Improvised Life » paths + processes If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Tue, 12 Aug 2014 08:50:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Anthony Giglio Kills at the Moth! Wed, 30 Jul 2014 23:00:01 +0000

Anthony Giglio is journalist, sommelier, and author of Food & Wine Wine GuidesCocktails in New York and Mr. Boston’s Official Bartender’s Guide. He is wine blogger for Details and Improvised Life’s deviser of brilliant, simple strategies for celebrations both grand and low-key.

Of late, Anthony revealed yet another side of himself: a superb storyteller whose personal stories move and transform. He brought down the house at The Moth when he performed “Listen Here, Fancy Pants!” live in May of 2012. Due some non-public-radio-friendly language (we disagree), it has taken two years for it to be made public and accessible online. (more…)

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House Tour with Life Lessons: Tom Fallon’s Shelter Island Cottage Tue, 29 Jul 2014 08:48:16 +0000

Jason Penney

When our friend Tom Fallon’s Shelter Island cottage was featured in Hamptons Cottages & Gardens, we realized just how many lessons about home design and LIFE we learned from him over the years. Here they are, with pictures by Jason Penney.]]> 2
May the Mistakes I Make Light the Way Tue, 29 Jul 2014 08:02:31 +0000

We were really struck by this sign we found on Hedviggen. Burning bridges is a pretty intense thing to do, and it made us think hard about that idea, of being able NEVER to go back because of a bridge we’ve burned.

We do believe that in just about any action, there are always possibilities for redemption, (more…)

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Exploration: Maria Robledo’s Frame Series Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:30:30 +0000

Maria Robledo

In May, we gave photographer Maria Robledo an antique silver picture frame that had no glass or mat; you could see right through it. Hand-wrought, it had a built-in stand of two crossing silver poles. To our surprise, Maria started using it as-is to frame cut flowers from her garden. Over the past weeks, she’s sent us a number of photographs of what has become quite organically her “Frame Series”. Gradually, the images have evolved to get increasingly daring, culminating in this remarkable one of a plastic bag. (more…)

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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…)

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Fab Time-Lapse Video of Objects Sanded (Like X-Ray Vision) Thu, 10 Jul 2014 08:35:19 +0000

(Video link HERE.) Laurin Döpfner used an industrial sander to shave off 0.5 mm at a time from logs, electronics, a camera, and a walnut, and then made a time lapse video of the results.

Jason Kottke likened the astonishing finished video to a full-color MRI.

For us, it’s like some kind of X-Ray vision of our imaginings about how things are made, and what they might become if we deconstructed them.


Via Jason Kottke

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Surfing Through the Wave Tue, 08 Jul 2014 08:06:41 +0000

(Video link HERE.) Some people like watching this with the sound cranked up. We find it more beautiful OFF…

….a reminder of that the path can sometimes be obscured, but we must keep riding through as best we can…


via The Dish

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Grant Snider on Making the Leap Wed, 02 Jul 2014 08:50:57 +0000

Grant Snyder

Grant Snider nails it again.


What leaps are you afraid to make?       (Make a list, real or imaginary, of what they are and why you want to make them.) (more…)

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Apply Design Thinking Anywhere, Even the Hospital Thu, 26 Jun 2014 20:08:51 +0000

Sally Schneider

On Monday, after our weekend spent looking after a friend in the hospital, we posted the makeshift phone table we devised by turning a foot stool on its side, so our friend could easily reach the phone. Like many prototypes, our design needed tweaking after it had actually been put to use. The problem: our friend was tethered to monitors and IV’s so didn’t have his usual dexterity. The rigged table tipped over easily.

So we made an improvement to our phone table, using what was around. (more…)

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Improvising: Twists, Turns and Messy Failures to Arrive at Plan B Thu, 19 Jun 2014 23:00:49 +0000

Robert Dolan

Artist Robert Dolan intended to make a tee shirt for a young man with leukemia who is now in remission. He made a history of his creative process for a grammar school art class to show the twists, turns, and often messy failures that he went through to arrive at…Plan B. Not a tee shirt, but a poster.

True improvisation! Once again demonstrating that it pays to follow that ball of yarn, wherever it rolls.

—Susan Dworski

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Daybooks with Custom Covers to Mark Where You Are or Are Going Mon, 16 Jun 2014 08:41:10 +0000

Marella Consolini

Marella Consolini, former Chief Operating Officer of the Chinati Foundation in Marfa, Texas, is one of the many very interesting Improvised Life readers we’ve come to know and be amazed by. Somehow years ago, an email exchange started and continued until we feel like she is an old friend, who we happen to have never met in person.

In a recent email, Marella sent images of the day books she embellishes yearly with images; the current one, above, features Yves Klein’s famous leap to mark a year of questions, transitions and new challenges: (more…)

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Phillip Glass: Renowned Composer, Taxi Driver, Plumber (with Music) Wed, 11 Jun 2014 23:00:20 +0000


Recently, guest contributor Sinnae Choi wrote about the popular, simplistic “Do What You Love” notion that devalues the very real need to make a living. Composer Phillip Glass was one of the examples she originally cited of artists who kept working even when they had gained some notoriety.  His story is so compelling, we extracted it to make into it’s own article:

In 2011, Glass was questioned about his day jobs as taxi driver and plumber. He recalls: (more…)

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A Portrait of One Tree with A Mighty View Mon, 09 Jun 2014 08:50:44 +0000

Michael Nichols/National Geographic

It took National Geographic photographer Michael “Nick” Nichols 32 days to photograph the President, a 3200-year-old giant sequoia in Sequoia National Park in California.

Using a rig system of ropes, Nichols and his team raised a camera in increments so that they could take shots of every part of the 247-foot-tall, 27-foot-wide giant, one of the largest trees in the world. The final image is stitched together from 126 individual photos, creating the first picture of the President captured entirely in a single frame. (Click on the image twice to embiggen and get a full measure of BIG.)

At over 3,200 years old, the President has stood witness to millennia of history. We spent quite a bit of time trying to fnd out just what exactly those 3,000 years might have entailed (more…)

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“Do What You Love” Every Day in Small Doses… Tue, 03 Jun 2014 08:49:01 +0000

Recently, Sally showed me Gordon Marino’s NY Times article, “A Life Beyond ‘Do What You Love”. The gist: the oft-repeated 21st century American mantra of following your true passions — instead of dull but reliable career paths — is misguided. 

There’s a hint of naïve entitlement to making “Do What You Love” the be-all-end-all answer to the workday blues, just as suggesting “Just move!” when a friend’s neighborhood turns dangerous comes across as simplistic and dismissive. Sometimes, you just can’t. At the heart of the matter is devaluing other forms of dedication, labor, work. Must we passionately love everything that we give attention to? Why?

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