Thursday, August 25, 2011

Recycled banner placemats

Miss R and I went wandering through CB2 on our lunch hour and we discovered these (and these). I know, placemats aren't super exciting. What was exciting is this: here's a big, mass-market company making mundane consumer goods from recycled materials.

So what's the deal? On one side, there's a simple Pollock-esque paint splatter design, but if you flip it over, you can see the graphics from the original advertising banner. The stencil version is the same concept, but with lettering instead of paint splatters. This is so simple--they're not really doing much to rework them other than cutting to size and adding the paint/stencils.
CB2 has been playing in the eco-sandbox for a while. They have several seasons of interesting designs using reclaimed materials (some more successful than others). Their parent company (Crate and Barrel) has a good reputation for incorporating sustainability, especially in their furniture design. It's not clear whether they are truly trying to be green or if their customers are demanding it. I'll take the win either way.

Images from CB2

Monday, August 22, 2011

Turbulance, not stirred

Skypak rescues airline serving carts and refurbishes them as home bars (or media carts). I especially like the added wooden drawers. They'll put a new skin on the outside, but you have to provide your own tiny bottles of gin.
Fair warning--these are really spendy. It would be cheaper to buy a plane ticket.

Images from Skypak. Via NOTCOT.ORG.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Tricia and I have had lots of conversation about how to make reuse modern and hip and palatable to people who would rather not buy their clothing at a thrift store. Design duo Schmidttakahashi have launched a line of reworked clothing with a tech twist. Each item in the Reanimation line comes with a QR code that links to the garment's past and allows the current owner to contribute to the store. For me, this lets a deterrent for many people ("Ick, people wore this before?") become an asset ("Ooh, where has this been!")

Lots more on the the designers and their big idea here, with slideshow.

Images from Schmidttakahashi. Via Ecouterre.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Designer Thomas Feichtner has reinterpreted the chandelier for Lobmeyr as a minimal black tube with a single LED spotlighting a single crystal. I love the modern take on this. The original is billed as an "entry level chandelier." Possibly this is a commentary on opulence in general or a reaction the current economic condition, or maybe it's just a really nice light fixture.
It would be interesting to see a more industrial version of this using salvaged tubing (or recycled aluminum) and vintage crystals. What a great way to repurpose a dated chandelier!

Images from Thomas Feichtner. Via Core77.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Mad(off) props

Maybe you know that a few months back, the US marshals auctioned off some of Bernie Madoff's personal belongings. On NPR yesterday, I heard a story about where they ended up. Frederick James scored some pants and sweaters and turned them into iPad covers. You can get the pants version here for only $350. I've scoured the intertubes for photos of the Dior sweater one, but no luck. It was part of the first batch that sold out within a day, for $500 each.

Let's see if we can follow this: Madoff scammed a bunch of money, bought fancy (and not-so-fancy) clothing, got caught, and the US marshals sold his stuff to help repay his victims. Savvy guy buys the clothes, sews them into high-priced iPad sleeves, and sells them back to overpaid Wall Street types, who are currently using their Maddoff-clad iPads to figure out new ways to scam money. 

Mad props to the entrepreneur who sneaked into the middle to get his cut. I hope he invests it wisely.

Images from Frederick James. Tip via NPR.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Carolina on my mirror....

Found these lovelies in my inbox today. Sometimes my favorite things are the simplest. Jackie MacLeod of Spare Contemporary saw beauty in these rim spacers off 18-wheelers. Metal + mirror = eco-industrial high design. 

Wish I had a spare $400 in my pocket. I'd happily throw some of it toward this North Carolina-based design team. They can include some Carolina BBQ and a Cheerwine with mine. We can't get the good stuff here in Cali.
If you're similarly inclined to put some big rig parts up on your walls, you can get one directly from them here, or for the next couple of days, via the Fab flash sale.
Images from Spare Contemporary. Via Fab.

Monday, August 8, 2011

And the dish ran away with the spoon

At our farmers market in Oakland, Blue Chair uses metal spoons for tasting, which they collect and wash every week. (Side note, the Blue Chair preserves are really delicious--worth checking out if you're in the neighborhood). However, most of our favorite frozen treat shops still rely on the traditional plastic tasting spoon.

Enter EcoTensil, the fast-composting, flat-packed, paper spoon. It's not suited for your tomato soup and grilled cheeses at home. But it's perfect for tasters at the ice cream shop or anywhere there's a need for single-use spoons. 
Business 101 lesson: I don't know the details of this "aha!" moment, but EcoTensil is pursuing a secondary market of prisons and psychiatric facilities. This is a problem I haven't really thought much about, but it makes perfect sense: In a place where even a plastic spoon can be shaped into a weapon for harming oneself or others, a paper spoon is a great solution.

Images from EcoTensil. Via Cool Hunting.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cocktails, anyone?

Etsy does a How-Tuesday series of DIY inspiration and tutorials. I have a soft spot for tiny drink umbrellas, and this lantern caught my eye. It's kitchy, without being too tiki-riffic. You can buy little umbrellas anywhere, but if you want to be really green, you'll rescue them from coconuts at your favorite tiki hangout.

When you're ready to trade your Singapore Sling for a glue gun, there's a great DIY tutorial (with video). Or you can order a finished lantern directly from Zipper 8 Lighting. They also make some charming lanterns from book pages. 

Images from Zipper 8 Lighting. Via Etsy.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Electric Love @ Grain

Today my inbox featured another daily dose of awesome from the folks at Fab*. They highlighted a design studio called Grain out of the Pacific Northwest, with pretty robust sustainability credentials and some charming designs. The prices are pretty high, but there are some nice details here, from the wool felt and bamboo backing on their Bound mirrors to the sweet matchbox packaging for their Electric Love rings.
Now, if you want to make your own reclaimed wire ring, there's a great how-to @ Ecouterre.

Update 8/11: I just saw the rings on sale @ the SFMOMA gift shop. The packaging is just as cute in person!

*If you don't know about Fab, it's worth checking out. Flash sales like all the others (Gilt, etc.), but with a lovely high-design angle, and extremely well curated. You can Google "Fab" and go directly there, or you can click on this link. Full disclosure, if you click on my link, I get some kind of referral bonus. 

Images from Grain.