Tag Archives: fabrics

Playful Design

crochet playground

As if I needed another reason to wish I was in New York right now, the MOMAs Century of the Child: Growing by Design exhibit is in full swing and oh how I wish I could be there to check it out.  Nowadays, incredible design has infiltrated the playroom and the playground, and parents and children alike are choosing high-end designer toys and furniture in lieu of boring plastic alternatives, but this is not a new phenomenon. Designers have been creating for children for ages because it allows them to unleash their inner child, and because they know that great design enriches us all. In honour of the Century of the Child exhibit I thought we could have a look at how playful design has been incorporated into the creation of schools and playspaces. Not only are these spaces beautifully designed, they also help foster a child’s natural curiosity and love of learning.

crochet playground view 2crochet playground 3Crochet Playground by Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam via playscapes

This crochet playspace created by Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam is pure inspiration. Not only is it remarkable to look at, I imagine it would also be tremendous fun to play in.  The incredible playgrounds Toshiko creates are made out of miles of yarn and much of the work is done by hand. To see more of these beautiful playgrounds head here.

Swedish Open SchoolSwedish Open School via Apartment Therapy

Swedish Open School 2Swedish Open School via apartment therapy

Often, design for children takes into account philosophies on education and child development, as is the case with the open schools movement in Sweden. The open school is one that does away with walled classrooms in favour of open spaces where children can interact with others of various ages, and learn independently. The Telfonplan School pictured above is modern and airy, a far cry from any of the boxy schools I’ve ever encountered.

Leimondo NurseryLeimondo Nursery School via dezeen

Leimondo Japanese Nursery SchoolLeimondo Nursery School via dezeen

This open concept Japanese nursery school is the work of architects Hirotani Yoshihiro and Ishida Yusaku for Archvision Hirotani Studios. The design allows natural light to come in through skylights, and a sense of openness and interconnectedness is created by artful cutouts in the walls between rooms. I only wish I could see this space full of toys and children playing, without which the space is beautiful but a tad sterile.

Ecole Maternelle PajolEcole Maternelle Pajol images via Palatre et Leclare Architectes

Ecole Maternelle Pajol interiorimages via Palatre et Leclare Architectes

I think any child would love to go to a school that looks as joyful and colourful as this Parisian kindergarten. Architects Palatre et Leclare converted an old school from the 1940’s into a rainbow-hued place to learn and play. I wish all schools could look like this.  For more pics of this phenomenal project go here.

crochet aligator playgroundCrochet Alligator Playground by olek via designboom

crochet alligator playground by olek, seen upcloseCrochet Alligator Playground by olek via designboom

Here’s another example of a crocheted playspace; this one is in Sao Paulo and it is the creation of Polish street artist olek. An original alligator playground sculpture, designed by Marcia Maria Benevento, was covered over the course of the week in crochet for the SESC Arts Show 2012. My crochet hand gets tired just thinking about all the work this must have taken.

That’s a wrap for our look at design for children’s spaces. If you’re in New York be sure to check out the Century of the Child exhibit, and let me know how it went. The show runs until November 5th.

Happy Friday Everyone!


Posted in Culture, Design | Tagged , ,

Fibre Crush: Spotlight on Textiles

Exotic fibre blend by dyeingforcolor

The art of textile making is ancient but it is always evolving. Strand upon strand, layer upon layer fibres are woven together to create a solid piece of cloth, or a length of yarn or string. It’s a remarkable process, especially when you look at the source of these materials; a flock of sheep, a field of cotton, or a silkworm. Today is a spotlight on textile designers who are exploring the tradition of textile making and innovating new materials and applications. Hope you enjoy!

Wool blankets from Coyuchi

Made from wool sourced and woven in Canada these striped blankets are simple and stylish. The colour combinations are beautiful and one of these blankets would  be just the ticket for cozying up your bed or sofa for the winter months. I think the sheep would be proud of what their fleece has produced.

