Local Is The New Black

Bruce Nassbaum, in his book Creative Intelligence, talks about the new ‘maker movement’ that is happening. He talks about how Generation Y has seen the negative effects of globalization and ‘throwing your lot in with a big corporation that has no loyalty to you’. Craft, is popular again, as we can see from on-line commerce sites like Etsy. Individuals can now put out their own music, make their own movies, and sell their home-made goods in a variety of ways. This is making.


We all have a need to create things, and we want real, tangible, authentic goods.  HGTV television has shown us we can make through DIY projects. We recognize that organic or locally produced foods are better, and we love when our table is made from found materials. We are moving towards a climate of what I call, ‘local is the new black.’ In other words, GoLocal is the new Global. By buying recycled or used items (and locally made items with no transportation costs) we can realize some of the savings that were only to be had by exploiting underpaid foreign workers in unregulated environments.

final granville islandGranville Island Markets, Vancouver.

My husband’s theory on two key contributors to the decline of Rome, (and comparable to our own experience) and relevant to mention, are:

  1. Mercenaries doing the work of Romans so the ‘locals’ forgot how to make, and therefore, became lazy, relying completely on others expertise.
  2. Decline in technical innovation – how do you innovate when you stop designing and making?

So who is making a difference?

gild divanA lovely new shop, called Gild & Co, has opened my neighbourhood. The store is where ‘Modern meets Vintage’. As a collector of vintage goodies I have a real soft spot for what proprietor Bonnie is trying to do.

Bonnie explains her philosophy:

“Each piece at Gild & Co. carries a unique story; where it came from, how we found it, and why we brought it into the store. Our collection of inspired modern furnishings and embellishments is rounded out with revamped vintage gems, fusing classic forms with modern inspiration.”

gild template

She breathes new life into furniture that was manufactured at a time when high quality was the norm.  With our tendency to over-consume, and when so many of the products of western culture ends up in landfills, it is exciting to know that buying vintage reduces the need to manufacture new furniture and harvest new materials. It is the ultimate in recycling because there is something very nostalgic, evocative and connective in rediscovering the classic artifacts of our shared past.

3 gild 2templateMy friend Bette bought these beautiful Mid-Century Modern Chairs from Gild & Co to go with her new L-shaped sofa in a relatively small room. The chairs are the perfect scale, and are so comfortable and well made. It goes without saying, that it’s likely no one else will have these chairs! They are originals!

trayBeyond the great collection of furniture and embellishments, Bonnie is doing something for the vitality of our neighbourhood. It is not an easy neighbourhood in which to run a business. I have seen many businesses come and go, but as a designer and collector of modern furniture and cool stuff, I really want Gild & Co to be successful.

So please go out and support the local businesses that keep our cities vibrant!

Before and After: Adding Art Work

before and after bette's housePainting of Siwash Rock,  by Graham Smith.

To fully articulate a space beyond colour, finishes and furnishings, there are two key framed compositional elements that come into play; Windows and Art.

Of these, one is the window into your surrounding landscape, carefully edited to accentuate or conceal its strengths and weakness.  The other, your art selection is a window into your tastes and even your inner self.  Few interior choices say more about the inhabitant than their art collection.  As such, the ‘painting to match the couch’ phenomenon is to be strongly avoided.  Naturally, what qualifies as art extends to include sculpture, textile pieces, glass and ceramic artwork, prints and fine crafts.

Artwork provides an unequaled opportunity to create interiors with a unique and personal feel. Art chosen for a space dramatically affects the overall mood and ambiance and can ‘make or break’ the impression you are trying to create.  There’s are many talented artists in almost every community, pleased to find appreciative buyers. So, purchasing original artwork is always an option, even with a limited budget.  In addition, buying locally will often add a contextual regional flavor to your composition giving it a grounded and authentic presence.

And please….don’t dismiss the decoration of a space as insignificant to the overall design.  Indeed it is often this “layer,” that is most impactful and remembered.  Done properly the décor is an extension of the overall design and should integrate seamlessly with the massing, layout and materials of the base building.

What Peace looks like. Ask an Artist.

Today’s post is about ART inspired by engaged global citizens. Before I tell you about the art I want to tell you about these engaged citizens.

Our family has been involved with CISV (Children’s International Summer Villages), a wonderful organization, for over 12 years.  I feel fortunate to have found it when my children were young enough to benefit from its incredible leadership and peace education programs. CISV educates and inspires action for a more just and peaceful world.

