Is Everything Art? Talking Trumpets, Humor, and New Media with Matt Starr

“This is my first interview off Adderall ever.”

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Matt Starr has been taking Adderall since he was 9 years old. When I finally reached the New York City based artist on the phone, he was exiting a subway station and apologized for the noise. “Sorry,” he said, “I’m trying to buy a trumpet and I keep getting lost.” It seemed like a fitting introduction. When confined to the limits of language, he describes himself as a New Media Artist and Conceptual Comedian. Looking to his work, it’s easy to understand why words don’t quite suffice to capture everything that he creates. For Starr, it’s not the medium that matters as much as the message behind it. Whether it’s an installation, video projection, conceptual brand, or the pioneering of a fashion movement dedicated to a regression back to infancy, Starr uses whatever tools he needs to get the job done. Sometimes that tool is a bottle of Pepto Bismol; other times it’s a FaceTime conversation with super model Cara Delevingne. Starr effectively and creatively engages his audience, mastering a perfect balance of popular culture and quotidian comforts. His use of familiar objects, places, and even sentiments democratize his work for the masses, and it’s hard to view his art without smiling, cringing, agreeing, or simply wanting to know more. He is quirky and intelligent, playful yet sharp. Starr’s wit and humor shine through, and we enjoyed getting to ask him a few more questions regarding the nature of his work.

Continue…

Back to the Future

With art in the veins, Ryan Bock produces a prolific body of work across a gamut of mediums ranging from painting through puppetry to experimental film with found objects and materials often thrown into the mix. Working in Brooklyn, Bock’s artistic endeavours, though abstract in their conception are socially conscious – considering the future and current predicaments of our race. We had a chat about his methods and madness – whether technology is making us stupid, living in an inherently visual world and painting as therapy.

Art by Ryan Bock. Photo by Roman Dean

Art by Ryan Bock. Photo by Roman Dean.

Tell us about yourself as an artist and what you did before you came one…

I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my life when I wasn’t an artist. However it may have just taken some time for me to realize it for myself. I was born and bred into this lifestyle. I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil… way before I could read or write. It was never a specific decision I made, it’s just occurred very naturally and was augmented with creative development and hard work.

 

Describe your working space…

Where I work doesn’t matter to me. The focus is always on the work – not its place of conception. It’s more important to me where my work is seen, within the context of a gallery or exhibit, then where the work is created.

Photo by Andrea Zalkin.

Photo by Andrea Zalkin.

…And your creative process from conception to execution

I have visions (some people call them ideas) and then I bring them into the world. The materials available to me at the time will greatly affect how my vision is actualized. I have to be resourceful – this is often why I work on found objects. Every idea/object is different and deserves its own process so I guess it’s hard to pinpoint a generalized creative process. I do sketch my ideas but often as a mere formality or to remind myself not to forget the idea. Often even sketching is unnecessary.

 

A common denominator of your work is the unique mishmash of geometric shapes and grotesque forms, often in monochromatic tones. How does this relate to your personality, emotions, and beliefs?

What you’ve described here is the common denominator of the aesthetic of my work- the visual language I use – not the concepts and ideas inherent within my work, though they are related. My beliefs are very personal and I don’t feel the need to share them in conjunction with my work in this way. I don’t like to press my beliefs on anyone anymore – that’s something I openly avoid. I think that if one were to take the time to look at my work – my personality, emotions and beliefs should be somewhat apparent… or as apparent as they need to be. The work should speak and stand on its own.

 

Your work emanates a healthy skepticism of technologies, can you tell us a bit more about the threat you think tech poses… to art, society and psychology?

My main fear is that we become entirely reliant on technology as a species – in all aspects of life. An example being, if someone is asked a question in 2016 that they do not know the answer too, they can merely look it up on their smart phone. I believe this is phasing out immensely important brain functions including memory, the ability to absorb and retain information, and the significance of information in general. What is information worth if it is constantly at our fingertips and we take it for granted? Of course one can argue that more information for a larger demographic of people is constructive and, in some instances, of course I agree with this. But at the same time, are we as people more informed in 2016? Are people better off or smarter? Here in the States Trump is about to be our president, so probably not.

 

Talk to us about your concept of ‘dusty futurism’

Dusty futurism serves as a platform for musings on our ‘not so distant’ future. By creating an aesthetic that is both relatable to past and present my aim is to shed light on our current times and on occasion to predict times to come. I am a firm practitioner of studying our histories in order to inform our present and future decisions.

