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Gotta thirst at the end of a day?  Well, there is no shortage of colourful, solutions to be concocted–by you yourself or by a licensed professional (image from here).   Cocktails are back.  Lucky us.

Cocktails in a row

The mixed drink for adults that goes beyond the quick and simple rye and ginger, rum and coke, scotch and water, tequila and tequila is very much in favour just now and shows no sign of retreating any time soon.

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It’s all about variety, visual panache, and finding the ONE for you.  You’ll find plenty advice, history, images, recipes, stories at your fingertips, e.g at cocktail builder  or imbibe.

Funny how things come and go.  Not so long ago, the thing to do was to keep everything simple, including your brain buzzing beverage of choice.  Open the bottle, pour a healthy slug, add something a child might drink, and repeat as necessary–or just make a giant jugful.

cocktail rum and coke

But now, it’s all about multiple ingredients, hard to find, mixed in just the right proportion, requiring some care and skill, served in a special glass, beautiful to look at.


They say the cocktail craze started way back before we let television in the house.  Almost a hundred years ago, people of means and money looking to fill the void between the afternoon nap and dinner decided the thing to do was to have friends over for drinks, real drinks, stiff drinks crafted with expertise made from hard-to-get components, just like their hats and furniture.

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Great design above by Beverley Nichols found here.

Invitation to a cocktail party circa 1925

Invitation to a cocktail party circa 1925

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Actually, the invitation looks more fun and interesting than the party (photo from here; you can acquire the invitation here)

Those who looked into it seriously say the cocktail hour was born sometime between 1917 and 1924, somewhere between London and America, moving inevitably from houses to bars, cafes, nightclubs, fund raisers…

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The bunch above are slurping their cocktails during prohibition in America, meaning you needed a password to get in and you had to lie to your mom when you got home. From this article.

cocktails Berlin transvest

This crowd is on the town Berlin at a time when, it seems, nothing was prohibited (and just before just about everything was prohibited).

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Wherever you are, the cocktail seems to be best consumed in the presence of someone you think is swell.

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Or at least someone you used to think was swell.  This is a fine photo by Irving Penn was taken in Lima and found at this eye-opening site.


Then again, some gals just like to put on their best cocktail hat and go it alone.


OK, so back to the here and the now.  Below is the bar at the Brasserie NYC in the one and only Seagram’s building where, we can tell you, you will not go wrong in acquiring a satisfying cocktail, New York style: big, quick, yummy, and served by someone who won’t make you feel like you don’t deserve this.

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If you find yourself near NYC or just thinking it, it would be a fine occasion to have a Manhattan cocktail.

coctail manhattan

Recipe here; image from (yes) Booze & Yarn.

Wherever you are, spare an hour late in a day to seek out seat at the bar somewhere in your town.  Give the bartender a chance to try something new on you–or challenge him/her with something little known.

cocktails late new york image

At the r of l, our official cocktail is the negroni.

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Why?  it tastes really good in any season and any time of day, it only has 3 ingredients, and it goes very well with any activity, whether you are being quiet and reflective (wondering where you put that note reminding you to do something) or hosting a gathering of 20 friends and neighbours in celebration of the fact that you have 20 friends and neighbours. (Image above, History, and more from Swide)

Find your cocktail, find your reason to sip it.





All of us are born with more than enough imagination.  It is not exclusive to people who go on to write novels, paint pictures, make movies, design buildings, or start a fashion label.  Just look at any child under 10–look at what they are doing.


F Carpenter Three children drawing on panels, Japan, 1909


Middle photo, children drawing on panels, Japan, 1909 b7 “F Carpenter”. Top photo and lower one, kids on the street in New York, by Helen Levitt. Lots more here.

But if you ask people over 20 about their imagination and how they use it, you’ll find them frowning while they try to come up with something that won’t sound stupid.


It seems that once we get it into our heads that we are grown ups, most of us abandon the inventive use of our imagination and only call on it when hankering for something we don’t have: a tropical vacation,  possession of a winning lottery ticket, a cigarette, a cheesecake, a white Christmas, dream girl/guy.


Fine, but isn’t there something a bit more useful you could do with this amazing tool that takes you beyond the here and now and the run of the mill?

It doesn’t have to be the invention of an alternate reality or a re-imagining of the modern metropolis.  It could be your choice of an outfit for a walk downtown.

Like this inventive and still playful woman. The Japanese, bless their hearts, take their imaginations to the streets as a matter of course.

And they are not alone.

Above The Idiosyncratic Fashionistas of NYC, photo by NPR found here

More than anyone (as we at the RofL noted before) we have the amazing Bill Cunningham to thank for finding and photographing people who set their own standard every day in New York.


These are people who wouldn’t be caught dead in some other persons clothes. Above from here 

But, hey, public displays of originality aren’t for everyone, of course.  And plain clothes have been the choice of some of the most imaginative humans who ever lived.


An undated photo of Albert Einstein at New York's Saranac Lake: A newly digitized letter from Einstein's personal collection reveals that the physicist once saved a former lover from the Nazis.

Mr Einstein at the beach, almost blending in, seen here

The point is: somewhere in all our lives there is an opportunity to do what feels right to us and what we strongly suspect is not what most people are going to do.

Don’t we have some sort of responsibility to do something, sometime, that is all our own, a demonstration of our DNA writ large?

All we need is the courage to let loose our imagination, our playful side, and put it out there.


Start small, start with lunch. This is a sandwich, a baby grandwich.  Bravo, and bon appetite. After lunch, maybe go outside and paint the house, pushing yourself beyond taupe with charcoal trim.

Nice building, personalized, and you won’t have any trouble finding it again. It was given a lick of paint by Stanley Donwood, pen name of an artist and is the London office of XL Recordings. More here

Tired of hauling a spruce into the house or the landlord just won’t let you?

We all have an oceanful of ideas–some bright, some wacky, some spooky, some great–floating around in our heads.  Giving ourselves permission to dip into that ocean a bit more often would make the world a bit more interesting, don’t you think?


Paris, the 1920’s, letting it loose, 24/7. Photo from here

Happy New Year.  Go play

Everyone should live alone–at least for a while, we think.  It teaches you how to take care of yourself and your cave.  It will make you a better roommate when the time comes.  If you make the choice–or it is made for you–to live on your own, you mostly have to make do with a place designed for two or three or seven.  Unless you get lucky.

Tobacco by Avehideshi Architects and Associates

A few designers have, luckily, turned their heads to solo living. Above dwelling (“close to transportation”), is in Tokyo (of course) and is a solo abode designed for a 60-year-old woman above a tobacconist shop.  Architects : Hideshi Abe / Avehideshi Architect and Associates. Photos by Hiroki Kawata.  Viewed at dezeen here


The cost of land being what it is, the building has a small foot and lots of stairs to climb–beautiful stairs in this case, so take your time.


This drawing shows where the living quarters (or eighths) are, but how the solo householder has arranged it all is her secret.


Nor is this little lady telling us how she arranges her life and her bonnets inside this tiny red place.  Chances are it’s either neat as a pin or a spectacular mess.



If you want some space around your home alone, here’s a nice little cube among the trees and rocks to call your own.


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This is a tiny onesy tucked right into the woodsy countryside for the winter.  Fits right in (“Maybe I should have the Birches over for hot chocolate”).  Seen here.


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Back to the future, this prototype for one is designed to supply food, energy, heat and oxygen to its occupant.  Its maker calls it  Oogst 1 Solo.   Sadly for us, no mention of it providing wine and potato chips.  Seen at polychroniadis on tumbler.


piirihouse interior

This is Piiri house, mostly wood, just for one, good for thinking about where you are and where you aren’t.



And if you aren’t yet sure where you want to live, consider the mobile option.  This one in Lego colours folds up into a trailer and folds out into different rooms.  More here



Mmmm. Designed for one, maybe but surely occasional sleepovers are allowed.  APH80 tiny home designed by the Spanish design team at Abaton,

Once you start looking, it turns out there are more people than we thought, professional designers and just plain soloists, who have considered the uni-dwelling:


Blob VB3, Designed by Belgian architectural firm, dmvA above.

