Friday, 28 November 2008

Chromolab inspiration

Today, a series of jolts of glorious colour to inspire, courtesy of the marvellous and witty Chromalab team:

Chromalab consists of a husband and wife team in Boston, who know how to give an old piece of furniture a colour kick in the pants! Visit the Chromalab website and shop for more of their eye-popping inspiration.

Via Design*Sponge

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Report from NYC: Little Friends of Printmaking

The humble print has exploded on the Web as an affordable art work bursting with imagination. I could spend my whole day – and my entire paycheck – buying up prints on Etsy. As the cold winds whip through Wall Street and the art market starts to feel the chill, I take comfort that for a mere $25, I can buy me a heart-stopping little showpiece, like these by the Little Friends of Printmaking.

The Little Friends of Printmaking are the husband-and-wife design team of James and Melissa Buchanan, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They make silkscreen prints, usually in batches of no more than a hundred, which they sell on their fabulous website.

Many of their prints start life as posters for music concerts, film festivals and book readings. Okay, so you didn't actually see Yo La Tengo at Memorial Union Terrace in Madison, Wisconsin, but you feel like you could have been there.

James and Melissa also make art prints that they take on travelling exhibits around the country. I asked James which of his prints were his favourite. "They’re all our children," he said with mock affection. "I tend to divorce myself from them when they come out of the house." Jeez, I hope this guy isn't actually planning to have children any time soon!

Seriously, it's clear that the Buchanan household must be a fun place. A visit to their website is worthwhile, not only to see their fabulous portfolio of posters, but also to read their zany captions.

Where DO they get all these wacky bolts of imagination? "We watch too much TV. We connect the dots wrong between things," said James. "We keep a list of all our crazy ideas."

Not too shabby for a design duo with few prospects after graduating from art school just four years ago. "We were music fans, so when a promoter asked us to make some posters, we thought it would be fun. We didn’t have an inkling we were interested or good at design," says James.

To read about another up-and-coming print artist - this one based in my home town of Brooklyn - take a visit to my blog, The Brooklynist.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Lei Xue

Is a pile of crushed beer cans ever capable of having aesthetic appeal?

Well, perhaps when Lei Xue makes the cans out of porcelain and decorates them in a traditional Chinese motif usually seen on delicate teacups.

Via Design for Mankind

Monday, 24 November 2008

Air Lines poster

When I consider graphic design and aviation, all I can think of is diagrams showing how to put on your life jacket, but artist Mario Freese has come up with something that's a lot more interesting, and delicately beautiful too.

His work, Air Lines, tracks the paths of scheduled airline routes on a finely detailed A0 wall poster, available on both black and white backgrounds.

The flight paths he's traced include the big transatlantic flights as well as local Cessna routes, and the web created is quite extraordinarily complex.

Contemplating all this incessant criss-crossing of the globe makes me appreciate those diagrams showing me how my life jacket will help me survive a plane crash a whole lot more!

Visit Mario Freese's Air Lines website for more information and for the opportunity to purchase your own.

Friday, 21 November 2008

After showing Rupert Smith and Warren Matthee's home in Wednesday's post, I thought it might be interesting to show you more of their boutique store,, Chemistry of Living. I went to the store to take some snaps, and also managed to pin Rupert down and get him to answer a couple of questions:

What is concept behind ?
Warren and I started about 10 years ago, and the idea was that is would be an outlet for local creatives, and also somewhere we could show the things we are attracted to. It started out as a tiny shop that was going to be a "hobby" for when we were not busy. But 10 years later, i's become something a lot bigger and more time consuming.

I'm always unsure how to pronounce Can you help? is pronounced like the word "olive". The spelling is a play on words, highlighting the word "live". We included the unusual punctuation as a bit of a joke, because we came up with the name at the time of the .com boom.

How much of what we see at reflects in your home?
There is definitely a crossover between our house and the shop. Both are filled with things that we love, and we're often torn between what to keep and what to put in the shop.

What are you noticing in terms of trends, reflected in your store?
I do think that retro / vintage is very big, and combining it with new and old makes for an interesting mix. Of course, these days we need to be thinking green, and embraces this by finding and updating old furniture, as well as having tables and benches manufactured from reclaimed wood.

What are some of your favorites in right now?
Vintage gold porcelain tea set , framed vintage horse prints , feather inner pillows for lounging and elongated reclaimed wooden table and benches re upholstered 50's and 60's lounge suites.

Thanks, Rupert (and Warren too)! Visit, chemistry of living at the bottom of Kloof Street in Cape town.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Odili Donald Odita at Michael Stevenson

Currently showing at top Cape Town gallery, Michael Stevenson Contemporary, is a show of large acrylic paintings and wall paintings by Odili Donald Odita, a Nigerian artist living and working in Philadelphia.

Eternal - Odili Donald Odita

Here and There - Odili Donald Odita

I think they are just beautiful to look at, and was pleased to see that the press release backs me up on this one: "At a time when people habitually mistrust intuition and visual pleasure, his work relies heavily on both". There's more to his work than just an enjoyment of these massive colourful canvasses, of course, but being swallowed up by colour and shape is enough reason to go and visit the gallery.

Click here to find out how to get to Michael Stevenson Contemporary in Woodstock, Cape Town.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Special issue: Fortune's Favours

One of my favourite shops in Cape Town is Chemistry of Living, an interiors boutique run by Rupert Smith and Warren Matthee. The shop is an amazing and ever-changing mix of flea market finds, modern classics, sophisticated ceramics and glassware, all arranged just so. Rupert and Warren must have a closely-guarded little black book, because somehow the things on the shelves at are not to be found anywhere else. is always so impeccably styled, I've always been curious to see how Rupert and Warren's home looks, and the Celebrate! issue gives us a peek into their newly-renovated home, on pages 98 - 107.

