Improvised Life » Material If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Tue, 22 Jul 2014 08:47:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Closet Strategies with a Simple Piece of Fabric Mon, 21 Jul 2014 20:00:05 +0000

Since when is it hip, slick and cool to lie in bed and stare at your clothes and shoe racks––no matter how neatly organized––when you’re rustling up romance? I’m talking about a very particular theme of design porn these days: highly-styled, out-in-the-open clothes racks that make me wonder: What would happen in this uber-neuter scheme if one dared to own something scarlet, purple or orange!  Is it old school not to want to have all your clothes in your face 24/7?


]]> 0
big shipping pallet and concrete block outdoor table Mon, 21 Jul 2014 17:00:10 +0000

Sally Schneider

Last weekend, we walked down to the Urban Garden Center to check out the pig roast they hold every Saturday in the summer. You many remember that the garden center is directly across from the two buildings that collapsed in Harlem last winter after a gas leak explosion. It was practically decimated and we wondered if they’d come back. We’ll they made it through and we bought ornamental grasses for our planters from them a couple of months ago. Ever industrious, they rebuilt their rough-and-tumble party pavilion and launched a weekly Harlem Seoul Pig Roast, serving a mashup of Korean/Southern Barbeque. The pavilion is made of all sorts of found and rustic materials, including mismatched chairs and junk store finds.

We especially loved the huge table made of shipping pallets and concrete block, two of our favorite building materials. It could easily seat twelve AND weather the elements.  (more…)

]]> 0
How to Think in Haiku (and a Haiku about Grasses) Mon, 21 Jul 2014 08:41:12 +0000

Sally Schneider

At the very end of May, we planted grasses in the planter on the Laboratory’s patio. Since then, they’ve grown like wild fire, along with the Morning Glory vine we plunked into their soil to further screen us from our neighbors. We love watching the grasses move in the breeze; they seem to constantly change and catch the light in new ways.  The other day, we read a haiku by Issa that revealed a quality that we hadn’t been conscious of:  (more…)

]]> 0
Cherry Season’s Perfect Desserts Fri, 18 Jul 2014 08:54:15 +0000

Maria Robledo

We can’t remember a cherry season lasting SO long, with such an abundance of plump cherries. If we owned a restaurant, a bowl of iced cherries would be our featured dessert. (It’s also the perfect, surprising, understated end to a dinner party.) There is little better… …except perhaps (more…)

]]> 0
Designers’ Wish List Dreams Become Prototyped Reality Thu, 17 Jul 2014 21:05:53 +0000

Paul Smith

For many of us, there’s often a disconnect between our ideas and doodles and seeing a project through to its completion. While generating wish list items that exist only in our wildest dreams is a satisfying exercise on its own, a handful of artists and designers were lucky enough to bridge that gap and have outside craftsmen bring their concepts to life.

As part of Terence Conran’s umbrella project which asked “What have you always wanted in your home, but never been able to find?”, (more…)

]]> 0
Micron, A Cheap, Great Pen to Repace the Rapidograph Thu, 17 Jul 2014 20:04:30 +0000

Bob Mankoff for The New Yorker

Having used Rapidograph technical drawing pens forever, I finally switched to the disposable little Sakura’s Pigma Micron pen and love it. Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor of the New Yorker, draws all his pointillistic funnies with one. It costs a mere $2.98, as opposed to $25+ for a Rapidograph. (more…)

]]> 0
Find: HUGE 100% Cotton Dish Towels Have Many Uses Thu, 17 Jul 2014 17:00:53 +0000

We stumbled on these HUGE dish towels and ordered a set to check out, having learned the hard way that the real thing is often way different than pictures. We washed them and…they are great, 100% cotton, wonderful-looking and useful for many things. (more…)

]]> 2
Leftover Tiles Morph into a Trivet for Hot Pots and Pans Wed, 16 Jul 2014 20:24:48 +0000

Sally Schneider

We chose plain white Corian for the countertops in the Laboratory kitchen renovation and love working on it: it presents a “clear” palet of a work surface that is a pleasure to prep food on. It’s ONE drawback that our old, visually-busy granite counter tops didn’t have: we can’t put a searing hot pot directly on the Corian for fear of damaging it (although it can be sanded back the “new). So we devised a minimalist, practically-invisible white trivet to sit next to the stove, (more…)

]]> 0
Water Lily-ish Sculptures and Other Floating Possibilities Wed, 16 Jul 2014 17:27:46 +0000

(Video link HERE.) Japanese artist Toshihiko Shibuya has placed ‘water pallet’ floating on a square pool of water at the Sapporo Sculpture Garden, Painted with pinks, blues and greens on the underside of their base, the white circles glide on the surface of the basin, reflecting a colorful hue when they overlap.

What a lovely idea. Of course, we tried to figure out how we could do that (assuming we had a pool to begin with). (more…)

]]> 0
Holton Rower’s Money Art (Art Takes Money) Wed, 16 Jul 2014 08:00:10 +0000

Holton Rower

One of the many unexpected materials artist Holton Rower uses to make his art is money —physical paper money— rolled, folded and fashioned into all manner of unexpected scuptures. His concrete block filled with tightly-rolled bills resonates strongly with us, LOVING concrete block as we do for both their look and inherent possibilities, (more…)

]]> 0
Instant Treehouse or Picnic in the Sky with a Hanging Tent Tue, 15 Jul 2014 23:00:53 +0000

The Hanging Tent Company

If this isn’t the absolute essence of the escapist wilderness whims we had as children, we don’t know what is….

We wonder what it would be like to lay still in one of these floating spheres and listen to a slight wind coming through the trees. (more…)

]]> 2
Our Search for Lego-Like Adult Building Blocks Tue, 15 Jul 2014 20:00:32 +0000

We have been so hungry for “adult” Legos with which we could actually make some home projects that we’ve checked out all sorts of possibilities, including giant plastic storage boxes in the shape of Legos, with “Lego” embossed loudly on the top. NOT.

The closest we’ve come is TogetherFarms modular blocks made from recycled plastic and food-safe. They are being marketing for use for making planters and raised beds. (more…)

]]> 4
Makoto Azuma’s Living Walls and Floors Tue, 15 Jul 2014 17:00:39 +0000

We’ve recently come across Japanese botanical artist, Makoto Azuma who works with plants as sculpture and installation. He’s made a career out of using micro-climates as an art form, but we’re particularly taken by one installation which brings botanicals into the home — with walls and floors covered entirely in living plants. (more…)

]]> 0
A HUGE Paper Globe Transforms a Room Mon, 14 Jul 2014 20:05:07 +0000

Gilliam Khaw

Spotted in a house tour at Desire to Inspire: one swell idea. Want to add some moderne architectural interest to a prewar room? Hang a giant Noguchi-esque paper shade.  We’re talking BIG:  36-inch or 42-inch in diameter  We like the Maru white paper lantern available at Shoji Decor.  They also sell single cord lantern kits for hanging them.

]]> 0