Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cool Stuff: San Francisco Gift Fair

I had about two hours today to (literally) run through the San Francisco International Gift Fair. I'd never been before, so I wasn't sure what to expect -- though I'd been warned that there would be a lot of Hallmark-store junk.

And, indeed, the fromage factor was significant. (I also wasn't quite prepared for the absolute vastness of the show, which is housed in two adjoining convention centers, each the size of an enormous airplane hangar. Nor was I ready for the olfactory overload caused by the hundreds of scented candles, incense, and room sprays wafting about the place. Hours later, my head is still throbbing from them. And I admit I that was a little frightened by the big hair, heavy makeup, and lacquered nails sported by many of the show attendees.)

Still, in between the "Fun Shui" kits and the winged-angel wall hangings and the country-fried decor and the -- egads! -- holiday decorations was the occasional great booth.

My favorite was Roost's gorgeous labyrinth of a space, which I pretty much just wanted to move into right then and there. I think the Roost reps were a little amused (and maybe a little annoyed) that I kept drifting back to fondle their goods (did I mention that I *love* Roost?). They also came at me with fingers a-waggin' the second I whipped out my camera. So sorry, folks -- no pretty Roost pictures today.

But here are some shots of other lovely booths and their enticing wares:

Teacup Clock from Umbra's new U+ line

Thomas Paul pillows

Tea towels from Simrin

Laminate trays from France's Ibride

Pretty beaded-glass pendants from Lunares

Rubber vases from Menu via Creative Danes

Frameable wrapping papers from Elum Designs

Pine-veneer pendants from La Vida Verde

Pagoda Lanterns from HomePort Collections

Designers Guild throws

Delicately beautiful bud vases from Burlingame's j.mendicino

Funky hands light from Nancy Funk Ceramics of Emeryville

Cool Stuff: Surface View Murals

Got a big, blank wall you're not sure what to do with? Murals from the UK's Surface View will turn that bland swath of wall into something truly breathtaking.

The company transforms images -- everything from great works of art in London's Victoria & Albert Museum to photography to vintage postcards -- into stunning, semi-custom murals that go up up like wallpaper.

Simply browse the dozens of images in Surface View's four collections (V&A, Land of the Lost, Photographic, and Ephemera, each with several sub-sets) and choose the one you like best. You can preview each mural in a variety of settings, from work spaces to bedrooms to dining areas to entryways. (As you can see from all the images included here, I got a little carried away playing with the fun preview tool.)

Next, select a matte, satin, gloss, or linen finish. Finally, enter the dimensions of the wall you're covering to get an image that's cropped and sized perfectly for it.

The murals aren't cheap, mind you -- one that covers a wall measuring 10 by 8 feet will run you about 560 pounds sterling, or roughly $1,120. But, boy, do these have impact.

A few more ideas:

Check out the Surface View site here.

(Via RetrotoGo.)

Mark Your Calendar: Feria Urbana

Another one for you locals: Feria Urbana (aka the "Urban Arts and Crafts Sale") is coming to the Oakland Museum of California this Friday, August 3, from 5 to 9 p.m.

Bay Area artists and designers will be selling home accessories, artwork, jewelry, clothing, and other locally-produced wares. Among the participants: Mediums to Masses (above), Fire Sign Glass, Lizard Press, A Liaison (below), Anne J.L. Dijamco Photography, and more than a dozen others.

Come for the shopping, but stay for the museum's First Fridays After Five, featuring live music and dancing, a full bar and dining, open galleries, and documentary screenings. A free shuttle will ferry riders between the museum and the Oakland Art Murmur's nearby First Friday art walk.

The Oakland Museum is located at 1000 Oak St. at 10th, a block from the Lake Merritt BART station. Feria Urbana and First Fridays After Five admission is free; museum admission is $8.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Cool Stuff: Poufs That Are Rad

My friend Anne wrote me the other day, mourning a find that got away. She'd spotted a "gorgeous little Moroccan red leather pouf" at a garage sale. They wanted $20; she tried to haggle them down to $10, with no luck. She left, then thought better of her decision and went back. The pouf was, of course, gone. Now she can't stop "picturing its perkiness everywhere" around her house.

In an effort to cheer Anne up, I went hunting for another little pouf that she could fall in love with. I didn't find anything for $10, or even $20, but I did find a surprising number of poufs in cheerfully bright hues -- none of that hippyish brown or burnt sienna leather for my mod-loving friend -- and at fairly reasonable prices.

Anne, do any of these strike your fancy?

