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Art and Artists

Monday, August 12th, 2013

The Island Institute and Photography of Peter Ralston

Becky

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I’m up in Maine right now and this weekend and I popped into The Island Institute’s Rockland headquarters and store, Archipelago. The Institute was celebrating its 30th anniversary and it was not only amazing to hear about all of the great work they’ve done to sustain Maine’s island and remote coastal communities, but also to look at all of the amazing photographs by co-founder Peter Ralston. There was an exhibit and the entire building is filled with them, to which we were allowed rare access.

Clearing by Peter Ralston

Ralston began the Island Institute with Phil Conkling in 1983 with a shoestring budget that has grown to $5 million dollars a year. Around 50 employees work hard to preserve the unique cultures of these special places, as well as help their economies, educational systems, marine management and more. I always enjoy their journal very much and if you are a fan of the coast of Maine, I recommend you join this wonderful organization and help their efforts. When you join, you get a 10% discount at their store, Archipelago, which has amazing made in Maine artwork, jewelry, pottery and other items, like gorgeous blankets from Swan Island.

Spectre by Peter Ralston

Cofounder Peter Ralston is one of my favorite photographers of all time. He can capture fog, boats, still lifes, animals, landscapes, seascapes, photos of houses in such a way that they look like an Andrew Wyeth egg tempura painting … his photographs have documented Maine’s islands and coastal communities for decades.

Glint by Peter Ralston

Learn more about visiting/joining The Island Institute

Noontide by Peter Ralston

Learn more about/purchase the photography of Peter Ralston

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Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Designer Interview: Meet Elana Joelle Hendler of EJH Brand

Becky

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Today we’re getting to know Elana Joelle Hendler, the artist and designer behind EJH Brand
Tell us a little bit about the journey that led you to where you are in your art career today.

I’ve been drawing all my life, drawing in notebooks with a ballpoint pen since I was young. I studied art history in college but never had plans for a career with my art. A few years later, my life took a major shift and I decided to go out on my own and start a business. I knew then that I would use my artwork as the basis for the brand. As I began to work on the concept for EJH, I was drawn to designing products that I’ve always loved and enjoyed in my home. (I’ve been obsessed with candles since I can remember!) Your home can be such a sanctuary from the busy world around us and I wanted to create unique, design driven works of art that people could enjoy in their own environments.
You feature wildlife a lot –­ what inspired that and how do you decide on which species you are going to feature?

My earliest drawings were doodles that I would work on without really knowing what they were. As I would continue to draw, I would always notice the designs began to look like animals and then I would continue the drawing to look like that animal. I suppose you could say I’ve always been a wildlife artist. I find the modern elements of intrinsic designs in nature and wildlife absolutely fascinating and that is what I explore in my work. As far as selecting a particular animal to feature, the Wildlife Collection is a combination of work I drew before my business existed and other animals I adore that I chose to complete the series!
What are some of  the benefits of and challenges with production in the USA?

The main benefit to having production in the USA is shorter turnaround and better quality control. The challenges are cost, sourcing and sometimes a combination of the two! The truth is, even though it has its challenges, I feel very proud to say that I partner locally and that my products are all designed and handcrafted in the USA.
What are your studio space and neighborhood like? How do they inspire you?
My studio is in Venice just lining the canals. I love working so close to the water and watching the different canal birds that share my neighborhood! The culture here in Venice has definitely had an impact on my aesthetic and how I create environments to showcase the brand. My studio is filled with reclaimed wood and metal furniture including an oversized wooden bookcase that I use to feature the full collection. The first print from each limited edition hangs along the walls and my view out the window overlooks the Venice canals.
Speaking of inspiration, what do you do when you have a creative block to try and shake it?

Whenever I have a creative block, I’ve learned it’s best to get up, walk away, and get back to it later. Since I live a block from the beach, I sometimes take a pen and notepad with me and will plant myself right there on the sand and take in the fresh air. Sometimes the change of scenery is enough to clear your head and inspire a new perspective.
I fear writing notes on nice notepapers and cards is becoming a lost art. Please tell us about the inspiration for doing stationary and how people should use it.

There is something so special about receiving a handwritten note on a beautiful card, whether it’s a thank you, invitation, or just to say hello. The heart of the EJH concept is to really appreciate the nuances of handcrafted works of art and in this spirit, I decided to design stationery letterpressed by hand on paper made from cotton recovered from the textile industry. It’s a modern spin on an age old tradition of expression, and I think sending a handwritten note can be such a beautiful gesture that people truly appreciate receiving.
Tell us a little about choosing luxurious fragrances for your candles.

Our two candle collections are designed with 100% pure essential oils, using a delicate combination of fruits, flowers, herbs and plants. I love fresh, sophisticated, clean fragrances! I have always been repelled by strong synthetic smells and so EJH is about all natural coconut wax, earth­inspired essential oils that make you feel connected to the environment and add that subtle sophistication to your home space.
Anything else to add that my questions don’t cover?

I was 24 when I started the company with no business, product development or even product design experience. That’s a fun fact people usually find interesting. This business began on a dream and sheer determination.
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Monday, May 20th, 2013

Guest Post: Contemporary Venetian Style

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Please welcome to architect, interior designer and blogger Elisabetta Rizzato, who will be taking us on a trip to her hometown of Venice, Italy, where we’ll stop by some of her favorite haunts to check out contemporary Ventian style.

