Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Art of Up-Cycling

Artist Mark Langan has created a name for himself by making used cardboard useful again. His 'art' ranges from the re-creation of masterpiece paintings to company logos and signage.

Even more than being creative and resourceful, this guy makes some seriously cool stuff!

Check him out on the daily green or his website

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

back to the grind (well, sort of)

Last week was Earth week, which meant a busy week for me. There were so many events going on in the area that it would have been impossible to be everywhere. I had a booth at several shows and got to attend a couple of others and am very excited to report that each place I went had a great turnout!

my table at the Mitsubishi Electronics Eco-Fair

But, alas, it's time to get back to the office. Lucky for me 'work' includes reading blogs and trade publications, researching new green companies and technology and selecting materials for client projects. This morning I got to attend a Wellness Day at Tangram, a local Steelcase dealer. The topic covered some new research that looks at Health as an important part of the workplace environment.

Steelcase is known for paving the way for ergonomic, functional and environmentally-friendly office furnishings. Now they are focusing on the rest of the picture; the health epidemic and how it affects both employee work habits and the company's bottom line.

Without going into too much detail (though I find this incredibly fascinating), research concludes that our brains process things much more efficiently when we are moving. Our bodies were built to move and doing simple things like walking around or changing positions can increase productivity tremendously. Not to mention that people feel better and enjoy work more.

One of the many products designed to fit this need is the walkstation. This 'workstation' features an adjustable height surface and a treadmill that goes up to 2 mph. Just fast enough to get our brains pumping without interfering with typing or talking on the phone. It has wi-fi so that anyone in the office can saddle up with their laptop and get right to work(ing out).

Of course I had to try it!

I hopped on, adjusted my height and set the speed. As I paced along at a comfortable level I couldn't help but wonder what my AutoCAD drawings would look like if they were done while walking...but it would be a great place to check email and return phone calls.

Then it was time to try out the wii fit. I practiced yoga and watched a sales rep hula hoop and then wandered over to get a massage. Seriously, it's been a rough day.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

design innovations

I just received my updated binder of Innovations line of sustainable wallcoverings. Among some of the old favorites were some new items and I just couldn't wait to share!

My new favorite is called Origami Wood (guess why). I am currently imagining this on a wall behind a hostess station or reception desk. It's so texturally interesting and I'm thinking that on a large scale it would have the appearance of a cubist masterpiece - but subdued enough to work in more conservative spaces as well.

And for a couple of oohs and aahs, let's look at some shiny stuff. The first one is covered in Murano glass beads. In black it reminds me of an evening gown.

I also like the simple texture of mica chips in this paper, appropriately named Nautilus. It's got a soft sheen, not exactly irridescent, but eye-catching just the same.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

light bulb moment

Funny AND Green!

Made from 100% beeswax, these light bulb candles will definitely brighten up your day.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

simply elegant

Recently, I was asked what my design style is. As an Interior Designer I make it a point not to have a specific style (though this seems to work quite well for people like Jonathan Adler and Candice Olson) because I like most styles, from historical to traditional to modern. It was one of the many reasons that I became a designer- to play around with different styles.

That said, I also believe that we do tend to be drawn toward certain styles at certain points in our lives. Factors like current trends, seasons and lifestyles all affect what we want to surround ourselves with.

So what was my response?

Well, for the sake of not going into my usual rant (see above), I threw out a couple of adjectives that I think describe the style phase that I am currently in: Simple Elegance

Since then I have run across a book called Easy Elegance, Atlanta Bartlett. It showcases spaces that are, you guessed it, elegant yet simple and the photography, by Polly Wreford, is what really grabs your attention. You could find me in any one of those spaces happily lounging the day away (err, I mean working).

Happy Easter

I hope everyone has a wonderful, relaxing holiday. Whether you celebrate Easter or not, I like to think that today is a day of renewal-both literally and figuratively. I'm spending the day enjoying the sunshine and doing activities I love- like catching up on my magazines!

Here are some beautiful eggs from Martha Stewart, just as a little springtime inspiration.

Friday, April 10, 2009

the letter of the day

Recently I found these recycled metal letters at Urban Outfitters that I'm quite fond of. Normally I don't really get into the writing on the wall per se, but the letters themselves are pretty unique, made of tin from old cans (like spam). They are very affordable at $5.99 a piece, and made to hang on the wall - I'm thinking of using them as bookshelf decor.

Friday, April 3, 2009

zen and the art of beer building

Architectural inspiration truly can come from anywhere. Check out this Buddhist temple constructed entirely of used beer bottles.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

stump the designer

This month's challenger is Carrie from Irvine, who inherited 2 matching shelf units from her husband's family and needs help incorporating them into their dining room.

