29 January 2013 3 comments

Champagne Chair Contest Winners Announced

DWR announced the winners of it's Champagne Chair Contest late (for EST) this afternoon. They did something different this year by choosing 10 finalists and 7 honorable mentions.  I don't think my email had anything to do with that decision, since I have yet to receive a response from them. (I wonder if they received my original message? Doh!)

Nevertheless, the blog post announcing the winners read...

"On behalf of our judges and everyone here at DWR, we would like to congratulate the winners and all of the contestants on their beautiful, innovative and functional designs this year. Thank you for taking the time to create a champagne chair for our special contest. Please browse all 319 submissions here." 

I guess that's the part I found most meaningful. I was surprised to discover that there had only been 319 submissions. Perhaps, I should feel less bad about not making even a ripple in the design pool that is the Annual Champagne Chair Contest. And who doesn't like being told they had a "beautiful, innovative and functional design"?

F8 Chaise, Aaron Padilla---3rd Place
There's no need for me to cut and paste the DWR post since it was pretty short and to the point. You can read all the details for yourself here.  However, I will give a shout out for the F8 chaise, my personal favorite created by Aaron Padilla. I cannot believe it only won third place, the $250.00 DWR gift card! But hey, I'm not a professional designer. Well, perhaps Aaron will enjoying picking out a nice pillow or some other sort of accessory. Actually, I've taken the liberty of "recommending" a few items for that gift card. We all know DWR products don't come cheap and $250.00 spends like $10.00 elsewhere. He he he...

18"x26" Design 9297 Pillow, $250
Geneva Sound System XS, $249.95
5 Neutra House Numbers, $24 ea
Eames Hang It All, $199.00
8 Almoco 5pc Flatware Settings, $30 ea
2 Corniche Shelves,  $235.00-250.00
Congratulations to Jeffery Molter and Miwa F. as well for their designs of the second and first place winning chairs respectively. Hope to see them all on display at the DWR Georgetown before too long. 
28 January 2013 1 comments

Presidential Inauguration Style

Just seven days ago, the President was sworn into his second term of office. If you are a big fan of symbolism and history, know that 21 January 2013 was over-the-top full of it. Inauguration Day was also MLK Day in the 50th year since the March on Washington, the 150th year since the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation and the completion of the dome on the Capitol (for the second time). It was also the day before the 40th anniversary of the momentous Roe v. Wade decision. Although I wanted to drop these pearls of historical trivia, it is not the primary purpose of today's blog post. As so many of you know, the presidential inauguration is a major production filled with design, fashion and style.  I've collected some images from this year's celebration and the celebration four years ago.

The first family graces the podium with style and color. The Obama women prove to be an asset, each color and personality complementing our 44th president (who also opts for a bright red tie).

In 2009, A new birth of freedom, the youth and changing of
the guard marked by the Obama's arrival was punctuated by
a palette from the entire color wheel. (Image: Reuters)
In 2013, Faith in America's future, an older Obama family is 
outfitted in an analogous color palette. 
(Image: tomandlorenzo.com)
Prom, wedding, golden anniversary...inauguration is the closest Americans come to a coronation with all the pomp and circumstance one would expect to accompany the occasion. Do you love typography, paper or political ephemera? Enjoy this.

Obama 56th Inauguration
Clockwise from the top: 2009 commemorative single day
Metro fare card,  DNC Inaugural Reception ticket,  gallery 

exhibit flyer, 2009 Inaugural Staff Ball ticket
57th Inauguration Obama
Official 2013 Inaugural Invitation with raised presidential 
seal in gold foil
57th Inauguration Obama
2013 Inaugural Ceremonies Program

57th Inauguration Obama
Clockwise from top: 2013 commemorative renewable 
Metro fare card, map of ticketed inauguration viewing 
areas, Inauguration Ceremonies ticket, commemorative 
Inaugural Invitation with raised gold foil logo
OFA Staff Ball ticket
Instagram: my 2013 Inaugural 
Staff Ball ticket
Many of you are used to seeing the cliche red, white and blue ribbon that adorns the inaugural stage constructed on the west lawn of the capitol every four years.  However, the set production for the inaugural balls is far more elaborate.  These pictures below show stages from the 2009 and 2013 venues. Each features the official inaugural logo. The perfect backdrop for the first couple. The formal white tire attire for POTUS* is both modern and minimal. For each celebration, FLOTUS** opts for a moderately adorned gown in a patriotic color that is flowing and ethereal.

