Company Profile – Viola Park

Seattle, WA may be a Mecca for coffee lovers, but there’s so much more to the city than that.  It’s also a hotbed for sustainable business ethics and the development of a low-impact lifestyle, both of which mesh nicely with this week’s featured company, Viola Park.

But to tell their story it’s necessary to back up a bit. Read the rest of this entry »

Ariele Alasko of Brooklyn to West

The ear-jarring purr of a chop saw… the unmistakable scent of freshly cut wood and sawdust…  Oh, yeah.  Bring it on.


There are special properties to wood that remain hidden unless one physically works with it, gets one’s hands dirty, breathes that dust, learns that grain, that temperament, that joy…

Ariele Alasko, of Brooklyn to West, understands.  This New York City-based artist – furniture maker, photographer, sculptress, blogger, cook – takes salvaged wood & reclaimed “junk” into her Brooklyn home and out of those castaways makes this delightful stuff.  Her work is a living example of why home furnishings should be hand made. Read the rest of this entry »

Company Profile – Edwin Blue

 

A hundred years or more ago logging teams all over the American Southeast harvested Cypress trees, binding the logs into rafts to be floated downriver to the waiting wood mills.  Sometimes the rafts would break up, and the ancient logs would sink to the bottom of the river, there to sit, inviolate and perfectly preserved, for decades.

Ironically enough, as recovery teams reclaim those logs for use, that beautiful old-growth Cypress helps rescue forests from logging today.

In crafting what the company calls its “Handmade Modern” furniture, Edwin Blue is one of several companies making use of this half-forgotten treasure.  Read the rest of this entry »

Artisan Profile – Jan DiCintio of Daisy Janie Fabrics

I felt blue this morning, so opened up Jan DiCintio’s blog and within five minutes all that blah was washed away by her cheery, cheeky attitude and the philosophy surrounding red flowers.

 

An artist’s soul is inextricably wound up in their work, but this seems particularly true with Jan and Daisy Jane Fabrics.  While researching this profile I wandered onto her blog, and before I’d even touched my tea her infectiously sunny, positive, let’s-do-it voice had led me six pages deep.  That doesn’t happen often.  So let’s meet this wonderful lady and see what she’s all about.

The focus of Daisy Janie is the design of original patterns for use on organic cotton fabrics, with wholesale collections released twice a year, spring and autumn.  The product is produced with cotton that has been grown, harvested, processed, and woven according to the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS).  Both the low-impact pigments and pigments used in the printing & finishing stages are similarly in accordance.  And, in addition, the fabric is produced in a Fair Trade Certified facility.

That’s the dry version.

What it doesn’t capture is Jan’s enthusiasm, or her passion for pattern, line, texture, and form, or her “fiery personal philosophies for ecofriendly living”.  And, just as certifications and standards can’t express the personal depth of her business practices, so words can’t adequately express the spring-like joie-de-vivre of her designs.  Only pictures can do that. Read the rest of this entry »

Company Profile – Kirei USA

“Demolish another building, it just gives us more to work with!”

John Stein is into demolitions, but not in the way one might think.  The founder and president of California-based Kirei USA has a knack for finding the possibilities inherent in the unwanted.

This vision shows clearly in every Kirei product, including the newest line, Windfall.  These engineered panels are produced in partnership with Windfall Lumber, which takes Douglas & Hemlock Fir from deconstructed buildings in the Pacific Northwest and brings the reclaimed wood to fresh, new life.

“It’s great to reuse demolition material that would otherwise take up space in the landfill,” says Mr. Stein.  “Having it become beautiful wood panels is even better.  This is old-growth wood that just can’t be found any more, and we get to bring it to designers.”

Windfall is manufactured in the United States using low-VOC adhesives.  The reclaimed wood is milled into strips of differing width, which are then randomly stacked to form the panels and cut to size.  Panels are available either solid or 3-ply with a NUAF/FSC-certified core.  They may come unfinished, with a clear coat that shows off the natural grain, or stained and prefinished in Anthracite, Mocha, Ivory, and Leather colors.  The result adds to any interior.

