Sunday, December 31, 2006

Shibui (simple elegance) in crafted chairs

Michael Puryear is a studio furniture maker whose works are featured on (where incidentally there's an ornament clearance sale). His designs incorporate influences from Shaker and Scandinavian designs along with Janapese and African styles. He sums up his design goals: "I wish to imbue my work with shibui, the Japanese term for simple elegance. This simplicity belies the complexity of creating and joining furniture elements aesthetically, while maintaining full functionality in the design. " The barrow chair, made of bubinga wood and black leather, capture modern dynamism.

Mixed in to the examples of craftsmanship below are two mass-produced chairs. Can you spot them?

The chairs' names give you a clue: the other artisan finds include Seth Rolland's Finback Chairs, Gregg Lipton's Circle Back Chairs, Eric Ziemelis' Circle Stool, and Richard Judd's Ribbon Chair.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Artisan Furniture with a Modern Take

From the Yessy collection of artisanal furniture comes a unique variety of furnishings. Here's a few from Turkis Reha Erdogan that caught my eye:Barcode, made of 26 pieces of joined plexiglas, $2000

Clone, bentwood chair in human shape, $600

Line, in wood with glass seat, $500

Contact, a statement on the intimate opposition of male and female, $700

This three-legged wedge table by Wisconsin artist Bruce Bodden has a unique finish and shape.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

After XMas Web Sales

While modernist designs often lack spare storage, there's some sales afoot, giving you a chance to stock up on decorative pieces for Christmas 2007 if your space allows. The 4-foot mirrored tree and 3-foot red lit trees are now 50% off. Wire trees and wreaths and tons of other options are also available at CB2, Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, and Pier1.

The pick of ornaments up for grabs includes simple color-stripe globes (now $18 for 6) and bead-stripe ornaments. CB2 has an assortment of glass, coiled wire, and beaded ornaments on sale, and Pier1's entire Feliz Navi-Mod collection featuring several color palettes is 50% off.

There's also some finds to put into use right away. Gump's online sale offers a variety of modern pieces like this Michael Ruh vase, where each stem sits in its own green glass pod within the large cylinder. It's now 50% off, $47.50. An owl-shaped mango wood carved stool is a great accent for an eclectic entryway and has the bonus of adding storage (now $95). The Whitney ceramic lamp is a sleek shot of color. CB2, West Elm and Chiasso (where the "RING10" code gets an additional 10% off through 12/30) all have some great offerings that can bring a new, affordable punch to your mid-winter decor. From what I hear, IKEA's got a sale as well.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Modern Miniature Chair Contest

If you've cruised for modern chairs on the web, you've probably come across some of the Vitra miniatures of classic modern designs. But modern miniature chairs don't need to cost a fortune. Miniature Miller Marshmallow sofas and globe chairs are offered on eBay for under $50. Or you could craft them yourself. Design within Reach is sponsoring another edition of the champagne cork chair crafting contest. Entrants must use the cork, foil, cage and labels from only two champagne bottles to fashion their design. The prizes include gift certificates to DWR. Click here for a full list of last year's winner and the honorable mention entries. Submissions are due to DWR's headquarters by 1/15/2007.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Coffee Table Modern

Since when did Stacks and Stacks go beyond all the organizing paraphernalia and begin to sell furniture? I found this modern glass, chrome, and capuccino laminated particleboard coffee table for $210 at the online site (there's also an espresso version and a matching end table offered). I like the low profile (it's only 17 inches tall) and the storage drawers help keep visual clutter under control. While I've grumbled about the variable quality of furniture, I give S&S credit for full disclosure on the materials used in the piece. There's no claim of solid wood construction with veneers. If you're going to do affordable modern, fessing up about construction is the honest way to go. For the mod-inclined, hey've also got some retro-modern Futuro swivel chairs (pair, $499) and the light block table ($299).

If you're browsing, also take a look at the offerings in their outlet section. Also, until 12/31/06 with coupon code BMLTEN you get $10 off an order over $50.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Frank Gehry meets Tiffany

Tiffany and Co launched a collection of pieces by Frank Gehry that it bills as "exquisite jewelry, years in the making, born of a revolution and steeped in a new and daring sensuality. Chic. Glamourous. Fashionable. Defiantly so."

The Orchid drop pendant (left) is one of a series of pieces designed by the architect including earring and brooches. The most extravagant ($6,800) of the pieces features round brilliant diamonds and a 16" chain.

