Thursday, April 10, 2014

inspiration...the angle of a line

Yesterday I finally had the pleasure of attending a LWD meeting. Being in Chicago for over a year now, I have found it difficult to meet other female designers. I have met some talented ladies through the Art Institute's Continuing Education program, and now being a part of this group, I hope to meet more. There are so many creative people in this super, crazy, gorgeous city! Just hearing the stories last night and the strength of these ladies, many running their own businesses, was an encouragement and support. It made me miss my last job where I was 100% in the mix, so I hope to make it to more of these meetings in the future and even contribute to the round table discussions.

My take-away from this meeting was meeting Donna, one half of Studio 1 AM! She just launched a desk lamp, The Hangman, with CB2 and shared with us her experience.  I was really impressed with her story and her passion for design. You go, girl!

Her piece sparked my desk set round up of product that focus on the beauty of angles and lines. The simplicity of the design lets the material, color, finish, and balanced proportion stand out.

1. LAYERS design by Gino Carollo
2. Hangman Task Lamp by Studio 1AM for CB2
3. Victor & Sami Pine No. 1 chair
4. WV Design Holder Series
5. Ilaria Innocenti's Adobe Desk Tools collection
6. Julia Kostreva 2013 Planner (don't hate me, everything on her site is sold out! But I just loved her design so keep an eye out for her future work)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Paper ghost sign taken on a walk home, Michigan Ave. Chicago

I love paper. Probably a no brainer if you happen to read this blog or know me personally. My earliest memories involve me making things out of paper—drawings, doll houses, paper dolls, rubbings, sandals, decorative chains, rolled curly paper art, shadow boxes. Construction paper was my friend. I even remember filling the front of my overall pockets with notepads and highlighters—to color coordinate with my socks. This was 1989. So maybe I was a dork? 

I felt like a bit of a dork attending a lecture last night at Columbia College, by the author of a book all about the history of paper. Nicholas Basbanes wrote On Paper: The Everything of Its Two-Thousand-Year History. Yet once he started talking about the various topics addressed in his book, explaining an overall look at how important paper was to the history of the world, those feelings of dork dome went away and I really resonated with what he had to say. Paper is part of our history. It captured our history. A revolutionary product created by the Chinese in 105 AD by Cai Lun, paper can be tracked as it migrated around the world, influencing and changing cultures as it spread. Today, there are said to be 20,000 different commercial uses of paper. A quote from the lecture was, 

"A paperless society is as plausible as a paperless bathroom." 

Which definitely made the room chuckle, yet also make you think. As much as information is now being captured through a digital interface, the use of paper is not dying away. It was noted by a man in the audience that for many archival institutes, information that is originally captured digitally is being printed and archived to paper. The only "interface" you need for paper is the interpretive "eye."

A little sneak peak of what I have been working on for so long under the now business name of Domesticated Desk, is a series of journals. An appropriate first collection since the journal has meant so much to me in my life. The flow of idea to word to pencil to paper is just magical. On Paper lecture noted that Leonardo Da Vinci did not have many of his ideas last through the ages, but what we do have are over 3,500 pieces of paper and/or journals of his writings, drawings and designs (read more hereWow. I want to be a part of continuing the importance of the written work or drawn sketch. To pick up a printed Declaration of Independence (read about this guy), or a letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams (read more here) is to touch the very thing they touched. That is why I love old things, they are an instant conduit to the past. A touch of history. Basbanes's working title for his book was Common Bond and I think that play on words is accurate (just not as direct, as his publisher noted). I know with time, things change, but I just don't see the importance of paper changing any time soon.

Stay tuned for more product reveals.

If you visit Chicago, be sure to swing by the new Papermaker's Garden.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

inspiration...the book of light

What a fascinating little light! Opened up like a perfect bound book, this portable light can be taken with you anywhere—strong enough to light an outdoor dinner party, small enough to stow in your book bag. When the wooden cover is opened the Tyvek pages illuminate via rechargeable lithium ion battery and strong LED bulbs. From the studio of Max Gunawan, Lumino is, "dedicated to helping people live large with less. The studio is focused on multi-functional, everyday objects that are simple, intuitive and beautiful."

