Archive for March, 2008

better living through design: let’s chat!


if you love contemporary design as much as i do, you’ve got a list of places you visit regularly. perhaps you’re familiar with the finds that katie hagar and kris bernard show us on their fabulous website, better living through design. katie, a former product and interior designer (and current editor of the site), and kris, a kitchen and bath design instructor and information technology expert, tirelessly hunt for the most clever, functional and well made products and accessories for our homes. the spare design of their website is a blank canvas for the great breadth of selection featured; it consists of four sections including products, remodeling, books and travel. i appreciate the fact that their personal love affair with design and style grew into a tremendous one-stop resource that we all benefit from. let’s have a chat with katie and kris and find out more!


q: where do you live and where do you work?
a: katie: i live in houston, tx, and i work in my home office/studio.

kris: i live in los angeles, ca (silver lake) and I work in downtown la.


q: how did you meet, and how did bltd come into being?
a: katie: we met in dallas at some art show. i guess we had mutual friends, but it wasn’t until we started talking about architecture did we realize how we both liked the same sort of stuff – that turned into exchanging ideas about floor plans and home design and then kris actually came up with the idea of bltd – she thought it would be a good idea to create a site where we could keep track of all the great products available on the internet.

kris: ditto what katie said, but she left out that we were actually pen pals for a while, which is how we exchanged ideas about our floor plans. i thought that was important to add because it shows how truly nerdy we are about design. as far as how bltd started, i had actually purchased the domain about a year before we started the site. i really liked the feeling that the domain evoked, but i wasn’t sure what i was going to use it for. then somehow the idea struck me to start a website and i asked katie to join me. the funny thing is that we had only really talked in person that one time when i asked her to do it, but now three years and 2500 posts later i probably talk to her everyday.


q: what is your criteria for including pieces on your site?
a: katie: i think it’s fairly intuitive. most of the time the item has to stand out in some way – good design that meets at least one of the following criteria: affordable, useful, or spectacular.

kris: also, it needs to be available for sale online. very rarely do we post anything that’s not available online. we really wanted the site to be a comprehensive resource for anyone who’s looking for the perfect table or wallpaper, etc, so we try to include important design pieces as well as lesser known items that may meet a need for a space.


q: do you have a favorite category? if you do, why is it your favorite?
a: katie: i love home furnishings in general, but i’m quite fond of miscellaneous accessories – i guess because they’re more affordable (usually) and an easy way to make a small change in your surroundings.

kris: my favorite is our new “remodel” section which we launched a few months ago. it’s for people who are looking to make a major change in their space, such as surface treatments like changing flooring or wallpaper, or for remodeling their kitchen or bath. i used to teach kitchen and bath design at the college level, so i’m pretty excited we added that category. i really get giddy over fixtures.


q: can you name a few current design trends that you love?
a: katie: i like the new crop of products that have been designed with sustainability in mind, not just because it’s a trend, but because it’s interesting to see how designers are pushing the boundaries a little, and how manufacturers are more likely to take a chance considering the recent “green” movement.

kris: i’m kind of an urban nomad right now, so i really like the new “flatpack” trend, which is furniture or other items that are easily packable and movable. i also like the modernization of older styles; for example, the digitization of older baroque styles like the pixelated tables by salad industrial in spain.


q: what do you think is the biggest challenge in writing a design website?
a: katie: finding the words to express how i feel about something without reverting to “i love this”, “this is awesome”, “holy”, and “dude, you have to buy this” all the time.

kris: we try to keep it affordable but that’s not always easy. there’s a reason good design is expensive. a great sofa can last 50 years, not only in terms of construction, but also being relevant aesthetically. but not everyone has the budget for that so we try to find the less expensive items too. unfortunately they don’t last as long, and that has an environmental impact. so, i’d say that’s my biggest challenge: trying to meet the needs of all our readers’ budgets but at the same time trying to strike a balance between providing enough interesting content but making sure the pieces are relevant.


q: can you finish this sentence? the future of design…
a: katie: looks promising.

kris: looks exciting! i can’t wait to see what people come up with next.


like-minded design connoisseurs can hop on over to bltd and see lots more substantial picks. i don’t think you’ll be disappointed!


thank you katie and kris!

spring print collection at tiny showcase

jon buonaccorsi and shea’la finch, aka those clever folks with the great eye for beauty over at the tiny showcase have revealed their spring print collection. i have having a hard time 1) deciding which one i like best and 2) showing some restraint and not buying ALL of them! check them out below and decide for yourself:


weaving by josh keyes


he knew that he had to leave by jack long


mississippi by jennifer davis


the town spring found by nigel peake

bonus: they are using highly renewable hahnemühle bamboo printmaking paper for these prints, which is less harmful to the environment.

these prints are an open edition until the season changes and a new set is presented; at that time they will become unavailable. in addition to the seasonal set, jon and shea’la release new artwork to the public every tuesday. you can sign up for their mailing list and peruse other quality work on the tiny showcase website. have fun!

sea urchin table lamp

if you enjoy the shapes and textures of the ocean, you might like these sea urchin lights from california company lacor. they are crafted from chopsticks placed in cast resin.


simple and stylish.

see more products and contact lacor on their website.

via contemporist

letteria stationery & gifts

i like these pretty, simple letterpress and printed coasters and cards from swiss artist christa schumacher-black of letteria. christa has a background in graphics and visual communication and it comes through perfectly clear with her singular, focused styles. when you aren’t having a cocktail party or sending correspondence, you can also festoon your favorite room with her happy garlands!








find the collection at her etsy shop, and be sure to see her flickr stream and website (in swiss-german language) for more!

thomas broomé illustrations

perhaps you know swedish artist thomas broomé for his low res man sculpture, but i also love what clever pieces he has created here in his modern mantra collection. he is using a liberal amount of the alphabet to create texture, depth and positive/negative space in his clean lined drawings, and takes us on a very funky house tour at the same time.






i love the walk-in closet.

thomas is represented by the galleri magnus karlsson in stockholm. you can see lots more intriguing artwork in a variety of media from thomas on his website too.

via fabrica

hope gangloff illustrations

i have always been drawn to pen and ink illustrations, and these ballpoint pen works by new york artist hope gangloff are no exception. these pieces are drawn from photos and recreated with details that are soft but still precise and complete. her vivid scenes of daily life, both in palette and composition, take me to a place where i have been before at some point. a place where i felt liberated, hard, youthful and wise all at the same time.






the combination of ennui and casual confidence within her subjects is just so excellent.

hope is represented by the art department and the susan inglett gallery. view her portfolio and contact her on her website.

via wrong distance

twig stool and bench by russell pinch

i am quite smitten by the gorgeous twig stool and bench from english furniture maker russell pinch. it’s made from the offshoots or stems from the stumps of hazel or sweet chestnut trees from a local forest, in a technique called coppicing.


see more beautiful work from russell here, and purchase these pieces and more beautiful, earth friendly goods at one eco home (based in the uk).


wallpaper wildlife by inke heiland

look at these fun animal wallpaper silhouettes from dutch designer inke heiland. she created this clever wildlife series to decorate her son’s room, then decided to expand on the idea and crafted a complete menagerie. the bevy of birds and beasts is made from a variety of vintage wallpaper patterns, and the limited availability of the styles makes each piece very collectible.






if you’re grooving on this idea i am sure you will love inke’s other imaginative series of wallpaper furniture pieces. see them all and purchase your favorites on her website.

via an indian summer

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