The small drop pendant in sterling silver on a 16" chain is $150. A nephrite green jade pendant on a chain is $350. Nearly one hundred different pieces are in the collection, sure to satisfy many admirers of modern, sparkly things.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Color for a Cause

While shopping online for those last few holiday accessories and gifts, I found that web shopping search site TheFind is making a donation to Doctors Without Borders of $1 per day for each person who searches for something red. There's over 36,000 items in the search results for "red chair" available and each item's pricing information from many online sellers is included in the results. As a bonus, I've discovered several new selling sites while hunting for a few nifty finds.

Red refrigerators, red lamps, red pillows. The pictured lamp is by Murray Feiss and has a red amber finish to its mod teardrop design. The chairs are both models, one a Vitra miniature of a 1918 Rietveld piece, the other a resin dollhouse version.

TheFind has committed to a $10,000 donation to the humanitarian organization this holiday season as a way of announcing its new "seach by color" option. Don't like red? After you click to donate, try "charcoal modern" on for size.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

DWR's Eames Film Festival

This Thursday evening December 7th, DWR at Travis/McKinney will feature several short films (including Powers of Ten and The Lounge Chair) by the Eameses along with refreshments and an opportunity to browse the store. Other stores have already hosted the event with good response.
The legacy of Ray and Charles Eames extends far beyond their classic furniture pieces. Taking a multidisciplinary approach to design long before that was the norm, the Eameses created over 100 short films between 1950 and 1982. Join DWR, in conjunction with the Eames Foundation and Herman Miller for the Home®, as we celebrate their film legacy. We’ll be screening seven films ranging from 1–30 minutes in length. Attendees are encouraged to stay for a discussion following the screenings. Refreshments will be served.

Eames Film Festival
Thursday, December 7, 6–9pm

Design Within Reach
4524 McKinney Ave, Suite 103
Dallas, TX 75205
Phone: 214.521.0100

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Off-the-beaten-path gift sources

Art is Art (which I've blogged about before) has art, funky furniture, and handmade jewelry offerings that make unique and affordable gifts. The assortment of sculptures, canvases and hand-crafted furniture pieces fills the two-room store.

The Dallas Museum of Art's Store features its annual Holiday Spree from December 2 through the 9th. Members enjoy 20% off throughout the store on all its books, prints, jewelry, and gifts.

At the MAC next weekend, enjoy the 10th annual Blue Yule Holiday Party and Ornament Sale fundraiser. Handmade ornaments by local artists, music and food and an auction promise a fun and artsy opportunity to pick up a gift or two, one artist had a fun time in 2005, though this artist's review of a the 2002 "Blew Yool" event is a little more pessimistic and .

Next weekend is also the Urban Street Bazaar at the Dallas Farmers Market. Over sixty booths featuring handmade jewelry, clothing, and accessories and a slate of fifteen bands will make for a festive shopping experience. There will also be an auction and raffle of items from participating vendors.

For gift giving that helps others, consider this article from the Dallas Morning News: More and more Americans are changing their approach to holiday wish lists. A lot of people are saying, 'You know what? I don't want any more stuff,' and a charitible donation in their honor may be just the ticket. A wide variety of charities offer donation gift options: UNICEF, the North Texas Food Bank, the Emergency Artists Support League, and La Reunion are a few to consider.

Friday, December 01, 2006

What I've been waiting for

This item from the Shopping blog is music to my ears: an annoucement of Scott + Cooner's semi-annual warehouse clearance sale! The last time I visited their sale, a fabulous Foscarini pendant fixture and two Flos sconces were mine for a fraction of their cost.
Need a lunch break?
Then hurry and head over to the Scott + Cooner warehouse at 1400 Turtle Creek (not the showroom location). Through Sunday, the modern decor company is slashing prices on sofas, beds, lighting, desks and chairs to make space for new merchandise.
"We just don't have the real estate to keep things that long," says company rep Rebecca O'Dell. "Some of the pieces were showroom samples other might be new but have a slight scratch."
Expect savings from 20 to 70 percent she adds, and, best of all, to see prices dip as Sunday approaches to clear it all out! They're open until 5:30 p.m. tonight, and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Individualized unique gifts up the ante

