Paris, France City Guide

Paris, France City Guide

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Who doesn’t dream of leisurely exploring Paris, soaking in the sun and culture, and enjoying its beautiful architecture? For Jonathan Randall Grant, that describes a typical day in his life. As the founder of Culture Keeperan online publication that celebrates style, adventure and society, Jonathan is always on the hunt for talented individuals to share their stories — including photographers, designers, filmmakers, historians and anthropologists.

Whether he’s exploring a new museum, sharing a unique perspective of Paris from the eyes of a local, or featuring links to neat products, Jonathan is passionate about curating a quality life. Today, he’s taking us on a virtual tour of a day spent in Paris, broken up into his favorite spots, places where the cool kids go, and extras to try in every category — from brunch spots to where to grab a drink after a long day. –Sabrina

Photography by Nicodem Creative

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Global Fashion and Giving Up Control with Sophia Demirtas of Fanm Mòn Designs

Global Fashion and Giving Up Control with Sophia Demirtas of Fanm Mòn Designs

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With the recent rise in popularity of bohemian garb and more focus being given to traditionally-made clothing from cultures that span the globe, the fashion and handmade landscape has forever changed — a trend which, for Haitian designer Sophia Demirtas of Fanm Mòn Designs, is worth celebrating.

What started as a jewelry line on Etsy a few years ago has now bloomed into a successful brand offering everything from footwear and handbags, to dresses and jumpsuits. These pieces celebrate both Sophia’s Haitian roots and traditional clothing from cultures across the globe, most recently taking the form of Vyshyvankas from the Ukraine. Rather than catering to the masses, Fanm Mòn’s colorful handmade items pay homage and bring joy to its wearers — who are as unique as the pieces — and today, Sophia is sharing more about giving up control and doing more with less. –Sabrina

Portrait Photo by Kerem Demirtas

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Greenery Warms Up a Modern Home in Iowa

Greenery Warms Up a Modern Home in Iowa, Design*Sponge

Greenery Warms Up a Modern Home in Iowa

One day, a day like any other, prop stylist Joseph Wanek clocked in on-set. He moved about the studio, decorations in hand, prepping for an upcoming photoshoot alongside graphic designer Nick Sellers. It was the first time the pair had ever worked together, and from the moment they met, something was definitely there. The two kept it strictly professional for a bit until one evening, curiosities piqued, and Joseph and Nick went on a date. Fast forward three-and-a-half years, and they’re now living together in this pretty, plant-filled home in Des Moines, Iowa.

When they first got the keys, both guys were a bit curious as to how their personal styles would converge in the home. Joseph favors a more streamlined, industrial design, but Nick, a fan of all things mid-century modern, prefers being surrounded by items from his grandmother’s collection of vintage furniture. Working closely together, they’ve puzzle-pieced together the very best of their respective collections of flea-market finds and hand-me-down furniture. As you click through, you’ll notice that all of these belongings are surrounded by dozens of houseplants. They dot the space, creating a bright, greenhouse-effect — which the couple says is their favorite aspect of the home.

Joseph and Nick are loving how their home has come together, but if it weren’t for this duo’s keen eye for design, the space may have never reached its full potential. At first blush, the outdated kitchen alone was terrible enough to drive away any number of timid buyers. Its 1980s makeover had left it full of less-than-ideal furnishings: laminate countertops, vinyl flooring and outdated cabinetry, to name a few. For over a year, Nick and Joseph have toiled with its look, choosing to install concrete counters, a new backsplash and decking out the walls in a subtle, grey hue. With their first major project complete, the couple then went about painting and sprucing up the rest of the house. Without a doubt they’ve done a stellar job, and I’m so grateful they’re letting us take a peek at the results. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography courtesy of Lauren Konrad

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Monday Mood: Head-To-Toe Beauty

Monday Mood: Head-To-Toe Beauty

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For years, I was the queen of sweatpants and PJ/graphic tees, but as I mature and find my stride in life, fashion and beauty have taken on a new meaning for me. I’ve discovered my niche and fallen in love with certain brands — Madewell, ZaraOutdoor VoicesFree People, H&M and Wild Fox (for my inner-novelty-shirt fangirl) to name a few.

