New Page of Sizzlin’ Resources

Need some inspiration? What about advice for that problem in Illustrator you’ve been having? Maybe you just need a new photoshop brush to put the finishing touches on that project? Well, I just created a new resource page! It’s a list of sites that I feel could be useful to designers, photographers, architects, artists, or anyone in the creative/technical field. It includes blogs that offer tips and advice, tutorials, freebies and more. For about a year now, I’ve been collecting sites either by bookmarking or adding to my Google reader. So making this page has also helped me get a little more organization to the madness. Which reminds me of another resource Xmarks (syncs and backs up your bookmarks). My resource list is definitely not the end-all-be-all of resources, so I look forward to finding more. There’s so much great stuff out there on the world wide web. Do you have a site/resource that you’d like to share? Leave a comment on my Resource Page.


Would you rather live in a cave or nest?

You’re probably thinking I wouldn’t want to live in either, but let’s not get too hasty. I was reading a 2008 interview that Designboom did with Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto as he explained his theory on nest vs. cave: “A ‘nest’ is a place for people that is very well prepared, everything is assembled and very functional, meanwhile the ‘cave’ is just a raw space, which people need to explore and find their own comfort within. This is a situation where people can use space creatively.” I would say I live in a nest, each piece of furniture has the “correct designation” and you know how you should use it. A chair is a chair. However there were times growing up when I would have preferred the cave. A chair is a chair is a desk is the floor. I’ve gotten in trouble for using a table as a seat and vice versa or have been forced to sit on a chair when I really just wanted to be on the floor.

The Next Generation House by Sou Fujimoto is “the cave.” Completed in 2008, this 15m2 weekend home is creatively constructed in such a way that the user defines the function of each space. Large cedar blocks are the columns, walls, stairs, floors, desks, chairs, and beds, all-in-one. Their solid weight and vertical metal cables keep them in position. Also the blocks were shifted to create recesses, extensions, skylights, and windows (held in place by plastic plugs). Many people can enter and each have a totally different interaction with the house. In dealing with a small area, I would want a house that is mostly cave; having spaces that host many different functions. Yet it wouldn’t be a collection of empty rooms. Just like the blocks, there would be some pieces to encourage versatility and creativity.

View more work by Sou Fugimoto Architects.

Deceptive Design: Experiments in Furniture

Deceptive Design_LogoLast year around this time, I was swayed by a poster to go to the Chicago Cultural Center. It was fall break, I had never been there before, and it was free. What did I have to lose? Turns out, I loved every minute of my visit. From the Tiffany glass dome to the Halloween decorations, to the exhibits, everything was compelling (I really mean everything, I spent hours there).

The display I remember the most was called Deceptive Design [Oct. 10th, 2008 – Jan. 4th, 2009]. It featured novel furnishings whose purpose was to alter our standard perceptions of furniture around us. There was something “deceptive” about each piece whether it was in the mechanics, materials, or visual presentation. I will introduce three of my favorites.

Riveli by Mark Kinsley

Definitely a piece I would have on my wall is Riveli, a shelving component designed by Mark Kinsley. I find it clever, practical, and versatile. Combining artwork with shelving, Riveli adapts to the user’s needs. Parts flip down to hold your possessions and the sections that are not needed remain up to display custom art. I wonder if the artwork is put on panels that can be changed as well? Either way it’s brilliant. Mark Kinsley is an industrial designer living in Chicago that works not only with furniture, but with lighting as well.

Coil Lamp

What drew me to this next piece was the beguiling construction and the simplicity of the materials. It is made from a really long extension cord, Plexiglas, and a light bulb. Coil Lamp ComponentsSimple? Yes. Boorish? Not even close. The Coil Lamp designed by Craighton Berman “elevates the status of the humble, everyday extension cord to the realm of high design.”

This lamp is actually now available for purchase. You can buy the limited edition Handmade Coil Lamp that comes fully assembled or you can get the Do-It-Yourself Kit in which you purchase the extension cord and the bulb.

As a matter of fact, that’s what I thought when I first saw it, “I can make this.” Of course that was when I had access to a laser cutter. Kudos to Craighton Berman for creating such an innovation. He is an industrial designer, professor, and creative director based in Chicago.

Deceptive GardenLast, but not least, is the Deceptive Garden by Chris Brandel. The goal is to make the most out of the small outdoor space that is the typical Chicago balcony. It stylishly provides the means for the user to grow various plants like flowers and herbs, and provides storage for supplies. It then can be converted into a handy work table or a mellow dining area for two. Perfect for the city dweller with a green thumb.

