Improvised Life » books + zines (material) If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 17 Oct 2014 08:08:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sculptural, Dimensional Textiles—for Couture or DIY Mon, 28 Jul 2014 17:00:05 +0000

Zita Merényi

We love designer Zita Merényi’s Provo-CUT collection of seared-and-soldered neoprene garments. Forgoing traditional draping and stitching, these pieces are instead constructed panel-by-panel, pleated together, and heat-joined into dimensional, puffy, future-ish jackets and cloaks punctuated by thick, raw seams and unlikely openings. The gist: synthetic fabics melt, so heat, not thread can be used to join the seams. (more…)

]]> 0
Freeform Architecture LEGO Kit in Monochrome White (+ D-I-Y Alternative) Thu, 24 Jul 2014 17:00:30 +0000


Having long been enamored of building blocks both miniature and life-sized for their cool modularity and open invitation to improvise, I find this jumbo building kit from LEGO is the perfect thing for adults to play/plan/build with. Whether to envision a real-life project in small scale or simply get out of your own head for a minute, these blocks are great as an office toy or something to share with a curious, independent kid in your life. (more…)

]]> 0
In Praise of Shadows and Quiet, Muted Interiors Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:00:10 +0000

Petra Bindel/

I’ve been yearning for shadows since June 21st when the world took a tumble towards autumn, trailing crayon-bright, midsummer color and loud solstice revels. Parched by the bleached Scandinavian cottages and austere, no-tint white rooms that are everywhere online, I’m craving soothing darkness and a place to sequester in silence. This stark, in-your-face, white duvet bedroom suddenly hurts my eyes…and my soul. I want more yin, less yang.

Seeking solace, I turned to Japan, and a meditative book of essays, In Praise of Shadows,” by novelist Jun’ichiro Tanizaki. He expresses his nostalgia for the shadowy beauty once so characteristic of traditional Japanese houses, now fallen victim to rapid modernization. (more…)

]]> 7
Introducing Improvised Life’s New Store Thu, 10 Jul 2014 23:05:19 +0000

Over the years, Improvised Life has featured some seriously good stuff, from books about design, art, productivity and poetry to all manner of tools for making and living. Since these wonderful items have been buried in the archive, we decided to gather the BEST of them in one place, Improvised Life’s Store. (more…)

]]> 2
Adirondack + Rietveld Chairs, for Outside or In, to DIY or Buy Mon, 07 Jul 2014 17:00:02 +0000

We are struck by the many similarities between the iconic American Adirondack chair designed in 1903 and the Crate Chair Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld designed in the 1930's. We've investigated ones to buy, and plans that would allow you to make an interesting fusion of the two —all great, indoor and out.]]> 2
‘Things Come Apart’ will Teach You How Things Work Thu, 22 May 2014 23:14:07 +0000

(Video link HERE.) Photographer Todd McLellan’s Things Come Apart is an expansion of his original Disassembly Series, and the focus of a book by that name. His images of deconstructed items that have, are, or will be in our everyday lives have a curious effect: They demystify their seeming complexity and afford a big leap in understanding how they work. He gives two very differing views of ordinary objects such as a fire extinguisher or a lawnmower that evoke very different emotional responses. 


]]> 0
Weekend Fun: Oops Cookies Fri, 25 Apr 2014 08:07:08 +0000

The other day, I stopped in at Lady Lexi’s Sweets, a new bakery in my Harlem neighborhood. Lexi’s business cards read:  “Stressed is desserts spelled backwards.”

Among the display stands of cookies, cupcakes and peanut brittle were some bags of cookies with a sign that said: OOPS COOKIES. What are Oops Cookies? I asked.


]]> 4
el Bulli’s Bullipedia: Mapping the Genome of Cuisine Wed, 16 Apr 2014 22:00:55 +0000 Since th legendary restaurant elBulli's closure three years ago, über-chef Ferran Adrià and his team at el Bulli Foundation have been working to convert the restaurant to a creativity think tank, with a online resource to helps you understand the inner-workings of food.]]> 0 Ferran Adrià: Creativity Needs Rest Mon, 24 Mar 2014 08:58:36 +0000

Sally Schneider

Yesterday, we thought we had set our favorite Arabia tea cup down on the edge of the bathroom sink, only to hear it smash into the bathtub. Okay, we got the message, we thought: SLOW DOWN. We take small accidents like that as warnings that we are too distracted to be present.

But we got the REAL message the next morning while scanning websites for illuminating ideas, images, and info that would resonate with Improvised Life: CREATIVITY NEEDS REST.  (more…)

]]> 11
Treasures Found from Permission to Read Randomly Wed, 19 Feb 2014 00:00:09 +0000

Heade Martin Johnson/National Gallery of Art

Smitten with Mark Halprin’s novel Winter’s Tale, we recently started reading his acclaimed In Sunlight and in Shadow//. We loved it at first, then slowed to a halt about 60 pages in; although Halprin’s writing can be glorious, there is something stopping us. Sometimes a book won’t let us in, or we’re not ready to read it or it just isn’t right for us. No loss. Over years, we’ve learned that we don’t necessarily have to read a book from front to back. (more…)

]]> 2
Reinvention: Sewing with Rescued Materials Wed, 05 Feb 2014 18:00:45 +0000

A reader alerted us to Maya Donenfeld’s great book Reinvention: Sewing with Rescued Materials//. Donenfeld writes the popular blog Mayamade. We are impressed by her philosophy which underlies every project: to create something new from what already exists.  She loves the challenge of making “something out of nothing” (and so do we). (more…)

]]> 0
Francois Halard’s Big Book of Interiors Tue, 28 Jan 2014 18:31:10 +0000

Francois Halard

Maria Robledo sent us two images from Francois Halard//, a retrospective collection of the famed interiors photographer’s work. When pressed, she wrote this message:

Copied it at the bookstore.
Didnt buy it.
Not sure if i like it.

These images are VERY Improvised Life: a rough, beautiful, low wood slab bench to sit on or display art work. And the very cool copper pipe faucet, below. (more…)

]]> 2
Why You Need Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House Tue, 21 Jan 2014 21:00:14 +0000

Our post about trying to figure out how to clean a thick wool rug ourselves reminded us our favorite reference book about anything to do with keeping a home: Cheryl Mendelson’s Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House/. The fact is, there IS science behind all the things you might want to know about getting spots out of different fabrics, caring for linen, unclogging drains, dispelling mildew in a country house. Most of us never were taught how to tend to these matters. Mendelson researched the science and reports, in a curiously-compelling way, what you need to know to take care (more...)]]> 2 William Coperthwaite’s Inspired Yurt Compound Mon, 09 Dec 2013 21:00:29 +0000

We never really understood the possibilities in yurts, the round nomadic shelter until we saw images of William Coperthwaite’s Yurt on the Blue Hill Peninsula of Maine. Windows all around, on 3 levels.]]> 0