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goose barnacle, rodger stevens and wire dog decor

23 Jun

We have two super-creative neighbors, who happen to be sister and brother.   Sister Marissa is a jewelry designer who sells her beautiful wares in a shop around the corner from our apartment.  (Every mom within a three-block radius of State Street seems to be sporting Marissa’s beautiful initial pendants; to me, they’re the modern version of those boy/girl shapes our own mothers used to sport).  And brother David recently transformed a creaky, tumble-down storefront on Atlantic Avenue into a beautiful wood-hewn tribute to the best in no-fuss but gorgeous, solidly made, durable menswear (In fact, the stuff is perfect for the way my husband shops; unlike me, he spends a lot on one piece then proceeds to wear it (out) every day – so it had better be made to last).  But Goose Barnacle isn’t just a clothes shop, it’s also a place for David to show off pieces of art that match his hand-crafted aesthetic.

That’s why I smile when I walk by his store window nearly every morning:

front window, goose barnacle

I was reminded of his wire display while browsing one of my other favorite shops in New York (this time, near work).  If you’re not familiar with Mxyplyzyk, you should be.  Of course, there are more of these MOMA-store-inspired tchotchke shops popping up all over the place, but Mxyplyzyk (look it up) was an originator of the scene.  And it’s one of those design-centric shops that seems to always keep its inventory new and fresh, no matter how often you visit (it’s been there for as long as I can remember).

wall of dogs, mxyplyzyk

For those of you who are slightly bored by the Wallcandy-Blik-decal overload of the past few years, but don’t have a lot of space to feature big posters or the patience for wallpaper, these fabulous metal dogs are full of personality and only $65 each.

french bulldog? closeup

It’s funny to find something so similar to something you walk by every day, so I thought I’d try and learn a bit more about David’s colleague and collaborator for Goose Barnacle.

Turns out this guy is a pretty big deal!  His name is Rodger Stevens and his work has been featured all over the place -from private residences of the rich and famous to some really gorgeous retail locations around the US.

driftwood/wire, barney's, scottsdale, arizona

He calls his work “shadow-casting metal narrative pieces” – to me, that’s one fascinating thing about this work.  Whether mounted against a wall, hanging from a ceiling, or standing on its own, these thin sculptures end up occupying more territory and feeling ‘fuller’ than you think they would at first glace.   Here’s a video of his technique, courtesy of David’s website on behalf of Stevens.

Untitled from Goose Barnacle on Vimeo.

Which takes me back to the dogs.  I bet they’re probably imitations of his work (an impression based solely on price point) but if it builds an appreciation for three-dimensional sculpture and the place it can have in a kids’ room, to me, that’s pretty cool.

Check out more about Rodger Stevens here.  Could be a nice option if you’re looking for some new art in the rest of your home too.


acrylic, lucite, perspex and plexiglas

11 Aug

cactus chair, Deger Cengiz, Voos furniture

A recent comment by a reader named Kristin has literally kept me up at night.  She writes, “Any ideas on how to incorporate baby-safe play areas with daily household areas?”

This is a HUGE question, and one I haven’t seen being talked about or dealt with in the traditional home decor magazines (although there’s a gorgeous kids room featured in July/August’s House Beautiful, I’m sure many interior designers would rather forget that human beings actually start at age 0…) Of course, you can always count on a heated debate about baby/child “proofing” on — on one side, “if your child behaves him/herself, you don’t need any,” on the other, “yes, padded corner cushions are ugly, but they’re necessary, and soon they’ll be unnecessary again.”  My take on the whole challenge is a combination of the two philosophies.  You want your home to be -and stay- as visually pleasing and comfortable as possible, AND it needs to be safe for all the people who live there.

Which sometimes means swapping out the (super-indulgent and big-treat-to-ourselves) Czech-crafted mid-century wood and glass cocktail table which sits center-stage in our living room in favor of something a little more … destruction-proof.

adair table,

Enter the fabulous material known as acrylic AKA lucite, perspex (for those in the Colonies) and my personal favorite, ‘plexiglas’ (a term coined in the ’30’s, but to me will always scream ’70s.)  They’re all name-brand alibis for a material properly known as polymethyl methacrylate.  Heavy on the meth there… good to know it’s  referred to as PMMA in the science world.

