rough linen’s clever ideas for tabletop + home decor

(Video link here or on YouTube.) We spent part of this weekend poking around Rough Linen, an online store and information resource for fine affordable linen products made by proprietor Tricia Rose. (We are mulling using one of her Summer Covers as a multi-configurable/multi-purpose bed skirt but more on that in another post; we’re still figuring it out.)

We discovered that Tricia Rose has many clever ideas for using linen throughout the home, especially the dining room, as this video shows. Her thoughts on napkin sizes echo ours —they should be big!— and she had the clever idea of read more…

keith haring’s subway epiphany

keith haring

keith haring

Recently, we stumbled on a slideshow of the brilliant drawings artist Keith Haring made on New York Subway walls during the 1980′s.  To take the subway in New York was to be constantly surprised by the energetic, white chalk-on-black, hand-drawn visions where advertising should have been. But what inspires us most is reading Haring’s story of how he came to envision the subways as a drawing space:

December 1980, still in December probably, I go into the subway one day and see for the first time an empty black palate which has been put there to cover an old advertisement. I find out recently that they had been put there for years. I’ve seen photographs from the 40s and 50s, old subway photographs where there are these empty black panels. So it wasn’t a new thing, but I had just never seen it before.

But somehow this one day when I saw it read more…

shsk’h for avant garde music + other cool music players

music player for new music

While poking around designer NoahWall’s websites, we stumbled on SHSK’H, an only-online music label specializing in contemporary avant garde music. You can stream albums through the site or download free MP3′s, as well as participate in developing music projects. The site features a very cool, beautiful rotary music player that is worth checking out. read more…

wood coffee table with ‘yes’ + other signage furniture

roxane beis

roxane beis

We first posted  furniture designer Roxane Beis‘ work last march after we stumbled on her unique stenciled tree trunk side tables whose splits and cracks were vividly painted red. Only we didn’t know whom to credit. When a reader sent us an email with a link to Beis’s site, we discovered a trove of interesting furniture, like this slab wood coffee table, embossed with our favorite word: YES.

Which gives us a lot of ideas: read more…

7 happiness practices

© Bruno Barbey/Magnum Photos-

© Bruno Barbey/Magnum Photos-

Spotted at Dumb Little Man: 6 Unconventional, But Scientific Ways To Be The Happiest Person On Earth. Many of these six practices are based on neuroscience and other scientific evidence…but then EVERYTHING is these days. We figure, what have we got to lose by trying them out? Visualizing throwing an anxiety or negative thought in a dumpster DOES help to mitigate its effect. And we know a few of the others practices to be tried and true, if a tad corny. Below is the gist of the six (which we annotated); go to the article to read the thinking behind them.

They may not make you the happiest person on earth, but quite possibly happIER.

-Stop buying possessions, start buying having experiences.
Material possessions tend to make us happy initially and then wane off considerably, but the happiness gained from experiences may last a lifetime. If you want to be happier in the long term, consider looking at some wonderful art, taking a trip,  or making dinner with friends  buying plane or concert tickets instead of a TV or new phone. read more…

IL short: color-inspired 60′s house

colorful 60s house-rogers-london

Hungry for color but don’t quite  know how to pull it off? Check out this house tour of a seriously colorful modern home from the 60′s. Loud + inspiring!

via Design Milk

foamcore illusions for short-term home-design fixes

AC w and without foamcore

Once the bulk of the Harlem Laboratory renovation was done, I made the decision to move in with many smaller projects still to be finished. The place was liveable, and  I figured I could work on them over the coming months, gradually. Busy with work, months dragged on and some of the unfinished bits became literal eyesores. I hated looking at them. Until I could devise the solutions I wanted, I had to come up with temporary fixes.

An ex-set designer I knew came up with a foamcore “front” for the ugly heater  (below) that would have cost fortune to replace. Foam core! What an idea. You can cut it with a utility knife. Half-inch thickness are pretty solid. And you can paint it.

I’ve devised a number of foamcore solutions for unfinished elements I will deal with down the line when time and $$ permits.

I replaced the ill-fitting plastic AC surround with a snug foamcore one that gives it a clean look. read more…

what are you waiting for?

the whitney museum

the whitney museum

The Whitney Museum recently sponsored a public art project with artist Gary Simmons. To make the project, teens collected responses to the question,What are you waiting for?” from their classmates and the larger community. The handwritten scraps of paper were then photographed, printed, and wheatpasted onto a wall, creating a layered, complex, and sometimes contradictory collection of voices and opinions. They are on view twenty-four hours a day, at the corner of Gansevoort and Washington Streets. It’s a really great question no matter what age you are. We were struck by some of the answers:

For something different to happen…

Working my craft.

Nothing, I’m good.

