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December 15, 2008

Doubledecker

Good things come in twos. More evidence of the sublime evolution of my cat household, which was once a scary zone if these two were near each other. Now, there's a place for everything and everything in its place.

Two Cats Getting Along 

December 12, 2008

Taking the High Road

My kitty has started using the stairs and loft I put up originally for my other kitty over a year ago — and loving it.

Cat Stairs

Naturally, I had to paint the stairs in a cool color to coordinate with my office. The stairs and loft are by my web client, Kitty Cat Loft. I loved them as soon as I saw them. On cat is very light so bounding up the stairs is easy for her. The other is 11 pounds, which isn't heavy but she is voluptuous and maybe the stairs are too close for comfort. Still, the one using it has been with me for a year and has only just started using this awesome piece of cat furniture. She hangs out on the loft and has appropriated it.

kitty cat loft

The stairs are extremely space efficient, taking up only 14" of floor space. They fit in any corner or the middle of a wall. The loft sits over any doorway. I think you could put it over a window too.

August 22, 2008

A Place for Everything

And everything in its place.

Kitty in Shelf

When I first got this cool bookcase, which has wavy shelves (from Design Within Reach), I specifically envisioned my cat making herself at home in its nook-like shelves. (The bookcase comes in separate shelf sections that you slide together and each section weighs 200 lbs, literally. I assembled it myself on the floor and then got some guys to help me stand it up.) Cats being independent, however, she never hopped in, even when I put a soft blanket in a shelf. However, several years later, she is hanging out in it regularly. I guess it has to do with where the bookcase now stands and other factors, such as getting away from her sister, although her sister will follow after her. At any rate, I was forced to clear out this shelf for her or else have my tops constantly askew, found on the ground etc. My feline enhances my view.

August 17, 2008

Affordable and Flexible Furniture

This nice green sleeper couch from CB2 comes at an affordable cost.

Affordable Sleeper Couch At $1,000, this couch costs about a quarter of what most good-looking and functional modern couches weight in at. There are many great looking sculptural couches out there but they are very expensive. Other nice sleeper couches can be found but they are also pricey and tend to come only in blacks and greys, besides looking very much alike.

July 25, 2008

Timeless Design

Timeless designer Pierre Paulin created all the beauties seen here.

Pierre Paulin colorful furniture

The shapes, colors and even the names are beautiful, playful, inventive, smart and uplifting. Lucky for us, most are available today through Hive Modern in a great range of fabric choices.

June 9, 2008

KittyGate

Here is an experiment I'm conducting.

KittyGate

When I fostered a kitty previously, using a gate to gradually introduce him to my reigning kitty, worked beautifully. It took patience and time but by slowly widening their area of contact with each other, they were able to co-exist and even hung out together. However, this cat, who is still just a kitten really, is very feisty and knocks over and jumps over any kind of gate I could find. Plus, the first cat is terrified of her, to such an extent that we've had bad accidents. And the new cat isn't helping in that she continues to bolt towards the other one any time they are near each other.

KittyGate

Above: Autumn peers through a gate slat.

Pet gates don't come tall enough for Autumn to not jump over or knock over. I am amazed that they don't. So I tried calling screen door companies, sliding window screen installers and outdoor pet haven places but got almost nowhere. I finally went to Home Depot and got this lattice material and had a local construction guy make the frame, secure it with hinges and a latch and it's basically a taller gate. Only problem is I can't move it from place to place, which would work better.

Good news is that the new cat now has more room in which to hang out. Bad news is that the previous cat still wants nothing to do with her and isn't doing the curious approaching I had hoped for. We'll see how it goes over time. 

Above: Gate set up to acclimate two kitties. Cost: $120 including installation vs. $300–500+ for the potential screen doors that needed pet-proof screening and more work.

June 4, 2008

Cool Critters Deserve Happening Habitats

Let your critters lead the way to a super stylish pad for you and them.

Really Cool Pet Furniture

Above: Stylish and comfy pet beds from Hepper

I've found some really cool pet furniture and accessories with which to assuage my cognizant felines' cravings for superior designs. It takes hunting to find great pet stuff, which is odd, as people are fanatical about their pets. But the quest is being quenched. Not too long ago, I finished a website design for Kitty Cat Loft, makers of a great-looking spiral cat staircase. While checking out their search rankings, which often leads to nice discoveries in different categories of my clients' work, I came across several satisfying makers of furniture and items for pets. Previously, most makers of this caliber and style level were not American (there are some great German designs) — not true any more. Check out Modern Cat for links to lots of items besides the great beds above. I also met Akemi Tanaka at ICFF last month, who makes an adorable “curve” cat shelf. Lots of good things are brewing for critters in industrial design these days.

May 15, 2008

Le Chat

To celebrate the jubilee (60 years of design!) of Pierre Paulin, manufacturer Artifort has reissued more of his amazing work. Le Chat chair is one such item.

