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felted rocks, small and large

28 Feb

Balloon Dog, Jeff Koons, Palazzo Grassi, Venice

I’m on an art kick this week.

Back in my design firm days, we used to talk about the need to engage all the senses when creating new products. Of course, we all want pictures to be beautiful. We want candles to smell lovely, we want watches to tick, and we want cookies to be delicious. But for some reason, we don’t always think about how things feel when we touch them, and how delightful it is when the sense of touch is stimulated.

Haptic perception is the power of recognizing objects through touch. And to me, it’s best sense to play around with. As Balloon Dog (above) illustrates, it’s super-fun to have your expectations challenged. And just as a balloon dog is supposed to be small and lightweight, a rock is supposed to be dull and heavy.

That’s why I think these felted rock cushions by South African textile designer Ronel Jordaan have captured the imagination of many bloggers and online shopkeepers.

Silver rock cushions, Ronel Jordaan

Ronel Jordaan rock cushions, Viva Terra, $298-$595

If you feel like shelling out $300 for a cushion, at least you’ll be pleased to know that they’re all hand dyed, carded and felted merino wool with natural filler, and “made by women in a successful job creation program in Gauteng- Johannesburg.”

Ronel Jordaan lumbar pillow, Viva Terra, $198

The lumbar pillow features little cabbage flowers amidst the stones.

Smarin Living Stones, Olozoo, $320

A French designer named Stephanie Marin sells her own version of the stone cushion, called Living Stones, which I found for sale at an environmentally-friendly kids’ shop called Olozoo.

If you’d like to try your own hand at felted wool stones (albeit on a smaller scale), I found two great tutorials online.

DIY felted rocks, design*sponge
One is from the ever-prescient design*sponge, in a post from last February.

Felted stones, Resurrection Fern

The other is from Resurrection Fern, which includes directions on where to find merino (wool) roving, the fabric you’ll need to make the stones. It looks like a great weekend project. All you need are little rocks, wool, soapy water, and a washing machine. (By the way, the rocks come out at the end. After all, no one needs that kind of haptic experiment happening indoors…)

Remember, don’t throw things at your friends.


Warhol-inspired silver pillows

26 Feb

Throw Cushion, Zid Zid Kids, $174

This morning, I spotted these mod-yet-eclectic silver round pillows by Zid Zid Kids. The first thing I thought of? Andy Warhol.

It’s amazing how the simplest things can make the greatest impressions. It must have been almost ten years ago that I was sent to Pittsburgh, the hometown of Mr Warhola, for a work assignment. I was lucky enough to have an afternoon free to check out his eponymous museum, where I first encountered this:

Permanent installation, Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh

Tasputen, who posted the following video to YouTube, provides background.

“In April of 1966, the Leo Castelli Gallery in New York opened an exhibit by the true Jay Gatsby of American art, Andy Warhol. Silver Clouds, as it was called, consisted in its entirety of a roomful of silver, metalized plastic pillow-shaped balloons inflated with helium and oxygen. They floated . . . that’s all they did . . . held aloft by the gallery’s own air vents.”

Here’s the original.

Silver Flotations, Leo Castelli Gallery, 1966

Simple, yet mesmerizing in some strange way. In Pittsburgh, you’re encouraged to interact with the pillow-cloud-balloons. And just like playing in the snow, you lose track of yourself, your self-consciousness dissolves, and you find yourself standing there, looking up, waiting for the next weightless cloud to fall.

Why not bring this feeling indoors?

BlissLiving Rocco Silver 12×20 Pillow, Walmart, $65

Found this beautifully understated pillow (if that’s possible in silver) at Walmart, of all places. It’s faux-leather and down-filled. For girls, it could make for a bright contrast in a pale-hued room, adding some much-needed modernity if you’re drowning in princess gear. For boys, you can really play up the industrial side of the metallic tone, even pairing with the robots featured in an earlier post.

Metahlowski pillow in Silvi, Fatboy, $339

I’ve never been a huge fan of the Fatboy range of products, but I could really go for this silver body pillow in lieu of another chair.

The Home Centric, Etsy, $21-$28

Lastly, the best deal comes again from Etsy, where I’ve been finding all my bargains lately. Check out these pillow covers from the Home Centric. They’re the creations of a woman named Urvi, who works in Pune, India. These are just a sampling of her designs. I know they’re a bit intricate, and perhaps delicate, for kids’ rooms, but how can you go wrong for $28 dollars? I especially covet the pillow on the lower right that’s covered in baubles. It makes me happy to look at it, just like the Warhol clouds do.