Monday, March 17, 2014

Adaptable Furniture: InFLUX

Just had to do a quick post about this new furniture available in Ottawa!  From the MKDB website:

The adaptive furniture of the future will be more like an ecology of organisms. 

inFLUX is set to launch MKDB Studio in the direction of product design through fostering symbiotic business values along with ecological and social sustainability. We aim to expand the line of products, of which inFLUX is the first, that embody the philosophy of the company and creates homes that foster harmony, communities, environment, and planet.

Made with:  Baltic plywood, Natural Latex and Linen!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

home sweet home - part 2 (from 2013)

Spring is only two short months away!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Need Help! Stylists Please Apply!

Are you feeling it?  All those pretty online designing blogs and those riveting home decorating shows.  I certainly am. It's that crazy pressure to have our house better styled.  Well... maybe it's not pressure for me per se, but rather a desire to have a pretty home.  And it is not that I want a really STYLED home - I gravitate towards the styling that looks effortless, that looks like well curated home from a well-traveled life. Similar to what is seen in Emma Reddington's Marion House Book project: 52 objects in her home or the casual vibe that Kelly Deck created for this home in Vancouver.

Why didn`t someone tell me to look for great objects when I was travelling?  Then take into account the desire to make sustainable, environmental purchases and that less is more - it's enough to make someone give up for good.  There are definitely options such as flea market finds or artisan show pieces or a great souvenir from a local weekend trip but that means sourcing over time and perhaps even over distance. And I have always appreciated Amber's thoughts on this also - in terms of beautiful but utilitarian pieces.

There are some great sustainably-minded options in Ottawa when redesigning -- renovating rooms from:

Linda Chapman

Moneca Kaiser

Vert Design

Healthiest Home

Eco Ace

but they focus on building, design, flow and/or construction.  Sadly not the "styling" help that we are looking for.

We've emailed quite a few design firms and some are too expensive and others just pass on the opportunity (one was more into helping new home buyers, another felt that our money could be better used elsewhere) and another -- although they helped with the concept of redesigning our first floor by drawing up a new floor plan -- hasn't been able to help with the details (i.e. which lamp would be best, what colour of rug, etc.). We did get help on choosing a great warm white for our walls and suggestions on a base for our new dining room light but we had to source out light choices ourselves and we looked through reams of fabrics before deciding on one for our living room curtains. Where are the designers who bring sustainable, organic fabric swatches to your home?

All Images from Style At Home (June 2011) - Kelly Deck, Interior Designer

Would love to know your thoughts - take on this?  Perhaps you have some suggestions or know of someone who would be happy to work with us slowly over months and years...  And share with me what has worked for you!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

full disclosure re: wardrobe - Part Two

Beyond adding some basics to my closet (as discussed in the first part of this series), I've realized (not surprisingly) that I need to look at what pieces I DO TURN to on a REGULAR basis for WORK and for CASUAL events.  It makes sense to continue focusing on these pieces for new purchases in the future.  So here are my tried and true:

