Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Candyland: Complete!!

Well, Project Candyland came to an end yesterday as the original door was rehung and towels were fluffed and placed with love. It's always bittersweet when a project ends.






a fab collection of lady planters on the new cabinet!

love the 'wood' floor and cute distressed cabinet for towels where the standing shower use to be. such a difference!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Happy Birthday Miniman!

Happy 30th Birthday, Lego Miniman!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

World's Smallest Postal Service

Got this in the mail the other day, and loved it!

From the fab San Fran shop The Curiosity Shoppe. More here.

Sign Time

For the past year and a half I've had SITE I've avoided doing something I knew we desperately needed: a sign. Not only are they costly, but they're the whole visual image people whizzing by see. So many design choices- metal? Plexi? Fabric? About four weeks ago, I took the plunge, bargained hard and teamed up with a local sign and awning company who was also doing the work for The Cafe Job.

I quickly converted my trusty logo (see right) to the proper format for the sign and headed to their shop to talk materials and layout. I knew I wanted to maintain the architectural, simple style that the logo embodies. I went with a light silver gray Sunbrella fabric with my logo painted, in blue and black. The young, 20 something designer worked with me for sometime picking placement, font, text, and size. I was impressed by their in house design software and her apparent command of said program. All was well!

And then this arrived on a sleepy Monday morning while I was THANKFULLY near the shop:

And perhaps, a detail shot?

Thankfully my years as project manager kicked in and I was able to stop them from installing that monstrosity above my store. Where are the pretty fine lines that contrast so well with the thick hatched walls that form the SITE?? Attention to detail, anyone? And, what's up with the solid blocks (again, note logo at right), jumpy lettering, and varying font sizes in the same word?! See the paint smears? Or the giant paint blobs coming from around each letter? I could not believe that any decent designer (and let's face it- signmakers are absolutely designers) would let that product out of the door.

Many, many, let's call them 'heated discussions' later with the store owner, a conversation with another professional sign maker, and a graphic designer later, and I came to one simple conclusion: my signmaking team, they be idiots.

After the crazy terrible sign came, I had no faith in the signmakers. They would insist my graphics were wrong, had poor line weights, etc...I insisted that I paid a graphic designer WHO IS A PROFESSIONAL SIGN MAKER IN DALLAS to make the logo just for this specific sign after their first sign was delivered. They insisted that the only way to make me the sign with my logo the way I like it- with my architectural ornament as fine lines, was to upgrade to a metal sign with vinyl lettering, a choice that while aesthetically appealing, was three times the cost of the agreed upon fabric and paint sign.

For days I fretted over this- ad in the end decided that I would have to compromise my logo to get a quality sign out of a largely inept designer.

In the end, I feel super let down. What could have been a stunning custom created sign, is just a design compromise. Do I hate it? No. But in the end, I know why I waited so long to get one, and maybe should have waited just a bit longer.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Because we can't not

While HGTV has raised the consciousness that the average American has of the Interior Design profession and thus helped the industry, it has also called to arms and army of 'can do' decorettes who think that their own success at home makes them qualified to design the homes of others. While no one can dispute that watching a room come together for $1000 is entertaining, or that a faux paint job on a cheap wooden frame may make it look old, or that sometimes rearranging the crap that people already own may make it look more attractive - none of this is design or designing. To follow are some tells of an actual designer.

Designers are clairvoyant.

A home is a living entity. An entity that has its own desires, memories and ambitions. A good designer must first and foremost collaborate with the home/architecture/space to be successful.

Designers are omni lingual.

Clients are necessary and sometimes wonderful. Clients also require the greatest amount of interpretation, as they unconsciously mislead you about their actual budget, sentimentalities and how involved they wish to be in the design process. Each client speaks their own language and designers must learn to be fluent in each one to be successful.

Designers are altruists.

The design profession is riddled with impostors who make specifications based on margins with certain vendors rather than what is right for the space/project. Designers will sacrifice and use existing/big box/ (gasp) client's own purchases if it is for the greater good.

Designers are visionaries.

While many look to trade publications as pattern books from which they can craft careful imitations of others, designers are inspired by the work of their colleagues but continue to craft rooms in their own aesthetic. Much as the works of Shakespeare spoke differently to both lower and upper classes, published works often contain "inside jokes" from one designer to the next in the form of a reference or quotation or a Duchampian placement of a humble object.

Designers are compulsive.

For designers the world is a cacophony of error. Errors they are compelled to correct whether in the form of actual physical action or the superimposition of the mind's eye. Designers do not work only when they are being paid to, in fact, their charity is often anonymous. The only peace that can be found is in a designed environment.

In short, professional designers are driven by the the simple fact that there is no other alternative. Total world domination.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

For T-bone: How to be a sneaker designer

T-bone and I can spend hours shopping for and discussing sneakers. Naturally I thought of him when I learned of RYZ Sneakers - an online shop (created be the former head of Adidas) where you can download a template, design your own shoe and submit it for actual production! If your design is selected you are paid a $1000 design fee plus royalties. I cannot wait to give this a try!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I knew owls were a trend, but.......

