Idea files: Abitare Design Magazine


You know those days when nothing seems interesting? Just totally uninspired and blah. Easy to feel irritating, right? If you look at the internet (like you’re doing now) everything and everyone is supposed to be motivating and inspiring 24/7.  It’s insufferable sometimes. We tell young creatives to learn to be inspired by LIFE MAN, cause the more places you can find LIFE the better.  But do you like, buy it at a store? Does it come from Snapchat? Is it in my genes? How do you get from point zero to idea? Stubbornness was the answer today. I forced myself to find something at home. I sat on the floor in front of a bookshelf and didn’t move until something sparked. My hand eventually found this vintage Abitare issue from 1997. How is this even in my house and I didn’t know? My apartment and home office are a decent size, at least by city standards, but still there aren’t that many spots things can hide. How much is right under our noses!

Anyway. This magazine?! Gorgeous Italian design magazine, Abitare? I’m happy I know you now even if you are no longer in print.  I don’t even mind that much of it is in Italian, which I don’t read. The ads are all hilariously 90s and the actual editorial content is still STUNNING. Here’s some of my favorite spreads and photos.


I clearly have a thing for libraries and this one is no exception! Multi-tiers of books! Spiral staircase and skylights. Okay. Sure. Have at it.


This desk/workspace! Parquet floors and that wall art!! I love it when people straight paint the walls in a bold way. Not something you see every day since it’s certainly not everyone’s style or interest, but damn, it’s for sure mine. And if it’s yours too, please can I come over? I’ll bring the strawberry rhubarb crisp I’m going to make tonight.


Gray paper text section in the middle breaks up the flow well and color blocked text catches the eye. I’ve always loved when paper changes inside a publication.


This one for this great geometric mosaic in all my favorite colors. This cobalt blue appears in many places in the magazine and it’s great. Feels Mediterranean, cool, happy.


This is an architect designed flat, which explains the mix of textures and materials. How fun is that sculptural built in? And painting those flea market chairs helps unify their different styles. Oh, and there’s that blue again.


Holy moly, isn’t this place the literal definition of swank?  DAMN GINA. I’ve never seen a staircase quite like this before. I also love the mix of eras with the furniture and décor, always nice to see things from different times go well together. And it looks like the second level is full of plants and greenery. Because of course.


And here’s the last index page. Total graphic designer geek fest right here. Clearly someone who cares about type did this layout and hoo lands, did they ever. Large oversized letterforms, ftw.

If you know about Abitare, tell me! How did and what made you like it? Photos to share?!


Playlist: Classy Tunes for Small Folk


New (modified) Pomodoro Technique playlist for you! These are kid-friendly tunes for if your day’s to-do list also includes any littles, maybe try this. It’s mostly music not expressly made with kids in mind, but the songs still have a child-like quality to them. Got some timeless familiar crowd pleasers in it too, but nothing someone with some more years on ‘em (ahem) can’t get into either.

Anxious Anticipation

conceptual-photography-by-aaron-tilley conceptual-photography-by-aaron-tilley conceptual-photography-by-aaron-tilley conceptual-photography-by-aaron-tilley

How about these images, eh? I’m not the hugest Kinfolk fan per se, but I came across these photos by Aaron Tilley when a potential client referenced the Kinfolk blog and knew I had to investigate them. The shots are from series which explores our current relationship with anxiety and stress in a digital culture. More than the importance of the topic, which is clear, I’m interested in the playful nature of them. So often anxiety is considered a shameful and grave topic because it can truly feel that way, perhaps debilitatingly so. But what if we viewed it with more lightness, absurdity, or humor? Taking a good solid look at anxiety and then flipping its effects both absorbs the intensity of the feeling and normalizes the experience. Something to practice in this modern world. Just knowing this possibility exists is a happy thought, that even if every stress hormone attack can’t be compartmentalized in this way, a more soothing response does exist on some level. A comforting thought indeed. More on Kinfolk’s site and in their upcoming issue.

