Studio Tour: Amy Hamley of Redraven Studios

Studio Tour: Amy Hamley of Redraven Studios, on Design*Sponge

Studio Tour: Amy Hamley of Redraven Studios

In the Pittsburgh workroom of redraven studios, inky splashes of navy, rose, and 14 karat gold stain handmade dinnerware crafted beside candy-colored nuggets of glistening porcelain jewelry. Since 2008, Amy Hamley has designed these sentimental keepsakes that capture fleeting moments in her own life and she turns them into contemporary objects for others to enjoy. Her Canyon Series tabletop line takes inspiration from family travels by reflecting the color palettes of national parks at sunset. Hamley’s adventures are shared with her husband Ryan, whose rural Pennsylvania background influences some of his wife’s additional work by establishing a direct connection to living memories. Around his family farm, the couple finds items such as retired horseshoes, antique bottle forms, and an extensive collection of arrowheads to cast in porcelain. By taking inspiration from the past, Hamley creates mementos steeped in context for future generations.

Redraven studios operates out of a 1,500-square-foot space shared with Stak Ceramics, nestled along the bank of the Allegheny River in the Sharpsburg section of the city. When they moved in about a year and a half ago, the trio of artisans built the wall shelving, work stations, and updated the electrical panel to accommodate three kilns. The heat generated by several ovens firing at 2,200 degrees lends the room tropical temperatures year-round, though domestic roadtrips are always preferable. —Annie

Photography by Janelle Bendycki, except where noted

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DIY Ladder Shelf Shoe Storage

DIY Ladder Shelf Shoe Storage

DIY Ladder Shelf

We’re all living such busy lives — rushing around, trying to find extra pockets of time to become more and more productive. One of the methods I use in an effort to save myself time and hopefully get jobs done quicker is keeping everything where I need it. It’s as simple as keeping pencils on my desk, makeup by the mirror and shoes close to the door, not hidden away in a closet somewhere.

Although this is a great system for shaving valuable minutes off the time it takes to carry out everyday tasks, it does mean that unless I take care to plan storage solutions creatively, we can end up in a mess. Storage needs to be both functional for its everyday use and beautiful to allow it to be placed in an optimum position.

I love the raw appeal of pine. It’s also a fantastically quick and easy material to work with using household tools. I had the pieces pre-cut (to the specifications listed in the materials list) by my local DIY store, making this DIY even faster to put together. Perfect for saving a little extra time. —Fran

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An Ornate Nest for Three in Norway

An Ornate Nest for Three in Norway, Design*Sponge

An Ornate Nest for Three in Norway

“Lightning struck us when we met at a bar in 2012. We immediately fell in love, moved in together, and a year later we owned [this] apartment… and I had a ring on my finger.” Needless to say, it’s been a whirlwind romance for Pia and Jeppe. While they were certain of their love for one another from the beginning, they weren’t exactly sure what they were looking for in a new home. Original wood floors, natural light and a gorgeous ceiling, however, immediately hooked the two when they stepped inside this 1890s apartment. It was the first one they toured in Oslo, Norway and one of those moments when you can’t quite describe what you’re after until you see it and, “Eureka!” — it’s crystal clear what you want.

While the apartment hunt was a quick and painless process, decorating has proven to be a bit trickier. With a goal of creating a “dark and dusty place of calmness and serenity,” the couple set out to only fill their home with pieces that they absolutely loved. Determined to not fall into the trap of just buying for utility, they stuck to two simple rules: they both had to instinctually love an item, and if they couldn’t picture still having it after their 20th anniversary, it was a no-go. They admit to growing a bit anxious to reach the finish line, but the process taught them something in the end. “In the beginning, we looked forward to everything being done, but after a while, we understood that we really loved the process of decorating. Our style really was made by putting two pretty different minds together. No compromises in our home, just ideas melting together and creating new ones! We love each other, and we love creating our style together,” the two say.