More than looks, fashion and beauty are about self-care and celebrating your body, daily acts that often become an extension of your personality. Today we’re talking hairstyle tutorials, Stella McCartney, and skivvies — and a peek inside Joanna Gaines’ makeup bag and smoothies your skin will thank you for. Here are oodles of links to products, songs, social feeds and articles to keep you fresh and fashionable, from head to toe. –Sabrina

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#DSPINK + Best of the Web

#DSPINK + Best of the Web

TIFFANIE
For this month’s hashtag challenge, I’m gleefully giving into my lifelong personal obsession: PINK. From pink bathrooms and pink couches to pink shoes and pink wallpaper, I want to see your favorite (and pinkest!) design finds around town and in your daily life. The vast majority of things I post online tend to have a pink undertone in one way or another, so I figured, why not run head-first in that direction? I can’t wait to see all of the amazing things our community shares. So share away at #DSPINK and we’ll display our favorites on Instagram and here at Design*Sponge! Until then, have a wonderful weekend. xo, grace

Photo above by Tiffanie Turner, Below photo by A Guy Named Patrick at Camille Becerra’s pop-up at Cafe Henri.

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Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son

Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge

Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son

With his collection of toy trucks, five-year-old Coban Lebold loves to help his mom Jessica McDonald update their 1905 Cape Cod-style home in Morgantown, WV. “More than anything, I like to transform or improve the looks of something,” Jessica says. “Last spring we transplanted a rhododendron by moving it to the backyard in his Tonka, and this winter he even helped me rewire a lamp (by pulling the cord through the other side of the pole).” When she first found their house in an established section of town called First Ward (right down the street from what Coban calls “the pirate park”), Jessica knew it had a lot of potential, but nearly cried when she saw the dated paneling and ceiling tiles on the second floor. Refreshing the finishes with the help of her family — including her doting parents — allowed Jennifer to tackle dozens of projects. “I even did the insides of closets,” she shares. “You know it’s bad when that’s the project you’re excited to tackle.”

Creating a home from scratch can be intimidatingly expensive, but Jessica has moved through the process slowly and waited for the right pieces to surface before pulling out her checkbook. Her renovation and decoration dollars have been spent on practical things that she and Coban will use long-term, not just whatever they want at the moment. “I like a mix of old and new, with clean modern lines, and lots of color,” Jessica notes. “I want the house to be neat and look great, but I also want the space to be easy and livable. I’ve really tried to make it fun and comfortable.” To tackle the inevitable parenting problem of living with kids’ items strewn about, Jessica devised a smart solution — the closed-in sunroom functions as Coban’s playroom, giving him plenty of space in which to play with his toys while Jessica has her own fun staging the areas nearby. “Though I might be able to see the stuff, it’s not actually in the living room. That makes such a difference.” —Annie

Photography by Jessica McDonald

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Jeanine Donofrio’s Vegan Brussels Sprout Wraps

Jeanine Donofrio’s Vegan Brussels Sprout Wraps

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A few weeks ago, a book arrived in the mail that totally made my day: The Love and Lemons Cookbook: An Apple-to-Zucchini Celebration of Impromptu Cooking. Blogger, cook and author Jeanine Donofrio’s blog, Love and Lemons, is a wealth of delicious, veggie-forward recipes and her cookbook is truly a love song to clean, healthy eating. And since I was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I’ve felt a real disconnect from the food community, as so much of it feels off-limits to me now. But when I opened Jeanine’s book, I felt like I could eat everything. There were so many bright colors, fresh veggies and options for people who are eating low-sugar and low-carb dishes like I am.

