my brika crush

The wonderful women at the new curated shopping site, Brika have kicked off their “Brika Tastemaker We Love” series this morning with me! I couldn’t be more honored — the site is beautifully edited, and the makers featured are talented, passionate and thoughtful. Thank you, Brika, for letting me be part of your story.



And a little early Brika love for me! Looking forward to my Deborah Rice bracelet!

t house

Beautiful live/work space by Italian-based design firm Modourbano. (via gblog)





the role of the critic

“In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new. ”

Anton Ego, Ratatouille




Or, this:

Guidelines for seal use

“Here, then, is what I wanted to tell you of my architecture…

Oscar Niemeyer, Vinicius de Moraes, his wife Lila, and Tom Jobim

…I created it with courage and idealism, but also with an awareness of what is important:  life, friends and attempting to make this unjust world a better place in which to live.”  — Oscar Niemeyer

My father, some years ago, took a group of fellow academics to Brazil. He does that from time-to-time, both to encourage international collaboration in the Academy, and also to have an excuse to visit his home country. As I’ve gotten older, he’s become more of a Monsieur Hulot figure in my mind — landing in unexpected situations that even he seems at a loss to fully explain.

On one of these trips to Brazil, and in this vein, my father found himself taking his group to Oscar Niemeyer’s studio. When I ask my father to explain how this happened, the conversation usually devolves into an enigmatic explanation of people who know people and friends who know friends and then a general shrug in a particularly Brazilian way that says, “These things happen, you know?”

But from that enigmatic studio visit, my father returned with a book for me, about Oscar, signed by the famous architect. Of course, Oscar misheard my name (or maybe my father was mumbling), so the book says “To Vannene, Oscar Niemeyer.”  You win some, you lose some.

Even when Niemeyer’s designs were less successful, they were interesting. And his overall body of work and approach to living have been a long-standing source of inspiration for me, and I know many, many others. He was a brave architect and a brilliant man — I’m extraordinarily sorry to see him go.

the night sky

“The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.”

— Carl Sagan