Great.ly…Connecting the Dots for Makers & Tastemakers

great.ly front page

So in addition to a brand new blog design, this week holds some other big news about an exciting new project I am involved in. Today is launch day for Great.ly, a brand new e-commerce site designed to put tastemakers together with makers and create a platform for them to market and sell work. As my long time readers know, one of my missions has always been to showcase and support artists and artisans and their creations so I am so excited to be one of the initial 50 tastemakers on the new Great.ly site. I have been busy curating my online boutiques which you can get to by clicking this link or using the Great.ly button on the side bar. You’ll find work from familiar faces as well as new ones.

No surprise at all to see George of papergluebamboo there. As I hinted in my last post, she has been busy creating new colorways and patterns for her modern ikkanbari and Japanese shopping baskets to sell on Great.ly. From bright yellow lucky gourds…

ikkanbari papergluebamboo yellow gourd tray

…to absolutely on trend African motifs

African pods papergluebamboo ikkanbari

…to ume (plum blossom) and ichimatsu (checks) in bright new colors on Tsukiji market shopping baskets, her unique line of homewares and carryalls is spectacular. To read more about her modern take on this ancient craft, take a look here and here. Remember, every piece is one of a kind, so shop the boutique here early!

papergluebamboo ume shopping baskets

Another long time Tokyo Jinja favorite is the gorgeous handmade textiles of LuRu Home based out of Shanghai, China. Liza and Claire are working with modern versions of nankeen, a dense hand-woven cotton fabric which has been stencilled and dyed in an indigo bath. With their beautiful products, all made from the custom hand dyed fabric in updated versions of traditional Chinese patterns, they are taking up the banner of preservation of this ancient form of craft, while innovating at the same time.

LuRU Home indigo pillows
luru slideshow_8

Their blue and white textiles bring a sense of cool to my very hot – both literally and colorfully – backyard here in Doha. They also play very well with pillows in other colors and textures. Be sure to click here to read their full story and see the pillows in action and here to shop the boutique.

Luru Home pillows

One of the most exciting aspects of Great.ly for me is getting to know new makers with interests and aesthetics that align with my own. Link Collective produces contemporary furoshiki (Japanese wrapping cloths) through a network of artists and designers from around the world. They “aim to cross cultures and generations by creating beautiful and functional products, merging international design with traditional Japanese production methods.” Their modern furoshiki with whimsical names such as Mountain Blossom or The Hida Express can be used for their traditional wrapping purpose, be worn as a scarf…

FUROSHIKI

…or be converted to a cross body bag with their ingenious strap. Seems like a ‘must have’ item for a good textile junkie, creating the possibility of a purse from any piece of cloth.

DOTS FUROSHIKI BAG (BLACK) & BLACK LEATHER CARRY STRAP SET link

Their furoshiki are all made in Fujisawa, Japan, hand-printed and sewn by a family owned business with over 50 years experience in furoshiki production. Although Japan’s craftsmen often spend a lifetime perfecting their artistry, much of that skill and knowledge is being lost as today’s mass production, cost cutting and on-demand culture drives ever more business decisions. Invaluable knowhow is disappearing as tools are put down, and the last small factories and workshops die out. Like LuRu Home in China, they are playing a part in keeping these crafts alive by showing what can be achieved when creativity and craftsmanship come together.

story_printing

For toting your heavier items, I am loving the work of the Tacoma, Washington-based duo Jacqui and Scott of Year Round Co. They hand make every bag themselves, from cutting each piece of fabric, to designing and screen printing it, then sewing and applying all the leather and hardware in their home studio. For a glimpse into their workshop this great video really demonstrates the artisanal quality of their products. Their collection is inspired by stormy seas, mossy rocks, and earthy travels.

Year Round Co

And as you all know from my past ten years of deep involvement with hanga, modern Japanese prints, I have long been a champion of works on paperWorks on paper, about paper, using paper, are some of the most affordable and charming artwork to be had. I am just beginning to explore some of the talent on Great.ly, so be sure to keep watch on this boutique as I add items in the coming weeks.

art collage

In clockwise order: Gretchen Kelly Rosy Mist on the Hudson, watercolor, Shelley Kommers Blue Diamonds, Print, Candy Le Sueur Silver Flower, monotype, Shelly Kommers Sparrow, mixed media collage

To quote one of the new artists I am just getting to know, Shelley Kommers, “I am always on the lookout for beauty, and I find it everywhere: in the decayed, the imperfect, and the ironic; in the small, tucked away places no one else looks.” I’d like to adopt that as my personal mantra.

