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(A recurring theme on my blog is me posting things while thinking to myself, “I bet every other blogger and their dog has already covered this ground, but who cares, I’m going to go ahead and post about it anyway,” so apologies if, in fact, your dog has already showed you all of this.)

Yeah, I could live there is a D16 feature wherein I post pictures of homes I want to break into, kick out the inhabitants and move in. This time, though, it’s not a home—it’s Bar Luce, a café in Milan designed by Wes Anderson.

It is perfect. I mean, of course it’s perfect. It’s perfect because Wes Anderson designed it. It’ll also make your teeth hurt and possibly rot from all the sweetness, because Wes Anderson designed it. NOW LET ME LIVE THERE.

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This photo and above: Attilio Maranzano. Courtesy Fondazione Prada. (And yes, that’s a Zissou pinpall machine!)

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Photo by AFP/Getty Images

I’m not sure where I first saw a photo of Bar Luce, but I pretty much immediately thereafter wound up in a candy-colored hole on Instagram, looking at the #barluce hashtag. OMG. I kind of want an Instagram photo of everyone in the place Instagramming everything, because every inch of it is ready for your carefully composed, artfully cropped, precisely balanced square format shots and your Crema filter. Or F2 on VSCO with a smidge of fading, whichever! I’m partial to combining the two, but…well, I digress. Here are some of my favorite Instagrams of Bar Luce.

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Photos, as numbered: 1. cupofcouple, 2. moroabiti, 3. frederica_esse, 4. beamily, 5. grinning_soul_lady, 6. chuidelphine, 7. captainandclark, 8. valerie.b_

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Spotted this morning on It’s Nice That: Finnish creative agency Bond has created a typeface based for the Moomin brand based on Tove Jansson’s hand-drawn comic strip lettering. Given the success of the books that have been collected and reissued by Drawn & Quarterly over the past few years, I’m not surprised that this alphabet has been commissioned. It’s lovely, of course, and really captures the spirit of Jansson’s letterforms without pretending to be hand-drawn.

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The reissues are all beautifully done, by the way. Story-wise I’m more a fan of the Moomin novels than I am the comic strips, but visually, the comics are pretty phenomenal.

Top: Moomin Valley Turns Jungle
Middle: Moomin: The Complete Tove Jansson Comic Strip, Book One, Book Two, Book Three
Bottom: Moomin’s Winter Follies

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As an aside, I’m fascinated by the similarity between the Moomin Font (and Tover Jansson’s original lettering) and the one designed by Arne Jacobsen for Aarhus City Hall in 1937—currently available printed on lots of gorgeous housewares from Design Letters. I never noticed that before. Those Nords and their pointy-tipped Grotesque typography! Cool.

Typeface graphics via Bond

I don’t know if it’s because of the time I recently spent in Marfa with Daniel, or it has to do with all of the still-living (!) plants in my apartment, but lately I can’t get enough of cactuses. Cacti. Whatever. Or maybe it’s succulents in general, since I can never seem to remember what makes a succulent a cactus.

Anyway, I put together a little collection of some of my favorite cactus-themed stuff. I want all of it! Greedy, so greedy…

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1. Amelie Mancini / Cactus tote
2. Budi Satria Kwan / Cactus print
3. Sea & Asters / Geometric Cactus Planter
4. Simka Sol / Cactaceae leggings
5. Confetti Riot / Cactus print tea towel and pillows—white and peach
6. Visual Cities by Mariadiamantes / Cactus print

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1. Banquet Atelier & Workshop / Ten Cacti and Paddle Cactus screenprints
2. Sian Keegan / Cacti phone case
3. The Kingpins / Michael Cera Cactus button
4. The Black Vinyl / Early-1800s illustrated cactus chart
5. Nuukk / Cactus stamps
6. Make-Ready / Cactus print

Speaking of cactuses (I’m having a hard time with the word “cacti” for some reason), when was the last time you listened to 3rd Bass? I had The Cactus Album on heavy rotation during 1989 and 1990, and then 3rd Bass just kinda…evaporated. It’s a FANTASTIC album, though, and it still sounds great (maybe even better) 26 years later.

