• 07.24.2014

    Ugo La Pietra’s Heads

    We don’t know much about Ugo La Pietra, but we do know the following vases are his bizarre, and mildly-ironic, tribute to the traditional ceramics of his native Italy. La Pietra, who has been called an artist, architect, and designer over the course of his extensive career, lives and works in Milan.

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  • 07.17.2014

    Commune Cement Tile: The Native Collection

    Commune’s latest collaboration with Exquisite Surfaces, The Native Collection, takes inspiration from Scandinavian and Native American textile patterns. Four different patterns, titled Malmo, Stockholm, Navajo and Zuni, can be mixed to create an unlimited number of custom patterns. All four patterns come in four different color collections: Zebra, Python, Navajo and Zuni. For more information, check them out here

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  • 07.02.2014

    Studio Visit: L’Oeil du Vert

    Recently, we were lucky enough to visit the private studio of Haley Alexander van Oosten, the alchemist behind the mysterious fragrance label L’Oeil du Vert. Nestled right off of the beach in Santa Monica Canyon, van Oosten’s studio is truly a sensory experience, full of undeniable warmth and energy. We chatted about essential oils, Japanese literature, various types of wood, her installation at Maxfield’s, and the new scent L’Oeil du Vert has created with us.

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    (Commune) Where are you from?

    (van Oosten) LA-Tokyo-LA with many detours. 

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    When did you begin crafting fragrances?

    I started blending botanical oils almost 15 years ago to explore plants—their healing and more esoteric qualities. I started traveling rather remotely for certain ones like frankincense, copal, water lily, and became curious about distilling and extracting methods.

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    How do you design the structure of a fragrance?

    Well, since I design with whole botanical oils, sometimes containing hundreds of chemical constituents, rather than single isolated aromatic molecules, I approach the fragrance like a spider’s web. The structure is formed in relation to its surroundings rather than, say, a linear top-middle-bottom thing that could be constructed the same way anywhere, anytime. 

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    Do you feel there are parallels between creating scents and design?

    Yes. Visual or olfactive, there has to be a sensorial, tactile and haptic sense in design.

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    You’ve worked with many different artists and brands. How do your fragrance collaborations usually begin?

    The only “usual” aspect of the process is being inspired or challenged. Everyone I work with is so uniquely talented. I’m actually encouraged to create things I’ve never done before. 

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    What are your strongest memories associated with smell?

    The smell of salty, sandy tar stuck on my feet from swimming in the ocean when I was little. And oh, that musty tatami mat mildew smell inside under-ventilated Japanese houses. I love it. Everything is so arid in LA. It really jumped into my nose when I first went there. 

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    Would you tell us briefly about the backstory and inspiration for your collaboration with Commune?

    One night, Roman started talking about Viennese successionists. And architects like Schindler and Neutra who worked with Frank Lloyd Wright in Japan before building houses that would become icons of California style in LA. This idea of Viennese transplanting Japan into a California context was very cool. So it started to take shape. 

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    Lastly, desert, forest or beach?

    Oh for sure, desert, forest AND beach.

    For more from L’Oeil Du Vert, go here.

  • 06.27.2014

    Daniel Spoerri’s Snare-Pictures

    Swiss artist Daniel Spoerri is probably most well known for making what he called “Snare Pictures.” Spoerri and his friends, mostly fellow Fluxus members, would casually consume a meal around a table, and when the meal was complete, Spoerri would miticulously adhere all plates, bowls, cups, silverware, cigarette butts, vases, flowers, dirty napkins, bones, sauces, and crumbs to the tablecloth, cut the legs off of the table, and hang the results on the wall.

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  • 06.17.2014

    Tarot Garden

    French fashion model-turned-sculptor Niki De Saint Phalle began working on her epic Tarot Garden in Tuscany, Italy in the late 1970’s. The work, which is influenced by Gaudi’s Parc Güell and Rodia’s Watts Towers, includes, but is not limited to: a Pope (Jean Tinguely’s favorite), a Sphinx, a Dragon, a Castle, and a Magician. The Tarot Garden was officially completed in 2002 upon the artist’s death.