CISV creates opportunities for all ages to experience the excitement and enrichment of cultural diversity through educational programs. It is founded on the belief that peace is possible through friendship – and that the real difference can be made by starting with children.

CISV has been around for over 60 years and has a presence in over 60 different countries worldwide. CISV is a charitable, independent, non-political, non-sectarian, volunteer organization promoting peace education and cross-cultural friendship and is a sub-organization under UNESCO.

I encourage those of you with children to find out more and give your kids this incredible opportunity to gain confidence, and become a global citizens and leaders. To learn more about CISV click here.

“We are the Roots of Peace,” by Artist Graham Smith.

Now back to the ART. We asked our CISV youth, called the JB (Junior Branch), to describe “what peace looks like” at a mini-camp this year. We then distributed these youth generated peace statements to emerging and established local artists. The only restriction was that the artwork had to be done on 10” x 10” cradle boards or deep canvases.

CISV is a peace education organization so it made great sense to call the art show, Peace by Piece (PxP). The pieces of art will be on display till April 30, 2012 at the Boulevard Coffee Roasting Co. (5970 University Boulevard) on UBC’s Point Grey Campus in Vancouver. You can also find out more on the PxP website.

The sale of paintings, will enable CISV Vancouver to host an international camp this summer, and more importantly, will draw community attention to CISV and our Peace Education programs.

Here are a few pieces of the art works and peace statements. Again, to see more art pieces, and read about the PxP peace project click here.

1. “Piles of smiles will take you miles,” artist: Norm Shearing; 2. Peace is a dance with the rest of the world,” artist: Helena Carter-Huffman; 3. “Life is messy and life is beautiful,” artist: Victor Mironenko; 4. “Peace is never being afraid to step outside,” artist: Graham Smith.  

“Peace will be accomplished when everyone understands its real value,” artist: Constance Leung

Yarn Bombing the Latest in Street Art

Yarn bombing, also known as guerrilla knitting, is the latest thing in street art. This art form  uses colorful displays of knitted or crocheted yarn, or fibre, rather than paint or chalk. Yarn bombing’s popularity has spread throughout the world.  While other forms of graffiti may be expressive, decorative, territorial, socio-political commentary, advertising or vandalism, yarn bombing was initially almost exclusively about reclaiming and personalizing sterile or cold public places (source).
Photos above and below are from Yarn Bombing on-line Community.
I have seen yarn bombing interventions in my own neighbourhhod. Often it is where there is a chain link fence or some other unsightly urban reminder. There are yarn bombing community groups that bring together the work of guerrilla artists from all over the world.

Photo Source: Time Photos

Artist Madga Sayeb, ‘bombs’ a bus in Mexico City. As you can see bombing takes time, concentration, and works around the artist’s design strategy.  You can see many of her pieces are in fun but you can certainly see the socio-political commentary on some of her other pieces (see below. Photo Source: Time Photos).  Look forward to hearing more about Madga Sayeb in future blog posts from tina + design.

The first 2 photos are from North Vancouver taken by Graham Smith. The Firefighters add knit cherry blossoms to a tree at Joy Kogawa House in Vancouver, Canada (Photo Source: Time Photos).

The yarn bombed tree, above, on Lonsdale in North Vancouver bears message tags from its creators; proud of their whimsical creation and proud to be part of an artistic community.  To me yarn bombing is a subtler, softer form of subversive art than grafitti.  I like the randomness of the intervention contrasted with the detailed work to execute it.  Unlike graffiti, yarn bombing’s anonymity is somehow personalized by the homespun warmth associated with wool and, in this case, by these hand lettered name tags.  The contrast between public art intervention with the harmless whimsicality of location, form and colour elicits a nuanced, amusing irony.


The Watts Towers

Watts is a working class community in South LA with a reputation as a violence-prone and impoverished area, known for gang violence and riots.  In recent years community leaders have tried to give extra attention to museums and the landmark Watts Towers, hoping to bring visitors to the community, and help lift the negative stigma that Watts has had.

The Watts Towers have become a sculptural and architectural landmark that has attracted many artists and professionals to the area. Museums and art galleries have opened near the towers as part of a community revitalization strategy.

The Watts Towers, now a nationally recognized historical landmark in Los Angeles, is a collection of 17 interconnected structures. They were built by Italian immigrant construction worker, Sam Rodia in his spare time over a period of 33 years, from 1921 to 1954. The work is clearly is evocative of the work of Spanish Architect Antonio Gaudi.

