I don’t think that I ever really gave textiles much of a second thought until I was in graduate school at Parsons/Cooper-Hewitt. I grew up, like most of you, in a house filled with textiles; plenty of blankets for the bed, curtains on the windows, comfortable upholstered furniture and cushy rugs underneath my feet. I was so surrounded by textiles that it didn’t register that this wasn’t always the case. When in fact, for much of human history, textiles were the most precious and valuable item a person could own. (This topic was covered beautifully by a recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum: Interwoven Globe. The exhibition is now over, but you can see see much of it online.) Even though today we live in a textile-filled world, the appreciation of textiles and the cultures they come from is one of my favorite things about design. Textiles express the individuality of a place in a way that is completely unique, like the wedding blankets from Morocco, kilims from Turkey, and rugs woven in the Andes of Peru. Today, we are traveling to Mali to look at mud cloth or bogolanfini, which is one of the best known African cloth traditions. Bogolanfini is a handmade Malian cotton fabric dyed using a process of fermented mud that dates back to 12th century. -Amy
(Max created mud cloth inspired downloadable frames drawn from a visit to the Adams Morgan museum in DC.)
Image above: Bogolanfini wrapper in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art
How Bogolanfini is made
Traditionally, the men were responsible for weaving the narrow strips of plain fabric that were then pieced together into a larger rectangular cloth.
1. The cloth was first dyed in baths of the leaves and branches of trees (this dye acts as a mordant).
2. The now-yellow cloth is sun-dried and patterns were painstakingly painted with a special mud, which had been collected from ponds during the previous seasons and left to ferment.
2. As the cloth dries, the dark black mud turns gray and the cloth is washed to remove excess mud. This process is repeated numerous times and with each application, the mud-painted area of the cloth becomes darker. The yellow areas are painted with a bleach, which turns the yellow patterns brown. The cloth is left to dry in the sun for a week. When the bleach solution is washed off with water, what remains is the characteristic white pattern on a dark background. (If you want to get a sense of the mud cloth making process, check out this amazing site from the Smithsonian where you can virtually design your own mud cloth.)
Image above: bogolanfini from the collection of the British Museum
Read more about the history of mud cloth and see modern examples after the jump!
David Stark is the king of FUN. Whenever I want to feel inspired or get creative “outside of the box” ideas for my home or a get together, David’s site is the first place I look. From huge events that turn shoes into a tornado to parties that showcase colored pencils as centerpieces, David knows how to deliver a dose of humor and good fun with decorating and entertaining. Today he and his team are sharing a creative DIY Papier-Mâché Cacti project inspired by pieces that created for a recent event. They loved the stylized, hyper real quality and thought they would also double as great everyday dinner table decorations, entryway flowers or household plants that you’ll never (ever) have to water. Thanks so much to David, Chris and Corrie (who masterminded this project with David) for sharing this with us today! And good luck to the team as they plan the last gala that will take place in The Breuerr Building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan before the Whitney moves to its new home in the Meatpacking district- what a wonderful honor to work on such a special event. xo, grace
Photographs by Susie Montagna
Click through for the full how-to after the jump!
There was a moment a few years ago when I seriously considered signing up for upholstery school. I’ve always loved textiles and am constantly looking for ways to incorporate them into everything. But at the end of the day, I decided to leave the major projects to the pros and instead embrace more manageable projects that I could do over a weekend. So today I thought I’d round up 10 projects that will get your summer upholstery projects going. Whether you’re brand new to the idea of sewing or just need some creative upholstery ideas to fill your summer vacation, these projects are guaranteed to teach you skills you can continue to use (and adapt to different projects) for years to come. For me, these projects aren’t so much about creating the perfect chair or bench, so much as they are about learning skills that will allow you to easily and affordably create a space around you that speaks to your style. So the next time you see a great chair upholstered in an old blanket, you can create your own rather than having to save up to buy something new. Happy upholstering! xo, grace
*If these projects inspire you to keep going, check out our full Upholstery Basics series right here. Amanda Brown of Spruce in Austin worked so hard to share the nuts and bolts of her incredible skill set and her ideas are both creative and fun. Be sure you check out her tool list, too!