Pierre Paulin's Le Chat Chair

From the offering: Paulin designed Le Chat in 1967. Its tense curves seem to leap from a single point. Drawn with a single stroke of the pen. Without hesitation. You can feel the power, the readiness to leap. But it also invites you to sit. It’s fully shaped to your body. Dynamic and restful. Artifort is re-introducing Le Chat, with a slight modification.

With a name like Le Chat (the cat), how could this brilliantly simple chair not be beautiful, playful, graceful, dynamic and restful all together?

May 8, 2008

Moving Through Space: Visionary Frank Lloyd Wright

Larger than life architect Frank Lloyd Wright had a chaotic personal life yet created soothingly organized architecture and designs.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum

Frank Lloyd Wright's dramatic Guggenheim Museum interior, designed when he was in his 80s

I popped his logo on the image above because as a graphic designer, it's something with which I'm so familiar and I love it. His architectural handwriting has been made into gorgeous typefaces by several prominent type foundries.

Frank Lloyd Wright's personal life created scandals in his time (wouldn't as much so now, although he wasn't an easy guy) but his driving passion for work outwitted and outlasted his personal turmoil. His life would be splashed all over tabloids today. He was a flamboyant and unique man.

Frank Lloyd Wright chairStructures should come out of nature, he believed, and blend with it and he accomplished this in a way no one else has done, almost like a poet to my mind. Although I find his continuous earth tones to be too monotonous, I still love much of the design, both architectural and in the countless other items he designed. He designed everything inside the house as well and a client had to conform to his dictates or they could not have his house. He designed furniture, tableware, lighting and even one hostess' dress. Numerous “in the style of” designs have been spawned by present-day manufacturers.

He went through long periods of disfavor but was most successful from age 70 to 90, a true artist in his approach to life. Asked how he could work so hard in his later years, he said he could shake the designs out of his sleeve and couldn't get them out fast enough. He hit his full stride at a time in his life when some people have "turned in.” One worker described him as “200% alive.”

His Imperial Hotel in Japan was the only building in the city that survived a massive earthquake right after it was completed. The building had been constructed of  non-standard materials and as an engineer, Wright had calculated that earthquakes were regular occurrences in Tokyo.

Here is a link to a beautiful new structure created 50 years later from an unbuilt Wright design. 

March 14, 2008

Design Great Verner Panton

By now almost everyone has seen the ubiquitous Panton chair designed by the venerable Verner Panton.

Verner Panton, the Great Designer

Even if you don't know the name, which design afficianados will, you have seen the chair in lots of catalog layouts and even in movies (it appears in Woody Allen's fantastic movie, Sleeper, as a future icon, in his predominantly white future). It's also in the permanent collections of many museums.

The Gorgeous Panton Chair

Doesn't he look like someone you'd like to know in the picture above? I have one of these gorgeous chairs in a limited edition fuchsia color from Design Within Reach — absolutely comfortable and beautiful. For those of you who care, besides its cool S shape, this chair is famous for being made from a single piece of injection molded plastic, is incredibly resilient and can be stacked, used indoors and out, fits with casual and sophisticated decor. Lots of cool design isn't comfortable but this is!

“Choosing colors should not be a gamble. It should be a conscious decision. Colors have a meaning and a function...”

— Verner Panton

Since its inception, the chair has been updated with even more resilient plastic and although vintage editions are pricey, the current model can be had for $245. A great source is hive modern

Designers like this got me hooked on mixing modern sculptural furniture with antique, gorgeous wood pieces. As I was taught in my religion major classes, ”The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” That applies to mixing old and new styles and to the Panton chair, whose parts happen to be just one single piece of polypropylene. I love it! 

“Most people spend their lives living in dreary, beige conformity, mortally afraid of using color. The main purpose of my work is to provoke people into using their imagination and make their surroundings more exciting.”

— Verner Panton

October 17, 2007

Chic Pet Furniture

Like all good design, there's more than meets the eye to getting cat furniture right. In my quest for great-looking and functioning furniture and objects, as well as to make my critters happy, I am trying out some new pieces. I already know a few things I would design differently than what's readily available.

Chic Cat Furniture

Lab technicians are busy road-testing this scoop-topped pedestal (available at The Cat Connection). It has a sisal rope pole and another soft rug section to claw (good for their nails and to keep them off furniture you don't want clawed) at the bottom. Two cats can use it at once and it's better looking than most of what I've seen out there. Pedestals and cat trees need to be very sturdy so cats can jump and scratch and really wrestle with them. This tends to make them quite heavy.

