March 29, 2010

Confession: I bite my nails. Badly. Like not just down to the nail bed. They are really weak, obviously, and peel a lot, so not only are they as short as they can go, but the top layers are often peeled away too, which is really painful. But once one is started the rest follow, and I fall into a continuous cycle of biting them down again and again.

I have tried to stop biting them. Someone once told me it takes 21 days to break a habit. I've done that on several occasions to no avail. The only time I successfully stopped for any amount of time was before my wedding. I think I stopped for 2 months. But it's amazing what one will do for their wedding day.

So in my attempts to stop, I've tried a couple of different things.
1. Sally Hansen Nail Biter. This is really just a bitter tasting serum that you paint onto your nails to get you to stop. But I must be really determined to bite my nails because this stuff was not bitter enough, and really just washed off with saliva. So it didn't last very long.
2. Press on Nails. The theory here is that I put on nice nails and get used to not biting them, while giving my natural nails underneath a bit of time to grow undisturbed. Well, when you take the fakes off, the nails underneath are soft. So my logic completely failed here.

Then over the Christmas holidays I saw an article about trying to kick the nail biting habit. And they featured this product:

Folks, this stuff is like the second coming of the Messiah. It is awesome. It's like a very thin nail polish, so gives a nice sheen to the nail, while also having the most awful taste that just lingers in your mouth. Truly disgusting. But does it's job perfectly. I am such a convert. I am almost at the stage when I can paint my nails with actual nail polish, which just helps all the more in deterring the nail biting. I can't wait.

So what nail polish brands would you recommend? And what are some of the hot colours for spring?

March 26, 2010

While browsing through my links list the other day, I came across Firm Living's new collection. Having always been a fan of their unique handprinted wallpapers, I was thrilled to see that they had branched out into expanding their collection. They have added some great new home products, hello pouf!, and also expanded their offerings for kids, which are really fun.

The link at the top is to their international site, and some of these things, pouf?, are not in the US site yet. However, they do have an expanded retailers list, so check out your local stockist to see the new collection in person. Calgary retailer Kit Interior Objects is now listed as a stockist, so I think I know where I have to go this weekend.

March 23, 2010

When I talk about delightful design, this is what it's all about. What other word best describes this picnic cutlery?

I think I mentioned a while ago that my sister in law is getting married this spring. Lately, I have been feeling flowery, and have been checking out the following sites for some floral accessories:

Set up in a farmhouse in rural New York, Emerson makes a wide variety of fashion blooms, with a clothing line in the works. There are lots of bridal choices from bouquets, corsages, hair blooms, and clips, and also options for groomsmen. But she does have less formal items, like these large roses. All items are unique, one of a kind pieces, lovingly made by hand.

These girls specialize in hair pieces, and have adorned bobby pins or large blooms like below. They also have some other jewellery pieces, like leather link necklaces, that I have been coveting for awhile.

March 22, 2010

I just discovered this miniature artist, Slinkachu, after browsing through old copies of Dwell magazine. He takes miniature figures, which are generally used for model train sets, and places them around London, where he photographs them, and then leaves them for others to find. Wouldn't you love to come across one of these little guy's?

His website also has great shots that show the miniatures in context with the normal sized world.

Slinkachu also has a blog and a book. Both are great resources to learn more about his projects, and see more images. The shows listed on the website are fantastic, some featuring a single, large installation of miniatures with photo's to accompany it.

March 20, 2010

These kids are awesome! I encourage you to check out the rest of the channel too.

March 19, 2010

Designer Profile: Roman and Williams

Ace Hotel Lobby

Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors is a firm in New York City that has been creating exceptional spaces since 1999. They have created a firm that that embodies the traditions of old architectural firms, which encompasses the entire design process and explores all parts of design. They still do hand rendered sketches of their projects, and create custom details by coordinating with local artisans, and sourcing unique elements to add to their interiors.
Rendering of an Ace Hotel Room

Bed Detail at the Ace Hotel

Private Residence in Montauk, NY

When beginning a project, the principle designers imagine what the desired end result should be, and how the user of the space should experience it. They have pulled away from theory based design practice which is popular in many cutting edge firms these days. Roman and Williams have taken their contemporary viewpoint, and applyed it to traditional methods and crafts to create their unique style and the result are truly authentic interiors, that are completely unique.

The Royalton Hotel

Dining Room at the Royalton Hotel

I first saw an image of this dining room above years ago, and always loved the rope details, but it is much more interesting to learn about the process behind interiors such as this, and that is the best part about doing these profiles. I also really admire firms such as Roman and Williams who take a particular point of view and achieve great success with it. In the smaller design world, firms try to be malleable, to appeal to a broader client base, but I feel they don't really specialize in anything, and the result is work that ends up being washed out and unoriginal. Expressing your own philosophy and point of view is a really important part of design, and something all the highly successful firms have in common.

