Archive for April, 2009

Because you can’t get away with another turdy handmade ashtray

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 30, 2009 by rachelohunter

happy-mothers-day2Ah, Mother’s Day. There once was a time when a little glitter-glue and some poor penmanship would make your mom melt. Then you got a little older, made a little more money, bought her French perfumes, designer wallets and Sharper Image footbaths, but her reaction was decidedly less melty. “Oh, that’s nice” or “I hope you didn’t spend too much on this” aren’t very encouraging sentiments. Maybe this year it’s time to revive that DIY spirit and put a little more heart and soul into your Mom’s Day gift.
trash-giftsThat’s not to say you have to go out and build her a footbath from twigs and leaves or hand-forge some gimmicky mom themed jewelry. You can still go shopping like a responsible American, but wouldn’t it be nice to add a little personal touch? This year I’m thinking goofy childhood photos in elegant frames. I can’t count how many times my mom has insisted that she doesn’t have any pictures of me (although that died off a bit around the time I started piercing things and making a ridiculous mess of my hair).  So why not put that to rest with some beautifully framed shots of delightfully candid moments from the time when finger paintings were acceptable currency.

frame-stripIf your mom’s got a sense of humor (and you’ve got some horrific old photos of yourself) why not pick up a side-by-side frame and display your transformation from adorable little mop top to raunchy scary teenager for all to see.  Mine would look something like this:
how-to-scary-teenAren’t arts and crafts fun? I think the black and white lends the image a certain timelessness. Mom would be so proud. Of course, if you made more classic style choices in your formative years I’m sure those photos would be much appreciated too.

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Earth Day Musings from A Design Snob

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on April 22, 2009 by ekiester


I have to admit, I am totally not into anything ‘groovy’ or ‘hippie’. Dream catchers and twirly Indian skirts with jingly bell trims make me want to douse myself in expensive perfume (preferably a wicked, edgy one of MOR’s fragrances from and flee to the nearest glass encased sky ip61-edp-bottlescraper. I recently met a woman named Pam who hailed from an area in the Northwest US famous for it’s bohemian attitude, and I am a New Yorker, who has cynicism and snark running through her veins. Needless to say, she and I were like oil and water. (I’d like to think that I was an Italian olive oil in a vintage glass bottle, and perhaps she was pure, unfiltered river water poured into recycled plastic.) But we did find a common ground—we care about the Earth—it’s just that we see this eco movement from different perspectives.

cryingindian1jpgDon’t get me wrong—I, too, hate litter (hear that, Pam?) and I can’t even think about that 70s TV commercial starring the Native American who is standing in the garbage heap with a teardrop rolling down his cheek without choking up myself. But I am attracted to this movement when it’s taking on a modern, cool, visual perspective. In Tokyo, I saw these eco, recycled trash bags decorated with naïve little cartoonish flowers. They made me smile. They were cute and fun, and still eco conscious. I know that Native American guys tear would dry up instantly if he saw them, too.


In Cambodia, there’s this amazing NGO, Osmose, working with the local women who live on the Tonle Sap Lake, which happens to be getting choked by overgrowth of water hyacinths. While they sure look pretty, these waterborne flowers, the bummer is they’re killing off the sea life, which is in turn keeping the men in this floating village from fishing and earning a living. So they’ve figured out a way to pull up these stalks, dry them in the relentless heat of the noonday Cambodian sun, and weave them into the chicest, most divine floor mats, storage baskets, straight-out-of-the-most-expensive-spa-on-the-planet slippers and beautiful, oversized market totes (very, very South of France, actually).


This is eco without the ‘loving hands at home’ DIY mess normally associated (by me) of such things. But what’s truly “Earth Day” about the whole concept is that it’s about the Earth and ALL of its inhabitants—the fish, the people, the community’s future. It’s a total Earthy package without the guilt, without the doom and gloom, without the stinky patchouli oil. It’s happy, not hippie. Check it out on (Pam would approve.)

glass-water-bottleswebjpg On, I am obsessing over this glass water bottle and glass set, designed exactly to spec to look like one of those quart size plastic bottles of Evian and those dinky Dixie cups. It’s insanely, amazingly chic but eco at the same time. I think this would be a smart, get-on-board-with-the-rest-of-the-universe gift for a fellow cynic/design snob who thinks eco=ugly. (Pam, my birthday is coming up.).

bestow-091webjpg1For the picnics we’re all certain to have as summer nears (and of course, we won’t be using charcoal, as it is a pollutant), again offers an alternative to the groovy, woodsy, I-like-camping-and-not-showering-for-a-week picnicwear we are now seeing in recyclable bamboo. (Okay, I confess. I do kinda like camping now, and I did buy those plates made by Bambu at Whole Foods. But I like showers, too.) Anyway, designed to look like sterling silver, with it’s filagree patterns and heavy weight, this cutlery set is made from plastic, to be used again and again and stored away in a little picnic basket (from Osmose, maybe?) for your next romp on the pesticide free grass with tofu and foie gras. Just do me a favor and don’t use one of those hemp picnic blankets, okay? Sorry, Pam, but they’re hideous

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Move Over Grandma, There’s New China in Town

