homebody musings

My Favorite Thing #3 with Patrick Folliard, featuring Kay in Copenhagen and her Danish Modern Floor Lamp

What is it? It's a Danish modern floor lamp, circa the 1950s.  Most people associate Danish modern with light woods and colored plastics, but that's more of an 60s-70s look.  The forties and fifties were all about dark metals iron and rosewood, which suits me better.  The later stuff reminds me of the knockoffs that seemed to populate American junior high schools when I was growing up. 

Where did you get it? When I first moved to Denmark, I was staying briefly at the flat of a colleague, who lived in a neighborhood of row houses.  The elderly man in the row house across the street had died, and his children put up fliers inviting the neighbors to take what they wanted before the kids carted the rest away to the dump.  I got this lamp, which was very dusty and had shabby old straw lampshades at the time. I also got a clothes iron and a rosewood beside table.

 What do you like about it? I like the angles between the stems.  You see a lot of similar three-leg lamps in Danish second-hand shops these days, but most lack the angles, which tie them all together.  And I like the way you can angle the lamps any way you want - up, for diffused lighting; down, if you need light for sewing or reading; or away from sensitive guests' eyes. 

How does it inspire you? I like the way it is spare, beautiful, flexible, and practical.  Really good design. 

Is it your usual taste? Yes, I'd say so.  My home is a mix of bought things and found things, but the found things are so pretty I think it would be hard to tell which is which.

Would you trade it for anything? If yes, what? I can't think of anything.  I've accumulated my furniture pretty carefully over the years.  I dread the day I move in with a partner and we have to do triage between his stuff and mine!



Warm Days, Cool Nights

I love the weather shift that signals the burning off of summer's contrail. Cold, dewy mornings that heat up with the sun and slowly fold back into crisp cool nights. This is the end of summer in DC but typical of it's apex in Maine, which is making me a little nostalgic for my week on Chebeague Island a month ago. It was a perfect week marked by days of lobster cracking, boating, mussel hunting, and aimless bicycling with luncheon pitstops at the Clam Shack.

The lobster was awesome, too, and $5 lb.

Free bike rentals from "The Bike Man".

"The Shelter"- a girl scout camp from the '40s.

The "little shelter".

My Favorite Thing #2 with Patrick Folliard, featuring Bobby Briggs, Washington, DC

What is it : Originally a steel barrel, but when I found it, it was a crudely cut cooker for clam bakes. 

Who made it : I like to think a member of the Kennedy staff at Hyannis Port for a celebratory clam bake for JFK's presidential win but.....
I am the creator of it's last 2 uses.

Where did you get it : Found it at an antique/junk shop in Mt. Pleasant DC.

What do you like most about it : I love the crudeness of it and I always adore rust!

How does it inspire you : Well, having a little issue with loving something and a large issue with justifying having a space in my apt... it gave (& still gives since I moved apartments) me inspiration to figure out where in the hell am I going to put one of my true loves! First it was a planter for my herb garden. Now, with a new apt & smaller balcony I added mirror to it. My new goal is to create a new use for every new space I live in. Maybe it will be used for a clam bake cooker once again for MY celebratory send off to complete it's cycle of life.... well almost. 

Would you trade it for anything : Cash or Certified Check.... hey I too can be bought!!

ICFF NYC belatedly

Oh my. Where have the days gone? I can only say in my defense that I did have some other things to do. Now that the business plans and other official documents are complete, it's back to musings!

New York's annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair is my favorite trade event of the year. It's the perfect moment of museum meets retail and there's always something a little bit mind-blowing going on. This year Humanscale introduced a lighting prototype powered by a magnet. No electricity, no battery, no plug and cord. (!!!) I'll upload a video shortly. In the meantime, here are a few shots from the show...

                                         "Green" wall treatment.

                                          I hope you saved those old records!






