Life & Business: Bethan and Joe of Decorator’s Notebook

Life & Business: Bethan and Joe of Decorator’s Notebook

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Bethan and Joe are a brother and sister team from England on a mission is to prove that design, quality and ethics can go hand in hand. Together, they run Decorator’s Notebook, an online shop offering home accessories sourced from fair trade groups, artisan co-operatives and social enterprises from around the world. Decorator’s Notebook is a win-win: It gives their customers access to unique global accessories and provides income to talented artisans in developing countries.

Before their launch, Bethan worked as a design journalist for various magazines in the UK and had started a blog as a way to collect her interior design inspiration and share independent makers. Joe was working in e-commerce, and as the blog grew, they decided to pursue it further and join forces. Though they’ve weather some bumps along the way, including the hurdle of how to work together successfully as siblings, they’ve learned a ton about how to create a successful start-up. Today, Bethan is opening up about their business and sharing some important and poignant nuggets of wisdom gathered along the way. –Sabrina

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Life & Business: Jane Sachs of HS2 Architecture

Life & Business: Jane Sachs of HS2 Architecture

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Building a business is hard, and sustaining one for five, ten or even twenty years is no simple feat. But Toronto-native and architect, Jane Sachs, has done just that. In fact, she just celebrated twenty years of business success last year — but Jane’s strong creative vision and mastery of materials didn’t come without a lot of hard work and a humble beginning. Jane sharpened her teeth in University in the 90s where she received a degree was a Bachelor of Fine Arts before attending Architecture school in her 30s. After graduating, she opened a small pottery studio in New York City producing custom dinnerware, and it was there that she met her partner, Thomas Hut. Together, they launched HS2 Architecture in 1994.

Having gone from a duo to a collaborative team of nearly a dozen, they continue to create unique buildings and interiors with a deep appreciation of visual arts and responsive design, and have created some of the most recognizable buildings in New York City — including Ralph Lauren’s flagship stores, Gramercy Park Hotel and Palazzo Chupi. They take their clients from pie-in-the-sky design and high-level thinking to the actual construction of the projects. Regardless of budget or scale, they guarantee a high level of creativity, commitment to quality and attention to detail, and it’s this level of care that continues to elevate them to new levels of success.

Today, Jane is taking us through her impressive journey from producing dinnerware to where HS2 is today, exploring the importance of listening carefully, enjoying your work, considering diverse points of view and more! Sabrina

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Chiang Mai, Thailand City Guide

Chiang Mai, Thailand City Guide

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For the past four years, Chiang Mai, Thailand has been home to Alana Morgan. It was also the spot she called home after moving out for the first time, and where she accomplished many other milestones from learning to ride a motorcycle to teaching English to backpacking for two months with a stranger. She’s explored Southeast Asia extensively over this time, but no matter where her travels take her (which she documents on her travel blog, Paper Planes), she lands back in Chiang Mai where she feels most at home — and she doesn’t plan on leaving anytime soon! As an expat, Alana has had a diverse experience from living with locals to staying in hotels to sleeping in tents, so her guide features a great mix of spots and suggestions that range from more general recommendations so you can customize your trip, to specific places you must check out. –Sabrina

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Anna Karlin Furniture + Fine Objects

Anna Karlin Furniture + Fine Objects, on Design*Sponge

Anna Karlin Furniture + Fine Objects

Anna Karlin dreamed up one of the most engaging booths at ICFF this year, featuring multiple layers of intrigue. The complete work showcased her expertise in digital and print media art direction (not to mention interior and set design), built around a line of irreverent original furniture and lighting products that were a highlight of the show. Our favorites included the colorful experiments in pattern projected upon rugs and stools, the various plumb and bulb pendants that appear to balance just so but actually stem from sturdy metals, and the porcelain vases squashed to resemble spent cigarette butts. Karlin relishes the process of working across all mediums and allowing inspiration from one discovery to inform ideas about another. She believes that each of the design disciplines are interrelated, and they should all be explored simultaneously or else risk leaving some essential piece of information undiscovered. That, and literally playing chess with her furniture arrangements. —Annie

Photography via Anna Karlin Furniture + Fine Objects

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The Only Things You Need To Know About Your Storefront Display

The Only Things You Need To Know About Your Storefront Display

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If you’ve been following along over the past few weeks, I’ve been sharing some tips and tricks for creating the best storefront display for your brick-and-mortar and online shop. And yes — big exhale — it’s a lot to take in!