So come on over and check it out. Just click here and start exploring. There are many other makers and categories I don’t have room to mention here. I think you’ll like what you find. To be honest, there are still quite a few kinks to work out, so please be patient and let me know if you are having any trouble making a purchase. Be sure to keep coming back as I will be adding to my boutiques regularly.
And if you are a maker or know someone else who is, looking for an outlet to sell and show your work, please contact me, either by leaving a comment on the post or via email at jacquelinewein[at]yahoo.com. Maybe Great.ly and I are just what you are looking for!

 

A New Look for Tokyo Jinja

My dear readers, I’ll assume you already know what this post is all about, as you are looking right at it. If you are an email subscriber, please be sure to click into the post and view it on your browser. Welcome to the new Tokyo Jinja, which is the same as it ever was, but all wrapped in a brand new package. It’s been a very long time coming and I know I have talked about it before, but the redesign turned into a slow journey I couldn’t have made on my own. I could not be more excited to be shedding the skin of my old dated blog format!

Setting out to convey a bit of where I have been, coupled with where I am now, I am so lucky to have two wonderful artist friends, one steeped in the motifs and designs in Japan, the other new to the desert here in Doha and willing to embrace it. George of papergluebamboo can paint karakusa, the scrolling arabesque vine pattern found on Japanese decorative arts and dear to both our hearts, like no one else. How proper and perfect then that she painted the blue and white karakusa pattern for my new banner.

George Fukuda papergluebamboo

George has been hard at work for an exciting new project we are both involved in – you’ll be hearing about that in my very next post – on some fresh new colorways for her ikkanbari and Japanese shopping baskets.

papergluebamboo shopping basket lime ume

Isabelle Caraës, a French artist and illustrator, is a new friend here in Doha. She creates beautiful finely drawn images and is masterful at their digital manipulation. How proper and perfect that she created the Islamic arabesque pattern found in the mashrabiya, the lattice-work screens, seen all over Qatar and The Middle East. I am just obsessed with them and have mentioned them briefly here and here, but there is sure to be a full post on them soon. You’ve also seen a glimpse of her fantastic house and some of her small works here.

Isabelle Fromaget

L’arbre, a new mixed media piece, digitally arranged, is a perfect example of her whimsical work.

l'arbre Isabelle Caraes

So not to make too much of it, but I love the way the banner is symbolic of my experiences, my friendships and my life over the past ten years.

Saraswati Venkatram, better known as Saras, of SV3 Designs has been an outstanding Web Master, professional and impossibly quick to deliver. She transferred my 326 posts (!!!) and thousands of comments over from my old blog format without losing a letter and was invaluable help in the design process. The new format has larger and wider photos, simpler navigation and offers options for the future.

Now for some technical notes…I’d say we are about 85-90% finished so don’t be surprised if you notice little tweaks over the next few weeks. Please let me know if you notice any problems, glitches or have any constructive comments. If you are an email follower, hopefully your subscription has transferred over. If you are a follower via WordPress.com, I think you will need to resubscribe, but I am not entirely sure. I am really looking forward to hearing from you all and hope that you like this new and improved Tokyo Jinja reading experience.

And for a last goodbye to that street scene at the Saturday market in Azabu Juban…

Tokyo Jinja old blog format azabu juban

I’ll also have some other very exciting news coming out on Thursday, so be sure to keep your eyes open for my next post.

The 10th Ultimate IKEA Bargain

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Apartment Therapy just ran a piece on their 9 Ultimate Cheap Chic Classics from IKEA and I decided I needed to chime in on my own 10th item. I don’t disagree with the items they are listing. After all, I have mentioned their number 1 item, the Stockholm Rand rug extensively before, I have used their #2 item, the Billy Bookcase in pretty much every space I have lived in and I am currently using a pair of their number 7 item, the Malm Dresser in my elder daughter’s bedroom. But I think the best bargain at IKEA these days – and one that is nowhere near as over exposed as the other nine – is the Tobias chair shown in our dining room above. Lately, I have noticed it popping up in some higher end places, so I think there are those out there who are agreeing with me.

