December 22, 2009
Work is so much more pleasant when surrounded by beautiful objects – whether that be just the right light or a clutch of perfect pencils. To inspire you during the gift-giving season, here are some recommendations for beautifully designed and useful office tools you shouldn’t be without.
Paramount table lamp ($49.95 at CB2): Touch the base of this spare, sleek table lamp to warm work area with ambient light. Touch it again to brighten your room. (Pictured above, far right)
Muro notepaper roll dispenser ($23.75 at Lumens.com): Never have an “I can’t find a scratch pad” moment again with this stainless steel paper holder. Write what you need to, then tear off the sheet.
Letter rack and magnetic memo board ($20 at Three By Three Seattle): Wrangle paper, jot notes and stash your keys on this space-saving magnetic memo board in your choice of painted steel, stainless steel and bamboo.
Incense-cedar pencils ($2.75 a dozen at ForestChoice): You may love your laptop, but sometimes it’s necessary to sketch things out on paper. These pencils, made from Forest Stewardship Council-certified incense-cedar, feel good and leave a strong line. Buy here.
AeroPress coffee and espresso maker ($25.95 at Amazon): Other coffee machines might have more buttons (and cost more), but for elegance, simplicity and tasty joe at a reasonable price, the AeroPress by Aerobie (makers of the flying ring), can’t be beat.
Vers 2X iPod speaker system (Starting at $179.99 at Versaudio): This compact unit combines good sound with environmentally conscious manufacturing processes to provide a beautiful base for listening to your iPod without headphones. A 14-function remote lets you control the music from a distance. Auxiliary in and out jacks mean you can connect it to your desktop computer as well.
Sharpener pencil holder ($30 at SFMOMA): Recall the low-tech era with this giant pencil sharpener-shaped pot. Use to keep a smile on your face and your writing instruments and craft tools within reach.
Quote-Unquote bookends ($89 at Unica Home): These clever quotation mark-shaped bookends keep your favorite works in place while making a statement.
BackPack computer shelf for the Mac ($29.99 at Twelve South): Keep your external hard drive out of the way with this adjustable shelf from Twelve South. Two clips clamp onto the iMac or Cinema Display desk stand, gravity does the rest.
December 21, 2009
Designer Todd Oldham has come up with the perfect child’s gift – a craft book (Ammo Books) that engages all of us. And best of all it is inspired by some of Herman Miller’s favorite designers. I asked Todd about Kid Made Modern…
In Kid Made Modern you’ve got over 50 craft projects for children inspired by designers like Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson and Noguchi – all of whom have a strong connection to Herman Miller. What draws you to these designers? When we started out conceptualizing the book we knew we wanted it to be equal parts of how-to projects, art technique essays and love letters to our favourite artists that contributed to the mid- century aesthetic.
I am not terribly interested in the idea of nostalgia or vintage notions but what I do find fascinating about this group of artists is the spectacular communication of their ideas and the desire to connect. They were real artists exploring new ideas that resonate still today.
We chose a cross section of artists from different mediums like Alvin Lustig, Luis Barragan, and Calder as well as better known heros like the Eames and George Nelson. One of the main points I wanted to share with the book was how to be a fan, be inspired, but do not copy – a serious problem in modern society.
So in the instance of the Eames we did a stop animation film inspired by their kaleidoscope films. With Noguchi we made origami paper cubes that slip over twinkle lights and a poster board sculpture that examines form and function.
We have just made a fun new website for the book – kidmademodern.com - that has film. We finished a sweet and a little bit creepy stop animation for Alexander Girard and a psychedelic tribute to Verner Panton.
Which is your favorite project? I like them all fortunately but I have a real soft spot for anything to do with duct tape. I have made most of them and I have seen someone make all of them so they are indeed tested with functioning directions. I did want to write the directions in a precise enough way to follow but with room for personal interpretation and I think it worked
What are you giving for Christmas this year? And what’s on your wish list? I am making my Christmas presents this year, as usual, and if I told you i might ruin a few. I am a very lucky guy and I don’t really have a wish list.
Photo credit: © 2009 Todd Oldham/Courtesy www.ammobooks.com