As an interesting (debatable) aside, did you know that 3rd Bass and The Smiths have something in common? Other than being white guys with tall hair, I mean. They both used the same sample! If you skip ahead to the 22:18 mark above, the beginning of “Triple Stage Darkness,” you’ll hear it: You are sleeping, you do not want to believe. You are sleeping… Now, if you’re a Smiths fan who appreciates Morrissey’s excellent use of samples, you’ll know that this is the very same sample used at the end of “Rubber Ring” (3:33 mark). Crazy, right? And considering how obscure the source of this sample is—a flexi-disc included with a 1971 book about communicating electronically with the dead, written by a Latvian psychologist named Konstantin Raudive—I think it’s mayyyyybe safe to assume that someone in 3rd Bass was a Smiths fan, and that mayyyyybe they actually took the sample from a Smiths record and not from the original source…but what do I know! Those crackles sure sound like they line up, though. Cool.

(How’s that for a tangent?!)

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This is a reposting of a guest blog post I did for Dos Family five years ago. I regularly receive emails asking for the link to download the Swedish Christmas record, so I will repost it here yearly!

In the United States, it’s not uncommon to hear Christmas music wafting from shop speakers as early as the beginning of November, but it’s not “Here Comes Santa Claus” or “Jingle Bell Rock” that puts me in the holiday spirit. For me, it’s not Christmastime until I put on the recording of Swedish Christmas music that I grew up listening to each and every year: Christmas in Sweden, recorded in 1962 by Åke Jelving and a chorus of parents and children.

This is jovial, happy music, sung with energy and enthusiasm…and with audible gasping and stomping!

Our mother may be Swedish, but my siblings and I haven’t got a clue what the lyrics mean. I suspect that they, like me, sing along phonetically (and badly) in the privacy of their own homes. On Christmas day, we put the record on and leave the singing to Mommy as we all hold hands and dance in a circle, usually around the spread of snacks and glögg on the kitchen island.

My gift to you is a download of Christmas in Sweden. Evan made the MP3s directly from the record, so you’ll hear all the same snaps and crackles that I do when I listen to the original. I think that just adds to the appeal! Unless you’re a Swede, this may not sound like Christmas music to you at first, but give it time. (And maybe enjoy it with a little glögg.)

To download the album, you’ll need to visit this link. No need to create an account, just click on “download.” Easy!

God Jul! (& Happy December 16th!)

Christmas in Sweden

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Via @DAVID_LYNCH on Twitter:
“The groundbreaking television phenomenon, Golden Globe® and Peabody Award-winner TWIN PEAKS will return as a new limited series on SHOWTIME in 2016. Series creators and executive producers David Lynch and Mark Frost will write and produce all nine episodes of the limited series, and Lynch will direct every episode. Set in the present day, TWIN PEAKS will continue the lore of the original series, providing long-awaited answers and a satisfying conclusion for the series’ passionate fan base.”

This news is everywhere today, but I’m so happy and full of anticipation that I can’t help mentioning it here as well.

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Considering how much of my life is spent at work, it’s kind of funny that I’ve never done a post about what my office looks like. Whenever I’m invited by other sites to share my workspace, I feel a little bit disingenuous sending in pictures of my desks at the house and (former) apartment. I mean, truthfully: The “office” at the house has become Evan’s music studio, and we don’t even pretend to call anything at the current apartment an office, unless you’re counting the sofa, which is where I do all of my blogging. No, my work happens in an office-office, one with bad industrial carpeting and a dropped acoustic ceiling and fluorescent lights and all of the other stuff nobody is particular interested in looking at pictures of.

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Last summer, after 15 years spent working in the same spot in the same building (with most of the same awesome people), the entire art department was moved up one floor. Same building, same corner, but 20 feet higher. Aside from the joy that came from sifting through 15 years of accumulated junk and throwing away 75% of it, I decided to commit myself to turning my new workspace into a place I like to walk into every day.

I don’t have an office with walls. All of the designers in my department sit in a big, open room—that was our choice. We like to be able to talk, and we like to have tons of light. The light, of course, is the best thing about this office—it’s a landmarked building (one of the original art deco Rockefeller Center structures, completed in 1939), and that includes the enormous, steel-framed windows. Windows that open, mind you, though I don’t necessary recommend doing that on a windy day when you’re 14 flights up!

Anyway, because I work in an open room with other people (and other people’s stuff), It’s a little tricky to take pictures that show all of my space. I promise I do actually have a computer and a chair and a phone…and a very full inbox.

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I don’t think there’s any way to fight generic office blah other than with bright colors and things that make you happy every time you look at them. “Elegance” is tough to pull off in this kind of environment, and I don’t even bother trying.