Presentation of the Colors OFA Staff Ball
2013: Presentation of the Colors at The Staff Ball

White tie & Jason Wu white
silk chiffon (Image: Getty, 2009)
White tie & Jason Wu chiffon &
velvet in regal red (Image: Getty, 2013)

2013 Inaugural Ball
In 2013, the First Couple dances to "Let's Stay Together" as serenaded by 
Jennifer Hudson. In 2009, the First Couple danced to "At Last" 
as serenaded by Beyonce Knowles.  Both songs appropriate for the times. (Image: michellepictures.com)
  *POTUS - President of the United States
**FLOTUS - First Lady of the United States
26 January 2013 4 comments

Elevate Your Style with Jean Prouve

Here's my haul from Spain!
I fell in love with the African stools featured at Minismodernas. I held off making the purchase for some time because I try to avoid international shipping fees.  Alas, these stools were too fabulous to pass up. When I did make my purchase, I added more great items to make the shipping price worthwhile, of course. Everything was well packed and arrived in great condition.  I really like that PayPal was available because it makes transactions so much easier. Thank you Minismodernas!

Guy gets girlfriend and suddenly a little style and flair are
infused into the starter-apartment.
You've seen a version of this scene before.  I began working in the new pieces to raise the level of design. (Maybe our apartment owner just got a new girlfriend.) Prouve chairs are a mid-century modern staple. Perhaps they were purchased from a thrift store in bad condition and refurbished for this starter-apartment? A day spent at the flea market on 26th at the Avenue of the Americas (Manhattan, NY) plus great negotiating skills helped our guy get a deal on the African stool. You get the idea. So have you ever lent your creativity and design expertise to a college boyfriend/future husband (or anyone else) to help them step up their design game? Please, leave a comment and tell me all about it.

20 January 2013 4 comments

Tutorial: Modified Director's Chair

After enjoying a great bottle of Lunetta Prosecco distributed here domestically by Palm Bay International. Its extremely affordable ($11.00 USD) with a crisp, light taste.  I loved it! (Forgive me, I digress.) I saved the cork, cage and foil packaging and proceeded to undertake my first attempt at designing a chair to enter into the annual DWR Champagne Chair contest. I gathered the following additional supplies: steak knife, X-Acto knife, wire cutter, scissors, glue (the only adhesive the contest would allow), and an emery board nail file.  So here were my starting materials:
a great sparkling wine
salvaging raw materials for building
Not too sure where this little project would end, I just stared at the raw materials for a bit. This is after having looked at some great designs from past years as well as current entrants. The name on the foil label made me think of the name on the back of a director's chair, so I went with that. I also thought it might be a little different to do a rocking chair.  I proceeded.  First, I carefully removed only the foil covering the cork, making sure to keep the round piece in tact. I uncorked the bottle and enjoyed a great glasses of wine (not the same day I made the chair...ha, ha). Later, I separated the bottom wire (that you untwist while opening the bottle) from the rest of the cage. By slicing the foil with the X-Acto knife close to the adhesive, I was able to remove the foil from the neck of the bottle in one large piece. Next, I cut the round top of the cork away form its narrower neck. By cutting that piece once again, I was left with two half circles. From the neck of the cork, I carved what was to become the seat of the chair.  That shape is called a trapezoid, I think. I had no idea that cutting sawing cork would be such a challenge but it was! I changed blades often, switched between knives and made do. As a result, the emery board made it easier to smooth out and even up the edges after I made my cuts. Here's what I had about mid-way through the project:

