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Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

Designer Interviews: Edgar Blazona of TrueModern

Becky

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Today we have the pleasure of introducing Mr. Edgar Blazona of TrueModern, and learning about his new playhouse design, which may just nudge your toddler into becoming a budding Modernist.

We know you’ve had a background in prefab architecture. Tell us a bit about how your experience with prefabs lead to the creation of the playhouse.

When I started building modern prefab architecture, I was trying to create a space that I could fill with my furniture designs. I felt that I needed a place that was truly modern from the moment you walked in the door. Modern architecture is sometimes unapproachable in cost. Living in the Bay Area, there really isn’t a way to be able to build a modern home. I started in the backyard, thinking I could create a small building that could house my modernist books, mid-century furniture and my own designs. Basically, the playhouse is the same sort of situation. I wanted to create an environment for kids so that they too could grow up in a modernist setting. I have noticed that kids enjoy a little simplicity when they are taken away from the primary colors of plastic play structures.

What influenced the playhouse design?

As you can see in my buildings, there is typically a glass corner or the appearance of one. You can see that within this playhouse as well…

It’s really easy to see the similarities between my prefab work and my playhouse. Frankly, the playhouse is a no-brainer given my extensive exploration into kids’ furniture, which we’ve been doing for years now.

How often have you played in your playhouse?

That’s funny you should ask. I recently had a tea party with a neighbor’s kid. We got inside it, I squeezed through the little door and sat down with her. Funny thing was, we didn’t have any furniture. It kind of make me think we should do some furniture to go with these. What’s a modern playhouse without modern furnishings? Truth be told, we just sat for a bit, giggled and played, and ended up having a really great time.

If you could find the playhouse in the home of any one person who might it be?

Brad Pitt, no doubt. A long time ago, Brad Pitt’s assistant gave me a call. I’ll never forget the day. I was working for Pottery Barn at the time ( yep- the modernist used to work for Pottery Barn! ) and this women called very interested in my Modular Dwellings structures. After I questioned her for a bit, she finally fessed up that she was Brad’s assistant. I was shocked that Brad Pitt was interested in my work. I certainly could imagine him with a whole group of these structures for all of the kids that he seems to have nowadays.

I love the Danish modern aesthetic of the 11 Ply collection. Tell us how you came about the design on these pieces.

With 11 Ply, I was trying to create a new kids’ furniture collection that could not only sit with our existing kids collection, but still look fresh and new. The name 11 Ply actually refers to the 11 layers of veneer, making up the thickness of the plywood. We started with selecting a material and then worked backwards. I chose birch plywood to be used as the main material to create a better quality item (it’s stronger and actually made up of these layers of birch veneer, creating basically a solid birch panel). I then chose a manufacturing technique that would accentuate this type of material. We’re actually using the material as it was intended. We are not putting a veneered edge; we are exposing the natural edge with sanding and clear-finishing. All of the parts and panels are cut on a CNC machine. If you notice, most of the shapes have a rounded top or the drawers have a shape that overhangs the top. The fact that we are not veneering the edges allows us to do this type of design. We even use a simple cutout to work as the drawers’ handle, allowing the user to easily grab on and open the drawer.

We noticed that TrueModern is expanding out of kids bedrooms and into the rest of the home. Tell us more about your “grown up” pieces.

We launched our first sofas a few years ago. We started with two – Luna & Lift. Although Lift hasn’t been a great success, Luna has done really well. People have really responded to the Danish looking, somewhat Haywood Wakefield-inspired legs. Just recently, we launched a few new sofa collections called Dane, which is even more Danish-inspired. The legs are solid walnut and tapered with some interesting stitching technique across the back of the pillows. These pieces in particular are a little more comfy and let you get a little cozy. Marfa is more of a lounge-type sofa, inspired by my favorite artist and modernist, Donald Judd. This block-style sofa is very low and great to kick back, while still looking super cool. Each of these collections are available in several different configurations. It’s been quite a struggle getting all these configuration options perfect and available for purchase. It’s been a long road, but we’ve finally got it and we’re super excited to show these to our customers.

And lastly, what is this Modernism For Life t-shirt brand you have launched?

Yeah- I’m really excited about these new shirts. We are having so much fun making fun of ourselves yet exposing so many to a new way of life. The idea here is that we are modernists, we are proud of our ways, and we want to wear it on our sleeves. Literally.  In a way, we are somewhat poking fun at our need for clean lines, simplicity, and good design to fills our lives. Frankly I am using  this humor to push back on the status quo. I guess I am bored with the big box stores, Pottery Barn and brands alike. Who decided that the design standard in the US needs to be a “freshened up” version of an antique? And what about clutter? We don’t need clutter. As modernists we are sick of clutter in fact. Frankly clutter makes me have anxiety you just can’t imagine. I think it all starts in the home; being comfortable at home does not need to come in the form of “stuff.” Quite the opposite in fact. Being comfortable in life is so important and I believe modernism can help us all get there. You know, it really cracks me up when you go to someone’s home and it’s a huge mess, yet they go to yoga four times a week to keep their sanity and life in check. Hello? Try getting rid of that clutter and start seeing the light. Modernism For Life- Live it!, as I say.

