Building on an earlier theme of friends and former classmates, today I thought I’d share the fabulous work of another buddy from my college days at Carnegie Mellon. When I think about it, the CMU connection theme could easily become a feature unto itself on AmandaMuses, but we’ll just see, I guess…

Anyway, Josh Urso, another product of the Carnegie Mellon Design program, produces stunning furniture in his New Jersey studio. Since the opening of his design studio in 2002, Josh continues to produce items that explore the limitations of material and structure. His work, inspired by mechanical processes and new materials, inspires curiosity and a playful enjoyment of daily life.

I love his Ant Farm lights and Knoop tables, and of course the incredible Specter chair– I remember Josh’s prototype senior year in college watching the evolution of this amazing object come to life. He took limp cloth and made it live with resin and sheer inventive brilliance.

It has been many years since I have been in touch with Josh, but from the look of his Web site, he is doing splendidly.

Images: Josh Urso Design

Poppytalk Handmade has just launched their latest monthly online “street market.” Beginning today and running through Friday, September 18, this month’s theme is “School Days: A back to school market.”

If you haven’t already taken a look this month’s goodies, here is a peek at some of the things that caught my eye:

MatteStephens

Uncle Rutherford by Matte Stephens

Labokoff

eblouie 2 by Labokoff

Yardia

Leap by Yardia

Bueller

Number 16 by Bueller

Modernpop

Alphabet Soup by Modernpop

TriciaMcKellar

Set of 12 postcards by Tricia McKellar

Tuttistudio

My Friend print by Tutti studio

Floridity

Branch necklace by Floridity

If you haven’t checked them out before, Poppytalk curates a monthly online showcase of international design talent; beautiful handmade items are available in this fun and diverse marketplace. Go check it out!

Images: Poppytalk Handmade

Lately, I’ve been on a French film kick. Ever the Francophile, it has been a nice change of pace to come home and listen to the soothing sounds of a language I know and love, acted beautifully as is so rarely seen these days. Recent favorites have been Port of Shadows (Le Quai des Brumes) and La Grande Illusion, both starring Jean Gabin and both made within a few years of one another (~1936-38, give or take).

PortofShadows
Whenever I bump into friends and neighbors these days, conversation inevitably turns to what one another has been up to lately. And for me, it is generally what work I have on my desk at home and what movies I have watched recently. Often times, my most recent movie viewings comprise of an odd assortment of detective stories and oldies but goodies from a bygone era. And very often the lion’s share of the movies I mention are a complete MYSTERY to my friends and neighbors. As such, perhaps it is time that I start sharing the movies I come across with you, dear readers, so that you may enjoy the benefit of a richer movie night.

And so tonight, I recommend you consider adding Port of Shadows and Grand Illusion to your list of must-see movies. Both are available on Netflix, so there’s no excuse. Not a Netflix subscriber? I could write a whole blog post on the merits of Netflix, but I’ll spare you– their service is fast, convenient and economical and they even have free trials, so give it a whirl.

GrandIllusion
What’s so great about old, obscure, black and white French movies from the 1930s, you ask? They tell simple, beautiful stories which are acted by people who capture the tender humanity that is so often MISSING from contemporary cinema. This is not to say that there are not good movies coming out today, but the stories directors and actors told in decades past, like the 1930s, were different for myriad reasons than the ones we tell today.

Still need a reason to check out these films? Grand Illusion is one of the first prison-break movies and considered a genre classic, if you were moved at the end of The Great Escape, you should see this movie. Port of Shadows, like Grand Illusion is an excellent example of poetic realism and follows a single man’s journey through the lonely fog of destiny; rent it!

Images: The Criterion Collection

Charm City

16/08/2009 — Leave a comment

Today I miss Baltimore. There’s just something about that funny little town on the Chesapeake that cannot be found anywhere else in the world… Something about the people and the City’s strange little quirks that I will always love.

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Images: Me

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Flipping through old photos from my travels, this shot of the ruins at St. Karin’s in Visby struck me. And seemed like a good basis for a quick exploration… Makes me want to take a long weekend on the island…
Images: me

For the 34th year in a row, the American Craft Council (ACC) will hold its annual San Francisco show this weekend at the Fort Mason Center!

If you have never been to an ACC show, boy have you been missing out! This year’s San Francisco show will feature 250 national artists who have traveled to the Bay area to show and sell their latest and greatest– furniture, clothing, jewelry, decor (a list of exhibitors is available on the show page organized by medium).

Over the years, I have been to many of the ACC shows in Baltimore and seen an AMAZING range of work and art. By attending these shows, I have met artists whose work has enriched my life, enlivened my home and even inspired my own work.

    Details:

  • The American Craft Council Show in San Francisco
  • at the Fort Mason Center (vague directions available here— but if you’ve never been there, it’s a pretty walk along the water past Fisherman’s Wharf– the view from the hill above is gorgeous!)
  • Friday, August 14; 10am – 8pm
    Saturday, August 15; 10am – 6 pm
    Sunday, August 16; 10 am – 5 pm
  • Tickets are $12/person or $18 for a two-day pass. And since they’ve extended the Friday evening hours to 8pm, tickets for Friday night only are $5 after 5pm; a SCREAMING deal, if you ask me. OR if you know you’re going and want to save a few bucks, why not buy your tickets ahead of time at a slight discount here.

Not a Bay area resident? Fear not, faithful reader. There are other ACC shows around the nation throughout the year.

For the rest of the 2009 year the ACC shows are as follows:
San Francisco, CA Aug. 14-16, 2009
Charlotte, NC Nov. 6-8, 2009
Sarasota, FL Dec. 4-6, 2009

For 2010, the ACC shows are as follows:
Baltimore, MD Feb. 25-28, 2010
Atlanta, GA Mar. 12-14, 2010
St. Paul, MN Apr. 16-18 , 2010
San Francisco, CA Aug. 6-8, 2010

Hopefully, you can check at least one of the ACC shows in the next year!