Carrie says "we are free to do whatever we want with them... paint, refinish, change out the doors, add a new top, remove the shelves , etc. They are a little too old fashioned for me and I'm not big on the wood finish... I just don't know what to do! I thought about painting them black and removing the shelves, and adding a thick butcher block to the top but my husband isn't convinced my plan will look good. And he hates it when I start a project and then change my mind halfway through. From the photos, you will see that we are in the midst of decorating and never seem to finish any project. Can you help?"

Carrie describes her and her husband's style as Pottery Barn-ish. They have a 10 month old son and cats, meaning that they need as much storage as possible-out of sight and out of reach.

I just love a challenge!

The first thing that I will say is that I think you should save yourself the time and headache of trying to turn them into entirely different pieces of furniture. They are actually quite versatile, even with their traditional elements. One of the main components of the Pottery Barn style is the blend between traditional and contemporary; making spaces feel comfortable and seem like they have been around awhile, but not outdated. These pieces serve that purpose very well.

That said, there are a couple of things I would suggest here to make these fit into your own style a little better. Again taking our cues from Pottery Barn, I suggest painting the units white and leaving the shelves and doors as-is. You have a lot of red-toned wood in the dining and living areas and, while I'm not a freak about matching woods, I do think that we shouldn't overwhelm the spaces with dark wood.

Another reason for suggesting white instead of black or natural is that we want to use these on the red wall of the dining room. The color is awesome and I'm really glad to see that you aren't afraid to make some bold statements in your style. I think that using white will highlight the accent wall and keep the space feeling comfortable instead of heavy and dark.

One thing I need to mention- make sure you have a professional paint the furniture, especially since we're going white. The last thing you want is to have brush strokes or globs of paint that you will notice every time the light hits it (trust me, this will drive you nuts). I can suggest someone if you want.

My plan is to take both of the white shelves and anchor them on the edges of the red wall. The left unit will take the place of the current 'phone station' and provide additional storage for any miscellaneous items (notepads, mail center, etc.). We want to have a mix of functional and decorative uses for these pieces, to really get the feel of an organized but lived-in home.

So let's take a look at some of the accents that will pull this room together.

1. Along the top shelf of both pieces I suggest putting some storage baskets. These are a great catch-all, but out of reach for both cats and babies.

2. Taking a bold fabric, like the black and white print from Rubie Green, make a valance for the large window on the adjacent wall and add some sheer curtains to finish it off. It's not necessary to overthink the details in a space, but simple additions like this always make a big difference.

3. Update the hardware on the drawers with something more modern. The pulls I chose are simple, but perfect for transitioning these pieces from traditional to contemporary.

4. I have incorporated some of the decorative items that you already have and mixed them up with some new ones as well. Objects like the birds and the wooden house are great pieces because they add character and interest to a standard bookshelf and make your everyday items seem like a display.

The space between the shelves is a perfect place for a functional display as well. A small stool would fit perfect here and can be a spot to set a purse or the baby or to sit and tie your shoes. Another thing I noticed in the pictures was that there are several rolls of plan sets (I'm guessing these are from work) and other tall cylindrical items that are awkward to store. One suggestion is to use an urn as a storage bin, once again making your everyday items look like art.

So here is what the space looks like all pulled together.

I hope you like what I have come up with. I've had a lot of fun imagining (and re-imagining) what we can do with a little work and not a lot of money.

1. Woven Storage Bins, Vivaterra
2. Habibi fabric, from Rubie Green
3. Pure cabinet hardware, Spectra Decor
4. Wave Stool, Vivaterra
5. Papier Mache Birds, Branch Home
6. Driftwood Planters, Palecek
7. Wood Houses, Pottery Barn

Join me next month for stump the designer. Please email me your troubled spaces and unruly furniture pieces and I'll see what I can do. Thanks for reading!

give me shelter

As I've entered into the wide world of blogging I have begun to wonder how I ever got along without it before. There is so much inspiration out there and some of the blogs that I have stumbled into are the perfect culmination of art, design and the human experience.

A great example is SHELTER, an interior design blog that has become my go-to for images of amazing homes. As a designer, one of the first requirements on a new project is to get inspired. Often times we do this by seeking out inspirational images that fit the parameters of the project. To have a resource for these is an invaluable tool.

In my daily life it's the same way. I am contstantly inspired by color, pattern, objects and lighting and it reinforces why I do what I do.

Take a look at some of these recent posts and then sign up for the daily newsletter. You'll get a daily dose of inspiration in one neat little package.