The book is broken up by vegetable (I love being able to flip to whatever section matches my current vegetable drawer contents) and each section has a great range of ideas, from breakfast, lunch and dinner to sides and treats. Today we’re sharing one of my favorite recipes — Brussels Sprout Wraps. If you’re like me and love a good wrap, this is a great (low-carb, gluten-free) alternative to traditional corn, wheat or flour tortillas. Bonus? This recipe is naturally vegan, too! Read on to check out Jeanine’s recipe below and click here to check out her book online! xo, grace

Why Jeanine loves this recipe: I love this recipe because it makes you think of the brussels sprout leaves in a totally new way, because for this recipe you don’t want to just get a box of sprouts, you want the whole stalk. The larger leaves at the top of the stalk are the ones that are SO perfect for lettuce wraps. The flavor is milder than other dark leafy greens (like collards), but they’re sturdier than lettuce greens so you don’t make a mess. I filled these with rice noodles, baked tofu, and crispy carrot ribbons. I also used almond butter instead of peanut butter for the nut sauce, which makes for a great substitution. Of course, if you can’t find a brussels sprout stalk, feel free to use Bibb lettuce or napa cabbage leaves. And if you don’t have almond butter, any nut butter will do. Enjoy!

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Photography by Jack Mathews

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Moonlighting: Starting and Managing a Creative Side Business

Moonlighting: Starting and Managing a Creative Side Business

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When taking the jump from employed with benefits to full-time freelancing, you always hear that there will be some long nights and work on the weekends. Creating a work/life balance is hard enough when your creative business is your 9-to-5, but it seems almost impossible when it has to be worked around your day job. Lisa Wong Jackson has a full plate — she has a full-time position as a senior graphic designer, she is married, she is the mother of two boys, and she is the founder of a successful stationery and design business out of Berkeley, CA called Good on Paper. Her schedule is booked.

Today Lisa shares her best advice for those wanting to keep their day jobs while moonlighting after-hours. From knowing when to say “no” to projects, to crunching the numbers, to finding time for family and rest, Lisa’s authentic and learn-as-you-go attitude is inspiring. Click through to read her story and glean from her experience as a successful moonlighter. –Lauren

Product photography by Lisa Wong Jackson
Portrait photography by Sarah Hebenstreit

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Comfort Zone: Katie Marble

Comfort Zone: Katie Marble

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I first discovered Katie Marble through the hashtag #thehappynow, which she manages alongside Elise Cahill (whom we featured earlier this year). Together, they are The Happy Hunters, a best-friend duo from California who are always hot on the trail of fun and sun.

But more than a photographer/editor/DIYer/stylist/writer, Katie is a wife and dog-mom to an Australian Shepherd named Karl. After a childhood spent moving (that’s 14 times), Katie now calls Corona, CA home, but her desire for adventure and new experiences still remains. Similar to how her childlike sense of wonder allows her to be fearful, so too does her home help her through some of life’s more challenging curveballs — from creative burnout to her late mother’s battle with cancer. From the comfort of her bright and cozy living room, today Katie’s sharing more about her home, how it got her through some tough times, and what to do when you don’t see eye-to-eye with someone. –Sabrina

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Behind The Scenes: Creating Napeansea, an Indian-Inspired Brand

Behind The Scenes of Napeansea on Design Sponge

Behind The Scenes: Creating Napeansea, an Indian-Inspired Brand

It is serendipitous and wholly enriching that late last year, as I began writing about contemporary Indian design for Design*Sponge, I was on the cusp of launching Napeansea — my own Indian-inspired home and lifestyle brand with my talented textile designer mother.

Napeansea is a small but growing collection of homeware and lifestyle accessories that pays homage to the multi-faceted city of Bombay, the gateway that fuses India and the West. Our brand aims to be a fresh and elegant interpretation of India’s rich craftwork, combining traditional techniques like bandhani, hand block-printing, and embroidery for a new audience.

The collection comprises of patterned homeware, poetic garments finished with creative details, and an ever-evolving curation of one-off curios sourced from around India.