I'm planning on adding this crocodile to the list of gifts for those who have everything. The New York Times has several other suggestions this week as their "Holiday Shopper" feature joins numerous other sites in the holiday gift-guide fervor. The collection introduces several unique and eye-catching novelties that trump any World's Best Dad mug-and-tie combo several times over. As the Times explains, "NOBODY wants to give a predictable gift, but in an era when stores everywhere sell the same merchandise, it’s hard to avoid. As long as there are shoppers with imagination, though, there will be surprises in shops and on Web sites." The crocodile is available at Linda Horn antiques in two sizes: small crocs for $575 or $1250 for the larger ones. For those with more mammalian affinities, a horse-cum-lamp is available in black resin from Moooi. It's priced at $4100. Hay and oats and 100-watt bulb are extra. For those who are looking for a lower price point, consider the acupuncture model of a horse from Archie McPhee. Their offerings range from eccentric to unique to complete joke: wind-up leiderhosen, Swedish ear syringes, and latex vultures. Thanks to the internet, all your hardest-to-impress will be easy to shop for.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Dallas gives good

Metroblogging Dallas (and the other Metroblogging sites) are doing a count-down this week of seven of each featured city's greatest gifts to the rest of the world. As the site explains it, "In the spirit of the abundant holiday gift giving that will be taking place over the next couple of months, all the Metroblogging cities are giving 7 gifts to the world throughout the week of NOV 26th - DEC 2."

The 7th gift from Dallas Metroblogging is Dallas, the series, followed by shopping malls at 6th (Dallas has more pre capita than any other US city) and the futuristic skyline at 5th.

A summary of the 'gifts' from each Metroblogging city is collected here. Outstanding items include John Philip Sousa, Blue Diamond almonds, Greenpeace, Chik-Fil-A, and the US Constitution. This is going to be an interesting assemblage and I'm probably going to learn a thing or two along the way (example: Karachi's W-11 bus is a kaleidoscope of sensations).

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mark and Larry's Retirement Sale

Deep Ellum perennial Mark & Larry's Stuff has announced its closing. As Mark-Brian's theater and acting commitments have kicked up, the time available to run the store has dwindled down, and the store will close its last sale on December 23rd. Voted Best Gift Store in 2001 and Best Place to Buy Stuff You Don't Need in 2002 by the Dallas Observer, the store has offered a mixture of design pieces, jewelry, gifts and gags in two Deep Ellum locations for the past decade. They describe it as:
"This store specializes in 'Stuff.' We don't carry anything you need to have, but you sure do want it. Everything we buy has to make us go 'oooh' and 'wow'. We're both very picky. We try to keep our prices reasonable (80% of the store retails at $35 or less) but every now and then we find something that is so extraordinary that we must carry it....well, the 'stuff' we carry tends to be unique, most is not really mass produced, and therefore not as readily available. We carry an excess of 2,000 unique items for you to choose from, along with a vast card selection with well with over 1000 images. We highly recommend you come visit us!"
Right now, everything at the Deep Ellum landmark is at least 10% off, and a large selection of funky candles, bath products, Blenko glassware, cards and books is available.

Furniture Quality Reprised

Good Morning America has jumped on the consumer-protection bandwagon with their own expose on furniture quality, just a few months after Smart Money hammered on mid-price furniture outlets like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware (see my prior post). The GMA gumshoes examined several products: Martha Stewart's "dark cherry" K-Mart line accent table, Ashley Furniture's "horizon maple" nightstand and "brown cherry" desk, and World Market's "Taylor split cowhide" dining chair and found rampant use of laminated fiberboard, thin veneers and fake plastic 'all-leather' chairs. On the heels of the investigation, World Market posted an apology on their website and offered to replace the fake chairs with real leather versions.
Our initial findings revealed that some of the suspect Taylor chairs and ottomans supplied to Cost Plus World Market had been upholstered in a synthetic material. A majority of the dark brown Taylor dining chairs and ottomans are not affected by this issue.

Our customer satisfaction is of utmost importance to us. Therefore, we will replace any of the dark brown Taylor dining chairs and ottomans that were made of the synthetic material.
According to GMA, Ashley and K-mart were less apologetic about their marketing terminology. "Ashley said that the Glen Eagle secretary desk was simply a brown cherry color and that the phrase 'solidly constructed' did not mean solid wood, but rather referred to the stability and tight construction of the piece." This all goes to show that the buyer must beware in picking out furnishings and other items. If you're okay knowing that it's comfortable, then pay what you want for it, but don't be dazzled by the marketing lingo hyping the item's construction or materials until you've proved the content to yourself. Sites like the Consumerist track some deceptions, but heightened skepticism will be your best asset in shopping.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Shopping Suggestion WebTools

A short questionnaire--where you pick your favorite of sixteen images in several dimensions, including colors, activities, furnishings, and food--can lead to tailored suggestions for gift ideas at Imagini. Rather than tracing similar purchases or other ways of developing suggestions, this site uses the collection of pictures to summarize "how you feel and what you like across each area of your life."

My sample VisualDNA profile: