Tag Archives: vintage

An Exhibit for Lunch

For many of us who work in an office, the lunch hour is the much-awaited seam in the day that hinges the morning and the afternoon. Many of us can end up end working through lunch depending on our respective workloads, but if we could have a little more liberty, what else could we ingest?

A small exhibition at the New York Public Library aims to answer that question — and bring to light a few other things that we might take for granted as we take our midday meal. The exhibit is deliciously rich with images and information but is also easy enough to walk through within the span of your lunch break.

Comprised mainly of printed material presumably from the library’s archives, the exhibit tackles how lunch gained evolved over a century, and how it developed its modern identity in New York City.

The exhibition design is bold and contemporary, using large typographic installations and vibrant colors throughout to supplement the similar tones in the printed material on display. The exhibit entrance drew you right in, with its bold typography in vibrant red.

I also loved the black on black treatment of this wall with the large typography, too.

Some cases had interesting backdrops – like this skyline drawing, which added a fluid, artistic dimension to the stark red and bold, streamlined text panels.

The artifacts also had interesting details — I loved seeing some of the vintage prints and graphics. Vintage graphic design is deliciously inspiring!

The exhibit is neatly packaged, not so different from a boxed lunch meal with perfect portions of content, graphics, and artifacts. It’s a brilliantly illustrated history of lunch — its origins, evolution, and intrinsic link to the rich culture of New York City.

All images original by Renée Alfonso


Posted in Culture, Design, Food | Tagged , ,

As Dashing as Downton

Were you as excited as I was for Downton Abbey’s season 3 premiere on Sunday? 7.9 million Americans tuned in and frankly, it’s the only thing that some of my friends can talk about.

Imege: Gregory Han

I’m really not surprised that Downton has become such a hit. In addition to the often scandalous plots, every frame is a feast for the eyes, filled with luscious Edwardian fashion and décor.

Image: Tulle & Trinkets

Image: What the Frock

Fashion blogs have exploded with posts on how to incorporate little touches from the Teens and Twenties for a retro yet forward-thinking wardrobe inspired by Lady Mary, Edith, and Sybil.

Image: The English Room

And don’t think that designers haven’t taken note of the fashionistas’ interest in vintage. Don’t believe me?

Image: My Grace

Image: Fab Sugar

Take a look at Ralph Lauren’s Fall 2012 collection. He readily admits that he is a fan of the show and both his couture gowns and menswear-inspired separates clearly reflect its influence.

Image: Haute Indoor Couture

The Abbey is also starting to influence the interior design world. While no one is recommending the over-the-top decadence of Edwardian décor, the addition of a few key pieces can be quite chic.

Image: 47 Park Avenue

I adore this Edwardian Sheraton mahogany dentist’s cabinet placed in 47 Park Avenue’s dressing room. It has the exquisite craftsmanship characteristic on the period and balances the otherwise stark modernism of the room.

Image: fanpop!

Authentic Edwardian furniture can be hard to find (and incredibly pricey).  Thankfully, furniture designers are also getting caught up in the excitement and producing knock-offs and modern interpretations.

Image: Anthropologie

I can just imagine moping like Mary in Anthropologie’s Marjorie Chair, though it would be difficult to stay sad with such a perky colour choice. There’s nothing old-fashioned about this cheerful terra cotta!

Image: Living in Color

If investment pieces aren’t in your budget, consider a trip back in time via local antique or thrift shops. Small antique perfume bottles, vases, and other trinkets will help to instill your space with a little Edwardian glamour. And don’t forget colour! Living in Color finds some Downton-appropriate hues in the Benjamin Moore Historical Colour series, while Gregory Han mimics the manor with Farrow and Ball paints.

Image: Your 4 Walls

It seems like almost every inch of Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed, is covered in Damask wallpaper. However, in less grand settings this choice can look dowdy. Unless, of course, you pick a thoroughly modern palette; then it just looks awesome.

Are you in love with Downton? Enough to embrace Edwardian in your personal style? I’d love to hear about your take on this trend.


