torsdag, november 29, 2007

Wide Stylin'

Oh, right. That's just what I was looking for. I dress that ballooned at the hips and puffed out in front like those gigantic aprons of skin that take a abdominoplasty to remove. And the length, please let it hit somewhere other than at the narrow part of the leg, immediately above or below the knee. Choose a more unflattering location for the hemline, s'il vous plait. Then stick the sides up into my armpits so any nervousness I feel at a cocktail party will become noticeable. Oh, and make sure it is difficult to tell from the material sheen if it is a $3k piece from Barneys or something more readily accessible from my local mall's Cache.

I knew a man designed (Martin Grant) it before I looked at the NY Times description.

Make Them All Go Away

My seven-year-old and I walked out of the restaurant into the pitch black, bitter cold air. As we walked up the sidewalk, a stocky man moving past us at a fast clip turned back in our direction. We could see part of his head under a plaid hoodie. His whole face seemed to smile. His teeth were huge. His eyes were large and spaced far apart, looking just a reach beyond his control. He began talking about a television show from the 1970's, and how, because he was 43 and I was close to there, we both should be familiar with the program.

I did what I do in the face of questionable lucidity: I nodded in polite agreement.

My daughter looked up at me and laughed, "You're not 43. You're 68!"

I made him take her.

onsdag, november 28, 2007

American Beauty Moment

It doesn't just happen to middle-aged men. This kid used to come over to the house when he was in high school and disorientation would strike with a vengence.

"Can I help you with that, Mrs. B?"

"Thanks for having us over, Mrs. B.
Ah...ah...sure. Would you like an orange?

I would stand there feeling three inches shorter, 30 IQ point lighter, and giddy, which put me somewhere about twelve. When I needed two models for the style spread for Buffalo Spree, my eldest grabbed me a pro from NYC. Imagine my surprise when I later learned it was Ben, who asked me,

"Do you have a look for the shoot in mind, Mrs. B"

Well, you choose the nonsequitor.

Gross Factor

I've had two children that when they were younger I could have held by the heels in a vat of slime and they would have come out looking as pristine as Grecian statutes. I have a third kid who at the elementary age level picks up every disease and microbe and parasite and germ and virus possible - things I never knew existed, things I will not repeat in public. She's like a sponge, the perfect victim, an unwittingly cooperative host. I don't know why her natural defense mechanisms are so low. Or why she seems to attract whatever it is that decides to plague her a particular quarter. Our latest battle was with a plantar's wart. She had to have been on the disinclined junior swim team about 17 seconds before bringing home the ailment that required twice daily dosing of high concentrations of salicylic acid for, gee, was it only six weeks?

Yesterday it hit me. What about STDs. I mean, I suppose I am just being incredibly neurotic, but if she is such a magnet for the miniature bad stuff ... A bubble pre-teen is born.

måndag, november 26, 2007

Quote of the Week

"It would seem logical to assume that common ingestible ingredients like olives or soy would naturally be healthier for the skin and body than hard-to-pronounce, multisyllabic industrial cosmetic ingredients like the preservative methylchloroisothiazolinone. But representatives for the government and the beauty industry, as well as some environmental activists, acknowledge that there is no published scientific proof to support the notion that plant-based cosmetics are safer, healthier or more effective for people."

NY Times, Nov 1, 2007. Author unknown.

Okay, not exactly the quote from this week. I save things I think I might want to read should the sky ever open up and dump on everyone else giving me some peace. I've lost the front page and hence byline of the piece along the way.

Organic food inside, chemicals on the surface, and a toast to hoping that somehow they synergize in a good way somewhere at the dermis level.

lördag, november 24, 2007

Notes on Links

Not a post for anyone but me. Strictly notes.

The GT Table from dnmark. No one with fingerprints or a coffee cup need apply for a job.

George Gold Furniture Design, the Alto convertible crib. Damn, this crib is not too anything, not too cute, fussy, oversized, undersized, basket-y, or Disney-fied, and yet it's for like, a baby and then a toddler and then a child. Bravo.

FX Magazine, the business of design. Now, how do I change my links ...

Dauphin for ergonomics in office furniture; the new TakeOver chair is not featured on the company website yet. I can never figure out if this stuff rocks or it is mostly made-up physiological nonsense that we swallow because we really don't know. Plus the high back versions of these kind of office chairs make me think of a lab disaster involving a dentist chair and a preying mantis. Must learn more.