Man sentenced for pot, mountain lion

Published: Monday, August 18, 2008 at 3:22 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, August 18, 2008 at 3:27 p.m.

A Fort Bragg man was sentenced Friday to 180 days in jail for felony marijuana cultivation and ordered to pay $1,500 for misdemeanor possession of a mountain lion.

Russell Rexrode, 41, also was banned for life from owning firearms, according to the Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office.

Marijuana, weapons and owl talons were found on Rexrode’s property during a 2005 search by state Fish and Game officials in connection with one of three mountain lion kittens they believed had been captured and distributed by a Philo man.

One kitten died when it was hit by a car; one was handed over to a wildlife rescue agency and Rexrode delivered the third to a veterinary hospital after learning wildlife officials were seeking the animal, officials said at the time.

In addition to 119 pounds of processed marijuana and 142 pounds of wet pot, law enforcement officials said they found owl talons, 35 rifles and handguns, nunchakus, 100 bottle rockets and and $3,860 in cash during the search of Rexrode’s home.

Rexrode, his physician wife and other witnesses claimed at trial that the marijuana found by law enforcement was for medicinal purposes, the District Attorney’s Office said.

click here for more.


Loving this painting by RISD artist Chris Buzelli. In a different world, I would have gone to RISD. I love everything about that culture.

More great RISD products here. It's amazing to see all the items that I see all the time are actually from RISD alum.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Philippe Starck: Why design?

Worth the time, and it gets easier to understand after a little while.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ink + Peat

I love nothing more than watching others open new retail ventures....having been through it before, I love to see better and different ways to sell great merch. Pam at Housemartin has been carefully transforming a space in Portland (Trixie!!!) into the lovely Ink + Peat. I love her soft, feminine sensibility. Congrats!

Why I love Horchow (no, seriously)

Surprising, right? Horchow...when it's good it's good, and when it's bad, it's bad. The "upscale" home goods division of Neiman Marcus never disappoints too badly.

Dear Universe, please give me a foyer in my next home!

Earthy and luscious...rustic dinner for 8 at my place.

So. Pretty.

Every designer needs a little Ikat...done wonderfully by the grand Dransfield and Ross.

Michael Aram is a design god. These new floral enamel serving pieces somehow really speak to me- grand scale, pretty coloration.

If I were the marrying type, I'd so register for this:


Unexpected Beauty

As a designer I always turn to nature for inspiration. How else could the relative isolation of living in the Redwoods be satisfying? I was surprised, however, to find beautiful and well designed items while we shopped for our annual camping trip this weekend.

Objects designed for outdoor life embody the spirit of minimalism: items should be succinct, lightweight, durable and adaptable for multiple uses. Below are some that I found most appealing, many of which I will enjoy as we camp on the beach in just a few days.
These silicone bowls can be squished to fit into your backpack (or pocket) and (wait for it) CAN BE TURNED INSIDE OUT FOR EASY CLEANING! Oh, and they come in several fetching colors.

For the lazy minimalist (me) : a lightweight titanium pot/bowl so you can heat and eat your food out of the same vessel. The grabber thingey helps you remove it from the stove.
Because I need my morning coffee, a super light kettle
A bowl that collapses to become a plate and to stow
Our new stove

We bought these items at our local REI, which I am proud to say has now converted to solar energy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Read This Blog

I'm totally diggin' The Moment Blog from the ever amazing crew at the New York Times. Fashion, Design, Food....what more do you need in your ever-increasing blog reading lineup?

Yeah! Cafe!

Remember when I wanted a cafe job so bad? Well, thanks universe! I just was hired to do a quick renovation of my favorite local watering hole. We have just two days to shut down and sneak in our changes before the locals come back from their beachy vacations.

Some of the elements we're using:

Those great Domestic Construction teacup lights in the very cool multi colored assortment:

White penny tile, colored grout:

Durable yet fun fabrics for the upholstery (Kravet):

Monday, August 11, 2008

What's The Deal With Aura?

I'm all confused about Aura paint by Ben Moore.

I've used it successfully in my own home- both my entry and living room had the good 'ol Aura treatment and I loved the way it took to the walls and had no odor. No complaints here. I also love their very Farrow and Ball inspired color palate and modern approach to neutrals. But....

On the Eco Kitchen project it was time to bring in the big guns- the skim coaters and painters last week. I met with a rather large local contractor who'll be supplying her painting team. We went over all the details of the patching, the schedule, the cost and when I told him I could give him the paint schedule whenever, he asked what kind of paint I was asking for. I said, of course, Aura. It's an ECO kitchen, after all. My heart nearly stopped when both contractor AND client alike sounded a resounding no.

