Archives For June 2009

As a designer, a former resident of Scandinavia and one who claims partial Finnish heritage, I am, not surprisingly, a fan of Marimekko. While I have never owned one of their classically simple Olkalaukku bags or one of their colorful dresses, I have often enjoyed the vibrant and playful patterns from this uniquely Finnish company. During the long Swedish winters, a visit to the Marimekko shop in Stockholm would often brighten my day with playful palettes and jubilant forms.

Years ago, when I saw Kirsti Paakkanen speak at Future Design Days I became transfixed with the playful graphic style Marimekko produced and admired Ms. Paakkanen’s fearless approach to business and design.

So this afternoon, I thought it would be fun to share a few samples of Marimekko’s new bags:

Mari's Reversible Canvas Tote

Mari's Reversible Canvas Tote

Mari's Hobo

Mari's Hobo

Mari's Medium Tote

Mari's Medium Tote

Mari's Clutch

Mari's Clutch

Mari's Briefcase

Mari's Briefcase

I just love the stark graphic patterns; there is a whimsical nature to them that remind me of work from the late 1950s and early 1960s; Harold and the Purple Crayon comes to mind. All of the bags in this collection are made of Italian patent leather and the familiar canvas of other Marimekko products. Even the look and feel for the Web site and ads for this collection have a humorous feel that just makes you smile; a sunny treat for a rainy day.

Images: Marimekko


29/06/2009 — Leave a comment

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

Growing up in Baltimore, exposure to Edgar Allen Poe was inevitable; you might say Baltimorians or Baltimorons (if you prefer) are well versed in Poe-etry. While some argue the author’s association with Baltimore, the city continues to dote on its departed darling of the macabre.

This past January (the 19th to be exact) was the bicentennial of his birth, and since then the city of Baltimore has been celebrating the milestone with ongoing events and exhibits throughout the year. The programming for Nevermore 2009 includes a range of events from theatrical performances to gallery exhibitions and walking tours.

The September 25 performance of Berenice at the National Museum of Dentistry should prove to be interesting and I can only imagine what his funeral service on October 10 shall be like with a number of notable “dignitaries” in attendance. Of all the happenings around this milestone though, I hope most to visit the Art of Darkness: Inspired by Poe exhibition at the Baltimore Museum of Art on display from October 2009 through January 2010. Autumn is, quite arguably, one of the best times of the year to visit Baltimore– the light is golden, the leaves are turning and there are always tons of great cafes and galleries to discover and enjoy. If you’ve never been, there’s nothing like a long October weekend getaway in Charm City, check out the City’s visitor’s bureau Web site for travel ideas, or ask a local, ask me!

Images: WikiMedia Commons’ file of C.T. Tatman’s 1904 photograph copy of an 1848 daguerreotype (LOC Reproduction Number: LC-USZ62-10610).


25/06/2009 — Leave a comment

Wallpaper has never really been something that appealed to me very much, but I may have to reconsider after discovering the beautiful papers available from Trove. The inventive designs and colorful reproductions are stunning. Here are my favorites:

Auva by Trove


Alula by Trove


Ankaa by Trove


Indi by Trove


I LOVE this last one – magpies and crows are such lovely birds, tricksters with beautiful proportions and graphic style; they always made the winter and spring in Sweden so much more enjoyable to watch…

What do you think? Looking at these gets me thinking about wall coverings and treatments with a new perspective. What are your favorite wall treatment ideas lately? Do tell.
Images: Trove


24/06/2009 — Leave a comment

While catching up on postings from the various blogs I read regularly, I came across an entry by Seth Godin about the cycles through which business and industry move. He used Singer Sewing Machines as an example reminding his readers of the success Singer Co. formerly enjoyed and the relative decline of the company’s significance in the national economy. The rise and fall of economic and corporate significance for the company effectively mapped its cycle. He ended his post with the following statement: “The best marketing strategy is to destroy your industry before your competition does.”

A fascinating point worth further reflection. One that reminded me of something one of my colleagues in grad school said when in a group critique session. There was often an air of discomfort during these crit sessions as forward assertions about another’s work appeared to be culturally controversial; students seemed to feel that we were all emotionally attached to our work so to critique a colleague’s work was to critique the colleague. The notion of constructive criticism to catalyze design development seemed beyond my peers so these sessions often seemed futile. But one spring afternoon, one of the more outspoken students said he felt it was important to learn to “kill your darlings.” He continued by explaining that one must become emotionally disengaged from their work, enough to carry it through an ever moving evolutionary process. He continued by reminding us that it was important not to become too attached to a single idea or iteration and to allow the design process to flow.

Both important points about a theme – do not get too attached to an idea, product, iteration or state of being. Leave room for growth, learning, change and evolution.

For as long as I can remember, art has been a profound source of joy and is something for which I maintain a healthy appetite. The portion of my brain relegated to art is no doubt the majority which might explain my distaste for all things trigonometric or vacuum-related. Anyway, I tend to spend a lot of time seeking out new work, artists and sources of inspiration. While I visit museums and galleries as much as possible, there are so many online sources from which to derive inspiration these days that it is almost staggering.