Thanks so much to Edgar for sitting down with us today!

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Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Designer Interview: Mia of Pop & Lolli

Becky

Posted by Becky | View all posts by Becky
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Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with Modern Mom Mia, who is the creator of Pop and Lolli, a company that makes removable wall decals in large sizes and exuberant colors that parents and kids can have fun switching around, dressing up, and re-arranging into different compositions whenever they fancy. Well, I’ll let Mia and the images tell the story. For information on how to buy any of these designs, simply click on the image.

How did you get your current business of the ground?

I was working at the time as an Imagineer (Architect for Disney) when my husband and I found out that we were pregnant with our first child.  Returning to work after the birth of Anabelle was really challenging, as the demands of the job and the lifestyle which a new baby allowed was tough and difficult to balance. It felt like both required my full time attention, 24/7.  We do not have any family in America, and a nanny was caring for Anabelle during the day. The knowledge that someone else was caring for my baby, and I was missing out on all her important little developments and milestones saddened me!  But, living in LA is tough on one salary, even more so with the addition of a new family member during the worst of a bad economy. My husband and I decided to try and make it work and I resigned as an Imagineer to ensure that I can be full time with our daughter.

My first creative task at home was to decorate my daughter’s new room. And this is where it all started!  After lots of thought and research, I knew I wanted something funky, spunky, unique, BIG, colorful, and permanent in style, yet temporary enough to move it with us when/if we ever move again.  I loved the idea of wall decals, but couldn’t find anything that really emotionally connected with me.  Everything was too small, it covered too little walls – nothing offered a true work of art, a mural, a complete interactive experience … and so I decided to take matters in my own hands and just do it myself. We received raving reviews from our friends, so my husband and I decided to see whether we can develop it into a business… welcome to Pop & Lolli!  11 Months of extreme dedication, intense passion, pure joy, LOT’S of hard work and sacrifices, very little sleep and tons of research later, Pop & Lolli launched on 10/10/10. I can now truly say, I am at my Happy Place! :)

How has your childhood in South Africa influenced your work?
I was born and raised in South Africa and earned a degree in Architecture at the University of Pretoria. After I graduated and got married, I moved with my husband to Washington, DC (we have since moved to Los Angeles). I have always had an intense passion for true African Art and Culture.  The color and the vibrancy of the designs, and the unique and extreme variance in style and most often the fine attention to detail are all awe-inspiring.  South Africa is a gorgeous country and has TONS to offer – most people have a hard time believing we have ELEVEN official languages!  A true rainbow nation and a melting pot of many great things – it certainly is a recipe for fantastical creations! The textures, the landscapes, the sunsets, the smells, the food, the color, the languages … one can only listen, smell, observe, taste and feel to KNOW Africa is in your blood.  And if it’s in your blood it is a part of you, one cannot help but to always be mesmerized, reminisce and be affected by it. Always.  Often.  And I’m proud of it! :)

Please take us on a bit of a virtual tour of your studio. What’s the neighborhood like? What were some of your priorities when finding a space where you need to be creative?

We currently live in a small quaint little neighborhood sandwiched between Miracle Mile and Beverly Hills in Los Angeles.  It is a wonderfully small little tree-filled neighborhood, with lots of beautiful old 1920′s Los Angeles homes, yet close enough to be within walking distance to some of LA’s trendiest little hot spot cafes, restaurants and parks. My biggest priority when trying to create my office was SPACE! We seem never to have enough of it!  Since working full time on Pop & Lolli my office space has moved 3 times within the house…. I’m always complaining that I never have ENOUGH SPACE! Currently I have my own semi-private little area (chosen such to still be able to cast a watchful eye on Anabelle whilst busy working on Pop & Lolli with her being able to go about her own play time without interfering with Mommy too much) with a brightly painted hot pink wall, a stainless steel retro office desk and a gracious red egg chair awaiting you if you come and visit for a cup of tea! I design the decals on my guilty pleasure, a beautiful Mac.

How do you stay inspired? Please walk us through your design process.
BOOKS! BLOGS! South Africa!  We try to visit South Africa once yearly and I always come back filled to the brim and expanding out of my mind full of amazing inspiration… After a trip I usually have enough content in my mind to last me several collections! Usually the challenge to remaining inspired, is finding enough TIME to process the thoughts, organize my ideas and execute the design. Big inspiration tends to come when I’m least ready for it, and that’s when the iPhone camera comes in real handy!  I’ve luckily also been blessed with an amazing memory and tend to freeze beautiful moments in my mind to recall later for when I’m ready to draw.  I like to paint, sculpt, draw, write, which usually leads to informal designs.  I then usually like to excitedly share these genius ideas with my very non-designer brained husband, and in the few cases which I can see a faraway twinkle in his eye, I know to take it to the computer where I then like to formalize the art in Illustrator – my very best friend!