Whether you’re a start-up or you’ve been in business for decades, learning from the wisdom of others in the field is invaluable. So today we’re sharing insights from industry professionals who range from businesses as large as Big Cartel, Etsy and Shopify to individual shops run by independent merchants. We asked all of them: What’s the one thing you should know and keep in mind when creating a storefront display/window, whether online or in a physical space? Without further ado, here are their answers! —Sabrina

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A Grown-Up Brownstone in Brooklyn Heights

A Grown-Up Brownstone in Brooklyn Heights | Design*Sponge

A Grown-Up Brownstone in Brooklyn Heights

It’s easy for me to keep things because they’ve been useful or good enough in the past. Or because it feels like a waste to buy something new (that I like) to replace something that I already have (that I probably was given secondhand in college). Just this week I got rid of a bookshelf that tilts to the right, which I’ve been moving from place to place for the last eight years. I honestly should have let it go a while ago. There’s nothing wrong with being selective when it comes to big pieces and purchases, but it’s also okay to pull the trigger and to make it a priority to be intentional with a space. For me, an intentionally designed home – even on the cheap – just feels inspiring, refreshed and mature. This Brooklyn Heights brownstone apartment wasn’t just moved into – the new tenants made it a place that reflects their taste and spirit by starting fresh with furniture and hiring a designer.

Ebonie and Dave, both attorneys, wanted to be closer to friends and better transportation to and from work. When they moved from Sunnyside to Brooklyn Heights, they decided to really settle in and make their new apartment into a home. The dingy paint, rough walls and older kitchen were worth the natural light and layout in this 850-square-foot brownstone. “We love our jobs, but we spend a ton of time in sterile office environments. We wanted a home that felt the opposite of that environment – interesting, expressive, calming, and casual,” Ebonie says. Designed by Jill Danyelle and executed by Ebonie and Dave, this home is the inspired, layered and sophisticated apartment that can take them away from the office completely. There are bits of mid-century, coastal and global elements coordinated perfectly throughout the space.

With Jill’s design and direction, Ebonie and Dave have created a refined space they love. “It took quite a bit of work to turn this apartment into a place that felt like home. We moved in during the summer and spent many a weekend painting when we would have rather been hanging in the park. Working with Jill was amazing and I really learned a ton about how to put a room together and the importance of measuring and planning before making any purchases,” Ebonie says. “I really wanted this apartment to feel like home. I think we really accomplished that. I think something about turning 30 makes you want to get it together and get a coffee table! This is our first apartment that has felt grown-up and complete.” —Lauren

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Best of the National Stationery Show: Pizza

Hartland at the Naitonal Stationary Show.

Best of the National Stationery Show: Pizza

Can we all just agree on something? Pizza is pretty great. As a New Yorker, I have a very strong connection to pizza and a sense of pride to go with it. For me, pizza elicits an immediate sense of joy — countless happy memories of greasy paper plates dripping with cheese and sauce. I was overjoyed to see the friendly face of pizza on tons of designs at this year’s National Stationery Show. Everyone had different interpretations, from The Seapink’s neon print to Wishbone Letter Press’ festive Christmas card. These seven designs are perfect for your fun-loving friend or to keep as a constant reminder for your love of the all and mighty — pizza. X, Emma

Photography by Emma Tuccillo 

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Helen McCullagh for Fleurt + Best of the Web

