D*S Quarterly Box #2: COLOR!

D*S Quarterly Box #2: COLOR!

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Last year we started a project with Quarterly designed to bring you a box of thoughtfully chosen home and design products four times a year. Our first box, dedicated to pattern, was a big hit (whew) and I thought long and hard about how best to shape the second collection.

The majority of subscription services like this focus on quantity over quality, and I understand why. It’s fun to get a box chock-full of tiny things wrapped in plastic that cost next to nothing. But that model has never been one that worked for me. DS operates on a simple mission to celebrate and support independent and small-scale design and the artists behind it. These small-scale and mostly handmade goods we focus on are produced by people paid a fair wage in an ethical work environment, so they tend to come with higher price points and don’t work in a bite-sized, low-cost format. So for us, box #2 was about really emphasizing quality over quantity. For me, the best part about this collection is getting to bring you something special and limited-edition that also supports the livelihoods of the artists. So this collection will be about celebrating COLOR and will contain our first custom product: a mug made by Nic Newcomb, one of my favorite ceramicists. Nic took time out of his schedule to create a mug with a dash of our signature color (bright pink) that you’ll only find here in the DS Quarterly Box.

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We’ll also have bold and beautiful artwork inside, including one of my all-time favorites, a neon pink heart print from Banquet Atelier. There will also be colorful cards from Llubav Choy Duerr and much, much more.

This collection will be a bright and colorful feast for the eyes, so if you’re interested in getting a box for yourself (or as a gift for someone else) sign up RIGHT HERE. The last day to sign up for this limited-edition box is next Friday and after that no more kits will be made or sold. Thank you for your support and for supporting this collection’s artists! xo, grace

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Life & Business: Analisse Taft of ALT for Living

Life & Business: Analisse Taft of ALT for Living

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As I get older, I gain more of an appreciation for quality and see the benefit of investing a little more to get a lot more when it comes to products for the home. This philosophy for beautiful, good quality design is what drives Analisse Taft-Gersten. After spending a lot of time traveling the globe and immersing herself in the many cultures and colorful lifestyles she came across, she found beauty in the spirit and traditions behind how certain products were crafted by local makers. Upon returning from her travels with an increased appreciation for quality design and a fire in her belly to work hard, she moved from her hometown of Los Angeles, CA to New York City to challenge herself. She spent a decade gaining experience in retail, wholesale, and the luxury brand market, and in 2008, Taft-Gersten took a bold leap and launched ALT for Living, a line of fabrics, furniture, carpets and home accessories. Since then, ALT for Living has worked with some of the most prestigious firms in the design business on projects ranging from high-end residences and corporations to hotels and yachts. Today, Analisse is opening up about her business, the value of staying as small as you can for as long as you can, the importance of ignoring fear, and more. —Sabrina

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Life & Business: Martha Porter of Buried Diamond

Life & Business: Martha Porter of Buried Diamond

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Think Lucky Charms cereal meets candy jewelry, meets your favorite unique, handmade accessories, but better. Buried Diamond is a colorful feast for the eyes, or, as founder Martha Porter puts it best, it’s “a peek inside [her] brain.” Though Martha makes developing an aesthetic vision and carrying it through look easy, it requires a lot of planning, hard work and years of patience.

After Martha completed her textile studies at the Rhode Island School of Design, she worked as a textile designer in the New York fashion industry where she perfected her unique, painterly and colorful style, and developed novelty designs. After eight years in the business, her lifelong love of jewelry-making began to rear its pretty little head and Buried Diamond was born. Her online shop opened in 2011 with a line of handmade eyeball necklaces, but has since grown to offer signature charms, jewelry of all kinds, textiles, stickers and apparel. Since the beginning, Martha has handmade all of her products in small batches, all embodying her fun, quirky, signature illustrative style. Today, we’re thrilled to have Martha share how she turned her part-time passion project into a successful business, how listening to the market is key, the importance of sustainable pricing, and more. —Sabrina

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Taipei, Taiwan City Guide

Taipei, Taiwan City Guide

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For Stephanie Hsu, the road is home. Her penchant for finding and sharing the best spots in the world through travel is evident in her professional life, where she works as an Editor for Spottly, and in her personal life through her blog, The Thousandth Girl and her newly launched digital magazine, Alleys, focusing on cafes, creativity and design in Asia.

