One of our secret passions is connectors — not just connectors of ideas – but connectors of physical things as well: materials you can build with. We can’t wait to try out Stick-lets, flexible, stretchy silicone connectors made in a variety of configuerations. (They’re meant for kids, but when did that ever stop us?) You use them to connect sticks and wood or metal dowels to build structures. They got us thinking about the indoor pop-up guest room we’ve been imagining for years. We’d get a bunch of 1-inch dowels and go to town.
(Video link here.) In a recent post at the Houdini File, David Saltman rounded up a huge trove of formal public challenges to magician/escape artist extraordinaire Harry Houdini, inviting him to escape from all manner of restraints, one more complex and seemingly-impossible than the next. According to Saltman, Houdini accepted every single challenge issued:
“every challenge a new opportunity and a path to glory, he always said ‘Yes.‘ He never backed down – he took on all comers.”
Saltman’s rigorous research has taught us that Houdini, who has long been seen as a kind of caricature, was an immensely disciplined man, who adhered to a fierce set of personal principles and practices designed to help him master his craft, and the undermining weakness that plagues most people: fear. Each challenge issued forced him to solve a whole new set of problems, to use his talents and knowledge in new ways, and almost always, to improvise. We love his principle of viewing every challenge as an opportunity. He spent his life cultivating that mindset.
We are knocked out by this variation of the beautiful sleight-of-hand Houdini would do for impromptu requests to read more…
Architects SMLXL Studio seems to have a real THING for shipping pallets, which they’ve used all through a tiny two story apartment in Prague. In many cases, it seems they took they pallets apart and reconfigured their components: thick blocks and slats to custom make furniture the exact size they wanted. Pallet has clearly become aesthetic… read more…
(Video link here.) This slightly rough, illuminating 4-minute TED talk is by Philip Henson, an artist who developed permanent nerve damage that made it impossible for him to make the fine drawings he loved; his hand shaked so much he could only draw squiggly lines. When his neurologist asked “Well, why don’t you just embrace the shake?” Henson decided to try it, and began experimenting with different methods of making art that didn’t rely on being in control.
I went from having a single aproach to art to an approach to creativity that has competely changed my artistic horizon…I realized embracing a limitation can drive creativity.
I wondered if you became more creative by looking for limitations.
Gradually the embracing of limitations led Henson to explore the idea of destruction. read more…
(Video link here.) Bradford Evans at Sidesplitter collected wildman-wiseman-truthteller-comedian Louis C.K’s best bits of wisdom from shows, interviews, and appearances. (His ‘everything is so amazing, but nobody is happy’ video on Conan is still the bomb.) Here are our favorites:
It seems like the better it gets, the more miserable people become. There’s never a technological advancement where people think, “Wow, we can finally do this!” … And I think a lot of it has to do with advertising. Americans have it constantly drilled into our heads, every fucking day, that we deserve everything to be perfect all the time. read more…
In the small country of Burkina Faso near the border to Ghana, it is common for dwellings to be painted with intricate patterns using colored mud and chalk. The patterns tells stories of the community’s culture.
We are amazed at how modern these rustic wall paintings are, and imagine how beautiful they would be adorning the side of a building or a garden wall, a floor, a headboard perhaps.
Take away the visual clutter (pots, cutting boards, dishtowels) and you can see a wonderfully distressed wall with very cool faucets made from black and copper piping, materials available at many hardware and plumbing supply stores.
(Video link here.) We don’t remember how we stumbled on this video by Kathleen Hanna, a New York City-based artist best known for her groundbreaking performances in the seminal 90′s punk band, Bikini Kill, and her more recent multimedia group, Le Tigre. She made it to accompany the song Let’s Run.
We find it curiously uplifting: a loop of figure skaters falling and messing up routines, IN PUBLIC, then quickly recovering and continuing on. They seem incredibly valiant, and reminds us of Samuel Beckett’s great exhortation:
All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
Related posts: discover the ‘negative’ path to happiness
‘fail better’ (samuel beckett)
steve jobs: one simple fact that can broaden your life
on the rightness of being wrong via TED
what is failure?
20 second therapy for fear of failure
the dalai lama on $$, loss, “failure”
(Video link here.) Recently, while discussing a particuarly stylish Ikea creation, our friend Maria remarked: “I figure Ikea’s stuff is only good for about 5 years.” Suddenly, we flashed on all the discarded particle board Ikea storage units we’d seen on New York City streets. In the long run, Ikea can simply be a waste of money.