Click through for all 10 DIYs after the jump!
I’ve never been someone who was very precious with their things. I like to save up and buy things for my home that mean something to me and have stories behind them, but I also believe that objects were meant to be used and lived in, so stains and little scratches aren’t my biggest concern. That said, I do like to protect high-quality pieces when there’s a big chance of major damage, like during a party or event when a high volume of people will be using something. Tablecloths and coasters can be your best friends when you want to protect your surfaces from heavy traffic, so today we’re sharing a beautiful (but surprisingly easy) DIY coaster project from Janet Crowther and her team at For the Makers. For The Makers delivers DIY tutorials (and materials) to your doorstep via a subscription service, so they know a thing or two about projects that work well every time. This is one I’m definitely going to add to my repertoire, because it would be easy (and affordable) to change out with trends as they come and go. Thanks so much to Janet for sharing this with us! xo, grace
You can sign up to receive the next collection from For The Makers using the code DESIGN20 to receive 20% off your first collection! Sign up by August 4th to receive their next collection featuring marbling tutorials and techniques.
Click through for the full how-to after the jump!
Even though I now call Brooklyn home, I have a soft spot in my heart for the architecture of my birth state. I love the tiny beach bungalows, the ranch homes in South California, the Victorian apartments of San Francisco and the Spanish-style architecture throughout the state. There is just something about the quality of the light that makes even the tiniest home feel special. Living is a casual, outdoors/indoors prospect and that extends to the decoration of the homes. I love the bright, happy and relaxed feeling in these homes from the Golden State -Amy
Image above: The San Francisco home of Yellow Owl Workshop founders is filled with color and pattern. See the full home here.
Everyone finds motivation in different places. Some people prefer it in the form of one-on-one conversations, some enjoy books and others like to see something that combines the power of in-person talks with the ease of a play-on-demand video. I’m working on my own speech for this year’s Weapons of Mass Creation Fest in Ohio, so I decided to round up 5 of the talks (available to watch instantly in video form) that have inspired me the most. From talks on creativity and motivation to opening your mind to new solutions, these people had not only the great ideas and advice to share with all of us, they had the guts to do it on a BIG stage. Thank you to all of these incredible artists, makers and creatives for sharing these inspiring talks, speeches and moments with us online. I will be watching a few of these over and over for years to come. You never know when you’ll need a little pick-me-up or pep talk. xo, grace
“Don’t allow yourself to be tricked into thinking that the way things are is the way the world must work.” -Charlie Kaufman
Click through for all 5 talks after the jump!
With the Craigslists and eBays of the world, Viyet founder Louise Youngson-Klasfeld (check out her recent DS house tour here!) was finding it increasingly difficult to find used, high-end furniture pieces online. Turning that frustration into innovation, Louise decided to launch her own online destination for luxury furniture owners to sell their items and allow customers access to expensive pieces at a discounted rate. Win-win for everyone! Today Louise is sharing a bit about her journey from idea to conception and the things she learned along the way. - Stephanie
Read the full profile after the jump…
You thought you had everything covered when it came to email marketing – and you may very well have all of the boxes checked – but today Orissa Feeney shares some great advice on how to use your email marketing tools to their fullest potential. These strategies are so simple and easy to implement, and may just be the difference between a gaining a new loyal follower/customer and not. Check out these three tools to help your email marketing! -Stephanie
Read the full post after the jump…
As a born and bred southern gal, Macon York couldn’t help but eventually set her roots back down on southern soil. Macon grew up on the Georgia coast near Savannah and studied art at Sewanee in Tennessee before beginning her design career in New York City. In the spring of 2012, she left New York to hike the entire Appalachian Trail (check out her Dream Trip story here), from Georgia to Maine. Macon now lives in Asheville, devoting all of her energy to growing her small business creating custom letterpress wedding invitations and a line of colorful greeting cards, tending her vegetable garden, and enjoying all that Asheville has to offer. Today she shares her ideal 24 hours roaming the city of Asheville.
