love the graceful movement of this bamboo and feather installation by artist Gabriel Orozco, held in fall 2012 at Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris.
the house as trail – a structure built upon the informal, pedestrian-created paths of a site- a project by Amsterdam architect Anne Holtrop, as part of the part of the exhibition Unknown Territories 2009 by Museum De Paviljoens in Almere. interesting to me here is the interaction between site and form. in a simple move, this building merely adds structure to the pre-existing circulation paths and makes the temporary permanent, and in this moment, the human experience of passing through landscape is completely changed. the unfinished beechwood is a particularly stiking backdrop for the wild grasses, orchids, weeds, and clovers. photos by Bas Princen; discovered on Jessica’s journal.
clearly, it’s been a while since i posted here, and somehow over 5 months has passed. today being my first mother’s day as a mom, i found myself looking back on the past seven+ months with my little girl. (interestingly, it seems i stopped writing here at just about the same time charlotte (and i) starting sleeping through the night)! i’ve been thinking about the one new thing project from my first couple of months home alone with the baby, and all the adventures and experiences that have come from that. all of our small steps forward together (listed below) seemed at the time like major accomplishments- and they were! i’ll always remember how carefully matt and i pushed her stroller on our first walk through the neighborhood, avoiding every sidewalk bump in our way. since those early days, our little family has had many more firsts- our first flight across the country, first holiday season, first party, first day of daycare and back to work, first family vacation to scottsdale, first (and fifth) baseball game, first playdates….already together, we’ve visited six different states, with trips planned to five more before her first birthday. today, we went to our first mother’s day brunch, our first craft fair, and first lunch in the sunshine overlooking the delaware river. we’ve had so many firsts that i’ve stopped keeping track, which is a wonderful and peaceful feeling. we’re taking each day and new step as it comes, and i am so thankful for the joyful adventure i am sharing each day with my darling girl, and for the opportunity to again experience all the “firsts” of life.
one new thing project recap
one new thing each day for alexandra [a], matt [m], charlotte [c]
10.22 [a] cooked tacos for matt; 10.23 [a+c] took six mile walk; 10.24 [c] listened to the beatles; 10.25 [c] walk around old city philadelphia; 10.26 [a+m+c] family brunch at honey’s; 10.27 [a] back to gym for first time; 10.28 [c] had baby sitter; [a+m] eagles game; 10.29 [c] played on playmat; 10.30 [a+m+c] hurricane sandy overnight; 10.31 [c] first walk in ergo carrier; 11.01 [a+c] returns at mall in nj; 11.02 [a+m+c] lunch at the neighborhood diner; 11.03 [a] made vegetable soup; 11.04 [a+m+c] neighborhood fall festival; 11.05 [a+c] coffee shop date at one shot; 11.06 [c] first noreaster and snow; 11.07 [c] playtime in her room; 11.08 [a+c] lunch with [m] in nj; 11.09 [a+c] walk with k + baby c; 11.10 [c] met sarah, ryan + baby d; 11.11 [a+m+c] lunch outside in old city; 11.12 [a+c] walk + stopped at market; 11.13 [a+m] first dinner date; 11.14 [a+c] neil young sing a long; 11.15 [a+c] took laptop to [m] in nj; 11.18 [a+m+c] relaxing family day; 11.21 [c] first trip to new york; 11.22 [c] first thanksgiving; 11.23 [c] met new york friends; 11.24 [a+m+c] outing to marlton; 11.26 [c] two month checkup; 11.27 [a] made fresh carrot juice; 11.28 [a+c] walked to salon; 11.29 [a+c] visit to terrain; 11.30 [a+c] visit to urbn office; 12.01 [c] trip to family in nj…
enjoying these sketches from the banana republic anna karenina collection. [via]
[welcome to the first installment in my [of meaning] column. today i’ll get things started by sharing my own something of meaning, my textile collection.]
i’ve always loved fabric- such a simple material, but with such necessity, beauty, versatility, and seemingly limitless iterations. as a little girl, i remember going to the fabric store with my mom, walking through the rows of bolts, touching everything, taking in all the prints, color, and texture. when shopping for clothes, she always told me to “feel the material” to make sure the quality was up to standard. when i changed fields from architecture to buying after grad school, i was told by my first manager that she hired me partly because i touched every piece of fabric i saw as we took our office tour. i just can’t help it. textiles are the perfect balance of art and utility in my mind.
