Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thursday, January 8, 2015

inspiration....color field

Color Field is such a cool name.
It would make a great band name if I ever needed a band name...Color Field is also a movement or a style of painting that came about after WWII and abstract expressionist painter, Helen Frankenthaler, was a part of this movement (along with Mark Rothko, a very famous Color Field painter). I came across Indian Summer this week and was just struck by the balance, shapes, and color. I work with color everyday, my title is Color Designer. (It is funny how jobs find you and just fit.) Color speaks to me and I just feel it.  I felt empowered by her work, her lifetime of exploration of color and texture.

I am also picking up the brush this year thanks to my husband, so painting is on the brain. Gorgeous studio spaces are also on the brain, but when are spaces NOT on the brain?? We might start shopping for a home in the city this spring, and in my mind, I want to walk into a light filled space with high ceilings and open floor plan, and the perfect spot for my new easel!

Monday, October 13, 2014

inspiration...amazing grace

image: Amazing Grace Bank of America Theatre

This past weekend we were able to see the new musical, Amazing Grace, making it's pre-broadway debut here in Chicago. Amazing Grace is my favorite hymn of all time—by the time it hits the last verse I am always in tears. So I was pretty pumped to see the story of the 18th century author, John Newton, played out on stage. It was such a beautiful story interweaving one man's internal struggle of slavery to self and a nations external struggle around the African slave trade and the rise of the abolitionist movement. The scenes shift from manor house, to boat, to Africa in such a seamless way highlighting the amazing voices of Erin Mackey, Laiona Michelle and Chuck Cooper, bringing tears to my eyes (favorite song, Daybreak). With the only slight glitch, the main character's understudy stepped in at the last minute due to an injury, the play was amazing. Bravo to that guy!

The set was minimal and beautifully done for a smaller theatre stage (once a performance site for Houdini!) they used large antique maps and stitched and tattered sails as backdrops, glowing lanterns, brocade fabric dresses and mahogany furniture...

With all that fresh in my mind, here is an Amazing Grace inspired desk set...

1. These maps have been on my must-buy list for some time now, so I "must-buy" soon! (Municipal Prints)

2. Philosophy always makes such subtly gorgeous scents, I am sure this one is "amazing." (Nordstrom)

3. Benjamin Hubert's Maritime Chair takes design cues from the bow of a boat, also love the various color combinations. (

4. Tiffany 1837 silver compass—to always find your way in style, of course. (Tiffany & Co)

5. Dreaming of travel and the Heritage Leather + Apolis Mason Courier Bag by Apolis.

6. This is such a gorgeous writing desk (escritoire), circa 1715 from Scawby Hall. I love the small drawers marked with the monthly calendar names, see details at 1stdibs (here). Also, this piece is thought to have come from Scawby Hall, here is some information about the manor house (here).

Amazing Grace
by John Newton

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I'm found.
'Twas blind, but now I see.
'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.
When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Then when we first begun.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I'm found.
Was blind, but now I see.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

inspiration...flow & fall

Fall always makes me excited. I love layers and texture, cozy cocoon sweaters, leather boots, crisp air and apple cider. There is a bit of hesitation this year because winter is on the way and last year was brutal. But let's not think about that and just enjoy the gorgeous style of Raquel Allegra. California cool girl gives us some great fall options and new silhouettes. Long flowing tunics, open knit sweaters, billowing shirts and leather pants. The balance of burgundy, blue and grey is a nice color combination and even throwing in a plaid shirt makes me think of the cool kids in Seattle. Could I even try to be this cool??

Images found here:

Friday, July 25, 2014

inspiration...the true cost & the treasuring trend

My friend recently took a job at one of my favorite brands, Nau, out in Portland. I have always found their product to be beautiful and well made, with a bit of futuristic thinking. As a designer working through building a small brand based on this blog, I am often thinking through concepts that mean so much to me and building it into the foundation of the brand, similar to what Nau has done. One page on their site that really resonated with me was their True Cost page (here). I think they did a wonderful job identifying the true cost of doing business, not just dollars and cents, but the cost of each decision we make and the effect one our environment and humanity. What makes me excited about having a tiny business is knowing that no matter how big or small, it is part of the bigger picture and each decision matters—right down to the paper I source and the ink the printers use. For me, it is also the launching point for the design briefs and design process. I ask myself: will this last, will someone desire to keep it a long time, is it useful? So while I wish my process was quicker, I know the time it takes to launch the site will be worth it and that the questions I constantly ask myself will be reflected in the end product.