I used the wire to form an open ended rectangle with rounded corners. Using scissors, I trimmed the foil around the typography elements I wanted to feature. I folded the large 'lunetta' piece then wrapped it around the wire away from the open ends. I glued the foil to its self, sandwiching the wire inside. An additional piece of plain foil was glued over this to give a finished look to the piece. I attached the half circle pieces of cork to each open wire hanging at the bottom of what had become the back of the chair. I bent the wire so that the rounded part of the half circles become the "feet" of the chair. Next, I glued the second piece of foil over the seat of the chair, like upholstering. The sides of the seat of the chair were then glued to the sides of the feet (adjusting the angle by eye). Finally, a small triangular shaped pieces of cork was glued along the back of each half-circle shaped foot of the chair. I did end up removing two of the four twisted wires making up the cage, using each of them as an arm. I bent each piece like an 'L'. I inserted the raw edge of the wire into the top, front portion of the half circle allowing the finished edge of the wire meet the back of the chair.  Each arm was 'upholstered' with a small rectangular piece of cork. This was the final result from various angles:

Call-small did a wonderful job with her "Circle Chaise" and urged others to participate.  Did anyone else answer her call and make a cork chair for the 2013 DWR Champagne Chair contest? 

Update. More Blogger friends answered the call...
17 January 2013 4 comments

An Open Letter to DWR...

Champagne Chair Contest

I want to thank you for creating a contest and marketing event that continues to inspire creativity and enthusiasm for modern design year after year.  For the first time, I decided to create my own design and enter the contest. I have no professional design training. I am a homeowner who, at best, can be considered to have very good taste. I am also an active member of a growing niche community online  that focuses on modern miniatures. A small group of us (about 4) all chose to enter your contest for the first time. In our discussion of the experience (conceiving then executing a design) a recurring theme emerged. We each spoke of intimidation due to the field of talent. This is not a criticism, it only speaks to the event's success. It inspired me to consider ways in which you might redesign this contest that has grown well beyond its infancy.

Perhaps you might...

1) divide the contest into amateur/hobbyist and design students & professionals 

2) consider superlative recognition in categories like wittiest, most intricate, most creative use of materials, most minimal. 

I'm not necessarily recommending you increase your investment in the budget for prizes. The recognition alone however would be very meaningful to many of your contest participants.


(Modern Miniatures Collector & Blogger)

I submitted the above to DWR via the contact function on their website. It occurred to me that others may also want to join the conversation and share their opinions. To that end, I share this email as a potential catalyst.

14 January 2013 4 comments

Cheers to Chairs: My 1st Contest

A sensible someone would not choose such a formidable challenge. Yet, after inspiration and suggestion over at Call of the Small, I decided to go ahead and create a cork chair to enter in Design Within Reach's (DWR) annual Champagne Chair contest. I hope I followed the rules correctly.  It seemed you could only submit one photo.  The smart ones submitted a single collage photo but several others, like me submitted only one view.  If you submitted your entry via Instagram or Twitter as I did, only one view in a single photo was possible.

I chose the option of tweeting my entry under #dwrchampagnechair.

The talent in this long-running contest is phenomenal and quite intimidating.  I decided to go for it anyhow. I wanted to share a few of this year's entries that intimidated the he*l, I mean stood out to me.

Elevate by elainenmak
"My Loose Interpretation Of" by jackstastic
F8 chaise by asp628
Perch Chair by djasoncrowder
an untitled piece by jcsonifrank
another untitled piece by nandy1702
I doubt much will come from my efforts, but you can best believe I will be taking a screen shot once my little chair is uploaded to the gallery of entrants on the DWR webpage. (A wry grin follows.) You can also check out contest entrants on twitter at #dwrchampagnechair. I'll share more on my chair making experience in a post to follow very soon.  The contest ended today.  They will select 10 finalists.  In the past, a traveling exhibit of these finalists go on display at DWR studios across the country. Be sure to keep your eye out for that. The winners will be announced online on January 28th.