Photo by Roman Dean.

Photo by Roman Dean.

How does does your approach to making films and making paintings differ?

Painting is therapeutic for me. I can paint by myself and I don’t need anyone else’s input or help. Film and animation is entirely different because it’s collaborative by nature. I can’t make a film entirely on my own – I need a team. This can complicate things sometimes. Film and animation in particular is very time consuming. I could finish a painting in a day, but this is not true for moving image. There’s more to consider and plan for. Besides that, I try and approach my film work and animation exactly the same as any painting or body of work. My aim is always to create projects which entirely meld film/animation and painting all together into one cohesive artifact. I try and film like a painter and paint like a film maker. I let the two acts inform each other and vice versa.

 

We love your music videos. Tell us a little more about how you go about creating an aesthetic around sound.

Thank you – glad you enjoy them! Thus far I pick a song that resonates with me and listen too it enough to feel and understand it in its entirety. Then I create a loose proposal for what I would like to make. I am very, very particular as to what projects I work on. If I don’t feel the song or the artist I can’t make something that will resonate and that’s not worth my time. Every video I do, I try to approach entirely differently from anything I’ve done before, in order to not be pigeon holed and to challenge myself. Out of the handful of offers and opportunities for music videos I get every year I turn down 95%. I haven’t actually made a new music video since 2014. I am in the middle of one now actually, though it’s been on hold for a while. It’s for a group effort from my friends Lionel Elsound and Lonely Band. I’ve done a decent amount of work with Lionel before – he wrote and composed ‘Quest’ my first music video featuring Salomon Faye – and it’s my first time working with Marty (Lonely Band). Beyond being very talented musicians, they’re both from Paris and I love working with international artists. So I’m pretty stoked on that.

Which artists, dead or living, do you look up to and how do they influence your art?

Too many to name. The most difficult and most important aspect of being inspired by any other artist is learning to step back and stop looking at their work. This is the only way to create your own voice. Learn and respect the influence. Then throw it away and kill those artists (metaphorically).

 

What inspires you from outside the world of visual art?

To me the world is inherently visual art. My information is absorbed visually. I am more inspired by daily observations from my life or others more than what I see in a gallery.

 

So do you take inspiration from film and music too? What are you listening to at the moment?

I’ve been listening to the new Radiohead album and the new James Blake most recently. And yes I am very much influenced by cinema.

 

What projects are you currently working on right now? Any upcoming shows soon?

I unfortunately can’t speak on this, as of right now! I’m in transition at the moment. You can find out about upcoming shows by following me on social media: Facebook or Instagram.

It Drips: An Interview with Anna Barlow

Anna Barlow creates art you want to eat—really, desperately want to eat. Barlow’s ceramic and porcelain ice cream sculptures are sweet, oozing a palatable decadence that borders on the obscene. Expertly executed and slightly disappointing for those of us hoping to chow down on the sundae of our dreams, Barlow’s work resonates deeply. We recently had the opportunity to talk with Barlow about everything ceramic, porcelain, frozen, and saccharine:

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Fameless Quarterly: What was your initial interest in sculpting ice cream?

Anna Barlow: I started out purely trying to capture ice cream in its temporary state—trying to catch that one moment at its best.

 

I was also interested in what ice cream means to us—it’s not necessarily important but it has significance in our lives as being celebrational and therefore special.

 

FQ: What is your artistic process like? How do you construct your pieces? Do you work on more than one piece at a time?

AB: I tend to produce batches of work. I combine both porcelain and earthenware clay in my pieces, which have very different firing temperatures; I start by making lots of cones, wafers, sprinkles and flakes which are made from porcelain and are fired to a very high temperature. I then use these components to construct a piece using earthenware clay that is “scooped” to make the ice cream and piped through an icing bag for whipped cream. The whole piece is then fired again, glazed and then fired three more times.

 

I usually work on around three pieces at a time.

 

FQ: You are fascinated by the rituals of food and the ephemeral nature of ice cream—how do you think the power of pleasure informs your work?

AB: It completely informs my work—I guess I am always looking for the most gorgeous, most extravagant, most fantastical treat possible! This can sometimes run alongside another theme as a contrast to a more thoughtful idea.

 

FQ: Many of your works are incredibly realistic in detail—such as the way your ‘ice cream’ melts and drips—yet they are staged in bordering-on-the-unrealistic scenes. What role do you think fantasy plays in your work?