My Favorite Thing #1 - Bottlecap Candlestick, Jenny, Norway

After months of begging and pleading, I've finally succeeded in getting my dear friend Patrick Folliard to contribute to my blog. Welcome to My Favorite Thing, a spirited Q&A, featuring inquisitor extraordinaire (PF) and global guests.

My Favorite Thing #1
Bottlecap Candleholder
Jenny Hampe Endreson, Farmer/Artist
Vinje, Norway

What is it? It' a bottle cap candleholder.

Where did you get it? I made it.

What do you like about it? I love the fact that it's made from all recycled materials, and that it's so colourful in a Mexican folk art sort of way. It's g.d. BEAUTIFUL. I marvel at it daily.

How does it inspire you? It makes me want to erect a Bottle Cap Cathedral. It makes me want to nail bottle caps unto every surface of my dwelling.... including the chicken-house. 
It makes me ponder all the endless possibilities for recycling in this life.... and how to cut back on consumption, whilst increasing production. And the joy of creating is simply indescribable....

Is it your usual taste? Yes, it's my usual taste, as my "usual taste" is utterly eclectic, but leaning towards folk-arty.

Would you trade it for anything? No, I would not trade it for silver or gold.

Hooray for the Brits

Whew! Am I relieved to hear that production is underway for a third season of Downton Abbey. Without a doubt, this is the best TV I've seen in a long, long time. A wonderful sweeping saga, beautifully acted and filmed, complete with castles, fox hunts, larders, lots and lots of tea, and an enormous, fascinating cast of characters. And we owe it all to the Brits. Cheers! 

Downton Abbey's not the only thing British that's been crazy-popular lately. Seems the Brits are having a moment, so I've been compiling a list. (You, too?) Let's call it the phenomenal popularity of things British in the 2000's list.
For example:

1) William and Kate. Who doesn't love them?


2) Alexander McQueen. The late British fashion designer's exhibit "Savage Beauty" broke attendance records at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


3) Black + Blum. The talented design duo of Dan Black and Martin Blum is responsible for Box Appetit lunch boxes and other clever products that regularly win international design awards. The line's also a personal favorite and best-seller at homebody. We're anxiously awaiting the arrival of their latest creation, the Eau Good water bottle (yes, another award winner) with Binchotan active charcoal.

4) David Hockney. After decades in LA, he's come home to England and is working "on location" in Bridlington. (He likes to use Hollywood terms.)


5) Burberry. Back on top. Not so many years ago even the Brits were bored with it.


6) The Liberty of London for Target collaboration. If you had told me (or anyone) ten years ago that Target would think it a good idea to use Liberty's micro floral prints on everything from bikes to shirts.... well, who knew?


7) GASTROPUBS. Let's eat!


8) Keep Calm and Carry On. Famous British slogan from 1939 that hardly anyone knew of, even in jolly old England, until 2000.

9) TWEED. From jackets to sofas, it's bloody everywhere.


10) Downton Abbey!!!!! For those under rocks, a quick and funny primer:  http://hellogiggles.com/100-important-things-to-know-about-season-1-of-downton-abbey



Can I ask a favor?

    The time to vote for top honors in the Washington City Paper Best of DC 2012 is now here! As a matter of fact it's been here for several days, so we're getting to this a little late in the game. I'm hoping we can make up for lost time by getting out the vote in a big flurry kind of way-- a way that involves major use of the internet to get as many people on board as possible. And all this by March 1st!

    Homebody has had quite a journey over the past 7 years. From a twinkling idea to a fledgling business, then to holding on for dear life during the economic meltdown, and now to nurturing our base and growing our collections. I think a good showing will be excellent for our growth cycle, don't you?

    Let's see if we can pull it off. Homebody won runner-up last year. This year we're hoping to take the gold

    Please follow this link to vote. It only takes a minute.


DC Design Story #1 (and a tiny rant)

As a proud DC native and resident suffering from taxation without representation (what the real Tea Party was all about, people!), there's nothing that irritates me more than hearing pundits and politicians alike using "Washington" as a synonym for the federal government. One might be led to forget that this city with a population larger than Wyoming's has its own unique culture and people, including not just politicians but teachers, scientists, doctors, artists, writers, architects and designers. Designers? Yes, and of furniture to be exact.

