Category Archives: Design

Wonka.2011 = The Sugar Chair

If Willie Wonka was born in  Amsterdam, worked throughout Europe as a designer, then woke up one day and declared himself a visionary master (wait – he sort of did that last part), his new name would be Pieter Brenner, and his product: The Sugar Chair.

Brenner has already announced that this chair is an “iconic masterpiece,” so what more do I have to say?

From what I can gather by reading Wonka’s Brenner’s self-given interview, he spent most of his life clueless and hazy until one day he “woke up” after he “had myself a night before” and everything became clear  – make products out of sugar.

Apparently this hungover epiphany is going to change the world as we know it, so really, I’m just here to share with you the good news.

Me, I just like the bright colors and I do appreciate using unique mediums to create mundane objects.  I can’t say I’m going to run out and become a Pieter Brenner collector (I guess that makes me part of the “petit bourgeois” that he hates) but I’m pretty sure the chair – which I can only imagine costs as much as a small Dutch village – would be licked into oblivion by my two dogs and child.  Something Wonka would be into (because he’s more zen about the whole thing…make candy for the sake of making candy), even if the Oompa Loompas didn’t approve.

So let’s think about this…

So from a business standpoint, is this marketing strategy something to be taken seriously, or laugh at? I’m torn.  Declaring your own self-importance is something few of us do these days, but perhaps that’s because humility really is a character trait to uphold?  In the art world, all bets are off, and in the era of Shephard Fairey, Bansky and the late Tobias Wong it seems like spectical is key.  But something about this presentation rubs me the wrong way.  I guess its the lack of subversiveness that Fairey, Bansky and Wong enjoy…the PR stunts seem to be random acts, even if they’re totally planned out.  No one can deny Fairey’s ego, but didn’t that emerge after he became a cult icon of sub-culture?  And then there’s just the blatant rip-off of Willie Wonka.  Sorry, but the similarities are too many to ignore…a concerning detail and proof that our creativity and world vision is being evermore influenced by the wide-reaching influence of all things Hollywood. Blech.

Is there something to be learned here for new brands/my clients trying to make a name for themselves?  I guess we can only wait and see if Brenner truly becomes the icon he thinks he is.  I have no doubt his work will show up in the Whitney or MOCA at some point, if only to demonstrate how you can create your own digital celebrity with a basic website, Facebook page, and a knowledge of the good design blogs (I discovered The Sugar Chair over on afterall).

Is Brenner original? Hardly.  His language wreaks of Warhol, and his presentation could have been created by a hipster ad agency in Brooklyn.  But is he doing something – if not overtly aggressively – right, that the rest of us can learn from?  I think his confidence in himself is admirable, and he seems genuinely excited to give the world his new vision.  I guess I see the merit in his passion.  A key factor needed in any business venture; but channeling it and executing it are where the true icons really do emerge.

haskell Series9 Easy Chair

If you were to ask me, “Tracey, can you describe yourself in an outdoor chair?” I would a) think you were a bit strange, then b) over-zealously point you to these.

Mama like.

TRADhome Digital Magazine

A big, giant, hulking bundle of digital oogleness. Loads of pages in which to peruse and drool. Like hundreds of pages.  A gorgeous collaboration with everyone’s favorite digital darling, Lonny Mag, and the stalwart essential, Traditional Home. Behold the first issue of TRADhome.

Free content at it’s finest.  Enjoy!

Williams British Handmade

Now THIS is what I’m talking about.  Kimberly (buyer extraordinaire from our days) just sent me a link to Williams British Handmade and my heart literally skipped a beat.

These are people who get it. THIS is what crafstmanship is all about, and what we’re missing in our mass-produced, bottom-dollar, quantity over quality society right now.

They open with this quote, and it says everything: “Historically exceptional crafstmanship was the norm, now it is the exception.”

Let’s just take a moment to appreciate their work…

I’m tagging this post in “business”, because there is a standard and an unapologetic pursuit of quality here which I think can be applied to any company. Let these guys inspire you to go beyond the norm in your own pursuits.

New Modern Goodies from CB2

I just finished flipping through the new CB2 catalogue, and was really impressed with the nice variety of funky, unique items they’ve brought in for spring.  Except for this, this is not ok. Not at all.

Rodents aside, normally I dismiss any type of “art” from a big box retailer, but the Niki de Saint Phalle and Birdman posters are pretty darn hot.  I’m seeing watercolor-inspired pieces a lot lately, like these pretty pillows.  Also, I love love this Cubist Sculpture piece.  Not sure how practical it is with a 4 month old and a gaggle of toddlers always coming over, but I reeeally want it for our front room.  It would look divine on top of the Grundig. Safety…style…safety…style…hmmm.

Speaking of safety, wouldn’t these canary tea light holders be so flapping cute in the nursery? I need to think of something else I can use to replace a tea light, because I just love them.

Last, there is something about this I Like The Way You Move rug that grabs me.  It sort of reminds me of the Fragile Leg Lamp in A Christmas Story.  It’s just sort of wrong – and on a rug? Kind of oddly awesome.

Also worthy of note…a bright blue Harvey Pool Nightstand and a perfect for summer Casbah outdoor rug.

Etsy Find: Pigeon Toe Ceramics Faceted Drawer Pulls

I’ve been looking for just the right drawer pulls to add to our new cabinets in our new bathroom, and these may be it.  I love the modern, clean feel of these mixed with a nice dose of organic shaping.  Plus the price is great – $24 for a set of 6. You won’t find pulls like this at Home Depot!