AB: Usually I’ll work from an image which has popped into my head—it will take me some time to work out what it’s about and usually it’s actually based on life in some way. The cushion pieces seem to be inspired from when I was trying to write about my work for a show catalogue which I find quite challenging—I have a habit of working on the sofa, and one day I looked up and realized each cushion had a leftover plate or bowl on it and I thought: “Ah! That’s why I want to put food on cushions—it’s weird, but probably quite normal to a lot of people!” I made some ice creams that have been smashed across a wall which I think might be inspired by my brother and sister telling me about the time my mother threw an entire hot fruit pudding—plus the dish—at my father in pure frustration (she’ll hate me for saying this!!), but we all think it’s quite funny now….
Anna Barlow - Look It's So You (2)

FQ: Critics of your work find it obscene–what do you think lends your art to that interpretation?

AB: I think it’s interesting how people react to my work. They either love it, are repulsed by it, or don’t get it. I have a theory that this reflects on how they feel about food or their relationship with it.

 

FQ: Recently you have been branching out into some more collaborative projects, such as creating the piece “Anticipation of a Thousand Moments” for the Big Egg Hunt–a project wherein several artists were asked to design two-and-a-half foot high fiberglass eggs which were auctioned off for charity. How do you see your artistic practice expanding in the future?

AB: I really loved that project! I am beginning to think that it might be fun to collaborate in some way as I would love another set of ideas to work with.  We’ll see…..

 

FQ: How do you, as an artist, make working in a specific medium and within a niche subject area continually interesting?

AB: It’s funny—I never thought I’d stick with ice cream for so long; just as I feel I must be done with it, a whole set of new ideas pop up to keep me going…. at the moment I am interested in how our individual tastes affect our perceived identity. I made a piece called, “Look, it’s so you!” where pink ice creams and treats dominate a mirror’s surface so that you can only glimpse a little of your own reflection.

 

FQ: Your works are becoming more and more monumental–do you see yourself moving towards creating larger pieces in the future?

AB: Yes—now I am represented by Scream Gallery, and they prefer to take larger work.  I am really enjoying spending a lot of energy on one major piece at a time and really going for it on intricacy and extravagance—it’s a really great challenge!

 

FQ: Any new and exciting projects on the horizon?

AB: More ice creams!!

 

ABODE: Christine Facella

Christina Facella began her career as a science illustrator for the Museum of Natural History in New York. In 2007, after several years of traveling in South America and Asia, she left her position at the museum to found Beetle & Flor—an interior accessories company. The profits from Christine’s beautiful, hand-cast, porcelain, and gold objects go towards funding her real passion—providing free and low-cost design services to underserved artisan communities in order to help them bring their products to the global market. Since Christine undoubtedly knows good object design, we were excited to see how this would translate to her personal living space:

 

Fameless Quarterly: Thank you for inviting us into your home! Tell us a little about where you live. What neighborhood are you in? When did you move here?

Christine Facella: We’ve been living in this apartment for about four years. It’s on the cusp of Williamsburg, Greenpoint and Bushwick, on an isolated tree-lined street with row houses dating back to 1910. In the evening when working hours are over and the traffic dies down, it’s quite the tranquil spot.

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FQ: What are your favorite and least favorite parts about living where you do?

CF: We have an awesome backyard. The previous owner planted an array of berry bushes: black currants, white and red raspberries, blackberries, concord grapes and gooseberries—which attracts: squirrels, birds, opossums, raccoons. Unfortunately since we’re in a very polluted area, off Newtown Creek, we’re a little hesitant to eat much of it—which is probably what I like least about living here. To compensate we’ve built several planters in which we grow herbs and vegetables in the summer.

 

FQ: Outside of your home, what are some of your favorite places in the neighborhood?

CF: Walking to the studio I can choose two main routes: One takes me through McGolrick Park with its beautiful canopy of trees and newly planted native garden. The other route is behind our house, into a heavily industrialized, dirty area. I like them both; they are contemplative in separate ways: urban nature and people in the park and the void of nature and people in the other.

 

FQ: How do you think your neighborhood influences your work as a designer and artist?

CF: Last year I did a small collection of ‘urban wildlife’ skulls for the newly launched Brooklyn CSA+D. I based it on ‘tough’ species (domestic cats, rats, pigeons), basically animals I see on a daily basis around here. Other than that, living in such a creative community of people who make things is, in itself, influential!