Imagine my shock. This is a client who will be spending the time while messy sanding and plastering is happening, upstate at an Ashram doing yoga, eating raw foods, and meditating four hours a day. How could she not want a more earth friendly paint? The Client says she read a NYT article about the low quality of Aura and other low VOC paints in the long haul. She said if she's spending the money she wants it to last. Word on the NYT reading street is that Aura's dirty secret is that it lasts about two years and not much more. The painter said he never uses Aura and pretty much refused to budge. He reason? The nearly double price tag. He went on to say there is a general silent boycott of Aura and other similar paints in the professional painting world. They just plain hate it.

So Eco kitchen will get oil based trims and Ben Moore Regal walls. I could have never seen that coming.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Inspired by Le Owner: Items you need in your install kit

I think that the recent post from Le Owner about non design items that are useful to designers was fabulous, and it got me thinking about install kits. A designer is not simply someone who can help you buy things for your home. They will systematically make your home (and lifestyle) more efficient and lovely, and they can do so in three days (usually) with a little help from movers, swearing, and their install kit. As I rattle off things from my own please think of items missing that you may have in your own, and comment with suggestions. If you do not yet have one, here is what you need:

1.) A large plastic toolbox, such as this one, from Northern Tool.2.) Basic tools such as a hammer, standard and Philip's Head Screwdrivers, a level, a long tape measure, a box cutter (or four), a wire cutter, needle nose pliers, a rubber mallot and an allen wrench.

3.) A cordless drill, like this one, from Black and Decker. (And the bits)4.) Every possible size and shape of self stick felt pads. Not only do they protect floors, but they can help when a chair wobbles or the plastic levelers make it too high.

5.) Several heavy duty picture mounting kits that include nails and wire.

6.) Black and brown sharpie pens. Not that I have done this, but theoretically one could, say, touch up furniture with it.

7.) WOOD GLUE - again, not saying I have used it...........

8.) Blue tape (for marking things for follow up / touch up), electrical tape and scotch tape

9.) Flat headed extension cords is white and brown

10.) Every type of light bulb you can think of - silver tipped, night light, halogen, 40 watt standards, the long kind that go in library lamps...

What else, what else?

High Fashion Home

While deep into clicking around Le Internet today I came across High Fashion Home, which appears to be perhaps the Mecox Gardens of the West... lots of product, decent prices, and a few new items. I'm pretty good at spotting the Roost/Oly Studio/Two's Company typical high end retail stores, but this one was just a wee bit different. Some of my favs:

Kelly Wearstler + Playboy

It is a not so secret fact that my designer crush, Ms. Kelly Wearstler, fabric designer extraordinaire, hotel designer at large and television design judge is also a Playmate. Yes, the gods love me the most and made a talented woman who not only publishes beautiful book after beautiful book but also got naked and made sure that TOO was in print. Hysterical post about it here at Decorno (yes, that's the "porno"+design website) with visual evidence.

{post script: It is also not a secret that, ya know, if a copy of said Playboy showed up around the time of my birthday, that it would be, like totally cool.}

The Five Design Tools I Cannot Live Without!

They seem mundane, I know…but these five things are really life savers.

1. A great paper trimmer. No, really. This little gem came into my life during an unfortunate scrapbooking period in collage and literally saved my life in design school. Cuts anything into perfect squares and rectangles in seconds and stays sharp almost forever. I use it for client presentations boards and almost daily at the store for on the fly signage. I love the CARL RBT 12 Paper Trimmer the most, but many work well.

2. Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. The day before SITE’s one year anniversary, I had a mini mental breakdown- I had intended to repaint and patch any damage done in our first 365, but simply ran out of time. A customer suggested that this so-called magical eraser would take away scuffs from our pristine white paint, and low-and-behold….it really did!! Now I use it all the time- client installs (they never end without something getting scuffed) and nearly daily at SITE. Works like a dream on vintage furniture- especially laminates and plastics. Word.

3. Photoshop. Not a day goes by that I don’t use it. Nowadays, I can’t be bothered with big client boards, so I just Photoshop great composition images and clients love them- an easy 8x10. SITE’s website (and this blog!) see a lot of photoshop action, too. Someday I’ll learn Illustrator too, but for now Photoshop is enough.

4. Cheap-o White Staples Binders. I’m not an organized person. It’s true. Em, Trixie they both know it. I still remember the day Em forced us to clean our shared office- it hurt. But give me a clean white binder, some plastic sleaves and the promise of organization, and I’m off to the races. Trixie got me all set up with what we now call ‘The White Binder System’ so really, its her have to thank. I now use the same system to organize all client items- paint samples, pictures, billing and invoices, etc.

5. Blue Tape. It’s a designer staple, and now I know why. I use it all the time for clients- your mirror will go here, the cabinet should be shortened this much, the lights should be placed here. In addition we all know it makes great paint sample stick up and neat corners on messy paint jobs.

What are the design helpers and tricks you cannot live without!?