And the winner is.....

 Congrats, Helen Lam!  Helen was selected as the winner of DesignElixir's $50 AllModern giveaway!  Helen chose the Alessi Te O Tea Strainer.  (see image left, provided by by Stefano Pirovano.
A big thanks to everyone who entered the AllModern giveaway!  I enjoyed seeing everyone's selections- my readers have impeccable taste!

$50 All Modern Giveaway!

'Tis the season to give. And All Modern , a CSN store, wants to kick of the holiday season by sponsoring a $50 shopping spree for Design Elixir readers!  Get something for yourself or give it as a gift.  All Modern is a great web store stocked with some of my favorite furniture and accessory lines: Alessi, Knoll, Vitra, Lois Poulsen, Dwell Studio and many, many more.   (This cute Alessi Christmas Cowboy is one of the seasonal items featured on All Modern.)

How to Enter:
  1. Select one or two items you would like to win from All Modern, All Modern Baby, or All Modern Pet
  2. Share the link to those items in a comment on this giveaway post. 
  3. Remember to sign up as an Elixir Addict (a Follower) or include a contact email, so you can be notified if you are the winner.  
The nitty gritty:
Contest is only open to US readers due to shipping costs. Total cost of selected items is $50, including tax and shipping- please keep this in mind when selecting your giveaway booty.  Comments must be received before midnight on Saturday (12/12).  The winner will be contacted via email and the name of the randomly selected winner will be posted Monday (12/14).  Items will ship standard, therefore DesignElixir & AllModern can not guarantee Christmas delivery.

While we are in the Christmas spirit, here are 10 gift ideas, all $50 or less & from All Modern

For the young at heart.   Have you ever wondered what you would look like with an eye patch and a parrot on your shoulder?  Buy this playful Pirate Self Portrait Mirror by Areaware and wonder no more.  The Self Portrait Mirror collection also include Song Bird, Skull, Pearl Necklace, and Antlers.  $35.00
For the well read co-worker. This set of bookends by Kikkerland would look great on any bookworm's desk or shelf.  This quirky set is available in 4 different styles: Leaning Men, Leaning Ladies, Pushing Men, and Rosie. (You know, Rosie the Riveter, the "You can do it!" Army poster girl from WWII)  $37.50

For the chef.  Who doesn't like fresh squeezed orange juice?  Alessi's Mandarin Citrus Squeezer makes the tiresome task a colorful experience. Flip the hat over and it becomes a juicer. Take the hat off and you have a goblet.  This little gadget is cute enough to leave on the counter. $40.00

For the Eco-activist.    Areaware's Fauna Pico Zebra Pillow is not only great to look at, it's great for the environment.  Made with water based inks on 100% organic cotton and natural cotton filling. It's also a multi-tasker, one second it's a toy, the next it's a chic throw pillow.  $24.00

For the blogger.   A grouping of these glowing, shapely Menu Pernille Vea Standing Magma Stones would be a great accent to any outdoor patio. Anyone who writes a blog called Design Elixir would love to receive five of these.  (Just checking to see if your paying attention!) $29.90

For your boss.  An elegant way to brown nose.  I love the sculptural grace of this porcelain and glass vase.  The bud vase appears to be precariously balanced over a champagne flute.  Designfenzider's Vase Maker only looks like it cost a fortune. $33.90

For the man-child.  If your man-child is like mine, he has all sorts of childhood toys you wish he would box up and donate.  Indulge his extended childhood with this grown up version of a GI Joe.  Let the Kikkerland Toy Solider Candle Holder be the only "toy" he is allowed to display outside of his man cave.  $36.25

For the architect in training. I wish I had this 16 piece set when I was a kid instead of rinky dinky Leggos. Offi YooDoo Large Scale Construction Toy is made of ultra heavy weight cardboard and is 100% recyclable.  Inspire the next generation of architects and engineers! Buy a two sets at this price!  $19.00

For the ladies man.  We all know at least one.  He will proudly display Cake's Profile Votive Candle on the mantle over his fireplace.  Let this clever take on the notorious trucker flap girl serve as a reminder that somewhere there is a lady holding a torch for him. $25.00

For Fido.  Don't forget man's best friend this Christmas.  Get your pooch this adorable dog toy by design superstar Karim Rashid and do some good. A donation is made to animal welfare groups for each For The Dogs Dxg Bxone sold. Available in Blueberry, Lime and Pink.  $9.99

All images courtesy of All Modern.