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FQ: Does your past as an illustrator for the Museum of Natural History have an impact on how you arrange and decorate your personal living space?

CF: I think so. Both Warren and I used to work there, as illustrators and model makers. We’re both interested in natural history, and we both originate from geography that made us appreciative of nature: Warren grew up in Maine and I myself am from Norway. Having the outdoors be part of our living environment is a given.

 

FQ: Beetle and Flor was founded to fund your low-cost design services to underserved artisan communities in order to transform their local products for the global marketplace. Do you find you employ that re-purposing aesthetic at home? Are there any items in your apartment that you have created out of re-purposed materials?

CF: Most of our furniture is ‘hand-me-downs’ or from the street or garage sales. A few of our planters outside are made from old studs from removed walls in the apartment, and we’ve used reclaimed materials for some of our hand-made furnishings, fully stained with a concoction made of rusty metal and tea. The quilt on the bed was made from Warren’s old shirts and scraps of fabric.

As for the artisans, I’ve been working on a long term project with Work + Shelter, based in Delhi. They employ and train women in crafts such as knitting and sewing. For the past two years we’ve been working on a biodegradable stuffed toy project (mirandaredpanda.com).

 

FQ: Your porcelain and gold skulls are beautiful! They would fit perfectly on the shelf of a Wunderkammer–which is pretty fitting, given your background. Do you have any curios in your home?

CF: We collect things from travels or the outdoors, but they are all scattered throughout the house!

 

FQ: What is your favorite thing in your apartment?

CF: My mom, long ago, when living in Atlanta, made a rag-rug wall hanging, in pink, blue, and gray hues. For as long as I remember, it has been curled up in my parent’s basement—probably due to its outdated style and sheer size—and was amongst the ‘stuff’ my dad brought when we moved in, thinking I would want it.

I wasn’t thrilled, but since our house at the time was fairly empty, I ended up hanging it in the hallway. Now in the morning when I wake up, it’s the first thing I see, all lit up from sunlight streaming through the skylight and glass blocks. I’ve really come to love it, enough so that it has influenced the color choices in the bedroom.

 

FQ: In addition to your signature skull porcelain works you have also been producing planters and vases. What was the inspiration behind this shift?

CF: I thought it was perhaps a slightly unhealthy obsession to only do one thing, so I had to venture out and try new ideas! We can always go back to what we know, but growth happens when you try something different, at least according to Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.

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FQ: Do you garden a lot at home?

CF: Yes, it’s a weekly treat! I’m usually at war with the morning glories, trees of heaven, and those Blackberry bushes, which would like to spread all over the yard. I have a certificate in horticulture from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and am about to start an MA program in Landscape Architecture at CUNY. Plants are my second obsession!

 

FQ: You must travel a lot! Do you bring anything with you on your trips to remind you of home?

CF: Usually when I go somewhere, I’m ready to get out of here and the last thing on my packing list would be a token of home! I travel light: a small backpack. Pictures of Warren and the cats on my phone is all I need.

 

FQ: What is the biggest luxury in your home? Are you saving up for anything at the moment?

CF: We’re going solar! A huge expense, but with the tax breaks and loans, the monthly cost comes out to about what we pay Con Edison now. We are super excited!

 

FQ: If you could change something about your apartment what would it be?

CF: Who wouldn’t wish for an additional bedroom?

Doing a cross country road trip

[vc_row type=”in_container” full_screen_row_position=”middle” scene_position=”center” text_color=”dark” text_align=”left” top_padding=”30″ overlay_strength=”0.3″ shape_divider_position=”bottom”][vc_column column_padding=”no-extra-padding” column_padding_position=”all” background_color_opacity=”1″ background_hover_color_opacity=”1″ column_shadow=”none” column_border_radius=”none” width=”1/1″ tablet_text_alignment=”default” phone_text_alignment=”default” column_border_width=”none” column_border_style=”solid”][vc_column_text]Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia. It is a paradisematic country, in which roasted parts of sentences fly into your mouth.