I don't agree that Eero Aarnio's Ball Chair is the most remarkable chair in the history of 20th Century furniture, or however Linvingroom24 cares to honor it. Groundbreaking, yes. Iconic, certainly. But it is too gimmicky for the top honor. It's part chair, part bed, and part separate room and although I don't mean to suggest that being difficult to categorize takes one out of the running, I think it a harder task to design a chair that soothes the body, works in a variety of spaces, and allows the individual to exist as or retract from being a participant in an overall living space with a simple turn of the head. No emergence or climbing back in required.

Trend Bible for forecasting. Paper, plywood, and felt shades; Organics, origami, and nature for glassware; plywood and plastics for furniture; and soft yet textured fabrics and materials for the finishing touches. The future is going to look an awful lot like country club communities in Tampa, Florida.

Londonewcastle won the award for Britain's best emerging interior designer 2008. How prescient.

Tom Dixon is my lighting hero.

Armourcoat Perlata bounces light off of its surface. Could it be perfect for aesthetic lighting? Or perhaps their polished plaster effect. Mader Construction is a listed applicator for the product line in Western New York.

In Luxury Design has a belt I would love to own. Sometimes I hate this job. So many beautiful things to find and say goodbye to without enjoying even the slightest of a relationship.

Now that everyone is a photographer, the big dilemma is how to show off all the precious pieces of art. Gemma Fabbri and Chris Ager created the Socialite light box, complete with building facades and randomly lighting bulbs. Insert photos of family and friends and see who shines out from the apartment window across the, um, coffee table.

Uncrate website for stuff.

Make Rainsky work here, Mr. German Company Dorn Bracht, please, pretty please.

I have a passion for screens. I work in an open office and sometimes I dream about having these about, able to throw into place so not everybody needs to see my messy desk. This one from Alison White folds on the hinges in both directions.

It took a visiting puppy to remind me that I live in the acoustical equivalent of a cave. Anne Kyyro Quinn has developed paper fold acoustic wall panels. This pattern on the ceiling of my 12 foot high Victorian living room would be a knock dead design-wise, and also let me ignore the world beneath my second floor bedroom.

The two Turkish designers behind Autoban have designed a chair, 1.5 that I have completely fallen for, especially in what they call a lacquer but looks more like a moss stain. Anyway, it looks hard and uninviting and I have completely fallen for it. Actually, this is so exciting because their Box Sofa couch which I just spotted after creaming about the chair might be my new very, very favorite. It's contained so it gives off a sense of being held - always nice for my psyche - but it is low enough not to be stifling - also nice - and deep enough to let you bring your legs in. The wood grain is perfectly subdued. OMG, now I am in huge trouble. How can I get this beautiful thing.

Black + Blum Design Ltd throws us a series of cheery, tongue-in-cheek, affordable, lighting and home decor items such as door stops, wall hangers and message board products, available in US specifications when applicable.

Bob Crooks: First Glass for glass works.

Bocci is working on innovations on light switches. Check back for info.

Boss Deisgn Ltd has two chairs, the Eye and the Kruze, worth taking a peak at. The Kruze comes up at the sides, a work station chair design that is too rare. I hate having my sides exposed all the time. The Eye, pictured here, curves up even more. It has an open bottom, something I don't care for, but the chair looks inviting and enjoys a new design. Way better than plastic, way better than the same ol' same ol'. I think it's a Jackie Choi design. Yep, it is. Note her Fontana sideboard.

Wall can't support the plasma screen tv? See if someone local has something like this.

David Mellor Design for cutlery, for that day when I finally go beserk over our own heavy, callous causing, finger-injuring tablewear and elect to write a review of other options.

Pop Quizzes

Why does the word "day" end in a "y" my seven-year-old asks. If you say the "d" sound with the "a" sound, it should be enough.

"There are people who study the evolution of language and spelling," I told her, adding that I did not know the answer but wish I did.

I think about her question as I read the 100% London Design books from the September design exhibition. Lots of extra vowels in the English spellings, vowels that we in America dropped, again, I haven't a clue when. But I don't have time to investigate.

But because days get lost in the exploration of the interweb, I take the time I do not have. My mental dictionary is called a Lexicon. The smallest unit of a constant sound with a constant meaning is called a morpheme. "Day" is a morpheme. Where do I go to find information on something smaller than a morpheme, or is anything smaller than a morpheme simply reflective of pronunciation and spelling derivations?

