs created in the other’s hair…..

Oh, there goes my mind a-twirling. Regardless of those little mind-wanderings, the pieces are simply gorgeous as is.

Some available for purchase at Sienna Gallery.

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Digging: MoBro


What on earth is MoBro, you ask? It’s what I’ve decided to call a quasi recent crop of embroidery (particularly hand) that’s been popping up and giving the old-school craft a new sort of life. You know, Modern Embroidery. Some of it is not your grandmother’s embroidery (as in used in new and interesting ways, designs) and some is really not your grandmother’s embroidery (as in some naughty words and nudity).

It started when I saw the work from Andrea Dezsö‘s 2007 show “Lessons from My Mother”… somewhere, and cataloged it off in my brain as Really Pretty Rad. Ms. Dezsö is an ethnic Hungarian born and raised in Transylvania, Romania and for this project, she embroidered some of the witticisms bestowed upon her by her mother

And then, not terribly later, I saw Tim Moore‘s work in Monster Children magazine. He started embroidering on a flight back in 2001 (pre-September 11) with and in-flight sewing kit after he realized that he’d forgotten his sketchbook and pens. He got really into it, and even received some tutoring from his girlfriend’s Sicilian mother. Of course, he then “bastardized it”. (since you can’t read the Monster Children interview online, you can read a fairly similar one ((from what I can tell)) here.

After Tim, I came across the work of Porterness. Jennifer, the designer/artist, creates all sorts of goodies, but her embroidery work really stands out. Taught to embroider at age 10 by her grandmother, she describes her work as being heavily “influenced by Carl Jung’s work on the personal shadow, the embroidery functions as what Jung calls ‘spiritual talisman’ for inner growth.” She explores this theme in a number of pieces through two characters she created- Priscilla and John – and their ongoing tale of love and loss.

Some pieces are available at her etsy shop, Porterness.

And then this morning (!) I stumbled in my Tumblr stream upon Caroline Hwang‘s lovely work. Influenced by years of watching her grandmother knit and crochet, Caroline has managed to incorporate those older crafts like quilting and embroidery into paintings and drawings; “All my pieces begin as fabric, which I paint on, and then collage other fabric on top of, then embroider over with my sewing machine, and then add some final drawing and painting. They end up very layered.” (from Swindle). The following work is from her illustration page, which I saw first and is already linked to. For more awesome work (I got overwhelmed attempting to decide what to use, so I stuck with what I saw first) visit her other site here.

It’s all quite lovely, yes? It’s nice that in such an increasingly technologically advanced society, some still take time to learn the crafts of our grandparents and great-grandparents and reinterpret them into something that honors that past while making it modern. Creating each piece is so time consuming that I imagine it’s hard to not become very emotionally involved in the process, each individual stitch allowing a moment of reflection. It is interesting considering this fact how most all of these artists seek to explore love and the nature of relationships in their work.

Regardless, I would be tickled to see some quirky off-beat embroidery incorporated into the, err, various fabrics in my life. Yesiree, I would.

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