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The Big Oxmox advised her not to do so, because there were thousands of bad Commas, wild Question Marks and devious Semikoli, but the Little Blind Text didn’t listen. She packed her seven versalia, put her initial into the belt and made herself on the way.

l using her.Far far away, behind the word mountains, far from the countries Vokalia and Consonantia, there live the blind texts. Separated they live in Bookmarksgrove right at the coast of the Semantics, a large language ocean. A small river named Duden flows by their place and supplies it with the necessary regelialia.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

METHOD: Laura Sly

WRITING BY BRANDON REIS

Illustration by Laura Sly.

Illustration by Laura Sly.

Nestled comfortably in her one-bedroom apartment off of Walnut Street in Montclair, with an icy Amstel Light in one hand and her trusty canine sidekick Pixel in the other, is Laura Sly: founder and Creative Director of Double Stop Designs.

When she’s not creating posters for musicians like Portugal. The Man or designing the label for Coldcock Whiskey, she’s fervently developing her skills and abilities, both inside and outside of her comfort zone. A graphic designer by trade, Laura has adapted to the ever-evolving environment that is digital media to not only hone the skills that she was trained for, but to go above and beyond by learning web design and coding, and taking on her most recent endeavor – motion graphics. 

I had the pleasure of spending some time with Laura, who also happens to be an old friend. Along with catching up, we had the opportunity to talk a bit about who she is, what makes up her personal and artistic style, and her overall daily journey through life.

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Fameless Quarterly: What’s a typical day in your life like? What are your rituals?

Laura Sly: The absolute first thing I do in the morning is make a cup of coffee – San Francisco Fog Chaser K-Cups. Then, I walk Pixel and get ready for work. I also like to start the day by going on Vimeo and watching anything that I find interesting. In fact, I spend any free moment I get watching tutorials or training videos on Youtube or Vimeo, which is actually how I learned about motion design. The rest of my morning is pretty basic: after getting ready, I’m off to my job where I work as lead designer for a local IT company; I work pretty regular hours, 9am-5pm. I come home, walk Pixel, and get right back to work freelancing for Double-Stop! How pathetic is that?!

Not at all! This issue is all about dedication, so spending your day hard at work in order to achieve your goals resonates with a lot of people. Artists of all shapes and sizes find themselves having to adhere to some sort of structured lifestyle in order to support their true creative intentions. Bottom line: you’re preaching to the choir!

Haha, ok good.

How would you describe your artistic style?

I really enjoy working with vectors and colors. I like curvy lines and abstract shapes, and tend to do that a lot with the posters I create. On the other hand, I think a lot of my other work incorporates geometric shapes, which was sort of drilled into my brain with my web design work. I tend to use similar color schemes for everything, like all cool colors or all warm colors; I’m trying to get out of that but it’s so automatic. Typography is also key! Balancing all of these elements to achieve an interesting composition is what I love to do. People often say that I have a specific style, like if they see something I made they’ll say, “Oh yeah, that’s totally your work.” I can’t see it, which is kind of weird.

I think I know what they mean though; it’s hard to put your finger on something like that because its so tailored to someone – there is no word for it. You mentioned curvy lines and abstract shapes – that’s that Portugal. The Man poster for sure! That was something that you had complete creative control over, and I’d say that represents your style the best, at least to me.

That’s exactly what I mean. I don’t even try to do that; it just happens.

And that’s why its your style! Does that coincide with your personality, or do you feel that you adhere to a different style than the work you produce?

I think its totally different altogether. With my work, I tend to make things really colorful and bold, and I’m quite the opposite of that. I’m very timid, so my style represents that. If I’m around the right people then I’m ok, but meeting random strangers and interacting with people I don’t know makes me nervous.

So you’re an introvert.

Exactly, but I guess not so much when it comes to my work. Hm, I guess I never thought about that.

That’s why these interviews are so important, you know. It’s an interview, but its also a therapy session.

I’m going to be bawling by the end of this, aren’t I?

Yep, prepare to discover some repressed memories! Do you have any restaurants or bars that you frequent?

Enzo Pizzeria right here in Montclair, totally. That’s the answer right there. I also like Spice II, which is a local Thai restaurant; I always get the Massaman Curry. As for bars, I like going with friends occasionally, but I’m not one to go out all the time. I actually love being home.

So if it were your choice of bar, where would you go?

On Monday nights, I’m at the Great Notch Inn in Little Falls for their open mic night; it’s always a great time. Aside from that, I would say either Egan & Sons or Tierney’s Tavern  in Montclair since they’re local. 

Are you doing what you love?

