Improvised Life » Material If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Thu, 11 Sep 2014 22:00:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Rock Table…DIY Imaginings Thu, 11 Sep 2014 20:00:05 +0000

Elisabeth Garouste and Maria Bonetti

Spotted at Aqqindex: a very cool Rock Table by Elisabeth Garouste and Maria Bonetti.

Could we chistle out notches in small boulders or interesting big rocks to hold a triangle or rectangle of painted ply or…


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DIY Two-Panel Room Divider Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:00:21 +0000

Annaleen Karlsson of Annaleenas Hem  came up with this DIY room divider for La Petite Magazine. It’s not a new concept, but a tried and true one: You attach hinges to two boards of the same height and width, painted or finished as you like.

Our old friend Tom Booth made a two-panel screen almost the height of his ceiling. He placed it in a corner of the living room and hid all sorts of things he needed access to but didn’t want to see daily: extra folding chairs and tables for dinner parties, boxes on their way to the stroage room etc…). It gave the room a sleek, modern look. Because there are only two panels, it looks curiously UNscreen-like (more…)

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Urban Taxi Farmers 2014 Wed, 10 Sep 2014 22:00:48 +0000

David Saltman

Five years ago we began profiling an intrepid group of urban farmers, all of whom have the day job of taxi driver.

They’ve “borrowed” pieces of unused open land in various corners of New York City and turned it into bread and butter – or rather into corn, beans, tomatoes, grapes, herbs and whatever else they can plant on tiny scraps of earth along abutments and train tracks: wherever their peripatetic profession spies land that no one else is interested in.  The are high on our list of smart, fearless urban improvisers.  (more…)

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Our FIX for the Flawed Cos Backpack Wed, 10 Sep 2014 17:00:50 +0000

Sally Schneider

In July, we posted a compelling backpack we’d bought from the stylish COS site only to discover that its design was profoundly flawed. If you put all but the lightest items in it, its magnetic closure instantly popped open, inviting strangers to dip their hand into the bag and steal our wallet (image below).  In that post, we experimented with a possible fix by using binder clips. Since the approach seemed workable, during our recent break we hacked the straps and sewed on sliding holders. We’re proud to say our fix WORKED: a lesson in trying ideas out, and flexing our own untrained design muscles to make things better or at the very least learn a few things.  (more…)

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Giglio’s 10 Wine Pairings for Junk Food Tue, 09 Sep 2014 22:00:58 +0000


One of the things we love about wine and spirits authority Anthony Giglio is his complete lack of pretention on matters of food and wine. So, of course, when asked to recommend wines to drink with pork rinds, pizza, Doritos and Dunkin Donuts (!!) and other humble junky foods we secretly love, he rose the occasion. You’ll find the complete list of his 10 favorite oddball pairings at Details.

Our favorite, for the story behind it as much for the brilliance of the combo is Popcorn + Chardonnay (check out our Popcorn Improvisations): (more…)

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Solar Lanterns Become Wondrous Bubbles Tue, 09 Sep 2014 17:27:10 +0000

Photo by Paul Kozlowski

Sensual wave“, an art installation by French architects Marion Moustey and Alexandre Arcens, gave us ideas for late summer-fall gardens lit with Soji Solar Lantern. Susan Dworski first posted about the wondrous, inexpensive solar shoji lights she festooned her garden with.  “Sensual Wave” takes her idea a step further. (more…)

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Ikea’s Knockout Video on the Power of a Book Mon, 08 Sep 2014 22:03:08 +0000

(Video link here.) Ikea’s creative team is rivaling Apple’s…AND using Apple’s classic myth-making approach to its latest technology to describe the…power…of…a…BOOK.  This brilliant ad for IKea’s 2015 catalogue lays out just why REAL books are so wonderful.

With thanks to Susan Dworski for making sure we watched a video we’d ignored!