This quote from a Nau customer is spot on:

"I'm definitely not a high-income person, and I've been trying to adhere to the treasuring idea. Buying less - only getting what I truly need, and when I do buy something not settling for the ordinary...I see this as an investment. Not just a jacket for myself, but for the future. You see, being green, treating workers well, considering both form and function - all of this could become the new normal."

So, do you find yourself following the treasuring trend, buying only what you need and not settling for the ordinary? Do you think this mentality will continue to grow past trend status and be a life long commitment to more people? 

What are some reasons that you value & treasure an item?

1. I value home. I just started this book, Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity by Emily Matchar. So far so good! It resonates with me and my vision of the home office—that place where you go to relax, create, explore and contemplate. All activities that are healthy for the mind and soul, but often times are not given priority. This book starts to pinpoint some of those reasons why more people are taking time to make a home as well as making choices to stay at home.

2. I value function. I found the shape and texture of this bag to be so beautiful. I am always looking for something that can carry anything and yet is lightweight and packable. The woven Maguey (a natural plant fiber) bag is handmade in Israel.

3. I value comfort. The Nau Repose dress is made of sustainable Micromodal® jersey dress that is unique, feminine and luxurious to the touch. Great for travel and relaxing.

4. I value smart heritage. I love the curves of Around the Tree's West Wings Chair. This company mixes it's Portuguese heritage with today's technology using cork and wood to create beautiful pieces that speak to nature and their company's history.

5. I value childhood memories. I don't know about you, but I have a box of childhood memories. Handwritten letters, journals, pictures and pieces of art fill this box. While I don't go to that box daily, it sits on the shelf and is there, a reminder of past days—a personal time capsule of where I have been. It made me wonder what others had in their box. This painting of a bullfighter, “Le Picador,” 1890 is by Pablo Picasso, painted at age 9!

6. I value sustainable. The Workstead Desk Lamp utilizes a re-purposed O.C. White industrial joint and brass socket and looks beautiful on any desk.

7. I value tangible history. There are so many great items out in the world, sometimes I wonder why make more, but of course, we need to push forward and keep creating. But mixing in old with the new is my favorite thing to do. This is a rare Alfred Hendrickx work desk from 1958.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

inspiration...Neocon 2014

It is inspiring to live in a city with so many great opportunities and Neocon is one of them—a free interior design tradeshow! For my second year attending (2013 here) I felt like I was a bit more "in-the-know" and I could navigate the show more easily. But physically it was so overwhelming—people jammed in every corner! That same week I had been reading Susan Cain's book Quiet: The Power of Introverts and was excited to see Steelcase take her information and design spaces specifically for personality types like me.

The Steelcase Quiet Studio

“Introverts recharge their batteries by being alone;

extroverts need to recharge when they don’t socialize enough.”
Susan Cain

While I love connecting and collaborating, I am at my best in a small more intimate group or on my own thinking through information. I like that she is making us not have to apologize for the way we work best. Office spaces have gone from cubicle world to open floor plan, and it is exciting to see space designers acknowledging and designing for all kinds of personalities and all kinds of work dynamics.

More examples from Steelcase and Susan Cain here.

Here are my inspirations from Neocon:

1. Best New Seating: Lo by Keilhauer

When I first saw this low seating conference table my heart started to race, something fresh! I LOVED this design. It is just the right balance of off-beat and cozy. It puts you in a different position with your coworkers and your body is seated in a new way. We happened to try out the table with the designer present and she was speculating on how this piece would be adopted. I looked across the table to my husband and we both said, "Our dinging room!" Tweak the aesthetic (color/materials) to feel more domestic and it would be great place to hang out with friends, eat, and play games.