The Online Etymology Dictionary gives us "day" from Old English "daeg." I guess what I would like to experience is the transformation. How did it sound and under what circumstances did it change? Someone knows, somewhere. Maybe entire language departments.

These are the things that I need to study to be prepared to answer the questions of a child. It's like an entire future of pop quizzes to fail.

måndag, november 19, 2007

How to Shut Up Anyone Who Thinks You Can't Cook

Need to impress someone in about 72 hours? Can't cook? In a panic. Try this.

City Ham, Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Good Eats
1 big, grocery store ham, with a bone.
1/4 cup brown mustard
2 cups dark brown sugar
1-ounce bourbon (poured into a spritz bottle)
2 cups crushed ginger snap cookies
Heat oven to 250 degrees F.
Remove that plastic piece that covers the bone (no one ever tells you that), and put the cut side face down into the roasting pan. Using a small paring knife score the ham from bottom to top, spiraling clockwise as you cut, then spiral counterclockwise. Confused? Just think "gotta make a diamond pattern all over." Or do 1 inch squares, no biggie. Loosely cover the ham with foil, so it looks like it has a little pup tent over it, and cook it in the 250 degree oven for about 3 or 4 hours.

Then take the ham out of the over, throw the foil away (using over mitts through all of this, and then pull off the diamond (or square) pieces of skin and fat. This will be really hot on your fingers, so let it cool if you have to. Meanwhile, turn the oven up to 350 degrees F. After you have the skin and fat off, take a brand new 1 or 2" inch paint brush and slather on the mustard. Then pack on brown sugar, loosely. Then spritz the bourbon over the brown sugar. Then pack on the crushed ginger snaps. Return the big mess to the oven - uncovered - and cook for another hour. When you pull it out, the kids make fun of how ugly it is because it will looks like a dull brown boulder). Let it rest for 30 minutes. Then cut. Most of the pieces will have this wonderful wisp of sugar, honey and ginger cookie.

I can't cook, but I can do this and everyone loves it. I have paraphrased it from the Food Network's site, but only out of fear it will someday disappear and I won't be able to find my notes.


I've always wanted to be a Tod's girl. But athletic legs, the lack of a trust fund, and a fond appreciation for sex leave me hovering somewhere between an H&M and BCBG type.

I wish animal prints would make up their mind. Moreso I wish they would make up their mind to stay away. There are about three people who can carry the look off, and they three along with the animals that provided the real thing are all dead.

I've been carrying around the photograph of a suitcase I fell fond of. A Globe-Trotter on wheels. I thought it looked sophisticated, understated, and functional. Next time I have about 2k to drop on luggage, I'm heading right there.

If a guy wearing the Zegna BT iJacket ever shows up at a dinner table near me, the milk is going to come streaming out of my nose so fast I'll be asked to leave the restaurant. Maybe it is the future, but can't we really just get a life?

söndag, november 18, 2007

Wheelchair Fashions

I've just found these two sites, BeautyAbility and Wheelie-Chix Chic. Wheelie-Chix is on to something here, but the designer needs to study the optical illusions created by some of her tops. Only a handful of designs - and one strikingly so - pull the eye of the beholder up to the face of the woman in the wheelchair. Other designs either sag the breasts with questionable placement or crossing of silk trimming or pull the eye down to the waist, or - worse - both (see right). And the pants - excellent construction and fantastic idea with the silk roll down material, but stripes? Nothing showcases bulging thighs and a rolling stomach more than the white line. Pin stripes are tough enough to carry when standing As soon as we are seated, the stripe curves and bubbles and pouches are created even where they don't exist. (I'm not even going to get into the only other option, a plaid.) Wheelie-Chix managing director Louisa Summerfield might want to consider adding a solid color pant. And with so little competition in this field, designer Amelia Ursache shouldn't overlook the opportunity to do everything right.

måndag, november 12, 2007

I'm Just Not Smart Enough To Figure It Out On My Own

I just spent the day at a lecture being told that there is a male brain and a female brain and that despite what I think, never the twixt shall meet. We now, contrary to the level of knowledge I had accepted as acceptable from Margaret Talbot's article, understand the brain fully enough to be able to categorize the genders into two distinct camps. Snip snap, pish posh, off to bed now.

