Entries in Design (54)

Thursday
Mar152012

Guest Post: Micah Lenahan on Thrifting, Scandinavian Style

[images by Micah Lenahan]

We're super keen to have Micah Lenahan, another member of the Russet and Empire team, contributing to the Covet Garden blog. You should also know that the shop is holding a Russet & Empire ♥ Sweden Pop Up tonight, Thursday, March 15 from 6 until 9. You should totally go!

I recently flew to Sweden to buy vintage Scandinavian pieces for my shop, Russet and Empire. Since I was only there for a few days I didn't have time to take in all of the beautiful sights,  I did however spend four straight days in thrift store basements and grimy antique markets scouting quintessentially Swedish pieces to bring back to Canada, and drank lots and lots of coffee with cinnamon buns.

One of the nicest things that I've come to realize while vintage shopping in other countries is if you tell dealers that you are from abroad they are willing to part with all of their best kept picking secrets  (and even bring up directions on your iphone for you!). Everyone in Sweden speaks English fluently with a beautiful accent and seems to have a kinship with Canadians, because of our similar northern climates.  There were lots of hockey references (which I didn't get) and lots of people are all too proud to announce they have a friend or family member who has moved to Toronto. Sadly there was a lot of great stuff that had to be left behind because of weight or size, so instead I focused on small pieces that could be easily shipped.

Come and see all of our great finds at Russet and Empire X Sweden starting March 15.

Monday
Mar052012

Adventures in Cape Town: Neighbourgoods Market

[image: Neighbourgoods Market]

Covet Garden's own Jessica travelled to Cape Town, South Africa earlier this month. She came back with lots of great stories and discoveries to share. This is the third of four posts detailing her adventures.

I always feel that one of the best ways to suss out a new city is by visiting the local market. Whether it’s the Paris, Brooklyn or Rose Bowl Flea Markets, the market is always a great gathering place for designers, foodies and crafters. Which is why I made a beeline for the Saturday morning Neighbourgoods Market at The Old Biscuit Mill in Cape Town’s Woodstock district.

[image: skermunkil]

The market itself is pretty new. Entrepreneurs Justin Rhodes and Cameron Munro, whose aim is to “revive and reinvent the Public Market as a civic institution”, founded it in 2006. It’s housed in a sky lit Victorian industrial building, not like Toronto’s own Distillery District.

One of the goals was that the market would also function as meeting point where the community could exchange ideas and get a farm-to-table education about the food we eat. Neighbourgoods quickly became a Cape Town tradition. Local farmers mix with fine-food purveyors, organic merchants, bakers and distributors, grocers, mongers, butchers, artisan producers and local chefs. You can also find craft brews and fine South African wines.

Local crafters are also part of the mix in the Designgoods Market. It features fashion, jewellery, accessories, furniture, vintage items, textiles, books, ceramics and more. It also helps local designers by promoting their work and giving them a low-overhead venue where they can sell their wares directly to the public.

[image: grandt mason originals]

[image: steffany roup accessory design]

[images: Jessica Reid]

One of my favourite things about the Market is that there is so much to sample. I was only there for a few hours, but I could easily imagine spending the whole day talking to the friendly vendors and hunting for amazing finds. For families, there are plenty of places to grab a bite to eat. There’s even a special kid’s section.

Wednesday
Feb292012

Roots of Inspiration: African Trade Beads

[image of beads made in Venice and traded to Africa in the late 1800s and early 1900s from the collection of Robin Atkins via: beadlust]

1. CB2 insulator pendant lamp, 2. Royal Copenhagen Blue Fluted Mega dinner plate, 3. Diane von Furstenberg Batik dot sheet, 4. blue japanese stackable vintage mugs, 5. Sandra Figuerola for GAN Kilim Palermo rug.

Matthew and Jade's collection of Italian Art Glass from the current issue of Covet Garden reminded us of our fascination with the history of African Trade Beads. These decorative glass beads originated in Venice in the 16th century and were used as currency throughout Africa, North America and the West Indes over the next 300 years. Today, these beads are still treasured for their rich colour and lively designs. Older examples show their history through wear patterns.

Which got us to thinking of other finds that could complement the subtle beauty of the blue and white beads pictured above. This simple palette has us thinking about summer, sitting in a sunny room wearing a simple white dress and playing with our necklace made of Trade Beads. Sigh.

Friday
Feb242012

Best of Covet Garden: Clever Kitchens

[Olga's Kitchen from Issue15 . Photography: Donna Griffith]

We here at Covet Garden like spaces that have beauty and brains. We went through our back issues to revist some of our favourite kitchens. There's a mix of streamlined to colourful, but they are all amazing examples of how to fix up a kitchen without spending scads of money by using personal items such as art work, budget-friendly finishes or a new paint job.

[Arounna and John's kitchen from Issue18 . Photography: Ashley Capp]

Kitchens are hard working rooms. We cook in them, we hang out in them and you will always find us in the kitchen at parties. Which explains why impersonal "where-the-hell-do-they-keep-all-their-stuff?" spaces don't really inspire us. Now clever storage solutions, such as Arounna and John's  lockers-turned-bins... that's the kind of idea we can get behind!

[Kurt and Lori's kitchen from Issue9 . Photography: Michael Graydon]

Each of these kitchens have a "why didn't I think of that?" appeal. You'll notice at least three rooms with white laminate cabinets. Yet each is made unique by such details as handmade countertops, colourful backsplashes or plain old interesting use of space.

[Tara and Terry's kitchen from Issue13 . Photography: Kim Jeffery]

The easiest way to makeover a kitchen is with colour. We love the way Tara and Terry were able to reimagine their home's existing cuisine (who wouldn't want to buy the house for that stainless steel sink alone?) with a refreshing coat of green paint? A few upcycled items, like the sliding freezer door, and a kitchen island also give the space a modern update.

I'm going to hang a gallery wall in my kitchen this weekend. What inexpensive update would you most like to try?

Monday
Feb202012

Adventures in Cape Town: Behind the Scenes at Skinny LaMinx

[image: skinny laminx]

Covet Garden's own Jessica travelled to Cape Town, South Africa earler this month. She came back with lots of great stories and discoveries to share. This is the first of four posts detailing her adventures.

Regular readers of Covet Garden know of our admiration for Heather Moore, the illustrator and designer behind the textiles and homewares label Skinny LaMinx. So when I found out I was going to Cape Town, I knew I had to visit her new brick and mortar shop, which opened last December. And as you can see from the photos, it's an amazing showcase of her distinctive style. My fellow Covey G'er Rhonda wants to live in this store!

Heather is pretty amazing herself. I emailed before leaving Toronto and she gave me great tips on exploring her city. We also met at her shop and she let me peek into her studio. I loved seeing the bits and pieces of inspiration she keeps on hand, such as her collection of Arts and Crafts-style book jackets, and a vase full of wooden spoons (which were no doubt the inspiration for her "Borrowed Spoons" tea towel). While being in South Africa provided new context to the way Heather is influenced by her surroundings in her pattern and imagery (like the amazing plant-life I spotted on my trip up to the top of Table Mountain), there is something very international about the Skinny LaMinx style. 

Similarly, Heather takes inspiration from her colourful collection of vintage fabrics, but there's something very fresh about her designs and the interior of her shop and studio.

[studio photos by Jessica Reid. Pillow by skinny laminx]

I couldn't resist buying a metre of her "Flower Field" fabric in Rosy (pictured above). I'm not sure what I'll make out of it (suggestions are welcome in the comments below), but it will at least be lovingly hoarded for some time.

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