gifts

scarves — a perennial obsession; pt. 1

nomadic tibetan

Because I live in the Bay Area, I am allowed to indulge in my passion for scarves.  I’ve discovered two new purveyors of my favorite accessory recently, and both compelling for very different reasons.

The first of these finds are the asburdly soft scarves by Fibre Tibet.  Apart from using top-notch cashmere (yes, it’s Grade A; yes, it’s organic and undyed), Fibre Tibet keeps the manufacturing local in Kathmandu, Nepal. Alberto Zanone ensures a beautiful — and compassionate — product is the result. Monica Garry, the founder of Fibre Tibet isn’t just interested in sustainable fashion, however. She’s been actively involved in supporting and growing local Tibetan economies since 199 via her not-for-profit The Bridge Fund, and has mobilized over $30,000,000 in its service during that time.

closeupfibretibet

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As far as luxury goes, this pulls all the threads together nicely: beautifully crafted and kind to both the consumer and the producer.

the good life — no.5

I really admire Sarah Maine. She isn’t just brainy (she went to Wesleyan and then went on to earn a MBA that focused on sustainbility) but she’s a food lover, community builder and she lives what she believes. For starters, she’s a cheesemonger. Could there be a better job title anywhere? Methinks not! On top of that bit of awesomeness, she has a small Etsy concern, The Finest Kind, where Sarah, a talented metalsmith, sells — among other things — absinthe spoons. Yes. Absinthe spoons. And they are lovingly crafted. And that’s when she’s not acting as the force behind the playful food site, Recipe Relay. In short, she’s the bee’s knees.

Without further ado, Sarah’s ruminations on the good life.

Sarah Maine

Sarah Maine

The good life, what is that?  Everyone can agree that the love of friends and family, a comfortable shelter and a full belly are essential ingredients for a good life.  I would argue further that goodness lies in how each of us arranges and connects those elements.  The web we make of thoughts, deeds, words and objects that carries the unique impression of our hand.

My childhood was draped across Southeast Asia, looping around Indonesia, then up to Sri Lanka before traversing oceans and continents to land in Italy, and finally in the US.  I saw many different ways of living, of permuting the elements of people, places and things.  The result is an internal web that is far reaching and not always orderly; the warmth of beauty is snarled with cold longing; happy strings may be kinked with sadness.  Every twist and knot has been worked into being by myself and others, places and things.  My very own hand made life.

Sarah's hand-crafted Christmas ornaments

Sarah’s hand-crafted Christmas ornaments

Absinthe spoone

Absinthe spoon

I currently live in New York City, a super-organism that can seem specifically evolved to spoil your day, your week, your year, or even your life.  In this city, things that make life good can act as amulets, cushioning against rough edges.  Space is precious; light is coveted; beauty and practicality are the mismatched roommates of most New York apartments.  Fashioning a good life here requires an openness and a readiness to relate to people on a level beyond words and interactions, it is necessary to listen to the story of things.

When something new enters my life, I look for a message of care, that warm sticky fact of connection that tells me something of the intentions of the originator or maker.  Conversely, when I do things or make things I hope to tell my own story of beauty and energy and thoughtfulness through design.

Some of Sarah’s images from Instagram:

vanessacorrea.com

vanessacorrea.com

vanessacorrea.com

vanessacorrea.com

 

Stolen mother/daughter moment captured by Sarah

Stolen mother/daughter moment captured by Sarah

vanessacorrea.com

Sarah’s beloved cat.

the good life — no. 3

It’s easy to fill one’s house with stuff. I’ve plenty of things purchased “just for right now, because I need a xxxxx right now.” But then I find myself looking at/using the blasted thing years later. (In fact, I’m looking at a very hated floor lamp purchased in desperation as I type this.) Now, I make a very conscious effort to buy objects mindfully. I need to love it, and, hopefully, I know who made it — and how — and where it came from. I like my things with stories. And no, “I was standing in the check-out line at Ikea and decided that I absolutely needed a new set of Klåppnøtt placemats as well as this 6-pack of cinnamon rolls” is not a particularly good story. At least not anymore.

Kena & Jennifer of Brika

Kena & Jennifer of Brika

What’s interesting about Brika is the amount of emphasis they place on the makers. It’s, well, a lot. I can just buy something pretty, of course. But if I want to learn more about, say, what motivates Victoria Vu of Paper & Type, well, Brika spends a fair amount of time introducing you, dear purchaser, to what makes Victoria tick.