At 79 dollars (or 265 Qatari Riyals), the price is excellent. In Japan, the chair is just over 15,000 Yen, so it’s about twice as expensive, but everything imported has about that same mark-up. I had never really given the Tobias any thought or attention until I moved to Doha, where IKEA plays an even bigger role in basic necessities than it did in Japan, and certainly than it ever did in the USA. I don’t think there is a single piece of IKEA anything at our beach house. When looking for chairs here to go with our Saarinen Tulip Table and Louis XV style chairs, they seemed like the perfect inexpensive placeholders until we found what we “really” wanted. Ironically, they have become a favorite item, being incredibly comfortable, easy to care for and slide effortlessly across the newly installed Madeline Weinrib dhurrie.

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The flatweave/tulip table/Tobias chair combo is not a particularly new one, but it just works.

madeline-weinrib-rug-gray-walls-tobias-chair-tulip-table-via-elements-of-style

What has caught my eye lately is the places it has been popping up. I noticed them in the May issue of Elle Decor, in Ellen Rakieten’s Anne Coyle designed LA apartment. About as different as can be from her Chicago library – one of those all time favorite rooms of mine.

edc05011-ellen-rakieten-anne-coyle-tobias-chair-ikea-la

The larger room deserves a peek too, as it is making me continue to mourn the loss of the French chairs and desk I had scored.

edc05011-ellen-rakieten-anne-coyle-tobias-chair-ikea-desk

Caught the smoky gray version of the Tobias in the portfolio of Michelle R. Smith when I was writing about her last week. There are also numerous other example all over the internet of it paired with farmhouse tables showing how it plays well and mixes well.

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And they have recently launched a lilac version so I’ll be curious to see what folks do with that one. Girls room desk chair anyone?

tobias-chair

What’s your favorite IKEA bargain?

Related Posts:
Dining Room Decision Made…Oval Saarinen Tulip Table

Dining Room Option Two…Inspiration from Angie Hranowsky
He Giveth…And He Taketh Away

Image credits: 1-2, me, 3. Elements of Style, 4-5. Elle Decor May 2014, photo credit: William Abranowicz, 6. Michelle R. Smith, 6. IKEA.

Countdown to Summer with Michelle R. Smith

 “If you buy something you love, there’s always a place for it.”
-Michelle R. Smith

There is a spring breeze blowing in the design world, courtesy of Michelle R. Smith. With numerous features on her NYC apartment and Sag Harbor home appearing over the last few months (here, herehere and her closet! here), this is a girl after my own true heart. She thinks interiors should be a bit “almost accidental looking” and is clearly no fan of the color red either. Ironically, what feels fresh is that Smith has her feet firmly planted in the past, using both beautiful antiques and flea market finds to ground her lovely interiors. That’s not to say there aren’t quirky modern pieces, but they are used to activate the spaces rather than as a list of big names of design giants past. Frankly I’ve been a bit exhausted with some of the design press lately in that sense. I even find myself being pulled from what I really love because of the difficulties in sourcing here in Doha, but she has gone and truly reminded me. All of this, plus the 100+ degree weather here, is starting to make me ache for our little Victorian beach house at the shore.

michelle_smith_home_tour_26

She has “make artwork look more valuable than it is” down pat, stacking and layering small pieces low on the walls. Artful but not overly styled vignettes are another signature.

michelle_smith_home_tour_04

Mellowed rugs and actual wooden antiques that aren’t painted. I feel like its been ages since we have seen large case pieces used in simple settings and she has many of them. Perhaps its just the New Yorker in me – there is never enough closet space – but a tall secretary or armoire just makes a room. Hers is one just peeking out on the right in this shot, a great vertical counterpoint to the built-in bookshelves.

Michelle R Smith living room bookshelves

She has the fancy meets rough equation down perfectly.

michelle_smith dining

A dream of a New York City galley kitchen – with a giant window no less – and quirky repurposed industrial egg beater light fixtures. Be sure to note the candy molds hung next to the window, reminding me of kashigata. Wondering if I should be considering this very neutral Farrow & Ball Charleston Gray for my beach house kitchen?

michelle_smith kitchen

An absolute mix of metals – copper, nickel, brass and a bit of tarnished silver.

michelle_smith_kitchen copper

The simplest of bathrooms with unlacquered brass hardware.

michelle_smith bathroom brass

Without sounding too scandalous it’s in the bedrooms that I truly fall in love. Antique bedsteads, marble-topped night stands, fluffy white linens and old-fashioned lampshades…

michelle_smith master bedroom

…aged Persians again and big antique mirrored wardrobes. It’s all just a little bit granny but not.