The wallpaper in the sitting room is by Osborne & Little, while the lounge suite was a lucky second-hand find.

The kitchen has echos of the shelves of, with beautiful things arranged beautifully, creating an air of bounty and care.

If you like what you see, do check in to the blog again tomorrow, for an interview with Rupert, and some more pics of too.

Production: Lauren Shantall
Photographs: Mark Williams

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Special Issue: Retropolitan

Whenever we put together another fab issue of ELLE DECORATION, there's never enough room for all the pics of the gorgeous homes we've hunted down for you. That's why this blog is such a treat for us - we get to share everything, adding to your enjoyment, and ours.

Along with architect Joy Brasler and designer Debra Parkington, Mike Johnston rescued a mock-Spanish horror, turning it into a retro-glam tropical pad of note. There's already full 10 pages of pics of this sensational Durban home on pages 80 - 89 of the Celebrate! issue, but here's even more, so enjoy!

Production: Lauren Shantall
Photographs: Angie Buckland

Monday, 17 November 2008

Special Issue: Celebrate!

You know, this Special Issue of ELLE DECORATION is not just special because of our 10 year anniversary, but because we're celebrating by giving away (almost) everything in this issue!

The pages are jam-packed with foody treats, holiday gifts, decor finds and great reads, all of which need winning. Here's just a small selection of what's on offer:

And that's just for starters. There's also champagne (by the bucket!), gorgeous homeware and decor, decadent cupcakes, glam weekends away, dinners out... and even a couture hat! It's pretty overwhelmingly generous, actually!

To win, you'll need to get your hands on a copy of the Celebrate Issue, and warm up your texting fingers. See page 26 of Celebrate! for more details. Good luck!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Special issue: Pure Chemistry

As a big fan of mid-century Scandi style myself, I've been drooling over pages 108 - 115 of the Celebrate issue, where we've featured the Cape Town home of pharmacist Pieter Dreyer.

Pieter spent seven years in New York, which is where his finely-tuned magpie's eye won him some real vintage classics.

Although certainly a disciple of the clean and pared down mid-century style, Pieter's playful little collections of treasures around the apartment show that he doesn't take it all too desperately seriously, and that his place is no Mid-Century style shrine, but is rather, truly a home.

Production: Laureen Rossouw
Photographs: Johannes Dreyer

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Special Issue : Celebrate!

Ooh, look at what I've got. It's the new issue of ELLE DECORATION, and it's a special one, celebrating our 10th anniversary! I've been flagging all the yummy things to share with you over the next week, like extra pics and inside info, just for blog readers.

Subscribers already have their copies of this issue, and if you also want to be ahead of the pack, now's the time to do it!

One of the ways we're celebrating our 10th anniversary is to offer local readers 40% off the cover price when you take out a subscription. This means you can get 8 issues of this delectable mag in your postbox for a mere R180 (saving R116 on the cover price!)

Readers abroad can also subscribe, which will cost just R604 (about 60 US$).

Click here to chat to Resha about getting your subscription today, keep a lookout on the shelves for a copy of your own, and check back in tomorrow for more about what's on those flagged pages...

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Report from NYC: Collages at Pavel Zoubok

Michael Cooper makes finely curated assemblages out of everyday objects and scraps of packaging. He arranges the small items he finds in neat rows, grouping like colours together or following a number theme. The collage above is called - you guessed it - Four.

This is One Through Ten - look closely and you'll see that each piece of collage represents a number. It was an exhibit of Cooper's candy-colour themed collages that first turned me onto Pavel Zoubok Gallery in Chelsea, Manhattan, which specializes in collage and mixed-media assemblages.

A new exhibition of collages, “Reconstruction: The Art of Salvatore Meo,” opens tomorrow. Meo was one of the first American artists to use natural objects and discarded man-made materials.

He used the most humble of elements - scraps of wood, old toys, rusted wire and other discarded objects he found on the streets. He paved the way for artists like John Evans (below), who turns other people's garbage into intricate images that look like enlarged stamps.
A couple of years ago, Evans exhibited a breathtaking series of “daily collages” created from ephemeral bits and pieces like ticket stubs, product labels and business cards that he picked up off the sidewalks in the East Village.

From 1964 until the year 2000, Evans made a new artwork every day in a spiralbound sketchpad and recorded the date with a rubber stamp in the corner. It resulted in one of the most substantial bodies of work in the history of collage.

I wanted to snap up the whole lot when I saw them displayed together at Pavel Zoubok. Alas, I couldn’t even afford one of these precious pieces! But lucky for me they are collected in a book called John Evans: Collages, available here.

Mac Premo, another artist who shows with Pavel Zoubok Gallery, pushed the limits of his collages even further - into the three-dimensional realm. He describes himself as a collagist, animator, commercial director and carpenter. Based in Brooklyn, Premo makes quirky mixed-media objects that he classifies as "handheld art", "bookheld art" and "wallheld art". In an exhibit at Pavel Zoubok earlier this year, Robert Warner (below) evoked his rural hometown of Angelica in upstate New York in assemblages made out of vintage book covers, chandelier crystals, optical lenses and all kinds of printed ephemera.

There is something about all these collages drawing from the artist's personal life and from popular culture. They've inspired me to make my own mini-assemblage of personal keepsakes. How about you?