Feather Your Nest

As I mentioned in a previous post, the BF and I are searching for a Mid-Century Modern home.  I believe list making and house hunting go hand in hand.  You make a list for traits your ideal home will have.  You rattle off a list of pros and cons for a home you just viewed. list all the things you will need to change or things you like in the house you just saw.  You begin to list the things you don't have but will need once you own a home. You know, the practical stuff you never needed before because you rent: rakes, shovels (snow and dirt), a lawnmower, an assortment of tools, etc.

Then there is the list of things you want.  A new TV, a surround sound system, etc.  For some reason most the things I want fall into the seating category - sofas and dining room furniture.  Here is my abbreviated wish list for feathering our future nest:

1. A Modern Sectional Sofa in a Neutral Grey.  We currently have a sectional and love it.  The BF and I are both tall and space is lacking in the living room.  The combined chaise/ love seat allows us both to sit on the couch with our legs up with out irritating the heck out of each other.

Image: Courtesy CSN Stores

2. New Chairs for the Dining Room.  If Emeco Aluminum & Eames Plywood chairs had a baby, it would look like this. The mid-century modern shape of this chair has a contemporary twist:  the legs, seat and back are aluminum, the reverse back can be oak or wenge stained oak.

Image: Courtesy CSN Stores

3.  Stackable Plastic Patio Chairs.  Available in an eight mid-century-ish colors, these chairs are 100% recyclable, cold, heat, chemical and UV resistant and suitable for both indoor or outdoor use.  And they're cantilevered!  You know how much I love that!

Image: Courtesy CSN Stores

4. A glam chair for my vanity.  Do I have a vanity? No.  But in my dream home I do!  Although this chair is available in other colors (glossy black, glossy white, transparent orange, and transparent green) the transparent fuchsia version is a sophisticated version of Barbie Pink- perfect for a make-up chair.

Image: Courtesy CSN Stores

Colors, Color Palettes, & Patterns, Oh My!

I've always loved reading the names manufacturers come up with for their various patterns and color ways.  One of my recent faves was a carpet collection named after different personality types, two color names that stood out in the collection were called Milquetoast and Alpha Male.  

My love for color naming explains why I adore the website ColourLovers so much.  Members of the ColourLovers community can create, NAME! and share their colors, palettes and patterns. I never know what to expect from the emailed blog posts I receive from Colour Lovers. Typical posts feature themed color palettes  or color palettes inspired by art or photography (see "Thanksgiving Leftover" email, Left). But ColourLovers is not just  for looking at pretty colors, blog posts include information about  color trends, history, science and psychology.

ColourLovers is a must read resource for anyone who works with color on a daily basis.   Add it to your Toolbox! Subscribe for the emails here.

House Hunting and Self Inflicted Punishment

The BF and I are house hunting which is both exciting and disappointing. We are pretty specific in our search, no cookie cutter tract homes and we want a Mid-Century Modern home. But unfortunately, there aren't many for sale in our market or price range.  As an interior designer, I'd like to say I am open minded and can see homes for their potential- we expect to update some things here and there, but we don't want to spend buckets of money on a major overhaul.

Because I am a glutton for punishment, I decided to check out Mid-Century Modern homes for sale across the country. Here are my top 3 dream homes. Oh how I envy the future homeowner(s). (insert disappointed sigh)

Built in 1957 and completely remodeled in 2009. On a corner .21 acre lot. 2,600 sf two-story home with three bedrooms, three full baths, and two covered sunken parking spaces. The lower level of this home boasts another floor-to-ceiling fireplace. The lower living space, with a bar and seating area, opens onto a patio, curving swimming pool and cabana/ guest house. Floating stairs lead to the front entrance on the upper level. The main floor opens out to a large patio. The main floor features: dark walnut floors throughout, concrete sinks and counter tops in kitchen and bathrooms, and a floor to ceiling fireplace wrapped in dark stained salvaged wood.

Designed by Frank Roberts and this home has been featured in Sunset Magazine, Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.  Inspired by FLW's Falling Water, a river flows under home (there is a glass floor in the dining room under the dining room).  The home is located by Sequoia National Park in beautiful Three Rivers, CA.  Originally built in 1947, the 4 bedroom, 4 bath two-story home recently went through a 5 year renovation and it has it's own website!  How beautiful and serene is this night shot?  Take a virtual tour of the home here.

This 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath home was designed by one of my favorite architects, Marmol Radziner and featured in Dwell in Feb 2009. I remember letting out an audible gasp when I saw this in the magazine.  In fact, I tore the pages out and put them in my dream home folder. The exterior is clad in steel, glass, and stained dark stained cedar.  The entrance features a retractable screen for privacy.  The first floor houses all the public spaces; LR w/ open kitchen, dining & eating nook. There's plenty of outdoor greenspaces - including semi-enclosed atrium w/ FP.

