Designing Everyday Objects

Everything is designed, even household objects we use and look at everyday. Have a look at some of the beautiful everyday objects that I found at Vancouver Special on Main Street.

everyday stuff 2

The ceramic bowl above, has a beautifully fitted wooden lid. The carafe, the juicer, and the bottle opener are all designed by Alessi, an Italian Design House. Alessi products are part of many permanent museum collections, which speaks to the quality of the designs they produce.

According to Alberto Alessi, “a true work of design must be able to move people, to convey feelings, to trigger memories, to surprise, to go against the grain… We work on expressive languages and on the expressive potential of the items… From this point of view, design intended… to conjure up images in people’s minds, which makes them a bit happier, still has tremendous potential. ”

I especially enjoy these objects’ mixture of utility and whimsy that puts the fun in functional.


The unique ‘crumpled paper’ cups above are another example of a witty twist on the expected. Not only are they aesthetically pleasing, but they feel good in your hands.  The wooden spoons’ simple geometry are a departure from what we’re used to, but very functional and attractive. The toilet brushes and scrub brushes are all designed with wood and natural bristles. The toilet brush in particular has a kind of material gravitas that allows this often hidden object to be tastefully displayed.

3broomYou won’t feel the need to hide the broom and scoop below because it is nice enough to show off.


This carpet is made from felted balls. Each carpet contains hundreds of felt balls, and will definitely brightens up any room while imbuing it with a hand-made human scale.


These classic vases are designed by Finnish Architect, Alvar Aalto, in 1936, and are still produced by Iittala. From the Iittala website:

“The Aalto vase dates back to 1936 and was first presented at the Paris World Fair the following year. Its fluid, organic form is still mouth blown today at the Iittala factory. It takes a team of seven skilled craftsmen working as one to create one Aalto vase – an icon of modern design, Alvar Aalto is undoubtedly one of the greatest names in modern architecture and Scandinavian design.”

It’s truly amazing how clean, modern design continues to feel  fresh 77 years later.

cutting boards

Next time you are about to buy an everyday used object think about how it is designed and why you chose it.  For me this kind of thoughtful connection with the design, and the designer, is part of a life well-lived.

My Dinner with Andrea

mailbox used in the kitchen for bills and paperwork.

Sculpture done by artist in Milan.

Last night I had an incredible Indian dinner at the home of my friends Barbara and Andrea.  I found myself spending a good part of the night snapping photos of their home on my iphone. Barbara and Andrea, originally from Italy, are in the process of becoming Canadians.  Andrea is an award winning Physicist and Researcher, and Barbara, who re-defined herself, left her former career as a lawyer, and is now a very successful Graphic Designer.  The two of them have an amazing sense of design manifested in their numerous, artfully displayed collections.  Many of the vintage toys and furniture are Andrea’s from childhood, brought over from Italy, others are from their students days living in Holland the US. They share their beautiful Kitsilano home with their two boys.  Enjoy the pictures.

self portrait by Luca

Rubber duck collection

Andrea bought this vintage screen from his mother and then had a metal worker repair the frame.

This bookcase was custom made to fit the stairs.

Birdie's Nest Light by Ingo Maurer

painting by Graham Smith

Heart sconce

Andrea's collection of vintage ships, all under 4" long.

Vintage learn 'multiplication tables' toy

Vintage pill box containers

Kitchen collection

Alessi pen holder