Improvised Life If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Fri, 24 Oct 2014 14:55:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Build Miniature Worlds for Fun and…Healing Fri, 24 Oct 2014 12:30:47 +0000

Tatsuya Tanaka

Every day of the year for the past four years Japanese artist Tanaka Tatsuya has been obsessively building tiny, witty worlds by pairing midget figurines with common household objects like toilet paper, vegetables, fruit, straws, and noodles.

The project, entitled “Miniature Calendars,” has a weird, whacko charm that escapes kitsch by the sheer volume and variety of the photographer’s output, and inventiveness of his joyful, improvisatory vision. (more…)

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How (and Why) to Make an Emergency Spoon Thu, 23 Oct 2014 21:53:07 +0000

(Video link HERE.) Master life-hacker/improviser Dave Hax shows how to make a spoon out of a plastic bottle. It reminds us of “Found” the beautiful metal-coated plastic cutlery by designer Oscar Diaz in 2009, featured in Dezeen.

Photographs of Diaz’s process show the kind of “x-ray vision” a clever designer employs when looking at a material. (more…)

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Do-able Baking Inspiration from Burrow Thu, 23 Oct 2014 17:00:40 +0000

At a birthday party recently, Maria Robledo presented two utterly charming cakes from Patisserie Burrow, a tiny bakery hidden in the lobby of 68 Jay Street in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood. When you experience the pastries, cookies and cakes created by Ayako Kurokowa, you know an artist is at work. We find ourselves inspired just by looking at her Instagrams, and by her little bio: (more…)

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A Vexing Problem Yields Unexpected Gifts: Wondrous Images of Vibrations Thu, 23 Oct 2014 08:47:43 +0000


Since we first wrote about the mysterious mechanical vibration that shakes us awake at night, we’ve tried endless fixes to no avail and at times, have despaired of finding a solution. But amidst this difficulty have come many unexpected gifts, in the form of strangers reaching out to help, and research leading to rich layers of information about sound, acoustics and materials, and seeing our own tenaciousness in the face of a problem.

The latest gift came as we were following more trails about how frequencies work, having learned the specific freqencies of our vexing vibrations. We stumbled on a trove of startlingly beautiful images of vibrations (more…)

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Annals of Hair Design: LaBelle’s Nightbird Platter-Do (with Music) Wed, 22 Oct 2014 23:00:10 +0000


The Hair Hats in our recent Annals of Hair Design reminded me of the great “platter” do, Patti LaBelle wore when performing her album Nightbirds in the 80’s. I loved watching her perform it and wondered how she got that hair to STAY.

Years later, she came to my old studio for a photo shoot and I asked her how she got her hair to make those fabulous platters. (more…)

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Tree Branch Book Shelf + Cut-Out Wed, 22 Oct 2014 20:34:34 +0000

We discovered artisan/designer Olivier Dolle‘s lovely tree branch book shelf when reader Kevin Neff sent us an Instructable for a cardboard version inspired by it. We find the wooden one quite beautiful and appreciate its asymmetry, unusual in shelving.

The cardboard version has it’s own charm.  (more…)

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Optical Illusion Rug or Floor Stencil Wed, 22 Oct 2014 17:49:39 +0000


When we looked closely at this 3D rug, we realized that it was really an assemblage of simple shapes that LOOKED way more complex that in is.

Very cool as a rug OR as a painted floor. (more…)

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Fallen Autumn Leaves are a Material for Making Wed, 22 Oct 2014 08:05:02 +0000

Walking in the park the other day, we saw a young woman lying in a huge pile of brightly-colored leaves…half buried really, resting; she looked relaxed and content.  Around her three little girls were all happily making things out of leaves. And we thought LEAVES. What a beautiful material-for-making things all around us.

That got us looking for Fallen Leaf Creations. (more…)

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Open Source Systems for Everyday Objects, Food + Living Tue, 21 Oct 2014 21:05:56 +0000

(Video link HERE.) Bio 50 has applied open-source thinking to electronic appliances we use in our homes everyday. They’ve prototyped of a system built upon standard components that offers the user the ability to assemble, customize, repair, and repurpose existing products.

Check out their clever fan, hand mixer, and a balloon-encased lamp all configured from the same elements.  (more…)

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Adjustable Rolling Table for Matisse AND Us Tue, 21 Oct 2014 18:04:33 +0000


When we looked closely at images of the invalid Matisse sitting in bed or in a chair making his beautiful paper cutouts, we realized that he used an adjustable bed table similar to one we’ve had for years.

We came across ours while trolling Ebay for mid-century furniture nearly 20 years ago. Billed as a Danish Modern Teak Rolling Tray Table, it looked mighty useful so we bought it. Over the years, we’ve found it to be astonishingly versatile: (more…)

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Seth Godin: Make Two Lists, then Choose Tue, 21 Oct 2014 08:12:29 +0000

We were struck by Seth Godin’s recent post about the two lists we seem to carry with us at all times, which become apparent during a crisis or moment of doubt: one is the positives, the other, the negatives we perceive in our lives. His point: we have a choice in which we choose and the choice we make determines how we will proceed: (more…)

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Gif of the Week: Brain Storm Coming In! Mon, 20 Oct 2014 23:00:03 +0000



via Hedviggen

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Forssman, the Heart Pioneer who Used Himself as a Guinea Pig Mon, 20 Oct 2014 21:33:00 +0000

Reading the illustrated walls of the hospital waiting room a couple of weeks ago, we learned this compelling little fact about Werner Forssmann, one of the pioneers of heart catheterization. He had the idea that you could thread a healing device through an artery and into the heart.

Then he tried it on himself.

At Improvised Life, we are big believers in the “try things out” school of discovery and creating.  (more…)

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BIG Leaning Mirrors Expand the View Mon, 20 Oct 2014 17:00:34 +0000

I’m crazy about how mirrors can animate a room and bring it to life. Particularly oversize, leaning mirrors. I thought these were beauties.

You don’t need to do anything — no hanging or rigging; just set them where the look best or reflect the best view.

An oversize picture frame can easily be fitted with a mirror. And a huge rectangle of unframed mirror gives an elemental look.


—Susan Dworski

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