Josef Frank

01/31/13

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As many of you know, this past September I went on a three week adventure to Scandinavia. One of the highlights of my trip was seeing the surface design work of the late Swedish designer, artist and architect Josef Frank. Frank, who was born in Austria but emigrated to Sweden in 1933, was a pioneer in the Swedish Modern movement of the 20th century and a member of the Stockholm design company Svenskt Tenn. Frank, who also painted and designed houses & furniture, is particularly well known for his pattern design. These designs are ubiquitous in Sweden, and so it was particularly thrilling for me to go there and see them first hand.

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One of the most exciting places I visited was Svenskt Tenn, which was founded in 1924 by Estrid Ericson, who recruited Josef Frank to her company 10 years later. Together they created the boldly patterned interior design style that continues today. Visiting the brick and mortar shop, located at Strandvägen 5 in Stockholm’s posh Ostermalm district, is like stepping back in time, and also into another world. Even the interior of the elevator is wallpapered!

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Admittedly, I love Frank’s designs as accents, and am not sure I’d ever want an entire sofa covered in his fabric (as beautiful as it is) or an entire room covered in his wallpaper.

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But as a pattern designer myself, I am in awe of Frank’s forward thinking designs and find them to be incredibly beautiful and intricately detailed works of art. If you read Swedish artist Elisabeth Dunker’s blog Fine Little Day, you may recognize this Josef Frank wallpaper that is in her gorgeous kitchen. I love how Elisabeth incorporates this traditional Swedish pattern into her cozy modern home.

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You can read more about my Scandinavian adventure in the Travel & Adventure section of this blog (scroll through to find images from Stockholm). I also wrote a shopping guide to Scandinavia for The Fox is Black, which you can find here.

Have a great Thursday!

CATEGORIES: Inspiration
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Bedding for Land of Nod

01/30/13

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You have no idea how excited I was when Land of Nod asked me to design some crib bedding, and I was even more thrilled when they told me they wanted me to design something in my retro-style buildings motif. So happy to announce that 1001 Good Nights Crib Bedding is now available!

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The Crib Skirt has the word “Goodnight” embroidered onto it in different languages. The entire set, all 100% cotton, includes several different pieces to choose from, all sold separately, which you can view here.

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Thank you, Land of Nod! You can purchase the bedding here.

 

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Goodbye (sniff) San Francisco, Hello Oakland

01/29/13

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{A rendering of the house in Oakland I’ll be moving into in two weeks}

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Twenty-two and a half years ago, the day after I graduated from college, I moved with a suitcase of clothes and two boxes of belongings to San Francisco. Everything I owned fit easily into my parents’ car. They picked me up in the East Bay town where I attended college and drove me over the Bay Bridge to my new home — known affectionately by locals as “The City.”

San Francisco is a City (with a capital C), and while it’s not a huge city (it’s only 7 miles x 7 miles wide), it is far larger and more urban than any place I’d ever lived. I was arriving on my own to make a new life here. I had no job, no idea how to get anywhere, and no concept of the lay of the land. I rented a room in the basement apartment of a friend of a friend at Taravel and 22nd Streets where I stayed for the next three months until I moved to another neighborhood.

On my first evening in San Francisco, my new roommate Beth and I took the bus to the Bridge Theater on Geary Street to see Cinema Paradiso. In one evening I did three things that I’d never done before: 1) took a city bus 2) went to a historic Art Deco theater (and not a suburban cineplex) and 3) saw a foreign film.  As I laid in bed that night, I was literally euphoric. A whole new world was opening up to me. I’d only been here 8 hours, but one thing was true: I was already falling in love with San Francisco and my new life here.

Over two decades have passed since that evening, and, as you may have guessed, I never left. Until now. Two weeks from Friday, I’m packing up my Mission District apartment to leave my beloved city for Oakland, back across the Bay Bridge. I have been known to say emphatically to friends over the last 20 years, “I AM NEVER LEAVING SAN FRANCISCO. I LOVE IT TOO MUCH.” Clearly lots of other people love it here too — and that’s not surprising. It is utterly beautiful, diverse, rich in food, art and culture, gay friendly, colorful, wonderfully weird. The economy is good here, too. Lots of people have money. The tech industry thrives here. Facebook and Twitter and Google are either here or a stone’s throw away.