Handpainted silk scarf by nabi boubou via seesaw

A hand painted silk scarf is the best way to add some excitement to a plain top or sweater and nothing beats the luxuriousness of silk on your bare skin. This colourful scarf from nabi boubou is so gorgeous it’s like draping a piece of art around your neck.

Textile Art by Jazmin Berakha via Mr X Stitch

Textile artist Jazmin Berakha is from Buenos Aires where she creates richly embroidered artworks. Using a mixture of colour, pattern and texture her pieces are vibrant and captivating. I encourage you to explore all of Jazmin’s portfolio if you have a few minutes to spare.

Textile field installation by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec found via mocoloco

Here’s an example of textile art on a much larger scale. This textile field art installation was created by Bouroullec for London Design Festival at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Isn’t it extraordinary? I’m always drawn to installations that encourage you to touch them and this installation you can even walk across and lounge on.

Pod Chair by Benjamim Hubert via designboom

One of the most exciting ways textiles are being employed today is through the development of fabrics and materials made from recycled materials. The pressed-felt used to make these Pod chairs is made from recycled PET bottles and the chairs’ stackable design minimizes the carbon footprint when it comes to shipping and transport.

That’s the end of today’s textile spotlight. If you have an interest in learning how to make natural felt I have tutorial planned for later in the month. Stay tuned!

Have a great weekend everyone.


Posted in Design, Fashion | Tagged , ,

Fall Fashion For the Home

Image via Anthropologie from their fall home lookbook

I don’t want to see summer go.  Does anyone, really? But I suppose it has to end.  And there are some pluses to fall:  cool evening walks, soul-warming soups and stews, fabulous fall fashions. It’s not just fashion for your wardrobe either.  The changing season is a great time to update interiors too.  So it’s time to cozy up our homes for the shorter, cooler days.  There are some quick, easy, and cheap ways (that’s a near-mythical trifecta!) to do this with the odd well-placed accessory.

I think I could laze away many an afternoon curled up in that blanket, the soft fall light pouring in...

Image via Design Labyrinth

This fall I am looking forward to being more of a homebody: baking pies with the apples from the trees in the back, hosting cozy dinners and spending a few late nights curled up on the sofa with a good book.  And nothing makes for a cozier couch than pretty, pouffy pillows and luxurious sofa throws.   Updating your living area with an autumnal palette is fairly inexpensive if you focus on these simple textile changes.  Here’s a ten step guide to sewing your own throw pillow covers, if you’re so inclined.

Image via Pinterest

Speaking of sewing, this swatch above is from Marimekko‘s fall fabric line available late September.  It’s joyous and bold, warm and just plain beautiful.  Surely gazing at a pillow made from this would cheer you up on a particularly grey November day.

via Anthropologie

Yes it will soon be time to bundle up as we head outdoors.  As the parent of a toddler I’m kinda dreading this.  But won’t it take the edge off a bit  if you have a lovely place to hang your hat on your return?  These Creature Kingdom Hooks, available at Anthropologie ($20/per) are whimsical and strangely handsome.

Maybe it’s the impending Jack-o-Lanterns, but autumn is the season for candlelight for me.  Maybe it’s because the warm glow of candlelight echos the soft golden light of September here in Toronto.  The light this time of year is lovely.  If you’re a lantern loving person too,  Ruffled Blog has a great tutorial on making these Moroccan inspired lanterns (using upcycled metal radiator covers no less).

Welcome fall!

Lace: Defying Expectations

porcelain lace bowls by Hideminy

Lace has a reputation for being dainty and delicate; picture confectionairy wedding gowns, grandmotherly doilies and delicate shawls, but that’s not all lace is. Lace can be edgy, sophisticated, unexpected and sexy and here are a few examples showing it’s extraordinary versatility.

image from Living Etc. via lanalou style

This exquisite headboard was created by blowing up the intricacies of a segment of lace on canvas. The over-sized scale of the canvas headboard in this high contrast black and white room is phenomenal.