After living in the USA for the former part of her life, Stephanie’s parents moved back to their home country of Taiwan. At the time, Stephanie was living in New York City for school and, when she visited her parents during winter break, she fell in love with her roots. Within a week, she made the move across the globe herself and has been a traveling nomad since. She lives for travel. In her words, “I simply just don’t like to stay in one place for too long,” but no matter where she finds herself in the world, Stephanie finds comfort in the similarities that exist from place to place. Her massive guide to the best Taipei has to offer is expansive, diverse and brimming with options. Enjoy!  —Sabrina

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New: Grow House Grow Tiles + Wallpaper

New: Grow House Grow Tiles + Wallpaper

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All week I’ve been having a mild case of FOMO while I’m home upstate watching the exciting updates from New York Design Week roll in. I had family in town all last week and friends in town this week, so for the first time in 10 years, I handed over the trade show reins to two of our talented writers, Annie and Emma. They’ve been walking the aisles at the Javits Center all weekend, keeping an eye on trends and great new designers, to bring us fresh posts this week. I can’t wait to see what they have to share, but in the meantime, I couldn’t resist posting Katie Deedy’s newest designs at Grow House Grow. She sent me a little sneak peek and I immediately started figuring out just how much of her new Otomi tile I would need to redo the floor in our tiny upstairs bathroom.

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Katie’s new collections for spring 2015 include a stunning Otomi pattern cement tile and gorgeous new wallpaper designs, too. The tile is so special I haven’t been able to take my eyes off it. I keep imagining it in all different colorways (deep indigo, pale pink, gold) and how much it would inspire me to actually get down and clean the tiles in our bathroom. I can’t wait to see these in person, but in the meantime, you can check them out and order online right here.

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Katie also launched a new wallpaper line, called Codex, inspired by great historical mythology and mystery. I am still a sucker for a cute eye print and I’ll never turn down a good floral, so both of these are on my instant wish list. Katie’s papers always have such a wonderful story behind them and the patterns balance whimsy and sophistication with ease. Annie got to see these in person at ICFF, so I’m anxiously awaiting her report later this week. If you’re stopping by on the public day of ICFF this year, be sure to say hi to Katie and check out these new designs at the Grow House Grow booth, #2546. Until then, stay tuned for our trade show coverage later this week! xo, grace

An Inspired, Bohemian Home in the California Desert

An Inspired, Bohemian Home in the California Desert | Design*Sponge

An Inspired, Bohemian Home in the California Desert

Sometimes I am blown away by stories of homes impacting the people that live in them. I often sit for a few minutes, just taking in this idea – lives changed because of a house and its story. We hear about it happening more frequently when it comes to interior decorating, but when a house’s 100-year-old original design sparks a passion in a new homeowner, that’s an inspiring home. This house at the edge of the Sonoran Desert in Alamorio, CA was built with the original owner’s rug-weaving pastime in mind and has turned a creative desire into a fiber design business for Chy Parker.

Chy, stylist and fiber designer, and Marshal Parker, welder and harvesting manager, found their more than 100-year-old home by word of mouth. When touring the space, the natural light and quirky layout won them over. “One of the rooms in our home is very strangely set-up, with a huge doorway and no hardware for a door, a small closet and a custom built-in shelving unit as well as a little window nook area,” Chy says. “When I asked our landlord about it, he told me his mother was a weaver, that she used to teach at the local community college and would weave beautiful rugs, and this was her craft room. It was then that I got interested in working with fiber, sort of as an homage to the original homeowner. I bought myself a small lap loom and sat for hours figuring it out. After a while I delved into macrame and made myself a few plant hangers and used the leftover for wall hangings. Once I got the hang of it and people began to be interested in purchasing my work, I set up shop.” Chy’s work and love for textiles and fiber pieces are seen throughout the space, mixed with Marshal’s more minimal approach to design.