Rug parts, I have learned, are almost always made from remnants, which means you can't usually get very interesting colors. This "country blue" was the nicest choice for this product from among other pedestrian options. Standing scratching posts also have to be tall enough for a cat to stretch his/her entire length or they probably won't be used. One thing I find frustrating is that these are just too high to look good in my living room near either a couch or chair. I wonder if they couldn't be a few inches shorter and still work. Cats like to be high up but the few inches wouldn't be very different, I don't think, from a cat's viewpoint. The wide base also makes them hard to maneuver and lay out with tasteful human pieces. I'd be interested to see if a skillful facility or designer couldn't streamline some pieces and still make them work well.

September 26, 2007

Tall Tails

While talking on the phone today to my new friend, Brian, I was surprised to turn around and see this view.

A Delicate Balance

Freestanding and quite tall, this cabinet has never been the receptacle for a kitty on top before. This cat has super long leaping legs and obviously got up there by sailing from a fairly good distance. I couldn't be mad at him — he looked so great and he didn't hurt any of the many glass and ceramic breakable things on top, below and inside the cabinet. Cats' stealth and poise catches me by surprise, even though its fame goes back to ancient tales (and tails).

August 27, 2007

Design by Color

Easily sorting by color is one of the things I love about shopping online.

Shopping by Color

Well-organized online stores such as Bluefly, Nordstrom and Zappos make it easy to shop by color and find just what you're looking for if they have it. This concept is at the center of InMyFavoriteColor.com. You will be taken to multiple retailers but you choose a color to begin. I think it's a great idea. I find that thinking in color categories gets the creative juices flowing. The ability of web stores to let you think this way is a tremendous capability. I no longer want to go to physical stores to plow through racks to find what I might like. It can be fun occasionally to meander with a friend and wile away an afternoon but then I'm really just hanging with that friend, not shopping. To find what you like quickly and plentifully, being able to sort by colors and other smart categories is a huge boon.

August 16, 2007

Colorful Interior Life

My design career has headed in the direction of interior design recently.

Interior Design

This is a photograph of my gallery / hallway design in my last apartment in Manhattan. My designs are drenched in color, with plenty of open space and beautiful textures, such as Murano glass lamps with ceiling medallions (available from many architectural and hardware resources) and wrought iron details (the flower stand here is from the Gramercy Park Flower Shop).

For those who are interested, the paint-flecked slotted doors attached to the kitchen entry were found in an antique store in New Jersey. The blue over-painted small armoire is from Chester, New Jersey, an abundant antiquing town. The small stool is an Eames classic, available from Design Within Reach. The large mirror is a great value at Pottery Barn. The small lamp is from an antique store with a new shade. The small edge of a corner table you see was designed by me to fit in the corner of my previous apartment's kitchen to make more counter space. The rug is by Susan Sargent, who helped inspire my own rug design collection.

January 1, 2006

New Beginnings: Modern Art Rugs Take Off

Happy birthday, world. It's 2006.

modern art rugs take off in 2006 
I wish everyone the best year of their lives. My personal good news is that my modern art rug design business received its first really significant retail store order on December 31, 2005. It was a nice way to bid adieu to 2005 and usher in 2006. The unique colorful rugs are being carried by Hers & Mine, an enticing furniture store in Park Slope, Brooklyn (250 Fifth Avenue; call 718-783-3500 for information). Owner Akua Hendricks has big plans for both the custom rug designs and the rest of her store this coming year. Akua loves color, among other design elements. The colorful rugs speak to that. She will have a full wall display of the unique rugs for your viewing pleasure as well as full size area rugs, to give you a rich taste of the line. Also find great armoires, wood tables in perfect sizes and many small decorative items such as picture frames and pillows at Hers & Mine. Akua is wonderful so pay her a visit and enrich your home decor.

Our modern art rugs can be ordered through Hers & Mine. You are welcome to direct any custom rug or other questions directly to us. Please note that one feature of the custom rug line is that you can order all sizes and shapes, including, for example, round area rugs, square rugs, extra long rug runners and more.

Up the street a couple of blocks, at 152 Fifth Avenue, is At Home on Fifth (718-399-0091), a sister store, that carries dazzling home decor such as glassware, tableware, bowls etc. from respected vendors such as Vietri. Akua's mom owns that store. An aunt owns a bustling candy store next door. This family is an inspiration.

Park Slope is a great place to spend a day or weekend, filled with delectable stores such as these, the beautiful Promenade for romantic strolls, Prospect Park and more restaurants than you could ever find time to eat in. 

October 29, 2005

The Elixir of Color

Objects that perform well and possess beautiful color, form and texture make doing things fun.


A chair should be more than simply functional. It should be friendly, fun and colorful. — Pierre Paulin

From kiddie airplane spoons to gorgeous grownup lighting, well-thought-out design improves our lives. To me, of all the aspects of design, color is the standout. Striking color changes your mood instantly. This blog is a poem to color as it winds its way through our world in its many incarnations. Did you also notice that color is free? No charge.