Illustration by Libby VanderPloeg
Read the full guide after the jump…
I remember the first time I saw the work of Frances Palmer. I still lived at home, in Arkansas, and was flipping through one of my mom’s magazines when I saw a feature on beautiful white ceramics made in faraway Connecticut. I thought they were the most elegant and beautiful ceramics I had ever seen – all in white. I was so taken with them that I remember that magazine feature to this day. So fast-forward a few years to last week, and you can understand why I had to pinch myself in the car with Max and Grace on the way to visit Frances’ Connecticut home. I wasn’t at all surprised to find the beautiful home, like her pottery, elegant in its simplicity, but I wasn’t expecting a full Frances Palmer compound. There’s the beautiful old barn built with interior beams dating from the 1790s, which she and her husband bought in pieces and moved from Bethel, Connecticut and now houses her ceramic studio. Then there’s the small rustic shed that houses her kiln. And in addition to potted plants all over the house and property, she has two beautiful flower gardens. A tennis-court-turned-flower-garden has raised beds and flowers potted in the cracks of the court. And there’s yet another garden, with a rustic wooden fence situated near her barn studio. Frances has lived in this 1850s Connecticut Colonial for twenty years, and when she and her husband first bought the property they recognized that even though it was in need of repair and restoration – horrible shag carpeting was everywhere, radiators blocked the window mouldings and leaked onto the floors, and there were holes in the plaster where people had banged doors into the walls – it had great bones. They took out the radiators and put in central heating, took up the carpets to sand and refinish the beautiful old floors and opened the doorway between rooms. They pushed out the back wall of the kitchen and put in windows across to bring in light. The goal was to reveal the beauty of the house. Once the house was well underway, they sent about working on the grounds. Frances has spent the last two decades molding every aspect of the home into the perfect vessel for her creative outlets: her work in pottery, her gardens and her cooking. This is certainly not something that happens overnight. -Amy
If you’re local to Connecticut (or up for driving), Frances’ gardens will be part of the Garden Conservancy Open Day program and you can see the magic for yourself. They will be open to the public on September 14th. Info at the gardenconservancy.org.
Photography by Maxwell Tielman (except for garden photographs by Frances Palmer)
Image above: “In the dining room, we have a table that can seat twelve and an old hutch,” Frances says. “I like to run vases down the table filled with flowers from the garden.”
See more of Frances’ house after the jump!
Every year, Kelsey Garrity-Riley and Erik Riley host a huge Easter brunch in their Savannah home for all their friends. Everyone brings a little something over to eat, and they relax and sip summery mixed drinks. After dinner, they walk – with drinks in hand (legal in the Savannah Historic District) – the few blocks from their house to Forsyth Park and enjoy the spring weather in the park. Their annual Easter party is a great reflection of how they live year-round – nothing in their home is too precious – everything is well-loved and worn-in, and they are all about nature. The couple met at Savannah’s College of Art and Design. (They had to put sketches from their first assignment up on the board and Erik saw Kelsey’s. Later that night called his mom and said he knew he was going to marry her. It took another month until they actually spoke, but now they’ve been married for four years.) When they’re not hosting fabulous potlucks, both Kelsey and Erik split their time between working at the amazing Savannah store The Paris Market (Erik writes and takes photographs for their blog every day) in downtown Savannah and doing freelance illustration work. They’re now gearing up for their next adventure: a move to New York City. We can’t wait to see what they do to a NYC apartment. -Amy
Image above: “The large rug I found while antiquing for the store – and since vintage rugs are one of the few things we don’t carry, thankfully it wasn’t a conflict of interest,” Kelsey says. “I found the top plank of my desk in an alley, I think it must have been a makeshift workman’s surface. I dragged it home, cleaned it off, sanded it a bit and added old hairpin legs a friend was kind enough to give me. It’s a great size, but I end up covering it in papers and working on the floor instead.”
