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discovered: jonathan adler for barnes & noble

14 Jul

Taking the path once blazed by Karl Lagerfeld for H&M (now on Ebay, cheap!) or DwellStudio for Target (much more successful, IMHO), Jonathan Adler has lent his considerable skills to help beautify the biggest of the big box bookseller retailers.  And although we’re a “support small/local business” household – a philosophy I find increasingly dear and growing in necessity daily – I would strongly consider turning the stroller around for a blast of air conditioning and the heavy double doors of the nearby Barnes & Noble for these bookends:

Hot dog

They’re $39.95 at BN.com, and as with many of these ‘made for’ collaborations, they’re stylistically similar to Adler’s other pieces, yet materially different.  In fact, I’d prefer resin bookends over ceramic ones any day . . . you’d have to be very creative to make productive use of a single bookend.

Kensington sketchbook

Barnes & Noble also sells Adler-designed totes, notebooks (one suspiciously Orla Kiely-like), umbrellas (for those days you choose to read outdoors, I suppose).  I’m sure Nook covers are also in the mix.   The Kensington-pattern sketchbooks are also favorites of mine.  Perhaps they’d find a cozy home between the front and back of a cute puppy.

high contrast, high style

19 Mar

Checkerboard Vans for toddlers, Little Ruler, $19.95 (on sale)

Scientists say that when babies are born, it takes a while for their eyes to get up to speed.  They have a hard time distinguishing between foreground and background, and they don’t yet see the full color spectrum as adults do.  I’m not a scientist, and don’t know much about the matter besides the fact that high contrast colors and patterns – blacks and whites and plaids – delight most new babies to no end.

(Incidentally, my husband’s currently reading a fantastic book called A Thousand Days of Wonder (see my Amazon store at top right).  It’s written by Charles Fernyhough, a developmental psychologist, who documents his daughter’s development through her first three years.  He also keeps a blog titled The Ladybird Papers).

If you’re expecting (congratulations) or need some gift ideas for new babies, I’ve discovered three items that fit the high-contrast/high-style bill.  And they’re all kid-tested-and-approved.

1. Manhattan Toy Infant Stim-Mobile

We have friends in the UK with a four year old.  They’re amazing people, but more than this, they’re incredibly smart.  Really, freaking, scary smart.   When their daughter was born, her dad bought her this mobile.  When I found out I was expecting, this was the first dedicated purchase my husband made for the new baby.  Don’t know if he’s hoping there’s some transitive property attached to the mobile, but I have to think that Fionn did respond to it in some way when he was really small.  The images come on plastic-coated cards, and the patterns increase in complexity, so you can switch them out as your child grows.  My only gripe is that it was difficult to fit onto the crib, although it attached to the cradle easily. 

2, Art for Baby

L:Natasha, Julian Opie; R: Fragment 3, Bridget Riley

There are quite a few versions of these high-contrast board books on the market, but this is the only one featuring “young british artists” Julian Opie, Damien Hirst and Gary Hume.  I’m actually not sure who likes this book more, me or the kid.   There’s something incredibly satisfying about indoctrinating the child into the art world at such a young age. . . it’s actually hilarious to create stories around the pictures too. (“Fionn, this picture is from the man who cut up a shark and displayed it in formaldehyde.”)  At the end of the day, what’s really important is that this book is interesting and still holds his attention.

3.  wee see videos

Described as “a gentle introduction to our visual world,” these videos are Art for Baby on hyperdrive.
 

Here’s the description from the website:

“Part art installation, part pacifier, Wee See is a collection of black-and-white animations built from basic shapes to delight both child and parent. As vision develops slowly over the first months of life, Wee See provides surfaces of bold, well-defined artwork to engage your baby’s curious mind and bring the screen to vibrant life. With great sensitivity to the delicate nature of the audience, Wee See’s animations move methodically slow and maintain an extraordinary simplicity yet remain endlessly inventive.”


Oh, and they’re from Brooklyn, always a great thing.  Here’s a sneak peek.  Warning, it’s kind of trippy! (I know some adults who might want this for themselves…)

wee see – collection one from Rolyn Barthelman on Vimeo.

There’s more to come – bedding and room decor.  But for now, enjoy, and have a great weekend.

books you shouldn’t buy #2

17 Mar

This is the second installment of my ‘books you shouldn’t buy’ feature.

Baby Rooms by Creative Homeowner (available on Amazon)

Boy, I set a high bar with this book.  As mentioned in BYSB #1 (here), I received a bunch of kid design books through Paperback Swap, thinking they’d be great as design reference materials.  I didn’t anticipate that books copyrighted in 2004 would seem so outdated.