And if you like torturing yourself by looking at amazing homes you can't afford, check out:

Amazing Retail Space: Patrick Cox, Tokyo, Japan

I am crazy about retail store the Japanese design firm Sinato created for the shoe & accessory designer Patrick Cox.  (Discovered on DailyIcon's lovely website.)The designers kept the ceiling and floor planes relatively dark and instead of specifying recessed or track luminaires, their inventive lighting solution  is combined with the display which strongly emphasizes the middle plane, where the merchandise sits. The display cases remind me of a futuristic teleporting device.  As if the handbags and accessories where beamed in from another galaxy.  The form of the telescoping cylindrical pendants is echoed by the cove lighting cleverly concealed in the display cases' toe-kicks. The design is simple and sculptural- just like Mr. Cox's shoes.   What do you think of the design?


Patrick Cox, Tokyo Japan by Chikara Ohno, Sinato. .Photography: Toshiyuki Yano

Leading a LEED Charrette?

I'm a big fan of design charrettes.  They are such a fantastic way for a group of people to brainstorm and piece together a great design concept.  I read an interesting article yesterday on GreenSource about LEED charrettes and thought it would be worth sharing.  So today's post doesn't have any pretty pictures, just a link to an incredibly useful article with multiple resources for organizing a productive charrette.

So without further ado, here is the link:  LEED Charrette Planning Guide by Real Life LEED

Now go get your charrette on!

If you don't know what a charette is, see this link for the definition.  This website is also a great resource to bookmark or add to your Interior Designer's Toolbox- it's full of great information for revitalization projects (think brownfield redevelopment or urban renewal). 

biGG O Chair

How fun is this chair by Slovenian furniture manufacturer Klun? Although I can't see myself curling up with a long book in this chair, it makes a great conversation piece. Designed by Jurij Dobrila, the chair is approximately 1.8 ft deep and 4.19 feet in diameter. The body of the chair is painted metal and the foam seat can be upholstered with a textile or leather.  The chair is also available in an outdoor version. 

Speak Easy: Speech Privacy in Open Offices

Today, open office and panel based furniture systems can be seen everywhere because it has many great advantages: The smaller footprint afforded by systems based planning reduces lease costs. Using system furniture instead of building walls also lowers construction costs. Panels and components of systems based furniture can be moved; reused and reconfigured. Open offices also encourages communication and teamwork.

But the last advantage is also a disadvantage.  Not only does the greater interaction increase the exchange of ideas, it also increases the number of distractions and is responsible for a loss of concentration and limits personal and company privacy.  Who hasn’t wished they could block out co-worker’s chatter, been distracted by loud idle banter while on a business call or had to step outside to take or make a personal call. And how do you protect confidential information in an open office?

Maintaining acoustical privacy is a huge challenge in open office design.  The use of soft surfaces such as carpeting, acoustical systems panels, acoustical ceiling tiles and white noise can help absorb some of the noise- but you will probably still hear your neighbor’s conversations and vice versa. Here are a few cool solutions that help solve the need for acoustical privacy.

Airflake partition, Abstracta; Atlas XL easy chair , Lammhults;, Millibar Lounge table, Lammhults.

The Abstracta’s Airflake is a stylish way to dampen sound transfer.  The 15” sound absorbing hexagon felt panels can be mounted to ceilings or walls with an aluminum rail or can be attached directly to walls. Panels come in four patterns and are available in brown, red, green, black, and white.  The panels can be mounted to ceilings or walls with an aluminum rail. Also available is Airflake News, which has magazine pockets. There are endless configuration possibilities. Design your own Airflake screen with their easy to use online configuration tool

 Babble Voice Privacy System. Images courtesy of Herman Miller, Inc.

Herman Miller’s Babble Voice Privacy System addresses the need for speech privacy during phone conversations. Babble is small desktop system comprised of a main unit that plug into a phone and two small speakers. When you push the “on” button, Babble captures your conversation and plays an amplified, multiplied and scrambled version of it on the speakers. You can hear all sorts of conversations but you can’t really make out a single word.  The best way to understand how it works is to hear it for yourself.  Look for the video at this link to see Babble in action. 

Found! Bold Large Scale Graphic Surface Materials

My design radar went berserk when it clocked Lars Contzen's irresistible collection of wallcoverings.  I was so taken with the fresh, graphic quality of his designs, I immediately emailed one of my wallcovering reps and suggested they add Contzen's wallcovering collection to the lines they distribute. (Well, it may have been more like begging than suggesting.) His first two collections feature large scale graphics in bold eye catching colors and I can't wait to see the third collection slated for release this fall.