2. Best Office Color: Pink by Herman Miller

Herman Miller has a special place in my heart, to me they just get it. Walking their showroom, I fell in love with their 2014 soft pink office pieces. The Girard Pinwheel Ottomans and soft wool pin boards, the space was bright and welcoming. I think I could be more creative in such a space.

(PS. I even saw Yves Béhar race on by, star designer sighting!)

3. Best Keynote Speaker: Todd Bracher

Todd Bracher is a talented guy with an impressive roster of projects for not yet 40! His keynote was informative to his career path, but most important to me was his inspiration and process. He noted that reduction was very important to him, and he always asks himself how he can take out everything and only leave the meaningful to communicate truth. He looks to nature to find his inspiration. The Trea chair for Humanscale was inspired directly from the human exoskeleton / hip and socket. His Dome lamp was inspired by the phases of the moon seen from below, and his Stick light was inspired by stick insects.

4. Best Color Trends: Green & Blue (think Easter)

5. Best"I want that" moment:
Herman Miller and Haworth tie

Herman Miller portable pin boards

Haworth leather lounge chair organizer

My husband and I have this movie quote from Napoleon Dynamite—the moment where Uncle Rico is selling the plastic bowls door-to-door and promises to throw in the wooden decorative ship and the lady whispers to her husband, "I waaant thaaaat." I do that when I see something I really like.

From last year, see my 2013 Neocon post here.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

inspiration...warm north

I think I just found my dream bedside table. Now which color to order...

inspiration...small is good

This past weekend I watched this charming documentary about the tiny house movement called TINY A Story About Small Living. In fact, I watched it twice so that my husband could see what I was gushing about. It is a bit shocking how someone can live in such tight—yet well designed—quarters and not go crazy! In fact, I think it brings the opposite: a feeling of freedom. The protagonists are a young couple building a tiny house together and pondering the meaning of home. I think the values and ideas they explore; basic needs, security, comfort, a sense of place, are close to my heart more than I knew. We live in a fast paced society that values "more" and we put up with depression, sickness, stress and debt in the pursuit of "more." We find our identity in so many external things: the resume, the business card, the diploma, the title, our possessions, our neighborhood, our looks and even our relationships! It is so tiresome. When we moved from Vermont to Chicago, all I wanted to do was purge down to the most necessary items, the things that mean something, and get rid of all the rest! I think as humans we tend to fill the spaces we inhabit and it makes me wonder, "how small can I go?" The empowering take away from TINY was to acknowledge that there might be, and often is, a choice. My favorite quote from the film:

"Home is a self-portrait."

tiny playhouse by FB Build via Houzz

This is my idea of an awesome tiny house, though it is actually a child's playhouse (say what?!) and it even comes with herringbone patterned wooden floors! But I can see an adult tiny house version in this style, close to water with a few surf boards leaning up outside, maybe even an outdoor shower and vegetable garden.

Here are some legit Tiny house designs:

Small Living Solutions

With small living comes the need for genius storage solutions. A friend of mine recently lamented that her one bedroom loft didn't accommodate a distinct office/study space so she used her dining table. She wanted some tips on how to turn some space into a place to work that didn't look messy. Well that is tough but doable. Here are some ways to bring style, organization and function to a dual space.

I chose to explore the entryway space and see if there could be a way to utilize it to the max, yet not make it appear like an office. 

1. Light it up.
Great lighting is important, but it doesn't have to be a desk lamp. This option could work with an entire room, yet light up the table space when needed. Add two lamps to balance it out if there is space.

2. Reflection and surprise storage.
A good mirror is perfect for entry spaces, it let's you do a double check before leaving. But what if you used a recessed medicine cabinet? You could store office supplies inside or line with cork and pin your inspirations. Just open wide when you sit down to work.

3. Organize Trays
There are so many great tray options out there, even those you can customize. I love this handcrafted walnut trey to catch keys.