“Marshal and I definitely have different tastes when it comes to interior decor,” Chy says. “He leans more toward traditional and minimal, while I’m all about clean lines and color! We somehow manage to find an in-between on most things – mixing the original charm of the home with a modern bohemian style, organic and natural – a place to come home to and feel the good vibes instantly.” Their airy home has made their day-to-day more beautiful and, at least for Chy, more inspiring. —Lauren

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Bursting With Plants, a 1910 Portland Foursquare for a Florist and Barista

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Bursting With Plants, a 1910 Portland Foursquare for a Florist and Barista

From where I sit as I type this, I can count 14 plants in my home surrounding me — some big, some small, but all bringing me such joy. Plants make any home feel inviting, and Alea Joy’s is no exception. In fact, it may be the most beautiful example of a home that marries indoor and outdoor living that I’ve ever seen!

Alea is a florist and proud owner of the plant shop Solabee Flowers and Botanicals in downtown Portland, OR. Her passion for teaching people how to successfully integrate plants into their spaces is one she definitely brings home with her. Over the four years spent in her home, the first few as a renter with a roommate, Alea has perfected the art of unifying the outdoors and indoors. And once her landlord unexpectedly sold the foursquare house to her, she was thrilled to finally be able to call it home for her herself, her fiancé Peter King (a drum-loving Barista from Chicago) and their cats, Dancer and Jude.

Since its conversion to a triplex in the 30s up until they bought it, their home has been a rental property. So while they weren’t surprised to discover that it was in need of some serious fixes, they were a bit stunned by how intimidating the renovations were. They’re currently in the process of totally gutting and redoing their bathroom, but as Alea explains, “the list of projects [is] endless… redoing the front porch, and creating a back deck with a french door exit off the kitchen are up next.” Regardless of the hard work ahead of them, their home already oozes with comfort and feels open, earthy and inviting. It’s host to big family dinners with Peter’s massive, loving family, their travel souvenirs and mementos, two happy felines and plentiful greenery! “I am just thankful to have a home to call our own. A place to just be ourselves,” Alea says, “We feel very fortunate in our humble surrounding, but are also extremely grateful for the space to grow in the years to come. It’s just the beginning for us!” With a wedding planned for October on the horizon, and a honeymoon to Ireland and Iceland shortly after, the couple is excited to get away and look forward to their return home as Mr. and Mrs. —Sabrina

Photography by Jaclyn Campanaro

 

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Bringing Home the Flower Power of Dior and I

Bringing the Flower Power of "Dior and I," Home, Design*Sponge

Bringing Home the Flower Power of Dior and I

Nearly three years ago, amidst skepticism and intrigue, Raf Simons became Creative Director of one of the last remaining couture houses in the world. His earlier minimalist work meant he was far from the obvious choice to take the reigns of  the opulence and grandeur that is The House of Dior. All reservations vanished with his debut collection, however, as he sent his models walking through a patina’d Parisian mansion dripping in wall-to-ceiling flowers of every variety.

The development of his work was captured and seen for the first time this year in the highly-aniticipated documentary, Dior and I. In on one of my favorite cinematic moments of the year, we see Raf cry backstage as he watches his collection blossom in front of his eyes. This moment of unabashed happiness coincides with barely-moving shots of women modeling the new collection to summarize the culmination of his labor of love. I’m not too tough to admit that it brought a tear to my eye as well. Simply put, it’s one of the most beautiful pieces of film I have ever seen.