Over in this corner, I have an Alexander Girard PLYprint (these were issued by Columbia Forest Products in 2009, and sadly discontinued very sooner after), a bent-plywood “Clouds” clock from my own K IS FOR BLACK shop, a bootleg Andy Warhol poster (more on that in a minute), a letter A print from Ferm Living, and a vintage bus roll that I found at Three Potato Four.

So yeah, the Andy Warhol poster! Hah. If you read Scandinavian design blogs and frequent Swedish real estate websites, then you know that these Warhol posters—part of a series of reprints from a 1968 exhibit at Moderna Museet—are apparently issued to all Swedes along with their birth certificates. In the US, however, it’s next to impossible to get your mitts on one! I had dreams of buying one when I was in Stockholm, but the closest I was able to get to Moderna Museet was taking a longing photo from a window in a building next door.

So I decided to be a loser jerk and make my own. The real thing wouldn’t have fit in this spot anyway, and since the sentiment is pretty much the most perfect thing to be on a book cover designer’s wall, it had to happen. I knew what font they used for the poster, so…OK I’M ASHAMED. A little. But it’s not like I’m going to sell them (and no, I won’t send you the digital file), and if I ever do have the opportunity to buy a real, full-size one from Moderna Museet, I definitely will. Then I’ll hang that one in in my house, and keep the bootleg miniature at work.

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This part of my desk is usually completely covered with book cover comps, but I had to move them all out of frame since they’re for titles that haven’t been approved yet. The work you see there is what became the hand-lettering for this book (just approved yesterday, yay!). My vintage Snoopy came from Three Potato Four, and the snake mug…

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I LOVE MY SNAKE MUG!!! If you’re a fan of Craig Ferguson (and you should be), then you know Craigy is never without his trusty rattlesnake mug. I bought mine on eBay, and it’s identical to Craig’s—with the exception of the gold tooth, of course, which is a Late Late Show props department customization. (Weirdly enough, the snake mug sold by the CBS store is clearly not the same one Craig uses, which confuses me—but I’ll drop this subject now since I suspect it’s not very interesting to anyone but me…)

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Photo by Ali Goldstein/NBC

In case you ever wondered if 30 Rock was filmed on location, the answer is…actually, I have no idea (Update: It’s not—thanks, Bethany!), but if it’s shot on a sound stage, someone did an amazing job with it. Every time they showed Liz Lemon’s office, I had to smile at the 1930s radiator covers—the same ones are in every office throughout all of the old Rockefeller Center buildings. Same old windows, too.

I put those raindrops on my filing cabinet a few years ago, and they still make me happy. They’re just cut out of white paper with adhesive on the back, nothing fancy. The chair is an Arne Jacobsen Series 7 in a discontinued, terrifying shade of acid green that I love. I found it in the hallway in a storage pile during a company-wide office cleanout years ago, and I grabbed it. It still belongs to the company, of course, but I like having it in my area. The cute raindrop pillow and the triangle wall stickers are from Ferm Living.

I suspect I may be the only person working here with their own rug. It’s the same Nate Burkus Arrowhead rug (discontinued, alas) that I have in my dressing room, but in a smaller size. I would’ve gone bigger, but then my rolling chair would be getting caught on it. Office carpet is almost always a depressing thing, so it’s nice to have a tiny corner of happy floor covering to take the edge off. The bird hanging in the window is an Icelandic Krummi (raven) coat hanger designed by Ingibjörg Hanna Bjarnadóttir.

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If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve probably seen a lot of pictures of this view! My window overlooks 6th Avenue, and I’ve been documenting what I see out there during every season for the past 16 years. Here’s a compilation of some from 2013…

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BOOKS! I can’t keep every book I’ve designed, obviously, but I hang on to the ones that are in series—multiple titles by the same author—since I often need to refer back to them later. (If you’re interested in seeing some of the covers I’ve worked on, I have a portfolio site.) Speaking of which, I have strict rules about books at this point. I don’t take ANYTHING home with me from work unless I really, really want to read it. I’ve already read most of what I worked on when it was in the manuscript stage, and if I start taking home every book that catches my eye (and there really are books EVERYWHERE when you work at a publishing company—it’s amazing), there will be no more room for people or dogs in my house. I cracked down about 10 years ago, and I’m glad. I love love love books, and (contrary to the Warhol quote) I really do love to read a whole lot, but there are limits.

And on that note, it’s FRIDAY, and I’m outta here! Have a great weekend!

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The last time I blogged about a TV show was a year and a half ago, and that show was Breaking Bad. By the time the final episode BB aired, I (and seemingly every other human with a television) had become so emotionally invested in the series that it was a bit traumatizing to have it all come to an end. With the possible exception of The Sopranos, I had never felt that strongly about a TV drama before. I’ve half-heartedly tried to watch The Wire and Sons of Anarchy and House of Cards and so on, but I can never fully commit. (I did think Top of the Lake was excellent, but it wasn’t a multi-season show—it’s in a different category.)

There is now another show that has managed to suck me in and make me want to binge-watch 10 episodes in a row, though, and it’s the Scandinavian series The Bridge (Bron in Swedish, Broen in Danish). It’s SO GOOD. I keep telling everyone I know that they HAVE TO WATCH IT, OMG, but my power of persuasion isn’t working! I don’t know if it’s because they’re skeptical about being able to get into a foreign-language show with subtitles or the fact that they’re all too busy watching True Detective or because they just think I have bad taste, but no one is taking my word for it. Argh.

(For the sake of clarity, it’s worth mentioning that there is an American remake of The Bridge with the same name on the FX network, as well as a British/French version called The Tunnel. I’ve never seen either of those shows so I can’t compare them, but I can assure you that the original is perfection.)

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The title of the series refers to the Øresund Bridge, which crosses the Øresund strait between Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden. It’s on this bridge where the story begins, with a body that’s been found on the territorial line—with precisely one half in each country. The crime falls to both Swedish and Danish police jurisdictions, and homicide detectives Saga Norén (Sofia Helin) and Martin Rohde (Kim Bodnia) are assigned to the case.

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They are both very attractive, of course, but not in the way people are on American TV. Saga’s character in particular isn’t like anyone I’ve seen in a show before. Her hair is a mess, she’s got a big scar on her face, she looks tired, she wears the same outfit almost every day, and she seems as though she possibly has Asperger syndrome. Martin is slightly more polished (and his house is really beautiful—but I’ll direct you to this great post at Ouno Design for more about that), but he’s still quite rough around the edges and emotionally insecure to the point of being self-destructive. They’re quite a pair when you put them together! The entire supporting cast is great, too, down to the most minor characters. So much good acting—and so little over-acting, something that usually keeps me away from crime dramas.

The story line is completely gripping and totally unpredictable. It takes twists into politics, social problems, infidelity, parent-child relationships, race relations…and it all ties together perfectly somehow, with plot turns that are perfectly paced. We just watched the season one finale tonight, and the conclusion was satisfying. Season two takes Martin and Saga to a different crime entirely, and I’m not even going to read a synopsis before diving in.

If you’re in the US, you can watch the entire first season on Hulu for free right now. I’m not sure when the second season will be available here, but hopefully very soon because I need mooooooore!!

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Photo by Sam Falk/The New York Times

And a hero has gone. May we all try to live with even a fraction of the dignity, compassion, spirit and mindfulness that he did, and may we all carry his music in our hearts along the way. Goodnight, Pete.

Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94

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My father gave me this record when I was about 3 or 4 years old, and some of my earliest memories are of listening to it on the stereo in his studio—and, of course, singing along. When I was a little older, maybe 6, we listened more to Pete’s political songs like “Little Boxes” and “What Did You Learn in School Today,” and Dad explained to me what the words were all about. I learned what activism is. Big lessons for a little kid, but Pete (and Dad) made a huge impact on me and started to shape my social, political and ethical beliefs at a very early age. We’d go to see him play down by the Hudson River at the annual Clearwater Festivals, and later on, when Evan and I moved to Beacon, Pete became our neighbor. I’d see him at the train station all the time, and he kept on playing at local benefits in Beacon and Newburgh well into his 90s. The last time I saw him play was a few years ago in front of a small group of captivated children on the dock of the Hudson River, surrounded by the mountains and with his beloved Toshi nearby. I’ll miss you, Pete. Sorry to see you go.

If you have memories of Pete Seeger, whether from growing up in the Hudson Valley or from being a part of the political folk movement yourself or just from listening to his records, I’d love to hear them. Please feel free to share.

“I decline to discuss, under compulsion, where I have sung, and who has sung my songs, and who else has sung with me, and the people I have known. I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American.”
Pete Seeger, speaking before the House Un-American Activities Committee (1955)

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For the past six months (and by “six months” I mean my entire life) I’ve carried this looming sense of having forgotten to do something really important, but being incapable of remembering what it is because I’m so overwhelmed by all of the things I either procrastinated doing or discovered I had to take care of at the last minute. It’s a terrible feeling, but it’s one that’s come to define how I (mal)function on a day-to-day basis. Everything is always about catching up. I never feel on top of things. I am always certain I’m disappointing at least one or two or a dozen people, including myself. Any time I feel like I might be getting close to making progress, something happens—usually I get sick (like yesterday, which was spent lying on the sofa curled up with a box of Kleenex and a couple of dogs), but sometimes my website gets hacked or the furnace breaks. You know, normal things that happen to people. When you’re already struggling to keep up with the rest of your life, though, those little roadblocks start to feel uncrossable.

That’s when the recurring dreams start. I have a few that keep coming back to haunt me, but the one that I associate the most with stress is what I call “Forgotten Animals.” In this dream, there is either a small room or a basement or some neglected space in my house that I enter after a long absence, only to discover that it’s filled with animals (usually mice or rats, but sometimes ferrets—all pets I’ve had in large numbers in the past) in cages that are dead, dying, or living in filth and suffering. They are pets I’ve forgotten about that had bred out of control but have no food or water source. I immediately struggle to get their cages clean and hydrate and feed them, but I can’t move quickly enough. It’s a terrible dream, and it’s one that I have at least two or three times a year. It’s not hard to figure out what it means, and I try to take it as a warning.

Well, THAT was a fun therapy session! Anyway, yeah, I need to heed the dream warning. I need to figure out how to get myself organized so I can deal with the simple stuff and not get overwhelmed by the big stuff. There’s no reason to be in a constant state of chaos. I’m not really into resolutions, but I guess I’m kind of making one.

I don’t want to end on a low note, so here are some nice things from this weekend…

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Top to bottom, left to right:

VIVA HATE banner on my living room mantel by Going Steady Shop.
Next up on my reading list, Gary Shteyngart’s Little Failure. Have you seen the trailer?
My new jade plant has passed the three week mark, which might be a record. I’m determined to not kill it.
I’ve been OBSESSED with Patrick Townsend’s Orbit Chandelier for years. This was a very, very nice thank you gift from Victoria, and it’s going up in my living room just as soon as I figure out how to deal with the old, non-standard electrical box in the ceiling medallion that thwarted my efforts this weekend. (Sigh.)
Daniel and Max came down for lunch this weekend. I made fancy grilled cheeze sammiches and we watched Flowers in the Attic. Perfect Sunday?
Nothing really, just admiring the tiles in the living room fireplace. So nice.
Fritz had his 6th birthday yesterday! Remember when he was brand new? (Warning: SO CUTE IT HURTS.)

Christmas in Sweden
This is a reposting of a guest blog post I did for Dos Family four years ago. I regularly receive emails asking for the link to download the Swedish Christmas record, so I will repost it here yearly!

In the United States, it’s not uncommon to hear Christmas music wafting from shop speakers as early as the beginning of November, but it’s not “Here Comes Santa Claus” or “Jingle Bell Rock” that puts me in the holiday spirit. For me, it’s not Christmastime until I put on the recording of Swedish Christmas music that I grew up listening to each and every year: Christmas in Sweden, recorded in 1962 by Åke Jelving and a chorus of parents and children.

This is jovial, happy music, sung with energy and enthusiasm…and with audible gasping and stomping!

Our mother may be Swedish, but my siblings and I haven’t got a clue what the lyrics mean. I suspect that they, like me, sing along phonetically (and badly) in the privacy of their own homes. On Christmas day, we put the record on and leave the singing to Mommy as we all hold hands and dance in a circle, usually around the spread of snacks and glögg on the kitchen island.

My gift to you is a download of Christmas in Sweden. Evan made the MP3s directly from the record, so you’ll hear all the same snaps and crackles that I do when I listen to the original. I think that just adds to the appeal! Unless you’re a Swede, this may not sound like Christmas music to you at first, but give it time. (And maybe enjoy it with a little glögg.)

To download the album, you’ll need to visit this link. No need to create an account, just click on “download.” Easy!

God Jul!

Christmas in Sweden