Pia is most thankful that she gets to share her lovely home with “a person who can make every boring day into an adventure.” This fall, that adventure will get even more exciting when they welcome home a little bundle of joy – their first child! It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful place for her to grow up. Take a peek inside her newly-completed nursery and the rest of what friends call Pia and Jeppe’s “curiously designed museum,” after the jump. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Pia Martine Gautier Bjerke

 

 

 

 

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Life & Business: Stacy Longenecker of LEIF

Life & Business: Stacy Longenecker of LEIF, on Design*Sponge

Life & Business: Stacy Longenecker of LEIF

During the 2011 holiday season, I sent a subtle hint to a gift-giving loved one with an email entitled “I want the Gemstone Magnet Set!” Little did I know that Stacy Longenecker, the owner and proprietor of LEIF, was at the time filling orders out of her tiny Brooklyn apartment during whatever waking hours remained after working a full-time office job. Nowadays, her vibrant webshop is run from a coordinated showroom that is a fitting physical embodiment of the curated selection of delightful and varyingly handmade tchotchkes available from LEIF. The studio sometimes welcomes local shoppers during open house events, where the talented staff will generously share the secret to tying a proper package bow (which is to use two pieces of ribbon, in case you’re wondering).

In keeping a business not just afloat but growing for four years straight, Longenecker reveals that her alternate career just didn’t seem like a viable option for the work of an entire lifetime. She hoped people would take notice of the items she felt passionate about selling because they enhanced her own domestic experience. For someone driven by feeling, running an e-commerce enterprise requires a defined daily regimen, and that can be challenging to impose upon oneself. The trick, according to Longenecker, is to enjoy all aspects of the work before committing to it, even the less sexy stuff, like shipping boxes from the neighborhood’s mortal tangle of a deranged post office. If that last bit sounds impossible, then delegate, and do it fearlessly. —Annie

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WHY COMMUNITY MATTERS MORE THAN COMMERCE [Contest Closed]

WHY COMMUNITY MATTERS MORE THAN COMMERCE [Contest Closed]

Wildfang-Life&Biz

Wildfang is for the rascals of the world, offering menswear to women — answering the prayers of tomboys everywhere — and liberating ladies to just be themselves. More than a brand, Wildfang is a movement and culture based on self-expression and not apologizing for who you are. With support from celebrities such as Ellen Page, Janelle Monae, Kate Mara and Evan Rachel Wood, Wildfang has become a wild success (pun intended) from its humble beginnings in Portland, OR by two friends, Emma McIlroy and Julia Parsley.

Today, CEO of Wildfang and overall bad-a$$, Emma McIlroy, is joining us to share her honest and helpful insight into community, and why it matters more than (and how it affects) commerce. And if that wasn’t enough, be sure to read more and scroll to the bottom of the post to find details on how to enter to win a $100 gift card to spend at Wildfang! –Sabrina

[UPDATE: The contest is now closed- congrats to Mary Cantler!]

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Finding Your Quiet: Listening To What Really Matters

Finding Your Quiet: Listening To What Really Matters

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When I lived in Brooklyn, I was a fast and angry driver. I was always pushing the speed limit, beeping at people to move and, in one very unbecoming moment, I lost my cool and yelled at a group of tourists in downtown Brooklyn for blocking the road. In short, I was far from my best and always on edge. I had a lot to say and so much of it was about trying to prove someone wrong or explain the way I thought things really were. It was a self-involved and short-tempered way to live and it was only last week that I realized how much anger I had been holding onto and how misdirected it was.

Last Wednesday I was in the middle of a 40-minute drive to my dentist’s office when I noticed I was driving 10 miles under the speed limit. I was also driving without my typical fastpaced soundtrack. I had the windows open and was commuting in complete and utter silence. I had, out of nowhere, become a calm and quiet driver. This may not seem life-changing, except for the fact that in that moment, it hit me why I was suddenly so relieved of my typical anxiety level: I had finally found a project that spoke to what was most important to me in life and work.

In that moment I remembered an interview Julia did with chef/author Gabrielle Hamilton in Cherry Bombe. Gabrielle talked about how being acknowledged as a serious writer changed the way she acted from there on out. “I have noticed something very interesting since the success of this book. My need and hunger has quieted so dramatically and it’s directly related to having been recognized for something that matters to me…I just don’t need all of this attention and I get so much of the actual kind of attention I hungered for.

It got me thinking about how maybe that’s what we’re all searching for and how we can help each other figure out how best to find that for ourselves.

*Image above is part of a poem by Erin Hanson, typed and for sale at WhiteCellarDoor on Etsy.

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Life & Business: Adam J. Kurtz

Life & Business: Adam J. Kurtz

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Adam J. Kurtz is talented, refreshingly honest, and his work and career trajectory are great examples of how many options there are for creatives. On top of his wildly successful book, 1 Page at a Time, he recently launched a product collaboration with Urban Outfitters in stores now, created a #social #media t-shirt with Tumblr to raise money for charity, and tirelessly crafts new products to add to his shop (which most recently includes four lapel pins, four new ribbons, and the “Like” tee that’s all over Instagram).