I was so struck by the craftsmanship of these astonishing flower walls, that I’ve rounded up some tips on how to best bring each of the flowers used in Raf’s runway “Salons” to your own home. Some simple, others a bit more complex, this floral how-to truly is for gardeners of every level. I wouldn’t say I have the least bit of a green thumb, so trust that these tips are aimed at making it as easy as possible to get a taste of Raf’s aromatic vision. Enjoy and be sure to check out the film stat. I couldn’t recommend it more. —Garrett

 

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Checklist For Your Online Shop’s Digital Storefront

Checklist For Your Online Shop’s Digital Storefront

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With online shopping becoming the sole way some people shop, period, e-commerce is growing — and your digital storefront should lead the way to many sales and endless happiness! While it’s fun to show off your website to your peers and industry friends to ogle at and admire, it should be a place catered to your clients, first and foremost. But it’s not always easy to know what to actually do, especially if you don’t know web very well. If you’re asking yourself, “what’s a CSS?” or if the word “hosting” to you is always followed up by “a party,” this post is here to save the day! Click through for our checklist of things you should consider when it comes to your online shop. —Sabrina VIEW MORE

For Old Times’ Sake, Osxnasozi + Best of The Web

For Old Times’ Sake, Osxnasozi + Best of The Web

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Ah, how time flies — has there ever been a truer expression? This week showed me a contrast in life and lifestyle from only as far back as 100 years to where we are today. I spent my week juggling two laptops and an iPhone on one hand, and wielding a shovel, knee-high in dirt, building a fence by hand on the other. It made me realize how much work goes into making the things we use, be it a fence or a blanket. As my iPhone ran out of battery and I spent precious time backing up my laptop, I found myself appreciating the slow, old way of doing and making. The craft is most definitely not lost on me this week as I daydream of this gorgeous eyelet indigo throw blanket from Osxnasozi, both in appreciation of the hand-stitching and hand-dyeing, and simply because I’d like to crawl up into it right about now after this hectic week. So bear with my nostalgia of the old and join me in paying tribute to the past with this week’s roundup! —Sabrina

Below is a summary of this week’s highlights from DS and around the web:

 

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In the Kitchen With: Morgan Morano’s Espresso Gelato

In the Kitchen With: Morgan Morano’s Espresso Gelato

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As an undergrad, one of my favorite treats was the Turkish Coffee-flavored ice cream from Swensen’s. It was so good, I was certain that if given the chance I could eat a whole tub of it. I never found another coffee-flavored frozen dessert I liked until I started surveying coffee gelato in Italy. Every so often, not always, I stumble upon a creamy, not overwhelming, not bitter version that pairs well with hazelnut (my favorite) or vanilla (when I can find it). This week’s recipe is for espresso gelato by the founder and owner of Morano Gelato in Hanover, NH, Morgan Morano. Morgan perfected her technique in Italy, and brought it back to the US. In her new book, The Art of Making Gelato, she has developed gelato recipes to make at home in your own ice cream maker. I think it’s about time I bought an ice cream maker! —Kristina

Why Morgan loves this recipe: This classic flavor, found everywhere in Italy, combines two things that Italians love: gelato and espresso. The recipe highlights the importance of using quality espresso; not bitter, or sour, but espresso that is as smooth and creamy as the gelato itself. Flecks of ground espresso help give the flavor more depth, along with adding a bit of texture. Strong in flavor with a sweet finish, it’s exactly how I prefer my espresso. Try it paired with dark chocolate for an irresistibly popular combination.

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Running a Creative Business: What To Do When the Romance Fades

Running a Creative Business: What To Do When the Romance Fades

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A big part of your job when you run a creative business is remaining excited and passionate about what you do while trying to avoid the pitfalls of bitterness, growing stale, or the myriad other unpalatable possibilities. Some career paths allow you to grunt through your job, but when you’re self-employed by your personal taste, style or hand, grunting through it typically leads to a poor final. And a poor final could lose you a client — eek! It can be a lot of pressure at times. In creative industries, your work is your leg to stand on, so staying fresh, inspired and challenged — and waking up wanting to make something better — is extremely important. But waking up like this every day is nearly impossible. You will be grumpy some mornings; you may wish you could call in sick (which you can’t); you might be uninspired and defeated before you even begin a project.