Lately, I’ve been looking at illustration more and more. Today the work of Iveta Abolina, also know as OneSweetOrange has caught my eye. I tripped over her by way of and immediately found a number of her pieces that I would love to hang in my home. The graphic quality of her work and the organic flow of the compositions excites my eye. Here are a few of my favorites from her Etsy shop:

Sonnet by OneSweetOrange


Forbidden Thoughts by OneSweetOrange

Forbidden Thoughts

Little Bird by OneSweetOrange

Little Bird

At $20-$50USD, most of her work is terribly affordable; the only question is, which to buy? Take a look at Irena’s Etsy Shop and more of her illustrations and design work at

Images: Iveta Abolina/OneSweetOrange


17/06/2009 — Leave a comment

Not long after my last post about Poppytalk Handmade’s summer market, their poor server went on strike. Until they finalize negotiations with the picketing server, their lovely blog is, as always, up and full of beautiful things to inspire your heart and fill your home.

Poppytalk Handmade

16/06/2009 — 1 Comment

Checkout the latest “street market” over at Poppytalk Handmade. Running through July 10, this month’s theme is “here comes the sun.”

If you haven’t checked out the site before, Poppytalk curates a monthly online showcase of international design talent; beautiful handmade items are available in this fun and diverse arena. If you haven’t already taken a gander at all of this month’s goodies here’s a peek at some of the things that caught my eye:

    Stockholm by Stephanie Levy

    Stockholm by Stephanie Levy.

    What a fun collage! This piece reminds me only too well of my old apartment in Stockholm.

Pink Lemonade
Pink Lemonade by Roll and Tumble Press

    Whisper Necklace
    Whisper Necklace by Mama’s Litttle Babies
    I have been a fan of Mama’s Little Babies for ages! I tripped over her work on last winter and have been tempted time and again to treat myself to some of her delightful jewelry.

M sign

Custom Monogram Sign by Signs by Diane

Ever the sucker for random letterforms and typography, it’s no surprise that I’m drawn to Diane’s signs.

Simmer by Yellena

Simmer by Yellena

Yellena is another artist whose work I discovered on Etsy some time ago and have delighted in her work ever since; I love the density of her work.

Golden Plover

Golden Plover print by Sarah Ahern


15/06/2009 — Leave a comment


With a schedule of ten hour days and a long, long commute, I’m usually dragging by 7pm. Today had me grinding through some pretty tedious work and an uncharacteristically aggressive commute home to finish off the day… boy am I beat tonight…


15/06/2009 — Leave a comment

For the last few days, I’ve kept this picture floating about my desk so that I’d trip over it again and again. I love the saturated and summery color palette captured in this snapshot from the other weekend and keep yearning to return to my favorite spot at the beach…



09/06/2009 — Leave a comment

This past weekend, I took a drive up the coast for a quiet getaway. I camped close by in the redwoods and was early to rise so that I could explore:
Shaded path

Queen Anne's Lace

Tomales Bay
This is within an hour’s drive of the loft… and people wonder why I moved….


I took these pictures with a current side project in mind… I hope to infuse the finished piece with the same dreamy quality these photos begin to capture.

Five Themes

08/06/2009 — Leave a comment

Recently, I visited the SF Museum of Modern Art to see the William Kentridge show, Five Themes before it closed. I discovered his work at the Carnegie International show in 1999 when his piece, Stereoscope caught my attention; I’ve been a fan ever since. The show beautifully represented the breadth of Mr. Kentridge’s work. I could’ve spent a weekend just in that exhibit alone:



Upon further exploration, this piece by Mario Merz caught my eye too:

The Lens of Rotterdam

What was so great about this piece wasn’t just its scale, but its elegant simplicity— glass plates clamped to a minimal steel frame, sheltering or focusing over rough hewn stones.

After a few weeks of creative stagnation, exploring the museum was just the spark I needed to shift my brain back into focus. After a wander among the exhibits, even the textures of the walls excited me:
Hallway tight

Hallway wide view
The effect in the last two photos above was achieved by painting the pattern with varying levels of gloss and matte finish. A cool effect to remember once I’ve found a home to purchse…


03/06/2009 — 1 Comment

Since the 1,300 mile move in October, I’ve had a new appreciation for freight containers. The fact that two apartments worth of belongings and an industrial workshop-worth of tools and machinery into a single box without filling it was simply amazing to me— the ultimate game of tetris, I suppose. So it’s no wonder I’m intrigued by the work of Hybrid Seattle who specialize in “thought-provoking and ecologically sensitive solutions to our present and future urban cultural conditions.”

I’ve passed the Teatro Zinzanni in San Francisco on which they did work, but never knew anything about the architecture and construction until I took a peek at Hybrid Seattle’s Web site. Such an interesting range of contemporary architecture and construction solutions they provide, just look at this cute little beach getaway/surf shack they made:
Hybrid Seattle Cargotecture 1

Hybrid Seattle Cargotecture 2

Hybrid Seattle Cargotecture 4

And this rendering for another one of their projects:
Hybrid Seattle Cargotecture 5

Can’t you just see some of these popping up in Oakland? Checkout the Hybrid Seattle Web site for more of their inspiring buildings

Images by Hybrid Seattle

Cheer up mix

02/06/2009 — Leave a comment

This morning came in swinging and I, unfortunately, am not much of a boxer. Feeling pretty awful, I paused a moment to take stock of the present and perked up a bit upon the personal remembrance that life is ultimately pretty darn good. Then I built a playlist of Cheer Up music to set a more upbeat and playful tone to the day (about half of the playlist is available for purchase as an iMix here); by the first few songs, I was already feeling better.