In the eyes of a careless observer, the city of Venice might seem like a place that has remained unchanged over the centuries: waterways, streets (“calli”), ancient buildings, everything seems to be indifferent to the passage of time.

But there are many examples of how Venice shows its link with contemporary times: In new architectures, places, commercial activities, art, design and in the people who live and study there. In particular, I would like to talk about some shops in Venice that either demonstrate modernity while maintaining continuity with the past or that have a clear break with the past.

The first category includes numerous examples of how old products or new interpretations of old forms are reproduced and sold in our times; one of the most interesting examples is certainly Venetia Studium, whose main store is located a few steps from San Marco square. Venetia Studium speaks the ancient language of elegance and good taste – rich fabrics, high craftsmanship and attention to detail are the characteristics of the products sold in the store, with a wide range of home furnishings and clothing accessories .


The store also contains the famous Fortuny lamp. A timeless design object, it’s a floor lamp that turned 100 years old in 2007. It was designed by Marià Fortuny Madrazo, also known by the name Mariano Fortuny (Granada, May 11, 1871 – Venice, May 3, 1949), a Spanish painter, designer and set designer. The lamp is considered as one of the most interesting products in the history of industrial design and it has revolutionized the world of lighting, thanks to the special lighting effect it produces – the bulb is turned inward and is projected on a fabric used for reflection. More than a lamp it is a great light projector, which in its dynamic lines evokes a confidence in the future and modernity that make it contemporary.

I stumbled by chance in an upcoming opening of the new store, located on a street side to the Peggy Guggenheim museum:


A shop that always attracts my attention for its clean cut from the past is called Fiorella Gallery and is located at the corner of Campo Santo Stefano, a short walk from the Accademia Bridge. From its windows you can perceive the huge contrast with the surrounding environment: – bright colors, neon and works of irreverent art appear from the traditional architectures of plaster and brick of the field.

Inside, there are unique pieces from contemporary artists and irreverent designers, including works by Gaetano Pesce, Ettore Sottsass, Rod Dudley, Still and works of the owner, Fiorella Mancini. The store has been around since the 1960s and has a very interesting history.


To see more of Elisabetta’s beautiful inspirations and learn more about her work, be sure to visit er interior design.

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Friday, April 12th, 2013

For the Birds – We Still Love Them

Becky

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The butt of a Portlandia joke: Yup, after the whole bird flu thing and  their proliferation on everything from coffee mugs to living walls, birds have been dissed lately, but you know what? We still love them and think they are cool. In fact, we’ve had one on our logo since the beginning of Design Public.

If you do do, we say go for it and put birds on whatever things you want. Whether it’s a Charley Harper cardinal on your house or a folk art Eames bird on your shelf, birds that are done right will never go out of style. Here’s a few different bird styles:

Hippie Bird: The white dove, long a symbol of peace became a symbol of Woodstock where it became a free bird. By the way, you can scoop up a poster on Etsy.

Mid-century modern: This little bird was inspired by an original piece of Adirondack folk art that Charles and Ray Eames picked up an honored with a space in their home for many years. They used it in some of their great photo styling, and when their fans inquired about where they could get one, reproductions were created based on 3D models of the original. They are manufactured by Vitra.

Finnish: Over the last 40 years,artist Oiva Toikka has designed over 400 beautiful and unique mouth blown glass birds for iitalia; each one is a work of art. The only problem I have with them is that I cannot seem to choose one; I have several favorites and the first place slot changes daily. Shop a wide selection of them here.

Chinoiserie: This proud peacock adds Asian-inspired flair to the bedroom.

Post-Modern: Kontexture’s take on the rubber ducky gives a nostalgic familiar form an edge.

So peeps, how are you feeling about birds these days? Would you let a heron print in the house but kick out a tote bag with a robin on it? Let us know in the Comments section.

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Wednesday, March 27th, 2013

Around the Web This Week

Becky

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What have you all been checking out on the web lately? I’ve been all over the place and yet seem to wind up in the same old places as well, like a favorite, Colossal

Colossal introduced me to these wire birds perched in trees in Geneva, created by Cédric Le Borgne and part of an outdoor tree lighting festival. Of course, if you have ornithophobia, waking up and looking out your apartment window at this could be dangerous for your health.

I also took a thorough virtual tour of Bob Hope’s desert home, now on the market. This home is supposed to look like a volcano and was designed by beloved architect John Lautner. It’s over 23,00o square feet, which is crazier than living in a volcano. It has views of the Coachella Valley, so I’m very curious to know if you can see TuPac’s hologram from the patio during the festival.

Take the tour over at Zillow’s blog. Be sure to check out the e-brochure, as the sketches and black and white photos are quite breathtaking.

Speaking of popular architects, it’s been about a week and a half since we found out Toyo Ito won the Pritzker Prize, but it takes awhile to get to know the body of work from his long career. Whenever I need a little break from work, I head on over to Toyo Ito & Associates for inspiration.

Speaking of breaks from work, I love to giggle over Passive-Aggressive notes dot com, don’t you? The busting of Alex really cracked me up. I picture this guy having Popeye arms and a serious tab down at GNC.

What are you checking out on the internet this week? Shoot us a link in the Comments section!


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