Creative blocks happen to the best of us, but what happens more than blocks is the mundane — the ugly, less dramatic cousin of burnout. The romance can fade at many stages in your career. I know because I’ve been there, and I’m only 24.

When I first graduated from Sheridan’s four-year Illustration program, I entered the workforce immediately (as in, the Monday following my last day of school) and took a job in advertising. It was challenging in a new way, and between freelancing on nights to pay rent, being thrust into a career I wasn’t quite educated for, and having just come out of an intensive four-year program without a breather, I quickly burned out. So I quit. Realizing that I was headed down a road to bitterness, I veered off and took a new path pursuing freelancing full-time as an illustrator and designer and, now blogging. Although I was reinvigorated by this change in being my own boss, I’ve experienced a few moments of boredom and staleness — which isn’t quite the same as burnout, but can be just as dangerous. So today I thought I’d share my tips for when the honeymoon stage fades in your career, no matter what field you’re in. —Sabrina

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What I Love Most About My Home Is…

Round Up: "What I Love Most About My Home Is..." Photos, Design*Sponge

What I Love Most About My Home Is…

Pretty soon, my own home will become a part of our Sneak Peek column right here on Design*Sponge. As I began planning how to shoot and prep my house for its feature, I also started to brainstorm how I will capture my, “What I love most about my home is…” photo. Each homeowner is asked to style a handwritten note capturing their answer to accompany their home tour. Touching, creative and beautiful, they add such personal flare to each feature. To get inspired, I started browsing through some past submissions and was so impressed that I’ve rounded up some of the most crafty, gorgeous and personal homeowner notes in this fun gallery. You guys are truly stellar, so consider this a great big “THANK YOU!” to everyone who has been so kind as to let us into their homes. Enjoy! —Garrett

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Before & After: A Hudson Valley Home’s Full Facelift

Before & After: A Hudson Valley Home's Full Facelift, Design*Sponge

Before & After: A Hudson Valley Home’s Full Facelift

Jess and Nathan, the founders of See By Design, took on quite the project when they decided to give this 1960s ranch-style home in Red Hook, NY a total facelift. Though it was quite the undertaking and took the couple a year to complete, the results speak for themselves. Futurism mixes with vintage touches to create a space that’s very “now.” I can’t say that I have seen a more forward-thinking bathroom outside of a showroom. While the entire makeover is a glowing success, it’s that particular room’s burning pink walls that I won’t soon forget. Enjoy! —Garrett

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Before & After: Ananda’s Patio Makeover

Before & After: Ananda's Patio Makeover | Design*Sponge

Before & After: Ananda’s Patio Makeover

Renting definitely has its limitations when it comes to remodeling or refurbishing. We are all about sticking to the lease rules, but we are also all about finding solutions that make a rental home feel personal. Ananda Qianyu was set on finding a way to completely transform her San Diego, CA balcony without compromising her lease and without spending too much money. Pallets for the walls, floors and furniture changed the basic stucco balcony into a colorful, lush and cost-effective patio.

Ananda had a few guidelines from her landlord to follow, but also imposed some of her own rules when planning what to do with the space. “Rule #1: No drilling into/attaching to existing walls. Rule #2: No painting existing surfaces including floor, walls and ceiling. Rule #3: We want to prove that everyone can have a gorgeous space no matter what their budget is. Rule #4: We love a built-in look, but everything we build should be easily taken apart when we move,” she says. Ananda’s home has gained additional living space that she and her husband love, without compromising their agreement or what they really want. —Lauren

Photography by Ananda Qianyu

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