Monthly Archives: July 2009

Fortunes in Your Crystal Ball – Glass Paperweights

Black & White swirl Murano glass paperweight from Dapperfrog.com

Black & White swirl Murano glass paperweight from Dapperfrog.com

I remember being mesmerized as a kid with the glass paperweights that sat on my neighbor’s living room table. His mother used them more for decorating than any functional use, but the intricate hand blown glass was fascinating. We played for hours looking deep into the tiny pockets of air and thought we had special powers just like the Disney cartoons featuring the infamous crystal ball. I still think these artisan examples hold some unknown power. The way they are crafted is quite impressive. And the quality they bring to a desk is just as artistic.

I have a few Murano glass paperweights on my desk. They are mementos from my trip to Italy and I was able to find some unique fortunes for around $10 USD. A simple Google search brought me to DapperFrog.com, a purveyor of household artifacts for a wide selection of glass paperweights. When searching for your own treasure, be sure to stay away from the “flowers” and “fishes.” You’ll know what I mean once you start looking.

The black & white swirl paperweight above sells for $49.50. I think it’s quite stunning and would look fantastic on either a black or white work surface. Another favorite from DapperFrog is the Circus Stripes with Aqua, priced at $39.50. And take a look at the egg-shaped Mondrian swirl. For an eclectic set, be sure to find paperweights in varying sizes.

Circus Stripe with Aqua from Dapperfrog.com

Circus Stripe with Aqua from Dapperfrog.com

Mondrian swirl paperweight from Dapperfrog.com

Mondrian swirl paperweight from Dapperfrog.com

I also found a rather inexpensive option if the Murano glass is a stretch for the budget. The New York Public Library is selling an etched globe paperweight through their online store for only $15. It’s a simple design that throws me back to the heyday of Pan Am Airways.

Etched globe paperweight from NY Public Library Store

Etched globe paperweight from NY Public Library Store

To purchase the etched glass globe, visit www.thelibraryshop.org and do a search for paperweights.

Visit www.dapperfrog.com for rare Murano glass paperweights and other office accessories that might be right for you.

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Boy Oh Boy – Journals

Oh Boy notebook from Chronicle Books

Oh Boy notebook from Chronicle Books

When it comes to office accessories, I try to avoid the child play of goofy trinkets and toys that often plague so many of our co-workers’ desks. However, I do try to add a bit of fun with some rare finds of journals used for notetaking. Why not show up to the board meeting with an usual spiral notebook that beats the stuffy leather portfolios with that ugly yellow pad of paper. I always found it interesting that my marketing colleagues in Texas, just like myself, carried around with old-school spiral binders for jotting down thoughts, ideas and memos. It must be an innate love for writing everything down on paper and having an organic resource of information collected through the art of collaborating.

I’m always writing in my books, mostly to have proof that something indeed was stated in a meeting. Boy oh boy, I can’t tell you how many times I found myself in an argument with my boss due to conflicting stories. Luckily, I had the information scribbled in my notes and I was able to walk back to my office with small bode of confidence.

One of several notebooks I keep at my desk is this one from Chronicle Books’ Oh Boy collection called the Cambridge Journal. This striking medium-size spiral with it simple stripping of cream, red and burgandy, measures 7″x9.5.” The design is from Chronicle’s art director Henry Quiroga who is based in San Francisco. Another design of his is the Housecoat Journal (below). Either makes for a great book for writing all of those important points.

Housecoat journal by Chronicle Books

Housecoat journal by Chronicle Books

As much as I enjoy the fun notebooks for the mundane office meetings, I encourage you to have a more tailored, professional looking journal for client meetings. I’ll be making various recommendations of these alternatives in upcoming posts. In the meantime, the books from Chronicle are very affordable and can be found at some major retailers like The Container Store. The online price is $9.95 and can be ordered directly from Chronicle at www.chroniclebooks.com . Be sure to do a search for “oh boy” at the top of their home page to make it a bit easier.

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Call Me – Letterpress Business Cards

$95 letterpress business cards by The Mandate Press

$95 letterpress business cards by The Mandate Press

Even if you have a work-issued business card, you might want to invest in a personal calling card for those impromptu chance meetings at happy hour, or to give a colleague direct contact information when moonlighting. Whatever the case might be, I’m a true believer in a very clean looking card that is timeless and polished. As I have stated before, letterpress is a beautiful way of adding a sophisticated feel to a rather simplistic design. Typically, letterpress is a rather expensive process when ordering stationery, but fear not. Just like the Thank You cards from Target, you can order custom letterpress business cards from The Mandate Press for $95.

Choose from nine templates of ready-made artwork of clean, streamlined designs you can use for your calling cards or opt for uploading your own creation. Whatever you decide, you get one box of 250 cards for under 100 bucks. The limitations, if you want to call it that, is the single use of black ink on a white cotton card stock. If interested in a more complicated designs, possibly with the use of color, you can contact the printers online for an estimate. Regardless, the process is effortless and you’ll have your cards in a week.

Try James Bond as shown above, or for something unique, I really like Kahlo. And you definitely can’t go wrong with The Aristocrat.

Kahlo letterpress card by The Mandate Press

Kahlo letterpress card by The Mandate Press

Artistocrat template by The Mandate Press

Artistocrat template by The Mandate Press

The Mandate Press is a small production house based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They are very design-savvy and willing to assist with your needs. When I ordered my cards last year, I decided to create my own artwork and submit a PDF. With the exchange of a few e-mails to verify the art and cut of the cards, I now have a small piece of artwork to distribute whenever I’m asked for my info. Additionally, the b&w cards sit eloquently on my black desk, further enhancing my desk theme.

Impress your friends, peers and potential freelance clients with a very unstated, professional card. Order you set today at www.themandatepress.com .

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Vanity Project

Yves Saint Laurent's Telephone Table (Vanity Fair, Jan. 09)

Yves Saint Laurent's Telephone Table (Vanity Fair, Jan. 09)

I often tear pages from magazines for thoughts and inspiration and file them as such. This example is from Vanity Fair’s January 2009 story about Yves Saint Laurent, his homes and amazing art collection that was being assembled for an estate auction. The entire spread was incredible. The amount of detail and finesse applied to the designer’s living space was beyond decorating. It was quite simply put…art. You can immediately see that the legendary man was inspired by so many intricate items in his home that his lifestyle embodied the total brand he created in the 60s.

Art comes in so many different forms, but I can’t dismiss the simple gesture of one’s own initials used to create an ever-lasting identity. The YSL logo that was hand-lettered by artist Cassandre in 1961 is beautifully framed and situated on Saint.Laurent’s telephone table. There’s something quite distinct and sophisticated with the ultra thin san serif font drawn on parchment, with a linen colored matte and black gloss frame. I look at this image and think about the importance of staying true to your own brand and embrace the entrepreneur spirit in all of the smallest tasks at hand. The logo for the french fashion house is iconic. It’s truly a piece of art that makes for a grand impact.

Last week, I mentioned that I would have some ideas about DIY artwork for your office and would present them over the course of several posts. With the ongoing Aaron Bros sale, you can easily find a similar frame that will provide you with the opportunity to create your own logo artwork. Honestly, if you think you can make the attempt, I love hand-drawn fonts such as the YSL piece above. But, if you’re a bit “sketchy” with the pen and paper, then try mimicking the initials on the computer and then print it out on nice Strathmore cotton paper. I think you’ll be amazed how subtle the fonts take on an artistic quality that truly provides value to your frame. This is an easy way to break away from traditional pictures in your office and really provides a sense of pride for your own name and brand.

Yes, I know it’s a vanity project, but at times, it’s bold and nice to proclaim your confidence.

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Shifting Gears – Bernhardt Shift Casegoods

Shift from Bernhardt Design designed by Lauren Rottet

Shift from Bernhardt Design designed by Lauren Rottet

In architecture school, we were drilled to appreciate the modern movement of mid-century design that sparked the “less is more” mentality and “decorating” with materials not fluff. I consider myself a modernist, but admittedly, I have a soft spot for ornamentation and the frilly stuff. This is probably why I changed majors but kept the minor in design. I can forgo the cheap thrills if the design is of quality and precise, warm and provocative, all without being austere. I think you will agree that the Shift collection designed by Lauren Rottet for Bernhardt Design meets this criteria.

The casegood furnishing line includes several pieces more apt for private corporate spaces, but my favorite piece from the collection is the freestanding cantilevered desk suitable for both offices, work and home. Available in either cherry, maple, anigre, or walnut, the natural wood veneer is laid in an intricate direction that provides some interesting detail on the work surface top. Combined with a brushed stainless steel base that provides the structural support, the desk effortlessly appears to float. In the world of architecture, surfaces, walls, ceilings, and floors are called planes. In this design, the planes appears to shift with each subtle intersection.

Veneer detail of Shift Cantilever Desk

Veneer detail of Shift Cantilever Desk

Detail of Shift's structural base

Detail of Shift's structural base

The designer of the collection is Lauren Rottet, an architect specializing in modern interiors. Her work for various corporate clients also extend well into the contract furnishing market with other designs for giants like Steelcase, Halcon, Decca, and Lees Carpet. She’s like a modern day Florence Knoll, creating timeless designs for today’s workplace. Her amazing portfolio of interior architecture is available at www.rottetstudio.com.

Furniture and design, such as this, does come with a hefty price tag. The cantilevered desk will run you approximately $7,000, but the investment is one that I believe to be comparable with art. I can imagine this desk in an executive suite with simple, elegant accessories, a sleek laptop computer that can easily be stored in the desk, a Bang Olufsen phone in the corner and a few strategically placed pens laid on the top.  Some day I’ll be so lucky to own this desk. It’s just a matter of shifting gears and making the money to do it. Wish me luck.

For more information about Shift and other furniture from Bernhardt, visit www.bernhardtdesign.com .

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Sweet Sticks – Room Diffusers

Sweet Water Aroma Sticks by Method

Sweet Water Aroma Sticks by Method

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!” How many times did your mother tell you that as a kid? I always knew it was one big lie. Words hurt and at times can be sharp like a knife. I’m sure in today’s workplace, you have to deal with obnoxious, power hungry idiots who made their way up the corporate ladder and we are all left wondering how and why. I was reminded of this recently with the painful and stressful story of such an issue with a loved one and the designated nightmare of a manager. I detest individuals who believe in breaking down their team rather than building them up. I can’t offer words of advice on how to mitigate the situation (actually, I tried and it didn’t go over too well), but I can empathize and suggest that you create a calming environment for your office since you will most likely retreat to your desk in a fluster and try to regroup and compose yourself. Other than some light BGM (background music) that can help change your mood, you can also employ the use of relaxing scents in the office.

Unlike those of us with a home office and the freedom to light a wick, candles are typically forbidden in a corporate building due to city codes and zoning. You can still add some long-lasting scents to your area with plug-in fresheners, air sprays, and my favorite, room diffusers. An economical choice is one from Method, the eco-conscience and design savvy home care suppliers. Their Aroma Sticks not only provide a strong, ambient fragrance in your workspace, but also adds a great contemporary flair to your accessories. The white ceramic vase is a great accent piece for your desk with contrasting chocolate colored sticks that diffuse the oils. I especially like the Sweet Water scent for its simplistic and clean smell, suitable for a man or woman’s desk.

Method has several other aroma specific products that can be used for work. Pick a scent that’s not too overwhelming. Find something that will provide a sense of calm. Remember, take a deep breath and try to find alternate ways to release the stress for the day. Words do break us at times, but sweet sticks can help diffuse the pain.

Method’s products can be found at most major retailers. Visit their web site for their entire collection. The Aroma Sticks sell for $15 and can be ordered directly from the company. www.methodhome.com

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