Starck's lou lou chair

I’ve been thinking about how wonderful acrylic furniture is, especially in small apartments like our own.   Apart from the inevitable scratches (our Kartell bedside tables are special victims), I can’t really see any disadvantages of acrylic furniture in a household with children, except maybe being knocked over and played with (e.g. kid-sized Ghost chairs for $133 at Room & Board).  The coffee tables we’re looking at, including the Adair (above, available at for $223.50) are especially sturdy.  Another favorite of mine is the CB2 Peekaboo table, available at for $250, which is made by simply melting two curves into a thick sheet of acrylic.

Dorothy Thorpe at Natural Pond Vintage

As you may have been thinking, acrylic is a bit of a ‘retro’ material… meaning you’ll see some of this stuff on Mad Men, perhaps Life on Mars, and maybe even Hot Tub Time Machine. (Basically, there’s acrylic for every decade).

A perfect 60’s example are these “Lucite Pretzel” candle holders, designed by Dorothy Thorpe and available for $179 at Natural Pond Vintage on Etsy.  As noted in the listing, “her Allegro glassware has been seen on numerous episodes of the AMC show Mad Men.”

cake stand at fabulousmess

This cake stand/display shelf is reminiscent of the above candelabras.  Make a toy collection look especially fancy, or add a fern for that 70s touch.  You can find it at the (super-fun) Fabulousmess shop on Etsy for $50.

unicorn at twin hearts vintage

And lastly, because it made me laugh, and then made me slightly nostalgic for the die-cut nameplate (in mirrored acrylic) I’d glued to my bedroom door as a kid.  Are little girls still into unicorns these days?  I don’t even know.  But if your girl is, you can’t beat this “vintage ’80s mirrored lucite unicorn,” sold by Twin Hearts Vintage, on Etsy, for $14 bucks.

Not exactly ‘childproofing’, but if you’re redecorating, some vintage-y acrylic furnishings could be a great way to go.   Kristin, I’ll be thinking about your question and get back to you with more suggestions in the future.  Readers, any tips for making stylish spaces more kid-friendly? Send them my way.

By the way, the Cactus chair at top is available for around $3000 via Voos Furniture, if you’re up for the challenge.

the best shopping site for kids… so far

5 Mar

This is not an ad, just an endorsement based on what I’ve seen so far.

Over the past six months, I must have joined every web-based sample sale website that exists so far. And as in the days of the (first) boom, new ones seem to be launching every day. (If you haven’t read the article in New York Magazine about Gilt Groupe, now would be a perfect time to do so.) In my experience, Haute Look is fantastic, Beyond the Rack and Rue La La are fair, and Swirl (by Daily Candy) is too new to have an opinion on. There’s also The Mini Social, the first shopping website I found that’s devoted specifically to kids.

But as is often the case in the world, a new company uses the lessons of the old to create a 2.0 version – not only improving on the theme, but renewing people’s interest overall. I think Zulily is on the right track. To view/become a member, click here – it includes my Refer a Friend code (thanks!)

Positioned as “daily deals for moms, babies and kids,” it’s another one of those “quick, time and inventory are running out!” shopping sites. But there’s a lot of real experience behind this one – the founders are from Blue Nile, financing came from a VC firm co-founded by Howard Schultz (of Starbucks fame), and the management team is chock-ful of Seattle retail (Nordstrom, Eddie Bauer) and e-commerce experts.

None of this would matter if they didn’t sell such great stuff.

Here’s a taste of what was on sale this afternoon. Of course, everything is time sensitive and none of this will be available after March 10th.

1. Fierce Hugs clothes

Retro Guitar ringer tee, $16.99 (originally $24)

A guitar t-shirt for girls. Rock on. Plus, Fierce Hugs makes great clothes — they’re from 100% organic cotton, fair-trade built, and designed by ‘independent artists’ (whatever that means).

2. ImagiPlay toys

Easter Puzzle Special, $19.99 (originally $26.99)

ImagiPlay makes eco-friendly puzzles and play sets out of (plantation-grown) rubberwood and basswood (from managed forests). They’re also really cute. The best part of this “Color-Me-Up Hen & Chick Set” is the unpainted puzzle — it comes with watercolors for *custom* painting.

3. Cutie PaTutus

Zoe T-shirt/tutu, $39.99 (originally $66)

If you’re going to buy a tutu outside of the world of ballet, this is definitely the way to go. My favorite is the pink-and-black one with a matching black t-shirt.

According to the Seattle Times, “as Zulily co-founders Mark Vadon and Darrell Cavens prepared to announce their venture, two private-sale sites based in New York, bTrendie and Totsy, got under way with a similar focus on parents of young children.” For now, at least, they have a hit on their hands.

And thanks, Rachael, for the tip!