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Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

The Little Things

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Interior designer Dan Fink creates serenely handsome homes made of (of course) room-sized rooms. But a smaller scale is celebrated in Fink’s introductory web presence, with his website’s landing page presenting a series of sublime little still-life studies.

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Miniaturized models of iconic furniture designs rest amongst the other essential elements of an elegantly orchestrated space.

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Mood boards transposed into table-scales, these images illustrate boldly how the perfect room is the sum of diverse, pretty-darn-perfect parts.

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While Hurly and I anxiously and endlessly wait to discover our next (more perfect) home, our frustration with our current, imperfect home festers and intensifies.

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These Dan Fink tableaux are a welcome reminder that while an entire home, or, perhaps, a certain room might feel flawed or unfinished to a homemaker, in narrowing in on one perfect vignette or a single sublimely designed shelf-scape, we can give to the eye, mind, and soul nearly everything we’re wishing our future or fully-finished homes will someday hopefully exude!

Pleasure Print-siple

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

While waiting for our server to bring us our food at restaurants, sometimes Hurly and I play this game where we pretend GQ is demanding we each provide our own 10 Essentials list. The products/items/edibles we think are incredible and couldn’t live without.

A slowly realized update to my 10 Essentials list would be the coincidentally named Essential T-Shirts from The Gap (always/only) in Heather Grey. They’re not too thick or thin, or short or long, or tight or baggy. They just read as classic, university athletics department-issued tops, and they look good ‘n guy-ish with whatever. Like the You Don’t Even Care At All type of whatever.

The Gap isn’t exactly anyone’s chic little secret – but I’ve tried a lot of T’s in my years of me-ing along through my materialistic life, and these Gap shirts are the ones I ain’t got no complaints with.

I order them with pockets, and I like them without (although, I’m panicking that as I go to post this they don’t have the seemingly permanent pocket-less version online in Heather Grey. Uh ohhhhh….)

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Last weekend I had Hurly help me punch up a few fresh Essential T’s with some screen-printed text that might look military or macho to most, but subversively has a dance-diva source of inspiration. (what about me doesn’t?)

“We turned right and I said wrong which brings us to a stop” is the final clue before I usher you elsewhere to confirm my shirt’s music video muse.

CAA Hotel: The Rest & The Restaurants

Friday, September 25th, 2015

The night we checked into the CAA Hotel, we spent but two minutes in our suite before sprinting back down to the lobby level to make our 9:30 dinner reservation at The Cherry Circle Room.

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There was squid-ink-tinted pasta and fish that felt like chicken. (Which was a definitive treat for pescetarians like us.)

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And mood lighting radiating from every direction.

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The antique heradlry banners added to the secret lair flare of the establishment – the symbols and motifs recurring in the embossing of the menu covers and stitching on the table napkins.

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Scanning the shelves around the S-shaped bar was basically like window-shopping a perfectly curated antique store.

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The built-in clock from the Association’s original restaurant was still ticking, if not a bit tarnished. Someone be a sport and buy me a book about built-in clocks in last-century public spaces, or at least start a Tumblr about ’em. They’re everything!

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Since we were in Chicago to celebrate the ultra-successful launch of Hurly’s new computer coding school, and reward ourselves for the ceaseless weekends we’d all spent Allen-wrenching the campus into existence the past year, we asked for the Cherry Circle Room dessert menu up front. (And then, shocker – rushed down for malts at Shack Shack instead.)

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For breakfast, both days (cause Hurly and Kaya were so hooked) we took the elevator all the way up to Cindy’s Rooftop Bar and ordered family-size portions of pancakes and bagels with lox. In the club’s original days Cindy’s was…notably…um, nothing. Just a roof. But who needs history and decorative relics when you have a swath of skylights as your ceiling, and the maple syrup comes spiked with rum?

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Face-stuffing aside, the beds up in our suite had Faribault Mills blankets folded atop them and pommel horses stationed beneath them.

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The hallway art was often of fleets and always on fleek.

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Without a doubt, it was a truly winning visit to the windy city.

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I don’t or won’t leave a space/place I love without taking its energy home with me as ongoing inspiration. Since we returned home I’ve already picked up a set of old Indian clubs that look like they were sculpted from the planks at the fancy Shake Shack, and this weekend I’m coaching Hurly on how to recreate my favorite of the abstract paintings from the hotel’s drawing room.

Souvenirs in spirit only are souvenirs even so.

Chicago Athletic Association Hotel

Thursday, September 17th, 2015

It was a men’s athletic/social club built in 1893, now newly resurrected as a grand hotel, with interior design courtesy of the team behind the ACE New York. I mean, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t drag Hurly to The Chicago Athletic Association Hotel for an investigative getaway.

