Monday, November 30, 2009

Back to the Land

It's not often that someone can write something that is both inspiring and informative, without sounding a little boring. Thanks to my wonderful boss, who always makes sure to send me the most interesting and inspiring things, I read a blog post today that very sweetly addresses one of my most pressing concerns when it comes to modern day life - our food supply. Maira Kalman - an illustrator and author of childrens books, and writer of this NY Times Blog, has put together a lovely story that touches upon all the things that we need to think about - where our food comes from, how it affects us, and what it means for our children, and our society. Maybe it's just me, but I think that sometimes a children's author can be so much more profound, eloquent and informative than someone who writes for us unimaginative adults. So I thought I'd spread the love, and the info, and share: Back to the Land. And of course, there's always more info to be had - so check out these reading lists I posted previously - and maybe a Google search or two, and let the education begin!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Studio E

Wall art doesn't always have to be restricted to the paintings you hang. Sometimes the beauty of a wall is in the treatment you choose to apply. It can be the simple selection of an amazing color, expertly applied, or the subtle design of a high quality paper that creates art of the surface it covers. The mastery of making a wallpaper that is in itself beautiful enough to leave alone, is precisely what Studio E specializes in. The company works to train 'artisans' note the word used to describe the makers of these lovely wallpapers - it's not just a printing house, full of machines and computer generated graphics. Instead, it is like the old fashioned (and now sadly relatively few) atelier's of the past. The company makes all of their papers by hand, the traditional methods of paper makers put to work, in an environmentally friendly, efficient, and natural way. Everything they make, including the dyes they use, are water based and so have low VOCs, are non-toxic, and still manage to be mold resistant, durable and easy to both install and remove. And luckily, all the effort to be safe and eco-conscious doesn't impede their sense of style. I love the Luna wallpaper above. A part of their Metallic collection, this simple and Asian inspired pattern that evokes the scales of a fish, is the perfect way to make a statement without going crazy in the design.

Below are a mix of natural fiber wallpapers like the Lindsey, Heather and Mali, and the Venetian Plaster series, including the SunHee, Beatrice and Sloan. In all of these, regardless of the material, you see a wonderful and warm tonal color that is the perfect backdrop for any type of room. And what's more, you get texture - and a whole lot of it! The wonderful movement of the different lines, patterns, and textures (including the faux Shagreen feel of the SunHee), add a sense of depth and dimension to any space. I love the idea of using the SunHee or Beatrice in a small intimate space, like a Study or Powder Bathroom. And the Lindsey's funky textured weave would be great in a large space.

And if you're looking for a little color and sophistication, why not look at the Chloe? I love the grayish purple set off with a metallic sheen. The tone on tone floral looks anything but chintzy and girlish. And the faux silver leaf blocks of the India wallpaper may be silver, but the application of the uneven blocks and the sheen of the paper itself would make it perfect to catch different lights and reflect the various colors of a room. Imagine a rich and gorgeous dining room covered in this paper - fabulous. It would also be a great way to add interest and life to a ceiling - something we all forget about, but usually spend time staring at! And finally, I love the hounds tooth white and lavender of the Greta wallpaper. There is something young and girlish to me about this paper, that makes me think it would be perfect for a young girl's room, bathroom, something! It's light hearted and fun, but without the childishness that many wallpapers for kids are. I love it!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Happy Turkey Everyone - I hope it's full of yummy, beautiful and happy times!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Oh Joy!

The holidays are fast approaching and I have had absolutely no time to do anything, let alone write! So I'm going to send you along to a blog I love - Oh Joy! And it's not just her blog I enjoy so much, but her products. Such adorable notebooks, folders and note cards. Here a just a few of the products printed on partially post-consumer recycled paper.

These notebooks are absolutely gorgeous - the delicate feminine shape of the scalloped edge and the brightness of the silver or gold patterns are a wonderful mix. Go sophisticated with the dark Agate notebook, or almost bridal with the lovely 'I Love Platinum'.

And if you're organization obsessed like me, but still want to keep everything stylish and pretty (because why should your work space be any less beautiful thank your living space?), why not try these Woodcut Floral Files in a silver and copper mix? The rich color is totally beautiful, and I love the nature theme.

As an incessant note write and paper lover, I am a huge fan of finding great resources for cards, be a Thank You card, or a whatever reason I felt like writing for card. And these below are wonderful. I love all the designs because it's a mix of softness, beauty and bling.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Plush Home

So in taking a few days off this past week to organize myself and take a break, I found I couldn't keep away from the computer, searching for the perfect new sleeper sofa that I am on the hunt for. I have been scouring websites looking for something that fits my vision and my conscience. And luckily, I remembered a company I love to shop - Plush Home. California based , this company considers environmental awareness a necessary part of design and construction. Plush Home hand crafts all of its furniture in California, from materials that are sourced locally, so not only do they cut out the excess pollution of shipping across country (or countries!), but they also can monitor and ensure the quality of their products, while helping to support the local economy. The 'materials' themselves include FSC certified woods, natural foam latex made from rubber trees, down & feathers cleaned with non-toxic materials, and of course, you can supply your own eco-friendly fabric! I think I'm leaning towards the Lexington above for myself - I love the crisp lines and the plush cushions. It seems both tailored and comfortable, two musts for me!

