Improvised Life » Material If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Wed, 01 Jul 2015 06:25:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Yayoi Kusama’s Fab Lessons in Dots Tue, 02 Jun 2015 17:00:05 +0000

We’ve posted about Japanese artist Yoyoi Kusama a number of times in the past, so taken were we with her view of art as medicine;  losing herself in making art — “self-obliteration”— is her way of relieving illness.

We have been especially transfixed by her repetitive use of dots in her artwork. In “The Obliteration Room”, currently on view at the David Zwirner Gallery, she adorns an all-white room with colored dots of various sizes. On the most superficial level, it is a lesson in dots as decorative element. (more…)

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Annals of Good/Bad Design: DIY Burlap Panel Shades (with Fixes) Mon, 11 May 2015 17:07:39 +0000

Caitlin Long

Remodelista recently posted a compelling DIY by San Francisco blogger Caitlin Long of The Shingled House. It’s an example of a charming idea that has, in our eyes, something of a “fail” built-in, or at the very list, an interesting design problem.


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Wines to Drink with Easter/Spring Dinner, via Anthony Giglio Wed, 01 Apr 2015 20:02:00 +0000

Maria Robledo

We’ve long relied on our friend Anthony Giglio for advice on wine-and-food pairings. Here are a handful of Anthony’s “Pasqua Picks” to pour with any roast on Easter, chosen with help from his friends at Super Buy Rite Wines & Liquor in his hometown of Jersey City, New Jersey. (more…)

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Stage Your Own Balloon Invasion, Installation, Party Decoration Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:00:36 +0000

Charles Petillon

When we saw artist Charles Pétillon‘s magical installation “Balloon Invasion” —architectural spaces and landscapes spilling with white, inflated balloons — we thought “What an instantly surprising, fun, inexpensive way to totally transform a space”, for a party or otherwise. (Video link here.) (more…)

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Easter Dinner: Herb Salt Lamb, (or Pork, Chicken, Cookies WhatEVER…) Tue, 31 Mar 2015 18:36:52 +0000

Anthony Giglio

Last weekend, wine writer Anthony Giglio tweeted the instagram, below, of a pork loin roast he’d slathered with an herb salt recipe I published years ago. The salt — garlic, salt and rosemary and sage chopped together by hand or in a food processor —proved to be an endlessly useful and versatile staple in both my kitchen, and Herb-Scented Tuscan Pork Roast one of my most widely-shared recipes.

I read Anthony’s very rosy Frenched pork loin as lamb and, it being close to Easter, assumed that Anthony had tailored the herb salt to suit racks of lamb, using thyme instead of sage, Provencal style. GOOD IDEA! It’s so easy to do: whip up an herb salt, rub racks of lamb with it and roast ’em.  Et voila: a chic, easy, delicious Easter dinner.

Here’s how to use the herb salt on lamb —whether rack or leg — as well as on just about whatever kind of roast you want to make for the holidays (or on butter cookies for that matter).  (more…)

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A Clever Split Two-Tone Shelf w Still Life Mon, 30 Mar 2015 17:00:15 +0000

Suzanne Shaker

In one of the images on the feature 1st Dibs did about interior designer Suzanne Shaker recently, we spotted this clever long shelf made of two different materials, which makes for an unexpectedly interesting shelf unto itself, whether or not it holds objects or art. It was designed by Rogers Marvel Architects for a row of modern townhouses built in Brooklyn.

Suzanne’s client wasn’t sure about it and asked her about changing it. No, let’s make the most of it, said Suzanne.  And she did


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Easy-Peasy Vinegar at Home: Making, Blending, Flavoring Fri, 27 Mar 2015 06:17:00 +0000

Sally Schneider

After a recent evening yielded several not-great “mystery” bottles of wine, the conversation turned to making vinegar, which I planned to make with the leftover wine. “How do you do it?” a friend asked. “I’ve tried with the vinegar mother someone gave me and it didn’t work.”  A vinegar mother is the live, jelly-fish-like culture that transforms wine into vinegar.