Yeah, I think now I am finally. For a while, I was doing what I was good at and not what I love, and now I finally found what I want to do – motion design – and it feels really good. Of course, I love art, and I went into design because it came sort of natural to me. The first job I got turned out to be a great experience, but it wasn’t the direction I wanted to go in, though that’s the way it went for a few years. Now I’m learning to say no to things that I don’t want to do and I think that’s really valuable. It’s to the point now where I’m turning down work so that I can pursue what I love. Especially when my time is so limited, I don’t want to be tied down to projects I’m going to work on for three months and get nothing out of.

What piece of advice can you offer to others based on your own life experiences?

I would say just that it’s ok to say no. If you’re good at something, or if you do it in general, people are going to want to take advantage of you. I went through that a lot – people trying to basically get shit for free or people who don’t think you’re worth it and chop down your asking price. Basically, you don’t have to accept every single project that comes your way. In the beginning, sure – everyone does that. You kind of have to go through the bullshit; I’ve gone through it so much. In the end though, your work has value that only you can assign, and if you have the experience, know your worth. If people are going to laugh at your price, just say no.
 
For more on Laura Sly and her work, visit http://dblstp.com/

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Available in print with
FQ’s DEDICATION Issue

Familiar x Instrument presents: Rivals

Our friends over at Familiar just served up the perfect mixture of fashion and sport. They’ve collaborated with Portland-based agency Instrument to create something truly unique for their fifth issue, “Rivals.” Justin Gorman, founder of Familiar and Associate Creative Director at Instrument, has dreamt up this marriage of aesthetics and athletics, and takes it one step further by fusing analog and digital media to deliver something not quite seen before. Saying that “Rivals” extends the boundaries of what an online editorial should be is an understatement; you must take a look for yourself.

Photography by Tyler Kohlhoff. Styling by Lana Jay Lackey.

Photography by Tyler Kohlhoff. Styling by Lana Jay Lackey.

Instrument partner and Executive Director, Justin Lewis, saw this project as an opportunity for the company to break the barriers of storytelling and expand Familiar’s artistic vision into the digital world. The interactive editorial features photography from Tyler Kohlhoff and styling by Lana Jay Lackey, forming a perfectly crafted story with subtleties of the overall theme between haute couture and sport as well as print and digital. Featured brands include Hood by Air, Nike, adidas, Y-3, General Idea, ODD, and Portland-based Machus.

The timely launch of Familiar’s new issue during the 2014 FIFA World Cup caters to a global audience that’s tuned in to the tournament, yet desires a fashion-skewed side. Familiar Issue 05: “Rivals” will be available for purchase in print on their site later this summer. To experience “Rivals” on what could be considered the future of interactive editorials, visit itsfamiliar.com/rivals.

ESSENTIALS: Nicole Loher

Nicole Loher is a dedicated and elegant fashion blogger. Her blog, “The Style Student” has evolved into a staple resource for fashion, personal, and health advice for her readers. Nicole has become an excellent role model by documenting her perseverance through the Fashion Institute of Technology to landing her current job at Nannete Lepore. Today, Nicole shares her elegance with us in her installation of our essentials series.

1. YSL’s Top Secrets All-In-One BB Cream 2. Theo’s Pure 85% Dark Chocolate 3. Nike Free 5.0+ in Black 4. Juice Press Coffee with Black Label 5. Satomi Kawakita Hexagon Ring with a white diamond (available at Catbird) 6. Beyonce & Jay-Z 7. The Walking Dead 8. pineapples (obsessed with them. vintage & botanical sketches!), and 9. Positano, Italy.

The Story Of The Scandinavian Modern Style

Design is often mislabeled as just being about eye-pleasing aesthetics and making something “pretty.” While good design does those things, there is also so much more history and social context about why certain design styles came to fruition. The geographic, social, and economic locality of a region directly influences the design that comes from there. One region in particular, has exercised great influence over the design world and that is the countries of Scandinavia. What about these countries has created a long-lasting and influential design movement?

Scandinavia includes the countries of Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. Design that comes from these regions is known for being minimal, with clean lines and lots of white space. And like most modern art movements, function was thrust to the forefront as being just as important, if not more, than aesthetics. The belief was that if something was functional then it would become beautiful, and not the other way around. Design was meant to be functional and mainstream, to enhance the life of everyone and not just be for the artistic elite. The designs are also slightly futuristic, stripped of any ornamentation, and the shapes left behind are often surreal and sleek.