Four years ago my partner Clay moved into the apartment where I’ve lived for almost 10 years. And now as we enter our middle years, we are ready for a slightly larger living space, a yard, a quieter street. But the problem is, we can’t afford that in San Francisco anymore. The wealth of this city has driven apartment and home prices up and up — especially in neighborhoods that are quiet and tree-lined. So we are heading over to Oakland, a larger but slightly lesser known city about eight miles across the bridge. Oakland has a lot to offer — more affordable housing, fantastic parks and outdoor space, farmer’s markets, great restaurants and galleries, beautiful shops, diversity and warmer summers.

I am really excited to try something new. In some ways this feels like a new adventure. I am thrilled to have a slightly larger place to live (though many people would call our new house tiny) with a big yard in a nice, quiet neighborhood still central to urban life. I even found a studio space that is 1/3 larger than my current space for $600 less a month than I pay in San Francisco (!!!). And Oakland (when there is no traffic) a only 20 minute drive from San Francisco, and a few train stops away.

But this is a double-edged sword. I love San Francisco. It’s my home. I have spent over 1/2 of my life here. I became an adult here. Every major event in my life has happened here. Part of me feels like I am about to lose a limb. Truthfully, if it weren’t so expensive, I would stay.

And that is my story: part happy, part sad. I plan to make the very best of this promising life change, despite my heartache. But I sure will miss you, San Francisco.

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Drumroll, please…

01/25/13

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Remember last month when I showed you my new business cards and told you I was also revamping my website and blog design? Well, I”m so happy to announce that my new website is finished! It was was designed by the amazing Feb Sansaneeyakiat, who also designed my last website. And let’s be clear: I loved my former website. But, I am one of those people who likes to freshen things up periodically, and technology has come a long way over the last two years, so it felt like time. Feb is always a pleasure to work with. I gave her very specific art direction, and she was brilliant about executing the site as I’d envisioned it.

You may also have noticed that I’ve also got a new blog design. This space I designed myself to coordinate with the colors and look of my website. My amazing developer Chris took care of making it all work on the back end. One new thing about my blog? There is now an RSS link over there to the right for those of you who would like to subscribe.

And now I hope you will go check out my new website! Lots of things to see over there.

Happy Friday. Have a great weekend!

CATEGORIES: My Website
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Maira Kalman

01/24/13

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Most artists I know have some artistic hero or heroine, someone they aspire to be or to emulate, not necessarily in the style of their work but more in the kind of person they are, the kind of work they make, and the kind of life they live (or we imagine them to live). For me, this person is Maira Kalman. I was introduced to her work years ago by my former partner, Marguerite. Marguerite (a designer herself) loved the work of graphic designer Tibor Kalman, who was Maira Kalman’s husband (he died in 1999). Marguerite had every book and magazine Tibor Kalman designed (at least that she could get her hands on). It was through this association that I learned about illustrator Maira Kalman, and that was long before I ever laid a paint brush to paper myself. I followed her work in the New Yorker and in her early children’s books, and then watched her rise to fame several years ago with the publication of illustrated books for adults and a major retrospective of her work at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco (which I was fortunate enough to see in 2010 and was life-changing for me).

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Kalman has worked as a designer, author, illustrator and artist for more than thirty-five years. I think what appeals to me most about her vast catalog of work is that most of it is essentially a visual record of her life — what she sees, what she experiences, what she finds absurd or interesting. I love her painting style (which it should be noted is very different from mine — so loose and wonderful), her use of color, and the way she incorporates hand lettering into her illustrations.

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I love Kalman’s adventurous spirit, her willingness to try new things, her quirks. At the show at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, I was exposed to her less widely known works in photography, embroidery, textiles, and performance.

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{photo credit: Rick Meyerowitz}

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I also love Kalman’s personal style and her sense of humor, both of which come through not only in her work, but also in the talks she gives. Recently Kalman spoke at the New York Creative Mornings, and I wanted to share that video with you. Another favorite talk of mine is the TED talk she gave in 2007 (which I have listened to about 10 times over the years).

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It is on my life list (the list of things I want to do before I die) to meet Maira Kalman one day, maybe to even share a meal with her. I tend to hold on to big dreams, and this is one of my greatest.

Happy Wednesday.

CATEGORIES: Inspiration
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