Image above: “I like to change around the display on our studio fireplace. The helmets were gifted to me by a Frenchman in one of my favorite thrift stores back home. There was a whole ball of them tangled together. We were one short of having three neat rows, so we drew out one more to fill in the grid. The block lamps with Edison bulbs are created by my brother, Collin Garrity, and sold through The Paris Market.”
See more of this Savannah apartment after the jump!
Gemma Cagnacci and Andrew Meehan spend most of their time in an apartment in Sydney, but a couple of times a year, they travel to Dunedin, New Zealand to visit Andrew’s family. And when there, they stay in their own little cabin on his parents’ property. It was initially an old railway cabin used by rail workers who were laying tracks in New Zealand, and as a teenager, Andrew used the cabin as his bedroom (He was one lucky teenager!). Then, a little over a year ago, the couple decided to make it into a vacation retreat. Gemma is a designer for a textile company by day where she creates products for various Australian retailers, and in her spare time, she runs Line x Color x Shape, a blog about all things aesthetic. Andrew is a designer for a renowned Australian architectural firm and has a background in retail design. So when these two put their heads together to come up with a design for the cottage, they had a pretty solid sense of what they were looking for. They aimed to create a space that was clean, simple and light-filled with some warmth. They took a lot of inspiration from Scandinavian interiors, but wanted to be sure to reference the cabin’s Pacific location by sourcing pieces from New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and also from their travels around the world. -Amy
Photography by Gemma Cagnacci
Image above: “The exterior is painted in Double Cod Grey by Resene Paints,” Gemma says. “The cabin was originally an old railway shelter used by railway workers in remote locations. It then had a second life as Andrew’s bedroom when he was a teenager, and was renovated just over a year ago by us to use when visiting Andrew’s family on their farm in Dunedin, New Zealand.”
Image above: “The bed was found and bought on Trade Me (a New Zealand version of eBay) before we flew in to do-up the space, the rug is a vintage Afghan carpet, the artwork above the bed is an old bark tapa cloth from Papua New Guinea, the suitcase belonged to Andrew’s grandfather, and Andrew found the log on the property which we then turned into a bedside table/stool.”
See more of this precious New Zealand cabin after the jump!
Above image: Objects Oversize Tee Dress by Dusen Dusen.
Unlike trends in fashion, which seem to change as unpredictably as the weather, the aesthetic shifts in home design are a bit longer lasting (a good thing, because who wants to re-buy a sofa every season?!). There are, of course, overlaps and changes according to the general zeitgeist, parallels that become evident with larger shifts in social perspectives. Over the past several years (possibly even the last decade), a certain type of simplicity has reigned supreme, its various iterations informed by an emboldened environmentalist movement, a recession-driven return to handicraft, and a slightly techno-phobic nostalgia for “simpler times.” This general movement, while still going strong without a definite end in sight, now appears to have a challenger (or possibly a contrasting complement, depending on your perspective)—the Postmodern Revival. Although this, too, is a trend that looks backwards for inspiration, its roots lie in the not-too-distant past—the aesthetic counter-movement that ruled design from the seventies through the nineties. The original Postmodern movement was largely a reaction against the flawed utopian ideals of Modernism; an aesthetic rejection of the uniform and homogenous and an embrace of the contradictory and irreverent. This current revival seems to subscribe, at least partly, to similar ideals. In many ways, it appears to be a harsh (and utterly refreshing) departure from the quaint, the cozy, and that oh-so-reviled pejorative term—the “twee.” It looks instead to excitement, discomfort and unpredictability, offering many more questions than answers. I can’t personally say that I see myself running out to redecorate my home in full-out Memphis attire, but I will say that I am thrilled to see this fresh face in the design crowd. —Max
Every week when Friday rolls around, I start to think about what the weekend has in store. And primarily I’m thinking about what I will be eating. What will we have for breakfast tomorrow? What will we reheat for Sunday lunch? Will there be chocolate? (Yes). So before we head out this weekend, I wanted to share 10 of the (many) food-related Instagram accounts that I find the most inspirational. Not just for photography, but recipes, styling and creativity, too. I hope they’ll inspire your weekend meals, or at least your taste buds. (The full list continues after the jump.) Until Monday, have a wonderful weekend! xo, grace
Click through for my favorite food Instagram feeds after the jump!