Helen McCullagh for Fleurt + Best of the Web

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All week I’ve been relishing the spring flowers that have popped up all over town. Whether we’re driving down the street and seeing purple wild flowers appear or watching the butter yellow irises in our yard bloom, it feels like fresh flowers are everywhere. There are few subjects I love more in artwork than flowers, so I’ve always been a fan of artists that focus on floral still-life subjects. One of my favorites is Helen McCullagh, who has some incredible new paintings on display at Fleurt, a group show at Saint Cloche gallery in Sydney dedicated to flowers. Nine artists, from photographers and painters to ceramicists, will show their work starting this Saturday through Sunday, June 7th. Click here for more info on the show and check out some of Helen’s latest pieces above and below. If you’re in Sydney, send us some pics if you visit in person! It looks like it’s going to be an amazing show. Until then, best wishes for a safe and happy weekend. xo, grace

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Grandbaby Cakes’ Gooey-Gooey Cake

Grandbaby Cakes’ Gooey-Gooey Cake

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This week’s recipe for the Original Gooey-Gooey Cake comes from an In the Kitchen With veteran, Jocelyn Delk Adams. Jocelyn is the creator of the Grandbaby Cakes blog, where she turns out an amazing number of recipes covering the gamut of baked goods. Her first book, Grandbaby Cakes Cookbook, a cookbook which tells the story of the women in her family and how the recipes they share have shaped her love for baking, comes out in September. The next time you need a quick and easy sheet cake to take to a party or gathering, try this cake out! If you prefer loaf cakes, you can try Jocelyn’s recipe for Sweet Potato Pound Cake in our archives. —Kristina

Why Jocelyn loves this recipe: After Aunt Beverly handed over this classic recipe to our family, it instantly became a classic. My older brother André had a habit of asking for my mom to make this cake several times a year, whether it was for his birthday, Easter or just because he got an A at school. It became his “special” cake. My mom ended up making the cake so much that she knew the recipe by heart, and eventually, so did I.

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Recipe image: © Jocelyn Delk Adams Author image: © Chuck Olu-Alabi

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Home Ec: 6 Books to Inspire and Help with Decluttering

This book covers decluttering, but also gets into the mindset behind why it can be nice to minimize what you keep and have in your home. For me, one of its finest points is the chapter on embracing space - which is something that can happen when you get rid of a lot of things. It can be stressful to feel like your home is "empty," but this book will talk about how to live with that look and feel.

Home Ec: 6 Books to Inspire and Help with Decluttering

Julia and I are having a yard sale in a few weeks and it’s been refreshing to continue to cut down on the things we own and focus on things that mean something to us or serve a highly functional purpose. Not only does it mean the visual clutter is at a minimum, but it also means that when we end our work days and sit down to relax, things around us feel simpler and easier to use. Everyone has a different method of cleaning up and finding their version of simplicity at home, but it was wonderful to watch how this book by Marie Kondo inspired people across the globe to do away with clutter and embrace a version of minimalism.

Whether you’re looking to minimize and pare down to essentials, or just organize and decorate your home in a way that makes you feel calm and relaxed, I thought today I would share a few books that will help walk you through the process of simplifying your life at home. This isn’t to make your home empty and devoid of character, but instead make room for your most cherished pieces and meaningful design decisions to shine. xo, grace

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This post and the Home Ec section are brought to you by Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. Visit the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Home-Grown Inspiration section featuring 20 DIYs, including seven from Design*Sponge!

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Best of the National Stationery Show: Gold Foil

Ferme A Papier at the 2015 NSS.

Best of the National Stationery Show: Gold Foil

I was never much into gold. Whether in jewelry, stationery, or furniture design, gold always seemed to be trying too hard to show off. However, as times change, so do trends and personal taste. At this year’s National Stationery Show, it was the gleaming bits of gold foil that surprisingly caught my eye. I saw this technique at countless booths — a special kind of printing process that uses heat, pressure, and foil to create a slightly raised impression. Many designers showcased gold foil stamping in simple, yet decisive ways, adding a feeling of luxury to their collections. With the metallic accent employed to accompany an abstract pattern, stand alone as a typographical element — or in the case of Ferme À Papier, as a literal translation of the golden ratio — these designs made a case for the allure of gold and changed my mind for good. The following 10 designs are some of my favorites from the show. They’re not showy or gaudy, but are rather beautiful in their simplicity, reminding me of an elegantly dressed woman with just a hint of gold around her neck. X, Emma

Photography by Emma Tuccillo

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Before & After: Jason’s Portland Office

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Before & After: Jason’s Portland Office

Julia and I live in a small hamlet (I love that word) in upstate New York which has a number of abandoned buildings that are just asking to be given a second chance. One of my biggest dreams is to makeover our tiny “main street” stretch and create new spaces for artists, retail and other commercial prospects, but in the meantime, I’m living vicariously through other people who are buying and renovating old buildings that need a little love.