As for the creator, Chris Brandel is a product developer and designer and is currently the president at the Chicago Furniture Designers Association.

What do you think? Check out the other designs and tell me which ones you like.

At the Art Institute – Christopher Dresser

Grotesque Vase

Grotesque Vase

Christopher Dresser (1834 – 1904) was a renowned industrial designer and botanist. Today, I’m more concerned with his work as a designer. Be aware though that his study of nature greatly influenced his creations. Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Dresser moved around quite a bit with his family, until at age 13, he was accepted into the Government School of Design, now known as the Royal College of Art. This is where he received training in design and plants. He lectured and wrote 3 successful books on botany, but really began to design in 1860.

Dresser designed wallpaper, ceramics, textiles, stained glass, and metal-ware, mostly with the intention of providing the common people with alluring well crafted products. He is said to be one of the first industrial designers and was a strong supporter of machine manufacturing. Understanding the benefit of standardizing parts, he reduced the production costs for his manufacturers.  Dresser designed everything that you would need for your kitchen table and then some.

Also, influenced by other countries,  Dresser had an immense appreciation for Japanese culture. In fact, he was the first European designer to be commissioned to visit Japan after they reopened their borders in 1854.

Dresser died in Mulhouse, France in 1904. In his lifetime, he submitted designs to over 50 different firms.

It’s ironic that I was drawn to the more ornate piece in the collection, Grotesque Vase. Personally, I tend to lean towards the modern (simple clean lines with minimal decoration). Amazingly, a number of Dresser’s pieces could be considered “contemporary” and can hold their own against current designers. What’s more, some of his pieces are still being manufactured. Alessi, a design company, makes his oil and vinegar set, toast rack, and round tray. Below are more of his work at the Art Institute in Chicago.

Claret Jug

Claret Jug

Clutha Vase

Clutha Vase

Vase or Jug

Vase or Jug

Read and see more about Christopher Dresser from the British Design Museum.

Express Yourself! with Schtickers, Coolors, & Blik

Charles Wright said it best, but thee following companies really provide the means to express yourself! In an age of mass production, we often look for ways to make things more distinct, making our mark by showing sprinklings of our personality.

Red DJ Turntable Schticker

First to free us from the mundane is Schtickers. Schtickers is a design company that specializes in providing decorative decals for your laptop and iPod. They are community oriented supporting the arts and social services with a portion of each purchase donated to charity. schtickers2There are a wide variety of designs to choose from which include textures, fine art, modern, solids, retro, and of course there is an option for even more customization. I was thrilled to see a decal by Banksy, a graffiti artist whose work is wrought with humor and satire. He recently had an exhibition in the Bristol Museum with more than 100 hundred of his pieces mixed in with the museum’s collection. Watch the preview Banksy vs Bristol Museum.


Next up is Coolors, an Italian based company that spruces up your refrigerator (and cabinets, and stove, and walls, and…). With silk screened panels, Coolors’s products make all the other kitchens in the neighborhood jealous . Their current catalog has designs in bright colors with flowers, shapes, and swirls and special patterns in black and white. Why stop there? You can now add glitter or Swarovski crystals to the motif. There is also the option to use an image of your own. God bless Italy!


Finally, is a company I applaud. I remember looking at their website a while ago and even then being impressed with their idea and what they had to offer. Since then their business and their collection has expanded tremendously and they just revamped their website. Blik is a graphics company (not to be confused with Blick) that makes creative wall decals. It’s a great alternative to wallpaper or painting, after all not everyone is Michelangelo.


Blik decals can be used indoor and outdoor with a life span ranging from 1 – 3 years. They are made from a thin adhesive matte vinyl film and seamlessly blend on your wall. Removal is easy, just peel and slowly lift. There is also Blik Re-Stick decals that can be repositioned and reused. Their unique collection is booming and offers everything from plants, to classic game scenes, to headboards. The possibilities and combinations are endless. They also have a gallery that shows off custom projects for which they’ve been commissioned. If you get some blik, don’t hold back. This guy didn’t.

“So I got these awesome wall decals from and after they were put up, we really wanted to “Play” Super Mario. So we made it so the wall is interactive! So now, if you walk in my office and jump up to touch a coin or mushroom, they make the actual sound from the game! The speaker is in the ceiling tile right by the door. And yes, I am aware how high the nerd factor is on this one! ”

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