i started gathering my own collection of textiles here and there when in college; colorful 40s floral tablecloths at yard sales with my mom (many of which we used for the cocktail hour at my wedding), taking the bart to go vintage shopping in the mission when it was still pretty dicey, returning with a few piece of embroidery here or there. when i moved across the country for grad school, suitcases in hand, a few small textiles taken from my mom’s collection served as my piece of “home”. i really began traveling in grad school, and realized on a design studio trip to mexico city that textiles were the perfect souvenir- easy to pack, full of history, artful, and representative of their place of making. from that trip, i brought back some colorful otomi fabric, along with a textural hand-woven wool bedspread, both of which still decorate our bedroom years later.
my textile collection is small, made up of vintage pieces, travel mementos, and pieces that i believe to have soul. there is a mix of scarves, table linens, towels, and blankets, but my favorite pieces are those with versatility- a shawl one day, table runner the next, wall hanging on another. individually, each item is not necessarily noteworthy, but together, they weave a story, physical reminders marking meaningful moments along my path. details on a few pieces below, my little ode to fabric…
1. a handwoven alpaca scarf, made in bolivia. this scarf was one of the first items i design-developed for terrain, and marks the point where i became reinvested in supporting the community of artisan makers. i worked on it with the vendor at maison et objet during my first incredible trip to paris, and remember feeling so happy to be working with such beautiful materials, creating an item of timelessness and substance. the handfeel on it is soft, warm and lovely, and it is the perfect large winter shawl- it is part of my everyday uniform once the temperature drops.
2. a rustic cotton plainweave cloth, limited edition and woven in india. for me, the meaning of this fabric is actually less about the story of it’s making (although that holds its own beauty) and more about marking a particularly positive time in my life. this past summer, i was fortunate enough to get to spend several weeks back home in southern california, for work, vacation, and some unexpected family needs. it was a much-appreciated opportunity to connect with my loved ones and ground myself while being pregnant with charlotte. one week, after an extremely inspiring work trip in los angeles, i drove up the coast to stay with my parents near santa barbara one weekend, and stopped at one of my favorite stores- pierre lafond/montecito market. it was a perfect california early evening, warm and hazy, with the feel of the beach in the air, and i felt incredibly happy and at peace to be home. i purchased this rustic towel there- what i loved was the joy in its vibrant color, the simplicity in its textural weave, and the versatility in its use. it has brightened up my home in philadelphia since, and reminds me of the summer california sunshine.
3. a block-printed linen tablecloth, made in the traditional indian technique. i have a soft spot for tablecloths- i acknowledge that they are a little “grandma”, and actually prefer the look of a bare table, but am always attracted to them. i think it has to do with the scale, the idea of setting a complete table and gathering for a special meal. this piece is also from terrain, design-developed by one of my employees in conjunction with a small artisan company. working on this with her, i learned how to really partner with my team on the product development side to execute a vision, and realized just how much i enjoy seeing ideas come to fruition. what i love here is the soft linen base, the neutral color palette, the painterly wash of pigment, and the unusual print technique (the ground color is printed, whereas often in block prints, the pattern is printed).
4. a mid-century romanian embroidered table runner. i purchased this at tail of the yak in berkeley, an incredible little shop in a city i loved living in. they had a small collection of these vintage table runners in the shop, which immediately reminded me of my mom. she has an affinity for embroidery, and picks up vintage pieces whenever she encounters them, simply because someone’s time and hands went into each stitch, and she believes that they should be saved and cherished. the graphic layout and dense cross-stitch drew me to this runner over the others- when i unrolled it, embroidered on the edge was the year 1953 (the year my mom was born) and the initials M and T (my parents initials). of all the table linens i have, i am probably most sentimental about this one.
5. a contemporary batik silk shawl, from a trip to java. this piece is a memento from my first trip to south east asia, the furthest i have ever been from home, and a trip that opened my eyes to the wonder of travel and exposed me to the day-to-day realities of life outside america and europe. i found indonesia incredibly beautiful in many ways- the most resonating experience of the trip was a day long car ride across the island, from yogyakarta to cirebon [video here]- we visited borobudur and walked to the top of the temple; sped along narrow, winding roads crossing hills and valleys; stopped in crowded city centers to find food or use the bathroom at a local mall or mosque. it was unlike any trip i have ever been on, and this reminds me of the beauty i found there- the saturated color of the countryside, the tiered landscape of rice paddies cascading down hills, the simple structures built of indigenous materials, the peaceful calm while looking out over a valley from the top of a ninth-century temple, and the delicate care for craft.