Floating Foam Wallpaper. Copyrights: Lars Contzen, Germany,

Equally irresistible are Contzen's laminate, glass panel, flooring and furniture designs.  I love the idea of combining laminate panels and flooring to blur the division between the walls and the floor as seen in the installation photo below. 

Copyrights: Lars Contzen, Germany,

Check out more of his designs at and if you'll excuse me, I have some more suggesting (begging) to do....

Design Branded Interiors With Ease

Since it was established in 1963, Pantone's standardized color system has been used by graphic designers to produce accurate color matching for printed media.  Since then, Pantone has expanded it's color system to include textiles, interior products, plastics, architectural products and and paint making it easier for interior designers and architects to incorporate brand identity into a three dimensional environment.

Pantone's provides a wealth of knowledge and
is a great resource for interior designers and architects who want to stay ahead of the color curve.  PANTONE VIEW Colour Planner is a bi-annual color trend forecast for fashion and interiors published 24 months in advance! Pantone's website also features great articles, inspiration, color advice, quantity calculators for paint and an online mood palette tool.   If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, download the myPANTONE application (for $9.99) and you will always have the Pantone color system libraries at your fingertips.  The myPANTONE software allows you to snap a photo and match it to the closest Pantone color, automatically generates color combinations and allows you to email or share your color palette with others.

For more information about Pantone, Inc. and PANTONE® Products, visit

Commence Countdown with Kinzo's Air202

Kinzo Air elevates the office to a new level of cool.  Their slogan is "Work Like NASA" and there is no denying the futuristic space age influence in their designs.  The Air202 is an asymmetrical 2-person workstation appears to float above the floor.  A drawer and a hidden wire management system is integrated into the unit.  The Air Board bookcase (far left) and the Air Lite can be seen in this photo.  A mobile pedstal, the Air Cont (not pictured), is also available.

Visit to see the full product line.

Architectural Shoes

The "it" color of the season marches down the runway and next month it's Sherwin Williams' best selling color. The newest wallcovering and carpet patterns recall the bohemian Ikat print dress that sashayed it's way into your closet last spring.   It is no secret that interior design follows fashion but have you heard of fashion, footwear in particular, following architecture?  

We've heard impossibly high heels referred to as skyscraper heels.  But rather than discuss the engineering feats of the shoe designer, we are more likely to marvel at the skill and agility of the wearer of said skyscraper heels (or giggle if they are not so graceful).If you think challenging our notion of impossible heights is as architectural as a shoe could be, check out these beauties...
Left to Right: John Galliano Spring 09 Collection, Photo of Burnham Pavilion, UN Studio by Christian Richters

The sculptural organic shape and iridescent colors of John Galliano's shoe could have been inspired by  Burnham Pavilion in Chicago's Millinieum Park designed by UN Studio.

 Left to Right: Working Ludens Shoe by SDesignUnit, OrganiCube by Chris Precht

If I was a woman who lived in a shoe, I would want it to be the Working Ludens Shoe by SDesignUnit. I imagine the interior would be sleek and white like the OrganicCube by Chris Precht.

Left to Right: Rotational Moulded Shoe by  Marloes Couture Shoes, Diagram of Burnham Pavilion by UN Studio  

Marloes Couture Shoes has architectural beauties galore (cantilevered shoes- what?!).  I had a hard time deciding which shoe to post. The crazy geometry and the "flyaway" spikes of this shoe also reminded me of the Burnham Pavilion by UN Studio. Hey, it's an inspirational design!

There were many more architectural shoes and inspirational buildings but sometimes I was given permission to use one image but not the other. Regardless, these links are definitely worth the click as the shoes and the architecture are truly inspiring.

The Conceptual Collection by Gil Carvalho call images of suspension bridges to mind. The V1 shoes reminds me of this Majori Sports Hall by Substance.  The heel of United Nude's Mobius Shoe was inspired by the frame of a Barcelona Chair but it could also have been influenced by the Harley Davidson Headquarters in Lane Cove by Tony Owens Partners.
Also, worth the click is Walking on Air by Eleanor Glover.

Feeling Moody? Try Mood Space

I'm a big believer in environmental psychology, which is why I love Mood Space's product.  Mood Space uses a patented technique to combine light with art allowing  you to "design" moods.  Artwork is printed on acrylic panels and backlit with LEDs. The programmable color changing LEDs adds a sense of movement to the design. Create your own image or select a design from Mood Space's existing catalog (current categories include Sublime, Rapture, Shakti, Elemental, Euphoric or Elation).  I'm picturing a workout class with an image from the Shakti collection.  The lighting program would start out with cool colors as the class warms up, the colors would gradually change to warm tones as the workout intensifies and returns back to cool colors for the cool down. Where do you envision using this product?

