Improvised Life » ideas from artists If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Mon, 20 Jul 2015 16:05:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Laura Handler’s Checkered Duct Tape AC Surround Thu, 16 Jul 2015 17:00:14 +0000

Laura Handler

Designer Laura Handler, whose chic Montana cabin and cool teeny ‘everything’ vial we’ve featured, sent us images her latest brilliance. The Harlem building in which she recently renovated her apartment is having the bricks repointed, which is seriously messy work. To keep dust OUT, Laura first made a barrier of blue painter’s tape around her (very cool) Quirky air conditioner Wrote Laura: (more…)

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Rubber Stamp Brilliance: Yoko Ono’s Peace Map Thu, 16 Jul 2015 01:41:02 +0000 A photo posted by Yoko Ono (@yokoonoofficial) on May 13, 2014 at 1:33pm PDT

Yes. We try.”

Wonderful words. Part of Ono’s Peace Maps, in which you

Stamping PEACE all over town would make lovely graffiti.


via Yoko Ono’s Instagram; peace stamp image via Mikihiko Hori’s Flickr

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Inspiration: Le Corbusier’s Envisions a Paris Rooftop Garden Wed, 15 Jul 2015 17:52:46 +0000


In the 1920’s, Le Corbusier designed Carlos de Beistegui’s apartment in Paris. The rooftop garden, with a very grand rococo fireplace one would usually find indoors, turns the usual outdoor space on its head.

Here, he elaborates on it, with a mirror, candlesticks and an ornate sideboard, on grass. (more…)

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Vibration Fixes: Levitation Suits + Air Mattress Shock Absorbers Mon, 06 Jul 2015 19:15:13 +0000

Over the past year, I’ve written about the many hopefully improvised solutions I’ve created to try to NOT feel the mechanical vibration that shakes me awake every morning. I even looked into making a hanging bed that would be bolted to the concrete ceiling slab, or a rig like this “Levitation Suit”. It was created for The Cultural Center of European Space Technologies in a workshop focusing on levitation in an environment of gravity; it was an exploration into  a new “3D” form of hotel, and has the obvious appeal of flight.

In lieu of being able to be weightless or levitate, my newest vibration-damping fix came via some readers who had the same problem. (more…)

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Celebrate the Art of Clutter via Browning, Hao + Improvised Life Wed, 24 Jun 2015 07:46:16 +0000

My Things/Hong Hao

Having read and written a good deal about decluttering and letting go of stuff, we’ve witnessed something of a backlash in the media of late. Just as we were reading Dominique Browning’s recent Let’s Celebrate the Art of Clutter, we came across the work of Beijing-based Hong Hao who has been recording every item that comes into his life in the course of a day. He scans each one and them compiles the images together into digital collages. We’ve woven them into Browning’s (and our own) commentary. (more…)

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DIY to Alter Your Mental State (after Carsten Höller) Tue, 23 Jun 2015 07:43:31 +0000

If haven’t experienced artist Carsten Höller’s work, perhaps you can devise your own version of his Giant Psycho Tank, above, which invites viewers to float weightlessly in the water of a sensory deprivation pool to alter their mental state. (more…)

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Sourcing USABLE Home Ideas in a Museum Tue, 16 Jun 2015 18:36:22 +0000

Robert Motherwell/Carnegie Museum of Art

On a recent trip to Pittsburgh, I stopped at the Carnegie Museum of Art to wait for a friend who worked there. In my short rambling, I saw some wonderful works ‘in person’ that I’d previously only seen online, including On Kawara’s date paintings. Reading the little info cards alongside the works often gave me ideas I could apply in my own space and life. (more…)

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‘Every Exit is a Start': Stefan Sagmeister Wed, 10 Jun 2015 06:59:04 +0000

The Happy Show/Stefan Sagmeister

Designer Stefan Sagmeister has been obsessed with HAPPINESS for a decade or so, doing massive research, giving talks, making a film, and mounting an exhibition called The Happy Show, An Exploration of Happiness. You can visit it virtually at his tumblr. It’s worth it. Sagmeister’s tested a lot of “happiness” theories on himself.

The very best bit to us are the exits…done three ways… (more…)

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Eccentricity Means Being Yourself (Salvador Dali as Role Model) Tue, 09 Jun 2015 06:20:18 +0000

When I was a little girl in the sixties, my mother to used occasionally take me to the St. Regis hotel for lunch in the little lounge next to the famous King Cole Bar (With paintings by Maxfield Parrish, it was where the Bloody Mary was invented).  We’d sit side-by-side on the banquet as Albert, the ancient head waiter, would serve us lunch. Across the room, we often saw Salvador Dali lunching with his pet ocelot Babou, who lived with him in his suite upstairs. Dali described Babou as a normal cat that he had “painted over in an op art design.

At the time, I had no concept of what I was witnessing: eccentricity in full glory. (more…)

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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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Expand Your Emoji + Emoticon Vocabulary …and make ART Thu, 21 May 2015 17:00:52 +0000

Cindy Sherman

Emoticons (short for “emotion icon” formed out of keyboard symbols), and emojis (pictograms) are being so widely used that we’ve been hearing news reports that they might possible become a new language: a sort of modern day hieroglyphics. You can track hundreds being used on Twitter using Emoji TrackerFred Benenson published Emoji Dick, an emoji translation of the Herman Melville’s massive classic Moby Dick. His Emoji Transation Kickstarter proposes to create an emoji translation engine and phrase book. Best of all, artist Cindy Sherman has devised her own set of emojis which she’s offering as a free download.

Although we love possibilities in the realm of emojis (see more below), we like the constraints of making emoticons using just keyboard symbols, and are playing around with Wikipedia’s essential list of FORTY (click to embiggen).  (more…)

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Holly Soloman’s Kitchen: “A Painting I Can Walk Into” Mon, 18 May 2015 17:00:11 +0000


In the annals of kitchen design, art collector/dealer Holly Soloman‘s has to be one of the most out-there. The dazzling, mind-boggling riot of colored mosaic was created artist Dorren Gallo as an on-site installation in the eighties.  Solomon said to the New York Times in 1984“I don’t know how to find an egg in it. But for me it’s a painting I can walk into.” 

The Times’ description of Gallo’s process is both illuminating and inspiring.

Miss Gallo used the whole kitchen, including the refrigerator, as a canvas (more…)

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Frida Kahlo’s Artful Wardrobe, Painted Casts and All Thu, 14 May 2015 06:42:22 +0000

Ishiuchi Miyako, courtesy of Michael Hoppen Gallery

One of our most popular posts featured Frida Kahlo painting the plaster cast she had to suffer living in after one of her many operations. Kahlo, confined in terrible casts most of life, painted them, transformed them, took them over as much as she could, turned them into something beautiful, expressive; she turned them into art. That defiant act of transformation resonately deeply with readers.

Recently, we found a trove of powerful images by Japanese photograher Ishiuchi Miyako of Kahlo’s wardrobe, from gloves and stockings to her vividly colored skirts and blouses, as well as her incredible casts, in remarkable detail. Each item is evidence of her powerful drive to self expression, despite her wounds, setbacks and handicaps. (more…)

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Charles Ray: “The Difference Between Making and Discovering” Tue, 12 May 2015 06:24:13 +0000

Charles Ray

We were stunned by a number of passages in “Meaning Machines“,  the New Yorker’s recent profile of sculptor Charles Ray. The first has to do with “making”, something we do a lot of, but we’d never thought about it quite this way. Like Ray, we are haunted by it: (more…)

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