Update. It's official. Here it is...my chair in the gallery of contestants at DWR.com!

Update. More Blogger friends answered the call...
12 January 2013 9 comments

Remember Your 1st Apartment?

Remember your first apartment? You had to make do with hand-me-downs from relatives, thrift store finds or even pieces abandoned on the sidewalk. Well, that's sort of what I was going for with this scene.  Improvising a bookcase with planks of wood and concrete cinder blocks (or milk crates) was a ubiquitous piece in the starter apartments I remember. Immediately, that's what came to mind when I saw these miniature cinder blocks.  Each has a magnet embedded in real concrete and are intended to be used to keep notes and such on your message board. Of course, that's never stopped a miniaturist from making a thing or two work in 1:12 scale. Two folding chairs (albeit uncomfortable after a while) are easy to borrow from the family. Right? Placed facing the improvised-coffee table makes for a quick conversion to a card table. Bid Wist anyone? The guy who lives here has the basics: dice on hand for gambling, recycled cookie tins for extra storage, a place to shove books and hold up the TV and telephone. That's organization on a budget. When he's not playing cards, craps or watching the game, the dumbbells are nearby for a few reps of biceps curls and triceps extensions. Oh, yes a pair of souvenir sarapes (again, from family) warm the walls. So there you have it, a starter-apartment  in 1:12---circa 1987, maybe.  For me it was tiny cinder blocks, now tell me what miniature piece(s) have you designed a room around?

Concrete block magnet by Kalki'd fresh out of the cb2 packaging.
Details: folding chairs and dumbbells were part of action figures purchased from the dollar store; bowl, picture frame, 'H'-block, all wood, wheels and acrylic block from Michael's; rug is a sample from The Shade Store; telephone is Rement; model motorcycle is a Hallmark Keepsake Ornament; TV by Kikkerland; wire basket is an Etsy find; sarapes, brown book and white box from Minimodernas; dice from Morgan Imports (Durham, NC); books in basket from Dolls House Emporium; blue and yellow books are Kaleidoscope House accessories; thick black book and square tins are eBay finds
05 January 2013 4 comments

Dylan Has A Sister

Image: Courtesy of www.brincadada.com
If you haven't yet discovered this, you may be thrilled to know that the brinca dada design team of Tim Boyle and Doug Rollins has created a hot warm version of it's premier creation, the Dylan House. Her name is Zoe. The house features the same minimal design with maximal open spaces as its predecessor. Many of you know the original house was designed with a neutral, cool color palette of greens, greys and blues. The Zoe House as been re-interpreted with a new color palette ranging from soft-pink to fuchsia.  Pink is not for everyone but I think the house has a wow-factor. If you do like pink and haven't yet added this house to your collection, this just might be the time to do so.  The Zoe House is currently discounted $20.00 USD off its retail price and shipping is free.

Note: I have not received any compensation for this post. I purchased the Dylan House last year with 
my own money.
04 January 2013 3 comments

Clever Accessory, Great Building Block

I'm so jazzed about this company Kalki'd. They are creating some clever designs for home and garden.  I stumbled across them at cb2 while doing my annual post-holiday shopping for miniatures (think ornaments and small desk accessories---at deep discount). But alas this cool little item was not on sale, a set of four magnets made into miniature cinder blocks! After doing a little research to learn more about the company, I came across this promotional video entitled Concentration.  Take a look and tell me what you think. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. More to come on the tiny cinder blocks and other shopping haul.

Note:  I purchased these with my own money, they were not a gift. If you like this set of magnets and want to make a purchase, I suggest checking out Emmo Home and Yanko Design which both sell sets of six. cb2 sold a set of four at that same price! Perhaps shipping costs even this discrepancy out.

Details: Video is produced by yayasteven courtesy of YouTube. Learn more at kalikid.com

01 January 2013 2 comments

Today It Begins

May yours be filled with peace, joy and abundance.