6. a table runner from our wedding, held under the oak tree at my parents’ house in september, 2009. when it came to wedding planning, using rental table linens felt inauthentic to me, so with the help of the women in my family, we made our own. my mom flew out to philadelphia to help with wedding planning, and we spent a cloudy summer day shopping along fabric row, going from shop to shop until we found the right mix of fabrics to use. when she left, my mom carried two very heavy suitcases full of yardage back to california, where she and my great-aunt geri (who also made my baby quilt, which is now in my own daughter’s room) cut and sewed all the runners for the wedding. our wedding felt so personal to me and matt, a perfect celebration of the blending of our families; it was so meaningful to us to see all of our favorite people out in the front yard, dining around communal tables set with linens that these special women put care into making for us.
7. a woven-locally, oversized wool scarf from a trip to the UK. this piece is one of my staples- i frequently wear it as a scarf, but just as often, it is thrown over the arm of the couch to add color to the room, spread over the dining room table as a runner… my trip to england was my favorite international trip- we spent five mid-september days driving around the countryside, purchasing antiques and vintage pieces. i left for the trip just a couple of weeks after my grandmother had unexpectedly passed away, and thoughts of my family were weighing heavily on my mind. i had always heard i had family roots in england, ireland, and wales, and to travel through the rolling hills and small towns of southern england at that moment felt incredibly special. i purchased this scarf during an afternoon stop at bailey’s home and garden. the simple plaid, textured wool, and fall colors made this the perfect memento of my travels, and i think of my family roots whenever i wear it.
i love that this collection is not static, it will continue to develop as i encounter new places, experiences, and memories. it is the primary source of decoration, color, and pattern in our home, and offers flexibility to change the look and feel of our space on a whim. an appreciation for fabric and making is something i learned from my mother, and i feel like my tablecloths, runners, and blankets are an extension of her own collection- likewise, i hope this is something i can share with my daughter someday as well. and on my list of projects to take on- figuring out a great way to organize and display these at home.
[i am looking forward to sharing the next installment in [of meaning]- my first guest will be my design school partner-in-crime, sarah peck [the creative spirit behind it starts with and landscape urbanism], who will be sharing her thoughts on books, quilting, and living a life surrounded by meaning.]
[photos by alexandra sklar]
online, i’ve been noticing a trend of drying foliage this fall. this spread by parker fitzgerald and amy merrick in the most recent kinfolk was one of my favorite pieces- it took me back to holidays at home, where we used to cut lavender, rosehips, sage and rosemary from the garden and dry them in bunches for wreath decorating. last week, i found this pin (original source here) to be particularly beautiful, and later spotted the same image on this remodelista post about decorating with dried foliage. there is something lovely about the sentiment of holding onto the garden through the fall, bringing the last remnants of the season into the home to enjoy just a bit longer.
anyways, all of this reminded me of these vases which debuted at Milan Design Week in the spring. designed by japanese student nobu miake as part of the design soil initiative. using simple materials (brass, leather, and rubber bands), the fadeless vases are designed to display flowers as they are drying. i think the organic shapes of the flowers shown against the clean silhouettes of the vases is quite striking, and could see these being even more beautiful as the colors of the flowers fade and the overall palette becomes more monotone.
pyramid paper lantern string lights from society national industry. i purchased the cream version myself a few months ago, and i love the festive feeling they give to our living room.
today, i’d like to introduce a new series, called “of meaning”, a periodic feature that will be kicking off fully next week. over time, i plan to feature a range of friends, family and colleagues sharing their thoughts on an item (or place, tradition, song, experience…) that holds personal meaning to them. something that gives life more joy, beauty, connectivity, personality…my hope is to participate in the cultural conversation around conscientious consumption, explore collective memory, and provide a forum for sharing the thoughts of a diverse, creative, and inspiring group of contributors.
[pictured] the oak tree in my parent’s front yard, a place of meaning to me
henrik lou is a small knitwear label from Vancouver, designed and hand-knit by Stephanie Olivier using natural and sustainable fibers. I first noticed her soft linen sweaters this spring, and find the oversize knits in her new fall accessories collection equally enchanting. just about perfect for this cozy, gray fall day.
i happened upon this post by justina (who in addition to being a talented creative spirit is also a new mom) this week, and really identified with her thoughts about taking time to find a new rhythm. one of the commenters suggested trying “one new thing” each day with her baby- which i thought was a nice (although ambitious) idea.
so, charlotte and i are going to try to do one new thing each day for the next 12 weeks that i am home, whether big or small. some might be new for me, and i am sure all will be new for her. i’ll be keeping track of our tiny adventures using a list in the sidebar. i think this project will help me to be more comfortable getting out and “doing” with a baby in tow, and also help with my mental sanity- i’m getting a little cabin fever! looking forward to seeing what each day brings us.
[photo sources] undetermined via tumblr