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The first floor of the building is somewhat of a gateway to the true hotel above, but retains the club’s original Euro-style tile and impressive marble stairways.

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Also at ground level, for public over-indulgence, is the most glorious and glossiest Shake Shack in America.

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Shakes and/or super malty malts were ordered all of our three days in Chicago. On the handout for the self-guided architour I later gave myself I learned that “What is now Shake Shack used to house the club’s Turkish bathes.” Definitely the best and most swoon-worthy sentence I’ve read in quite some time.

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To rise above the black + white shakes and get to the hotel proper guests take one of four elevators paneled with original court flooring featuring the old Fencers Club insignia. How’m I supposed to truly live now, knowing that old club is dead?

Sigh…

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Then the elevator doors open and you walk into a tartan and turkish-rugged wonderland.

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Lots of leaf-colored leathers, and electric Edison bulbs. The hotel’s a working time machine with just enough mid-century and modern tweaks to lead the eye back toward present day.

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I spent a lot of time just purring at all the swanky grandeur while Hurly and my sixteen year old niece traded amused glances at my decor-oriented rapture.

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But when a space’s fireplace is huge enough to incorporate two conversation seats within it…

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…and features wooden relief sculptures of century-old footballing brutes, how can you not freak for the majestic chic of it all?

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The morning after we arrived my niece’s allergies hit like bricks, so she and Hurly lazed up in our suite all afternoon. I didn’t mind having to entertain myself though. I hunkered down in the library-like room one step up from the hotel lobby and studied my favorite of the club’s decorative arrangements: large leather daybed, kilim pillow piles, and odd-coupled oil paintings arranged gallery wall style.

Whole hours of my life passed, exactly like that.

There’s lots more club to show, and I’m a gonna show it all!

 

Reflecting

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

One of the coolest gifts I received over Christmas was this Easy Mirror from American Design Club.

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Made of a single sheet of polished stainless steel, you simply pop the leg backwards, peel off the protective film, and end up with one ultra-modern reflecting pane to pose yourself in front of.

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As edgy and awesome as my new mirror is, I’m so far having a heck of a time finding a table/dresser/surface worthy of its austere chicness.

Nicole Portlock Ceramics

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

I got really into ceramics the past year and spent a good chunk of change this summer on works from ER Studio and Bari Ziperstein, among other sources.

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My latest find is the smoke-fired pieces from Nicole Portlock, a ceramist out of Ireland.

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Like asymmetrical eggs hatched out of the swirliest depths of the milky way, her work is earthy and other-worldly all at once, and my first Portlock piece is due to land in my hands any day now!

Metsa Design – Indigo Dyed Henley

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

A clothing label named after the Estonian word for “Little house in the forest” automatically has my attention, and possibly half of my heart.

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Founded by Markus Uran, Metsa Design is neither bolstered nor burdened by the American heritage hullabaloo because it’s a Canadian label basing its aesthetic off a different (national) backstory and brainstorming its own visual narrative.

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There’s a freedom and freshness to Metsa’s mindset that men on any side of every border would benefit from, I think. A sense of further off horizons, unvisited yet familiar.

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All of that, I think is especially evident in the first piece from the line that I purchased, an indigo-dyed woven henley. Lightweight and weathered in its coloring, dyed by hand, rinsed (quite possibly) in a cool Canadian lake, it’s a proper piece for summer or fall, be it 1913 or 2014.

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With a design originally inspired by the day shirts of field hands in South East Asia, cut and then colored in Canada, tagged in Estonian, these handmade henleys are perfectly suited for a British-born half-German living a boundary blurring version of an American life.

Cinematic – The Terrace Theater

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Places speak to us, I can hear them saying things.

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In older spaces, like the Terrace Movie Theater right outside of Minneapolis, when I look at photos of its heyday I hear an excited voice saying, “This will be a great space, designed with care, making the people inside it feel important and the time they spend inside it feel important. This attention to design, this feeling, will bring people here and bring people back which will make the space a success and the business behind it profitable.”

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Most commercial spaces (or schools or churches) built after 1979 or so have less inspiring things to say. Something more like, “America is fading and making a profit in it is so hard today. This bland, builder’s-grade structure will do well enough. It’ll keep investment costs and overhead low, and through this approach the space will have an easier time being a success and it won’t be so hard for the business behind it to become profitable.”

Both these stories that spaces can tell you make sense, logical sense. But one story makes life better, and America better, and industry and craftsmanship and so much more so so much better.