Innovative Materials Delivered To Your Mailbox

A few years ago, I unearthed a treasure trove of innovative materials while writing a research paper about Litracon

Transmaterial is the companion site for Blaine Brownell's book Transmaterial: : A Catalog of Materials That Redefine Our Physical Environment (buy it here). Judge this book by its cover (and title), it delivers exactly what it promises.  And the website is even better.

Transmaterial's writer Blaine Brownell curates a collection of cutting edge products. According to the website, "Transmaterial online is intended to be a clear, concise, accessible, and carefully edited resource that provides information about the latest and most intriguing materials commercially available." Their mission is to bridge the gap between the fast paced progression of technology and architect's & designers knowledge of materials.

Add Graphic Style To Precast Concrete Panels

Graphic Concrete is cast in a special membrane to create patterned, smooth, or exposed concrete slabs. Choose from Graphic Concrete's existing patterns or design a unique pattern for your project.  Check out the installation photos below.  Looks sharp, eh?

Left to Right: Nokia Parking House Säterinportti, Espoo, Architecture by Larkas & Laine, 2007. 
As Oy Sinikallio, Rörstrandinkatu, Helsinki, Architecture by MSVOY Architects, 
Artwork by Päivi Kiuru & Saamuli Naamanka, 2003.
Products line includes:
  • GC Collection- Patterned and textured surfaces.
  • GC Pro - Repetitive patterns and textured surfaces.
  • GC Art & Design- Images created by designers and then applied to concrete surfaces.
  • GC Smooth- A matte-like and nearly pore-free surface.
  • GC Expose -  Smooth and shallow exposed fine aggregate finish.
 Here's the link for requirements, instructions and brochures.

Free CAD Blocks

The CAD Block Exchange Network was a big time saver while I was in school.  It is proclaimed to be " the largest, most comprehensive 100% community built .dwg CAD block library on the Web."  The creators request you upload a block if you download one - but it's not required.  You will find hundreds (maybe even thousands) of FREE 2D & 3D CAD BLOCKS here.

CBEN's blocks come from the users, so you may find a block you already have as part of your standard block library, a 3d model of a Barcelona chair and occasionally a line drawing of a Pam Anderson (why??).  When I first discovered this resource, the search tool was not working and you had to search page by page.  But I checked before I posted and the search tool is up and running.  

There are 2 main drawbacks: 1) Some drawings do not have a thumbnail, so you have to download and open the file to see what it looks like and 2) Remember this is a user contributed site and some users may unknowingly (or knowingly) upload a file with a virus - so scan before you download!!!

Temperature Sensitive Color Changing Tiles

If you enjoyed last week's post "Liquid Floor Tiles by B.Lab", here's another fun (but not new) interactive tile for you to check out.  Moving Color has produced temperature sensitive glass tiles that change color. Moving Color's handmade glass tiles have been rated for floors, walls and countertop applications. Tiles are handmade. Standard size is 4"x4", custom sizes and trim pieces are also available. Decorative tiles and liners are available, to add a fun punch to your project (or if your project is a victim of value engineering).

Free Continuing Education for Interior Designers & Architects

Established in 2000, InformeDesign is a collaboration between ASID & the University of Minnesota's College of Design.  The driving idea was the belief (read: FACT) that interior designers and architects must continue to their education to improve their methods of protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. InformeDesign's mission is to "facilitate designers' use of current, research-based information as a decision-making tool in the design process, thereby integrating research and practice." 

Liquid Floor Tiles by B.Lab

This is by no means a new product, but it's fun and worth mentioning. B.lab, an Italian manufacturer, has a product called B-surfaces, it's a floor tile that has a layer of liquid beneath a clear coating.  When pressure is applied to the surface of the tile, the liquid moves to an area with less pressure, leaving a negative impression of whatever applied the force for a few moments. (If you walk on the tile, your footprints will remain for a few seconds.)

We had this installed in a study area at my college and it was definitely a fun interactive experience.  This tile would be great for any place where children will be present. B-surfaces is sold under many different brand names: Liquifloor, Liquid Floor, Liquid Lava & Liquid Fusion, to name a few.  Tiles are available in a variety of colors and in  Watercolor (1 color), Bi-color, or Metal.  Tables with B-surface tops are also available.