This week we are bringing you a great summer salad from Tyler Herald, executive chef at Napolese Pizzeria, an Indianopolis restaurant that uses the produce of more than ten local farmers on its menu. Tyler’s summer green bean salad with cherry tomatoes and peach gastrique just jumped off the page at me and I so wish I could taste it in his restaurant, but am so happy he agreed to share the recipe for it here on the column. It is a beautiful colorful salad that takes advantage of the finest produce in season now: corn, tomatoes, peaches, and green beans. I look forward to making it this weekend. If you try it out, too, please let us know! -Kristina
About Tyler Herald: Chef Tyler Herald has been cooking since he was 14, when he learned to cook for himself at home, while his mother ran her own restaurant. Though his culinary style has evolved, his philosophy remains the same: Keep it simple, and use the freshest and best quality ingredients. He has worked across the United States in various roles, ranging from personal chef to his current role as executive chef for Patachou, Inc. He was named one of Nuvo Newsweekly’s “30 Under 30″.
See how easy it is to make Tyler’s recipe after the jump!
I always love checking out the work of the Homepolish team. I think because they are all about mixing high end pieces with budget and vintage finds, their rooms always feel modern and fresh. Homepolish designer Will Saks stepped in to help Matt and Allie Bond, a couple moving from Dumbo, Brooklyn to Williamsburg, who wanted to utilize as much of their existing pieces as possible. The apartment has large windows and high ceiling from its former days as a factory so the team decided to channel a rustic, Americana aesthetic, with a touch of mid-century modern. They decided to keep the walls white adding color and texture through artwork and vintage pieces, but to make the space feel cozy, they painted the ceilings in the living room a dark gray. Everything looks so at home in it’s new place that you’d never know it had been purchased for an entirely different space! -Amy [Designed by Will Saks, Photography by Homepolish]
Image above: “Matt and Allie had an awesome collection of art that they had acquired over the years and really wanted to showcase. A gallery wall in the living room was the obvious choice to do so. We literally laid all the pieces we wanted to display on the floor in front of the wall and shifted around the images like a giant game of Tetris until we collectively decided on our final layout. I’m pretty sure Allie is still trying to level everything…I probably should’ve left her some extra poster tack! Rehanging the gallery wall in the living room was a great way to make Matty and Allie’s artwork feel fresh and ended up becoming one of the couples favorite design elements.”
Image above:”For the bedroom, we created a focal wall of vintage gold mirrors and brass wall sconces above the low platform bed to create drama and height. The mirrors are all vintage which makes the space unique. I spent hours with Matt and Allie in a thrift store called Junk in Williamsburg to find the perfect mix of shapes and sizes. The vintage wall behind the bed was one of my favorite parts of the project. If only, every client I work with had ceilings so high!”
See more of this Brooklyn apartment after the jump!