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The Terrace theater is like seven minutes from where I live, and one minute from the hospital my sister was born in. I don’t recall having ever been there before it closed in the late 1990s. But it still stands there today, tired and tattered within a parking lot growing so much wild, weedy greenery it looks like those “Earth After Mankind” Discovery Channel specials.

Sigh.

Apparently at The Terrace there was a TV Lounge for macho husbands to sit and watch sports games and such while their wives watched the latest chick-flick weepies in the theater proper on the big screen.

What a place. What a time…

Touring Tinseltown

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

The Ace hotel was our main excuse to return to L.A., but Hurly and I spent plenty of time out and about.

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One of the stores we hadn’t checked out during last year’s visit was the California Surplus Mart which is where U.S. military goods go to live/die once they’re honorably discharged.

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Downtown at The Last Bookstore I picked up a small stash of trashy old B-movie worthy paperbacks I’ll wait to crack open ’til summer sizzles on in.

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Most mornings while we’re vacationing I excitedly rustled Hurly up out of bed hours before shops are even open. We try and kill time best we can, but often times we’ll just sightsee the outside of closed tourist spots, like the cold, misty exterior of the Griffith Observatory, three full hours before doors unlock for the public.

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Other than the CW stars we saw on the Ace’s rooftop, our only other real celebrity sighting was technically just a Bravolebrity. We went to Fonuts as featured on Eat, Drink, Love and the lovely Waylynn herself filled our box with half a dozen of the yummiest and most moist non-donuts we’ve ever had.

It was an amusingly unscripted little scene for Hurly and I, and though he isn’t much into donuts at all, he was way into the donuts, fo’sure. Those things stayed un-dry for days.

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Last year it was some candlesticks at Lawson Fenning I most regretted not bringing back to Minneapolis from L.A. This year it was this heavy handled copper bowl at Heath Ceramics. It weighed a ton and cost even more…

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Whether it’s early in the morning, or too early to head to our dinner reservations, Hurly and I have found that another good way to kill time and see swanky sights is to wander through other guests’  hotels.

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We looked at the famous palm-wallpapered coffee shop and hand-stenciled signage at The Beverly Hills Hotel one night.

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And enjoyed a quiet breakfast at the Kelly Wearstler-designed Avalon Hotel our final morning.

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I’ll skip pretty much any museum visit if it means I can scope out and pose in yet another handsome hotel.

Ace Hotel Los Angeles

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

Our last three getaways were to California. And we’d just visited Los Angeles less than a year ago. But I had such a transcendently sublime time at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs this fall for our non-honeymoon that I really wanted to check out the newest Ace location in L.A. basically A.S.A.P.

And so Hurly kindly jetted us off to the Golden State for the fourth time in under 12 months so I could scope out the just-opened awesomeness.

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The L.A. Ace is located, notably, downtown – helping shift the area’s once shady status from down-and-out to up-and-coming. A majestic movie theater/office tower Charlie Chaplin and his colleagues built in 1927 to showcase their United Artists’ films is the Ace’s set of bones.

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The grandiose theater lobby I thought would act as the lobby/public space of the hotel – but the theater is solely/separately dedicated to Ace-curated public concerts/shows and unfortunately closed off otherwise from the hotel and its guests.

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The hotel proper is carefully crammed into the theater’s adjacent thirteen-story office tower. There isn’t even barely a proper lobby, just the front desk/gift shop and then the hotel’s coffee shop/bar/restaurant called LA Chapter.

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But Ace’s strength is creating striking visual moments at every scale, and assembling beauty from mixing the old and the new with the high and the low.

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In the rooms, the little things bring big rewards. Southern California was crudely cool when we were there and the color-blocked Pendleton co-branded wool blanket on our bed was a soothing, snuggly comfort that I keep thinking a ton about, back here in the blizzards of Minneapolis.

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The in-room reads aren’t just generic city-centric publications, but indie zines about girl drummers and man-dating men. 

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Ace locations are famous for their in-room turntables, which our 12th-floor suite indeed offered – as well as our very own guitar and a stack of blank sheet music we used to effortlessly transform Hurly from a simple tourist into a soulful little troubadour!

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Nodding to its Hollywoody past, signage at Ace DTLA is stenciled atop schlocky old screenplay pages.

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And the walls of its restaurant are professionally doodled in images of tinseltown’s richest and most famous.

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Diners can sit around and order ricotta pancakes or avocado toast while subtly trying to celeb spot (pencil sketchings of) Keaton and Dern and Schwarzenegger.

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Or do as I incessantly did and gawk at all the ivy leather and tricky tilework and beautiful brass tabletops that makes LA Chapter so aesthetically delicious.