1. brown batwing top (similar to the We3 Kimono top shown 2nd row, 1st image below) - I'm always wearing this - it makes everything look a bit dressier but it's as comfortable as a tee.  Also you don't have to wash it much as you are never sweating directly on the fabric (also a great top for public speaking!)
2. Myco Anna grey jacket (shown 2nd row, Middle image) I've had this forever and still find it a favorite piece.  I got lucky as my boyfriend (now husband) bought it even though I was eyeing a Myco patchwork full-on sweater. He thought this would be more versatile.  Here it's paired with a blue tee but lately I've been wearing it with the next piece listed - a grey tunic.
3. long grey smoking lily tunic (not shown - this is an unexpected great layering piece!) - I seriously am planning on writing to Smoking Lily to see if they will bring this top back.  I wear it with the grey jacket as mentioned but it also paired well with the Smythe jacket purchased.  It's this incredibly light-weight wool and has a funnel neck that gathers nicely in the front.
4. two Fink tunics (bought a second in grey) (shown 3rd row, 1st image) - love, love, love this - wear it both in the summer and with a long-sleeve layer in the winter.  I changed three times for a gelato double date this summer and finally ended up with this - a fun yet sophisticated look with jeans.  LOVE.
5. blue short sleeve loose tunic (from victoire) - sadly I cut out the tag so don't know who designed it.  this is one of those flowy, sheer tops like the one pictured (2nd row, 3rd image) but again it pairs nice with a tank top or a long sleeve top in the winter and always makes a simple chic statement.
6. two Smythe jackets (gold one shown - 1st row, 3rd image) - two blazers that go great with jeans and over dresses and with slacks.  The gold one is linen and my other is wool so I have seasonal options.  These are made in Canada and I'm looking forward to wearing both for many years to come.
7. black embroidered button-down cotton blouse (not shown) - bought this at Mark's Work Wearhouse - when I can't find something online or around town that is sustainable, I turn to Mark's for basic purchases.  They seem to be one store that still sells cotton (pants, shirts, sweaters).  Again I'm still wearing this one shirt I bought there years ago - wish I could have four in different colours.
8. Two dresses: Synergy and Tangente (1st and 3rd rows) - for me dresses are very hit and miss but these two were hits. Very simple A-line skirts to even a more pencil-line silhouette and a top that doesn't have a low-neckline.
9. Elements long sleeved boat neck tops by HT Natural:  I have two - I wish I had ten.  They are a thin layered organic cotton, viscose bamboo blend that have really withstood the test of time.  These two I wrote about here were different styles from the boat neck and surprisingly they all have very different fits.  The boat neck was the best both in fit and in fabric and the neck style is more sophisticated.  I've received compliments on this shirt.  (HT Naturals is defunct as a clothing store but the owners have now being working on creating a whole new sustainable fabric: Craillar.)

Interestingly enough I went back to BGGO (where I purchases the brown bat wing top) just to see if she still sold similar items and she was shocked that I was still wearing it and that it was in great condition.  This is only a three to four year old purchase.  Really?  You don't think people wear their clothes that long?  Sadly she didn't have anything like it and wasn't making any Fair-Trade purchases any more.  And that is what prompted me to buy the We3 top.  (It IS very similar I am happy to say!)

I've also worn the two other pieces shown - the fuscia wrap (was a favorite of mine at school - great to wrap around basic tees) and the Ile Aiye shrug (which I just found out doubles as a round scarf!)

I found that I wore both the Fink top and the brown batwing top so much that it made sense to invest in a second piece.  I'm also thinking about purchasing a second Myco Anna jacket.  This exercise is also helping me see what silhouettes I enjoy wearing in dresses (not surprising that I was drawn to the Tangente dress with the kimono like sleeves!)  I did have to take in the Tangente dress when I got it (it was supposed to be custom fit but with the loose fitting top it didn't translate well to custom sizes).  But I find it a great staple for work now!

For now I'm going to limit purchases to a couple of layering pieces, any pants that are a great fit (those are so hard to find) and when needed invest in some pieces I know I will get wear from - similar to my favorites above.  If you have any styling secrets or wardrobe stories do share them with me!!

Heartfelt Wardrobe: Part One Here

Saturday, February 1, 2014

eco-artist: Stefan Thompson (Ottawa)

I first read about him when he was featured at the Ottawa Eco Stewardship Fair in 2010.  Since then his artistry has evolved and his art is available and/or he's shown in Toronto, Victoria (2013), Quebec, Chicago (August 2012) and other locations!

His interactive website is really cool - he uses one of his art pieces - with a great mix of creatures.  Here's a description of how he works from Deviant Art:

"usually i impregnate paper first with beeswax, by rubbing it in, then i may burn the paper, the wax holds the soot, or i poor wax on and then get soot on that wax,,,, from a beeswax candle, dark lines are oil paint or from the soot itself."

Some of his art is available on ETSY and some of it he always has with him in his packsack available for a quick sale if you are in town.  If you can't afford an original he encourages fans to download and print a high res image from the deviant art site.

This article by Kyla Pearson in Capital Arts Online interviews the artist and provides some great details:

"In May 2007, after years of research and experiments with alternative materials, including recycled products, Thompson made his art entirely non-toxic.  He became an eco-friendly artist...