How did the Washington Color School get its start? A group of great artists with shared stylistic traits working in the same city was the beginning. Can a movement like this happen in the field of furniture design, too? With the right kind of support and exposure, I think it absolutely can. 

It might be happening right now. There are designers all over the metro area working in studios, garages and warehouses, each designing with a unique combination of methodology, material and inspiration. Can all this variety give birth to a DC design vernacular? How about a movement? Each design tells a story and part of that story is the place of its conception and creation. The rest of the story is the inspiration, materials and know-how that move a creation from idea to finished product. DC is brimming with these stories, unfolding daily on bevnaps and workbenches. As many of us are focusing more and more on ways we can support our local economies, this seems to me like a good time for story-telling. Who knows, maybe we'll start a movement?

Design Story: Kurt Massé's Bourbon Barrel Chairs




                                The entire chair is made by hand 
                                 from reclaimed bourbon barrels.

The wood is quarter-sawn oak - nothing but the best for the bourbon - and has a gorgeous grain running throughout. The charring from the inside of the barrel is left intact and used as a decorative treatment. The red stain is derived from beet powder and the finishes are water-based and non-toxic. The joinery is old-school Japanese and fully exposed.
This is a chair and a work of art. A chair at its simplistic best, yet full of mystery, representing an honest repurposing of materials and built to last. There's even a hidden drawer under the seat. Something to look at, contemplate, talk about, sit on and grow old with. As Kurt likes to say: "Put your assé on a Massé."

Quote of the Day

I must confess that I set my weekday alarm to NPR at 6:36 am. I'm sure many of you know exactly why, but for those who are scratching their heads, that's when The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor airs in rather compact form. While some have a "bedroom" voice, I would say that Mr. Keillor has a "morning" voice and when applied to reciting writers' biographies and poetry it becomes, in my book, the world's best way to start the day.

So, because I love this quote and because today is Patti Smith's 65th birthday, I forward a bit of wisdom from Patti that I heard this morning thanks to Mr. Keillor:
"In art and dream you may proceed with abandon.
  In life may you proceed with balance and stealth."     Patti Smith

Next up: Local Design (and this time I mean it.)

Giving is better than receiving.

Months ago, I decided to make this year a "homemade Christmas". You know, think up clever, practical and beautiful gifts for my loved ones and make them all by hand. Good idea! It's a truly meaningful gesture that will also free me from at least some of the Christmas chaos. 

Well, it's now December 3rd and I haven't made a damn thing. I'm trapped in the holiday rush. I'm also not one of  those people that knows exactly what to get for others. No running catalog in my head of perfect gift ideas. What to do?

Thursday's NY Times ran The Gimme Guide, a clever article on the perils of gift-giving by Penelope Green, and in it quoted the findings of a recent study which revealed that gift recipients were more appreciative of gifts if (a) they got exactly what they had requested or (b) the gift were cash or (c), and not far behind, a gift card. Interesting! When did "giving" get so mixed up with "receiving"?? This finding seems to only take into account the desire of the recipient who has stated a specific want and has an already established expectation of receiving a gift in some form. The entitled bum! Of course, if you can pick your own gift you'll be very satisfied with it. But is that what Christmas is about?

What about the giver? What about their role in all of this? In my mind, the idea of giving starts in the heart and mind of the giver. If it starts with the expectations of the receiver then we have a different thing entirely. Christmas is all about giving (remember the three kings?) and in order to find the right gift, you must spend some time considering the intended recipient, their likes and dislikes, their areas of lack and abundance. Go out and look around, support your local shops in the process, mix and mingle with your fellow givers and enjoy the time spent thinking of someone else and what they might enjoy, find useful and ultimately cherish. Happy holidays!

Next up, local design.
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