Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy holidays!

We're heading home to hang the organic stockings and drink mulled cider while we wait for Santa. The lab is dark until the new year. If you're feeling crafty, you can build your own modern gingerbread house. Detailed plans available for download from Hometta.

Have a great holiday, and we'll see you in 2010.

Images from Hometta. Thanks to Treehugger for the tip.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Jibibuts! designer toys

Design duo Noferin have found a way to make eco-friendly urban vinyl. OK, so they're wood, not PVC. As soon as I find an eco-friendly PVC, I'll let you know. No matter what they're made of, these designer toys have a great Kawaii cute style to them and look like they'll be able to hold their own on the shelves of Kid Robot.
Pecan Pals

Following up on their wildly successful (and adorable) Pecan Pals, Noferin has release 12 blind-boxed mini figurines. Averaging about 3 inches tall, the Jibibuts are made of sustainably-harvested rubberwood. Available at Munky King for $9 each.

Images from Noferin. Thanks to Inhabitots for the tip.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Brass menagarie: Carved wood & brass bottle openers from Roost

Looking for a host/hostess gift for that special someone who seems to have everything? Upgrade their beer drinking with one of these hand-carved bottle openers by Roost. Available for ~$20 at Velocity Art and Design.

Images from Velocity Art and Design.

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's sweeps week!

We're not really going to devote a whole week to sweeping, unless you all become VERY interested in this post. Tricia and Martin sent in their photos of these fantastic brooms, made out of old mop handles, salvaged wood from pallets, and recycled carpet samples.

They look great, and they work really well. The brooms come in his and hers sizes. All they need to go into production is a catchy name (or two). To make a name suggestion, just leave a comment here. We'll let you know which they choose.

(and yes, those are Alex's modelicious feet)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This weekend!

So much going on in Oakland this weekend. Here are some things your lab mates are up to:

1. Sat-Sun, 10-4: Katie will be selling her glass dishes, platters, and more at the Crucible's Open House and Gifty Sale. If you haven't been to this before, it's a fantastic place to get unusual holiday gifts. If you're there on Saturday, stop by the glass area and say "hi." There will be over 70 different artists there, plus a full open house with glass blowing, metal casting, and blacksmithing demos. Santa arrives at 1pm (in past years, he's come in on a fire truck).

2. Saturday night: Oliver will be performing with Mobius Operandi at Johansson Project.

So head on over to Oaktown, finish up your holiday shopping @ the Crucible, then head downtown to see Oliver. Hope to see you there!

Image from Katie Broughton.

Where's the fire? Recycled firehose bags from Elvis & Kresse

Amsterdam-based Elvis & Kresse (E&KO) make bags and more from decommissioned fire hoses. The bags are great, in a stylish deep red with an aged patina. The company makes the usual things (wallets, card cases, keychains), which are cool enough, then turns left into the ΓΌber cool, with belts, guitar straps, and the hottest wrap-around cufflinks ever.
Most of the line is available in the US from Noblivity.

Images from Elvis & Kresse. Thanks to Haute*Nature for the tip.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Mobius Operandi @ Johansson Projects 12/12/09

Our own Oliver diCicco invites us all to Oaktown for Saturday's Mobius Operandi performance: "In this busy holiday season, here's one more event to add to the list. We're dusting off the instruments for our only performance this year, hope you can make it."

Details below:

Oliver diCicco's instrument

Following in the footsteps of musical cowboy Harry Partch, sound engineer Oliver diCicco started building his own instruments in the early 1970's. With an emphasis on sculptural ingenuity and the desire to put new sounds into the world, diCicco created instruments that marry the formal curiosity of the visual arts with the audio experimentation of the avant-garde. Despite his full schedule of being both owner and chief engineer of Mobius Music, the highly renowned recording studio based in San Francisco, by the late 1980's diCicco completed several instruments that were only waiting for more hands to be played together. So diCicco invited Pamela Winfrey, senior artist and curator of SF's Exploratorium, fellow instrument builder Peter Whitehead and a few other musical frontiersmen and women to come to his studio and jam. Soon enough a steady group of composers and musicians formed and evolved into Mobius Operandi. "I'm really into collaboration," states diCicco, "and I really liked the idea of inviting people down and seeing what would happen. The band formed itself." Since its inception Mobius Operandi has accompanied theater productions and has released several albums. Continuously experimenting with the possibility of sonic creativity, Mobius Operandi now incorporates both acoustic and electric sounds into its repertoire of pushing visual and audio expectations.

