New Spaces

Not only are we extremely close to opening our new space in
the Exchange District... we have moved our blog.

All the content from this blog has been moved to our new
address on the web. We will leave this blog up as a byway
to ...

See you there!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


That is not an insect hovering nearby. I figured you simply must be tired of the same old "Vintage in the News" headline. Besides, the latest is more than just news. It's become buzz. And our focus today isn't really about the news.

You've heard us use the term "Up-cycled" time and again both in the store and on the blog. As much as we'd like to, we simply cannot take credit for creating the name. I first heard it in an article featured in the New York Times a good many months ago, well before we even opened our doors at our old space. It was originally coined by William McDonaugh and Michael Braugart in their book on ecologically intelligent design, Cradle to Cradle. It stuck with me and when we started giving new life to old things by renewing them with paint or a different purpose it seemed more than just a little appropriate to use it. Today the tag "Up-cycled" is commonly used in the design field and has been dubbed the buzzword du jour by both Metropolitan Home and Canadian House and Home magazines.

Both magazines, in the issues I recently acquired, focus on Green ideas, products and designs for us and our homes. The people from our generation, for the most part, do the bare minimum in order to feel eco-responsible. Some recycle. Some donate useful goods to charitable organizations which then re-sell them. Some compost and some even use energy efficient bulbs. But one has to look no further than their own back alley to see how wasteful a society we really are. The 'disposable' mentality seems to be far too alive and well and the message of reducing, reusing and recycling is apparently being lost on, or ignored by, far too many.

It is the people of the next generation(s) who have embraced the idea of doing all they can to save this speck in the cosmos we call home. They do all of the aforementioned 'Green' things and then some. Young couples who embark on custom building their homes are utilizing energy efficient solutions and eco friendly products. Individuals are choosing to spend a little more on products developed using sustainable and renewable resources. There are legitimate concerns being voiced when purchasing products from developing nations. Is the product fair trade, are the people involved in the creation of the product equitably compensated? Is anyone, or anything in the environment, being hurt in the development of the product? No longer are we content to simply have a wide range of products available to us. We are making our purchases with great consideration and consciousness. Certainly, a similar product with the seemingly omnipresent "Made in China" label might be cheaper, but more and more we are willing to shell out a few extra bucks for design with conscience. And our numbers are growing.

Canadian House and Home's May issue (still available on news stands) is full of design tips and articles featuring eco-friendly solutions. Entitled "Go Eco, Stay Chic", the 'Zine itself is not web friendly and doesn't allow browsing articles online but I found it well worth picking up and perusing. From creating a modern space in a country home to the Weekend Decorating segment featuring earth friendly furnishings, there is no shortage of Green ideas and suggestions. As you can't browse online, and the issue may not be available for much longer at the store - we are featuring some of the best here:

Bright idea:

CFLs, those compact energy efficient lightbulbs, may require only a third as much energy as a regular bulb but they still contain tiny amounts of mercury, which is not at all Eco-friendly. The Home Depot has started a service to ensure these bulbs do not inadvertantly impact the planet in a negative fashion. In Home Depot stores across Canada you will find CFL recycling units where you can dispose of your burnt out bulbs and ensure that 98 per cent of each bulb is recycled, including the Mercury.

Plastic not-so-fantastic:

Bottled water. I'm not certain when the trend began but it is a fad which has grown in intensity to the degree that, today, roughly over 22 billion water bottles hit the landfills in the US every single year. 8 out of 10 plastic water bottles become garbage and end up in a landfill. Annual production of water bottles for the United States requires more than 1.5 million (million!) barrels of oil and Americans consume approximately 28 billion bottles of water a year. Canadian House and Home recommends booting the plastic bottle and making tap water a sparkling alternative with old fashioned seltzer bottles. You can find sleek modern seltzer bottles at restaurant supply stores or pick up a vintage collectible at a store like, saaaay, ChiChi! As we don't often find pristine vintage seltzer bottles, and at present have not a one in the House, we have a solution of our own to offer; currently on order and ultimately Green, another Tord Boontje design; tranSglass. Recycled glass bottles are edited and remade into fabulous vases, drinking glasses and vessels. tranSglass is in the permanent collection of MoMA New York and has become a best selling Boontje design.

Letting it all hang out:

For purely aesthetic reasons, clotheslines have been banned for some time in Provinces/States and Cities. The disappearance of laundry lines can be largely blamed on bedroom communities across North America. Their demands for conformity and restrictive, lengthy covenants often deem line drying your delicates as unsightly a nuisance as might be a car up on blocks in your front yard. Grassroots organizations have played more than a small part in working to have such a silly law banished and their efforts are paying off. Ontario is lifting its ban this year. This allows people previously forbidden from doing so the great pleasure of snuggling in to sheets kissed by the sun and the wind - the scent of which is impossible to replicate with a dryer sheet. Besides drifting off to sweet dreams propelled by sweet scents, Mother Earth benefits as clothes dryers consume about six percent of a home's annual energy bill.

Singing the Green Blues:

Ann Mack, Director of trendspotting at ad agency JWT in New York, says the term Green is losing its lustre. "Overused and misused..." "" True, that. There are far too many products on the market claiming to be "Green" when they really aren't so environmentaly friendly after all. Sure, there may be minor changes to the overall content of some of these products, but "Green" they are not. And so, says Ann, or - rather - Ann says.... Blue. Blue, which is meant to suggest the sky and water, as well as truth and integrity, is slowly replacing green. Mercedes-Benz's latest emission reducing car is called BlueTec. In France, towns which meet certain environmental standards are awarded the Pavillion Bleu. Keep your eyes open for Blue becoming the buzz in Eco-speak. We like it.

Metropolitan Home's April issue, which I picked up last week, is their "Guide to Modern Green Design". I absolutely love how some classics are intertwined with modern pieces and that they are embracing no boundaries when mixing furnishings. Done tastefully, there is no reason you cannot combine a Harvest table with chairs fashioned after mid-century Eames or Bertoia. An article I found particularly fun to peruse was "Forever Green" which features stylish wares which have withstood the test of time. There is a condensed photo gallery of featured items to browse online but to fully enjoy the article you'll have to pick up a copy of the magazine... on the pages you will find photos of classic and time tested design elements as well as dates of original manufacture. You are invited to test your knowledge by matching the dates to the items. Some design dates are entirely self evident while others are more than a little surprising. For the brief, online version....Take me there!

"Water Wiser" features an L.A. garden created to replace a water guzzling lawn. Take me there!. Now, as much as I love the idea of giant cacti and other drought resistant succulents, our temperate climate doesn't give me much room to play. However, I did find, in Canadian House and Home, an Eco-friendly new product perfect for our part of the world.

Canadian engineered Eco-Lawn is a drought resistant blend of grasses which requires little or no mowing and no fertilizer. Switching up your current lawn for the Eco version is easy as pie, simply mow your lawn as short as possible and overseed with Eco-Lawn. The grassy spaces you see below are images taken from Wildflower Farm's website. Available to order online and shipped to you from Ontario.... Take me there!

Be Blue everyone!

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