And below are four more great sofas (all of which have a 'queen sleeper' option) - the Park Avenue & Mondrian on top, and the Chelsea and the Gatsby below. Each has a distinct and different look. The Park Ave is perfect for a transitional space with it's low square arms and lovely tapered legs, whereas the Mondrian is exactly that - so linear and geometric. Although the sharp lines could be easily softened with some great pillows. And I love the plinth base. It's a great way to make a solid, heavy sofa, seam a little lighter.
With traditional English arms, the Chelsea is probably the most traditional of the sofas pictured, but still clean lined enough to be in a transitional space. I love the addition of the center leg...a small but nice detail. And finally, the Gatsby. I am always drawn to sofas that combine a sort of artful curved arm with the boxed shape of a more contemporary square arm. This tight back sofa is perfect for someone who doesn't want the fuss of a cushion backed.
No matter which you choose, they're all beautifully made and beautifully styled.... and only a few amongst their larger collection of upholstery, case goods, and accessories.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Disposable Dining

Sometimes when I get home, I just don't feel like cooking. I feel like doing dishes even less. And when it's a family affair (with my family, picture lots of people, no order, and tons of food), the dishes seem endless but being the perfectionist that I am, I can't bring myself to use disposable dishes. For one, they're generally not that nice - shiny plastic or paper with little flowers...great for a bbq, not so great for chic al fresco dining. And then, there's the whole issue of waste. And though the disposable dish companies figure out that making them thicker, nicer, better - eco-friendly doesn't seem to be high on their list. Leave it to an economist and businessman to innovate. Michael Dwork, a Columbia grad (both undergrad and MBA) got his inspiration while in India, after seeing a woman take a leaf, press it in what looked like a waffle iron, and serve food from it. And with that VerTerra was born. The company embodies the ideals of environmental consciousness. The plates are made from fallen leaves and water. They're biodegradable and compostable, heat resistant (microwavable & oven safe if you follow the directions), non-toxic, and just plain fantastic. They are simple and organic, not just in material, but in style. I love the square plates, wide bowls, and soft edges. They're neutral enough to make your food look striking, simple enough to be easy to use and dispose of, and stylish enough to make you want to use them over and over again! They beat out the competition in style AND substance. Check out the bowls, plates and trays below.

And they even come in basic packaging to keep the waste down. The company is all about accountability and responsibility. How refreshing.

Monday, November 9, 2009

End of an Era

It seems that with each passing month, another magazine mainstay - an industry Goliath (or so I thought), is dead. And so it is with Metropolitan Home, which announced today that December will be the last issue of this fabulous magazine. Known for its cool and contemporary sophistication, Met Home is something that I loved to read, looked to for inspiration, and constantly combed for resources. And for me, it was a magazine I admired not just for their distinctive spread and featured homes, but also for embracing the green movement and putting it at the forefront of 'great' design. Here are just a few of the many wonderful articles they published featuring eco-friendly homes and products.

Eco Logical is the perfect title for this amazing Colorado home, designed by local architect Jim Logan for a Manhattan couple moving from the big city to the nature filled suburbs of Boulder.
This eco-friendly home features tons of environmentally friendly aspects like solar panels, Kitchen cabinetry from locally sourced woods and saw mills, and this super funky drain spout that looks more like an outdoor water sculpture than a gutter! (and p.s. I love the hallway lined with dark wood shelves, accentuated by the large, bright and bold art at the end of the hallway).

And helping readers decipher the mass of green products, Met Home wrote about the Green Market: How Green Is It? Featuring products from major home furnishings companies like Crate and Barrel , Ikea, and ABCHome (check out the very cool Zulu Mama chair made from recycled plastic in South Africa). to specialty environmentally friendly companies like Vivavi, Maria Yee, Copeland Furniture, and of course, two of my favorites, Q Collection and Ianone [all listed respectively starting with ABC Home)].

'Going Green Made Easy' was the focus of the April 2009 issue, with everything from products, to construction, to renovations and fabulously 'green' homes like the one below. After suffering from a terrible fire, the home owners of this Dallas home decided to 'Rebuild for the Eco-Future', creating this fantastic, bright and eclectic eco-home.

In the same issue, Met Home featured this "Greenest Little House in America," an adorable 1915 Craftsman style home from Oakland, CA that just so happens to have the highest level of LEED for Homes rating - Platinum.
And the list of articles and featured green products goes on - so check out their website... I'm not sure if it will all stay up or disappear as it is folded into Elle Decor. Here's a great list of green related articles.