In 1954 there was a traveling design show that showcased the Scandinavian lifestyle. The open, simple, and accessible design and layouts had a direct influence on the burgeoning modernist movement in America. This was also the starting point of Scandinavian Modern as influencing a worldwide design movement. The outstanding craftsmanship and quality of materials also made long-lasting impressions on the United States.

When people think about what about Scandinavia as a locale influenced Scandinavian modern, two things come to mind: the region’s relative isolation and the limited amount of materials they had to work with. Due to both of these factors, Scandinavian modern embraced minimalism and intelligent use of materials. The limited amount of sunlight and endless winters also influenced designers to create environments that had as much light as possible. The democratic nature of the countries was also apparent, in the belief that design should be used to enrich everyone’s lives. The core believe of Scandinavian Modern is to raise the quality of design in everyday life.

Scandinavian Modern can be seen primarily in architecture and furniture, but also influences graphic design such as patterns and book covers. Splashes of stunning color are also signatures of Scandinavian modern, a fitting accent to the strong lines and geometric shapes. To the Nordic countries, good design is an essential part of a functioning society. This goes a long way to explain how such a relatively small region has exercised such massive influence on the design world. The grace and subtle human touches to Scandinavian modern has also started to reach digital design, such as website and digital interfaces. Not surprisingly, the strong and idealistic beliefs of Scandinavian modern, translate well to another medium. The goal remains the same despite being digital: to enhance the life of the user.

WORDS: Kwi. Kwi is a writer for Hughes Estate Sales who’s an expert on vintage furniture and design

An Appreciation Of The Art Deco Style

Over the years many new movements in art and design appear, make their mark on the world and then are pushed into the background by the next new thing. When you look back, many styles are clearly very much of their time and would look out of place in the modern world. Art Deco, on the other hand, whilst classically elegant always looks curiously current and fits seamlessly into the 21st century. This is one style which never really seems to have gone away and whilst the influence of other movements has faded into the background, Art Deco still makes its mark on the designs of today.

Art Deco initially appeared on the scene in France in the 1920’s but in the decade that followed, quickly spread across the world influencing design in architecture, art, jewelry and even fashion. It was a highly eclectic style drawing on influences from several artistic movements and beautifully combining traditional and natural imagery with modern angular forms. Art Deco was all about bold geometric shapes, sumptuous ornamentation and sharp angles. It was certainly the very essence of glamour and so it is not difficult to appreciate why its influence remains so strong today. The striking color contrasts and juxtaposition of soft, luxurious fabrics with polished wood and expanses of black lacquer and stone made an instant impression and still appear classy yet avant-garde today.

The bold, iconic architecture of the era still stands as testament to the beauty and functionality of the style. The clean lines, geometric detailing, stepped profiles and use of color were very much of a movement looking forwards and not back. The buildings of this period sit well next to modern constructions and still look classy today. The Empire State Building in New York and the Art Deco district of Miami are really something to behold but art deco was not all about appearance. Many fine industrial premises were constructed in the Art Deco style proving that a functional building can still be a thing of beauty. The main arteries into London from the west were lined with fine examples of the style and were constructed in the pre-media age to act as advertisements for the organisations they housed. The Hoover Building is the best known example and remains one of the most loved buildings in the capital.

Fine jewelry was the perfect vehicle for the glamour and rich ornamentation of the Art Deco Style. Fine diamonds set into geometrically shaped settings, black and white contrasts, zigzags, chevrons and a touch of glamour were the defining features of Art Deco pieces. Echoes of the style are still common today in necklaces, earrings and even diamante brooches. Angular forms with sumptuous sparkle were the order of the day and the designs translate well into modern pieces of both fine and costume jewelry. There is nothing more glamorous than Art Deco jewelry as a compliment to an evening gown or cocktail dress and yet the more simple styles are the perfect accent for day wear too. Perhaps it is the flexibility and relative simplicity of Art Deco that has made it so enduring.

Whether as an interior design scheme for a bathroom, an elegant piece of jewelry or a stunning piece of architecture, Art Deco is a much loved style that will probably never fall out of favor. Equally at home in a period or modern setting Art Deco is wonderfully current whilst remaining indicative of an era of opulence and new found freedom.

WORDS: Sally Stacey. Sally is a regular blogger who has a great love of the Art deco style. She worked near to the Hoover Building for several years and very much enjoyed her recent visit to the Empire State Building.