Earth b4 Art (his 2008 art exhibit) featured a lot of work that was more quickly produced, less laboured over and far less colourful. "You just don’t have the colour palette and range with earth-based pigments... In many ways I think Stefan’s brilliant use of colour was a defining element in his initial shows, so it’s very courageous of him to take one of the things he does best and say, ‘I’ve got a bigger issue I want to deal with.’ I think very few artists would be able to do that."

Many colours are made of toxic pigments. Cadmium-red, for example, is derived from a toxic metal oxide that is a known carcinogen, so Thompson has had to find alternative ways to create some colours. Furthermore, while there are a limited number of non-toxic lines of house paint available, there are no artist-quality non-toxic paints. So Thompson has to make his own. 

(Thompson’s “Sheepherder” (2007) uses all non-toxic materials. Fabric and thread supply the red that might otherwise come from toxic paint and another example of Thompson’s wholly non-toxic methods, “Sumack” (2007) uses real leaves for parts of the wings.  

In a universe where the simplest Google search turns up infinite results, evidence of Thompson’s individuality is fairly impressive. Not only are his paints non-toxic, but all other elements of his show are made of recycled materials. From the second-hand fabrics used as canvases and for colour, to the nails and wood used to create frames, everything is reused and recycled."

Stephan Thompson Website

Thursday, January 30, 2014

full disclosure on my closet - part one

It's been awhile since I purchased my first sustainable piece of clothing from Blank Clothing in Montreal Quebec.  Quite awhile: six years in fact!  Those hoodies and the Wildlife Works tees were my first wardrobe purchases into sustainable fashion.  Alot has changed since then but I still have many of my pieces.  Now if you would meet me any day of the week, at least part of my wardrobe, if not most of my wardrobe would be second-hand or sustainable.

My most recent purchase?  A We3 Kimono Essential Top.  I've been eyeing these shirts for awhile but I just couldn't justify the price - finally made the leap as they are on sale and I must say it was worth it.

My other recent purchase/investment?  A reconstruction of a second hand wool jacket - pairing leather sleeves (from another second-hand purchase that I only wore occasionally) with this new jacket (shortened and sides take in).  I'm now wearing it everyday and since the sleeves and the jacket are similar colours, I know I will wear this jacket, long past the end of the two-tone leather sleeve - wool jacket trend.

I've spent alot of time this year, rethinking my wardrobe, as I find that I'm still making purchases (even while sustainable) that don't get the wear that I thought they would and going forward I want to know what to invest in as I make the transition into a second career that is a little bit less office-y.  I invested in a "fashion-wardrobe rethink" consultation with a fashion consultant who introduced the idea of more relaxed, informal pairings that still look professional and suggested an investment in some "casual" jewelry (when I didn't even know that concept existed).  I've also spent time "researching" - looking at many fashion blogs - some of which are just fun and some that I've found helpful in restyling ideas: Closet Visit (all about high fashion with lots of nods to second-hand purchases),  Not Dressed Like a Lamb (although still too colourful for me), Daily Connoisseur (Stylish Tips from Paris - I love the simple chic but may be too chic for me), Putting Me Together (who has great images to show how to dress down and dress up a look), Cotton and Curls (very simple yet fashionable sewing projects) and of course Recycled Fashion and Style Wilderness but I still don't think I've figured out what works best for me.  Not surprising as fashion style is so personal and I'm looking for something that extends beyond trends and accessory-heavy outfits.

Beyond all of this, I think the other thing that is helping is analyzing what's now in my closet - what I'm wearing and what I'm not.  I've realized that I have many individual pieces but what I'm lacking are the basics, the clothes that you would use to layer with.  This is the reason I'm not wearing certain clothes - as I don't have the right items to layer with them.  Sadly you never have that "must buy this piece" when thinking about that basic t-shirt.  So that's why I've been doing some reviews about these pieces.  You find these reviews on other fashion blogs - where the author and commentators deliberate on what works and what price points make sense.  But I haven't found many recommendations on the best tee or tank that are great pieces and ALSO sustainable.  So that's why I'm putting them here (short-sleeve, long sleeve).

Through analyzing and purging items that I've never worn, I have been able to start to make a list for future shopping trips - part of which are buying a second (or third) of styles that are my go-to pieces.... stay tuned.

Heartfelt Wardrobe: Part Two here