Check out the nicely designed Lumino site:

Images via the Lumino site 

Monday, March 24, 2014 & maps

Please watch this beautiful video of Barbora Veselá, a London based footwear designer and maker creating a pair of shoes. I love her map/nature inspiration and use of leather, texture, color, and delicate craft. The beautiful moving images and styling create such an inspiring (and calming) piece.

Watch here


Project is taking inspiration from sediment layers and from effects of erosive processes in nature as well as from traditional shoe making techniques. Special construction method has been developed and used across the collection. Multiple layers of leather scrap pieces are added on the last and subsequently sanded down to achieve the final shape and unique colour pattern of the shoe. Colour scheme is influenced by old geological maps.

Design and Concept:


Friday, March 21, 2014

inspiration...the pursuit of well-being

Knowledge of Self is Key

The Pursuit of Well-being.
I had the pleasure of attending a dialogue hosted at Gensler that facilitated a discussion about how smart space design that meets the holistic needs of student life can drive a higher quality of learning and a healthier collegiate lifestyle. The massive cultural shift in office interaction and design (the moving away from individual offices to a more collaborative environment) can be applied to a college setting that reaches all areas of life. One idea was bringing a multidisciplinary structure—mix schools with schools, mix professors with other professors, mix professors with students. Cross pollinate the interactions and potential learnings. Another idea was to focus on creating an environment where it is okay to fail and safe to recover. Most students (and adults) live with a chronic fear of failure, but failure will show you what you are made of and provide valuable personal insight! Another idea was designing for personality types, accommodating all kinds of learning and connecting tactics. I found this dialogue valuable to my opinions of the home office structure. The need for it and the importance of it fitting your specific needs. As more people telecommute to their job or start their own business at home, adapting these new trends and holistic ideas to your home office can be just as effective.

Think about what works for you and what in the past has not. Is your space right now compatible for your style of working and learning? What is one thing you would do to improve or change it? 

One discussion question that made me reminisce was:

"Remember you first workspace, what was it like?"

For me, it was a small loft space with no windows and grey cubicles. For a design firm, we didn't have many brainstorming meetings and I had this feeling that dialogue and internet research were not encouraged. Maybe not what the owners intended, but I do think that was what the space was saying. My second job was an open floor plan, few offices, half walls filled with work and meet-ups happening all around. Dogs (mostly well behaved, ha!) were welcomed into the space and music, often from three different locations, blared over speakers. The space was designed to feel young, energetic and inspire connections. At times it was all of that, other times I had a headache, lost focus, resented people and hid behind my headphones. Each space had an aspect of disrespect. So...

What is the best way to work? 
In your home office, assess your physical activity, know what your main goals are for the space and then provide that. For me, it is a place to have easy access to my books and inspirations. My desk faces a window because I value natural light, and I usually keep it silent and my dog is on my lap.

What is the best way for you to learn?
Notice I didn't say productive? For me I need a pencil and a bazzilion note pads in front of me. I love to jot down thoughts, ideas or sketch. Once that is done, I usually jump to the computer, but being physical usually is my starting point. Pencil to paper to brain.

Summary take away topics from the discussion:

• How should/could personality dictate the kinds of space you choose to work in? Does that dream job offer that kind of space, or can you provide that for your home business? 

• How do you not let a space that is comfortable to you limit you from getting out of your comfort zone? The second job where conversing was encouraged did break me out of my quiet shell.

• How can space help you pursue the interesting not just the productive? I love this, in the discussion it was in regards to students only "doing"  for the GPA outcome, not because it was enjoyable. Do you do little things for the joy of doing it? Or because of an agenda—you need something to blog about or share at a work function? The simple pursuit of the interesting...

• How can space be a place to learn, fail and recover safely? the taboo f-word: failure. But it is when you f** fail that you learn what you are made of ;) I guess if there is not a risk of failing, maybe it is not important to begin with?

• Environmental design should take personality into consideration and meet a level of well-being yet also leave room for spontaneity. Yes, I love the idea of being open to the unexpected!! Maybe in design terms that is about ideas of light weight, modular or customizable...

Thank you, Gensler, for opening your doors for discussion. I loved being in a room full of smarties!

Cristina Banks, PhD, Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Workplaces from Berkley David Schonthal, co-founder and partner at Fusion Ventures
Lisa Currie, MSEd, Director of Health Promotion and Wellness at Northwestern University