Back in the winter, he joined us to share his refreshingly honest and relevant tips for success, and today we’re thrilled to have him back, doing what he does best: getting to the heart of the matter (and making us laugh), while sharing a bit more about himself and how he balances a 9-5 job with his business. And if you still can’t get enough, you can catch Adam signing copies of his book at the MoMA in NYC on June 25th.–Sabrina

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Beijing, China City Guide

Beijing, China City Guide

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Before making the move to Beijing in 2011, St. Louis-native Jessica Rapp had been a tourist for years, traveling to China’s capital on various occasions to visit her Chinese host-family and sister, Sunny. Having studied linguistics and Chinese culture in University, each time she visited, she fell more in love with the rapidly evolving city until she couldn’t help but call it home. Before she even fully settled in, Jessica began writing about Beijing and contributing to local publications such as City Weekend and Beijinger Magazine, where she worked as an editor, unearthing and sharing the best Beijing has to offer in style and nightlife. Passionate though she is about sharing China’s creative scene with people across the globe, Jessica is also an eager supporter of all of the new changes Beijing has undergone and adopted in the last few years. When she’s not writing or designing, you can find Jessica selling secondhand clothing at local markets through her own garment recycling program, supporting local, organic food movements, or hanging out at all of the new microbreweries. Today, we’re thrilled to have Jessica share her personal take on Beijing, from her favorite watering holes to the hidden gems and must-visit places, broken down by neighborhood. –Sabrina

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A Curated Home In Cape Town, South Africa

A Curated Home In Capetown, South Africa | Design*Sponge

A Curated Home In Cape Town, South Africa

An artist’s life’s work is never done. There isn’t usually a point where a designer or painter will step back from a finished project and decide that it has fulfilled them enough to stop creating in the future. It’s the same for these designers in Cape Town, South Africa. Their home is a constantly changing reflection of who they are and where they are as artists.

Diana, object designer and jewelry maker, and Andre James, industrial designer and educator, have made their home into a piece of art. They moved into their Victorian-style home seven years ago and have been recreating it as they go. The home is a mixture of vintage, global and industrial pieces and design that all together feel welcoming and intriguing. “As we see it, decoration is an emergent process where the aesthetic value of the result is inversely proportionate to the effort expended. Our aesthetic is an honest reflection of our history and our lives and the materials used in the building of this house,” Diana says. “The industrial aesthetic underpinning the Victorian era has been reinterpreted in a way that reflects the way that modern South Africans live.”

The couple has curated, redesigned and reworked a house into a collective work of art. Their ability to do so is met with gratitude. “It is difficult to look past the privilege of owning a house. In the words of Ton van Summeren, ‘A house is the ultimate artwork,’ as such we enjoy using this house as a canvas for expression,” Diana says. “The house is an ongoing ‘cowboy’ building project and is constantly changing with our needs.
” The result is a space that is very deliberately styled, arranged and designed for Diana and Andre and by Diana and Andre. —Lauren

Photography by Kovacevic|Bosch Photography

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Global, Bohemian Style in a Salt Lake City Rambler

Global, Bohemian Style in a Salt Lake City Rambler | Design*Sponge

Global, Bohemian Style in a Salt Lake City Rambler

Kera and McSean Thompson left Utah five years ago when McSean was on a government assignment in Abu Dhabi in the UAE. While they were there, Kera made herself right at home, filling their place with things she could never get in the States. “My background and passion is in interior design and I completely fell in love with the textiles and design aesthetic of the region while we were there,” Kera says. She started an online business, Interwoven, where she could sell the authentic, beautiful textiles and home goods she was finding.

When McSean’s assignment was over, the Thompson’s and their three children wanted to find a Salt Lake City rental with enough space and personality. They found this 1960s rambler with 2,400 square feet and beautiful views. “In Abu Dhabi, we had a large, two-story open-concept beachfront apartment. We had several custom furniture pieces made, bigger in scale, to fit the space. We loved our home and the things we collected there, and decided to have everything freighted home. We were very worried that nothing would fit, but somehow, this rambler style fit everything perfectly!”