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 14, 2009 by rachelohunter


Do people still pick out china patterns? Silver patterns? Cookware patterns? OK, maybe the cookware pattern was just a trend my mom jumped on in the 70’s, but that’s an awful lot of stuffy department store housewares shopping for my taste. Of course I could go the new traditional route and register for bread makers and juicers, high-end toasters and any other piece of kitchen technology I’ve somehow managed to live my entire life without. Call me old fashioned, but I’d rather have the china- only I’d rather have my kind of china. Usable china, decorative porcelain, ceramics with a sense of humor.

fragiles-smallMore and more I’m realizing I’m not alone in wishing for a china renaissance- the proof is in the ironic porcelain pudding cup. There’s a new wave of artists and designers who look at once stuffy materials like porcelain, glass, and ceramic and see more than just grandma-ware.  They see uncharted territory ripe with opportunity to be the new form of Modernist expression.  Chocked full of ironic depictions of figures, kitsch and the Romantic, this china is more my speed. For an interesting read on the subject check out “Fragiles” a coffee table book on the new school of ceramic, glass, and porcelain (that’s where we located the pictures to the left and below).

fragiles-page1lighten-up-lace-blogThese rebellious young ceramicists aren’t just making trendy mantle pieces to entertain your guests, they’re creating modern heirlooms. By mixing heritage and innovation they create museum quality pieces that are both relevant and functional. Some of my personal favorites are the hodge-podgey porcelain Vika Mitrichenka pieces above. (Note the gorilla head atop the sugar bowl- it reminds me of tea parties spent with Stretch Armstrong and headless Barbies). In keeping with my love of all things boudoir I couldn’t possibly write a post about the new ceramics movement without mentioning this incredible porcelain vase by Lighten Up. They actually cast a cloth corset to make the mold for this piece.

stripFor a cheekier take on the erotic theme there’s anything by Undergrowth (like this tempting little sugar bath with leggy spoon or fun dessert tower) or if subtlty is more your thing check out these lip print teacups by Reiko.

toppersGetting married? Having a hard time finding cake toppers that aren’t entirely hideous? You’re not alone.  Luckily someone with some real talent and a little clay discovered this problem and came up with some charming little solutions in the form of ceramic bunny and poodle couples. Thank God for the good people at Melbo.


For that Angelina Jolie/Billy Bob Thorton kind of love there’s German ceramicists Kuhn Keramik who make all kinds of declarative pieces like this “Forever” box perfect for storing viles of blood and hair clippings. Or, if you’re  not bizarre beyond belief you could use it to store old photos and postcards.  Or you could let this powerful fist of love from Jonathan Adler Designs declare your feelings for you.



The guys over at Jonathan Adler, never ones to pass up an opporunity to make a very specific container (the Container Store’s got nothing on them) have created a series of “Vice” containers to keep all your bad habits neat and organized. I’m partial to the Quaaludes container myself- specificity is always funny. It’s that kind of taboo-meets-classic humor that distinguishes so many of today’s ceramics from those lining the walls of Bloomingdales and I think it’s about time. China can be fun too.

rachel oh!

Barack Obama + Medieval Times + Fall 09 Runway Shows = Knights in Shining Armor

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2009 by ekiester


Heraldry is hot. Heraldry is strangely sexy; it speaks to this chivalrous vision we all had/have about (our) knights in shining armor being the epitome of romance, strength, safety, valor and nobility.  They’re badass, they’re secretive, they’re ready to rock & roll at any minute, these knights we imagine. They’re our protectors, our saviors, our sentries.


00010fIn the current state of the world, it makes perfect sense to me that suddenly fairy-tale-ish notions of times past seem to take over our everyday thoughts. (Note that many of the Fall/Winter 09 fashion collections featured corsets, velvet, muffs and ruffs galloping down the runways.) We escape into memories—the amorous crescendos from the soundtrack of “Camelot” scratching away on a record player in my parents New York Times strewn living room on a Sunday afternoon circa 1972 comes to mind here—to comfort us, make us feel good and safe and secure. Like our very own knight is looking out for us.

2-1While the idea of wearing a crinoline ruff walking down Broadway makes me think the designer who created it drank one too many pewter cups of grog, little trinkets and nods to this sense of security seems apt and appropriate. I saw in a recent edition of Teen Vogue a colorful spread of coats-of-arms pins cutely attached to a sweater and heraldic belts wrapped around some pretty lady-in-waiting type wearable chiffon dresses. The lion shield brooch on looks real enough to be vintage, but without the Sotheby’s price tag. bestow-010webIt’s updated and funny, and I want to wear it attached to my last-year’s Balenciaga purse. I like the idea of shielding my wallet in times like these.

We’ve all been talking about eating at home more now; instead of making reservations, we’re actually making dinner. I think a themed party would be just the thing, using the coat of arms, the ultimate symbol of pomp & ceremony, safety & connection, as a guide. (Although there are some comic/tragic memories of a birthday party long ago at that ridiculously schlocky place The Medievel Times, the Red Knight took my breath away, that could be tapped into for ironic decorations for said dinner party. Everyone’s got those memories, right?)  bestow-143webI saw these coat of arms porcelain trays on that I thought would be cool holding oven roasted nuts and dried fruits as centerpieces for the party. I think everyone should wear golden paper crowns, eat a leg of lamb, drink some mulled wine, and celebrate the safety, and the warmth of the family we create. We are safe amongst our very own knights.

Family crests. Shields. Knights. Obama. Safety. Security. Perfect words for imperfect times.