Archive for 'Design & History'

Benjamin Moore – Back Then

Written by on 29th March 2013 in Blog POSTS, Design & History with 2 Comments



I’m gonna get down to a little painting and gardening this weekend. Maybe even another re-upholstery task. What Can I say….The sun is shining and I’m motivated.

What are you up To?

Here’s a cool vintage poster (undated) from Benjamin Moore…You see! Peeps have doing this DIY thing forever!

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Cloche Encounters of the Design Kind

Written by on 17th January 2013 in Blog POSTS, Design & History with 2 Comments


I picked one up last summer…a cloche, that is.

I Didn’t know what to really do with the thing and since I’m not exactly the gardening type it sat pretty on a shelf until this past Christmas when I filled it with lights like this.

Not too terribly creative…but hey I was busy. So now the lights are packed away until next year and I am left asking..what do I do with this thing?    As with all conundrums I asked the internet and here’s what it told me…

cloche /klōSH/ Noun 1. A small translucent cover for protecting or forcing outdoor plants. Or 2. A woman’s close-fitting, bell-shaped hat.

As I suspected, it has its origins in science, botany to be exact, and I admit that there were a couple heated discussions around our holiday table this year as to whether it was a terrarium, or not, and what the hell its purpose was…mystery solved.


…The internet also showed me that you can put one thing in, or allot…(note how I am totally ignoring plant material as an option.)

cloche book
They are well suited to seasonal applications…
cloche valentine

And, incidentally I just saw a medium and large cloche at the vintage store on Goldstream near the cinema. I think they were $6 and $8 bucks if you’re in the market.  My pal Sheila wrote a great post on Cloche’s too. Check her out.

I loved the way the cloche looked  illuminated at Christmas so I think that is the direction for me. I should note though that without some venting you should not use regular light bulbs as it heats up quickly and would likely explode…so be smart if you’re DIY’ing it peeps. I’m totally smitten with some amazing examples of vintage cloche lamps and design darling cb2 has a lamp out now too!

cloche lighy
When I mentioned to my husband tonight that I was thinking about transforming it into a lamp he said two things….”so you’re basically thinking about building a bomb” and second….”in this instance, I think you should go buy one”
He’s on the record!
Do you have one? What’s in it? I’d love to know!:)
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Trying Tribal – DIY Rug Idea

Written by on 12th December 2012 in Blog POSTS, Design & History with 6 Comments

Like most design enthusiasts I have a mad crush on Moroccan everything and in particular a style of rug that originates from the Middle Atlas Mountains in Morocco; the Beni Ouarain. These wool carpets are named after the Beni Ouarain Berber tribe who make this distinctive diamond and geometric pattern on natural ivory sheep’s wool. There are many Berber tribes who pass down traditional carpet weaving traditions, but this particular style has gained super star status in western design owing to its simplicity and endorsement from some of the biggest names in design. I love it too.

Take a look at the rug I just finished for my guest room, and how I made it.

I used black thread for this project although it takes on a navy blue look which is just fine by me :) Here’s an example of a beautiful hand made Beni Ouarain rug form Morocco. Props to the amazing women who still craft these rugs by hand, but this was a quick budget friendly fix that’ll hold me over until the rug budget gets an infusion of cash.































 What d’ya say? Think you might try it?

I’m going to make a couple more for some nursery projects I’m working on.

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Picking Pictures

Written by on 25th November 2012 in Blog POSTS, Design & History with 3 Comments

My two worlds collided recently when one of my clients inquired about historical photos and whether we could find some for her place. (you may or may not know that I am both a professional historical researcher AND interior decorator extraordinaire)

I said “Uhhh YEAH!”   So, I have been spending a little more time in the 19th C than usual lately trying to find just the right shots…more on that in the new year when the client’s installation happens. In the meantime I’m considering several great shots of the legislature and the Empress and some street shots too, I can’t reproduce them here on the blog due to copyright restrictions… but If you want some too…and let’s face it I’m sure you do! You can start here, or contact me. Of course I’ll help you…I’m nice like that:)


In the spirit of the holidays I loved this one of Spencer’s Department Store ca 1929 on Government St. It closed in the 1980′s. Photo Courtesy of VPL special collections Accession 17174 Date 1929; Photographer: Unknown.



I also loved this old shot from ca 1922 of the Hudson’s Bay Building on Douglas St. Which is now home to the stylish Hudson Lofts. Photo courtesy of VPL Special Collections Accession 11257 Date 1922; Photographer Frank Leonard.

Now, of course Victoria has a LONG history and is one of the oldest cities in Canada, but truth is the pics of Vic in the 1860′s just aren’t that pretty and I’m looking for candid and lively photos of the city…so if any of my history nerd friends are reading this and scrunched up their noses at the thought of 1929 being “historical”  I’ve explained myself. :)

Have a Great Week!

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HBC Blankets – Points for Creativity

Written by on 17th October 2012 in Blog POSTS, Design & History with 2 Comments

The iconic HBC blanket is popping up for me lately. It must be the cooler weather.  I saw one at local decor store Trade Roots recently and thought about some cool ways you could use a piece like this…but not as a blanket…No toooo itchy for me!  I wondered if it might be breaking some rule among historians to even consider re-purposing a vintage bay blanket like this;  But the truth is that the blanket’s original purpose was to be re-imagined into something else. So I think I’m good.

The blankets were sold in exchange for furs and their primary use was in the creation of outerwear (coats).  The blankets were a popular alternative to garments made from bulky Buffalo skins or those of smaller animals and were sold according to their size which was measured in points.  So, if you’re shopping for one today and it is referred to as having points that means it should have a corresponding number of  lines or  ‘points’ woven into the side of the blanket. The Points ranged form 1 to 6 and represented the finished size of the blanket without having to unfold the whole thing and measure or weigh it. I guess fur traders had no time for additional folding. Smart though!

There are plenty of new blankets in the marketplace and many oldies but goodies to be found in vintage stores, on Etsy and Ebay.  Of course the Bay still sells their original blankets and accessories too…and while none of these are from the Fur Trade they are still cool and Canuck nonetheless.

Think about using your Bay blanket for something other than a blanket…you might get more use out of it!

I Loved this Headboard upholstered in a wool blanket from Apartment Therapy.

Notice the lines on the side. This one is a six point (the largest size). Nice touch!

This is a cool room and HBC inspired chair, from Design Sponge

Who doesn’t love a pillow from Etsy?

And for those brave enough, make blanket pillows. very cool! From Etsy

or, how about an ottoman?

Contact me if you need help re-purposing a wool blanket. I’d love to help!

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Missoni Homewear

Written by on 26th July 2012 in Blog POSTS, Design & History with 2 Comments

This Miss – Oni Need One of these to be over the moon happy!! Check them out from Provide in Vancouver



Did you know that Missoni’s first fashion collection appeared in Milan in 1958?


In 1981 Missoni collaborated on their first textile and home collection which was the beginnings of the Missoni Homewear Collection.

Missoni is a family run company and while the products, colours and patterns have been celebrated the world over they have always considered it art.

A collection of glass wear (vases etc) was also developed in 2006.

I don’t know about you, but I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of Target in Victoria (Tillicum in 2013, Hillside in 2014) because they have a line of Missoni products that caused quite a shopping frenzy down south last season. Everybody loves a good old shopping throwdown at Target right?! :)

I really want to renovate my bathroom in white and use these Missoni Towels! Love!

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Petit Seat – Miniature Designer Chairs

Written by on 13th July 2012 in Blog POSTS, Design & History with 0 Comments
Phot from OneFortyThree Blog

Micro chairs by OneFortyThree


 Petit Seat

I have recently become captivated by miniature designer chairs. They are so cute and cool that I can hardly imagine who wouldn’t want one! The popularity of miniature chairs among collectors has not gone unnoticed and in 1992 the Vitra Museum of Design in Germany started a collection of designer chairs covering a period from the mid 1800s to the present. To date, they have taken 80 significant designs (with license agreements) and scaled them down using all the same materials and methods to 1:6 the original size.

Not to be mistaken for dolls house furniture, which is often 1:12 or 1:24 of regular furniture, these miniature chairs offer a quality representation of iconic designer pieces that is anything but kid stuff.

The prices for these tiny thrones are out of reach for most chochky collectors (ranging $100 – $750)….but the buyers are out there.  I easily found Vitra miniatures for sale on eBay and at Gabriel Ross here in Victoria with no effort at all.

One of the main uses for these puny perches, apart from collecting dust on a select few bookshelves,  is as teaching aids or models for design schools and those studying furniture design.  Since Vitra has gone to great lengths to remain true to the historical construction, materials and colours of the miniatures they are indeed useful in this respect.

Check out the tiny museum exhibits at the Vitra Gallery:

But what of other miniature furniture? Of course there are more affordable options available to scratch the itch of wanting one (or ten).  Magic Pony in Toronto carries  some super cute 1:12 replicas for less than $20 each (below):

I also  found these little cuties by Bento Zakka for less than $10 each on Etsy.

So, what’s the verdict on the small seats?…They certainly make a great gift for anyone who is obsessed with design. But in my opinion I can honestly think of many many more worthwhile things to spend several hundred dollars on than a replica chair…no matter how cool.  If anything, I would probably try my hand at an eBay auction for one of the Vitra chairs on the premise that I would get a good deal and know that  it will appreciate.   But maybe I’m OK with just admiring pretty pictures of these mini marvels for the time being.