They’ve only been in their new home for six months, but it looks like they’ve been there forever. The Thompson family’s house is bright and bohemian and reflects their time abroad. The textiles and pieces they brought with them are the finishing touches in each room. “I tried to achieve a child-friendly home that reflects where we’ve been and where we come from,” Kera says. “I wanted a modern, functioning space with a global aesthetic. I’m constantly having the thought during the quiet moments that we are so lucky to be here! While this may not be our forever home, it will be forever in my heart.” —Lauren

Photography by Becky Kimball

 

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In London, An Eclectic Home Brimming with Art, Stories and Wallpaper

In East London, An Eclectic Home Brimming with Art, Stories and Wallpaper

In London, An Eclectic Home Brimming with Art, Stories and Wallpaper

Kate Hawkins is a painter who runs the contemporary art-inspired wallpaper business, CommonRoom, which works with artists such as Goshka Macuga and Kate Owens to design conceptual wallpapers that challenge and excite. Ever intrigued by the role of the viewer and the ways in which they influence the work, Kate’s passions spill over into painting as well, which has her creating works for various galleries from her home studio in Dalston, East London where she lives with her husband, Sam, and their six-month-old baby, Hector.

For many moons prior, Kate lived around the corner in a warehouse apartment, and grew to love the area, which is home to many of her friends as well. So when their current home became available — while it wasn’t the place of their dreams and needed lots of work — they thought it had potential and would keep them close to their friends and local neighborhood digs they had come to love. At the time they moved in, one of Sam’s best friends was living with them, and together with help from friends, they renovated the house, bit by bit. One of their first projects was installing a shower (that’s right, there wasn’t one to begin with), along with plastering over the artex on the 70s ceilings. Reflecting back, Kate has fond memories and laughs thinking about some of their renovation tales: there was the time she made the silly decision to build a step for the washstand, only to change her mind later, which led to re-tiling the bathroom floor; their entertaining plasterer (and spoken-word poet) who would rap as he worked; or the embarrassment that followed when Kate attempted to install shelving in an effort to teach her younger cousin about DIY, only to drill right through the wall. Kate laughs, “Unsurprisingly, I don’t think she’s done much DIY since!”

Though many of the design decisions were made on the fly and based on intuition, Kate and Sam achieved their goal of fostering a space that is warm and comfortable, while allowing Kate to make a mess in a studio behind closed doors. By mixing pieces that span various eras with modern renovations, the late 70s aspects of the home come together with their inherited antiques and art deco pieces, giving off a transitional, eclectic feel. Paired with treasured objects, such as the working furniture drawings done by Kate’s grandmother, a furniture designer in the 1930s, their 900-square-foot space is one they are proud to call home. –Sabrina

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Rainbow Color Palette Inspiration

Photo by @hol_fox via @kristiecain

Rainbow Color Palette Inspiration

This month’s hashtag challenge was all about finding, creating and celebrating rainbows in everyday life. From carefully crafted arrangements of craft supplies, flowers and food to naturally occurring rainbows around us, these photos were colorful and uplifting in huge way. It’s hard to be upset or down when you’re looking at something as colorful as a rainbow, so I loved seeing all of these rainbow-inspired images pop up in our feed and continue to inspire others to share. Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to share their photos. I hope you’ll enjoy our favorite 25 as much as we did! xo, grace

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The New Design*Sponge Book

The New Design*Sponge Book

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A few years ago, after our first book came out, we sat down with our publisher to plan the second. The idea was to do something about crafts or DIY. Then a few months went by…and then a year. I found myself putting it off over and over until I realized that something just wasn’t right. The concept wasn’t clicking and it wasn’t triggering that part of me that can work nonstop if I feel passionate about something. The internet is flooded with craft ideas (we have a lot of them here already) and I felt like what I really wanted to do was devote myself to creating a book that would make a difference. Something that would inspire creative people to start their own businesses, get through tough times, and show readers examples of people who reminded them of themselves, no matter their age or stage of their career. So I pitched a Hail Mary and proposed, at the last minute, a completely new book to my editor. And then the greatest thing happened: she agreed.

So for the next three months, Kelli (our trusted team manager and copy editor) and I are working together on what is, without a doubt, the most important project I’ve ever done in my career — maybe even my life. This book, which will be out Fall 2016, will deliver inspiration and advice from 100 creative women and their workspaces. We will be traveling to photograph 100 women in their chosen workspaces (from movie studios and TV sets to artist lofts, home offices and cubicles) to talk about how they do what they do, why they do it and what advice they want to give to the next generation of women in the creative community.

Why women? There are a lot of reasons, but mainly because under 30% of the companies in the US are owned by women. And I’d like to see that change. I want to see women following their dreams, their passions, and leading the way for other young women to see that starting your own business and paving your own path is a real and viable option.