They do.

 Time warp!

Don’t get me wrong.  There are some very helpful tips to be found amidst the 200-something pages.  Crib tents help prevent cats from jumping on babies.  Vertical stripes help make short ceilings appear taller.  Mobiles keep babies entertained, and help develop eye-tracking skills.

Here are the two decorating ideas I found somewhat interesting:
   

“Weekend cabin theme” room

1. The tackle box/storage bin and custom height chart with adjustable measuring bit.  Never really considered a cabin theme in a kid’s room; now I’m thinking it could be really cute if not taken too far.

You put your eggs in there (reminds me of this)

2. Wall murals often provide an opportunity to build things out – 3D style – by attaching objects to the illustration.  The book uses a bird’s nest, but I’ve seen great things done with branch-like hooks and knobs for hanging clothes.  I especially love the use of birdhouses, something I’ve seen before on Ohdeedoh and below, on Country Living’s website. 

Wallpaper tree, Country Living

The tree is made of wallpaper scraps, fashioned into a trunk and leaves.  It’s sweet, unisex, and much fresher than anything featured in my book.

books you shouldn't buy #2

17 Mar

This is the second installment of my ‘books you shouldn’t buy’ feature.

Baby Rooms by Creative Homeowner (available on Amazon)

Boy, I set a high bar with this book.  As mentioned in BYSB #1 (here), I received a bunch of kid design books through Paperback Swap, thinking they’d be great as design reference materials.  I didn’t anticipate that books copyrighted in 2004 would seem so outdated.

They do.

 Time warp!

Don’t get me wrong.  There are some very helpful tips to be found amidst the 200-something pages.  Crib tents help prevent cats from jumping on babies.  Vertical stripes help make short ceilings appear taller.  Mobiles keep babies entertained, and help develop eye-tracking skills.

Here are the two decorating ideas I found somewhat interesting:
   

“Weekend cabin theme” room

1. The tackle box/storage bin and custom height chart with adjustable measuring bit.  Never really considered a cabin theme in a kid’s room; now I’m thinking it could be really cute if not taken too far.

You put your eggs in there (reminds me of this)

2. Wall murals often provide an opportunity to build things out – 3D style – by attaching objects to the illustration.  The book uses a bird’s nest, but I’ve seen great things done with branch-like hooks and knobs for hanging clothes.  I especially love the use of birdhouses, something I’ve seen before on Ohdeedoh and below, on Country Living’s website. 

Wallpaper tree, Country Living

The tree is made of wallpaper scraps, fashioned into a trunk and leaves.  It’s sweet, unisex, and much fresher than anything featured in my book.

books you shouldn’t buy #1

19 Feb


Childstyle: Decorating Ideas and Projects for Kids’ Rooms, 2003.

First, a little background.
When we moved house nearly two years ago, I bode a sad farewell to our beautiful large rental home in favor of a sweet mortgage and a much smaller apartment. And in the shift from a built-in bookshelf wall to a bookshelf, singular, I had to part with many, many books. Through Paperback Swap, a fantastic and nearly free-of-charge book exchange service, I amassed a number of ‘credits’ for future requests. It’s a low-risk way for me to try new books. I highly recommend it if you’re running out of space or just want a change of reading material.

Hence, this post, the first in a series. My plan is to feature books/magazines that I’ve acquired in some way but (in my opinion) aren’t necessary for anyone else to purchase. They’re the kind of books that you hear about, or read about, or flick through in the checkout line at the supermarket, thinking to yourself, “this looks/sounds/appears interesting from the description/image/dust jacket, and besides, it can be returned . . .right?” And as it usually happens, that one description/image/dust jacket blurb is the best (and only good) thing about the book.

I know it’s rare to find a magazine or source book that’s amazing from beginning to end. Not everything is going to appeal to everyone, and you’re likely to find some images or ideas more inspirational than others.

However, Childstyle, by Better Homes & Gardens Publications, frightened me. Although published in 2003, the photos felt like a bad flashback to an episode of Full House. But amidst the castle-themed bed and the red-specked floor tile, I found three great things:

1. The blue ‘vintage’ room.

Love everything about this room, from the mix of Eames and tubular steel to the machine-age posters and dual-toned wall. Although described as a teenage room, I think this could work for all ages.

2. Shoe organizer as toy storage. What a clever idea.

3. A fire pole. A FIRE POLE.


There’s even a paragraph that begins “If you are thinking of installing a fire pole in your home…” and recommends visiting a local firehouse first to decide if your kids will be comfortable with having one in the home. Find me a kid who would say no to that one.