Book review: Artists Living With Art



When I went to NYC in February to speak at Etsy, I also visited the Whitney Museum of Art. The Frank Stella Retrospective on display was wildly impressive (aside from a security guard who mistook normal friendliness as flirtation and tried to give me his number. Uh, thanks? So not here for that.) it was a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. Of course, no museum adventure is complete without a browse through the museum shop where I found this book Artists Living with Art by Stacey Goergen & Amanda Benchley. Instantly I was taken with it, but feeling it’s heft knowing I’d have to schlep it back to Brooklyn and into my suitcase back to Chicago, I passed on it thinking I would snag it on Amazon. Finally, I did just that.

Beyond the gorgeous photos by Oberto Gili, it’s a peek into some incredible artist’s homes. My favorite part is seeing the seemingly random assortment of objects they’ve chosen to inhabit their space. Such mystery and intrigue, why and how they were found and collected. What stories they tell their owners and how they influence the work. More often than not, it’s those types of objects that tell an artist lives in such a space. Anyone can develop a taste and collection of art for their walls, but it says something more when there’s seemingly random collection of materials lying about, or enough of an unusual presence in the space that it blares ARTIST LIVING HERE to almost anyone dropping by.  And sometimes there is a direct correlation between an artist’s work and their domestic life, and sometimes the two are entirely divorced. Both of which I find fascinating because this fact says so much about how a person lives and what their artmaking process is like.

Here are some of my favorite spaces in the book, in no particular order.

artist-living-with-art-5Multi-disciplinary artist Rashid Johnson’s dining room and mantle. The colors in that painting by Sam Gilliam!! Whoa. Paired with the restrained works by Tony Lewis and Glenn Ligon respectively make a bold statement. Glenn’s home also makes an appearance in this book too.


Mary Heilmann’s living room, chock full of art. This is what I mean when I talk about spaces only an artist would create. Few would fill an entire wall up, right down to the floor, unconcerned about degrading a work by putting it on the floor. It’s so unpretentious. I love it. Note the peek of the outdoors through the back, and I’m imagining a lush green space complimenting every window view.

artists-living-with-art-3Michelle Oka Doner. A new artist to me, I gasped when I laid eyes on this massive wall drawing by Doha sheiks. Paired with a jumble of sticks and what appears to be massive geodes or rocks, it’s a perfect match. Lots of botanical items, oversized driftwood, bronze, and books everywhere make this a space I could dwell in for ages.


Helen & Brice Marden’s space. Love how the textiles play off the texture in the works by Helen herself, and how the sunlight sparkles off the Eames lounge chair. This is a space that positively dazzles with vibrant color and warmth.


Eric Fischl & April Gornik’s Asian inspired home is jaw-droppingly gorgeous and seems to be custom designed and build to be as gorgeous as the art inside. A wealth of interesting angles to see, in this spread there is even a glass-walled library in an elevated mezzanine-style catwalk. Please. It’s too good. I can’t take it.


Another new-to-me artist, E.V. Day’s space is equal parts feminine and feral. Strikes me as the quintessential New York style loft space most people think of when they imagine an artist’s space. What I love about this photo is the tension in E.V.’s work paired with the floral and cobalt blues. Most of the space appears to have been styled while the rest is entirely lived in and worked in, full of clutter. She strikes me as someone who is unconcerned about the difference between her domestic and work selves.


Francesco Clementine house is full of warmth, with this golden yellow hue gracing much of the place. That Cy Twombly drawing above the fireplace is so much yes, paired with a Basquiat drawing to the left, Noguchi tables, and Frank Lloyd Wright chairs. Timeless perfection.


Cindy Sherman’s space surprised me. I didn’t expect this master of disguise to create a space that is quite so approachable. Clearly unafraid of color, texture, there is much happening at once which can feel claustrophobic, but here is invigorating. It feels like the art on her walls are her friends, and ours too, should one be lucky enough to visit.

Overall, A+ for any art or interior design fan. The writing style overall is as pleasant and easy to read as the photos are to look at. Not overwrought or dry like so much art writing can be, making it full of substance and style. Just my cup of tea. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go re-arrange my own space. This book has given me so many ideas!