The Friday Roundup: Mash-ups

I popped into Roost last night, and owner Danny Malone told me about a great vintage shop in Columbus, Ohio called The Attic that’s rather oddly connected to a restaurant called Basil Thai, both owned by antique enthusiast Rhome Ruanphae. Top earning drug dealers (illegal or pharmaceutical) know not to use the product, but antique dealers live by different rules, and many heavy “users” / collectors wind up in the biz. As Danny said during the same conversation, “(Owning Roost) gives me a good outlet for a bad habit.” (Friday, Dec. 18th is Late Night Andersonville from 6 – 10 pm). Inspired by The Attic / Basil combination, I’ve been seeing potential mash-ups wherever I look, and I find myself toying with different combinations. A butcher / leather goods shop? It could work. A barber / yoga studio? Probably not. But there are an infinite number of mash-ups. Maybe they’ll be the next hot retail trend ala pop-up shops? Or maybe they’re just the topic of today’s Friday Roundup. (This is where the theme music would play if this were a TV program).

Wallpaper + Math & Science

Science didn’t interest me much when I was a kid, but I don’t understand why not. What kid doesn’t love finding out how things work? There’s certainly no shortage of questions or discoveries that will impact the world and ultimately, design and decor. Scientists recently announced that they successfully coaxed a sea of photons into acting as a single entity, which may ultimately shrink electronic devices even further, and NASA just announced the discovery of arsenic-eating microbes, which significantly increases the number of potentially life-harboring planets in the universe and which may even change the very definition of life itself. Aliens in America. But science and design and decor don’t often intersect in obvious ways, so I was fascinated to read Stephen Ornes’s recent New Scientist article, Wonder walls: Taking home decor to another dimension. Apparently, there are only 17 possible pattern combinations, mathematically speaking, but that number only applies using conventional, flat-plane geometry and a man named Frank Farris has something more ambitious in mind. Ornes writes: For a geometer like Farris, with a penchant for outré decoration, it is more interesting to look at surfaces that break these laws – weird spaces where the size of an object depends on its position and it is quickest to walk in a curved path rather than a straight line. So, bored with the constraints of conventional design, he decided to investigate wallpapers to suit these exotic spaces. It’s a great piece and very humorous. Check it out here. Runner up decor + science mash-up: Scientists create new rubber-like metal that conducts electricity. It’s conceivable that cars made of the material will have the ability to gradually bounce back into shape after an accident, and I’ll bet it will influence the design of a whole host of products, including those for house and home. Fun stuff, isn’t it, folks? Image source: New Scientist.

Home & Garden + Technology

Screens are the focus of Virginia Heffernan’s New York Times Magazine article Studies in Hyperreality. Technology is moving fast, and I’ll bet that a decade from now, house windows embedded with advanced screen technology will finally democratize the killer view. Miss that ocean view from your last vacation? Just turn the knob on the wall. Or gesture. Or think. Who knows?  It’ll seem odd and unnatural at first. I still find TV’s in bathroom mirrors creepy (but in a sexy way). But the early adapters will work out the bugs (and pay a premium for the honor), the technology will become more and more realistic, the neighbors will have them installed, and soon enough . . . download your iViews at the Apple app store.

Art & Design + Pizza

With its nondescript name, simple logo and elegant front window displays, Great Lake looks more like a bakery or yoga studio than the stereotypical  pizza parlor, but despite its small size and front windows, the gourmet pizza was quickly discovered and embraced after it opened in 2008. GQ Magazine even rated the pizza as America’s best. The place is packed all the time, and the window displays have become a mini neighborhood art installation, as dynamic and interesting as many retail windows. Check out their latest window, which features a gorgeous wood reindeer by Peter Dunham, and stop for a pizza while you’re there. Great Lakes also carries assorted, high-quality foodstuff and small accessories, and this season they are carrying pieces from UUSI’s lineGreat Lake holiday window Images from UUSI’s website.

Decor + Propaganda

My good friend Albert Tanquero recently visited Cuba for the first time since he was five, and he brought this piece of propaganda ephemera back for me. I’ve always liked how another friend Beth Robinson-Juhas uses communist propaganda in her apartment. (Click here for her amazing Open House). It’s only natural that some gravitate toward propaganda’s iconic images, striking fonts and bold colors, but the systems and ideologies they represent turn just as many people off, so I group it alongside religious kitsch and skulls as a solid example of Decoratus Absurdum. Thanks Albert, I love it. (I’m hoping he’ll contribute a guest post about his trip, because it sounds like a fascinating experience on many levels). What do you think about propaganda as decor? Like it? Hate it? Why or why not? What’s OK and what’s beyond the pale?

Please check out Albert Tanquero and Jim York’s amazing stationary company The Found, a great source for cool cards (holiday or otherwise).

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10 Responses to “The Friday Roundup: Mash-ups”

  1. Shouldn’t transistor, on Clark, count as a real-life mash up? Part electronics store, part home decor, part gallery & art space – granted, it’s all loosely themed around music, but still, not a typical place.

  2. It sounds like a mash-up to me, Ted. I’ve been admiring Transistor from the street and had planned to stop by soon. Thanks for the tip.

  3. Kopi cafe?

  4. Good one Alvin. Thanks!

  5. My friend, Sonny, and I are going to open a laundromat, bookstore, coffee house/bar, theatre space. Do you want to put a design emporium in there too? I hope you will. This idea is just a bud in the blooming process, but we are all sure to become fabulously wealthy.

  6. I’ve often thought that a manicurist/therapist combination would be cool. And if they also sold great product it could triple as retail therapy.

  7. That’s brilliant Liza. I’ve never had a manicure (although it’s on my bucket list), but I’d imagine that having one’s nails buffed feels kind of nice. A terrific Glencoe mother once told me that the best way to get teenage boys to talk about their lives is to engage in some kind of activity with them, even a car ride, because kids feel more comfortable sharing when they don’t have to make eye contact. She even placed the living room furniture on angles so that people using the room aren’t forced to face each other.

  8. Jan, you know I’m in favor of a laundromat / almost anything. Although having a washer / dryer at home is a luxury, I never hated going to the laundromat when that was part of my weekly routine. It was a place to meet people you’d never meet anywhere else, and all those interactions are like sparks. You never know when one of them will ignite into something great – a hot romance, a new friendship or maybe a vacation to somewhere you’d never considered, although come to think of it, I think my sparks mostly resulted in lost socks.

    Another mash-up idea: Space camp for kids / Zombie movie.

  9. Speaking of sparks and laundry, it’s never a bad time to clean the dryer exhaust pipe. To reduce the chances of fire, never leave the house while it’s running and be sure to clean the lint trap after every use.

    (Get out of my head Mom!)

  10. Enjoyed this Friday mash-up. How did Albert T. get to Cuba (or is that classified?) Have a great Christmas holiday, Tate. Your pal from Canada, Carol.