Soon after, Anthony Giglio told us about an old friend from Asbury Park who launched a “funky company called Soapbox, founded on his angst with Ikea furniture assembly”. At that very moment that Anthony had been assembling “maddenning” Ikea shelving, platform bed and dresser for his daughter’s new bedroom and was at his wit’s end. (We know of couple’s who have almost split up assembling Ikea products.)
So right away we took a look. Soapbox makes veneered plywood boxes with wonderfully-designed connectors that allows for assembly without screw-drivers and Ikea angst. They are available in a range of woods — maple, cherry, walnut —, different color hardware, and your choice of leg heights. They can stand alone, stacked or afixed to the wall in various permutations that can change as your life and needs do. And since plywood is WAY more durable than Ikea’s fiberboard storage, you are buying quality goods that will last. read more…
From our friends at A+B See:
In a review of Leonardo and the Last Supper in the January 14, 2013 issue of The New Yorker. we learn that in his time, Da Vinci had a reputation for being a “dilatory and even unreliable worker whose career was strewn with abandoned projects.” According to author, Ross King, he was as hard on himself as we can be, moaning to his diary, “Tell me if I ever did a thing.” When the commission for the Last Supper came in, Da Vinci was juggling work on a giant bronze horse (never finished), various flying machines, and a joke book. For a genius, he was, it appears, quite human.
This from the man who painted the Mona Lisa and defined the term “Renaissance Man”!
We want to send this to all the very brilliant, worthy, endlessly-creative people we know who doubt and judge themselves mercilessly. We wonder if self-doubt is a necessary driver of the creative. Is it possible to make without losing faith, vision, heart in the midst?
What’s your view?
Related posts: lines ballet’s alonso king: waking up our internal teacher
‘what every girl/person needs’ via miranda july
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Since hauling several huge hunks of fallen trees home after Hurricane Sandy, we’ve been attuned to interesting ways of transforming them. We especially love Italian designer Marco Stefanelli‘s idea of illuminating the splits and cracks in the wood with LEDs (he embeds them in resin), and the thinking behind creating his wonderful luminous stools and tables:
I wanted to take inspiration from the research of natural objects that, in some ways, have reached their final step in the life cycle. They are for example sawmill’s outlets, pieces of urban architecture, logs carried by the river, firewood…
I have tried to give these pieces a second chance, tempting to make the light come out from the material and to amplify the sensorial experience. read more…
(Video link here.) We WISH we were the kind of person who just switchrf gears on-a-dime, as surfer Nic von Rupp did to great reward. Having gotten a call about the extraordinary surf in Ireland — IRELAND!!— he canceled the flight to Hawaii he was about to get on, and flew to Ireland instead, into a big unknown.
He found fine surfing and discovered chilly, but deeply warm-hearted, Ireland.
Come to think of it, we USED to do that sort of thing a lot when we were younger – less so with age…h-h-h-mmmmm….OMG!…perhaps we need to shake things up a bit.
Related posts: mental health break: riding teahupo’o waves in slo-mo
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virtual traveler: ‘a day in india’
the sometimes dangerous path to where you want to go
Henrique Oliveira uses old plywood, fencing recycled from dumpsters and landfills from his home city, São Paulo, shaped around PVC forms.
Henrique’s breakthrough occurred when he was a student at the University of São Paulo, where for two years the view from his studio window was a wooden construction fence. Over time Oliveira began to see the deterioration of the wood and its separation into multiple layers and colors. One week before the final student show opened, the construction was finished and the worn out plywood fence was discarded. Oliveira collected the wood and used it in his first installation
More of his powerful work here.
Related posts: brightly-painted logs and branches
more salvaged tree trunk furniture
birch logs for book cases and other household accents
the unexpected stylishness of walls of stacked logs
simple stacked salvaged wood side table
fallen trees become cool park furniture
what a painted slab of plywood can do (d-i-y)
We’ve just been mulling a wall in a bedroom that has an unfinished doorway, currently covered by a curtain. On the wall next to we temporarily propped a big mirror that gives great depth to the room and a bit of the view of the park across the way. The question: how to combine the mirror and a door with a minimal footprint (i.e. it doesn’t open into the smallish room.) We found an interesting solution at Desire to Inspire. Although we’re not crazy about the drab gray room itself, we like the idea of big sliding mirror that can act as a door when necessary.