Read the rest of this entry »

Artisan Profile – Jacob Ruch

Usefulness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Jacob Ruch has a knack for bringing out both characteristics in his work.  Curbside cast-offs, salvage yard finds, construction refuse – all find a place at Reason Furniture Design, where the proverbial sow’s ear is transformed into… you know.

The company is named for Jacob’s great-uncle, Reason Ruch, who was, according to the artist, “extremely independent and self-sufficient, an excellent craftsman who could make wonderful things with very limited resources.”  Jacob strives to make his business emulate those qualities. Read the rest of this entry »

Artisan Profile – M Design

The little wooden robot sits there, head cocked, arms outstretched, vacant drilled eyes staring into space.  Its expression is puzzled and innocent.  It looks like it wants a hug.  It’s cute.

Sometimes, in the earnest seriousness of striving to live green, we forget our sense of humor.  Marjolaine Poulin of M Design hasn’t forgotten… and she loves nothing better than to make other people smile, hence the little army of wooden robots marching out of her workshop in El Salvador.

Marjolaine (“Mao”) has taken scrap wood & discarded furniture and raised them both into art.

A native of Quebec, Canada, Mao splits her time between Montreal and El Salvador, always looking for inspiration.  Her introduction to woodworking came in 2004 in Guatemala, where she learned classical bamboo carpentry from a Taiwanese master.  Shortly afterward she began crafting her own designs hoping to promote bamboo’s many advantages as a building material in Central America.

Read the rest of this entry »

ART From the Ashes

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

~Henry David Thoreau

"Seconds Count" by Jason Wilbur

In the face of natural disaster, where others see devastation, Joy Feuer – and the many artists & volunteers who work with her – see opportunity for transformation and renewal.  Life is often about new beginnings.  Since 2008 Joy’s non-profit organization, ART From the Ashes, has been helping communities and individuals rebuild from the ashes of their former lives.

The concept for ART From the Ashes came to life autumn of 2007, during one of the most destructive fire seasons in the history of California.  AFTA was created to use the cathartic properties of art as a means of supporting the renewal of lives devastated by wildfire.  Members travel to a disaster site and from it reclaim materials – burnt wood, ruined household goods, architectural elements, anything that inspires – to be transformed into works of art and later sold at an exhibition-auction benefitting the effected community.

Joy Feuer, photo by James Carbone

The process is deeply meaningful for Joy.

“We have seen up close and personal the powerful connection and healing properties that our art programming has on communities in Southern and Central California,” she said.  “In the wake of disaster…watching what occurs to people and places, in that moment, you are there as well.  Its human nature to want to help in any way possible. In the actions of ART from the ashes, we can provide resource and support to communities in need.  Art provides a connection, provokes inspiration and invites hope.  There are no boundaries geographically or creatively.  Our desire is to honor this and expand our mission to help as many people as possible.” Read the rest of this entry »

Artisan Profile – Brandon & Sundeep Morrison of whyrHymer

The latest installment in a series of artisan profiles by contributing writer Emerald Atkins.


The ancient Greek poets were said to be inspired by the Muses, nine goddesses who were the source of all art.

Visitors to the whyrHymer Store in Los Angeles may well believe that a tenth Muse is informing Brandon & Sundeep Morrison on their own creations.  The couple & their work have been featured in California Home & Design and California Homes.  The style of their lighting & furniture is solid yet elegant, evoking the philosophy of the early 20th century Arts & Crafts movement yet speaking in its own distinct, thoroughly modern voice.

Read the rest of this entry »

Artisan Profile – Cassandra Tondro, Artist

The fifth in a series of artisan profiles by contributing writer Emerald Atkins.

Don’t throw away that house paint!  It can be used for art.

Cassandra Tondro, an artist living in Santa Monica, CA, knows that secret, and has been using it since 2007 to create vibrant abstract paintings.  Her unique medium comes from many sources.  Sometimes the acrylic latex paint is literally repurposed house paint, gleaned either from the mistint shelves of hardware stores or from the local household hazardous waste center.  She also works directly with her clients by incorporating leftover paint from their architectural site to create truly custom art.

Read the rest of this entry »