But this book won’t be a traditional business book. For starters, this book aims to showcase and represent the true diversity of our community. Over 60% of the book will be comprised of women of color, women of the LGBT community and women over 60 — all of whom are grossly underrepresented in traditional lifestyle and business books. My goal is to have every person who opens this book be able to see someone they can relate to. So today I wanted to make this exciting announcement and give you a little preview of some of the amazing women who will be in these pages. I know it’s no fun to hear about something you can’t see or hold yet, so I won’t be updating here again until the book is available for pre-order. But if you want to follow the photoshoots and get behind-the-scenes peeks, you can follow me on Instagram as we spend the summer traveling to meet some of the most incredible women. Thank you so much to Artisan Books for supporting me and allowing me to follow my dream. And thanks to Kelli and all of the women who’ve joined on to help in this project. It’s going to be amazing. Until then, have a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you on Monday! xo, grace

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An Artist’s Lively Toronto Renovation

An Artist's Lively, Toronto Renovation, Design*Sponge

An Artist’s Lively Toronto Renovation

“It had five different types of carpet, a kitchen in one of the upstairs bedrooms, the dining room had been drywalled into a bedroom, creaky floors, a clanky furnace, a kitchen from the 1950s, and both yards were full of weeds. I knew it was the one for me when I stepped inside!”

That doesn’t sound like most people’s cup of tea, but artist and instructor Holly Wheatcroft was ecstatic when she found this 1920s-era home to share with her two daughters. Although it wasn’t much to look at, the right bones made this 1,500-square-foot charmer perfect for her family. “We are two blocks away from a fabulous school with an attached community center, ice rink and soccer fields. The neighborhood is very special,” Holly says of their community in Toronto, Ontario.

The renovation process proved to be quite time-consuming with walls and fireplaces coming down, new floors being installed and painting galore, happening all over the 3-bedroom home. Holly’s uncle even moved in to help with the project. The garage was flipped into an art studio for Holly while the kitchen was totally gutted in order to open it up to the living and dining area. “I wanted to have a space on the first floor where everyone could be doing their own thing, but still be close by… that sense of being connected without having to be in the same room,” Holly explains. One night while cooking dinner she realized she had achieved just that. While stirring away at the kitchen stove she laid eyes on her two daughters, both in different rooms lost in tasks, but still so near. The revelation brought her to tears.

That’s what I love most about Holly’s home. It’s built on love and the desire to be close to the ones she cares for most. Living 1,000 miles away from my family, I am not too proud to admit that I am a bit envious of Holly’s setup. To have those you adore so accessible and close enough to hug on a whim is something to be cherished. With a pretty plant wall, color in excess and a one-of-a-kind rug, this home is not only a fantastic testament to family, but so joyful as well. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Valerie Wilcox

 

 

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Studio Tour: Judit Just

Studio Tour: Judit Just, on Design*Sponge

Studio Tour: Judit Just

We first took notice of tapestry artist Judit Just after stumbling upon her extraordinary Instagram page, organized as a gradient color-wave checkerboard that subtly weaves tones in and out, in rhythm similar to that of her artwork. Originally from Barcelona, Just now calls Asheville, NC home, and has set up her studio in the green energy house she shares with spouse Samuel Clemons. After meeting her future husband, who was an American teaching English in her hometown, they visited his family and daytripped  to Asheville. Upon finding a supportive creative community, they decided to take the international jump and move to the comfy, fun-loving city nestled into the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Though now far away, Barcelona and its rich artisanal history have shaped how Just works. She is deaf in one ear and wears glasses, so touch is her strongest sense — she describes how she “almost sees with her hands.” Just originally planned to become a designer, but left fashion school with a desire to instead create the very fabric that designers use. She has mastered all types of textile art techniques, learning dyes, fabrics, applications, embroidery, weaving, techniques old and new, natural and chemical, with big projects and small works.

In Asheville for the last two years, Just has taken her traditional skillset and applied it to the wealth of materials available in her new country. She also adores living in the River Arts District, has adopted a lovely pooch, and tends to a vegetable garden with a big strawberry patch. In her new hometown, Judit has been able to play with her craft in a great space and have a lot of fun while she’s at it.

Just’s main mission is to avoid superficiality and always embrace a DIY technique that encourages new discovery. She patently avoids the easy way, and seems to find the mysterious in everyday things. Her greatest passion is reworking an old technique and updating it for the 21st century in a way to looks new to people’s eyes. She has never lost her hometown ethic, and in the land of opportunity, feels more free than ever to let it grow. —Annie

Photography by Judit Just

 

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