This business venture of ours has been over a decade in the works. With a long career in the design industry, I have worked as a stylist on shoots surrounded by sublime products, a journalist reporting on every collection that appeared on the market, and consulted as a trend forecaster advising brands on their next move. My mother Reena, a talented textile designer trained in India, had spent many years at the helm of our family business as a supplier of leather and sheepskin to many UK fashion and home brands with a wealth of artisan connections in India.

So a year ago, we decided it was time to combine our skills.

People ask us what it’s like to work so closely with family, and we’ll admit that some days it’s tough! But the benefits outweigh any conflicts. My mother has the strength of being a business woman with creative sensibilities, and I have knowledge of the online arena and a foothold in the design industry. We debate a lot, but 9 out of 10 times we ultimately arrive at the same conclusion.

My side of the partnership encompasses branding, running our online store, social media and design input. Mumbai — our inspiration — is my mother’s city, and the designs come from her nostalgia of the vibrant past combined with our experiences together. Our story spans decades and lifetimes, because a family business isn’t just a sudden pop-up vision —  for us, it’s layers of rich history and a long held dream coming to fruition. So I’ll begin with my mother Reena in Bombay in the 70s… —Rohini

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In The Kitchen With: The Minimalist Baker’s Almond Joy Bites

In The Kitchen With: The Minimalist Baker’s Almond Joy Bites

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Husband and wife duo, Dana and John Shultz are the team behind the wildly successful blog, The Minimalist Baker. With the idea that cooking shouldn’t be complicated, they create recipes with 10 ingredients or less, that can be made in one pot, and take 30 minutes or less to prepare. Their mostly plant-based and gluten-free recipe collection is not only tasty, but actually good for you! I’m no stranger to their blog, and last year I made their Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes recipe. My husband and I kept saying that we couldn’t believe the cupcakes had no dairy ingredients but were still light, fluffy and full of flavor!

Today, Dana and John are sharing their Almond Joy Bites recipe. Get your chocolatey-coconut fix with these bite-sized treats that are made with whole and fresh ingredients like coconut, almonds, dark chocolate and a little maple syrup for sweetness and depth. The Minimalist Baker’s recipes are easy to create, utilize nutrient-dense foods and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time. It’s a win-win! –Emerald

Photography by Dana Shultz

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A Beverly Hills Hairstylist’s Bohemian Home

A Beverly Hills Hairstylist's Bohemian Home, Design*Sponge

A Beverly Hills Hairstylist’s Bohemian Home

While standing in the courtyard of a triplex in Beverly Hills, CA, hairstylist Christina Meneses and her close friend gazed upon neglected gym equipment. Multiple giant plastic mats cooked in the sun, each one strewn about willy-nilly. A shadow of trepidation crossed her friend’s face. “You’re sure you want to do this, right?” he asked. Not missing a beat, Christina nodded, convinced she’d made the right choice when signing the lease. Her gall in that moment didn’t come as a surprise. Christina has always been a big-picture type of person, so seeing past the less-than-ideal courtyard to the fantastic apartment beyond came naturally.

Coved ceilings, giant windows and built-in cabinetry are just a few of the beautiful elements the Spanish-style, two-bedroom home boasts. Since moving in, Christina has used these architectural details as inspiration, covering sofas in Moroccan-inspired pillows and adorning walls with vintage finds. Throwback treasures are so popular with Christina, in fact, they’ve influenced the entire house’s color scheme. Keeping her furniture and walls in a neutral hue means many accessories can be easily swapped out when inspiration sparks.

