Stella Bleu Designs

William Morris once said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

 And 19th-century architect Louis Sullivan proclaimed that “form ever follows function,” an idea that vastly influenced the modernist movement in design.

One can find much to uphold both maxims in the work of Stella Bleu Designs, where the creations of Mississippi-born designer Katie Katzenmeyer are both functional and aesthetically pleasing, elegant and sturdy.  In a word, useful.

On view at her website (along with her Etsy shop, here) are shelves and garment racks made from industrial steel pipe, reclaimed wood, and other salvage materials gleaned from local, family-owned salvage yards and demolition sites.  Everything is made from scratch in house. 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 »

Bunaco Housewares

Part of sustainability is simply making use of what’s on hand: the ancient art of sourcing from nearby bounty.

The founders of Bunaco understood this well.  For over fifty years the company, based in the Aomori region of northern Japan, has made use of the beech trees plentiful to its area.  From a base product line of lacquered tableware, the designers at Bunaco have continually expanded their vision and created a legion of useful interior goods.

Their most recent brain-child is the Faggio loudspeaker, which debuted just last month at the 2012 Maison & Object Show. 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 »

Etsy Find of the Week – Year of the Dragon

In honor of this week’s celebration of Chinese New Year (January 23rd), I give you…

Vigor, the seriously awesome, recycled, drag racing steampunk dragon sculpture by Etsy artisans Reclaim2Fame.

Just look at that face! 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 »

Tom Raffield

Occasionally I run across something that defies description and leaves me grappling with words as one grapples with wet soap in the tub.  Look at this chair:

It’s a piece of furniture.  It’s a work of art.  So lovely!

But do you describe it?  For that matter, how do you describe much of what Tom Raffield produces in his workshop in Cornwall, England?  The gentleman’s website modestly labels his product “steam bent lighting and furniture,” but there’s more to the story than that.

This is art.

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 »

Heath Ceramics + Alabama Chanin = Much Loveliness

Be still my heart…

The pairing of artisan ceramics and beautiful textile creations has brought forth the Alabama Chanin Collection for Heath Ceramics.

Like stitches in clay, the patterns quietly emerge from the same soft palette of colors seen in Alabama Chanin textiles.  Both place settings and individual plates and serving bowls are available.  What a pretty table setting that would make! Read the rest of this entry »