Sometimes life is all about a fresh start.  Sometimes all one needs for a new perspective is the inspiration of another person’s actions.

One glance at Gaspard Tiné-Berès’ design work caught my attention, but it was as I learned more about his Short-Circuit trio of appliances and the affirmative business plan behind them that inspiration came.

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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.

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Sometimes a company’s product is difficult to define: I had this trouble while browsing Tim Leefeldt’s RailroadWare website.  Is it rustic?  Industrial?  Modern?  Nostalgic?  Well, take a look.

You decide.

There’s simplicity in these glass and steel designs, a clean look, one that’s versatile enough to be used in any number of decoration schemes.  I think they would complement just about any setting.

As much as possible, the materials are reclaimed objects.  Old glass & ceramic insulators, traffic light lenses, and hardened steel parts – the clips, spikes, and random hardware so abundant along unused rail lines – all hand-gathered by the artist and repurposed into lighting, door & cabinet hardware, and home furnishings. 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 »

Etsy Find of the Week – The Kerlerec Desk

Although it isn’t a strict policy, I try not to feature Etsy sellers more than once.   I’m glad I’m not strict about it, because if I was, I couldn’t show you this little gem…

Crafted in New Orleans by Matthew Holdren – whose gorgeous beds I featured back in May – the Kerlerec Desk is a pitch perfect piece of salvaged wood furniture.

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Dwell + Method + You + Your Idea = Winner?!?

Dwell and Method have teamed up to offer a fun, creative challenge – what can YOU design using an empty Method bottle?

Here’s how they describe the contest:

Dwell and method, two arbiters of style that aim for pride of place on your shelves, dare you to defy us with your concepts and creations for upcycling, recycling, rethinking, and deconstructing—beginning with your empty method product bottles. This design contest is about celebrating the effervescence of the everyday, because we think real creativity is about taking a second look, and breathing new life into the old. We’re looking for imaginative, innovative and inspiring concepts and creations that give method product bottles and packages a sexy new lease on life. Whether it’s an empty method bottle that now holds bouquets of blooms, a collage created from thousands of pieces of deconstructed method materials, or a conceptual rendering for future method fish bowls, we want you to submit a photo or rendering that shows how you’d move from method-everyday to method-extravagant, and we’ll shower you with fabulous prizes.

The Grand Prize is $300 worth of Method products, so put on your thinking caps and see what awesomeness you can come up with!  You have until June 30th.

Oh, and if you do submit an entry, make sure you tell us all about it in the comments below.  We’ll be rooting for you!

Etsy Find of the Week – Upcycled Mirrors

Upcycling is all the rage, and for good reason.  Why go out and buy something brand new that is already one of thousands just like it?  Wouldn’t you rather have something truly unique?

Like one of these vibrantly colored mirrors by Etsy seller 1848shop?

The bright, playful colors give these vintage mirrors a fresh look and a chance at a new life.

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9 Unusual Objects Recycled into Lighting

A small restaurant project I’m working on right now has me thinking a lot about using found objects as lighting fixtures.  It’s is a wonderful, inexpensive, and very sustainable way to add whimsy and uniqueness to a space.  I thought I’d share a few of the really cool fixtures I’ve run across as I’m doing my research…

Globes have the unfortunate habit of becoming inaccurate very quickly, what with the constant shifting of borders and changing of names, so I imagine there are a great many out of date, illuminated globes out there just waiting to be turned into something as gorgeous as Benoit Vieubled’s “terre à l’endroit, terre à l’envers“.

To think that a simple flan pan and a teapot could be brought together to create the sweet “Jasmine” lamp, by French design company Garbage.

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Montreal’s Moving Day = SCRAP

One city’s trash,…

is an artist’s treasure.

And thus began the SCRAP project by Mao, (aka Marjolaine Poulin).  I love this “Rocking Robot”.  Can you spot the little guy? Read the rest of this entry »

Friday Wrap-up – 7/16/10

It’s hot here.  OK, not as hot as some of you have been suffering through lately, but still, it’s definitely a nice tall glass of icy lemonade weather.  Luckily, it’s supposed to start cooling down a bit for the weekend.

Via Design*Sponge

Till the weather cools though, I’ll have to just content myself with looking at how refreshing this pretty, wooden textile stamp looks. (Design*Sponge)

This fountain would look refreshing, if only it wouldn’t fall apart the minute you add water. (Craftzine)

Love this simple and effective filing cabinet makeover! (re-nest)

Ooh!  Does Room&Board actually have organic cotton pillows from Mod Green Pod at their stores now? That would be wonderful! (GreenYourDecor)

And finally, a new use for an unloved plant.  Could the future of sustainable fabrics be the stinging nettle? (Treehugger)

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!