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.

brushes

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.

rug

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.

vase

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.

Style: From Runway to Room

My birthday was August 14 and I spent the day with my daughter who is visiting from Los Angeles. We took a walk down Main Street, in Vancouver, which has become a funky, hip neighbourhood with many boutiques, antique and vintage goods, cafes, and recently, home decorating shops.

me at vancouver special

Here I am sitting on a sofa in Vancouver Special, at 3612 Main Street (read more below). My daughter took this picture and it made me realize the vintage dress I was wearing was perfectly matched to the decor in the shop. This brings me to two points I want to share with you. Firstly, my dress is awesome and it goes to show you what you can pick up for next to nothing at a vintage store. And secondly, fashion now, more than ever, is one of main predictors of upcoming home decorating trends.

fashion to room

Photo from Freshome.

The styles, patterns and colours that graced the runways of Milan, New York and Paris are soon strutting down the pages of glossy fashion magazines and then end up in our closets. Yet people’s home decor would rarely reflect the fashions that they wore. (from Freshome)

blue fashionPhoto from Sourceable.

However, this is changing. What is happening in Fashion will often predict and inspire the latest looks in interiors. In recent years, the world of interiors has seen about a 2 year lag from runway to living room. Given the speed of information transfer now that time will only shorten. Fashion is not only about clothes and shoes anymore. Trends in the fashion industry have a direct impact on interior design all around the world.

So what exactly was I wearing on my birthday?

details of birthday outfit1. I am a big fan of vintage tiki and Hawaiian fashions. I found this dress recently at Community Thrift and Vintage, 311 Carrall Street. Cost $29.00. The dress is made of  colourful heavy cotton in immaculate condition. 2.  Shoes bought on sale for $50 from Madewell. 3. Silver charm bracelet handmade by Joan Scarabelli Jewellery Design. Each charm is a shoe based on the designs of Peter Fox Shoes and Manolo Blahnik Shoes.

Vancouver Special is a retail store offering a carefully curated selection of contemporary furniture, sofas, design objects, household accessories, and art and architecture books.’

Vancouver Special is a term used to refer to houses built in a particular architectural style in the period from roughly 1965 to 1985 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada and its suburbs. The Vancouver Special house style has had a bad reputation because of its proliferation, its cheap materials, bland forms, kitschy decorations, ease of permitting and the fact that it was designed for two family occupancy. The Vancouver Special will be a topic of discussion in a later blog post.