I’ve discovered that —perhaps due to misunderstanding the loaded word “mother” — many people believe that vinegar is some mysterious substance, difficult-to-make, and too holy to mess around with. I’ve been making vinegar in my down-and-dirty, small-space, defying-the-accepted-wisdom-way for years. Not to mention, blending vinegars, as well as flavoring them.


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Annals of Bad Design: Strangely Phallic Coffee Table Thu, 26 Mar 2015 19:20:37 +0000

Although we are huge fans of using tree parts and the natural world as furnishings, we were stunned to see this wildly impractical coffee table made of what appears to be bundled branches or driftwood of some sort. Is it just us or do they have strangely phallic shapes? (Not that we don’t like phallic shapes but…er..seems a bit out-of-place in this setting.)

How is this table meant to work, we wondered, when we want to set our drink down on the table, or something small like dice or coins? Are we given little platforms? And if we want to lounge and put our feet up, how comfortable will it be?

Here’s a closer look:


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Magazine Page Envelopes + the PERFECT Multipurpose Business Card Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:00:30 +0000

Sally Scheider

Pamela Hovland, who designed Improvised Life’s first site design, periodically sends us notes in improvised envelopes she makes out of pages torn from magazines and catalogs, whenever she comes across a compelling visual. We were charmed to get her Spring greeting in the form of two letters, both with images of people LEAPING on the outside, and her very cool note card within. (more…)

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DIY Idea-Capturing Desks Tue, 24 Mar 2015 17:26:59 +0000

Kirsten Camera

Somewhat obsessed by how we remember the past”, MCAD student Kirsten Camara designed the Analog Memory Desk. It has a holder embedded in its legs for scrolling huge rulls of butcher or Kraft paper over the desk’s surface to make “a sort of tablecloth of memory” to record “hundreds of little things that we don’t try to remember every year or even every week”. It can record months, possibly years of ideas, drawings, doodles, mind maps, phone numbers, calculations etc… (more…)

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Brilliant Plywood: Stair Chair DIY Mon, 23 Mar 2015 21:14:31 +0000

Now that it’s getting to be THAT time of year — the trees will soon be in bud, and warm weather upon us —we yen to hang out on stoops and stairs.

We’re smitten with this StairChair that solves the problem of back support or needing a wide enough surface to lie down and snooze or look at the sky. snooze. It’s just the kind of furniture design we love: so simply made, we can use our x-ray vision to see its structure…

…and hammer some together ourselves…


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Found Objects Music + Attitude for Monday Mon, 23 Mar 2015 07:29:20 +0000

Click to embiggen

At Under the Sun we stumbled on this reminder of the many objects around us that can be used to make music.

Type in Found Objects Music into YouTube’s Search and you’ll find A LOT of interesting improvisations. Here’s a favorite, with a great beat for Monday morning, and a long list of found objects used. (Video link here.) (more…)

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Mystery Wine Dinner Parties + an “Off” Wine Improv Fri, 20 Mar 2015 07:10:17 +0000

Sally Schneider

When friends ask, “What can we bring?” to my dinner parties, lately, I’ve been asking them to bring the “mystery” bottles of wines languishing in their “wine cellars”.  Those are the bottles that promised to be great —once; since they’ve languished for years, it’s impossible to say if there’s something delicious inside, or a wine that’s past its moment.

It’s curiously exciting to open aged Burgundies and Bordeaux’s or expensive Sauternes and taste them, not having any idea of they’ll be a gem, or not. The key (more…)

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Lemesoff’s Weapon of Mass INSTRUCTION + Other Brilliance Thu, 19 Mar 2015 05:26:25 +0000

(Video link here.) We are smitten with Buenos Aires-based artist Raul Lemesoff’s brilliant ‘Weapons of Mass Instruction’, a 1979 Ford Falcon transformed into a military-style vehicle/traveling library with a serious function of peace. Lemesoff tours through Argentina’s cities, towns and rural communities, offering free books to anyone interested in his a varied collection of poetry, novels and biographies.

But beyond this singular creation, the video proves Lemesoff a creative FORCE to emulate. (more…)

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