Please tell us a bit about your current line – Can you tell us a bit about how this decal can equal family fun?

Noah’s African Circus was the collection that started it all, and is the collection originally designed for my daughter – and it happens to be our most popular too!  I wanted to create characters with a lot of personality and filled with flavor, laughter, fun and very many detail.  I liked the idea of dressing them all up in fabulous fashions, like checks, tartans, glasses etc., and to have each collection be gender neutral.  Something a little bit unexpected and quite out of the ordinary. I purposely used bold and intense colors, and designed them such that all the collections can interact and match with each other to ensure no two rooms can ever be alike. I liked the idea of dressing the decals up for an occasion and decided to include fun and themed overlays like the Birthday, Halloween and Christmas Overlay.  This ensures family fun for everyone, which young and old can enjoy together to either use it by itself or dress up your current art or decals on your wall for extra laughter and fun. It also utilizes the full potential of the fabric decals as they are very removable and reusable. Use for a few months and store for the rest of the year to use again later!


Do you have any advice for anyone suffering from a creative block? Read Design BLOGS!  Browse Etsy! It’s crazy how much amazingly awesome content there is on the web! There are SO very many talented people sharing fabulous inspirational ideas that will spark your own enthusiasm. An overseas trip to explore other cultures has never hurt anyone either! :)

Do you have any words of wisdom for creatives who are ready to make the leap into a building a business?
With true passion and a heart for what you believe in, surround yourself with inspiring, caring, supportive friends and… jump!  Even if you fail, you will be caught by caring hands! I like to refer to Pop & Lolli as my community project.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, but it takes the city of Los Angeles to start Pop & Lolli.  I truly would never have been able to launch Pop & Lolli if it wasn’t for the incredible and amazingly wonderful and supportive community of the world’s most amazing group of talented friends who helped me and supported me unconditionally all the way always!

Please tell our readers more about Chic 2 Change!

Living in the US, a country filled with opportunity, I have always wanted to give back to South Africa. And with the birth of Pop & Lolli we realized this was the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and also start my much dreamed about charity!  I really like the TOMS Shoes philosophy of one for one, but in reality, decals are not the highest priority for non-privileged children! As such, we donate a fixed percentage of all Pop & Lolli profits to Chic 2 Change. After careful consideration we decided to partner with a wonderful charity in South Africa who has their finger on the pulse and know exactly what and where the current needs are. It was also important for me to ensure 100% of the donated dollars get applied towards enriching the needy children, and as such no admin fees or third party costs are charged. We just came back from our very first charity distribution – and it was amazing! I’m excited at the opportunity to help facilitate change.  We are hoping for a Pop & Lolli boom in 2011 and start contributing to local charities in the US too.

Thank you SO MUCH to Mia for taking the time to share her story and advice with us! For more information about Chic 2 Change, click here. For information on how to buy any of these designs, simply click on the images.

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Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Vitra Eames Elephants

Ali

Posted by Ali | View all posts by Ali
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Not too long ago, in a land not too far away, the DP staff sat around and talked about the Eames Elephants.

We love them.

We love them so much we could spend (actually, have spent) hours watching this video by eamesdemetrios:

Hats off to Vitra for going into production with the elephants! Although we love the plywood originals, the new plastic version from Vitra will do just fine.

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Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Q&A with Kiersten Hathcock of Mod Mom Furniture

Ali

Posted by Ali | View all posts by Ali
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Mod Mom FurnitureThe newest addition to the DP family: Mod Mom Furniture. Mod Mom, aka Kiersten Hathcock, personally designs and builds all of her modern, mid-century inspired children’s furniture from her home garage.

Personally, I think it is hard to beat beautiful handmade furniture built by a mom with a power saw.

Enjoy the Q&A!

We know a little bit about your story…ex-TV network marketing executive turned stay-at-home mom turned self-taught furniture designer/builder. I absolutely love that you went for the power tools rather than the sewing machine or knitting needles. Now we want the full scoop. How did Mod Mom Furniture really get off the ground?

Mod Mom Furniture really came out of me needing two things: 1.) Another source of income (since we lost my salary) and 2.) An outlet to channel all the drive and creativity that surprisingly didn’t go away when I decided to stay home with the kids (then 6-months and 4-years). After leaving the corporate world, I took freelance marketing jobs and even nannied to help make ends meet but also be home with the kids. During that time, in 2005, I rekindled my love for woodworking while building a tiki bar and luau tables with a friend for my husband’s birthday party. I had forgotten how much fun it was to build and started to really think about how I could turn it into a business.

I started very slowly building toy bins and selling them to friends (who were kind enough not to point out the flaws because they wanted to be Read the rest of this entry »

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