Posted in Design, Fashion | Tagged , ,

The New Bohemian

I enjoy the minimalist aesthetic that has been hyped by style magazines and interior designers for the last few years. The combination of clean white walls, streamlined furniture, and strict editing of stuff in favour of uncluttered spaces seems to promise a calm and organized life, which is not exactly how I would describe my own existence.

Bohemian-inspired room

Image: homedit

My only problem with this type of décor, especially at this time of year, is that it can seem rather cold. For me, the idea of “cozy” is wrapped up in jewel tones, luxurious textiles, and plush furnishings. In the design world, this makes me a Bohemian.

Image: Elle Decor via Casa Sugar

The style was first adopted by Pre-Raphaelite artists in the mid-19th century and eventually spread into the mainstream. The term “Bohemian” was borrowed from the moniker for European gypsies, who were known for their eclectic tastes in both clothing and caravan decoration.

Image: Favim

The basis of the Bohemian style is a riot of colour and pattern (something that is also making a comeback in fashion). It borrows heavily from the Middle East, which is probably another reason why I love it; the dozens of rugs and tchotchkes that I brought back from my work in Tunisia blend beautifully in with the Bohemian sensibility.

Image: Rug Store on Pinterest

But for most people, the Bohemian style is just a little too much and, if not done right, one’s space can end up looking like something from an episode of Hoarders.

Image: Create H: Interior Design

Thankfully, it is possible to add Bohemian touches to your otherwise modern home. Roche Bobois in Paris has partnered to design the Mah Jong modular sofa which evokes the low cushioned seating of the East in a range of eye-catching prints.

Image: Design Scene

If being that close to the ground is a little too extreme, their Rythme option still lets you mix and match in a slightly more traditional furniture form.

Image: From the Right Bank

Image: Obaz

For smaller spaces, try one patterned piece of furniture like a chair or a sofa. If you change your mind later you can always have it reupholstered, so pick one that has a great shape and is really comfortable.

Image: Bohemian Vintage

If you are a commitment-phobe or money is tight, pick up a bunch of throw pillows to scatter around. A grouping like this works best if you pick either a colour-scheme or one type of pattern (like the mix of florals above).

Image: Marakesh by Design by Maryam Montague via Houzz

Or add some vibrantly coloured area rugs, embroidered tablecloths, or silk wall hangings. You can layer several on top of each other for an effect similar to that created by the throw pillows.

Image: Trendey

Go bold! Pick a deep, bold wall colour like aubergine, crimson, or Pantone’s pick for 2012: Tangerine Tango. You can do the whole room or just an accent wall.

Image: Room to Grow via Project Nursery

Perhaps the easiest way to get this look is to add a few accessories. Hanging lamps, some exotic prints on the walls, or a small grouping of artifacts will give your space a Bohemian boost.

Image: Inspire Bohemia

If you are ready to go a little new Bohemian, pick one or two of these ideas to warm up your home without getting too overwhelmed by this over-the-top style.

Rewind to Film Cameras

Diana F+ Clone

My DSLR failed me last weekend — on my birthday get together, no less! It had something to do with memory card slot, that wouldn’t read any of the cards I put in. Grr! It was so frustrating not to have that instant documentation and instant gratification that I have gotten used to. And I felt awful because I’ve had that camera for six years now, and I was feeling betrayed.

All was not lost, however. Although there was a point-and-shoot present, and smartphones galore, I had a backup camera of the old school variety — my Diana F+ clone — Mr. Pinky (isn’t it cute) which had some film loaded in it. I haven’t been using it for long, though, and not regularly at that, and I was spoiled by my DSLR that did all the thinking on apertures, shutter speed, and focusing for me. Little wonder then that it must have been only 10 shots later that I realized that the aperture was wrong. Sigh. So we’ll see how that turns out.

I have one just like this. Image from Typograph.

So I hereby resolve to use my film cameras more. Not that I have much of a choice, since my ultra efficient Nikon D70 is now officially out of commission. I’m looking forward to it though, and I’m quite excited to reconnect too with this old baby. It’s 15 years old, has a number of scratches, its nice leather casing has been chewed to bits by our dog years ago, and the light meter is busted, but it still takes good pictures — I just have to work harder for them. I have to learn to be not so hasty with the shutter finger (film is expensive), and go through the discipline of checking my settings and my composition before I shoot. I also need to relearn patience, as I need to finish the roll and send it out for processing before I can see my photos.