Turquoise pouf from Tazi Designs, $120

Tazi fuchsia and tan pouf, $85

Tazi white pouf with red embroidery, $185

Tazi fuchsia pouf with gold embroidery, $120

Tazi orange pouf with red embroidery, $120

Tazi pink pouf, $120

Green and white pouf from Living Morocco, $175

Mark Your Calendar: Anniversary Party at Mignonne

Old Oakland's home decor store extraordinaire Mignonne celebrates its one-year anniversary this Thursday evening, August 2, from 6 to 9 p.m.

Champagne will be flowing, a DJ will be spinning, artist Sheila Metcalf Tobin and photographer Jen Zahigian will be exhibiting, and many items in the shop will be up to 50% off. (Plus, how cool is this frameable invite by Hannah Stouffer?)

See you there!

Etsy Find of the Day: Elsa Mora Prints

I don't normally care much for illustrations that look like they'd be at home in a children's book. (Truth be told, I find the trend toward twee on Etsy a bit distressing.) But Elsa Mora's prints -- while having an undeniable innocence and simplicity to them -- also possess a slightly odd, disconcerting quality that gives them an edge I find appealing.

Born and raised in Cuba, Mora is now a multidisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles. Her illustrations are created with pen and ink and then digitally colored, lending their delicate forms an incredible vibrancy. The compositions themselves are graphic, the subjects dreamlike, and the overall effect intriguing.

A few of my favorites: Garden (top); And Now (second from top)

Zen Girl

Just Be

The Staircase


You can find Mora's prints for just $20 each right here.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

eBay Find of the Day: Klismos Chairs

Klismos chairs are design classics that have also managed the neat feat of being incredibly au courant. (They've popped up in Domino and in House Beautiful of late, and don't miss the recent Klismos slideshow from Southern Accents.)

Based on Greek forms dating from the 5th century B.C., modern-day Klismos chairs have both a refined stateliness and a bit of swaggering attitude, with a neoclassical shape that features splayed saber legs and a curving backrest that cradles the body. Pristine examples from the early 18th to the mid-20th century run several hundred to several thousand dollars at high-end auction houses and on sites like 1stdibs, while new versions from companies like Donghia and Michael Berman will set you back nearly as much.

Or you could try eBay. This set of four midcentury-model Klismos up for auction on the site looks like it's in excellent shape, and will add a bit of stylish pomp to your dining table or a touch of sculptural elegance when employed as occasional seating elsewhere.

Current bid: $99. (Shipping for the entire set via Greyhound is an additional -- and quite reasonable -- $90.) The auction ends on Thursday.

Friday, July 27, 2007

That's Random: Sidewalk Stories

For the last two weeks, I've been working a freelance editing gig in downtown San Francisco. (Hey there, Via people!) One day, while I was hoofing it to the office after parking my car at an overpriced lot a few blocks away, I looked down and saw a message neatly inscribed on the sidewalk. It read simply, "You are my everything."

I chuckled and went on my way. But the mysterious message lodged in the back of my head and nagged at me for the rest of the day, and during the days that followed. Who put it there? Who was it for? What did it mean?

I few days after that, I parked in a different lot and stumbled -- literally -- upon another message on a sidewalk nearby. This one read, "Love is what you'll get from me."

Now I was a woman obsessed. What was this? I asked around at the office, and while a few other people there had noticed the inscriptions, too, no one had a clue who was behind them or what the bigger meaning -- if any -- was.

Then a coworker came across a reference to similar messages popping up on Mission District sidewalks in a local arts newsletter that she was reading. And a flickr search led me to several photo streams documenting the phenomenon.

(Interestingly, it's grown to include not just the original messages, but snarky responses to them. Example: "Your existence gives me hope"; "Your existence gives me diarrhea," above, and "You make my dreams come true"; "Shut up, honky!" -- as well as serial sidewalk graffiti chronicling a love story of sorts, below.)

What it all actually means is still a bit of a mystery to me, but that's part of the charm.

Anyway, whether the messages I saw are some sort of urban guerrilla art, a stealth advertising campaign (if so, it can't be a very effective one), sneaky Christian proselytizing, or simply someone trying to spread the love via a letter stencil and a can of spray paint -- they made my week.

So, dear readers, I wanted to tag you with the message, too. You are, in so many ways, my everything. Have a wonderful weekend!

(Top two photos by yours truly. Photo second from bottom by Leena Prasad for the Mission Arts Monthly. Photo at bottom by flickr member zomBdog.)


©Copyright 2007-2014 More Ways To Waste Time and Leah Hennen. All Rights Reserved.