The setting for the players is the Earth Engines exhibition where the agency of the organic takes shape in staged photographs and sound sculptures in which technology channels the earth's electric complexity. Oliver diCicco 's indefinable organisms don't simply emulate the humming of nature's underbelly but directly access the mechanics of sound. His Sirens reckon the sea's psyche in its physical unrest and mythical meanderings. Barry Underwood's surreal staged photographs, intermingling issues of contemporary painting, cinema and land art, surveil landscapes of the impossible. Just as earth and electricity are the elementary particles from which energy takes shape, Underwood fuses authenticity and artifice to nurture nature into flashpoints of wonderment.

What: Art Exhibition, Musical Performance & Holiday Party
Featuring: Mobius Operandi performing live at the Earth Engines Exhibition
There will be simultaneous events on the block: Both Jewish holiday festivities at Hatch Gallery and the grand opening of the new video and photography gallery: Krowswork


Performance by Mobius Operandi on Saturday, Dec. 12th, 6pm

The Earth Engines Exhibition Runs Nov. 21st through Jan. 9th, 2010


Johansson Projects

2300 Telegraph Ave. Oakland, CA

Hours: 12 - 6, Thurs – Fri and Sat 11-5



Monday, December 7, 2009

Lab crush: Thomas Wold

Fractured Fairy Tales wall unit

In a cosmic convergence, Tricia and I both found Thomas Wold's portfolio of delights at the same time. After a mini catfight ("I saw him first." "No, he's mine!"), we decided that we could share, and now we're sharing with you.
Going through the photos, we realized I'd seen and bookmarked several of his pieces in ReadyMade (that bench!) and Tricia had admired his work in person at the Good Hotel. We just didn't know who he was or that he was local. Straight up, it's the coolest take on salvaged furniture we've seen. He has a fantastic color sense, and a way of creating pieces that walk a fine line between whimsical and serious.
Check out the way this Fractured Fairy Tales wall unit starts off with four tiny legs at the center, then blows out impossibly wide (it's tied to the wall. Made for a Berkeley client, the design incorporates ~80% recycled materials with new laser-cut fronts for some of the elements.
Street find turned stereo cabinet

His main website has great photos. His blog has documentation of the process, from inspiration to color studies. He even captures that moment when your idea is turning from concept to reality, and you're not sure it's going to pan out. Don't be fooled by the use of salvaged materials and the seeming effortlessness of the final pieces. This is professional work, beyond any casual DIY.
Block Party credenza

Mr. Wold, we're in love. If you see two ladies lurking around your studio space and giggling like Japanese schoolgirls, it's just us groupies. We're fairly harmless.

Images from Thomas Wold. Thanks to Wallflower for the tip.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Home on the Go

You all know how I love flat-pack furniture. Well, today's feature isn't exactly flat-packed, but it does roll up pretty small. Home on the Go is a set of tiny wooden furniture that packs away in a compact carrying case, with each puzzle piece nesting perfectly with the next. The blocks are abstract enough to let your child's imagination work its magic. Made in Germany and dyed with non-toxic dyes. Might make a good gift if you're looking for something non-branded and unusual.

Images from Romp. Thanks to Inhabitots for the tip.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bandwagon time: Fobots

As you probably know by now, I love robots. At the labs here we’ve featured Cat Bishop and Adoptabot. Anthropologie has jumped on the found object robotic trend, selling artist Amy Flynn’s Fobots on their website.

I wanted to dislike the Anthropologie offering, preferring the Etsy finds. The truth is, these are the real deal, not mass-produced, made-in-sweatshop knock-offs. It’s nice to see a major retailer supporting artists in this way. Each Fobot is identified as one-of-a-kind (and priced accordingly). If you prefer to pass-up the mall, you can also buy directly from the artist. There are some equally wonderful robots available on her website. I especially like the clever use of jewelry pieces and car window cranks to add personality. This one even has little Madonna*-esque cone boobies!

*Madonna of “Like a Virgin” fame, of course.

Images from Anthropologie.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Roll out the barrels: Wooden drum tables

Following up on the cork stools we posted a few days ago, I thought you might like to see these. I really like the proportions, and they are so pretty as a group. Made by UK-based Channels Design of reclaimed and sustainable wood (oak, cedar, and birch).

Images from Channels Design. Thanks to Re-Nest for the tip.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Math is hard, but awfully pretty

Nervous System: Check out this jewelry created by two MIT grads and a few key algorithms. One stunning piece after another, inspired by natural systems (coral, algae) and built by mathematical model. I'll stop talking now so you can just look at these pretty pictures....
Images from Nervous System. Thanks to Treehugger for the tip.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Spin the bottle (cap)

Two themes we find most interesting here at the labs are the elevation of the ordinary and reuse of things that otherwise would be landfill bound. Craft-land is filled with mediocre bottlecap jewelry (just search Etsy), but Israel-based Kotik somehow manages to turn them into art. Nothing more to say--just look at the pretty pictures. The whole portfolio is interesting. Click here for more.