Wish me luck on this endeavor! Tell you all about the results when the films get processed. Meanwhile lets look at some fun and funky lomo cameras from Lomography.com.

La Sardinia – The Guvnor Edition

Fisheye No. 2 Lime Punch

Fuji Instax Mini 25 – Hello Kitty Edition

Now let’s drool over these true blue vintage cameras from Camera Museum Shoppe.

Mamiya 330 Gold

Kodak Brownie Starflash

Century Model 41

Argus C3

Classic Polaroid


Posted in Design | Tagged , ,

The Design Tree’s Guide to Flea Markets

Photo from Panjiayuan Antiques MarketPanjiayuan Antiques Market image via blood rice and noodles

My grandmother is an antiques dealer; she once owned her own shop and now she sells primarily online. From an early age she instilled in me a love of old things and a hunter’s instinct for a good deal. As a little girl I often went with her to auctions and flea markets looking for inventory for her shop. Sometimes I was even designated the haggler, because who could say no to an eight year old when she’s offering you a quarter for that mint condition, highly collectible vintage doll? To say I enjoyed these trips with my grandmother would be an understatement; I absolutely loved them.

Flea markets, both close to home and when I’m travelling, can still fill me with the same excitement today. Here are a few tips I’ve learned from my grandmother and from my own experiences that will hopefully make your next flea market trip a successful one.

Antiques Market in PanjiayuanPanjiayuan Antiques Market image via blood rice and noodles

Do Your Research Beforehand

The atmosphere in a busy flea market can be frenzied and often you don’t have much time to decide on purchases. It helps to do a little research beforehand. If you have your heart set on original art or local collector’s pieces you can research signs of authenticity, markings etc. so you’ll be able to come to a decision speedily and move on to the next booth.

Kitschy finds from a flea marketImage via Thompson Family Life

More Tourists Equals Fewer Deals

Flea markets abroad can definitely be tourist traps where you won’t find the deals and quality goods you are looking for. If you can, try to find out where the locals go in order to get the best finds. Locating a market off the beaten track will also usually lead to better deals than one in the centre of a big city.

The Junction Flea MarketJunction Flea via Love it A Lot

Only Buy What You Can’t Live Without

Faced with a box full of cheap and beautiful trinkets it can be tempting to just buy everything, but when you get home you might discover those precious purchases look a little bit more like junk than jewels when you can’t figure out where to put them. Try to evaluate each potential purchase individually: Do you love it? Have you ever seen anything like it before? What will you use it for? These are all good questions to ask yourself to ensure that you will be satisfied with your buys long after the thrill of the hunt has worn off.

Junction FleaJunction Flea via Love it A Lot

Come Prepared

If you know you’re going to be doing some serious shopping you don’t want to have to take multiple trips to the car, so bring a collapsible shopping cart or some large shopping bags to carry purchases that you pick up along the way.

Rose Bowl Flea Market

Rose Bowl Flea Market image via sfgirlbybay

The Go Early or Go Late Dilemma

First thing in the morning you are likely to get the best selection, but don’t expect to score many deals. Conversely, if you go at the end of the day the selection may be narrowed but as people are starting to pack up their booths they may be willing to cut you a deal, they’d rather sell it than carry it back home.

Flea Market in ParisParis Flea via Velvet and Linen

Haggle Respectfully

A little bit of “price negotiation” is often expected at most flea markets but depending on where you are in the world you will find that the protocol varies significantly. The best thing I can recommend is to haggle respectfully. The person selling the item you want to buy wants to make a living, and they have a good idea of what they can afford to let something go for. It never hurts to suggest a lower price or ask for a deal, just do so without being a bully.

Paris Flea MarketParis Flea image via Velvet and Linen

That’s all for today’s flea market guide. Have you been to any amazing flea markets around the world? Any one-of-a-kind finds? I’d love to hear where you’ve been and what you’ve found on your travels.

Happy Friday Everyone!


Posted in Culture, Design | Tagged , ,