Philip Treacy shoes via lovestiletto

There is nothing demure about these black lace stilettos designed by superstar milliner Philip Treacy for Valentino’s Spring/Summer 2010 collection. Witchy and sexy with just the right amount of couture drama, these shoes are meant to be noticed.

Photograph by Emily Anderson found via lolalina

A black lace tablecloth could quickly send any room into Halloween territory, but in here it looks perfectly at home. I spot a Chinese lantern, contemporary furniture, baroque candelabra and rustic antlers along with the black lace tablecloth, and while none of these elements seem to belong with one another, in this airy dining room they work together beautifully.

lace bag by tortilla girl

Soft and sophisticated, I am seriously coveting this lace embellished bag by French Etsy shop tortilla girl. Ladylike, but not too much so, it also comes in a few other fabric choices. They also have some lovely knitted pieces in their shop, like hats and mohair scarves, that would be perfect for fall.

lace earrings by batsy

Want a pair of these modern lace earrings pictured above? No problem, you can make them yourself by following this simple tutorial by Petrina Burkhard. I only wish I had my ears pierced so I could make some for myself.

Doily Tree by Janet Morton via Pikaland

Finally, just to prove that lace can be unexpected, here’s a lace covered tree by textile artist Janet Morton. That is one decked out tree, and one dedicated stitcher. Wouldn’t it be amazing to walk through a whole forest of these lacy trees?

A Touch Unexpected

Eliza Strozyk's wood carpet can be sculpted in dramatic ways. Photo credit Sebastian Neeb

Industrial, product and textile designers continue to up the ante in terms of manipulation of materials, all to my delight.  Often motivated by the movement to upcycle, or simply reconnect us with the objects we live with, designers are pushing the limits of their imagination and ability (and modern technology’s) to transform materials into some pretty amazing creations.  Here are a few favourite examples.

Wooden Textiles

I could wax poetic all day about the ingenuity behind textile designer Elisa Strozyk’s work with her “Wooden Textiles” series. Weaving it like- and with- fabric she’s created some stunning pieces, from furniture to carpeting and light fixtures. The final product is a sensory delight – hard and soft at once, looking and smelling like wood, but feeling, moving, and taking shape in unexpected ways.  Strozyk says she wants to make surfaces desirable to touch to reconnect us with the material world.

Elisa Strozyk's "Miss Maple" lamp. Photo credit Sebastian Neeb

Dressed Up Furniture

South Korea-based design team KamKam’s Dressed Up Furniture series is pure delight.  A four piece range of furniture that’s dressed in felt and further accessorized with belts, buckles and buttons is just such fun.  The designers say they want to renew our experience of opening and closing doors and drawers to form emotional connections with the functional objects in our life.

The melding of furniture and fashion. KamKam's stools, cabinets and benches all offer amazing storage. Images via KamKam

Breathing Chair

Taiwanese industrial designer Yu-Ying Wu was inspired by plant cells and her own mobility issue when she designed her “Breathing Chair”, a red-dot award winner for innovative design.  While the outside takes the form of a block of tofu, internally the chair is constructed of many cells of environmentally friendly plastic foam of varying sizes.  The voids these form respond to your size, shape and weight for an amazing and fully supported seated experience.  When you get up, it pops back into block shape again.  Cool!

Yu-Ying Wu's Breathing Chair named for its inherent the elastic properties, allowing the chair to take its shape based on yours for full support and comfort. Image courtesy of the designer's website UYing Design

Dinosaur Chair

France-based La Maison de Lena’s solution to the ubiquitous plastic crap for kids is this dinosaur chair constructed of eco-friendly cork.  A perfect addition to the home during the dinosaur phase of childhood development.  Its neutral colour will fit in with most design schemes.

I was very disappointed to learn my favourite dino, the brontosaurus never existed. Connected the bones of two different long necks together, sigh... Image via Bambino Goodies


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