We were just dreaming of making a sign on the office wall the said YES! when we stumbled on a webstore call Happy Tape. It sells nothing but Japanese masking tape: slightly translucent tape made of washi paper that comes in beautiful colors and patterns. It made us wonder “Why didn’t anybody think of this before?!!!” read more…
Ely Kim‘s video BOOMBOX was his response to an assignment in a graduate level design workshop at Yale: document something for one hundred days. All he used was a video camera and his ability to dance to create his brilliant, funny, totally original film with high levels of uninhibited joy, which is what you will feel as you watch it.
If you want to speed things up, you can use the horizontal control to “scroll through” Kim’s amazing dance forms (after the video has loaded); my favorite is #80, like a disco Dance of the Seven Veils. The video’s Vimeo page also includes a playlist in case you want to track down the music.
I was about to make my tried-and-true Essential Chocolate Cake for an impromptu birthday dinner when I discovered two big problems. First, I remembered that the birthday girl, who loved chocolate, often made this very same recipe and did it really well. And second, I only had ingredients for half a recipe. What could I do to make a chocolate dessert special enough for the day, that my dear friend wouldn’t find ordinary?
Desperate, I searched my larder for an interesting way to transform the cake, mulling malted milk powder, currants, pistachios…nothing seemed right…until a jar of applewood smoked bacon fat in the fridge spurred a plan of action. read more…
Yikes! have we had a glitch sending ‘the improv life’ via Twitter. So this is a test to see if we’ve finally got it figured out…
…we’re sending along a teeny post: a very simple cool way to disguise a sofa with panels of fabric, to take the focus off the original homely cover without denying it’s existence (which never works).
Pascal Anson is the ultimate ALT-Martha Stewart, a true challenge to keeping everything within-the-lines and predictable. He’s made some videos which we plan to run periodically to remind ourselves that a guy on tv (well almost; we wish he were on tv) can inspire EXPLOSIVE!, original thinking about d-i-y and home improvement. Pascal’s view of things is a joy and a relief: charming, thoughtful, playful and inspiring…
This Saturday is Fasnacht, a wildly pagan, pre-Lenten festival that takes place in Helvetia, a tiny town deep in the West Virginia Appalachians that was settled by the Swiss in the 1860′s. It is like Mardi Gras in a cold snowy land: revelers parade through the town wearing terrifying homemade masks and carrying lanterns lit by candles. They they dance for hours to the strains of fiddle music under an effigy of Old Man Winter, hung from the rafters of the community hall. At midnight Old Man Winter - made of pine boughs and old clothes – is thrown onto a roaring bonfire and burned, and his demise is celebrated throughout the night.
For many, Fasnacht is the culmination of months of crafting their costume out of paper mache and elaborate wire constructions, fueled, in part, by the chance to compete with their extraordinarily inventive peers, and for a prize. For others, their costume is impromptu, fashioned at the last minute from whatever is at-hand that will transform them for the night, as they hide their true selves to become, for a few liberating hours, someone else… read more…
“Mike’s new pants design for Florida: potato chip bags duct-taped together.”
Peggy Markel, an intrepid and inspired seeker (and facilitator) of culinary and cultural adventures, recently sent us this one-minute video. She was on a scouting trip at San Francesco di Lula in Sardinia and followed the singing she heard coming from the church rectory’s kitchen. Local women were washing dishes and one was singing in dialect, refusing to be shushed even when admonished NOT to sing while Peggy was filming. Without a trace of embarrassment, she continued to sing, LOUD, as though the singing fueled her work.
…more beautiful than the original watchband.
via the late, great Platform 21′s “Remarkable Repair” archive.
Matthew Sporzynski whose impromptu gift I blogged about a few days ago, is an artist whose medium is paper. His business card reads: “Couturier de Cardboard”. Although Matthew’s work is published regularly in Real Simple, and he has made his unique creations for Estee Lauder, Ralph Lauren, and the Special Events department of The Museum of Modern Art, he has no website, and there seems to be no single place on the web where you can find his work. (We hope to change that one day, when we post about his huge green portfolio, and what’s inside.)
So here is a round-up of bits-and-pieces of Matthew’s work from the net. At Real Simple, they call him FG: Freakin’ Genius! read more…
We were hoping that Constance Old would guest curate for ‘the improvised life’…here is her first (great) post:
“Emily Campbell works as Director of Design for a British think tank called “RSA” (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) which is committed to research and projects devoted to social progress. (http://www.thersa.org/home)
She wrote a terrific essay on her blog Design and Society; it’s called “You know more than you think you do.” The gist is that professional design has alienated the individual, and designers actually have an obligation to design better access for the user into their work: then the user could fix the thing themselves without a degree…Kind of a call to simplify things and empower the individual even in highly designed objects.”
Campbell also designed this poster with Anthony Burrill which should be on everyone’s wall (and in our heads).
Thanks for the photo, Pamela!
Related post: Creative Reuse: Constance Old’s Hooked Rugs
When my trusty lemon squeezer broke, I toyed with the idea of buying a new one, but found that design collaborative Platform 21′s Repair Manifesto (blogged last summer) had lodged itself in my consciousness. “REPAIRING IS A CREATIVE CHALLENGE“…and “TO REPAIR IS TO DISCOVER” subtly resonated. There’s a way to fix this, I thought, as I wandered around my apartment looking for a sturdy piece of metal to hinge the two enameled sides together; it would have to withstand the pressure of squeezing a lemon, and not react to acidic lemon juice.
The process was a simple one, really, once I finally focused on it (the broken squeezer sat on the counter for a couple of weeks while I mulled): I’d ask myself “What if I tried THIS? and then I tried the idea out, fiddled, failed a few times: a heavy-duty paper clip couldn’t take the pressure…I had no nut to secure a screw, which I suspected would rust anyway…Wire was reactive and would keep the hinge from moving properly. I found the solution in my office. read more…