Front Architects modern-billboard-house

A bit of a cliffhanger, by Front Architect


The lovely  L41home, designed by Architect and Urban Designer Michael Katz and Designer Janet Corne

So if you’re ready to go it alone, at least for a while, you just might be able to find the right fit after all.  Lots more here and here  Just don’t be a stranger, OK?


How will you spend the first day back at work now that the summer holiday season has slipped away for another year?  Just having a job is a reason to feel pretty good for lots of us, when you think of the alternative.  But let’s face it, some jobs are just more photogenic than others.  Above photo found here of someone’s great Granddad looking pretty nifty at a Buick auto factory in 1930.

These guys look like they don’t mind working for a living too much, but maybe they’d rather be on a raft drifting down the Mississippi. They are Doffers (Doffers??) at a cotton mill in Macon Georgia, 1909, photographed by Lewis Hines. More here.

Women have a long tradition of factory work in North America, and people were always taking pictures of them.   These at a Cadbury’s candy bar factory in the 1950’s seem to have things well in hand.  Why no men? Maybe they didn’t trust them around all that chocolate.

This color photo of a young woman working in an airplane plant is from a recently released archive of US government commissioned photos from 1939 to 1944 now in the Library of Congress.  Flicker set here.

Here is another hard working woman.  Never mind the dishes, I’ll wash the locomotive.  See Flickr set above.

Artists work hard and they have a deep respect for hard work.  Some, like American painter and photographer Charles Sheeler found art and mystery and beauty in the hard working factories and plants of industrial America.  Above from a great collection presented at the Detroit Institute of Art.  More here.

In Europe, Bernd and Hilla Becher have been roaming the countryside for years in search of industrial buildings–the places where hard, bone-grinding work happens day after day. Their work is in a class by itself and provokes wonder and amusement, with a fair bit of bewilderment too.  For us, these 3  images above  are portraits, and like the best portraits of people,  we keep looking.  And looking.  You can see more at Artnet here

But let’s hope wherever you go to work this week, you will face  less potential danger than the man above.  Pic from here. 

Work hard, yes, be photogenic if you can, yes.  Don’t let the work own you.  Be free.

We are big fans of small at the republic of less. We just are. So we keep our eye peeled for little joys in every season and every where.


Above little guys are were found in a local store specializing in things Scandinavian. From Kosta Boda, maker of eye-catching things in glass since 1742. More here.

Big time artists have been known to work at times on a small scale, particularly in three dimensions. Above is a little dancer sculpted by Edgar Degas, found here.

Aristide Maillol is the man behind those large bronzes lying around in unexpected poses in the gardens adjacent to the Louvre. Not far away is the Musée Maillol, a great little museum with lots to like, including the small figure above we saw there.

This we found closer to home base. It is a lovely small figure by Antoniucci Volti (1915 1989) that lives at Vancouver’s Gallery Jones.

In our view, no artist of the 20th century was bigger than Alexander Calder in either imagination or output or playfulness.  He too could work small, producing amazing portraits in wire and, as a present for his wife Louisa, a swell set of miniature mobiles in a cigar box, seen here .

Making art large or small is not a modern invention.  Humans have been at it for ages.

This pre Columbian terracotta cutie was found in Columbia and is said to date from ca. 600-1200 AD. She’s about 5 inches tall in her bare feet.  See more here.

Strike up the band: these little fellas are from Cyprus and they are even older–600 BC. They are now performing at the MET in NYC. We first featured them in a post called  Small is. 

What’s cuter than a doll?  Well, a doll created by the guys and gal at Winnipeg’s own Royal Art Lodge, gone but never forgotten around here.  Top group done by Michael Dumontier and Drue Langlois (see here) and lower group by Mr Langlois single handed. Small wonders.

Another doll, no less sweet for being made of clay, we found at the 2011 Venice Biennale.  It was part of an exhibit by sculptor Dominik Lang which he called The Sleeping City, a tribute in part to his father Jiri.

Small scale objects have a special quality, and so do those little unexpected moments when the universe tells you things are pretty good.  Such as  when you tell a stranger at an art installation in Venice that you have a blog, and he hands you a complimentary crimson drink, which you get to enjoy while sitting at the edge of a canal.
No big deal, maybe, compared to lots of other things in Venice and in life, but it felt like a little moment that would mean a lot for a long long time.

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