4. Console turned Desk
Side tables and consoles could be a great option for a desk because they are more narrow and therefore save on space, note you might need an adjustable chair to accommodate the varying heights. I like this one for it's simplicity and many drawers for you to store more office files and paperwork etc.
Crate and Barrel Woodland Console Table / $999

5. Storage
Beautiful storage is fundamental to keeping a space organized yet stylish. Vintage tool boxes expand to reveal more space, so store tech cords, staplers, paper clips and pencils inside. Great to even transport to another area in your home.
The Industry Cottage Vintage Tool Box / $16 (sold)

6. Task Chair
Task chairs today look like they can land on the moon and are expensive enough to make you think they did! I love this chair for its stylish design and comfortable seat. It can serve as a part of your dining set and then wheel over when you need to get work done. Adjustability is important to making sure it work with many table heights.
West Elm Bentwood Office Chair / $350

Would you consider living in a tiny house?

What storage solutions do you use in your home office?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

inspiration...comfort & food

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

Hello and happy Summer! Lately I have been a bit under the weather, so I have been focusing on food to get healthier. If you know me, you know I am not much of a foodie. I would love to grab quick, easy food and a handful of peanut M&M's and call it a meal. But with this diet, I have to focus on everything that I eat. Everything! That really forces you to change your perspective and most of all slow down. I felt pretty slow to begin with, now I feel like a snail could beat me at a race. But each day, I have moments of feeling better. With this new focus of comfort and food, I am also dreaming of farm houses, breezy open windows, porch swings and cricket noises. Basically missing the sounds of nature over the sounds of crazy fire works (thanks, World Cup) and noisy trains (thanks, CTA).

I just wanted to say hi, and share some inspiration. I hope to share more soon.

PS. Excited about the Printer's Row Literary Fest this weekend! I had a blast last year (here) and hope to find some interesting books this year.


Friday, May 30, 2014 desk

I think the pressure for new businesses and/or brands to have a uniquely designed office space is a bit out of control right now (see my favorite here)—but sometimes a start-up can't afford the cool just yet, so off to Ikea you go. But wait!  Here enters the interesting business OpenDesk, their concept is to take cutting edge technology, and connect the design hungry costumer with a great design and a local fabricator. This brings the cost of unique and functional office furniture down and the status of DIY up a few notches from "wow." to "WOW!"

Above are my two favorite designs offered on OpenDesk. They even note how many people voted for the design and have downloaded the design. It will be interesting to watch how this company grows and branches out into more product offerings. I think this is also an awesome way to create retail furniture for a pop-up shop...

OpenDesk is a collaboration between 00, Ian Bennink, Joni & David Steiner, Tim Carrigan, Luke Hebblethwaite, and the teams behind FabHub, WikiHouse and AtFAB. The 00 team is led by James Arthur and Nick Ierodiaconou. Original photography by WikiGlasses designer Lynton Pepper.
(via About page)


 images via:

Friday, May 16, 2014 is a movable feast

I am really honored that Nate of Design Feast asked me to participate in his Blogger Quest(ionnaire). His collection of interviews are really impressive! I love reading about how creatives work and what motivates them to try new things or simply just keep moving forward. The process of answering these questions to the best of my ability was a great moment of reflection. 

Thanks again, Nate!

Read more of his interviews and mine here:

Monday, May 12, 2014

inspiration...the blank side

A little bit of inspiration for your day.

If you have a moment, watch this TEDx video presentation by Sudhakar Lahade.

Creativity Experiments: Sudhakar Lahade at TEDxSarasota

So, what would you draw on the back of your blank business card?

A new space and some fun interactions are great ways to spark the brain and get us out of our normal adult-minded environments. But the summary at the end fascinated me the most. I do think we limit ourselves in how we view our lives and our abilities. I remember when I was in first grade I was always drawing and friends would lament, "wow, I wish I could draw, you are so good!" I knew that I was okay, but I also knew they could draw too if they just did it. I think it takes a cup of curiosity and a dash of bravery to go out and just do it, weather we think we can or not. And what we draw on the blank side of our "socially accepted" business card of life is maybe what matters. For me I found it is hard to summarize myself, but then I immediately drew a book and it happened to be open. Books are important to me, I love to learn, read, explore, and understand. I also enjoy the solitude and reflection it allows, I am usually by myself when I read. That drawing represents a lot all in one, my faith (I daily read the Bible) my journal/sketch book of ideas and words (always have one handy) and imagination (exploring an entirely different world created by talented writers.)

Remember, we can all "draw" if we just take the time and try.