18th Floor at the Standard Hotel

The Standard Grill

Their website features picasa slideshows for all their listed projects, which is great when you see their renderings and sketches beside the final project. View everything here.

March 18, 2010

And this is a fan video for Grizzly Bear that is just mesmerizing:

One of my favorite music videos:

March 16, 2010

I was introduced to these great graphic images by Albert Exergian, representing iconic TV programs today. I love them! So simple, and to the point. Check out the whole collection here.

And while we are speaking of great graphic design, these images below are by illustrator Tavis Coburn and were commissioned by BAFTA to promote their program this year. One poster for each of their best picture nominees. I love the retro styling of these. See more of Tavis Coburn's work here.

March 15, 2010

Tonight I free-formed this salad and it turned out great! I've been on a vegetarian kick for the last 4 weeks, and have 2 to go, but the biggest challenge has been getting enough protein. So this is perfect!

Lentil & Quinoa Mediterranean Salad

1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken stock or water
1 can of lentils (16 fl oz)
1 tomato
1/2 zucchini
1/4 c feta cheese
2 green onions
a handful of pomegranate seeds

1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp dijon mustard
salt and pepper

Combine quinoa and chicken stock in a medium saucepan and cook according to package directions. Drain and rinse lentils and place in a large bowl. Chop the tomatoes, zucchini, feta, and onions and add to the lentils. Add pomegranate seeds. When the quinoa is cooked add to the salad and stir to combine. Mix all ingredients of the vinaigrette together, and pour over the salad. Stir to combine. Serve. This salad is even better when left to marinate in the dressing for a bit, and is great for lunches.

Note: Generally when I make salads like this, I just work with what I have on hand. Other things to add to this salad would be diced kalamata olives, fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped red pepper, or celery, raisins or walnuts.

March 14, 2010

This weekend I took a road trip to Edmonton, and we spent Sunday afternoon at the new Art Gallery of Alberta. The gallery was founded in 1924, and is the oldest cultural institution in Alberta, but recently commissioned a new building to be constructed to house the gallery's collection of over 6000 objects, and their exhibition space. The structure was designed by Randall Stout, an architect from Los Angeles that once worked with Frank Gehry, and only opened on January 31st of this year.

The entrance to the building is characterized by these large organic waves, finished in stainless steel panels, which intersect with patinaed zinc surfaces and high performance glazing. Stout was inspired by the strict grid formation of the downtown core, and the river valley that winds through the centre of the city, and juxtaposed the two forms in creating the architecture of the space. The exterior finishes were selected to reflected the extreme weather patterns of the area, which enables the building to transform as the weather does. The art gallery also utilizes many sustainable design strategies, including using recyclable materials, natural lighting considerations, and efficient mechanical systems.

The gallery is an incredible addition to the culture of our province. This new space means that the AGA will be able to host higher profile exhibitions, which previously would have overlooked Alberta. The really exciting thing was how busy the gallery was, which indicates the enthusiasm the community has for the arts, and how this new space will continue to expose so many more people to art. You can find their current exhibits here, and I encourage you to check it out soon!

March 13, 2010

Designer Profile: Tony Chi

Lobby of the Park Hyatt Shanghai

Suite at the Park Hyatt Shanghai

Suite at the Park Hyatt Shanghai

"Tony Chi distinguishes himself from other designers because of his temperament. He is a perfectionist; meticulous, unwavering and possessing an intensity that evokes emotion, never allowing indifference. His design transcends ephemeral curiosity entertained by the surface of things. He understands that design without functionality is hollow and functionality without people who care to utilize it defeats the purpose. In his own words, “any designer can create a dazzling body but I want to create spaces that have a chance at building a soul.” He doesn’t merely deliver aesthetics, he delivers an experience." (from Tony Chi's website)

Immerse Spa at MGM Detroit

Immerse Spa at MGM Detroit

Tony Chi is an international designer based in New York that specializes in high end hospitality design. The firm strives to achieve perfection in their designs, buy creating artfully simple interiors that aim to engage the senses, thusly raising the users consciousness of the environment around them. Tony Chi describes this approach as 'invisible design' and explains that it is based on what touches you rather than what you see.

Mesa at Grand Hyatt Berlin

Installation Detail at Blue Duck Tavern

Blue Duck Tavern

Tony Chi has been in business since 1984, and has received innumerable awards for his work. In 2009 he had the honour of being an inductee into the Interior Design Magazine Hall of Fame. Their interiors are sublime in their simplicity, and truly 'evoke greatness, grandeur and depth with deft placement of a few carefully chosen words.'

Custom Lighting Detail

Andaz 5th Avenue

Old Homestead

Normally I like to write a bit more about the designers I profile, but I find that Tony Chi is someone I can't put into words. Their website and portfolio does a pretty good job on it's own (that's an understatement), so I will simply send you over there to enjoy for yourself.