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    For more on Tarot Garden go here.

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  • 06.12.2014

    John Kostick’s Stars

    John Kostick’s hand-crafted designs were originally inspired by a Buckminster Fuller lecture he attended in 1962. Fuller’s concepts, based on networks of tension, eventually led Kostick to his own experiments with freestanding “star” structures. Said Kostick, “I like to think of these stars as mathematical truths that you can hold in your hand.”

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  • 06.04.2014

    Typewriter Art

    If ‘technology’ is that which is invented after we are born, and ‘stuff’ is that which has always been around, for those born now, computers, the internet and mobile phones are stuff - in fact, it would be impossible for recent generations to imagine a world without these things. This was the world that the typewriter lived in. Here is some Typewriter Art.

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    For more see Typewriter Art: A Modern Anthology by Barrie Tullett.

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  • 05.28.2014

    Goodbye Mr. Vignelli

    Massimo Vignelli, the famous graphic designer from Milan whose projects ranged from classic Knoll branding to designing maps for the New York City Subway system, has passed away at age 83. Here is just a small sampling of some of our favorite graphic work by the prolific designer. Goodbye Mr. Vignelli! You are missed.

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    For more see The NY Times and the AIGA Design Archives.

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  • 05.27.2014

    Bruno Ernst: Impossible Objects

    Appearances can notoriously be deceptive. Bruno Ernst (a Dutch math teacher who’s real name is Hans de Rijk), knew M.C.Escher personally, and spent over forty years grappling with the optical problems posed by the master. Although the following airbrush studies, composed by Ernst, are easily visualized here, any attempt to recreate them in sculptures or cardboard models is completely doomed from the start. 

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  • 05.23.2014

    Happy Memorial Day

    In 1970, Steven Frykholm was working as the in-house graphic designer for the furniture manufacturer Herman Miller, Inc., when a company vice-president stopped by his desk.  Every summer, the VP said, Herman Miller hosted a company picnic.  Perhaps Frykholm would make up a poster for the event? And so began a 30+ year tradition; here are just a few of Frykholm’s summery posters. Happy Memorial Day!

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  • 05.14.2014

    Kazuo Shinohara: Then and Now

    Influential japanese architect Kazuo Shinohara was notorius for controlling how people saw his work. So, it wasn’t until after his recent death, that his family gave permission for new photographs to be taken. Therefore, we have Shinohara then (1960’s–1980’s) and Shinohara now (2010’s); a revealing example of what happens after an architect says ‘done.’ Roll over, Shinohara.

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  • 05.07.2014

    Photographs of Doors by Ettore Sottsass

    "In order to appreciate how to draw a door and to understand the door itself, I have photographed lots of them; not all doors indiscriminately, just those through which I would like to have passed." -Ettore Sottsass

    For more see The Curious Mr Sottsass: Photographing Design and Desire

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  • 04.30.2014

    Designing with Flowers

    The world is full of edges. All forms and spaces must be simple, describable and rhythmic. They should be so orangazied that we see them as a whole, with a worthy center of interest and the rest subordinate. There should be an interesting variety of colors, forms and proportions. There should be a sense of balance and order. In short, the Flower Design should conform to all color and form principles.

    For more see Color, Form, and Composition by Wana Derge, 1966.

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  • 04.25.2014

    RIP HANS HOLLEIN

    Architect, theorist, artist, designer, and writer Hans Hollein passed away this week at age 80. A polarizing figure in both architecture & design circles, Hollein’s work is best summarized with his own words: “All are architects. Everything is architecture.’”

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    For more visit Subtilitas.

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  • 04.22.2014

    Doyle Lane: Clay Paintings

    Doyle Lane started creating what he called “Clay Paintings” so he could hang his work outside. His technique, which involved the application of glazes to clay slabs under temendous heat, resulted in unusual color and texture combinations. Said Lane, “Why not take paintings out of doors where one may sit and watch the changing play of sunshine on the glazes, and thus have changes of mood during the day.” 

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    For more work, see Doyle Lane: Clay Paintings at The Landing at Reform Gallery opening May 1st.

    Photos by: Ben Serar.

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