The sculptures’ armatures are constructed from steel pipes and rods, wrapped with wire mesh and coated with mortar. The main supports are embedded with pieces of porcelain, tile, and glass. They are decorated with found objects, including bed frames, bottles, ceramic tiles, scrap metal and sea shells.

At the time Rodia’s neighbors did not appreciate his towers, and thought they were ugly. Others, thought it was some kind of secret government spy antennae. This resulted in Rodia being harassed, and the towers being vandalized. Sick of it all, Rodia eventually gave the property away, and moved to Martinez, CA never to be seen in Watts again.

The city was all set to demolish the Watts Towers, Rodia’s home had burned down, and it seemed like the end for the Watts Towers, but a Curator from LACMA and prominent actors, film editors, artists and architects formed the Committee for Simon Rodia’s Towers in Watts, and negotiated with the city to test the structure’s stability, and eventually were granted permission to restore the site.  The Committee negotiated with the city to allow for an engineering test to establish the safety of the structures. (for more info).


Sunday Shopping: Walrus Design

Growing up, my family had a Punjabi expression for those days of leisurely wandering and shopping.  We called it ‘mutter gush’.  These days I have not had a lot of time for mutter gushing but today was different. I am taking an on-line blogging course called ‘Blogging Your Way’ and my homework assignment was to visit a shop, take pictures and talk to the staff.

There was no question in my mind which shop I wanted to visit.  Graham and I discovered Walrus Design after seeing a movie at the Park Theatre, on Cambie Street, a few months ago. This contemporary lifestyle boutique, with its modern aesthetic, has become a favourite of ours because it showcases beautiful, unique items that are NOT in every design store in Vancouver. Most of the items are handcrafted and made by local designers and artisans. Every few months Walrus has an opening and showcases a local artist.  The next one is on November 10th if you are interested.

Caroline Boquist and Daniel Kozlowski own Walrus Design.  These two are extremely nice, knowledgeable, they have exquisite taste and an outstanding eye for detail. But don’t take my word for it have a look below.  Or, better yet, go experience Walrus Design for yourself and tell them Tina sent you!

Things I Love: KLM Delft Blue Houses

My Houses -a gift from Daniel from Amsterdam

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is the national airline of the Netherlands.  For nearly 60 years, KLM has handed out small ceramic replicas of historical Dutch houses filled with Dutch ‘genever’ to passengers in Business Class. Each Delft miniature depicts a real Dutch house, and the houses are made using the same glazing process as the famous blue tiles produced in the Dutch city of Delft. KLM has produced almost a hundred different models since 1952, and every year on October 7th the airline presents a new house to mark its anniversary. The houses have become a desirable collectors item and have generated a lively trade on websites such as eBay. KLM also recently launched a mobile app for iPhone and Android phones that lists all KLM houses, so passengers no longer have to bring crumpled notes with them in order to pick their favourite house.

Life Imitating Art Imitating Life: ‘Out of the Blue’

KLM’s Delft Blue miniature houses get a full-scale version in Amsterdam.

The KLM miniature houses have also been the source of inspiration for a series of full-scale houses recently built In the centre of Amsterdam. In 2009, Stadsherstel Amsterdam, an organization involved in urban restoration in Amsterdam, had been commissioned by the Municipality of Amsterdam to spruce up the ‘Oudezijds Armsteeg’, a badly run-down street in the city’s red-light district. The plan was to make the street attractive to tourists again by introducing business activities and giving it a real Amsterdam feeling.

A flight in KLM’s Business Class provided the inspiration for a life-size version of the airline’s iconic Delft Blue houses in a project called ‘Out of the Blue’. Says Jaap Hulscher, deputy director of Stadsherstel Amsterdam, “I was flying in KLM Business Class and received one of those little KLM houses. This made me start noticing them everywhere around the world, and I realized that this is the traditional image people in other countries may have of how we live in the Netherlands. At the same time, nobody in the Netherlands has got this image.”

Stadsherstel asked an architect to design 6 houses inspired by the iconic white glazed bricks, wide bright blue frames and roofing tiles, and little stepped gavels of the KLM miniature houses. The local aesthetics’ committee in Amsterdam, who looks after the historic character of the inner city also gave their permission. The result are a row of white and blue houses with shops, including a local brewery, on the ground floor and rental apartments on the upper floors. KLM hasn’t been involved in the project, but has reacted enthusiastically. (From airlinetrends.com)