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Visiting H.D. Buttercup

Without condoning knockoffs, let me say: It is a thrill to walk into a furniture shop and discover a slew of handsome and vaguely familiar-looking design pieces that I can actually afford. This was my experience last week at H.D. Buttercup—a 30,000-square-foot offshoot of the even more gigantic 150,000-square-foot Los Angeles mothership. "The pieces are just enough different that they're not actually knock-offs," an employee said. Hrm. In better news, many of the wares are made in the U.S.A.—including an impressive 75% of their upholstered furniture—and they have a solid selection of pieces made from reclaimed and sustainably harvested wood. Here's a peek at what I saw and loved on a recent visit.
May 17, 2011
Grow Bottles from Branch

Grow Bottles

If you live in an apartment or otherwise lack a patch in which to plant a garden, Potting Shed Creations Grow Bottles (also available at sustainable-living shop Branch) might be your answer to indoor herbs. The company is repurposing wine bottles and calling on the art of hydroponics to allow those with limited outdoor resources partake in the gardening fun.
May 16, 2011
chris hardy portrait

Chris Hardy Design

Name the hubs for emerging American designers and you'll likely hear the usual suspects of Seattle, San Francisco, and Brooklyn. Look southward, too, though, for a crop of energetic young guns set on making their mark. One such designer, Atlanta-based Chris Hardy, enticed the iconic Italian lighting manufacturer FontanaArte to produce his new Wig lamp. After returning from Milan, where Chris debuted Wig, the young designer chatted with me about FontanaArte, the state of contemporary American design, and Atlanta's burgeoning design scene. "It's nice to see that design is infused in the culture here—even if it is on a small scale," he says speaking of a few streets named after historic design figures.
May 16, 2011
icff uhuru warcraft

NY Design Week 2011: Day One

NoHo is oh-so-hip, with lots of design happenings to check out this week. If you're in New York, a trip to Great Jones Street is a damn good bet. From The Future Perfect to Sight Unseen's pop-up shop to the American Design Club's Use Me exhibit (and more!), there's lots of great stuff to see. Click through to the slideshow to see a few of our favorite things.
May 14, 2011
wanted design spotlight

Wanted Design & NYC Design Week

Design Week is upon us in New York City. Designers, manufacturers, retailers, press, and the design loving general public will descend upon ICFF, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair this weekend. Outside of Javits, the convention hall hosting the show, many smaller exhibitions will spring up showcasing the work of emerging designers and less established brands. This years also marks the launch of Wanted Design, a new group show that places the products of many designers, and the conversation surrounding that work, into a more informal and social space.
May 13, 2011
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New Olds at Israeli Design Museum

There's an interesting new museum in Israel, just south of Tel Aviv, with a corkscrewing exterior of rust-red Cor-Ten steel: Design Museum Holon, designed by Ron Arad. Their forthcoming exhibition is especially compelling. "New Olds: Design Between Tradition and Innovation" will run May 26 through September 10, curated by Volker Albus in collaboration with the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen. The wide-ranging show spotlights works by over sixty Israeli and international designers who straddle tradition and innovation, drawing inspiration from historical references and symbols ranging from cuckoo clocks and deer antlers to traditional porcelain and Baroque objects. Maarten Baas, for example, has reinterpreted the mundane white plastic garden chair, melding it with a hand-carved wooden chair; Frank Willems bends and twists mattresses to form chairs and stools. If you happen to be in Israel over the next few months, check it out—especially if you can visit during one of the accompanying lectures, given by international designers and 18 up-and-coming and established Israeli designers. Here's a peek at what's on view, along with some commentary on each piece by Albus and Galit Gaon, the chief curator of the museum.
May 13, 2011
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Cityscapes: SF's Buildings

The San Francisco Chronicle boasts one of our nation's best architecture critics in John King. We happy citizens of the City by the Bay look out for his column in each Tuesday's paper, though his short addition to the Sunday edition—CItyscapes—is often just as rewarding. Heyday Books in Berkeley, California, has seen fit to print a pocket-sized edition of the best of those short pieces aptly titled Cityscapes: San Francisco and Its Buildings. Here we get 50 doses of the wit, wonder, and historical accumen King distills each week for the paper. The avid city-walker turns his attentions to iconic structures like the Transamerica Pyramid and neighborhood treasures such as Pacifc Primary School with equal aplomb. Call it a guidebook for locals, Cityscapes takes in the great breadth of San Francisco's built landscape and in it finds joy, beauty, and the great dynamic thrum that marks one of the world's most vital cities.  
May 12, 2011
bkr bottle five colors

The bkr Bottle

When Tal Soltz set out to design a reusable water bottle, dissatisfied with the clunky and chunky options on the market, she refused to compromise aesthetics to be environmentally friendly. "We created bkr [pronounced "beaker"] with the inspiration of everything we love in life: modern art, designs we saw in Tokyo, Italian furniture, Parisian street chic, etc." says Soltz. "Most of all, though, because we believe green products should be creative, beautiful and inspirational." Each bkr holds 16 ounces of liquid in a rather comely and compact glass bottle sheathed in a silicone sleeve. I like that the design isn't over designed; its simply a screw top bottle with a handy carrying loop, free of extra bells and whistles. And the five colors the bottle comes in are quite alluring as well. We asked Soltz, who is President and Founder of the San Francisco-based company, a few questions about bkr. Here's what she has to say.
May 12, 2011
Bertazzoni built in oven and cooktop

Paolo and Valentina Bertazzoni

This week, Italian kitchen appliance manufacturer Bertazzoni introduced its new line of built-in ovens designed for the U.S. market and unveiled its newest cooktops as well. We sat down with Paolo Bertazzoni, the company's CEO and a fifth-generation Bertazzoni family leader, and his daughter Valentina Bertazzoni, an architect by training and the company's U.S. brand manager, at the Purcell Murray showroom in Brisbane, California, just south of San Francisco and the Dwell headquarters. Here, they share their thoughts on the differences between the Italian and American markets, how they arrived at these new designs, and how the built-in ovens' interfaces can help you make the perfect meal (and then do it again later).
May 11, 2011
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