If you’re interested in any of these images, add a comment and I will scan and email you the accompanying copy.

books you shouldn't buy #1

19 Feb


Childstyle: Decorating Ideas and Projects for Kids’ Rooms, 2003.

First, a little background.
When we moved house nearly two years ago, I bode a sad farewell to our beautiful large rental home in favor of a sweet mortgage and a much smaller apartment. And in the shift from a built-in bookshelf wall to a bookshelf, singular, I had to part with many, many books. Through Paperback Swap, a fantastic and nearly free-of-charge book exchange service, I amassed a number of ‘credits’ for future requests. It’s a low-risk way for me to try new books. I highly recommend it if you’re running out of space or just want a change of reading material.

Hence, this post, the first in a series. My plan is to feature books/magazines that I’ve acquired in some way but (in my opinion) aren’t necessary for anyone else to purchase. They’re the kind of books that you hear about, or read about, or flick through in the checkout line at the supermarket, thinking to yourself, “this looks/sounds/appears interesting from the description/image/dust jacket, and besides, it can be returned . . .right?” And as it usually happens, that one description/image/dust jacket blurb is the best (and only good) thing about the book.

I know it’s rare to find a magazine or source book that’s amazing from beginning to end. Not everything is going to appeal to everyone, and you’re likely to find some images or ideas more inspirational than others.

However, Childstyle, by Better Homes & Gardens Publications, frightened me. Although published in 2003, the photos felt like a bad flashback to an episode of Full House. But amidst the castle-themed bed and the red-specked floor tile, I found three great things:

1. The blue ‘vintage’ room.

Love everything about this room, from the mix of Eames and tubular steel to the machine-age posters and dual-toned wall. Although described as a teenage room, I think this could work for all ages.

2. Shoe organizer as toy storage. What a clever idea.

3. A fire pole. A FIRE POLE.


There’s even a paragraph that begins “If you are thinking of installing a fire pole in your home…” and recommends visiting a local firehouse first to decide if your kids will be comfortable with having one in the home. Find me a kid who would say no to that one.

If you’re interested in any of these images, add a comment and I will scan and email you the accompanying copy.

M. Sasek picture books

9 Feb


11 out of 18 This is. . . books by Miroslav Sasek

It’s amazing how having a kid opens up new worlds to you.


For months, I’ve walked by the “New York” section of our local bookstore (Book Court, which is everything the B&N down the block is not, and yet another great reason to visit the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn). And for months, I’ve noticed a children’s book titled This is New York by M. Sasek.

A few weeks ago, I overcame the inertia that sometimes comes with familiarity (I keep seeing it, therefore I’m already bored with it), and of course, devoured this charming and clever little book. Then I went home and got on the internet.

A woman named Anne has a fascinating site about Miroslav Sasek, the author and artist of these beloved children’s books. After writing a post about Sasek on her blog, called “I like” she received so much positive feedback that she created a site devoted solely to him. Her new blog,This is M. Sasek , identifies and describes the books in the 18-volume collection as such:

“The title page is always in the same style, with “This is” in cursive writing and Sasek’s printed signature, but little details are added for each destination. The highlights of each destination are presented in vivid colour through the rest of the book with an emphasis on tourist hotspots, local transport, and national dress (particularly the different cultures that inhabit each place). I only have a few of the books but they are all superb. They are in a very 50’s Eastern European style, but are not dated at all. Most of the things that he has picked out are still noteworthy today and his style has endured. They are true classics.

“Peanuts – and almost everything else – you can buy from a machine,” excerpt from This is New York, 1960

My amazingly wonderful husband surprised me for my birthday this year with eleven of the 18 books Sasek wrote between 1959 and 1974. (They’re all slowly being re-published after being out of print for over twenty years). I’ve taken a snapshot from each one to give you a taste of Sasek’s whimsical perspective and unique style. (A Czech native and Paris resident for years, Sasek writes like the foreigner who finds world travel endlessly entertaining).

” Friendly, noisy, public spirited, nostalgic” This is Ireland, 1964

“Birdwatchers” on Cocoa Beach, This is the Way to the Moon, 1963

San Quentin State Prison, This is San Francisco, 1962

Negev Desert, This is Israel, 1962

Jardin du Luxembourg, This is Paris, 1959

Floral clock being painted, This is Edinburgh, 1961

Piccadilly Circus, This is London, 1959

Elm Street, Dallas, This is Texas, 1967

Doges’ Palace, This is Venice, 1961

Trevi Fountain, This is Rome, 1960

Now, I just need to get Hong Kong, Greece, the UN, Washington DC, Australia and Historic Britain (that’ll be interesting), and my collection will be complete. Hopefully this inspires you to begin your own.