With the inside on its way to becoming the relaxing space she’d always dreamed of, Christina refocused on that terrible courtyard. She knew the simple act of getting the gym equipment out of there would make a world of a difference, and boy, was she was right. All she had to do after that was layer in plants and some cozy throw pillows, and voila! Bohemian relaxation zone achieved. It’s here that she often unwinds with friends, a glass of wine in one hand while the other scratches her pup Diego’s ears. Gifts from friends — and pieces she’s snuck out of the neighbors’ trash cans — have, in my opinion, turned what was once the property’s eyesore into its most beautiful asset. And it’s all thanks to Christina and her keen eye for design. Click through to see the rest of her pretty work, and enjoy! —Garrett

Photography courtesy of Jacob Gaitan

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Fine Art Focus: Nadine Ijewere

Fine Art Focus: Nadine Ijewere

Ayesha
I don’t know if I’ve ever fallen as hard — or as quickly — for an artist’s work as I did with photographer Nadine Ijewere. Nadine’s mother and father were Jamaican and Nigerian, but Nadine always struggled to feel as connected to her roots as she wanted, because she was raised in London. In an interview with I-D, she said she, “remembers being jealous of friends who were more connected to their traditions.” So Nadine studied at the London College of Fashion and focused on fashion photography, which led her to create incredibly lush and expertly styled shoots that explored different world cultures through identity and fashion.

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Her series “The Misrepresentation of Representation” explores “beauty” and the way it’s affected, and in some ways defined, by culture. She also set out to create a stunning series of portraits that use flowers to explore cultural diversity and “the relationship between identifying oneself and the meaning of beauty.” I could look at these photos and examine their intricate details for hours. There is so much said in each woman’s face and there’s such a rich history told in the set-styling as well. If you haven’t checked out Nadine’s work before, please stop everything and go check out her website and Instagram feed now. I promise you’ll be glad you did. xo, grace

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Artist: Nadine Ijewere
About: Nadine is a London-based fashion and portrait photographer. She graduated from London College of Fashion with a BA in Fashion Photography.
More: You can follow Nadine on Instagram, check out her website and read her interviews in I-D, Lazy Oaf and Indie Magazine.

All photography (c) Nadine Ijewere. Images via NadineIjewere.com

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10 Indian Ceramic Brands

10 Indian Ceramics on Design Sponge

10 Indian Ceramic Brands

During my holidays as a child, I would travel to a small village called Santiniketan on the outskirts of Calcutta, where my grandparents had an idyllic holiday home (bouganvillia, vegetable patches, paddy fields and meandering cows abounded). The town was established by iconic Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore and built around his ideals of learning through nature. Santiniketan now thrives with a literary past, bohemian allure and lauded craft community.  

Each trip to Santiniketan, I eagerly looked forward to the Poush Mela, a huge fair which marked the harvest season by celebrating folk traditions, including the town’s many cottage industries specializing in folk craft. Businesses who could afford it would have covered stalls, but I was always drawn to the smallest rural crafters who exhibited their wares simply on the ground.

I recall a strong visual of the Mela from my childlike view — an expanse of blue sky, blanket after blanket of clay wares dotted with brick red terracotta figures, earthy glazed vessels, tiny tactile stoneware sculptures and the red earth underneath that they were made from. For me, there 
is something that is so inherently raw and linked to the land with Indian pottery, something in its weight, tactility and texture that compares to no other — perhaps we all feel that way when we possess something that is made from the same soil as us? Here I share 10 Indian Ceramic brands —Rohini

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10 Fun Kiddos to Follow on Instagram

10 Instagramming Kiddos You've Gotta Follow, Design*Sponge

10 Fun Kiddos to Follow on Instagram

My favorite thing about Instagram is how it brings people from different backgrounds together to celebrate storytelling. That’s what Instagram feeds really are, right? They’re sets of squares that capture the story of how you’re feeling and what you’re liking at any given moment. When taken one square at a time, they seem fleeting, but if you look back through your last year’s worth (or more) of posts, you’ll quickly realize your page tells a much larger narrative than you imagined.

My generation started telling our stories through Instagram in our mid 20s, but nowadays, children of all ages are beginning to use the platform. The 10 kiddos we’ve rounded up for you today are just a sampling of Instagram’s many inspiring and creative youngsters. Through their feeds — and with the help of their parents — each tells their own unique story, and each one had me grinning as I scrolled through their photos. Enjoy! —Garrett

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