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Formula for a DIY Donald Judd-esque Sofa Mon, 08 Sep 2014 17:00:00 +0000

Farrah Sit/Rebecca Atwood

Artist Donald Judd's austere, organic, ultra-simple furniture has been inspiration for lots of knockoff's and diy's and straight-out ripoffs. His iconic sofa, below, inspired the $6,000 Maple sofa, above, a collaboration of Brooklyn-based industrial designer Farrah Sit and textile designer Rebecca Atwood. Sit and Atwood have made improvments on Judd's design, from a practical comfort point-of-view. The sofa is definitely DIY-able.]]> 3
Tomato Candy (Pilot Light Dried Tomatoes) Fri, 05 Sep 2014 08:40:48 +0000

Sally Schneider

Recently we received a trove of small plum tomatoes which are in abundance right now. Since we don't have the energy or space to can the tomatoes, we experimented with drying them in our ancient restaurant stove whose pilot lit oven is a constant 150'. We often dry our kale chips this way, and in the past have done sliced apples and pears. Why not tomatoes? Our experiments were a success. Here’s what we did. ]]> 1
Lego-like Bricks for Building REAL Structures Thu, 04 Sep 2014 21:00:40 +0000

(Video link HERE.) In addition to plastic snap together grownup legos we could make real things out of, we’ve long dreamed of big concrete Lego-like bricks we could build serious structures out of.  So we were thrilled to find this video of Kite Bricks, a patent-pending, production-imminent component brick that is very much like big concrete Legos meant for serious construction products. (more…)

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Reorganization as Soul Cleanse Thu, 04 Sep 2014 08:54:33 +0000

A 48-hour disappearance into the depths of my studio was finally interrupted late yesterday by a well-meaning friend. He peered in to find me on hands and knees wiping out the lowest shelves with damp paper towels.

“Jeez. Still at it?”

I swiveled and growled like a rabid dog, sweat pouring down, hair plastered, eyes raccooned by melted mascara. “I can’t stop now. This is important. This is soulwork” He faded without a word.

Panting, disheveled, covered in cobwebs, I sat back on my heels. WTF? Why did this reorganization seem like a matter of life and death? Taking a swig of ice water, I collapsed on the floor. Presently, it came to me why it was––and is––such a big deal. (more…)

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Trees with Ladders: Tree Climbing for Adults Wed, 03 Sep 2014 22:20:11 +0000

E. Sanders

Every day we go to the park across the way and enjoy the huge, hundreds-years-old trees. We WISH we could climb them, as we did as a kid, and wondered, in our minds eye, WHY NOT just put a ladder up to one to give our creaky adult selves a boost up. Then we stumbled on images of L’Arbre aux Echelles — The Tree with Ladders — an installation by French artist François Méchain.]]> 0
Playing with a Mashup of Modernist and Classical Wed, 03 Sep 2014 18:04:48 +0000

McKinney + Windeatt Architects

When we scroll through the many design sites we cull for ideas, we find ourselves wading through image after image of the same midcentury-esque spaces, void of anything that “breaks” the look. There’s a disconcertingly uptight sameness to the essential idea of mid-century design that was, in its time, so alive and quirky.

So we found ourselves curiously relieved when we came across this very modern, in parts brutalist, space whose design was broken and softened by classical antiques. The heavy concrete mantle with an ornate gilded mirror is a fine example. (more…)

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Huge Linen Shirt Becomes a TeaTowel Tue, 02 Sep 2014 18:36:53 +0000

Marella Consolini

This just in from our friend Marella Consolini (whose daybooks with custom covers we love):

A new improvised project! Jimmy bought a gorgeous linen shirt on eBay for pennies, that turned out to be about a hundred sizes too big. But I fell in love with the pattern and the quality of the linen. Rather than send it on to the thrift shop, I folded it up and put it in my drawer, certain that I’d eventually figure out something to do with it.

Finally it dawned on me: the back was big enough to turn into a small pillow case or a towel — yes, a linen tea towel, which I love best! (more…)

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