Protected: Remember

11/08/2009 — Enter your password to view comments.

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As if the products of Papaya’s own designs weren’t fun enough, they’ve teamed up with artist Sabrina Ward Harrison whose work I’ve been a fan of for the last decade.

When her first book, Spilling Open; The Art of Becoming Yourself came out in 1999, it quickly joined the ranks of my favorite books and often travels with me, offering inspiration and encouragement. I have enjoyed that first book so much in fact, that over the years I have given it to numerous friends as a gift.

Papaya’s new collection featuring Sabrina’s work includes a fun range of note and post cards, sketchbooks and beautiful prints of her original works.

I love the sentiment of the Make a Job print; I might just have to treat myself…

Images: PaPaYa!

Papaya

11/08/2009 — Leave a comment

This morning I was thrilled to stumble across the new blog of card and gift design company, PaPaYa! For years I have been a fan of Papaya’s lovely products– ornate goodies dripping in texture and delicate color palettes.

And if all of the goodies available for purchase from Papaya’s Web site aren’t enough to delight your eyes, there is a photo tour of Papaya’s workspace featured today on Decor8. Go check it out!

Images: PaPaYa!

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This is a montage of snaps from my travels over the last few years… I’ve got workshops on the brain this afternoon… so it’s no wonder my mind is drifting somewhere industrial and scuffed up…

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! And don’t do too much heavy lifting 😉

Despite three 1000 mile plus moves in the last four years, I STILL have a stack of these that I really should get around to selling:

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Designed and produced in 2004, A wolf in sheep’s clothing was a winner of the annual Swedish National Paper Screen Printing Competition that year. It has been exhibited at Kultur Huset in Stockholm during the spring of 2004 and at the 100% Centennial Exhibition at the Miller Gallery in Pittsburgh, PA in 2006. It is a 2-color, limited edition A1-sized screenprint on clear plexiglass that was hand printed in Sweden while I was still living there.

Want one? I’ll be posting them on Etsy soon, I hope. But in the meantime, PLEASE feel welcome to comment or e-mail and I’ll be happy to make arrangements with you personally.

Ever the window shopper, I could not resist sharing with you this afternoon the jewelry of Sarah Hood. Based in Seattle, Sarah’s work is a soulful exploration of the natural world.

Sarah’s work is available for purchase online at her Etsy boutique.

Images: Sarah Hood

Today I would like share the work of Portland based, Mexican illustrator/designer, Alberto Cerriteño. Inspired by the pop surrealism movement, his work is densely packed with dreamlike whimsy.

Prints of Alberto’s beautiful illustrations are available for purchase online at his Etsy boutique. And for those as enamored of his work as I am, he has a blog here.

Images: Alberto Cerriteño

Believe…

06/08/2009 — 1 Comment

in an ocean of possibilities…

BelieveSML

Images: me

Hammertime

28/07/2009 — Leave a comment

My inner-trickster cannot resist sharing this product with the world:
Hammertime

Produced by Oaklandish as a transparent vinyl sticker available for purchase here, this product puts a huge smile on my face today. I’ve always liked their wearables, but I had never seen the sticker until today. My inner twelve-year-old wants to annoy my more conservative neighbors by plastering these around the local shopping district. I’m sure the joke would wear thin after a day or two, but still I could use a laugh today…

Image: Oaklandish

For Sandra

23/07/2009 — Leave a comment

A colleague of mine likes a button on one of the jackets I wear too often at work. She just moved into a new office space and needs to personalize her space; this is for her:

AndSML

It’s my adult equivalent of coloring on my lunch break and giving her something to put on an imaginary refrigerator. Yes, I’m THAT co-worker…

Details

02/07/2009 — Leave a comment

Recently, I took a long walk around my neighborhood and down to the beach. I love where I live right now because of the proximity to the water. Often times after a hard week, a long stroll by the water is just what the doctor ordered to soothe your aching body and mind. While crossing the drawbridge back to my loft, I caught a flash of a texture I couldn’t resist, and snapped this, since I always keep a camera in my purse:

Drawbridge gate texture

Drawbridge texture

When I looked at the shot afterward, the palette I’d captured struck me– it wasn’t obvious when taking the picture, but I liked the simple, primary colors.

Later, while reflecting in my studio, I thought of a visual parallel to the above shot. No wonder I liked the composition of the texture, it reminded me of this:

Burial scene from The Fall

Burial scene from The Fall

Images: me and The Fall Movie

The Fall

01/07/2009 — Leave a comment

One of best movies I’ve seen in the last decade has to be The Fall directed in 2006 by Tarsem Singh. Late last summer, it played for a few weeks at the local independent movie theater and I was fortunate enough to see it on the big screen.

Right from the beginning, the movie draws you in with gorgeous photography and art direction. Based on the screenplay of a Bulgarian movie from 1981, Yo Ho Ho the film shifts between the reality of two patients in a 1915 Southern California hospital and a dream world of bandits. Shot in 18 different countries and costumed by the Oscar-winning designer Eiko Ishioka, The Fall is a visual gift to the audience.

If you haven’t seen it already, here is the trailer for the 2008 American release:

I wish the trailer were more simple, leaving the viewer hungry for more rather than showing as much as it does. Since the above trailer leaves something to be desired, here is a copy of the opening credits I found on YouTube. This scene acts as a prologue for the movie and is stunning on the big screen, especially the last shot with Tarsem’s credit.

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

Nevermore

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).