A chance to prove myself. read more…

24 diy chair inspirations from andy hall

© andy hall

© andy hall

Three years ago, we posted  a mystery chair whose cool design inspired us to think we could make it ourselves.  We did not know who’d made it, until today, when a reader sent us a link in a Comment. It is the work of artist/designer Andy Hall. We’ve discovered that Hall set himself the challenge of making “one chair in exactly one hour = 24 chairs in 24 hours” . You can see all 24 iterations of diy chairness here.  We find them inspiring, largely because of the ordinary/easily accessibl materials Hall used…

and because we have a thing for chairs. When we first published a picture of the new Laboratory in Harlem, a reader commented: What keeps cracking me up is the number and variety of chairs in the space! Love the mix, the shapes and it seems, the only pop of color provided by your bum spots!.  H-m-m. What’s that about?  Like people, chairs have so much personality…and possibility. read more…

improvised life: leap…and one thing leads to another

ferdinando scianna/magnum

ferdinando scianna/magnum

Recently, we were browsing through Paperless Post looking for a virtual card to congratulate a couple we know on their twentieth anniversary of being together. We stumbled upon this image by Magnum Photographer Ferdinando Scianna and thought: that’s it!  Over the past year, both members of the couple has been feeling their way, and ultimately leaping to a new work path (and mindset).

The act of looking for an image —one we do daily in preparation for our posts— invariably leads us to artists, photographers, people we didn’t know of…expanding our view. The paperless post image sent us to Magnum’s site to look at Scianna’s portfolio, and then found a number of photos on the theme of improvising and taking risks… read more…

plum with a heart tattoo (perfection of imperfection)

maria robledo

maria robledo

Maria Robledo sent this image of one of the first plums her plum tree yielded. What might seem like a blemish could be seen as something else althogether: the perfection (and magic) of imperfection.

Thanks Maria!

Related posts: brilliant graffiti: ‘you are (not) perfect’
 ‘seeing’ is a practice (look what’s hidden in plain sight)
‘the imperfect is our paradise’ (wallace stevens)
wabi sabi, the perfection of imperfection
unexpected shift of view (look around!)

diy minimalist stainless steel pot rack

pot rack finished

sally schneider

For many years, I steered clear of potracks. I disliked the feeling of having things hanging above me when I cooked, the visual busy-ness they created, and the generally clunky lines of most commercial ones. In my old place, I hung my pots on wall racks made from sleek shower bars, in a nook that would attenuate their strong visual effect; eventually, that nook became so full, I hid it with a screen.

In the new Laboratory, I wanted easy access to my wonderful array of pots collected over many years of cooking and traveling. With storage space at a premium, a pot rack seemed like the best option. So I set about trying to find my way around the qualities of classic pot-racks that I didn’t like, to fashion a minimalist pot rack. read more…

bruce mau’s incomplete manifesto for growth

bruce mau

bruce mau

Anne Johnson alerted us to the extraordinary ‘Incomplete Manifesto for Growth that legendary designer and visionary Bruce Mau wrote in 1998: 43 powerful principles and practices. We’ve bolded our favorites:

  1. Allow events to change you.
    You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
  2. Forget about good.
    Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.
  3. Process is more important than outcome. 
    When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.
  4. Love your experiments read more…

electric fans as mosquito deterrent + ac booster

Dyson Air Multiplier Fan

During the recent heat-wave, we took the opportunity to test what electric fans can REALLY do when the going gets tough. For sure, their ability to move air around can keep a space bearable enough to forego AC for hours. And when the AC is on, that same ability can augment its power, help cool a place down more quickly and keep it feeling cooler, especially if your AC can’t quite do the job. Fans that can blow a strong, focused stream of air are useful for directing cool air into hot hallways and difficult-to-reach “back” spaces. We’ve found the Vornado (below) to be really effective (if somewhat homely). We also use it to bounce air off the ceiling or walls to scatter it around.

Recently, we heard of an interesting new use for electric fans: mosquito deterrent, read more…

solution: stenciled painted floors

mette helena rasmussen for sköna hem.

mette helena rasmussen for sköna hem.

When we chose plywood floors for the Laboratory, the idea was that we could paint them as needed. They’d start out an oyster white…and then go who knows where as they became worn or our mood changed. So we’re always on the lookout for cool painted floor ideas, like this one from an old station building-cum-renovated family home in Denmark. The floors have a white base with stenciled patterns on top. Because the pattern is large and spread out, it seems almost random rather than being a tightly-controlled design. The pattern is at once rustic and curiously moderne.

Googling will yield a lot of how-to info about stenciling, including cutting your own designs. Here’s a place to start.

via Style Files

Related posts: richard woods’ fab colorful wood-pattern floors
dept of painted floors: apple green
paola navone’s painted rugs
shipping pallet floors (d-i-y?)
we finally figure out the best way to clean wood floors
zigzag paint floors + the zigzag path of the creative