Thursday, July 29, 2010

Noah would have been proud - Modern Arks

MODERN ARKS is mixes old and new aesthetics, in the design of contemporary furniture and artwork using re-claimed and recycled relics to create one of a kind pieces. They are located in Nashville, Tennessee and create original furniture, wall art, notebooks and postcards. Their work is a great way to discover unique re-purposed wood products, hand screened prints.

Their shipping crate side tables, is a favorite. By using beautiful vintage crates to create unique side tables with an authentically weathered patina, these are one-of-a-kind and perfectly worn in.  These beautifully recycled antiques maintain the character of historic relics, while creating a new and useful product that is truly unique.

Their furniture and artwork will fit in a range of interior design decor, and are guaranteed to spark conversation.  For instance, "The Shipping Crate Side Table," is just that. Made from an Early American shipping crate, this simple yet elegant table leg structure are combined to create truly unique pieces suitable for any home. The use of authentic antique crates ensures that no two are alike and re-purposing these historic crates ensures they are appreciated for years to come.  Each leg assembly is made especially for the unique crate that it supports. Sized to fit snugly under the crate, gravity makes sure the table works, while making it possible to slide the crate off unharmed. Each piece is truly one-of-a-kind and limited to one. Hand stamped for quality, these tables are sturdy and beautiful.
Another favorite is the "Modern Arks Notebook." These beautiful, antique books are re-purposed into new and useful notebooks. This "untitled" but very elegant book is an authentic vintage books. Each book has been well used, but the beautiful and unique hard cloth book covers are re-purposed into a truly one-of-a-kind notebook. This notebook contains about 40 pages and is a mix of plain white and engineering grid paper. It is handmade and stamped and limited to one.They don't make beautiful book covers like this anymore. It's a conversation starter at school or work, and a rugged and reliable notebook for your everyday use!

To find out more about Modern Arks, or where to purchase their items, please visit

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Essentials for living... 10 Grain

10 Grain is a California based design company inspired by place and driven by a belief that great design should be part of everyday life.  What a concept! They strive to create essential products that provide timeless solutions for sustainable, yet simple living. I think you'll find that their designs are relaxed, but obvious in regard to function and purpose offering flexible solutions for the evolving domestic landscape.

They design and produce furniture for kids, as well as grown ups. Their focused and dedicated team, has a cumulative 70 years of experience in the furniture industry. This extensive background enables 10 Grain to provide the best possible, quality product that weaves seamlessly into the home and translates effortlessly to all audiences.

10 Grain products are designed to create useful and elegant solutions for everyday living . They use reductive designs, which are expressed in timeless forms that recognize a product’s usefulness and necessity while exhibiting the beauty and honesty of its material. It is this design approach coupled with a deep understanding and passion for manufacturing that drives a collaborative process at 10 Grain, resulting in affordable products with total clarity of form + function. They view their products in terms of longevity, not fad in which great design  and fun are mutually celebrated. 10 Grain products are designed and produced to last a lifetime and endure the rigors of use for years to come.

While 10 Grains furniture for adults is nice and eequally pleasing to the eye, I decided to focus on their line of kids stuff, including a line which incorporates designer Paul Frank.  The first piece is the "Play Pad". Setting out to design a modern dollhouse, designer Eric Pfeiffer turned to his daughter’s mini play dwelling, which, after years of use, now served as an awkward table. With that in mind, the Play Pad took form as a groovy, diminutive domicile scaled and stout enough to serve as a side table for a light or books yet, still embracing its basic purpose. Move over Barbie, we’re moving in!

Next we have the "Lounge Desk," where you can sit, store, write. I love furniture that does the unexpected. The Lounge Desk could be a great chair for kids or even adults, but hidden in it’s form is a unique backrest surface ideal for little projects or for aspiring authors and an under seat shelf serves as a cubby for shoes and books. 10 Grain tried to capture the essence of this design in the name Lounge Desk, but it continues to surprise.

Equally as cool is the "Robo Stool."  Here, fun + function is in a simple form. This stackable utility stool is a versatile hybrid and smarter that most robots. The detailed cutouts on each side create an animated face that makes you smile and serve as handles for kids to move the stool wherever they need a little lift or a place to rest.

The "Pop Stick Chair" is  as cool as a Popsicle on a warm, sunny day. Serving as an inspiration for this durable chair, the Popsicle stick harkens feelings of tasty, well thought out design. This sweet chair is lightweight and has a convenient handle, making it a great seat for the tiniest of tikes to transport and chill out in their favorite spot.

The "Chalkboard Table" is a durable set, which includes one sturdy table and two stools. With a chalkboard surface to draw on, this table is bound to inspire the young artist in every family.