Michelle R Smith bedroom night stand

The guest room has a similar feel…

michelle_smith guest night stand

…with stacked works on paper and a giant campaign chest.

michelle_smith_guest corner

As much as I like her NYC apartment, its her house in Sag Harbor that has me dreaming of home (or home-home as my girls would call it). Maybe its the vintage cottage vibe, but somehow so many of her choices are familiar to me. 

Michelle Smith Sag harbor living room

European sideboards with gargoyles make the best drink stations.

Michelle R Smith drinks bar gargoyles

Most of the house has been painted Benjamin Moore’s Woodlawn Blue, the kind of neutral historic color that plays well with everything and seems just right for an old fishing village. These kind of soft grayed colors are found throughout our beach house, some Benjamin Moore and others Farrow & Ball.

Michelle Smith Sag Harbor fireplace

A familiar view, with a dining room side chair, resting quietly under a piece of artwork.

Michelle R Smith Sag Harbor

Is this a gently tweaked original kitchen? I’m not sure but what I would give to have had something like this to work with!

Michelle R Smith Sag Harbor Kitchen

The bathroom in Sag Harbor is making me the most homesick…

Michelle R Smith Sag Harbor bathroom

…and I am wondering how much ‘oldating’ she had to do here and how much was original. Wait, just got my answer – the bathrooms were gut jobs and have been completely reimagined!

Michelle R Smith Sag Harbor bathroom tub

Old houses always need quirky solutions to small spaces, like back-to-back beds in the guest room, and vacation ones need to sleep as many guests as possible. We know what that’s like and have managed to squeeze bed space in even unlikely places.

Michelle R Smith Sag Harbor guest room

But more than any of the other spaces, I’m back to the dreamy master bedroom, with its blush pink walls, four-poster, white lace…

Michelle Smith Sag Harbor Bedroom

…gleaming wooden dresser and smoky antique rug.  It reminds me of the prettiest pink bedrooms ever and makes me want to be home-home to sleep in mine.

Michelle R Smith master bedroom pink lace Sag Harbor

Just forty days and counting!

Related Posts:
So Long Summer…Vignettes and Views Around the House
Renovation Report…”Oldating” the Beach House Bathroom
Brooklyn Belle from Hilary Robertson and Alastair McCowan
Weaving in Global Antiques…Katie Leede’s World Traveler’s Abode

Image credits: All images via Lonny, NYC & G, One Kings Lane or Studio MRS.

Ancient Fruit, Modern Fabric…Khotan and Pom from ZAK+FOX

THE POMEGRANATE

Once when I was living in the heart of a pomegranate, I heard a seed saying, “Someday I shall become a tree, and the wind will sing in my branches, and the sun will dance on my leaves, and I shall be strong and beautiful through all the seasons.” Then another seed spoke and said, “When I was as young as you, I too held such views; but now that I can weigh and measure things, I see that my hopes were vain.” And a third seed spoke also, “I see in us nothing that promises so great a future.” And a fourth said, “But what a mockery our life would be, without a greater future!” Said a fifth, “Why dispute what we shall be, when we know not even what we are.” But a sixth replied, “Whatever we are, that we shall continue to be.” And a seventh said, “I have such a clear idea how everything will be, but I cannot put it into words.” Then an eighth spoke – -and a ninth — and a tenth — and then many — until all were speaking, and I could distinguish nothing for the many voices. And so I moved that very day into the heart of a quince, where the seeds are few and almost silent.
-Khalil Gibran

Girl_with_a_pomegranate,_by_William_BouguereauI’m sad to step away from inlay and the Orientalists, but I am sure I’ll be back. In the meantime, I’ll use this 1875 portrait by William-Adolphe Bouguereau as a gentle segway to today’s post, full of rumination on my passion for pomegranates, both real and decorative. 

The pomegranate originally came from Persia and the western Himalayas and has been cultivated for millennia throughout the Middle East, Mediterranean and European regions. Traders carried it along the Silk Road and spread it through China and Southeast Asia. The name itself is a play on Medieval Latin for ‘seeded apple’ and many believe that the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was perhaps instead a pomegranate, not an apple. Sacred to all religions and referenced in many ancient texts from the Book of Exodus, the Quran, the Homeric Hymns and the Mesopotamian records, to name a few, it has traditionally been seen as a symbol of abundance and posterity. Supposedly, Muslims believe that every pomegranate contains an aril that came from the garden of paradise, so they must all be eaten to be sure you get that one.