If living in Brooklyn has taught me anything, it’s how to make room out of nothing. Matchbox-sized rooms; windowless, code-violating basement closets; hallways with a kitchen at the end of them—you name the crummy, overpriced apartment living situation, and chances are, some New Yorker has braved it. There are numerous ways to make do with these rathole-sized abodes, but one of the most effective is as old as time itself: shelving. Yeah, I know. Like, duh. Still, although shelving might seem like the most obvious space-saving technique out there, once you break the concept down, the options (and ideas!) are seemingly endless. From crates lined with wallpaper and mounted to a wall to a revolutionary way of looking at magazine holders, we’ve got fifteen of our favorite and most beautiful shelving ideas to keep you—and your teenie apartment—organized and happy. What are your favorite space-saving shelving techniques? We’d love to hear them! —Max
A year ago, Mackenzie Edgerton and Blaine Vossler decided to quit their day jobs and turn their passions—handcrafted design—into a full-time job. They knew that they wanted to travel around the country, selling their wares at music festivals, craft fairs, and pop-up shops. Obtaining what they needed for this dream to become a reality—a traveling studio, office, and home—was the real challenge. As luck would have it, the duo came upon a seriously weatherworn 1979 Airstream trailer, one that was the perfect size for all of their needs. Crafters at heart and by profession, Mackenzie and Blaine rolled up their sleeves and applied their signature aesthetic to the trailer’s interior, crafting a space that functioned not just as an inspiring studio, but a genuinely homey house on wheels. A direct offshoot of their “Made Throughout America” ethos, this gorgeous camper allowed Mackenzie and Blaine’s business, The Local Branch, to get out of town and stretch its roots. Check out all of the photos, plus Mackenzie and Blaine’s design notes after the jump! —Max (more…)
We here at Design*Sponge tend to have the travel bug year round and hardly pass up an opportunity to stretch our legs and explore. The summer season, however, is perfectly suited to travel of all kinds—especially road trips and camping. These slightly more “outdoorsy” forms of exploration aren’t necessarily for everybody, though, and it certainly helps if you can take a bit of home with you on the open road. This seems to be exactly what blogger and graphic designer Jen Eckert had in mind when she and her family purchased a rundown 1966 camper for $400. “We realized we were now a family of 3, and camping in a tent was not going to cut it,” Jen writes. “Between nap-times, Pajama time, and those rainy days that tend to come around on camping weekends, we needed a comfortable place to sleep, live, and be a family. It’s so much easier to keep happy and organized, on a little ‘house on wheels.’” Jen and her husband took their “house on wheels” concept to its ultimate level, DIY-ing a space that is cozy, eclectic and wonderfully colorful—the perfect retreat from the great outdoors when one is needed! Check out all of the photos, plus Jen’s design notes after the jump! —Max (more…)
For this week’s radio show, I tried something a little different: a mini show. Instead of a full 30-minute interview, I spent 15 minutes focusing on one topic: jealousy. I chose that topic because, after careful thought and research, I’ve come to the conclusion that jealousy gets a bad rap. All over the internet there seems to be a universal desire to do away with it completely in exchange for forever avoiding what some are calling “the comparison trap”. And in theory, I understand that. Jealousy without further inspection can be a difficult feeling to process. But, when examined further, it can be one of the most powerful and healthy tools we have to process our own wants, needs and goals.
What if, instead of letting those moments of envy and jealousy shut us down, we decided to let them fire us up? If jealousy and desire have the power to move us to feel something so strongly, surely they have the power to move us to do something GOOD, too. Simply put, I’ve decided that we need to take the fear and negativity out of the word JEALOUSY and focus on the power it has to motivate, inspire and mold better businesses. So in today’s show I’m breaking down the reasons jealousy is misunderstood, how to understand it accurately and how to change your perspective and stance on envy to turn it into something that can be a positive motivator in your life and work. The link to listen are below, but I’ve also shared some overview notes from the show below if you don’t have the time or ability to listen during the day. The radio show will go into more detail about each step of the process, provide resources for staying motivated and provide examples from my work and personal life that show how jealousy can be a positive motivator. xo, grace
Read through for notes from today’s show after the jump: