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Hau tree overview

Hau Tree Lanai in Honolulu

I was in Honolulu, Hawaii, last week to talk at a green design conference, and in my two quick days there I was able to see a few of the sights. Though I managed to eat at some trendy, and rather well-designed spots—tip of the cap to Salt and Morimoto—I was reminded of a fundamental lesson of design over a decidedly unhip breakfast at the Hau Tree Lanai Restaurant at the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel. Sometimes a single element of a space's design (in this case, the hau tree) can make it so magical that the fetishism so often shown for meticulously sourced tablewares and organic pork belly goes completely out the window. Located down at the Diamond Head–end of Waikiki in an unspiffy old hotel, on a pretty but pedestrian stretch of beach, the Hau Tree Lanai eschews just about every design trick in the book—see the pink tablecloths, white wrought-iron patio furniture, and institutional tile floor. But that hau tree creates such a perfect canopy, shielding diners from the hot sun while giving us this ribbon-width view of the flat blue sea, that you don't want to be anywhere else. 
April 13, 2012
use of fire and energy in the home

Fire in the Home 101

Taming fire was humankind’s first and most critical step toward its mastery of the material world. About 400,000 years ago, our ancestors learned to harness the flame, setting us on the course that would lead from the stone hearths those early humans built to the modern high-efficiency catalytic woodstoves we use today. More important, though, was the capacity to selectively apply heat, a transformative power that allows us to turn dirt into metal, cold into warmth, dark into light.
April 11, 2012
colour makes me happy clog wall

Colour Makes People Happy

Located on a quiet suburban street in South London, the shop Colour Makes People Happy is painted in a surprisingly subtle shade of sage green. Rainbow colored signage adorns the windows and a faded yellow bicycle is parked up outside, the picture of whimsical charm. The interior is no different, decked out with bunting and paper decorations; sixty colorful clogs are arranged into neat grids that line the walls alongside towers of stacked paint tins.
April 11, 2012
Bryant lamp by Schoolhouse Electric

Accessories from Schoolhouse Electric

I have always associated the Portland-based company Schoolhouse Electric solely with classic, vintage-inspired lighting, and only recently discovered that they sell much more than that in their retail showroom and online. Here are some of my favorite finds. Most of them are made in America, most are somewhat affordable, and all will add a stylish accent to your living space. Now's a great time to check out the site and pick up some treats for yourself or as gifts; they're offering 30% off on selected items as part of their "spring cleaning" sale.
April 10, 2012
davd rasmussen cafe plate

Cafe Trays by David Rasmussen Design

Colorado-based designer David Rasmussen recently released a line of wooden cafe trays that is the perfect blend of modern-meets-craft. What started out as a small commission for a local restaurant blossomed into full-fledged product series. "The first ones I made got such rave reviews that I decided to make a second batch," says Rasmussen. "I sold those about as fast as I could churn them out. Then, I refined the process of making them and diversified the line by adding three new sizes and started producing them this spring." Carved with a CNC router and finished by hand, these plates come in maple or walnut with a neon trim and were launched at the AD Home show in Los Angeles. The plates come four sizes and retail for $42 to $52 a piece. For more information, click here.
April 9, 2012
andres maik

MAIK's Experimental Danish Design

Pronounced "make," MAIK is an experimental Danish design brand founded in 2009 by Andreas Sachse and Rune Rex. I spotted it when I was in Copenhagen last fall and although it was closed, I was able to peer through the window and suss out that it was a unique and compelling retail and manufacturing model. Once I got home I wrote Rex to learn more. Click through the slideshow to see and hear more about the company, in Rex's own words.
April 2, 2012
ff jaime 033012

Friday Finds 03.30.12

In this installment of Friday Finds, a look at tennis's most entertaining athlete, Pantone swatches that are good enough to eat, and answers to all the grade-schol test questions you never knew. Scroll down for more!
March 30, 2012
Saturdays thumb

Inside Saturdays NYC

A surf shop in New York City? Unexpected, sure, but also incredibly chic. Saturdays NYC was founded by three friends, avid surfers who "saw a massive opportunity to bring the surf scene to the city," says co-founder Josh Rosen. Their first shop opened on Crosby Street in Soho a few years ago, and an outpost opened in Tokyo as well. (And in case you're wondering, "Tokyo's surf scene is a lot like New York City's—it's about 45 minutes to the beach from both places," says Rosen). Next up is another shop in New York in the West Village. The original shop is built out with salvaged wood, slate, and metal, and stocks surfboards, wetsuits, books, art, and the shop's own brand of 50s– and 60s–inspired apparel. There's also a coffee bar, made from found wainscoting and Ikea butcher block, and an appealing patio out back. Here's a peek inside.
March 29, 2012
cafe foam

Coffee Break: Stockholm's Cafe Foam

Located in the Östermalm neighborhood of Stockholm, Cafe Foam channels "Spanish temperament with Scandinavian cool," according to its designers, local firm Note. Indeed, the interior features the prototypical Scandinavian blonde wood and spare detailing with splashes of magenta that evoke a more fiery feeling—an unexpected mashup as the latitudes (not to mention the design sensibilities) of Spain and Sweden are about as far flung as one can get in Europe. On a blustery day this past February, I popped in to catch a glimpse of how the city does design cafes (and to escape the intermittent snow flurries). The space was chic, filled with equally fashionable customers (Östermalm is the city's design district), and the baristas serve up a latte that would've tasted equally as good in more modest surroundings. Let's have a look inside the space…
March 28, 2012
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