Pomegranates have become a common motif in our lives here in the Middle East. They are featured in the recipes and juices we eat all the time and I buy containers of the little arils (individual seeds) in the supermarket for snacks and to throw in salads. If they are as healthy as everyone says, then we are turning into superhumans. Throughout the region, I also keep noticing them as decorative ornaments, from the gates of the Armenian Church in the Old City of Jerusalem…

Pomegranate gate Old City Armenian quarter Jerusalem wrought iron

…carved in the paneling of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem…

Carved Wooden Pomegranate Church of the Nativity Bethlehem

…on an exquisite antique embroidered coverlet in a favorite antique shop here in Doha.

antique embroidered bed cloth pomegranate detail

But my favorite place to find the motif is on old Khotan carpets – a passion I have written about before. There is just something about the perfection of balance in their design, the best being in the pieces I call ‘pomegranate vase’ or ‘scrolling pomegranate’.

Khotan via 1st dibs

I don’t need an excuse to effuse over two of the newest fabric designs by ZAK+FOX, both of which were inspired by pomegranates and my beloved East Turkestan carpets. The first is simply called Khotan and it has all the warmth and charm of its namesake. Textile designer Zak Profera finds “a lot of inspiration in rug patterns, perhaps because they often aren’t translated into fabric. [With Khotan] I wanted to create something that had a heritage feel, but wasn’t a true “document” piece. I also envisioned it more as a geometric and less of a floral — though I think the beauty of the design is due to the fact that it’s a balance of the two.  The repeat is not complicated, but the embellishments — like the leaves and the young pomegranates — creates a wonderfully organic, rambling vine-like design which continues endlessly.”

Khotan in Rubia and Goldwork

Available in two colorways, Rubia and Goldwork, which really have spectacularly different feels, something I find quite unusual in a single fabric. The Rubia literally looks like a worn and faded Khotan carpet and is visually strong and graphic.

ZAK+FOX_Haz_Photoshoot_Khotan-Pillows_Crop_960x640

Goldwork is soft and incredibly aged and almost burnished looking. The fabric itself, made of thick 100% linen, has a rich tactile quality to it in person. “It was important to get the weight of the linen right for Khotan, otherwise the texture and depth of the design would fall flat,” says Zak.

ZAK+FOX_Haz_Khotan_Lifestyle_960x640

If Khotan reaches out and grabs you instantaneously, Pom is more subtle as it works its way into your consciousness. Pom is influenced by the less common ‘cluster of three’ style Khotan carpet, with its simple stylized repeating pattern.

Screenshot 2014-03-18 09.10.02

A versatile small-scale pomegranate print in Khaki, Rubia or…

Zak and Fox Pom in Khaki and Rubia

…a deep grayed blue called Byzantine, it has such a variety of uses and a chameleon-like ability to work with anything. For Pom, Zak “wanted to create a small-scale pattern that would riff off of Khotan — they aren’t matchy-matchy, which I think is the kiss of death in design — but the border of Pom uses the same vine/leaf elements that Khotan carries.”  

ZAK+FOX_Haz_Photoshoot_Pom_Story_Detail_960x640

For Zak, Pom is “also my first border pattern — which I plan on creating a lot more of — because it allows for so much more when using it in application.”  You all know about my long-standing obsession with bordered fabrics and the way I am putting many to good use in the house here. Courtney has the same fixation and she has used Pom perfectly in upholstering this chair cushion and using the border as the edge.

Style Court Zak +Fox Pom Rubia

I’ve noticed both fabrics popping up on other Instagram feeds as well. Here Khotan in the Goldwork colorway and Pom in Byzantine plays well with a David Hicks fabric and some solids in a scheme by Emily C. Butler.

Pom in Byzantine and Khotan in Goldwork Zak and Fox Emily C Butler David Hicks

And Khotan in Rubia on the armchairs in this Lake Tahoe living room spotted on Taylor Jacobson’s feed, strikes an ideal cosy but exotic note.

Taylor Jacobson Zak and Fox Khotan Rubia

And as for me, I am contemplating my own pomegranate schemes while getting ready to eat lunch.

pomegranate khotan zak and fox

The ZAK+FOX website has more spectacular photos of these fabrics as well as Zak’s other dreamy designs. My Japanophiles should be sure to see the Kiyohime collection and the amazing animated narrative that accompanies it.

Related Posts:

Preferring Patina Over Perfection…Chipped Porcelain, Threadbare Rugs and Old World Glamour at Tissus Tartares
Timeworn Rugs in Kitchens and Baths
ZAK + FOX…New Japanese Inspired Textiles and My First Real Giveaway
(Fabric) Bordering on Obsession  

 

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