Images from Kotik.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Button lampshades by Studio Mesila

There's some real magic to keeping things simple. Sometimes just the repetition of a single shape, over and over, results in beauty. These lights from Tel Aviv's Studio Mesila incorporate a variety of found artifacts. The designers assign a percentage to each product, indicating how much of the item is recycled.

My favorites are the button lampshades, which have such great sentimental DIY possibilities. Imagine making this from that jar of buttons your grandmother used to have, hints of the yesterdays when everyone sewed.

Images from Studio Mesila. Thanks to Re-Nest for the tip.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fashion Friday: Hospital scrubs don't usually look like this!

I'm one of those luddites who actually likes to read the paper on Sunday (if the 3-year-old will let me). This week I found a little photo write-up buried in the style section:
Ginnifer Goodwin wore....The white strapless dress, made from hospital scrubs that would otherwise have been discarded, was designed, treated, dyed and pleated by a group of fashion students at San Francisco's Academy of Art University.
A little more "research" (thanks, Google) turned up a better photo and the details. Now if they could just do something about that hospital gown...

Images from SF Gate (Matt Sayles/AP top) and Design Ignites Change (bottom). Thanks to the SF Chronicle for the tip.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Martin's custom commuter bike

The finished commuter bike

Within his circle of friends, Martin Leugers is notorious for trash-picking bikes. He feels like it his calling to free them from their trash heap demise. Once chosen by the master, these jalopies are reinvented. They are chopped, remixed, welded, and finally make their way into the hands of friends and fans who ride for the CRUD gang (Chopper Riding Urban Dwellers). His latest creation is different: Martin set out to create the perfect commuter bike. After trash-picking the frame, fork, crank, headset and bottom bracket, he was able to find a used set of wheels and a saddle. The handlebars are a mix of parts from an old mountain bike and a kid's bike, which combine to create an incredibly sleek look.

The integrated LED light with toggle switch is my favorite part. All aspects of commuting are considered, from the welded fender mounts to the internal cable routing. The integrated seat post deters thieves from making off with the ever important seat. A fresh white powdercoat, some new tires, and she's ready to ride.

Raw materials

Nice work, Martin. When will you start making these for your friends?

Images from Martin Leugers.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cool drink of water

These already made the blog rounds, but Aquaovo's water filters are too stunning not to show here. Expensive, but oh-so-pretty. 

If your family is ready to stop buying flats of bottled water from Costco, this is a stylish green upgrade and will quickly pay for itself. If (like us), you drink Oakland water straight from the tap, you'll need to treat it more like an art piece.

Images from Aquaovo. Thanks to The Kitchn for the tip.

Friday, November 13, 2009

I want candy (bags)

Ecoist has been making candy wrapper bags since 2004. They're cute conversation pieces, but they've always been very "Look! I'm RECYCLED." I have a confetti onelook li, and the in-your-face greenness is part of its charm. Recently they launched a line of sleek, graphic bags that look like giant candies themselves and give no hint they're made from landfill-bound materials. 

Super cute, and the lime and red ones are currently on sale. Check them out. 

Images from Ecoist. Thanks to Ecouterre for the tip.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

...who's the geekiest of them all? Must be me, because I love these. Redimei salvages surplus computer parts and disks and turns them into geek mirrors.
Images from Redimei. Thanks to Great Green Goods for the tip.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Guns Carved Into Old School Desks

Ben Turnbull turns vintage school desks into a commentary on American gun culture. His Lessons series features guns and grenades and one retro-futuristic space shooter. Maybe not as relevant to my teen-aged years, but much more interesting that “I (heart) Nik Kershaw”

Images from Eleven Fine Art. Thanks to Geekologie for the tip.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Super Guppy industrial floor lamp

No, that's not a teeny-tiny chair, but a giant lamp. To be specific, it's a street lamp, repurposed for use in your living room, or maybe Eric's man studio.

Looking for a gift for that guy who's hard to shop for? Surprise him with his own little bit of the Gas-n-Sip parking lot where he mis-spent his youth trying to persuade people to buy him beers.

Offered by Factory 20, which has a well-curated collection of industrial odds and ends. It's worth taking an online tour of their website, or if you live near DC, stopping by in person. Note that when I say "well-curated", I mean priced accordingly.

Images from Factory 20. Thanks to Shelterific for the tip.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Good as Gold

SF-based furniture designer Dylan Gold soft-sells his green credentials, and his website doesn’t even have the ubiquitous “our corporate sustainability mission” section. His work speaks for itself, featuring fast-growing bamboo in the Twisted console/bookcase (above) and industrial off-cuts in the Wasted line of tables (below).

Lovely things, with a restrained aesthetic tempered by a few quirky details to keep things from becoming too serious. Check out his full portfolio here.

Images from Dylan Gold. Thanks to Dwell for the tip.