"Honey," I heard as I hung up my apron, "Get me beer."

I have three weeks to learn a foreign language. As much as I would like to get to the bottom of this recent round of hogwash, I'm open to some help.

fredag, november 09, 2007

Orhan Pamuk: The Hunk and the Drunk

He's so dreamy. The 2006 Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature spoke in Buffalo last night, at Babeville. His novel Snow was part of the City's "If All of Buffalo Read the Same Book." When snow is a powerful force in one's life it is difficult to find descriptions that are precise enough to place the reader outside at night experiencing a familiar particular pattern of a snowfall and the isolation it creates. He spent three years writing Snow. It reads as if he divided his research time between Kars and Greenland.

I dragged my husband and high schooler kicking and screaming to the pre-event cocktail party. I listen to history books on tape. My husband reads books in Swedish. The high schooler deals with five hours of homework every evening. She reads what she has to and not a sentence more. We really aren't so inside the area's literary community.

"We won't know anyone there."
"I have a quiz in every class tomorrow."

And it was awkward. Feeling like a bunch of clog wearers at a disco reunion, I decided to ramp it up and pretend we were there on business. Like any good sociophobe forced to small talk with strangers, I drained two glasses of wine, fast. (I explained to my jaw-dropped daughter that this was my MO and yeah my bad.) Once pumped giddy, I walked about the room finding victims to introduce myself to and push over to meet my family who ended up enjoying themselves and appreciating the chance to meet such a great, personable author. I hate that it takes alcohol to unfreeze my legs and hand-shaking arm when I stand in a crowd, but it works.

What did the author say? To the assembled group he described a novelist's roll as one where the writer cannot stay in his or her own shoes and offer a storied description. He must stand in the shoes of others and tell the tale. Pamuk offered no answers on how to fix the problems of the world, but suggested that a good starting point is to try to at least begin to understand another's perspective. In the novel the writer can combine all the forces that oppose each other from whatever direction, stand in the position of each force, and create a beginning, middle, and end that can help the reader gain new insights. When asked about the influence of television and video on reading and the future of literature, Pamuk's answer focused on the act of writing. People will always want to shut out the world and put their feelings down on a piece of paper. As long as they want to do that, literature will survive. The greatest novels ever? Madame Bovary, Anna Karenina, Moby Dick, and Demons.

That and more he said to the assembled group in the sold-out hall. To just the three of us he confided that the King of Sweden's sister is a terrible bore as a table mate.

She probably just needed a little more wine.

Photo via Hallwalls.

onsdag, november 07, 2007

Pucci, Schmucci ... It's Saarinen Who Rules

The Style Issue has gone to print, so now it's time to get ready for home interiors. As a child, I was forced to wear saddle shoes and my brothers' galoshes (the only word for the footwear that was black and buckled enough to make a fireman proud) for a long enough period for it to have a scarring effect. Furniture, however, ran from Scandinavian to Wright to French Country veins, so although I can - after years of therapy - talk the talk and walk the runwalk walk about fashion, interior design feels as natural as sunshine.

"Yours in the only house where the people call the furniture by name," a friend once said after hearing someone refer to the foyer table as "The Saarinen." It doesn't matter that we load it up with keys, mail and every piece of crap that makes it in from the car or the corner store. What matters is that we recognize who created the workhorses that hold up our precious nonsense pocket fodder, reams of paper, multiple PCs and Macs, or tired bodies, and we do it with the precision that others demonstrate in spotting a Canal Street LV from 50 paces.

Furniture is, to me, more important that haute couture or knowing where to score a knock off. Furniture has the potential for a soul. Well designed pieces can take you back to mom's arms or daddy's lap. If created by a master, it can look like art in the process. But just because it looks like art doesn't mean it's well designed. I have made mistakes. Plenty. For example, I've learned to avoid most things transparent. And I finally figured out why Philip Starck's bubble creations - as wildly successful as they are as trend pieces - bug me. They look like something they very much are not, and it irritates, if only for a subliminal second, my brain. His hard plastic furniture extruded into the shape of overweight sofas creates an internal conflict that the functionality of the piece does not overcome. Go ahead, just try to get cozy.

But I am still in awe of the pair of Wegners that my husband collected. (Image via here.) I didn't think much of them at first. They were precariously close to wicker-looking and in isolation seemed milquetoast. But then I sat in one during a football game and for the first time in a decade elected to watch the entire match. I didn't want to move. The arms were sturdy, the grain was well marked, the caning secure but giving, and the comfort was incredible. Something about the drop between my knees and the low back of the chair, then the angle of the upright made me feel like I was being carried. By a professional. Then I realized that because of their simplicity the chairs went with anything I put them next to. They stood strong on their own without taking command.

It's a whole 'nother world out there with furniture. The trick is to find the time to find and test run. But keep in mind that there is often a reason something has been called a classic.

Election Process

"Now please, when we go into the booth, don't yell out the names of the candidates whose levers we pull," I begged the seven-year-old, faintly recalling last year's complete lack of voting privacy. In New York we have these fabulously mechanical machines that offer me some hope that my vote will be counted.

I never have any hope that it matters, but that is an altogether different discussion.

My daughter walked down the sidewalk with me on the way to our polling place, thinking. "Well, how about if when we get inside I say, "[Candidate's last name] ROCKS!"

Nice try.

In front of us on the sidewalk stood an older man passing out fliers. He was covered in a long hooded jacket to protect him from the morning's assault of rain and hail. He offered me a pamphlet and I thanked him. I couldn't remember when the last time was I volunteered for anything. I looked at the materials and noted that they were for the opponent. The silent steadfastness of that man alone made me double check my resolve. "We don't always need to be so out loud," I said to my daughter, meaning it more than she would understand.

måndag, november 05, 2007

Social Terrorists

The NY Times Style Magazine, Alexandra Jacobs, wrote a piece about Eco-Terrorists at the table. Really, could you ever satisfy enough people that you were doing what was necessary to reduce your carbon footprints about the kitchen, patio, and dining room?

Ms. Jacobs' vignettes of neighbors and acquaintances chiding each other for never doing enough found a resting space behind my heart, between my lungs and in front of my spine - or thereabouts - and began to gnaw away. How is it that we believe that we can be nice to our planet when we are completely incapable of being kind to each other?

söndag, november 04, 2007

On the Subject of Fires ...

Does Peter Arnell truly believe that people don't have fire extinguishers because the latter are so ugly? Don't give us so much style credit. There are plenty of houses with crock pots, electric can openers, and over-sized 1990's era refrigerators. "Maybe people don't have fire extinguishers because they don't plan on ever having to use one," I suggested to my husband.

"Then explain to me the fish knife in our knife block and the expresso machine."

The HomeHero, via the Daily Olive
The anti-HomeHero via Murketing.

I agree with Murketing. What's to stop me from grabbing a carafe or coffee bean grinder by mistake in a frenzied panic? Does it contain anything that works? Are my kids going to know what do do besides think it is part of the precious wireless booster system and take it outside to save it from the fire?

Well, getting product specs on the actual fire extinguisher part was difficult, but it does work on flammable liquid and electrical fires, both necessary in the kitchen. As for pure power, however, would it stand up to HalGuard's MaxOut? Certainly not in promo beef:

Who says safety has to be boring! It contains a siliconized sodium bicarbonate based dry chemical with free flowing and non-caking additives. This chemical smothers fires in flammable liquids and pressurized gases and will not conduct electricity back to the operator.

Boring? Right what was I thinking. Cabinets on fire. Yawn. And I never even thought of the Three Stooges reality associated with putting out a toaster fire with water and having lightening blow me back out the windows, although the kids would like it.

Somehow, when I look at the MaxOut I think, "Whatever I am faced with, this baby's gonna help me." It's chrome and sleek and has clear instructions to review in a freak-out. Plus, it comes in red if I decide we really should have the dangerwillrobinson visual. When I look at the HomeHero I think, "Pull the plug and flllyyyppzzzz, or that sound that shaving foam makes when its all about empty. The only solution is to order one of each and give them a test run.

Pieces and Quiet

Rose and Radish stocked a sink stopper, by Dutch designer Joana Meroz, that was featured in the New York Times style section this Sunday. Anyone who offers beauty in the mundane deserves further investigation, so I looked to see what other things the San Francisco store offers. Peaceful things, it seems.

French Translation

ligne roset means, "Not until the kids leave home. For good."

It is the perfect antidote for empty nest syndrome.

Tickity Tocks That Can Stay In Their Box

It's what Dr. Seuss would do with 18 carat white gold, 117 diamonds and a watch face.

The Breguet Reine de Naples from Tourneau. I'll pass.