This makeover comes from Jason Leonard, who runs a poster restoration business called Affiche Studio. Jason recently bought a building in Portland, OR that he’s been slowing transforming into a bright, modern space for his business. Along the way he’s documented his process on Instagram (#archipelagopdx) and today he’s sharing photos of the finished space here! I love seeing all the work he’s done in six months, but I also love seeing that little building painted with such a sleek black exterior. I’ve always wanted to try that up here, so this is giving me a little inspiration to work on a proposal for some renovations upstate. In the meantime, click through to see Jason’s full building makeover. xo, grace

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A Neat and Tidy Home by The Bay

A Neat and Tidy Home by The Bay, Design*Sponge

A Neat and Tidy Home by The Bay

Overlooking a communal garden in San Francisco, minimalists Cary and Cam Fortin’s two-bedroom home is an exercise in restraint. The two have done such a fantastic job putting it together, you would never know that they are living with only 35 pieces of clothing each and with just the basics. By employing decluttering methods she uses with her clients at New Minimalism, Cary has been able to train herself to live with less while still maintaining a truly personal and layered abode. “I believe that the relationship we have with our space is a powerful one, and I wanted this space to add to our lives and encourage us to be our most inspired and adventurous selves,” Cary says.

The airiness, bedroom balcony and french doors immediately drew the couple to the apartment while on the hunt for a new home in the Bay Area. Originally, the two had a vast array of disparate furniture that didn’t exactly serve to showcase the merging of their two styles. Through decluttering, however, they were able to toss a third of their shared possessions and start building this home together. Fast forward five years, and the 1920s-era spot truly captures Cam and Cary’s original vision of a space that is restful, serene and creative. “In the past, I’ve hesitated to invest in a rental, but each time we have, it’s been incredible,” Cary says. “Had I known five years ago we’d still be here, I would have done everything right away.”

Far too often the expectations for what is considered “minimalism” are set at an unattainable degree. That’s why I find Cary and Cam’s home so refreshing. It ushers in a new way of perceiving the movement by showing what a contemporary and lively family deems “the essentials.” It also doesn’t hurt when that family has impeccable taste, like these two. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Ryan Devisser

 

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NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Terrestrial Textures

NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Terrestrial Textures, on Design*Sponge

NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Terrestrial Textures

While the physical strain of NYCxDESIGN has many longing for an early summer vacation, the following finds thrust that desire out of this world. Whether attempting to capture the impression that a wiry tree casts upon a small child, or to replicate slices of earthen materials in hallucinatory colors, or even to imagine looking down upon the atmosphere of another planet from our present perch, this year designers are translating their impressions of the universe at every scale. Walking the shows focuses attention on an endless display of exquisite, earthly items, but these inspired designs serve as a welcome reminder of the humble beauty inherent in our natural world. Feel free to share your favorite terrestrial textured finds in the comments! —Annie

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NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Contemporary Quilting

NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Contemporary Quilting, on Design*Sponge

NYCxDESIGN 2015 Trends We Love: Contemporary Quilting

Makers throughout NYCxDESIGN toiled at the intersection between modern technology and traditional handicrafts. While the following finds are all artisan-made, the objects contain varying levels of discernible computer input. Some patchwork pieces suggest only a hint of digital intervention in their geometric motifs or chic textures, while others take tech further by employing programming to determine the very look of a final product. We feel inspired by these reconciliatory efforts, the designs that pay so much reverence to old ways while ingeniously incorporating tools available at the present moment. Feel free to share your favorite contemporary quilted pieces from the shows in the comments! —Annie

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