In their collaboration with designer Paul Frank, they accented his kids line "Small Paul" for this "Slice Step."  Sometimes happiness is as simple as a step up to the counter! The Slice Step is an essential household item ready to empower kids with 12” of growing power and an easy to grab handle. A staple for every bathroom or kitchen, trips to the cookie jar have never been easier :)

Another item they did with Frank is the "Small Paul Spots."  This simply put is a wall party! Each kit includes 80 movable and reusable spots featuring Julius and Friends in action. Application is a simple three-step process of peel, place then smooth with your hand. What a great way to transform any dull space! Small Paul Spots will adhere to any clean, smooth surface without pretreatment. To rearrange, carefully peel off each image and reposition, then smooth with your hand. Easy stuff and a great look!
To find out more about 10 Grain and where to purchase their
 products for kids young and old,
please visit


Monday, July 26, 2010

It's SWARM by Leslie Ocshmann

Leslie Oschmann is an American living in Amsterdam. Her passion for art began at 5, when she assisted her dad at his carpentry shop. She has since honed her skill and created Swam.  Swarm is a company in Amsterdam, a natural progression for her, since her father was Dutch. Here Leslie uses reclaimed objects to make new ones. Found objects in dutch markets, a french home or a Belgian shop, create something rare and unexpected, not too mention beautiful. By preserving the natural charm of a piece, she reveals the new users to its beauty. She does this by re-inventive use and manipulation of juxtaposed materials ie; linen on wood, silk on oil painting and stitching on canvas. 

One of her recent series was “oil paintings on chairs” – a collection of old chairs made new by covering them in vintage oil paintings. Her juxtapositions are stunning, the effect: spectacular, and her chairs have not only featured in magazines around the world but were bought by renown retailers Anthropologie. Leslie was also the Visual Director for the chain as well.

Besides the chairs, Leslie also makes tables, bags, embellished paintings, chests and various furniture pieces. The most accessible and amazing part of what she makes, is her bags! I’m smitten. I love every single one of these bags. The idea of using an old painting, no doubt with a story and making an incredible new bag is so much fun! I really think that it will make you look at vintage paintings a little differently, especially the ones that you find at flea markets that could use a little love.
To find out more about Leslie or where to purchase her items, please visit

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Christen Maxwell is the daughter of merchants, who found her passion for home products while being raised in her parents' housewares store. She's a New Englander who recently found herself in the Big Apple. She received her BFA in Product Design from Parson's, the New School for Design.  Maxwell has worked as a Product Design & Retail Development Consultant, as well as a Buyer and Visual Merchandiser. Christen recently (very recently) launched her first private collection this Summer, simply called Christen Maxwell. Christen Maxwell is a home collection for living. Her inspiration is taken from travel, art, history, and strangely enough for an artist, mathmetics.  Maxwell's products depict modern abstractions of culture and nature.
Maxwell's Design Philosophy is to "design timeless, well-made objects that transform houses into homes." She finds that using only the purest materials, timeless designs and a sophisticated color palate- every product added to the collection builds upon the overall look and lifestyle brand. Thus creating liveable, modern, objects fit for almost any habitat.

At Christen Maxwell, they do not only design finished products, they also manufacture custom objects as well and all goods are created to their high standards. She is proud to note that all goods are made in the USA, with exception to the collection of baskets made in Senegal.
The collection of sweetgrass and recycked plastic baskets are handmade in Senegal (Western Africa) by working mothers. Maxwell works closely with a former native of Senegal, who is also new to NY. She travels between Senegal and the States monthly to ensure that the designs are consistant and mother's are well taken care of. Maxwell also co-designs with the local artisans of Senegal to create a collaborate, cultural, global product. The product itself is both an enonomic and eco-friendly revival for Senegal. Teaching business practices to the women, while keeping the craft alive with the younger generation. By removing plastic out of harms reach in the feilds and providing fabulous, vibrant colors and timeless patterns, true to their culture.

Besides the baskets from Senegal, Christen Maxwell produces pillows, lighting, fabric buy the yard and custom objects, such as bedding. She hopes to expand on her line as it grows and flourishes.To find out more about Christen Maxwell, please visist

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When it comes to cupcakes, Ming Thompson is a master. What makes her even more interesting is that Ming is a recent graduate with a Masters in Architecture, at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She currently works as an exhibition designer and curator in New Haven, Connecticut. But you can also find these delicious bites online (website listed below). I can't think of two more creative fields than architecture and baking.

Ming Makes Cupcakes is her company in which there are 31 different cupcake recipes. They range from classics like Red Velvet (a personal favorite) with Buttercream Frosting or Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting to more unique flavors like Flourless Beet Cupcakes with Whipped Cream or Port Wine and Cherry Chocolate Cupcakes with Marscapone Frosting.

Ming also makes little treats for the mouth that she calls  "Savouries" - like the Corn Bread with Goat Cheese and Bacon cupcake or the Cheddar Scallion cupcakes with Whipped Cream Cheese. I just got hungry typing this!

If you're a baker, it will be incredibly inspiring to you. She uses unique ingredients at it seems that people have been premature in predicting the death of the cupcake fad. Personally speaking, there is something irresistible about those little bites of cake. For more mouth watering details, if the photos haven't done it for you...
you can visit Ming's website at