I reserve the right revisit my verdict and this post closer to the arrival of Santa Clause….if I’ve been good that is!

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Illuminating Sputnik

Written by on 9th July 2012 in Design & History with 3 Comments


If you follow me, you probably know that I’m a fan of the reproduction Sputnik inspired light fixtures and mid century design in general.  You may also know that I’m a historian and so I’m naturally interested in the provenance of things and decided to investigate the story behind Sputnik a little.

I’m not a U.S. historian, or a space historian, so I didn’t know much about it until now… but I learned that the U.SS.R. launched Sputnik in 1957 and that it was the first artificial space satellite ever. Sputnik orbited the earth and wasn’t equipped with much technology other than a beeping radio signal that other instruments could track.  Sputnik’s success started the space race which became an extension of the cold war.


The United States response to the Sputnik was their own satellite and the creation of NASA in 1958 to fund similar projects.  So, you could say Sputnik is responsible for NASA.

Sputnik didn’t really look like these pointy projection fixtures, but these forms are part of  the popular futuristic imagery around satellites that existed in the 1950s and 60s.


Pop-Culture’s fascination with space and the communist threat resulted in pop art, fashion and decor featuring funky space satellites. Check out these ads!

Images of Sputnik appeared everywhere “Bartenders invented the sputnik cocktail and children bought Sputnik toys. Space fashions also came into style depicting satellites on everything..” source  And of course the Sputnik inspired light fixtures were also popularized at this time.  Here is a vintage example from the 50′s.


Obviously there is much more to the story behind Sputnik than this. But understanding a little about why it became such an iconic image in western popular culture gives me a little something extra to talk with clients about as I try to convince them to use one in their homes:)

(All the pics are links as usual)


See more of my Design and History Posts on my sidebar

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Tolix Chair

Written by on 11th April 2012 in Design & History with 2 Comments

In keeping with my post earlier this week on the funky new local industrial furniture store Trade Roots. I thought I would share a little bit of history about a purchase I made there last week that satisfied a longing I have had for an iconic chair.  Some of you may know that in my old life I was an historian…yawn…I know; however my two loves of history and design actually really blend pretty well. So here’s a quick lesson so you can look like a smarty pants.

First it might be helpful to show you the basic design…It is widely known as the Tolix Chair

Inspiring photos that spurned my affection for these battered beauties include…

Architectural Digest – April 2012

Pinterest – Unknown

Apartment Therapy

 So once I actually found them locally I snapped two up for my next project (TBA) and did a little research to inform myself of the provenance and history of these funky french chairs.

First I learned that they are so much more popular and renowned than I was aware of. Tolix chairs can be found  in design museums around the world and are celebrated for their exceptional design, excellent use of materials and comfort. The guy who gets all the credit was a sheet metal worker in France named Xavier Pauchard. He trademarked the Tolix in 1927 and started production of the chair, armchair and stools shortly thereafter.

The stack-able, lightweight , rustproof and easy to clean chairs became popular in hospitals, offices and public cafes and remained a staple in European design for the last 80 years.  In the mid 2000′s new management in the Tolix manufacturing company encouraged the production and export of the chairs to America which is why these Legit Tolix chairs are  available to us today.

Do you want one now?


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Oh Suzani

Written by on 13th April 2011 in Design & History with 1 Comment

So what is a Suzani? It is an elaborate embroidered textile, usually cotton or silk that was traditionally used as a dowry gift to the groom on his wedding day. The Suzani tradition grew out of the ancient silk road textile trade and continues to represent popular themes of home, love and kinship through its designs.

The moon, sun and flowers are some of the most popular circular designs and recently the popular suzani’s have popped up in home decor fabrics with a contemporary twist on the antique pieces.

Suzani Throws are used beautifully as Wall Art in the bedroom:

Martyn Bullard Elle Decor

Or on the Bed as a graphic statement:

House Beautiful


Architectural Digest


The motif is everywhere in Fabric: (Fabric: richloom, Jed Johnson, Waverly,

And Pillows: (Peter Dunham, Nathan Turner, Pier1, Kathryn Ireland)

I’ve never been to the far east, or the middle east for that matter, but I am still drawn to these pieces and marvel at the workmanship.  There are inexpensive Suzani’s to be had on eBay and there are local stores that sell them too.  You know the shops that sell sarongs, scarves and funky sun dresses, those ones! Dig around and you may find some treasures. I recently stumbled upon one of these stores at Bastion Square right scross from those hideous giant tulips. I don’t recall the name of the place but it’s packed to the rafters with esatern textiles and clothing. Sometimes rug importers have Suzani textiles too. Check it out.

Contact me if you want some help making the place where you live a place that you love!

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