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If you ride the elevator up to the roof the sign for the sorta Less Than Zero-seeming Upstairs bar beams bluely at you.

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But once you step into the sun the scene gets a little less Less Than-ish. There’s countless kilim pillows, cement knick-knacks, a shrimpy swimming pool and, on our last day there, a chic from the last three seasons of Gossip Girl and a dude from the only season of Ringer.

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Other places, two semi-celebs from old CW shows might be the coolest and most beautiful things around you – but at an Ace, they just fade blandly into background players since its the hip-chic scenery that really shines.

Hot and Cold

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Last night, as Daisy and Mrs. Patmore swirled into the modern world with the arrival of an electric mixer in their Downton kitchen, I myself took a step back.

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Hurly said temperatures the next few days in certain spots in Minnesota were going to be colder than on Mars. He knows everything about almost everything, but I didn’t believe him until that moron that knows almost nothing about nothing (AKA Siri) proved him right. Last night Mars was -51 or something and this morning Bemidji had a windchill of about -52.

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Friends in my Facebook feed have dubbed it the Freezepocalypse and so to ensure Hurly and I didn’t frostbite-the-bullet in our sleep, I filled up the German hot water bottle I received at Christmas and tucked the sunshiny little thing under our covers right before bedtime.

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Battling the apocalypse-ish elements really isn’t so bad if you can do it in retro rubbered style.

A Few of My Favorite Things

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

I know all of y’all a little bit, but since I’ve never met your Sweetheart or your Sixteen Year Old Cousin or your Self-Defense Instructor, I wouldn’t know better than you what to go and gift any of them this Christmas. But I love the way Holiday Gift Guides shine spotlights on selections and shops which readers might not come across otherwise – and so I’m issuing out the first ever Treasury-approved Gift Guide, highlighting items I’m sure someone in your life would probably treasure.

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1. Geneva Travel HiFi System
I demand my iPhone speakers white, un-ugly, and non-gigantic, and this is the most handsome little-ish device I’ve come across in my thirteen months of hunting. It’s got Bluetooth, of course, plus an FM clock radio, tuckable within a future-retro travel case.

2. Manjukaza Painting
Far across the sea, Hong Kong artist Majukaza strokes out a never-ending series of affordable ink wash paintings, all of them black on white, each one a little different than those that have come before, and all of them modern masterpieces.

3. Minuteman Watch
I grew up in Swatch Watches, and now tend to wear vintage timepieces off etsy. The aesthetic of Squarestreet’s Minuteman watches span both sides of the spectrum, and then settles somewhere in between. Some designs offer brown lizard print leather bands, others sport see-through candy-like cases. Whether your style is pretty Poppy or more Papa-like, Minuteman’ll tick with every look.

4. Vermont County Store Short-Sleeve Sweatshirt
Short-Sleeve Sweatshirts used to be a thing, then they basically stopped being a thing. And I just LOVE things like that. These sweatshirts appear to be cut a little on the big and baggy side but I’m gonna just go with it (like in the movie Just Go With It) and make ’em look casually cool anyways.

5. Monoi Tiki Tahiti Coconut Oil
The Line is a freakily chic shop in New York that sells some pricy little prizes. These bottles of Tahitian-made Coconut Oil cost but twelve tiny bucks though and they’re just the thing to make you feel dewy and tropical when winter turns you all dry and dreary.

6. Nate Berkus Aluminum Box
Online, almost everything Nate Berkus designs for Target looks lust-able. In person, that’s not always the case. It all comes down to (it always comes down to!) material and finish, and these shining ebony and ivory enameled storage boxes could pass for “good vintage condition” 1977 Pierre Cardin pieces. Hurly-the-Hubby thinks they’re cool too.

7. Cupid Deluxe CD by Blood Orange
iTunes gift cards are a’ight, but a real CD you can handle with care feels so much better un-stuffed from a stocking. Blood Orange’s album (I swear) is like the seductive soundtrack of some Pacific-set romance starring Mia Sara and whichever heartthrob looked hunkiest in bolo ties back in ’88. It’ll turn your half-lame life into a montage of hair-flips in hot tubs and kisses in corvettes. (Wouldn’t “Kisses in Corvettes” be the BEST name for a song? Someone go off and make that happen.)

8. Musco Orange Amber Shaving Cream
I haven’t considered straying from my praise-worthy Proraso brand of shaving cream for six or seven years now. But the Hermes-y citrus-colored tube of this orange and amber-infused Musco cream is telling me it’s time to at least consider letting something new come between me and my Mach 3.

So Happy Holidays, friends! Go give and receive with all your heart.

And for year-round insight into all I’m basically wish-listing, peek at my Pinterest boards.