I like it.

victoria

Victoria Vu at work

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Thank you note

Some thoughts from Jennifer Koss on what the good life means for them.

Kena and I met serendipitously a few years ago, and it was at our first coffee date that we realized we were destined to do something entrepreneurial and creative together.  After a decade of working in corporate jobs, we started a new journey with BRIKA – telling the stories of passionate, inspiring and talented Makers and bringing their gorgeous products straight to our customers inbox.  We believe the good life is about following your passion, igniting your creative spark and inspiring others to do the same!

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Mox Grey Boots

 

Black hand-stamped clutch

Black hand-stamped clutch

 

Shield Necklace

Shield Necklace

 

Fire escape pillow

Fire escape pillow 

book tower house, london

Perfectly integrated bookshelves by Platform 5 Architects, via Design Taxi. This might be my favorite solution for a surfeit of books. It’s a brilliant extension, and the small built-in desk is charmingly sized.  Damn you East Bay real estate prices, damn you. Platform 5, I hope one day you’ll be building an extension like this for me. And my husband’s books.

From Platform 5:
Book Tower House is a typical late Victorian mid-terraced house in Hampstead, London. The main feature is a double height library space at the heart of the house, created by combining the original rear reception room and a first floor bedroom.  The feature staircase, wrapped in oak bookshelves, leads up to a built-in desk and study area with views over the ground floor.

To the rear of the house, a side extension to the existing kitchen was formed by resting an oak rib and skin structure, externally clad in zinc, onto the brick party wall.  A cosy seating area with slide-away corner glazing creates a space where you feel surrounded by the garden.

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la train fantôme

Fanja Ralison makes beautiful creatures. I thought they were incredibly charming when I first stumbled across them, but in person, it’s clear they are made carefully, and with love. A LOT of love. I recently purchased one of her dolls (May, as it happens) for my daughter Lucie. May’s expression is dubious, as if she’s not quite sure she approves of everything that is going on in her immediate vicinity. She reminded me, deeply, of Lu. Skeptical. But sweet. Self-possessed. Not too smiley.

May by Le Train Fantôme

When May arrived at our house, I had to fight the urge to chuck every other stuffed thing in Lu’s room into the Goodwill box. May was so….exquisite. Her clothes — all handmade — made me wish Fanja would just start making them in my size, too.  And May’s comrades in the Le Train Fantôme world all share May’s Gallic disposition. Lucie has already expressed interest in Little Ozzie, Babette, and Lewis. And of course, Lumi is lovely, as well, but apparently unavailable at the moment.

I’m not going to lie: May isn’t cheap. But she reminds me, again, how much more satisfying it is to have one very, very beautiful, unique and meaningful thing than to have many, many things that don’t move the soul.

Top left: Lumi; bottom right: May

 

 

May and one of her handmade outfits

May and one of her handmade outfits

Lewis 

Lumi and Lewis, enjoying some music by the fire.

Some of Fanja’s inspirations.

 

confusion

Thank you, Mark Dudlik. Love this not-really-popular (but one in which I truly believe) statement in letterpress form!

Photo and letterpress by Mark Dudlik

Photo and letterpress by Mark Dudlik

LBD

If you would have asked me a few months ago, I would have said that it’s probably pretty obvious that I like style over trends. It may be less obvious now, but it’s still deeply true.

Take — for example — my healthy interest in the LBD.  Black dresses — like white shirts or the perfect jeans — are a never-ending quest. One finds oneself at the boutique, thinking, “This is it. THIS is the black dress that will allow me to stop buying black dresses!” But soon, the season changes, and you realize that in fact, you’ll need one more with a slightly different weight fabric. Or a swingy hem. Or a boatneck. And like white shirts, or the perfect jeans, they create the perfect, flattering background for sparking conversation (or baubles, if it comes to that.)

I’ve been on a bit of tear, pinning black dresses like they are going out of style. (They’re not.) Here are a few of my recent favorites:

Jil Sander Madreperla Pleated Dress

J. Mendel Deep V Halter Gown

Thakoon Cake Frosting Cross Front Halter Dress

Acne Satya Tape Dress

MiH Extra Long Oversize Shirt